Part 3 out of 70
her door. The next day at dinner the account of my adventure caused
much amusement to the old senator.
Throughout the summer, I carried on a course of Platonic love with my
charming Angela at the house of her teacher of embroidery, but her
extreme reserve excited me, and my love had almost become a torment
to myself. With my ardent nature, I required a mistress like
Bettina, who knew how to satisfy my love without wearing it out. I
still retained some feelings of purity, and I entertained the deepest
veneration for Angela. She was in my eyes the very palladium of
Cecrops. Still very innocent, I felt some disinclination towards
women, and I was simple enough to be jealous of even their husbands.
Angela would not grant me the slightest favour, yet she was no flirt;
but the fire beginning in me parched and withered me. The pathetic
entreaties which I poured out of my heart had less effect upon her
than upon two young sisters, her companions and friends: had I not
concentrated every look of mine upon the heartless girl, I might have
discovered that her friends excelled her in beauty and in feeling,
but my prejudiced eyes saw no one but Angela. To every outpouring of
my love she answered that she was quite ready to become my wife, and
that such was to be the limit of my wishes; when she condescended to
add that she suffered as much as I did myself, she thought she had
bestowed upon me the greatest of favours.
Such was the state of my mind, when, in the first days of autumn, I
received a letter from the Countess de Mont-Real with an invitation
to spend some time at her beautiful estate at Pasean. She expected
many guests, and among them her own daughter, who had married a
Venetian nobleman, and who had a great reputation for wit and beauty,
although she had but one eye; but it was so beautiful that it made up
for the loss of the other. I accepted the invitation, and Pasean
offering me a constant round of pleasures, it was easy enough for me
to enjoy myself, and to forget for the time the rigours of the cruel
I was given a pretty room on the ground floor, opening upon the
gardens of Pasean, and I enjoyed its comforts without caring to know
who my neighbours were.
The morning after my arrival, at the very moment I awoke, my eyes
were delighted with the sight of the charming creature who brought me
my coffee. She was a very young girl, but as well formed as a young
person of seventeen; yet she had scarcely completed her fourteenth
year. The snow of her complexion, her hair as dark as the raven's
wing, her black eyes beaming with fire and innocence, her dress
composed only of a chemise and a short petticoat which exposed a
well-turned leg and the prettiest tiny foot, every detail I gathered
in one instant presented to my looks the most original and the most
perfect beauty I had ever beheld. I looked at her with the greatest
pleasure, and her eyes rested upon me as if we had been old
"How did you find your bed?" she asked.
"Very comfortable; I am sure you made it. Pray, who are you?"
"I am Lucie, the daughter of the gate-keeper: I have neither brothers
nor sisters, and I am fourteen years old. I am very glad you have no
servant with you; I will be your little maid, and I am sure you will
be pleased with me."
Delighted at this beginning, I sat up in my bed and she helped me to
put on my dressing-gown, saying a hundred things which I did not
understand. I began to drink my coffee, quite amazed at her easy
freedom, and struck with her beauty, to which it would have been
impossible to remain indifferent. She had seated herself on my bed,
giving no other apology for that liberty than the most delightful
I was still sipping my coffee, when Lucie's parents came into my
room. She did not move from her place on the bed, but she looked at
them, appearing very proud of such a seat. The good people kindly
scolded her, begged my forgiveness in her favour, and Lucie left the
room to attend to her other duties. The moment she had gone her
father and mother began to praise their daughter.
"She is," they said, "our only child, our darling pet, the hope of
our old age. She loves and obeys us, and fears God; she is as clean
as a new pin, and has but one fault."
"What is that?"
"She is too young."
"That is a charming fault which time will mend"
I was not long in ascertaining that they were living specimens of
honesty, of truth, of homely virtues, and of real happiness. I was
delighted at this discovery, when Lucie returned as gay as a lark,
prettily dressed, her hair done in a peculiar way of her own, and
with well-fitting shoes. She dropped a simple courtesy before me,
gave a couple of hearty kisses to both her parents, and jumped on her
father knees. I asked her to come and sit on my bed, but she
answered that she could not take such a liberty now that she was
dressed, The simplicity, artlessness, and innocence of the answer
seemed to me very enchanting, and brought a smile on my lips. I
examined her to see whether she was prettier in her new dress or in
the morning's negligee, and I decided in favour of the latter. To
speak the truth, Lucie was, I thought, superior in everything, not
only to Angela, but even to Bettina.
The hair-dresser made his appearance, and the honest family left my
room. When I was dressed I went to meet the countess and her amiable
daughter. The day passed off very pleasantly, as is generally the
case in the country, when you are amongst agreeable people.
In the morning, the moment my eyes were opened,
I rang the bell, and pretty Lucie came in, simple and natural as
before, with her easy manners and wonderful remarks. Her candour,
her innocence shone brilliantly all over her person. I could not
conceive how, with her goodness, her virtue and her intelligence, she
could run the risk of exciting me by coming into my room alone, and
with so much familiarity. I fancied that she would not attach much
importance to certain slight liberties, and would not prove over-
scrupulous, and with that idea I made up my mind to shew her that I
fully understood her. I felt no remorse of conscience on the score
of her parents, who, in my estimation, were as careless as herself;
I had no dread of being the first to give the alarm to her innocence,
or to enlighten her mind with the gloomy light of malice, but,
unwilling either to be the dupe of feeling or to act against it, I
resolved to reconnoitre the ground. I extend a daring hand towards
her person, and by an involuntary movement she withdraws, blushes,
her cheerfulness disappears, and, turning her head aside as if she
were in search of something, she waits until her agitation has
subsided. The whole affair had not lasted one minute. She came
back, abashed at the idea that she had proved herself rather knowing,
and at the dread of having perhaps given a wrong interpretation to an
action which might have been, on my part, perfectly innocent, or the
result of politeness. Her natural laugh soon returned, and, having
rapidly read in her mind all I have just described, I lost no time in
restoring her confidence, and, judging that I would venture too much
by active operations, I resolved to employ the following morning in a
friendly chat during which I could make her out better.
In pursuance of that plan, the next morning, as we were talking, I
told her that it was cold, but that she would not feel it if she
would lie down near me.
"Shall I disturb you?" she said.
"No; but I am thinking that if your mother happened to come in, she
would be angry."
"Mother would not think of any harm."
"Come, then. But Lucie, do you know what danger you are exposing
"Certainly I do; but you are good, and, what is more, you are a
"Come; only lock the door."
"No, no, for people might think.... I do not know what." She laid
down close by me, and kept on her chatting, although I did not
understand a word of what she said, for in that singular position,
and unwilling to give way to my ardent desires, I remained as still
as a log.
Her confidence in her safety, confidence which was certainly not
feigned, worked upon my feelings to such an extent that I would have
been ashamed to take any advantage of it. At last she told me that
nine o'clock had struck, and that if old Count Antonio found us as we
were, he would tease her with his jokes. "When I see that man," she
said, "I am afraid and I run away." Saying these words, she rose from
the bed and left the room.
I remained motionless for a long while, stupefied, benumbed, and
mastered by the agitation of my excited senses as well as by my
thoughts. The next morning, as I wished to keep calm, I only let her
sit down on my bed, and the conversation I had with her proved
without the shadow of a doubt that her parents had every reason to
idolize her, and that the easy freedom of her mind as well as of her
behaviour with me was entirely owing to her innocence and to her
purity. Her artlessness, her vivacity, her eager curiosity, and the
bashful blushes which spread over her face whenever her innocent or
jesting remarks caused me to laugh, everything, in fact, convinced me
that she was an angel destined to become the victim of the first
libertine who would undertake to seduce her. I felt sufficient
control over my own feelings to resist any attempt against her virtue
which my conscience might afterwards reproach me with. The mere
thought of taking advantage of her innocence made me shudder, and my
self-esteem was a guarantee to her parents, who abandoned her to me
on the strength of the good opinion they entertained of me, that
Lucie's honour was safe in my hands. I thought I would have despised
myself if I had betrayed the trust they reposed in me. I therefore
determined to conquer my feelings, and, with perfect confidence in
the victory, I made up my mind to wage war against myself, and to be
satisfied with her presence as the only reward of my heroic efforts.
I was not yet acquainted with the axiom that "as long as the fighting
lasts, victory remains uncertain."
As I enjoyed her conversation much, a natural instinct prompted me to
tell her that she would afford me great pleasure if she could come
earlier in the morning, and even wake me up if I happened to be
asleep, adding, in order to give more weight to my request, that the
less I slept the better I felt in health. In this manner I contrived
to spend three hours instead of two in her society, although this
cunning contrivance of mine did not prevent the hours flying, at
least in my opinion, as swift as lightning.
Her mother would often come in as we were talking, and when the good
woman found her sitting on my bed she would say nothing, only
wondering at my kindness. Lucie would then cover her with kisses,
and the kind old soul would entreat me to give her child lessons of
goodness, and to cultivate her mind; but when she had left us Lucie
did not think herself more unrestrained, and whether in or out of her
mother's presence, she was always the same without the slightest
If the society of this angelic child afforded me the sweetest
delight, it also caused me the most cruel suffering. Often, very
often, when her face was close to my lips, I felt the most ardent
temptation to smother her with kisses, and my blood was at fever heat
when she wished that she had been a sister of mine. But I kept
sufficient command over myself to avoid the slightest contact, for I
was conscious that even one kiss would have been the spark which
would have blown up all the edifice of my reserve. Every time she
left me I remained astounded at my own victory, but, always eager to
win fresh laurels, I longed for the following morning, panting for a
renewal of this sweet yet very dangerous contest.
At the end of ten or twelve days, I felt that there was no
alternative but to put a stop to this state of things, or to become a
monster in my own eyes; and I decided for the moral side of the
question all the more easily that nothing insured me success, if I
chose the second alternative. The moment I placed her under the
obligation to defend herself Lucie would become a heroine, and the
door of my room being open, I might have been exposed to shame and to
a very useless repentance. This rather frightened me. Yet, to put
an end to my torture, I did not know what to decide. I could no
longer resist the effect made upon my senses by this beautiful girl,
who, at the break of day and scarcely dressed, ran gaily into my
room, came to my bed enquiring how I had slept, bent familiarly her
head towards me, and, so to speak, dropped her words on my lips. In
those dangerous moments I would turn my head aside; but in her
innocence she would reproach me for being afraid when she felt
herself so safe, and if I answered that I could not possibly fear a
child, she would reply that a difference of two years was of no
Standing at bay, exhausted, conscious that every instant increased
the ardour which was devouring me, I resolved to entreat from herself
the discontinuance of her visits, and this resolution appeared to me
sublime and infallible; but having postponed its execution until the
following morning, I passed a dreadful night, tortured by the image
of Lucie, and by the idea that I would see her in the morning for the
last time. I fancied that Lucie would not only grant my prayer, but
that she would conceive for me the highest esteem. In the morning,
it was barely day-light, Lucie beaming, radiant with beauty, a happy
smile brightening her pretty mouth, and her splendid hair in the most
fascinating disorder, bursts into my room, and rushes with open arms
towards my bed; but when she sees my pale, dejected, and unhappy
countenance, she stops short, and her beautiful face taking an
expression of sadness and anxiety:
"What ails you?" she asks, with deep sympathy.
"I have had no sleep through the night:"
"Because I have made up my mind to impart to you a project which,
although fraught with misery to myself, will at least secure me your
"But if your project is to insure my esteem it ought to make you very
cheerful. Only tell me, reverend sir, why, after calling me 'thou'
yesterday, you treat me today respectfully, like a lady? What have I
done? I will get your coffee, and you must tell me everything after
you have drunk it; I long to hear you"
She goes and returns, I drink the coffee, and seeing that my
countenance remains grave she tries to enliven me, contrives to make
me smile, and claps her hands for joy. After putting everything in
order, she closes the door because the wind is high, and in her
anxiety not to lose one word of what I have to say, she entreats
artlessly a little place near me. I cannot refuse her, for I feel
I then begin a faithful recital of the fearful state in which her
beauty has thrown me, and a vivid picture of all the suffering I have
experienced in trying to master my ardent wish to give her some proof
of my love; I explain to her that, unable to endure such torture any
longer, I see no other safety but in entreating her not to see me any
more. The importance of the subject, the truth of my love, my wish
to present my expedient in the light of the heroic effort of a deep
and virtuous passion, lend me a peculiar eloquence. I endeavour
above all to make her realize the fearful consequences which might
follow a course different to the one I was proposing, and how
miserable we might be.
At the close of my long discourse Lucie, seeing my eyes wet with
tears, throws off the bed-clothes to wipe them, without thinking that
in so doing she uncovers two globes, the beauty of which might have
caused the wreck of the most experienced pilot. After a short
silence, the charming child tells me that my tears make her very
unhappy, and that she had never supposed that she could cause them.
"All you have just told me," she added, "proves the sincerity of your
great love for me, but I cannot imagine why you should be in such
dread of a feeling which affords me the most intense pleasure. You
wish to banish me from your presence because you stand in fear of
your love, but what would you do if you hated me? Am I guilty
because I have pleased you? If it is a crime to have won your
affection, I can assure you that I did not think I was committing a
criminal action, and therefore you cannot conscientiously punish me.
Yet I cannot conceal the truth; I am very happy to be loved by you.
As for the danger we run, when we love, danger which I can
understand, we can set it at defiance, if we choose, and I wonder at
my not fearing it, ignorant as I am, while you, a learned man, think
it so terrible. I am astonished that love, which is not a disease,
should have made you ill, and that it should have exactly the
opposite effect upon me. Is it possible that I am mistaken, and that
my feeling towards you should not be love? You saw me very cheerful
when I came in this morning; it is because I have been dreaming all
night, but my dreams did not keep me awake; only several times I woke
up to ascertain whether my dream was true, for I thought I was near
you; and every time, finding that it was not so, I quickly went to
sleep again in the hope of continuing my happy dream, and every time
I succeeded. After such a night, was it not natural for me to be
cheerful this morning? My dear abbe, if love is a torment for you I
am very sorry, but would it be possible for you to live without love?
I will do anything you order me to do, but, even if your cure
depended upon it, I would not cease to love you, for that would be
impossible. Yet if to heal your sufferings it should be necessary
for you to love me no more, you must do your utmost to succeed, for I
would much rather see you alive without love, than dead for having
loved too much. Only try to find some other plan, for the one you
have proposed makes me very miserable. Think of it, there may be
some other way which will be less painful. Suggest one more
practicable, and depend upon Lucie's obedience."
These words, so true, so artless, so innocent, made me realize the
immense superiority of nature's eloquence over that of philosophical
intellect. For the first time I folded this angelic being in my
arms, exclaiming, "Yes, dearest Lucie, yes, thou hast it in thy power
to afford the sweetest relief to my devouring pain; abandon to my
ardent kisses thy divine lips which have just assured me of thy
An hour passed in the most delightful silence, which nothing
interrupted except these words murmured now and then by Lucie, "Oh,
God! is it true? is it not a dream?" Yet I respected her innocence,
and the more readily that she abandoned herself entirely and without
the slightest resistance. At last, extricating herself gently from
my arms, she said, with some uneasiness, "My heart begins to speak, I
must go;" and she instantly rose. Having somewhat rearranged her
dress she sat down, and her mother, coming in at that moment,
complimented me upon my good looks and my bright countenance, and
told Lucie to dress herself to attend mass. Lucie came back an hour
later, and expressed her joy and her pride at the wonderful cure she
thought she had performed upon me, for the healthy appearance I was
then shewing convinced her of my love much better than the pitiful
state in which she had found me in the morning. "If your complete
happiness," she said, "rests in my power, be happy; there is nothing
that I can refuse you."
The moment she left me, still wavering between happiness and fear, I
understood that I was standing on the very brink of the abyss, and
that nothing but a most extraordinary determination could prevent me
from falling headlong into it.
I remained at Pasean until the end of September, and the last eleven
nights of my stay were passed in the undisturbed possession of Lucie,
who, secure in her mother's profound sleep, came to my room to enjoy
in my arms the most delicious hours. The burning ardour of my love
was increased by the abstinence to which I condemned myself, although
Lucie did everything in her power to make me break through my
determination. She could not fully enjoy the sweetness of the
forbidden fruit unless I plucked it without reserve, and the effect
produced by our constantly lying in each other's arms was too strong
for a young girl to resist. She tried everything she could to
deceive me, and to make me believe that I had already, and in
reality, gathered the whole flower, but Bettina's lessons had been
too efficient to allow me to go on a wrong scent, and I reached the
end of my stay without yielding entirely to the temptation she so
fondly threw in my way. I promised her to return in the spring; our
farewell was tender and very sad, and I left her in a state of mind
and of body which must have been the cause of her misfortunes, which,
twenty years after, I had occasion to reproach myself with in
Holland, and which will ever remain upon my conscience.
A few days after my return to Venice, I had fallen back into all my
old habits, and resumed my courtship of Angela in the hope that I
would obtain from her, at least, as much as Lucie had granted to me.
A certain dread which to-day I can no longer trace in my nature, a
sort of terror of the consequences which might have a blighting
influence upon my future, prevented me from giving myself up to
complete enjoyment. I do not know whether I have ever been a truly
honest man, but I am fully aware that the feelings I fostered in my
youth were by far more upright than those I have, as I lived on,
forced myself to accept. A wicked philosophy throws down too many of
these barriers which we call prejudices.
The two sisters who were sharing Angela's embroidery lessons were her
intimate friends and the confidantes of all her secrets. I made
their acquaintance, and found that they disapproved of her extreme
reserve towards me. As I usually saw them with Angela and knew their
intimacy with her, I would, when I happened to meet them alone, tell
them all my sorrows, and, thinking only of my cruel sweetheart, I
never was conceited enough to propose that these young girls might
fall in love with me; but I often ventured to speak to them with all
the blazing inspiration which was burning in me--a liberty I would
not have dared to take in the presence of her whom I loved. True
love always begets reserve; we fear to be accused of exaggeration if
we should give utterance to feelings inspired, by passion, and the
modest lover, in his dread of saying too much, very often says too
The teacher of embroidery, an old bigot, who at first appeared not to
mind the attachment I skewed for Angela, got tired at last of my too
frequent visits, and mentioned them to the abbe, the uncle of my fair
lady. He told me kindly one day that I ought not to call at that
house so often, as my constant visits might be wrongly construed, and
prove detrimental to the reputation of his niece. His words fell
upon me like a thunder-bolt, but I mastered my feelings sufficiently
to leave him without incurring any suspicion, and I promised to
follow his good advice.
Three or four days afterwards, I paid a visit to the teacher of
embroidery, and, to make her believe that my visit was only intended
for her, I did not stop one instant near the young girls; yet I
contrived to slip in the hand of the eldest of the two sisters a note
enclosing another for my dear Angela, in which I explained why I had
been compelled to discontinue my visits, entreating her to devise
some means by which I could enjoy the happiness of seeing her and of
conversing with her. In my note to Nanette, I only begged her to
give my letter to her friend, adding that I would see them again the
day after the morrow, and that I trusted to her to find an
opportunity for delivering me the answer. She managed it all very
cleverly, and, when I renewed my visit two days afterwards, she gave
me a letter without attracting the attention of anyone.
Nanette's letter enclosed a very short note from Angela, who,
disliking letter-writing, merely advised me to follow, if I could,
the plan proposed by her friend. Here is the copy of the letter
written by Nanette, which I have always kept, as well as all other
letters which I give in these Memoirs:
"There is nothing in the world, reverend sir, that I would not
readily do for my friend. She visits at our house every holiday, has
supper with us, and sleeps under our roof. I will suggest the best
way for you to make the acquaintance of Madame Orio, our aunt; but,
if you obtain an introduction to her, you must be very careful not to
let her suspect your preference for Angela, for our aunt would
certainly object to her house being made a place of rendezvous to
facilitate your interviews with a stranger to her family. Now for
the plan I propose, and in the execution of which I will give you
every assistance in my power. Madame Orio, although a woman of good
station in life, is not wealthy, and she wishes to have her name
entered on the list of noble widows who receive the bounties bestowed
by the Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament, of which M. de Malipiero
is president. Last Sunday, Angela mentioned that you are in the good
graces of that nobleman, and that the best way to obtain his
patronage would be to ask you to entreat it in her behalf. The
foolish girl added that you were smitten with me, that all your
visits to our mistress of embroidery were made for my special benefit
and for the sake of entertaining me, and that I would find it a very
easy task to interest you in her favour. My aunt answered that, as
you are a priest, there was no fear of any harm, and she told me to
write to you with an invitation to call on her; I refused. The
procurator Rosa, who is a great favourite of my aunt's, was present;
he approved of my refusal, saying that the letter ought to be written
by her and not by me, that it was for my aunt to beg the honour of
your visit on business of real importance, and that, if there was any
truth in the report of your love for me, you would not fail to come.
My aunt, by his advice, has therefore written the letter which you
will find at your house. If you wish to meet Angela, postpone your
visit to us until next Sunday. Should you succeed in obtaining M.
de Malipiero's good will in favour of my aunt, you will become the
pet of the household, but you must forgive me if I appear to treat
you with coolness, for I have said that I do not like you. I would
advise you to make love to my aunt, who is sixty years of age;
M. Rosa will not be jealous, and you will become dear to everyone.
For my part, I will manage for you an opportunity for some private
conversation with Angela, and I will do anything to convince you of
my friendship. Adieu."
This plan appeared to me very well conceived, and, having the same
evening received Madame Orio's letter, I called upon her on the
following day, Sunday. I was welcomed in a very friendly manner, and
the lady, entreating me to exert in her behalf my influence with M.
de Malipiero, entrusted me with all the papers which I might require
to succeed. I undertook to do my utmost, and I took care to address
only a few words to Angela, but I directed all my gallant attentions
to Nanette, who treated me as coolly as could be. Finally, I won the
friendship of the old procurator Rosa, who, in after years, was of
some service to me.
I had so much at stake in the success of Madame Orio's petition, that
I thought of nothing else, and knowing all the power of the beautiful
Therese Imer over our amorous senator, who would be but too happy to
please her in anything, I determined to call upon her the next day,
and I went straight to her room without being announced. I found her
alone with the physician Doro, who, feigning to be on a professional
visit, wrote a prescription, felt her pulse, and went off. This Doro
was suspected of being in love with Therese; M. de Malipiero, who was
jealous, had forbidden Therese to receive his visits, and she had
promised to obey him. She knew that I was acquainted with those
circumstances, and my presence was evidently unpleasant to her, for
she had certainly no wish that the old man should hear how she kept
her promise. I thought that no better opportunity could be found of
obtaining from her everything I wished.
I told her in a few words the object of my visit, and I took care to
add that she could rely upon my discretion, and that I would not for
the world do her any injury. Therese, grateful for this assurance,
answered that she rejoiced at finding an occasion to oblige me, and,
asking me to give her the papers of my protege, she shewed me the
certificates and testimonials of another lady in favour of whom she
had undertaken to speak, and whom, she said, she would sacrifice to
the person in whose behalf I felt interested. She kept her word, for
the very next day she placed in my hands the brevet, signed by his
excellency as president of the confraternity. For the present, and
with the expectation of further favours, Madame Orio's name was put
down to share the bounties which were distributed twice a year.
Nanette and her sister Marton were the orphan daughters of a sister
of Madame Orio. All the fortune of the good lady consisted in the
house which was her dwelling, the first floor being let, and in a
pension given to her by her brother, member of the council of ten.
She lived alone with her two charming nieces, the eldest sixteen, and
the youngest fifteen years of age. She kept no servant, and only
employed an old woman, who, for one crown a month, fetched water, and
did the rough work. Her only friend was the procurator Rosa; he had,
like her, reached his sixtieth year, and expected to marry her as
soon as he should become a widower.
The two sisters slept together on the third floor in a large bed,
which was likewise shared by Angela every Sunday.
As soon as I found myself in possession of the deed for Madame Orio,
I hastened to pay a visit to the mistress of embroidery, in order to
find an opportunity of acquainting Nanette with my success, and in a
short note which I prepared, I informed her that in two days I would
call to give the brevet to Madame Orio, and I begged her earnestly
not to forget her promise to contrive a private interview with my
When I arrived, on the appointed day, at Madame Orio's house,
Nanette, who had watched for my coming, dexterously conveyed to my
hand a billet, requesting me to find a moment to read it before
leaving the house. I found Madame Orio, Angela, the old procurator,
and Marton in the room. Longing to read the note, I refused the seat
offered to me, and presenting to Madame Orio the deed she had so long
desired, I asked, as my only reward, the pleasure of kissing her
hand, giving her to understand that I wanted to leave the room
"Oh, my dear abbe!" said the lady, "you shall have a kiss, but not on
my hand, and no one can object to it, as I am thirty years older than
She might have said forty-five without going much astray. I gave her
two kisses, which evidently satisfied her, for she desired me to
perform the same ceremony with her nieces, but they both ran away,
and Angela alone stood the brunt of my hardihood. After this the
widow asked me to sit down.
"I cannot, Madame."
"Why, I beg?"
"I understand. Nanette, shew the way."
"Dear aunt, excuse me."
"Well, then, Marton."
"Oh! dear aunt, why do you not insist upon my sister obeying your
"Alas! madame, these young ladies are quite right. Allow me to
"No, my dear abbe, my nieces are very foolish; M. Rosa, I am sure,
The good procurator takes me affectionately by the hand, and leads me
to the third story, where he leaves me. The moment I am alone I open
my letter, and I read the following:
"My aunt will invite you to supper; do not accept. Go away as soon
as we sit down to table, and Marton will escort you as far as the
street door, but do not leave the house. When the street door is
closed again, everyone thinking you are gone, go upstairs in the dark
as far as the third floor, where you must wait for us. We will come
up the moment M. Rosa has left the house, and our aunt has gone to
bed. Angela will be at liberty to grant you throughout the night a
tete-a-tete which, I trust, will prove a happy one."
Oh! what joy-what gratitude for the lucky chance which allowed me to
read this letter on the very spot where I was to expect the dear
abject of my love! Certain of finding my way without the slightest
difficulty, I returned to Madame Orio's sitting-room, overwhelmed
An Unlucky Night I Fall in Love with the Two Sisters, and Forget
Angela--A Ball at My House--Juliette's Humiliation--My Return to
Pasian--Lucie's Misfortune--A Propitious Storm
On my reappearance, Madame Orio told me, with many heart-felt thanks,
that I must for the future consider myself as a privileged and
welcome friend, and the evening passed off very pleasantly. As the
hour for supper drew near, I excused myself so well that Madame Orio
could not insist upon my accepting her invitation to stay. Marton
rose to light me out of the room, but her aunt, believing Nanette to
be my favourite, gave her such an imperative order to accompany me
that she was compelled to obey. She went down the stairs rapidly,
opened and closed the street door very noisily, and putting her light
out, she reentered the sitting room, leaving me in darkness. I went
upstairs softly: when I reached the third landing I found the chamber
of the two sisters, and, throwing myself upon a sofa, I waited
patiently for the rising of the star of my happiness. An hour passed
amidst the sweetest dreams of my imagination; at last I hear the
noise of the street door opening and closing, and, a few minutes
after, the two sisters come in with my Angela. I draw her towards
me, and caring for nobody else, I keep up for two full hours my
conversation with her. The clock strikes midnight; I am pitied for
having gone so late supperless, but I am shocked at such an idea; I
answer that, with such happiness as I am enjoying, I can suffer from
no human want. I am told that I am a prisoner, that the key of the
house door is under the aunt's pillow, and that it is opened only by
herself as she goes in the morning to the first mass. I wonder at my
young friends imagining that such news can be anything but delightful
to me. I express all my joy at the certainty of passing the next
five hours with the beloved mistress of my heart. Another hour is
spent, when suddenly Nanette begins to laugh, Angela wants to know
the reason, and Marton whispering a few words to her, they both laugh
likewise. This puzzles me. In my turn, I want to know what causes
this general laughter, and at last Nanette, putting on an air of
anxiety, tells me that they have no more candle, and that in a few
minutes we shall be in the dark. This is a piece of news
particularly agreeable to me, but I do not let my satisfaction appear
on my countenance, and saying how truly I am sorry for their sake, I
propose that they should go to bed and sleep quietly under my
respectful guardianship. My proposal increases their merriment.
"What can we do in the dark?"
"We can talk."
We were four; for the last three hours we had been talking, and I was
the hero of the romance. Love is a great poet, its resources are
inexhaustible, but if the end it has in view is not obtained, it
feels weary and remains silent. My Angela listened willingly, but
little disposed to talk herself, she seldom answered, and she
displayed good sense rather than wit. To weaken the force of my
arguments, she was often satisfied with hurling at me a proverb,
somewhat in the fashion of the Romans throwing the catapult. Every
time that my poor hands came to the assistance of love, she drew
herself back or repulsed me. Yet, in spite of all, I went on talking
and using my hands without losing courage, but I gave myself up to
despair when I found that my rather artful arguing astounded her
without bringing conviction to her heart, which was only disquieted,
never softened. On the other hand, I could see with astonishment
upon their countenances the impression made upon the two sisters by
the ardent speeches I poured out to Angela. This metaphysical curve
struck me as unnatural, it ought to have been an angle; I was then,
unhappily for myself, studying geometry. I was in such a state that,
notwithstanding the cold, I was perspiring profusely. At last the
light was nearly out, and Nanette took it away.
The moment we were in the dark, I very naturally extended my arms to
seize her whom I loved; but I only met with empty space, and I could
not help laughing at the rapidity with which Angela had availed
herself of the opportunity of escaping me. For one full hour I
poured out all the tender, cheerful words that love inspired me with,
to persuade her to come back to me; I could only suppose that it was
a joke to tease me. But I became impatient.
"The joke," I said, "has lasted long enough; it is foolish, as I
could not run after you, and I am surprised to hear you laugh, for
your strange conduct leads me to suppose that you are making fun of
me. Come and take your seat near me, and if I must speak to you
without seeing you let my hands assure me that I am not addressing my
words to the empty air. To continue this game would be an insult to
me, and my love does not deserve such a return."
"Well, be calm. I will listen to every word you may say, but you
must feel that it would not be decent for me to place myself near you
in this dark room."
"Do you want me to stand where I am until morning?"
"Lie down on the bed, and go to sleep."
"In wonder, indeed, at your thinking me capable of doing so in the
state I am in. Well, I suppose we must play at blind man's buff."
Thereupon, I began to feel right and left, everywhere, but in vain.
Whenever I caught anyone it always turned out to be Nanette or
Marton, who at once discovered themselves, and I, stupid Don Quixote,
instantly would let them go! Love and prejudice blinded me, I could
not see how ridiculous I was with my respectful reserve. I had not
yet read the anecdotes of Louis XIII, king of France, but I had read
Boccacio. I kept on seeking in vain, reproaching her with her
cruelty, and entreating her to let me catch her; but she would only
answer that the difficulty of meeting each other was mutual. The
room was not large, and I was enraged at my want of success.
Tired and still more vexed, I sat down, and for the next hour I told
the history of Roger, when Angelica disappears through the power of
the magic ring which the loving knight had so imprudently given her:
'Cosi dicendo, intorno a la fortuna
Brancolando n'andava come cieco.
O quante volte abbraccio l'aria vana
Speyando la donzella abbracciar seco'.
Angela had not read Ariosto, but Nanette had done so several times.
She undertook the defence of Angelica, and blamed the simplicity of
Roger, who, if he had been wise, would never have trusted the ring to
a coquette. I was delighted with Nanette, but I was yet too much of
a novice to apply her remarks to myself.
Only one more hour remained, and I was to leave before the break of
day, for Madame Orio would have died rather than give way to the
temptation of missing the early mass. During that hour I spoke to
Angela, trying to convince her that she ought to come and sit by me.
My soul went through every gradation of hope and despair, and the
reader cannot possibly realize it unless he has been placed in a
similar position. I exhausted the most convincing arguments; then I
had recourse to prayers, and even to tears; but, seeing all was
useless, I gave way to that feeling of noble indignation which lends
dignity to anger. Had I not been in the dark, I might, I truly
believe, have struck the proud monster, the cruel girl, who had thus
for five hours condemned me to the most distressing suffering. I
poured out all the abuse, all the insulting words that despised love
can suggest to an infuriated mind; I loaded her with the deepest
curses; I swore that my love had entirely turned into hatred, and, as
a finale, I advised her to be careful, as I would kill her the moment
I would set my eyes on her.
My invectives came to an end with the darkness. At the first break
of day, and as soon as I heard the noise made by the bolt and the key
of the street door, which Madame Orio was opening to let herself out,
that she might seek in the church the repose of which her pious soul
was in need, I got myself ready and looked for my cloak and for my
hat. But how can I ever portray the consternation in which I was
thrown when, casting a sly glance upon the young friends, I found the
three bathed in tears! In my shame and despair I thought of
committing suicide, and sitting down again, I recollected my brutal
speeches, and upbraided myself for having wantonly caused them to
weep. I could not say one word; I felt choking; at last tears came
to my assistance, and I gave way to a fit of crying which relieved
me. Nanette then remarked that her aunt would soon return home; I
dried my eyes, and, not venturing another look at Angela or at her
friends, I ran away without uttering a word, and threw myself on my
bed, where sleep would not visit my troubled mind.
At noon, M. de Malipiero, noticing the change in my countenance,
enquired what ailed me, and longing to unburden my heart, I told him
all that had happened. The wise old man did not laugh at my sorrow,
but by his sensible advice he managed to console me and to give me
courage. He was in the same predicament with the beautiful Therese.
Yet he could not help giving way to his merriment when at dinner he
saw me, in spite of my grief, eat with increased appetite; I had gone
without my supper the night before; he complimented me upon my happy
I was determined never to visit Madame Orio's house, and on that very
day I held an argument in metaphysics, in which I contended that any
being of whom we had only an abstract idea, could only exist
abstractedly, and I was right; but it was a very easy task to give to
my thesis an irreligious turn, and I was obliged to recant. A few
days afterwards I went to Padua, where I took my degree of doctor
When I returned to Venice, I received a note from M. Rosa, who
entreated me to call upon Madame Orio; she wished to see me, and,
feeling certain of not meeting Angela, I paid her a visit the same
evening. The two graceful sisters were so kind, so pleasant, that
they scattered to the winds the shame I felt at seeing them after the
fearful night I had passed in their room two months before. The
labours of writing my thesis and passing my examination were of
course sufficient excuses for Madame Orio, who only wanted to
reproach me for having remained so long away from her house.
As I left, Nanette gave me a letter containing a note from Angela,
the contents of which ran as follows:
"If you are not afraid of passing another night with me you shall
have no reason to complain of me, for I love you, and I wish to hear
from your own lips whether you would still have loved me if I had
consented to become contemptible in your eyes."
This is the letter of Nanette, who alone had her wits about her:
"M. Rosa having undertaken to bring you back to our house, I prepare
these few lines to let you know that Angela is in despair at having
lost you. I confess that the night you spent with us was a cruel
one, but I do not think that you did rightly in giving up your visits
to Madame Orio. If you still feel any love for Angela, I advise you
to take your chances once more. Accept a rendezvous for another
night; she may vindicate herself, and you will be happy. Believe me;
Those two letters afforded me much gratification, for I had it in my
power to enjoy my revenge by shewing to Angela the coldest contempt.
Therefore, on the following Sunday I went to Madame Orio's house,
having provided myself with a smoked tongue and a couple of bottles
of Cyprus wine; but to my great surprise my cruel mistress was not
there. Nanette told me that she had met her at church in the
morning, and that she would not be able to come before supper-time.
Trusting to that promise I declined Madam Orio's invitation, and
before the family sat down to supper I left the room as I had done on
the former occasion, and slipped upstairs. I longed to represent the
character I had prepared myself for, and feeling assured that Angela,
even if she should prove less cruel, would only grant me
insignificant favours, I despised them in anticipation, and resolved
to be avenged.
After waiting three quarters of an hour the street door was locked,
and a moment later Nanette and Marton entered the room.
"Where is Angela?" I enquired.
"She must have been unable to come, or to send a message. Yet she
knows you are here."
"She thinks she has made a fool of me; but I suspected she would act
in this way. You know her now. She is trifling with me, and very
likely she is now revelling in her triumph. She has made use of you
to allure me in the snare, and it is all the better for her; had she
come, I meant to have had my turn, and to have laughed at her."
"Ah! you must allow me to have my doubts as to that."
"Doubt me not, beautiful Nanette; the pleasant night we are going to
spend without her must convince you."
"That is to say that, as a man of sense, you can accept us as a
makeshift; but you can sleep here, and my sister can lie with me on
the sofa in the next room."
"I cannot hinder you, but it would be great unkindness on your part.
At all events, I do not intend to go to bed."
"What! you would have the courage to spend seven hours alone with us?
Why, I am certain that in a short time you will be at a loss what to
say, and you will fall asleep."
"Well, we shall see. In the mean-time here are provisions. You will
not be so cruel as to let me eat alone? Can you get any bread?"
"Yes, and to please you we must have a second supper."
"I ought to be in love with you. Tell me, beautiful Nanette, if I
were as much attached to you as I was to Angela, would you follow her
example and make me unhappy?"
"How can you ask such a question? It is worthy of a conceited man.
All I can answer is, that I do not know what I would do."
They laid the cloth, brought some bread, some Parmesan cheese and
water, laughing all the while, and then we went to work. The wine,
to which they were not accustomed, went to their heads, and their
gaiety was soon delightful. I wondered, as I looked at them, at my
having been blind enough not to see their merit.
After our supper, which was delicious, I sat between them, holding
their hands, which I pressed to my lips, asking them whether they
were truly my friends, and whether they approved of Angela's conduct
towards me. They both answered that it had made them shed many
tears. "Then let me," I said, "have for you the tender feelings of a
brother, and share those feelings yourselves as if you were my
sisters; let us exchange, in all innocence, proofs of our mutual
affection, and swear to each other an eternal fidelity."
The first kiss I gave them was prompted by entirely harmless motives,
and they returned the kiss, as they assured me a few days afterwards
only to prove to me that they reciprocated my brotherly feelings; but
those innocent kisses, as we repeated them, very soon became ardent
ones, and kindled a flame which certainly took us by surprise, for we
stopped, as by common consent, after a short time, looking at each
other very much astonished and rather serious. They both left me
without affectation, and I remained alone with my thoughts. Indeed,
it was natural that the burning kisses I had given and received
should have sent through me the fire of passion, and that I should
suddenly have fallen madly in love with the two amiable sisters.
Both were handsomer than Angela, and they were superior to her--
Nanette by her charming wit, Marton by her sweet and simple nature; I
could not understand how I had been so long in rendering them the
justice they deserved, but they were the innocent daughters of a
noble family, and the lucky chance which had thrown them in my way
ought not to prove a calamity for them. I was not vain enough to
suppose that they loved me, but I could well enough admit that my
kisses had influenced them in the same manner that their kisses had
influenced me, and, believing this to be the case, it was evident
that, with a little cunning on my part, and of sly practices of which
they were ignorant, I could easily, during the long night I was going
to spend with them, obtain favours, the consequences of which might
be very positive. The very thought made me shudder, and I firmly
resolved to respect their virtue, never dreaming that circumstances
might prove too strong for me.
When they returned, I read upon their countenances perfect security
and satisfaction, and I quickly put on the same appearance, with a
full determination not to expose myself again to the danger of their
For one hour we spoke of Angela, and I expressed my determination
never to see her again, as I had every proof that she did not care
for me. "She loves you," said the artless Marton; "I know she does,
but if you do not mean to marry her, you will do well to give up all
intercourse with her, for she is quite determined not to grant you
even a kiss as long as you are not her acknowledged suitor. You must
therefore either give up the acquaintance altogether, or make up your
mind that she will refuse you everything."
"You argue very well, but how do you know that she loves me?"
"I am quite sure of it, and as you have promised to be our brother, I
can tell you why I have that conviction. When Angela is in bed with
me, she embraces me lovingly and calls me her dear abbe."
The words were scarcely spoken when Nanette, laughing heartily,
placed her hand on her sister's lips, but the innocent confession had
such an effect upon me that I could hardly control myself.
Marton told Nanette that I could not possibly be ignorant of what
takes place between young girls sleeping together.
"There is no doubt," I said, "that everybody knows those trifles, and
I do not think, dear Nanette, that you ought to reproach your sister
with indiscretion for her friendly confidence."
"It cannot be helped now, but such things ought not to be mentioned.
If Angela knew it!"
"She would be vexed, of course; but Marton has given me a mark of her
friendship which I never can forget. But it is all over; I hate
Angela, and I do not mean to speak to her any more! she is false, and
she wishes my ruin."
"Yet, loving you, is she wrong to think of having you for her
"Granted that she is not; but she thinks only of her own self, for
she knows what I suffer, and her conduct would be very different if
she loved me. In the mean time, thanks to her imagination, she finds
the means of satisfying her senses with the charming Marton who
kindly performs the part of her husband."
Nanette laughed louder, but I kept very serious, and I went on
talking to her sister, and praising her sincerity. I said that very
likely, and to reciprocate her kindness, Angela must likewise have
been her husband, but she answered, with a smile, that Angela played
husband only to Nanette, and Nanette could not deny it.
"But," said I, "what name did Nanette, in her rapture, give to her
"Do you love anyone, Nanette?"
"I do; but my secret is my own."
This reserve gave me the suspicion that I had something to do with
her secret, and that Nanette was the rival of Angela. Such a
delightful conversation caused me to lose the wish of passing an idle
night with two girls so well made for love.
"It is very lucky," I exclaimed, "that I have for you only feelings
of friendship; otherwise it would be very hard to pass the night
without giving way to the temptation of bestowing upon you proofs of
my affection, for you are both so lovely, so bewitching, that you
would turn the brains of any man."
As I went on talking, I pretended to be somewhat sleepy; Nanette
being the first to notice it, said, "Go to bed without any ceremony,
we will lie down on the sofa in the adjoining room."
"I would be a very poor-spirited fellow indeed, if I agreed to this;
let us talk; my sleepiness will soon pass off, but I am anxious about
you. Go to bed yourselves, my charming friends, and I will go into
the next room. If you are afraid of me, lock the door, but you would
do me an injustice, for I feel only a brother's yearnings towards
"We cannot accept such an arrangement," said Nanette, "but let me
persuade you; take this bed."
"I cannot sleep with my clothes on."
"Undress yourself; we will not look at you."
"I have no fear of it, but how could I find the heart to sleep, while
on my account you are compelled to sit up?"
"Well," said Marton, "we can lie down, too, without undressing."
"If you shew me such distrust, you will offend me. Tell me, Nanette,
do you think I am an honest man?"
"Well, then, give me a proof of your good opinion; lie down near me
in the bed, undressed, and rely on my word of honour that I will not
even lay a finger upon you. Besides, you are two against one, what
can you fear? Will you not be free to get out of the bed in case I
should not keep quiet? In short, unless you consent to give me this
mark of your confidence in me, at least when I have fallen asleep, I
cannot go to bed."
I said no more, and pretended to be very sleepy. They exchanged a
few words, whispering to each other, and Marton told me to go to bed,
that they would follow me as soon as I was asleep. Nanette made me
the same promise, I turned my back to them, undressed myself quickly,
and wishing them good night, I went to bed. I immediately pretended
to fall asleep, but soon I dozed in good earnest, and only woke when
they came to bed. Then, turning round as if I wished to resume my
slumbers, I remained very quiet until I could suppose them fast
asleep; at all events, if they did not sleep, they were at liberty to
pretend to do so. Their backs were towards me, and the light was
out; therefore I could only act at random, and I paid my first
compliments to the one who was lying on my right, not knowing whether
she was Nanette or Marton. I find her bent in two, and wrapped up in
the only garment she had kept on. Taking my time, and sparing her
modesty, I compel her by degrees to acknowledge her defeat, and
convince her that it is better to feign sleep and to let me proceed.
Her natural instincts soon working in concert with mine, I reach the
goal; and my efforts, crowned with the most complete success, leave
me not the shadow of a doubt that I have gathered those first-fruits
to which our prejudice makes us attach so great an importance.
Enraptured at having enjoyed my manhood completely and for the first
time, I quietly leave my beauty in order to do homage to the other
sister. I find her motionless, lying on her back like a person
wrapped in profound and undisturbed slumber. Carefully managing my
advance, as if I were afraid of waking her up, I begin by gently
gratifying her senses, and I ascertain the delightful fact that, like
her sister, she is still in possession of her maidenhood. As soon as
a natural movement proves to me that love accepts the offering, I
take my measures to consummate the sacrifice. At that moment, giving
way suddenly to the violence of her feelings, and tired of her
assumed dissimulation, she warmly locks me in her arms at the very
instant of the voluptuous crisis, smothers me with kisses, shares my
raptures, and love blends our souls in the most ecstatic enjoyment.
Guessing her to be Nanette, I whisper her name.
"Yes, I am Nanette," she answers; "and I declare myself happy, as
well as my sister, if you prove yourself true and faithful."
"Until death, my beloved ones, and as everything we have done is the
work of love, do not let us ever mention the name of Angela."
After this, I begged that she would give us a light; but Marton,
always kind and obliging, got out of bed leaving us alone. When I
saw Nanette in my arms, beaming with love, and Marton near the bed,
holding a candle, with her eyes reproaching us with ingratitude
because we did not speak to her, who, by accepting my first caresses,
had encouraged her sister to follow her example, I realized all my
"Let us get up, my darlings," said I, "and swear to each other
When we had risen we performed, all three together, ablutions which
made them laugh a good deal, and which gave a new impetus to the
ardour of our feelings. Sitting up in the simple costume of nature,
we ate the remains of our supper, exchanging those thousand trifling
words which love alone can understand, and we again retired to our
bed, where we spent a most delightful night giving each other mutual
and oft-repeated proofs of our passionate ardour. Nanette was the
recipient of my last bounties, for Madame Orio having left the house
to go to church, I had to hasten my departure, after assuring the two
lovely sisters that they had effectually extinguished whatever flame
might still have flickered in my heart for Angela. I went home and
slept soundly until dinner-time.
M. de Malipiero passed a remark upon my cheerful looks and the dark
circles around my eyes, but I kept my own counsel, and I allowed him
to think whatever he pleased. On the following day I paid a visit to
Madame Orio, and Angela not being of the party, I remained to supper
and retired with M. Rosa. During the evening Nanette contrived to
give me a letter and a small parcel. The parcel contained a small
lump of wax with the stamp of a key, and the letter told me to have a
key made, and to use it to enter the house whenever I wished to spend
the night with them. She informed me at the same time that Angela
had slept with them the night following our adventures, and that,
thanks to their mutual and usual practices, she had guessed the real
state of things, that they had not denied it, adding that it was all
her fault, and that Angela, after abusing them most vehemently, had
sworn never again to darken their doors; but they did not care a jot.
A few days afterwards our good fortune delivered us from Angela; she
was taken to Vicenza by her father, who had removed there for a
couple of years, having been engaged to paint frescoes in some houses
in that city. Thanks to her absence, I found myself undisturbed
possessor of the two charming sisters, with whom I spent at least two
nights every week, finding no difficulty in entering the house with
the key which I had speedily procured.
Carnival was nearly over, when M. Manzoni informed me one day that
the celebrated Juliette wished to see me, and regretted much that I
had ceased to visit her. I felt curious as to what she had to say to
me, and accompanied him to her house. She received me very politely,
and remarking that she had heard of a large hall I had in my house,
she said she would like to give a ball there, if I would give her the
use of it. I readily consented, and she handed me twenty-four
sequins for the supper and for the band, undertaking to send people
to place chandeliers in the hall and in my other rooms.
M. de Sanvitali had left Venice, and the Parmesan government had
placed his estates in chancery in consequence of his extravagant
expenditure. I met him at Versailles ten years afterwards. He wore
the insignia of the king's order of knighthood, and was grand equerry
to the eldest daughter of Louis XV., Duchess of Parma, who, like all
the French princesses, could not be reconciled to the climate of
The ball took place, and went off splendidly. All the guests
belonged to Juliette's set, with the exception of Madame Orio, her
nieces, and the procurator Rosa, who sat together in the room
adjoining the hall, and whom I had been permitted to introduce as
persons of no consequence whatever.
While the after-supper minuets were being danced Juliette took me
apart, and said, "Take me to your bedroom; I have just got an amusing
My room was on the third story; I shewed her the way. The moment we
entered she bolted the door, much to my surprise. "I wish you," she
said, "to dress me up in your ecclesiastical clothes, and I will
disguise you as a woman with my own things. We will go down and
dance together. Come, let us first dress our hair."
Feeling sure of something pleasant to come, and delighted with such
an unusual adventure, I lose no time in arranging her hair, and I let
her afterwards dress mine. She applies rouge and a few beauty spots
to my face; I humour her in everything, and to prove her
satisfaction, she gives me with the best of grace a very loving kiss,
on condition that I do not ask for anything else.
"As you please, beautiful Juliette, but I give you due notice that I
I place upon my bed a shirt, an abbe's neckband, a pair of drawers,
black silk stockings--in fact, a complete fit-out. Coming near the
bed, Juliette drops her skirt, and cleverly gets into the drawers,
which were not a bad fit, but when she comes to the breeches there is
some difficulty; the waistband is too narrow, and the only remedy is
to rip it behind or to cut it, if necessary. I undertake to make
everything right, and, as I sit on the foot of my bed, she places
herself in front of me, with her back towards me. I begin my work,
but she thinks that I want to see too much, that I am not skilful
enough, and that my fingers wander in unnecessary places; she gets
fidgety, leaves me, tears the breeches, and manages in her own way.
Then I help her to put her shoes on, and I pass the shirt over her
head, but as I am disposing the ruffle and the neck-band, she
complains of my hands being too curious; and in truth, her bosom was
rather scanty. She calls me a knave and rascal, but I take no notice
of her. I was not going to be duped, and I thought that a woman who
had been paid one hundred thousand ducats was well worth some study.
At last, her toilet being completed, my turn comes. In spite of her
objections I quickly get rid of my breeches, and she must put on me
the chemise, then a skirt, in a word she has to dress me up. But all
at once, playing the coquette, she gets angry because I do not
conceal from her looks the very apparent proof that her charms have
some effect on a particular part of my being, and she refuses to
grant me the favour which would soon afford both relief and calm. I
try to kiss her, and she repulses me, whereupon I lose patience, and
in spite of herself she has to witness the last stage of my
excitement. At the sight of this, she pours out every insulting word
she can think of; I endeavour to prove that she is to blame, but it
is all in vain.
However, she is compelled to complete my disguise. There is no doubt
that an honest woman would not have exposed herself to such an
adventure, unless she had intended to prove her tender feelings, and
that she would not have drawn back at the very moment she saw them
shared by her companion; but women like Juliette are often guided by
a spirit of contradiction which causes them to act against their own
interests. Besides, she felt disappointed when she found out that I
was not timid, and my want of restraint appeared to her a want of
respect. She would not have objected to my stealing a few light
favours which she would have allowed me to take, as being of no
importance, but, by doing that, I should have flattered her vanity
Our disguise being complete, we went together to the dancing-hall,
where the enthusiastic applause of the guests soon restored our good
temper. Everybody gave me credit for a piece of fortune which I had
not enjoyed, but I was not ill-pleased with the rumour, and went on
dancing with the false abbe, who was only too charming. Juliette
treated me so well during the night that I construed her manners
towards me into some sort of repentance, and I almost regretted what
had taken place between us; it was a momentary weakness for which I
was sorely punished.
At the end of the quadrille all the men thought they had a right to
take liberties with the abbe, and I became myself rather free with
the young girls, who would have been afraid of exposing themselves to
ridicule had they offered any opposition to my caresses.
M. Querini was foolish enough to enquire from me whether I had kept
on my breeches, and as I answered that I had been compelled to lend
them to Juliette, he looked very unhappy, sat down in a corner of the
room, and refused to dance.
Every one of the guests soon remarked that I had on a woman's
chemise, and nobody entertained a doubt of the sacrifice having been
consummated, with the exception of Nanette and Marton, who could not
imagine the possibility of my being unfaithful to them. Juliette
perceived that she had been guilty of great imprudence, but it was
too late to remedy the evil.
When we returned to my chamber upstairs, thinking that she had
repented of her previous behaviour, and feeling some desire to
possess her, I thought I would kiss her, and I took hold of her hand,
saying I was disposed to give her every satisfaction, but she quickly
slapped my face in so violent a manner that, in my indignation, I was
very near returning the compliment. I undressed myself rapidly
without looking at her, she did the same, and we came downstairs;
but, in spite of the cold water I had applied to my cheek, everyone
could easily see the stamp of the large hand which had come in
contact with my face.
Before leaving the house, Juliette took me apart, and told me, in the
most decided and impressive manner, that if I had any fancy for being
thrown out of the window, I could enjoy that pleasure whenever I
liked to enter her dwelling, and that she would have me murdered if
this night's adventure ever became publicly known. I took care not
to give her any cause for the execution of either of her threats, but
I could not prevent the fact of our having exchanged shirts being
rather notorious. As I was not seen at her house, it was generally
supposed that she had been compelled by M. Querini to keep me at a
distance. The reader will see how, six years later, this
extraordinary woman thought proper to feign entire forgetfulness of
I passed Lent, partly in the company of my loved ones, partly in the
study of experimental physics at the Convent of the Salutation. My
evenings were always given to M. de Malipiero's assemblies. At
Easter, in order to keep the promise I had made to the Countess of
Mont-Real, and longing to see again my beautiful Lucie, I went to
Pasean. I found the guests entirely different to the set I had met
the previous autumn. Count Daniel, the eldest of the family, had
married a Countess Gozzi, and a young and wealthy government
official, who had married a god-daughter of the old countess, was
there with his wife and his sister-in-law. I thought the supper very
long. The same room had been given to me, and I was burning to see
Lucie, whom I did not intend to treat any more like a child. I did
not see her before going to bed, but I expected her early the next
morning, when lo! instead of her pretty face brightening my eyes, I
see standing before me a fat, ugly servant-girl! I enquire after the
gatekeeper's family, but her answer is given in the peculiar dialect
of the place, and is, of course, unintelligible to me.
I wonder what has become of Lucie; I fancy that our intimacy has been
found out, I fancy that she is ill--dead, perhaps. I dress myself
with the intention of looking for her. If she has been forbidden to
see me, I think to myself, I will be even with them all, for somehow
or other I will contrive the means of speaking to her, and out of
spite I will do with her that which honour prevented love from
accomplishing. As I was revolving such thoughts, the gate-keeper
comes in with a sorrowful countenance. I enquire after his wife's
health, and after his daughter, but at the name of Lucie his eyes are
filled with tears.
"What! is she dead?"
"Would to God she were!"
"What has she done?"
"She has run away with Count Daniel's courier, and we have been
unable to trace her anywhere."
His wife comes in at the moment he replies, and at these words, which
renewed her grief, the poor woman faints away. The keeper, seeing
how sincerely I felt for his misery, tells me that this great
misfortune befell them only a week before my arrival.
"I know that man l'Aigle," I say; "he is a scoundrel. Did he ask to
"No; he knew well enough that our consent would have been refused!"
"I wonder at Lucie acting in such a way."
"He seduced her, and her running away made us suspect the truth, for
she had become very stout."
"Had he known her long?"
"About a month after your last visit she saw him for the first time.
He must have thrown a spell over her, for our Lucie was as pure as a
dove, and you can, I believe, bear testimony to her goodness."
"And no one knows where they are?"
"No one. God alone knows what this villain will do with her."
I grieved as much as the unfortunate parents; I went out and took a
long ramble in the woods to give way to my sad feelings. During two
hours I cogitated over considerations, some true, some false, which
were all prefaced by an if. If I had paid this visit, as I might
have done, a week sooner, loving Lucie would have confided in me, and
I would have prevented that self-murder. If I had acted with her as
with Nanette and Marton, she would not have been left by me in that
state of ardent excitement which must have proved the principal cause
of her fault, and she would not have fallen a prey to that scoundrel.
If she had not known me before meeting the courier, her innocent soul
would never have listened to such a man. I was in despair, for in my
conscience I acknowledged myself the primary agent of this infamous
seduction; I had prepared the way for the villain.
Had I known where to find Lucie, I would certainly have gone forth on
the instant to seek for her, but no trace whatever of her whereabouts
had been discovered.
Before I had been made acquainted with Lucie's misfortune I felt
great pride at having had sufficient power over myself to respect her
innocence; but after hearing what had happened I was ashamed of my
own reserve, and I promised myself that for the future I would on
that score act more wisely. I felt truly miserable when my
imagination painted the probability of the unfortunate girl being
left to poverty and shame, cursing the remembrance of me, and hating
me as the first cause of her misery. This fatal event caused me to
adopt a new system, which in after years I carried sometimes rather
I joined the cheerful guests of the countess in the gardens, and
received such a welcome that I was soon again in my usual spirits,
and at dinner I delighted everyone.
My sorrow was so great that it was necessary either to drive it away
at once or to leave Pasean. But a new life crept into my being as I
examined the face and the disposition of the newly-married lady. Her
sister was prettier, but I was beginning to feel afraid of a novice;
I thought the work too great.
This newly-married lady, who was between nineteen and twenty years of
age, drew upon herself everybody's attention by her over-strained and
unnatural manners. A great talker, with a memory crammed with maxims
and precepts often without sense, but of which she loved to make a
show, very devout, and so jealous of her husband that she did not
conceal her vexation when he expressed his satisfaction at being
seated at table opposite her sister, she laid herself open to much
ridicule. Her husband was a giddy young fellow, who perhaps felt
very deep affection for his wife, but who imagined that, through good
breeding, he ought to appear very indifferent, and whose vanity found
pleasure in giving her constant causes for jealousy. She, in her
turn, had a great dread of passing for an idiot if she did not shew
her appreciation of, and her resentment for, his conduct. She felt
uneasy in the midst of good company, precisely because she wished to
appear thoroughly at home. If I prattled away with some of my
trilling nonsense, she would stare at me, and in her anxiety not to
be thought stupid, she would laugh out of season. Her oddity, her
awkwardness, and her self-conceit gave me the desire to know her
better, and I began to dance attendance upon her.
My attentions, important and unimportant, my constant care, ever my
fopperies, let everybody know that I meditated conquest. The husband
was duly warned, but, with a great show of intrepidity, he answered
with a joke every time he was told that I was a formidable rival. On
my side I assumed a modest, and even sometimes a careless appearance,
when, to shew his freedom from jealousy, he excited me to make love
to his wife, who, on her part, understood but little how to perform
the part of fancy free.
I had been paying my address to her for five or six days with great
constancy, when, taking a walk with her in the garden, she
imprudently confided to me the reason of her anxiety respecting her
husband, and how wrong he was to give her any cause for jealousy. I
told her, speaking as an old friend, that the best way to punish him
would be to take no apparent notice of her, husband's preference for
her sister, and to feign to be herself in love with me. In order to
entice her more easily to follow my advice, I added that I was well
aware of my plan being a very difficult one to carry out, and that to
play successfully such a character a woman must be particularly
witty. I had touched her weak point, and she exclaimed that she
would play the part to perfection; but in spite of her self-
confidence she acquitted herself so badly that everybody understood
that the plan was of my own scheming.
If I happened to be alone with her in the dark paths of the garden,
and tried to make her play her part in real earnest, she would take
the dangerous step of running away, and rejoining the other guests;
the result being that, on my reappearance, I was called a bad
sportsman who frightened the bird away. I would not fail at the
first opportunity to reproach her for her flight, and to represent
the triumph she had thus prepared for her spouse. I praised her
mind, but lamented over the shortcomings of her education; I said
that the tone, the manners I adopted towards her, were those of good
society, and proved the great esteem I entertained for her
intelligence, but in the middle of all my fine speeches, towards the
eleventh or twelfth day of my courtship, she suddenly put me out of
all conceit by telling me that, being a priest, I ought to know that
every amorous connection was a deadly sin, that God could see every
action of His creatures, and that she would neither damn her soul nor
place herself under the necessity of saying to her confessor that she
had so far forgotten herself as to commit such a sin with a priest.
I objected that I was not yet a priest, but she foiled me by
enquiring point-blank whether or not the act I had in view was to be
numbered amongst the cardinal sins, for, not feeling the courage to
deny it, I felt that I must give up the argument and put an end to
A little consideration having considerably calmed my feelings,
everybody remarked my new countenance during dinner; and the old
count, who was very fond of a joke, expressed loudly his opinion that
such quiet demeanour on my part announced the complete success of my
campaign. Considering such a remark to be favourable to me, I took
care to spew my cruel devotee that such was the way the world would
judge, but all this was lost labour. Luck, however, stood me in good
stead, and my efforts were crowned with success in the following
On Ascension Day, we all went to pay a visit to Madame Bergali, a
celebrated Italian poetess. On my return to Pasean the same evening,
my pretty mistress wished to get into a carriage for four persons in
which her husband and sister were already seated, while I was alone
in a two-wheeled chaise. I exclaimed at this, saying that such a
mark of distrust was indeed too pointed, and everybody remonstrated
with her, saying that she ought not to insult me so cruelly. She was
compelled to come with me, and having told the postillion that I
wanted to go by the nearest road, he left the other carriages, and
took the way through the forest of Cequini. The sky was clear and
cloudless when we left, but in less than half-an-hour we were visited
by one of those storms so frequent in the south, which appear likely
to overthrow heaven and earth, and which end rapidly, leaving behind
them a bright sky and a cool atmosphere, so that they do more good
"Oh, heavens!" exclaimed my companion, "we shall have a storm."
"Yes," I say, "and although the chaise is covered, the rain will
spoil your pretty dress. I am very sorry."
"I do not mind the dress; but the thunder frightens me so!"
"Close your ears."
"And the lightning?"
"Postillion, let us go somewhere for shelter."
"There is not a house, sir, for a league, and before we come to it,
the storm will have passed off."
He quietly keeps on his way, and the lightning flashes, the thunder
sends forth its mighty voice, and the lady shudders with fright. The
rain comes down in torrents, I take off my cloak to shelter us in
front, at the same moment we are blinded by a flash of lightning, and
the electric fluid strikes the earth within one hundred yards of us.
The horses plunge and prance with fear, and my companion falls in
spasmodic convulsions. She throws herself upon me, and folds me in
her arms. The cloak had gone down, I stoop to place it around us,
and improving my opportunity I take up her clothes. She tries to
pull them down, but another clap of thunder deprives her of every
particle of strength. Covering her with the cloak, I draw her
towards me, and the motion of the chaise coming to my assistance, she
falls over me in the most favourable position. I lose no time, and
under pretence of arranging my watch in my fob, I prepare myself for
the assault. On her side, conscious that, unless she stops me at
once, all is lost, she makes a great effort; but I hold her tightly,
saying that if she does not feign a fainting fit, the post-boy will
turn round and see everything; I let her enjoy the pleasure of
calling me an infidel, a monster, anything she likes, but my victory
is the most complete that ever a champion achieved.
The rain, however, was falling, the wind, which was very high, blew
in our faces, and, compelled to stay where she was, she said I would
ruin her reputation, as the postillion could see everything.
"I keep my eye upon him," I answered, "he is not thinking of us, and
even if he should turn his head, the cloak shelters us from him. Be
quiet, and pretend to have fainted, for I will not let you go."
She seems resigned, and asks how I can thus set the storm at
"The storm, dear one, is my best friend to-day."
She almost seems to believe me, her fear vanishes, and feeling my
rapture, she enquires whether I have done. I smile and answer in the
negative, stating that I cannot let her go till the storm is over.
"Consent to everything, or I let the cloak drop," I say to her.
"Well, you dreadful man, are you satisfied, now that you have insured
my misery for the remainder of my life?"
"No, not yet."
"What more do you want?"
"A shower of kisses."
"How unhappy I am! Well! here they are."
"Tell me you forgive me, and confess that you have shared all my
"You know I did. Yes, I forgive you."
Then I give her her liberty, and treating her to some very pleasant
caresses, I ask her to have the same kindness for me, and she goes to
work with a smile on her pretty lips.
"Tell me you love me," I say to her.
"No, I do not, for you are an atheist, and hell awaits you."
The weather was fine again, and the elements calm; I kissed her hands
and told her that the postillion had certainly not seen anything, and
that I was sure I had cured her of her dread of thunder, but that she
was not likely to reveal the secret of my remedy. She answered that
one thing at least was certain, namely that no other woman had ever
been cured by the same prescription.
"Why," I said, "the same remedy has very likely been applied a
million of times within the last thousand years. To tell you the
truth, I had somewhat depended upon it, when we entered the chaise
together, for I did not know any other way of obtaining the happiness
of possessing you. But console yourself with the belief that, placed
in the same position, no frightened woman could have resisted."
"I believe you; but for the future I will travel only with my
"You would be wrong, for your husband would not have been clever
enough to cure your fright in the way I have done."
"True, again. One learns some curious things in your company; but we
shall not travel tete-d-tete again."
We reached Pasean an hour before our friends. We get out of the
chaise, and my fair mistress ran off to her chamber, while I was
looking for a crown for the postillion. I saw that he was grinning.
"What are you laughing at?"
"Oh! you know."
"Here, take this ducat and keep a quiet tongue in your head."
My Grandmother's Death and Its Consequences I Lose M. de Malipiero's
Friendship--I Have No Longer a Home--La Tintoretta--I Am Sent to a
Clerical Seminary--I Am Expelled From It, and Confined in a Fortress
During supper the conversation turned altogether upon the storm, and
the official, who knew the weakness of his wife, told me that he was
quite certain I would never travel with her again. "Nor I with him,"
his wife remarked, "for, in his fearful impiety, he exorcised the
lightning with jokes."
Henceforth she avoided me so skilfully that I never could contrive
another interview with her.
When I returned to Venice I found my grandmother ill, and I had to
change all my habits, for I loved her too dearly not to surround her
with every care and attention; I never left her until she had
breathed her last. She was unable to leave me anything, for during
her life she had given me all she could, and her death compelled me
to adopt an entirely different mode of life.
A month after her death, I received a letter from my mother informing
me that, as there was no probability of her return to Venice, she had
determined to give up the house, the rent of which she was still
paying, that she had communicated her intention to the Abbe Grimani,
and that I was to be guided entirely by his advice.
He was instructed to sell the furniture, and to place me, as well as
my brothers and my sister, in a good boarding-house. I called upon
Grimani to assure him of my perfect disposition to obey his commands.
The rent of the house had been paid until the end of the year; but,
as I was aware that the furniture would be sold on the expiration of
the term, I placed my wants under no restraint. I had already sold
some linen, most of the china, and several tapestries; I now began to
dispose of the mirrors, beds, etc. I had no doubt that my conduct
would be severely blamed, but I knew likewise that it was my father's
inheritance, to which my mother had no claim whatever, and, as to my
brothers, there was plenty of time before any explanation could take
place between us.
Four months afterwards I had a second letter from my mother, dated
from Warsaw, and enclosing another. Here is the translation of my
"My dear son, I have made here the acquaintance of a learned Minim
friar, a Calabrian by birth, whose great qualities have made me think
of you every time he has honoured me with a visit. A year ago I told
him that I had a son who was preparing himself for the Church, but
that I had not the means of keeping him during his studies, and he
promised that my son would become his own child, if I could obtain
for him from the queen a bishopric in his native country, and he
added that it would be very easy to succeed if I could induce the
sovereign to recommend him to her daughter, the queen of Naples.
"Full of trust in the Almighty, I threw myself at the feet of her
majesty, who granted me her gracious protection. She wrote to her
daughter, and the worthy friar has been appointed by the Pope to the
bishopric of Monterano. Faithful to his promise, the good bishop
will take you with him about the middle of next year, as he passes
through Venice to reach Calabria. He informs you himself of his
intentions in the enclosed letter. Answer him immediately, my dear
son, and forward your letter to me; I will deliver it to the bishop.
He will pave your way to the highest dignities of the Church, and you
may imagine my consolation if, in some twenty or thirty years, I had
the happiness of seeing you a bishop, at least! Until his arrival,
M. Grimani will take care of you. I give you my blessing, and I am,
my dear child, etc., etc."
The bishop's letter was written in Latin, and was only a repetition
of my mother's. It was full of unction, and informed me that he
would tarry but three days in Venice.
I answered according to my mother's wishes, but those two letters had
turned my brain. I looked upon my fortune as made. I longed to
enter the road which was to lead me to it, and I congratulated myself
that I could leave my country without any regret. Farewell, Venice,
I exclaimed; the days for vanity are gone by, and in the future I
will only think of a great, of a substantial career! M. Grimani
congratulated me warmly on my good luck, and promised all his
friendly care to secure a good boarding-house, to which I would go at
the beginning of the year, and where I would wait for the bishop's
M. de Malipiero, who in his own way had great wisdom, and who saw
that in Venice I was plunging headlong into pleasures and
dissipation, and was only wasting a precious time, was delighted to
see me on the eve of going somewhere else to fulfil my destiny, and
much pleased with my ready acceptance of those new circumstances in
my life. He read me a lesson which I have never forgotten. "The
famous precept of the Stoic philosophers," he said to me, "'Sequere
Deum', can he perfectly explained by these words: 'Give yourself up
to whatever fate offers to you, provided you do not feel an
invincible repugnance to accept it.'" He added that it was the
genius of Socrates, 'saepe revocans, raro impellens'; and that it was
the origin of the 'fata viam inveniunt' of the same philosophers.
M. de Malipiero's science was embodied in that very lesson, for he
had obtained his knowledge by the study of only one book--the book of
man. However, as if it were to give me the proof that perfection
does not exist, and that there is a bad side as well as a good one to
everything, a certain adventure happened to me a month afterwards
which, although I was following his own maxims, cost me the loss of
his friendship, and which certainly did not teach me anything.
The senator fancied that he could trace upon the physiognomy of young
people certain signs which marked them out as the special favourites
of fortune. When he imagined that he had discovered those signs upon
any individual, he would take him in hand and instruct him how to
assist fortune by good and wise principles; and he used to say, with
a great deal of truth, that a good remedy would turn into poison in
the hands of a fool, but that poison is a good remedy when
administered by a learned man. He had, in my time, three favourites
in whose education he took great pains. They were, besides myself,
Therese Imer, with whom the reader has a slight acquaintance already,
and the third was the daughter of the boatman Gardela, a girl three
years younger than I, who had the prettiest and most fascinating
countenance. The speculative old man, in order to assist fortune in
her particular case, made her learn dancing, for, he would say, the
ball cannot reach the pocket unless someone pushes it. This girl
made a great reputation at Stuttgard under the name of Augusta. She
was the favourite mistress of the Duke of Wurtemburg in 1757. She
was a most charming woman. The last time I saw her she was in
Venice, and she died two years afterwards. Her husband, Michel de
l'Agata, poisoned himself a short time after her death.
One day we had all three dined with him, and after dinner the senator
left us, as was his wont, to enjoy his siesta; the little Gardela,
having a dancing lesson to take, went away soon after him, and I
found myself alone with Therese, whom I rather admired, although I
had never made love to her. We were sitting down at a table very
near each other, with our backs to the door of the room in which we
thought our patron fast asleep, and somehow or other we took a fancy
to examine into the difference of conformation between a girl and a
boy; but at the most interesting part of our study a violent blow on
my shoulders from a stick, followed by another, and which would have
been itself followed by many more if I had not ran away, compelled us
to abandon our interesting investigation unfinished. I got off
without hat or cloak, and went home; but in less than a quarter of an
hour the old housekeeper of the senator brought my clothes with a
letter which contained a command never to present myself again at the
mansion of his excellency. I immediately wrote him an answer in the
following terms: "You have struck me while you were the slave of your
anger; you cannot therefore boast of having given me a lesson, and I
have not learned anything. To forgive you I must forget that you are
a man of great wisdom, and I can never forget it."
This nobleman was perhaps quite right not to be pleased with the
sight we gave him; yet, with all his prudence, he proved himself very
unwise, for all the servants were acquainted with the cause of my
exile, and, of course, the adventure was soon known through the city,
and was received with great merriment. He dared not address any
reproaches to Therese, as I heard from her soon after, but she could
not venture to entreat him to pardon me.
The time to leave my father's house was drawing near, and one fine
morning I received the visit of a man about forty years old, with a
black wig, a scarlet cloak, and a very swarthy complexion, who handed
me a letter from M. Grimani, ordering me to consign to the bearer all
the furniture of the house according to the inventory, a copy of
which was in my possession. Taking the inventory in my hand, I
pointed out every article marked down, except when the said article,
having through my instrumentality taken an airing out of the house,
happened to be missing, and whenever any article was absent I said
that I had not the slightest idea where it might be. But the uncouth
fellow, taking a very high tone, said loudly that he must know what I
had done with the furniture. His manner being very disagreeable to
me, I answered that I had nothing to do with him, and as he still
raised his voice I advised him to take himself off as quickly as
possible, and I gave him that piece of advice in such a way as to
prove to him that, at home, I knew I was the more powerful of the
Feeling it my duty to give information to M. Grimani of what had
just taken place, I called upon him as soon as he was up, but I found
that my man was already there, and that he had given his own account
of the affair. The abbe, after a very severe lecture to which I had
to listen in silence, ordered me to render an account of all the
missing articles. I answered that I had found myself under the
necessity of selling them to avoid running into debt. This
confession threw him in a violent passion; he called me a rascal,
said that those things did not belong to me, that he knew what he had
to do, and he commanded me to leave his house on the very instant.
Mad with rage, I ran for a Jew, to whom I wanted to sell what
remained of the furniture, but when I returned to my house I found a
bailiff waiting at the door, and he handed me a summons. I looked
over it and perceived that it was issued at the instance of Antonio
Razetta. It was the name of the fellow with the swarthy countenance.
The seals were already affixed on all the doors, and I was not even
allowed to go to my room, for a keeper had been left there by the
bailiff. I lost no time, and called upon M. Rosa, to whom I related
all the circumstances. After reading the summons he said,
"The seals shall be removed to-morrow morning, and in the meantime I
shall summon Razetta before the avogador. But to-night, my dear
friend," he added, "you must beg the hospitality of some one of your
acquaintances. It has been a violent proceeding, but you shall be
paid handsomely for it; the man is evidently acting under
M. Grimani's orders."
"Well, that is their business."
I spent the night with Nanette and Marton, and on the following
morning, the seals having been taken off, I took possession of my
dwelling. Razetta did not appear before the 'avogador', and M. Rosa
summoned him in my name before the criminal court, and obtained
against him a writ of 'capias' in case he should not obey the second
summons. On the third day M. Grimani wrote to me, commanding me to
call upon him. I went immediately. As soon as I was in his presence
he enquired abruptly what my intentions were.
"I intend to shield myself from your violent proceedings under the
protection of the law, and to defend myself against a man with whom I
ought never to have had any connection, and who has compelled me to
pass the night in a disreputable place."
"In a disreputable place?"
"Of course. Why was I, against all right and justice, prevented from
entering my own dwelling?"
"You have possession of it now. But you must go to your lawyer and
tell him to suspend all proceedings against Razetta, who has done
nothing but under my instructions. I suspected that your intention
was to sell the rest of the furniture; I have prevented it. There is
a room at your disposal at St. Chrysostom's, in a house of mine, the
first floor of which is occupied by La Tintoretta, our first opera
dancer. Send all your things there, and come and dine with me every
day. Your sister and your brothers have been provided with a
comfortable home; therefore, everything is now arranged for the
I called at once upon M. Rosa, to whom I explained all that had taken
place, and his advice being to give way to M. Grimani's wishes, I
determined to follow it. Besides, the arrangement offered the best
satisfaction I could obtain, as to be a guest at his dinner table was
an honour for me. I was likewise full of curiosity respecting my new
lodging under the same roof with La Tintoretta, who was much talked
of, owing to a certain Prince of Waldeck who was extravagantly
generous with her.
The bishop was expected in the course of the summer; I had,
therefore, only six months more to wait in Venice before taking the
road which would lead me, perhaps, to the throne of Saint Peter:
everything in the future assumed in my eyes the brightest hue, and my
imagination revelled amongst the most radiant beams of sunshine; my
castles in the air were indeed most beautiful.
I dined the same day with M. Grimani, and I found myself seated next
to Razetta--an unpleasant neighbour, but I took no notice of him.
When the meal was over, I paid a last visit to my beautiful house in
Saint-Samuel's parish, and sent all I possessed in a gondola to my
I did not know Signora Tintoretta, but I was well acquainted with her
reputation, character and manners. She was but a poor dancer,
neither handsome nor plain, but a woman of wit and intellect. Prince
Waldeck spent a great deal for her, and yet he did not prevent her
from retaining the titulary protection of a noble Venetian of the Lin
family, now extinct, a man about sixty years of age, who was her
visitor at every hour of the day. This nobleman, who knew me, came
to my room towards the evening, with the compliments of the lady,
who, he added, was delighted to have me in her house, and would be
pleased to receive me in her intimate circle.
To excuse myself for not having been the first to pay my respects to
the signora, I told M. Lin that I did not know she was my neighbour,
that M. Grimani had not mentioned the circumstance, otherwise I would
have paid my duties to her before taking possession of my lodging.
After this apology I followed the ambassador, he presented me to his
mistress, and the acquaintance was made.
She received me like a princess, took off her glove before giving me
her hand to kiss, mentioned my name before five or six strangers who
were present, and whose names she gave me, and invited me to take a
seat near her. As she was a native of Venice, I thought it was
absurd for her to speak French to me, and I told her that I was not
acquainted with that language, and would feel grateful if she would
converse in Italian. She was surprised at my not speaking French,
and said I would cut but a poor figure in her drawing-room, as they
seldom spoke any other language there, because she received a great
many foreigners. I promised to learn French. Prince Waldeck came in
during the evening; I was introduced to him, and he gave me a very
friendly welcome. He could speak Italian very well, and during the
carnival he chewed me great kindness. He presented me with a gold
snuffbox as a reward for a very poor sonnet which I had written for
his dear Grizellini. This was her family name; she was called
Tintoretta because her father had been a dyer.
The Tintoretta had greater claims than Juliette to the admiration of
sensible men. She loved poetry, and if it had not been that I was
expecting the bishop, I would have fallen in love with her. She was
herself smitten with a young physician of great merit, named
Righelini, who died in the prime of life, and whom I still regret. I
shall have to mention him in another part of my Memoirs.
Towards the end of the carnival, my mother wrote to M. Grimani that
it would be a great shame if the bishop found me under the roof of an
opera dancer, and he made up his mind to lodge me in a respectable
and decent place. He took the Abbe Tosello into consultation, and
the two gentlemen thought that the best thing they could do for me
would be to send me to a clerical seminary. They arranged everything
unknown to me, and the abbe undertook to inform me of their plan and
to obtain from me a gracious consent. But when I heard him speak
with beautiful flowers of rhetoric for the purpose of gilding the
bitter pill, I could not help bursting into a joyous laughter, and I
astounded his reverence when I expressed my readiness to go anywhere
he might think right to send me.
The plan of the two worthy gentlemen was absurd, for at the age of
seventeen, and with a nature like mine, the idea of placing me in a
seminary ought never to have been entertained, but ever a faithful
disciple of Socrates, feeling no unconquerable reluctance, and the
plan, on the contrary, appearing to me rather a good joke, I not only
gave a ready consent, but I even longed to enter the seminary. I
told M. Grimani I was prepared to accept anything, provided Razetta
had nothing to do with it. He gave me his promise, but he did not
keep it when I left the seminary. I have never been able to decide
whether this Grimani was kind because he was a fool, or whether his
stupidity was the result of his kindness, but all his brothers were
the same. The worst trick that Dame Fortune can play upon an
intelligent young man is to place him under the dependence of a fool.
A few days afterwards, having been dressed as a pupil of a clerical
seminary by the care of the abbe, I was taken to Saint-Cyprian de
Muran and introduced to the rector.
The patriarchal church of Saint-Cyprian is served by an order of the
monks, founded by the blessed Jerome Miani, a nobleman of Venice.
The rector received me with tender affection and great kindness. But
in his address (which was full of unction) I thought I could perceive
a suspicion on his part that my being sent to the seminary was a
punishment, or at least a way to put a stop to an irregular life,
and, feeling hurt in my dignity, I told him at once, "Reverend
father, I do not think that any one has the right of punishing me."
"No, no, my son," he answered, "I only meant that you would be very
happy with us."
We were then shewn three halls, in which we found at least one
hundred and fifty seminarists, ten or twelve schoolrooms, the
refectory, the dormitory, the gardens for play hours, and every pain
was taken to make me imagine life in such a place the happiest that
could fall to the lot of a young man, and to make me suppose that I
would even regret the arrival of the bishop. Yet they all tried to
cheer me up by saying that I would only remain there five or six
months. Their eloquence amused me greatly.
I entered the seminary at the beginning of March, and prepared myself
for my new life by passing the night between my two young friends,
Nanette and Marton, who bathed their pillows with tears; they could
not understand, and this was likewise the feeling of their aunt and
of the good M. Rosa, how a young man like myself could shew such
The day before going to the seminary, I had taken care to entrust all
my papers to Madame Manzoni. They made a large parcel, and I left it
in her hands for fifteen years. The worthy old lady is still alive,
and with her ninety years she enjoys good health and a cheerful
temper. She received me with a smile, and told me that I would not
remain one month in the seminary.
"I beg your pardon, madam, but I am very glad to go there, and intend
to remain until the arrival of the bishop."
"You do not know your own nature, and you do not know your bishop,
with whom you will not remain very long either."
The abbe accompanied me to the seminary in a gondola, but at Saint-
Michel he had to stop in consequence of a violent attack of vomiting
which seized me suddenly; the apothecary cured me with some mint-
I was indebted for this attack to the too frequent sacrifices which I
had been offering on the altar of love. Any lover who knows what his
feelings were when he found himself with the woman he adored and with
the fear that it was for the last time, will easily imagine my
feelings during the last hours that I expected ever to spend with my
two charming mistresses. I could not be induced to let the last
offering be the last, and I went on offering until there was no more
The priest committed me to the care of the rector, and my luggage was
carried to the dormitory, where I went myself to deposit my cloak and
my hat. I was not placed amongst the adults, because,
notwithstanding my size, I was not old enough. Besides, I would not
shave myself, through vanity, because I thought that the down on my
face left no doubt of my youth. It was ridiculous, of course; but
when does man cease to be so? We get rid of our vices more easily
than of our follies. Tyranny has not had sufficient power over me to
compel me to shave myself; it is only in that respect that I have
found tyranny to be tolerant.
"To which school do you wish to belong?" asked the rector.
"To the dogmatic, reverend father; I wish to study the history of the
"I will introduce you to the father examiner."
"I am doctor in divinity, most reverend father, and do not want to be
"It is necessary, my dear son; come with me."
This necessity appeared to me an insult, and I felt very angry; but a
spirit of revenge quickly whispered to me the best way to mystify
them, and the idea made me very joyful. I answered so badly all the
questions propounded in Latin by the examiner, I made so many
solecisms, that he felt it his duty to send me to an inferior class
of grammar, in which, to my great delight, I found myself the
companion of some twenty young urchins of about ten years, who,
hearing that I was doctor in divinity, kept on saying: 'Accipiamus
pecuniam, et mittamus asinum in patriam suam'.
Our play hours afforded me great amusement; my companions of the
dormitory, who were all in the class of philosophy at least, looked
down upon me with great contempt, and when they spoke of their own
sublime discourses, they laughed if I appeared to be listening
attentively to their discussions which, as they thought, must have
been perfect enigmas to me. I did not intend to betray myself, but
an accident, which I could not avoid, forced me to throw off the
Father Barbarigo, belonging to the Convent of the Salutation at
Venice, whose pupil I had been in physics, came to pay a visit to the
rector, and seeing me as we were coming from mass paid me his
friendly compliments. His first question was to enquire what science
I was studying, and he thought I was joking when I answered that I
was learning the grammar. The rector having joined us, I left them
together, and went to my class. An our later, the rector sent for
"Why did you feign such ignorance at the examination?" he asked.
"Why," I answered, "were you unjust enough to compel me to the
degradation of an examination?"
He looked annoyed, and escorted me to the dogmatic school, where my
comrades of the dormitory received me with great astonishment, and in
the afternoon, at play time, they gathered around me and made me very
happy with their professions of friendship.