Part 41 out of 70
"I don't feel well, my lord. I think I must go out."
"What prince is that?" said I.
"The Prince de Chimai. He is a sub-deacon, and is endeavouring to
gain permission to marry, lest his family should become extinct."
"I admire his prudence or his delicacy, but I am afraid I should
not imitate him."
There were twenty-four of us at table, and it is no exaggeration
to say that we emptied a hundred bottles of the choicest wines.
Everybody was drunk, with the exception of myself and the poet
Poinsinet, who had taken nothing but water. The company rose from
table, and then began a foul orgy which I should never have
conceived possible, and which no pen could describe, though
possibly a seasoned profligate might get some idea of it.
A castrato and a girl of almost equal height proposed to strip in
an adjoining room, and to lie on their backs, in the same bed with
their faces covered. They challenged us all to guess which was
We all went in and nobody could pronounce from sight which was
male and which was female, so I bet the earl fifty crowns that I
would point out the woman.
He accepted the wager, and I guessed correctly, but payment was
out of the question.
This first act of the orgy ended with the prostitution of the two
individuals, who defied everybody to accomplish the great act.
All, with the exception of Poinsinet and myself, made the attempt,
but their efforts were in vain.
The second act displayed four or five couples reversed, and here
the abbes shone, both in the active and passive parts of this
lascivious spectacle. I was the only person respected.
All at once, the earl, who had hitherto remained perfectly
motionless, attacked the wretched Poinsinet, who in vain attempted
to defend himself. He had to strip like my lord, who was as naked
as the others. We stood round in a circle. Suddenly the earl,
taking his watch, promised it to the first who succeeded in giving
them a sure mark of sensibility. The desire of gaining the prize
excited the impure crowd immensely, and the castrati, the girls,
and the abbes all did their utmost, each one striving to be the
first. They had to draw lots. This part interested me most, for
throughout this almost incredible scene of debauchery I did not
experience the slightest sensation, although under other
circumstances any of the girls would have claimed my homage, but
all I did was to laugh, especially to see the poor poet in terror
of experiencing the lust of the flesh, for the profligate nobleman
swore that if he made him lose he would deliver him up to the
brutal lust of all the abbes. He escaped, probably through fear
of the consequences.
The orgy came to an end when nobody had any further hopes of
getting the watch. The secret of the Lesbians was only employed,
however, by the abbes and the castrata. The girls, wishing to be
able to despise those who made use of it, refrained from doing so.
I suspect they were actuated by pride rather than shame, as they
might possibly have employed it without success.
This vile debauch disgusted me, and yet gave me a better knowledge
of myself. I could not help confessing that my life had been
endangered, for the only arm I had was my sword, but I should
certainly have used it if the earl had tried to treat me like the
others, and as he had treated poor Poinsinet. I never understood
how it was that he respected me, for he was quite drunk, and in a
kind of Bacchic fury.
As I left, I promised to come and see him as often as he pleased,
but I promised myself never to set foot in his house again.
Next day, he came to see me in the afternoon, and asked me to walk
with him to the Villa Medici.
I complimented him on the immense wealth he had inherited to
enable him to live so splendidly, but he laughed and told me that
he did not possess fifty piastres, that his father had left
nothing but debts, and that he himself already owed three or four
"I wonder people give you credit, then."
"They give me credit because everybody knows that I have drawn a
bill of exchange on Paris to the tune of two hundred thousand
francs. But in four or five days the bill will be returned
protested, and I am only waiting for that to happen to make my
"If you are certain of its being protested, I advise you to make
your escape to-day; for as it is so large a sum it may be taken up
before it is due."
"No, I won't do that; I have one hope left. I have written to
tell my mother that I shall be undone if she does not furnish the
banker, on whom I have drawn the bill, with sufficient funds and
if she does that, the bill will be accepted. You know my mother
is very fond of me."
"Yes, but I also know that she is far from rich."
"True, but M. de St. Aubin is rich enough, and between you and me
I think he is my father. Meanwhile, my creditors are almost as
quiet as I am. All those girls you saw yesterday would give me
all they have if I asked them, as they are all expecting me to
make them a handsome present in the course of the week, but I
won't abuse their trust in me. But I am afraid I shall be obliged
to cheat the Jew, who wants me to give him three thousand sequins
for this ring, as I know it is only worth one thousand."
"He will send the police after you."
"I defy him to do whatever he likes."
The ring was set with a straw-coloured diamond of nine or ten
carats. He begged me to keep his secret as we parted. I did not
feel any sentiments of pity for this extravagant madman, as I only
saw in him a man unfortunate by his own fault, whose fate would
probably make him end his days in a prison unless he had the
courage to blow his brains out.
I went to Momolo's in the evening, and found the intended husband
of my fair Mariuccia there, but not the lady herself. I heard she
had sent word to the 'scopatore santissimo' that, as her father
had come from Palestrina to be present at her wedding, she could
not come to supper. I admired her subtlety. A young girl has no
need of being instructed in diplomacy, nature and her own heart
are her teachers, and she never blunders. At supper I studied the
young man, and found him eminently suitable for Mariuccia; he was
handsome, modest, and intelligent, and whatever he said was spoken
frankly and to the point.
He told me before Momolo's daughter, Tecla, that he would have
married her if she had possessed means to enable him to open his
shop, and that he had reason to thank God for having met Maria,
whose confessor had been such a true spiritual father to her. I
asked him where the wedding festivities were to take place, and he
told me they were to be at his father's house, on the other side
of the Tiber. As his father, who kept a garden, was poor, he had
furnished him with ten crowns to defray the expenses.
I wanted to give him the ten crowns, but how was I to do it? It
would have betrayed me.
"Is your father's garden a pretty one?" I asked.
"Not exactly pretty, but very well kept. As he owns the land, he
has separated a plot which he wants to sell; it would bring in
twenty crowns a year, and I should be as happy as a cardinal if I
could buy it."
"How much will it cost?"
"It's a heavy price; two hundred crowns."
"Why, that's cheap! Listen to me. I have met your future bride
at this house, and I have found her all worthy of happiness. She
deserves an honest young fellow like you for a husband. Now what
would you do supposing I were to make you a present of two hundred
crowns to buy the garden?"
"I should put it to my wife's dowry."
"Then here are the two hundred crowns. I shall give them to
Momolo, as I don't know you well enough, though I think you are
perfectly to be trusted. The garden is yours, as part of your
Momolo took the money, and promised to buy the garden the
following day, and the young man shedding tears of joy and
gratitude fell on his knees and kissed my hand. All the girls
wept, as I myself did, for there's a contagion in such happy
tears. Nevertheless, they did not all proceed from the same
source; some were virtuous and some vicious, and the young man's
were the only ones whose source was pure and unalloyed. I lifted
him from the ground, kissed him, and wished him a happy marriage.
He made bold to ask me to his wedding, but I refused, thanking him
kindly. I told him that if he wanted to please me, he must come
and sup at Momolo's on the eve of his wedding, and I begged the
good scopatore to ask Mariuccia, her father and mother as well. I
was sure of seeing her for the last time on the Sunday morning.
At seven o'clock on the Sunday morning we were in each other's
arms, with four hours before us. After the first burst of mutual
ardour she told me that all arrangements had been made in her
house the evening before, in the presence of her confessor and of
Momolo; and that on the receipt for the two hundred crowns being
handed in the notary had put the garden into the settlement, and
that the good father had made her a present of twenty piastres
towards defraying the notary's fees and the wedding expenses.
"Everything is for the best, and I am sure I shall be happy. My
intended adores you, but you did wisely not to accept his
invitation, for you would have found everything so poor, and
besides tongues might have been set wagging to my disadvantage."
"You are quite right, dearest, but what do you intend to do if
your husband finds that the door has been opened by someone else,
for possibly he expects you to be a maid."
"I expect he will know no more about it than I did the first time
you knew me; besides, I do not feel that you have defiled me, and
my clean conscience will not allow me to think of the matter; and
I am sure that he will not think of it any more than I."
"Yes, but if he does?"
"It would not be delicate on his part, but what should prevent me
from replying that I don't know what he means?"
"You are right; that's the best way. But have you told your
confessor of our mutual enjoyment?"
"No, for as I did not give myself up to you with any criminal
intention, I do not think I have offended God."
"You are an angel, and I admire the clearness of your reasoning.
But listen to me; it's possible that you are already with child,
or that you may become so this morning; promise to name the child
"I will do so."
The four hours sped rapidly away. After the sixth assault we were
wearied though not satiated. We parted with tears, and swore to
love each other as brother and sister ever after.
I went home, bathed, slept an hour, rose, dressed, and dined
pleasantly with the family. In the evening I took the Mengs
family for a drive in my landau, and we then went to the theatre,
where the castrato who played the prima donna was a great
attraction. He was the favourite pathic of Cardinal Borghese, and
supped every evening with his eminence.
This castrato had a fine voice, but his chief attraction was his
beauty. I had seen him in man's clothes in the street, but though
a fine-looking fellow, he had not made any impression on me, for
one could see at once that he was only half a man, but on the
stage in woman's dress the illusion was complete; he was
He was enclosed in a carefully-made corset and looked like a
nymph; and incredible though it may seem, his breast was as
beautiful as any woman's; it was the monster's chiefest charm.
However well one knew the fellow's neutral sex, as soon as one
looked at his breast one felt all aglow and quite madly amorous of
him. To feel nothing one would have to be as cold and impassive
as a German. As he walked the boards, waiting for the refrain of
the air he was singing, there was something grandly voluptuous
about him; and as he glanced towards the boxes, his black eyes, at
once tender and modest, ravished the heart. He evidently wished
to fan the flame of those who loved him as a man, and probably
would not have cared for him if he had been a woman.
Rome the holy, which thus strives to make all men pederasts,
denies the fact, and will not believe in the effects of the
glamour of her own devising.
I made these reflections aloud, and an ecclesiastic, wishing to
blind me to the truth, spoke as follows:--
"You are quite right. Why should this castrato be allowed to shew
his breast, of which the fairest Roman lady might be proud, and
yet wish everyone to consider him as a man and not a woman? If
the stage is forbidden to the fair sex lest they excite desires,
why do they seek out men-monsters made in the form of women, who
excite much more criminal desires? They keep on preaching that
pederasty is comparatively unknown and entraps only a few, but
many clever men endeavour to be entrapped, and end by thinking it
so pleasant that they prefer these monsters to the most beautiful
"The Pope would be sure of heaven if he put a stop to this
"I don't agree with you. One could not have a pretty actress to
supper without causing a scandal, but such an invitation to a
castrato makes nobody talk. It is of course known perfectly well
that after supper both heads rest on one pillow, but what
everybody knows is ignored by all. One may sleep with a man out
of mere friendship, it is not so with a woman."
"True, monsignor, appearances are saved, and a sin concealed is
half pardoned, as they say in Paris."
"At Rome we say it is pardoned altogether. 'Peccato nascosto non
His jesuitical arguments interested me, for I knew that he was an
avowed partisan of the forbidden fruit.
In one of the boxes I saw the Marchioness Passarini (whom I had
known at Dresden) with Don Antonio Borghese, and I went to pay my
addresses to them. The prince, whom I had known at Paris ten
years before, recognized me, and asked me to dine with him on the
following day. I went, but my lord was not at home. A page told
me that my place was laid at table, and that I could dine just as
if the prince was there, on which I turned my back on him and went
away. On Ash Wednesday he sent his man to ask me to sup with him
and the marchioness, who was his mistress, and I sent word that I
would not fail to come; but he waited for me in vain. Pride is
the daughter of folly, and always keeps its mother's nature.
After the opera I went to Momolo's, where I found Mariuccia, her
father, her mother, and her future husband. They were anxiously
expecting me. It is not difficult to make people happy when one
selects for one's bounty persons who really deserve happiness. I
was amidst poor but honest people, and I can truly say that I had
a delightful supper. It may be that some of my enjoyment
proceeded from a feeling of vanity, for I knew that I was the
author of the happiness depicted on the faces of the bride and
bridegroom and of the father and mother of Mariuccia; but when
vanity causes good deeds it is a virtue. Nevertheless, I owe it
to myself to tell my readers that my pleasure was too pure to have
in it any admixture of vice.
After supper I made a small bank at faro, making everybody play
with counters, as nobody had a penny, and I was so fortunate as to
make everyone win a few ducats.
After the game we danced in spite of the prohibition of the Pope,
whom no Roman can believe to be infallible, for he forbids dancing
and permits games of chance. His successor Ganganelli followed
the opposite course, and was no better obeyed. To avoid suspicion
I did not give the pair any present, but I gave up my landau to
them that they might enjoy the carnival on the Corso, and I told
Costa to get them a box at the Capranica Theatre. Momolo asked me
to supper on Shrove Tuesday.
I wished to leave Rome on the second day of Lent, and I called on
the Holy Father at a time when all Rome was on the Corso. His
Holiness welcomed me most graciously, and said he was surprised
that I had not gone to see the sights on the Corso like everybody
else. I replied that as a lover of pleasure I had chosen the
greatest pleasure of all for a Christian--namely, to kneel at the
feet of the vicar of Christ on earth. He bowed with a kind of
majestic humility, which shewed me how the compliment had pleased
him. He kept me for more than an hour, talking about Venice,
Padua, and Paris, which latter city the worthy man would not have
been sorry to have visited. I again commended myself to his
apostolic intercession to enable me to return to my native
country, and he replied,--
"Have recourse to God, dear son; His grace will be more
efficacious than my prayers;" and then he blessed me and wished me
a prosperous journey.
I saw that the Head of the Church had no great opinion of his own
On Shrove Tuesday I dressed myself richly in the costume of
Polichinello, and rode along the Corso showering sweetmeats on all
the pretty women I saw. Finally I emptied the basket on the
daughters of the worthy 'scopatore', whom Costa was taking about
in my landau with all the dignity of a pasha.
At night-time I took off my costume and went to Momolo's, where I
expected to see dear Mariuccia for the last time. Supper passed
off in almost a similar manner to the supper of last Sunday; but
there was an interesting novelty for me--namely, the sight of my
beloved mistress in her character of bride. Her husband seemed to
be much more reserved with respect to me than at our first
meeting. I was puzzled by his behaviour, and sat down by
Mariuccia and proceeded to question her. She told me all the
circumstances which had passed on the first night, and she spoke
highly of her husband's good qualities. He was kind, amorous,
good-tempered, and delicate. No doubt he must have noticed that
the casket had been opened, but he had said nothing about it. As
he had spoken about me, she had not been able to resist the
pleasure of telling him that I was her sole benefactor, at which,
so far from being offended, he seemed to trust in her more than
"But has he not questioned you indirectly as to the connection
"Not at all. I told him that you went to my confessor after
having spoken to me once only in the church, where I told you what
a good chance I had of being married to him."
"Do you think he believed you?"
"I am not sure; however, even if it were otherwise, it is enough
that he pretends to, for I am determined to win his esteem."
"You are right, and I think all the better of him for his
suspicions, for it is better to marry a man with some sense in his
head than to marry a fool."
I was so pleased with what she told me that when I took leave of
the company I embraced the hairdresser, and drawing a handsome
gold watch from my fob I begged him to accept it as a souvenir of
me. He received it with the utmost gratitude. From my pocket I
took a ring, worth at least six hundred francs, and put it on his
wife's finger, wishing them a fair posterity and all manner of
happiness, and I then went home to bed, telling Le Duc and Costa
that we must begin to pack up next day.
I was just getting up when they brought me a note from Lord
Lismore, begging me to come and speak to him at noon at the Villa
I had some suspicion of what he might want, and kept the
appointment. I felt in a mood to give him some good advice.
Indeed, considering the friendship between his mother and myself,
it was my duty to do so.
He came up to me and gave me a letter he had received the evening
before from his mother. She told him that Paris de Monmartel had
just informed her that he was in possession of a bill for two
hundred thousand francs drawn by her son, and that he would honour
it if she would furnish him with the funds. She had replied that
she would let him know in two or three days if she could do so;
but she warned her son that she had only asked for this delay to
give him time to escape, as the bill would certainly be protested
and returned, it being absolutely out of the question for her
to get the money.
"You had better make yourself scarce as soon as you can," said I,
returning him the letter.
"Buy this ring, and so furnish me with the means for my escape.
You would not know that it was not my property if I had not told
you so in confidence."
I made an appointment with him, and had the stone taken out and
valued by one of the best jewellers in Rome.
"I know this stone," said he, "it is worth two thousand Roman
At four o'clock I took the earl five hundred crowns in gold and
fifteen hundred crowns in paper, which he would have to take to a
banker, who would give him a bill of exchange in Amsterdam.
"I will be off at nightfall," said he, "and travel by myself to
Amsterdam, only taking such effects as are absolutely necessary,
and my beloved blue ribbon."
"A pleasant journey to you," said I, and left him. In ten days I
had the stone mounted at Bologna.
I got a letter of introduction from Cardinal Albani for Onorati,
the nuncio at Florence, and another letter from M. Mengs to Sir
Mann, whom he begged to receive me in his house. I was going to
Florence for the sake of the Corticelli and my dear Therese, and I
reckoned on the auditor's feigning to ignore my return, in spite
of his unjust order, especially if I were residing at the English
On the second day of Lent the disappearance of Lord Lismore was
the talk of the town. The English tailor was ruined, the Jew who
owned the ring was in despair, and all the silly fellow's servants
were turned out of the house in almost a state of nakedness, as
the tailor had unceremoniously taken possession of everything in
the way of clothes that he could lay his hands on.
Poor Poinsinet came to see me in a pitiable condition; he had only
his shirt and overcoat. He had been despoiled of everything, and
threatened with imprisonment. "I haven't a farthing," said the
poor child of the muses, "I have only the shirt on my back. I
know nobody here, and I think I shall go and throw myself into the
He was destined, not to be drowned in the Tiber but in the
Guadalquivir. I calmed him by offering to take him to Florence
with me, but I warned him that I must leave him there, as someone
was expecting me at Florence. He immediately took up his abode
with me, and wrote verses incessantly till it was time to go.
My brother Jean made me a present of an onyx of great beauty. It
was a cameo, representing Venus bathing, and a genuine antique, as
the name of the artist, Sostrates, was cut on the stone. Two
years later I sold it to Dr. Masti, at London, for three hundred
pounds, and it is possibly still in the British Museum.
I went my way with Poinsinet who amused me, in spite of his
sadness, with his droll fancies. In two days I got down at Dr.
Vannini's, who tried to conceal his surprise at seeing me. I lost
no time, but waited on Sir ---- Mann immediately, and found him
sitting at table. He gave me a very friendly reception, but he
seemed alarmed when, in reply to his question, I told him that my
dispute with the auditor had not been arranged. He told me
plainly that he thought I had made a mistake in returning to
Florence, and that he would be compromised by my staying with him.
I pointed out that I was only passing through Florence.
"That's all very well," said he, "but you know you ought to call
on the auditor."
I promised to do so, and returned to my lodging. I had scarcely
shut the door, when an agent of police came and told me that the
auditor had something to say to me, and would be glad to see me at
an early hour next morning.
I was enraged at this order, and determined to start forthwith
rather than obey. Full of this idea I called on Therese and found
she was at Pisa. I then went to see the Corticelli, who threw her
arms round my neck, and made use of the Bolognese grimaces
appropriate to the occasion. To speak the truth, although the
girl was pretty, her chief merit in my eyes was that she made me
I gave some money to her mother to get us a good supper, and I
took the girl out on pretence of going for a walk. I went with
her to my lodging, and left her with Poinsinet, and going to
another room I summoned Costa and Vannini. I told Costa in
Vannini's presence to go on with Le Duc and my luggage the
following day, and to call for me at the "Pilgrim" at Bologna. I
gave Vannini my instructions, and he left the room; and then I
ordered Costa to leave Florence with Signora Laura and her son,
and to tell them that I and the daughter were on in front. Le Duc
received similar orders, and calling Poinsinet I gave him ten
Louis, and begged him to look out for some other lodging that very
evening. The worthy but unfortunate young man wept grateful
tears, and told me that he would set out for Parma on foot next
day, and that there M. Tillot would do some, thing for him.
I went back to the next room, and told the Corticelli to come with
me. She did so under the impression that we were going back to
her mother's, but without taking the trouble to undeceive her I
had a carriage and pair got ready, and told the postillion to
drive to Uccellatoio, the first post on the Bologna road.
"Where in the world are we going?" said she.
"How about mamma?"
"She will come on to-morrow."
"Does she know about it?"
"No, but she will to-morrow when Costa comes to tell her, and to
fetch her and your brother"
She liked the joke, and got into the carriage laughing, and we
My Arrival at Bologna--I Am Expelled from Modena--I Visit Parma
and Turin--The Pretty Jewess--The Dressmaker
The Corticelli had a good warm mantle, but the fool who carried
her off had no cloak, even of the most meagre kind, to keep off
the piercing cold, which was increased by a keen wind blowing
right in our faces.
In spite of all I would not halt, for I was afraid I might be
pursued and obliged to return, which would have greatly vexed me.
When I saw that the postillion was slackening his speed, I
increased the amount of the present I was going to make him, and
once more we rushed along at a headlong pace. I felt perishing
with the cold; while the postillions seeing me so lightly clad,
and so prodigal of my money to speed them on their way, imagined
that I was a prince carrying off the heiress of some noble family.
We heard them talking to this effect while they changed horses,
and the Corticelli was so much amused that she did nothing but
laugh for the rest of the way. In five hours we covered forty
miles; we started from Florence at eight o'clock, and at one in
the morning we stopped at a post in the Pope's territory, where I
had nothing to fear. The stage goes under the name of "The Ass
The odd name of the inn made my mistress laugh afresh. Everybody
was asleep, but the noise I made and the distribution of a few
pauls procured me the privilege of a fire. I was dying of hunger,
and they coolly told me there was nothing to eat. I laughed in
the landlord's face, and told him to bring me his butter, his
eggs, his macaroni, a ham, and some Parmesan cheese, for I knew
that so much will be found in the inns all over Italy. The repast
was soon ready, and I shewed the idiot host that he had materials
for an excellent meal. We ate like four, and afterwards they made
up an impromptu bed and we went to sleep, telling them to call me
as soon as a carriage and four drew up.
Full of ham and macaroni, slightly warmed with the Chianti and
Montepulciano, and tired with our journey, we stood more in need
of slumber than of love, and so we gave ourselves up to sleep till
morning. Then we gave a few moments to pleasure, but it was so
slight an affair as not to be worth talking about.
At one o'clock we began to feel hungry again and got up, and the
host provided us with an excellent dinner, after receiving
instructions from me. I was astonished not to see the carriage
draw up, but I waited patiently all day. Night came on and still
no coach, and I began to feel anxious; but the Corticelli
persisted in laughing at everything. Next morning I sent off an
express messenger with instructions for Costa. In the event of
any violence having taken place, I was resolved to return to
Florence, of which city I could at any time make myself free by
the expenditure of two hundred crowns.
The messenger started at noon, and returned at two o'clock with
the news that my servants would shortly be with me. My coach was
on its way, and behind it a smaller carriage with two horses, in
which sat an old woman and a young man.
"That's the mother," said Corticelli; "now we shall have some fun.
Let's get something for them to eat, and be ready to hear the
history of this marvellous adventure which she will remember to
her dying day."
Costa told me that the auditor had revenged my contempt of his
orders by forbidding the post authorities to furnish any horses
for my carriage. Hence the delay. But here we heard the
allocution of the Signora Laura.
"I got an excellent supper ready," she began, "according to your
orders; it cost me more than ten pauls, as I shall shew you, and I
hope you will make it up to me as I'm but a poor woman. All was
ready and I joyfully expected you, but in vain; I was in despair.
At last when midnight came I sent my son to your lodging to
enquire after you, but you may imagine my 'grief when I heard that
nobody knew what had become of you. I passed a sleepless night,
weeping all the time, and in the morning I went and complained to
the police that you had taken off my daughter, and asked them to
send after you and make you give her back to me. But only think,
they laughed at me! 'Why did you let her go out without you?
laughing in my face. 'Your daughter's in good hands,' says
another, 'you know perfectly well where she is.' In fact I was
"Slandered?" said the Corticelli.
"Yes, slandered, for it was as much as to say that I had consented
to your being carried off, and if I had done that the fools might
have known I would not have come to them about it. I went away in
a rage to Dr. Vannini's, where I found your man, who told me that
you had gone to Bologna, and that I could follow you if I liked.
I consented to this plan, and I hope you wilt pay my travelling
expenses. But I can't help telling you that this is rather beyond
I consoled her by telling her I would pay all she had spent, and
we set off for Bologna the next day, and reached that town at an
early hour. I sent my servants to the inn with my carriage, and I
went to lodge with the Corticelli.
I spent a week with the girl, getting my meals from the inn, and
enjoying a diversity of pleasures which I shall remember all my
days; my young wanton had a large circle of female friends, all
pretty and all kind. I lived with them like a sultan, and still I
delight to recall this happy time, and I say with a sigh, 'Tempi
There are many towns in Italy where one can enjoy all the
pleasures obtainable at Bologna; but nowhere so cheaply, so
easily, or with so much freedom. The living is excellent, and
there are arcades where one can walk in the shade in learned and
witty company. It is a great pity that either from the air, the
water, or the wine--for men of science have not made up their
minds on the subject persons who live at Bologna are subject to a
slight itch. The Bolognese, however, far from finding this
unpleasant, seem to think it an advantage; it gives them the
pleasure of scratching themselves. In springtime the ladies
distinguish themselves by the grace with which they use their
Towards mid-Lent I left the Corticelli, wishing her a pleasant
journey, for she was going to fulfil a year's engagement at Prague
as second dancer. I promised to fetch her and her mother to
Paris, and my readers will see how I kept my word.
I got to Modena the evening after I left Bologna, and I stopped
there, with one of those sudden whims to which I have always been
subject. Next morning I went out to see the pictures, and as I
was returning to my lodging for dinner a blackguardly-looking
fellow came up and ordered me, on the part of the Government, to
continue my journey on the day following at latest.
"Very good," said I, and the fellow went away.
"Who is that man?" I said to the landlord.
"A spy; and the Government dares to send such a fellow to me?"
"The 'borgello' must have sent him."
"Then the 'borgello' is the Governor of Modena--the infamous
"Hush! hush! all the best families speak to him in the street."
"Then the best people are very low here, I suppose?"
"Not more than anywhere else. He is the manager of the opera
house, and the greatest noblemen dine with him and thus secure his
"It's incredible! But why should the high and mighty borgello
send me away from Modena?"
"I don't know, but do you take my advice and go and speak to him;
you will find him a fine fellow."
Instead of going to see this b. . . . I called on the Abbe Testa
Grossa, whom I had known at Venice in 1753. Although he was a man
of low extraction he had a keen wit. At this time he was old and
resting on his laurels; he had fought his way into favour by the
sheer force of merit, and his master, the Duke of Modena, had long
chosen him as his representative with other powers.
Abbe Testa Grossa recognized me and gave me the most gracious
reception, but when he heard of what had befallen me he seemed
"What can I do?" said I.
"You had better go, as the man may put a much more grievous insult
"I will do so, but could you oblige me by telling me the reason
for such a high-handed action?"
"Come again this evening; I shall probably be able to satisfy
I called on the abbe again in the evening, for I felt anxious to
learn in what way I had offended the lord borgello, to whom I
thought I was quite unknown. The abbe satisfied me.
"The borgello," said he, "saw your name on the bill which he
receives daily containing a list of the names of those who enter
or leave the city. He remembered that you were daring enough to
escape from The Leads, and as he does not at all approve of that
sort of thing he resolved not to let the Modenese be contaminated
by so egregious an example of the defiance of justice, however
unjust it may be; and in short he has given you the order to leave
"I am much obliged, but I really wonder how it is that while you
were telling me this you did not blush to be a subject of the Duke
of Modena's. What an unworthy action! How contrary is such a
system of government to all the best interests of the state!"
"You are quite right, my dear sir, but I am afraid that as yet
men's eyes are not open to what best serves their interests."
"That is doubtless due to the fact that so many men are unworthy."
"I will not contradict you."
"Farewell, M. Casanova."
Next morning, just as I was going to get into my carriage, a young
man between twenty-five and thirty, tall and strong and broad
shouldered, his eyes black and glittering, his eyebrows strongly
arched, and his general air being that of a cut-throat, accosted
me and begged me to step aside and hear what he had to say.
"If you like to stop at Parma for three days, and if you will
promise to give me fifty sequins when I bring you the news that
the borgello is dead, I promise to shoot him within the next
"Thanks. Such an animal as that should be allowed to die a
natural death. Here's a crown to drink my health."
At the present time I feel very thankful that I acted as I did,
but I confess that if I had felt sure that it was not a trap I
should have promised the money. The fear of committing myself
spared me this crime.
The next day I got to Parma, and I put up at the posting-house
under the name of the Chevalier de Seingalt, which I still bear.
When an honest man adopts a name which belongs to no one, no one
has a right to contest his use of it; it becomes a man's duty to
keep the name. I had now borne it for two years, but I often
subjoined to it my family name.
When I got to Parma I dismissed Costa, but in a week after I had
the misfortune to take him on again. His father, who was a poor
violin player, as I had once been, with a large family to provide
for, excited my pity.
I made enquiries about M. Antonio, but he had left the place; and
M. Dubois Chalelereux, Director of the Mint, had gone to Venice
with the permission of the Duke of Parma, to set up the beam,
which was never brought into use. Republics are famous for their
superstitious attachment to old customs; they are afraid that
changes for the better may destroy the stability of the state, and
the government of aristocratic Venice still preserves its original
My Spaniard was delighted when I dismissed Costa and
proportionately sorry when I took him back.
"He's no profligate," said Le Duc; "he is sober, and has no liking
for bad company. But I think he's a robber, and a dangerous
robber, too. I know it, because he seems so scrupulously careful
not to cheat you in small things. Remember what I say, sir; he
will do you. He is waiting to gain your confidence, and then he
will strike home. Now, I am quite a different sort of fellow, a
rogue in a small way; but you know me."
His insight was, keener than mine, for five or six months later
the Italian robbed me of fifty thousand crowns. Twenty-three
years afterwards, in 1784, I found him in Venice, valet to Count
Hardegg, and I felt inclined to have him hanged. I shewed him by
proof positive that I could do so if I liked; but he had resource
to tears and supplications, and to the intercession of a worthy
man named Bertrand, who lived with the ambassador of the King of
Sardinia. I esteemed this individual, and he appealed to me
successfully to pardon Costa. I asked the wretch what he had done
with the gold and jewels he had stolen from me, and he told me
that he had lost the whole of it in furnishing funds for a bank at
Biribi, that he had been despoiled by his own associates, and had
been poor and miserable ever since.
In the same year in which he robbed me he married Momolo's
daughter, and after making her a mother he abandoned her.
To pursue our story.
At Turin I lodged in a private house with the Abbe Gama, who had
been expecting me. In spite of the good abbe's sermon on economy,
I took the whole of the first floor, and a fine suite it was.
We discussed diplomatic topics, and he assured me that I should be
accredited in May, and that he would give me instructions as to
the part I was to play. I was pleased with his commission, and I
told the abbe that I should be ready to go to Augsburg whenever
the ambassadors of the belligerent powers met there.
After making the necessary arrangements with my landlady with
regard to my meals I went to a coffeehouse to read the papers, and
the first person I saw was the Marquis Desarmoises, whom I had
known in Savoy. The first thing he said was that all games of
chance were forbidden, and that the ladies I had met would no
doubt be delighted to see me. As for himself, he said that he
lived by playing backgammon, though he was not at all lucky at it,
as talent went for more than luck at that game. I can understand
how, if fortune is neutral, the best player will win, but I do not
see how the contrary can take place.
We went for a walk in the promenade leading to the citadel, where
I saw numerous extremely pretty women. In Turin the fair sex is
most delightful, but the police regulations are troublesome to a
degree. Owing to the town being a small one and thinly peopled,
the police spies find out everything. Thus one cannot enjoy any
little freedoms without great precautions and the aid of cunning
procuresses, who have to be well paid, as they would be cruelly
punished if they were found out. No prostitutes and no kept women
are allowed, much to the delight of the married women, and with
results which the ignorant police might have anticipated. As well
be imagined, pederasty has a fine field in this town, where the
passions are kept under lock and key.
Amongst the beauties I looked at, one only attracted me. I asked
Desarmoises her name, as he knew all of them.
"That's the famous Leah," said he; "she is a Jewess, and
impregnable. She has resisted the attacks of the best strategists
in Turin. Her father's a famous horse-dealer; you can go and see
her easily enough, but there's nothing to be done there."
The greater the difficulty the more I felt spurred on to attempt
"Take me there," said I, to Desarmoises.
"As soon as you please."
I asked him to dine with me, and we were on our way when we met M.
Zeroli and two or three other persons whom I had met at Aix. I
gave and received plenty of compliments, but not wishing to pay
them any visits I excused myself on the pretext of business.
When we had finished dinner Desarmoises took me to the horse-
dealer's. I asked if he had a good saddle horse. He called a lad
and gave his orders, and whilst he was speaking the charming
daughter appeared on the scene. She was dazzlingly beautiful, and
could not be more than twenty-two. Her figure was as lissom as a
nymph's, her hair a raven black, her complexion a meeting of the
lily and the rose, her eyes full of fire, her lashes long, and her
eye-brows so well arched that they seemed ready to make war on any
who would dare the conquest of her charms. All about her
betokened an educated mind and knowledge of the world.
I was so absorbed in the contemplation of her charms that I did
not notice the horse when it was brought to me. However, I
proceeded to scrutinise it, pretending to be an expert, and after
feeling the knees and legs, turning back the ears, and looking at
the teeth, I tested its behaviour at a walk, a trot, and a gallop,
and then told the Jew that I would come and try it myself in top-
boots the next day. The horse was a fine dappled bay, and was
priced at forty Piedmontese pistoles--about a hundred sequins.
"He is gentleness itself," said Leah, "and he ambles as fast as
any other horse trots."
"You have ridden it, then?"
"Often, sir, and if I were rich I would never sell him."
"I won't buy the horse till I have seen you ride it."
She blushed at this.
"You must oblige the gentleman," said her father. She consented
to do so, and I promised to come again at nine o'clock the next
I was exact to time, as may be imagined, and I found Leah in
riding costume. What proportions! What a Venus Callipyge! I was
Two horses were ready, and she leapt on hers with the ease and
grace of a practised rider, and I got up on my horse. We rode
together for some distance. The horse went well enough, but what
of that; all my eyes were for her.
As we were turning, I said,--
"Fair Leah, I will buy the horse, but as a present for you; and if
you will not take it I shall leave Turin today. The only
condition I attach to the gift is, that you will ride with me
whenever I ask you."
I saw she seemed favourably inclined to my proposal, so I told her
that I should stay six weeks at Turin, that I had fallen in love
with her on the promenade, and that the purchase of the horse had
been a mere pretext for discovering to her my feelings. She
replied modestly that she was vastly flattered by the liking I had
taken to her, and that I need not have made her such a present to
assure myself of her friendship.
"The condition you impose on me is an extremely pleasant one, and
I am sure that my father will like me to accept it."
To this she added,--
"All I ask is for you to make me the present before him, repeating
that you will only buy it on the condition that I will accept it."
I found the way smoother than I had expected, and I did what she
asked me. Her father, whose name was Moses, thought it a good
bargain, congratulated his daughter, took the forty pistoles and
gave me a receipt, and begged me to do them the honour of
breakfasting with them the next day. This was just what I wanted.
The following morning Moses received me with great respect. Leah,
who was in her ordinary clothes, told me that if I liked to ride
she would put on her riding habit.
"Another day," said I; "to-day I should like to converse with you
in your own house."
But the father, who was as greedy as most Jews are, said that if I
liked driving he could sell me a pretty phaeton with two excellent
"You must shew them to the gentleman," said Leah, possibly in
concert with her father.
Moses said nothing, but went out to get the horses harnessed.
"I will look at them," I said to Leah, "but I won't buy, as I
should not know what to do with them."
"You can take your lady-love out for a drive."
"That would be you; but perhaps you would be afraid!"
"Not at all, if you drove in the country or the suburbs."
"Very good, Leah, then I will look at them."
The father came in, and we went downstairs. I liked the carriage
and the horses, and I told Leah so.
"Well," said Moses, "you can have them now for four hundred
sequins, but after Easter the price will be five hundred sequins
Leah got into the carriage, and I sat beside her, and we went for
an hour's drive into the country. I told Moses I would give him
an answer by the next day, and he went about his business, while
Leah and I went upstairs again.
"It's quite worth four hundred sequins," said I, "and to-morrow I
will buy it with pleasure; but on the same condition as that on
which I bought the horse, and something more--namely, that you
will grant me all the favours that a tender lover can desire."
"You speak plainly, and I will answer you in the same way. I'm an
honest girl, sir, and not for sale."
"All women, dear Leah, whether they are honest or not, are for
sale. When a man has plenty of time he buys the woman his heart
desires by unremitting attentions; but when he's in a hurry he
buys her with presents, and even with money."
"Then he's a clumsy fellow; he would do better to let sentiment
and attention plead his cause and gain the victory."
"I wish I could give myself that happiness, fair Leah, but I'm in
a great hurry."
As I finished this sentence her father came in, and I left the
house telling him that if I could not come the next day I would
come the day after, and that we could talk about the phaeton then.
It was plain that Leah thought I was lavish of my money, and would
make a capital dupe. She would relish the phaeton, as she had
relished the horse, but I knew that I was not quite such a fool as
that. It had not cost me much trouble to resolve to chance the
loss of a hundred sequins, but beyond that I wanted some value for
I temporarily suspended my visits to see how Leah and her father
would settle it amongst themselves. I reckoned on the Jew's
greediness to work well for me. He was very fond of money, and
must have been angry that his daughter had not made me buy the
phaeton by some means or another, for so long as the phaeton was
bought the rest would be perfectly indifferent to him. I felt
almost certain that they would come and see me.
The following Saturday I saw the fair Jewess on the promenade. We
were near enough for me to accost her without seeming to be
anxious to do so, and her look seemed to say, "Come."
"We see no more of you now," said she, "but come and breakfast
with me to-morrow, or I will send you back the horse."
I promised to be with her in good time, and, as the reader will
imagine, I kept my word.
The breakfast party was almost confined to ourselves, for though
her aunt was present she was only there for decency's sake. After
breakfast we resolved to have a ride, and she changed her clothes
before me, but also before her aunt. She first put on her leather
breeches, then let her skirts fall, took off her corset, and
donned a jacket. With seeming indifference I succeeded in
catching a glimpse of a magnificent breast; but the sly puss knew
how much my indifference was worth.
"Will you arrange my frill?" said she.
This was a warm occupation for me, and I am afraid my hand was
indiscreet. Nevertheless, I thought I detected a fixed design
under all this seeming complaisance, and I was on my guard.
Her father came up just as we were getting on horseback.
"If you will buy the phaeton and horses," said he, "I will abate
"All that depends on your daughter," said I.
We set off at a walk, and Leah told me that she had been imprudent
enough to confess to her father that she could make me buy the
carriage, and that if I did not wish to embroil her with him I
would be kind enough to purchase it.
"Strike the bargain," said she, "and you can give it me when you
are sure of my love."
"My dear Leah, I am your humble servant, but you know on what
"I promise to drive out with you whenever you please, without
getting out of the carriage, but I know you would not care for
that. No, your affection was only a temporary caprice."
"To convince you of the contrary I will buy the phaeton and put it
in a coach-house. I will see that the horses are taken-care of,
though I shall not use them. But if you do not make me happy in
the course of a week I shall re-sell the whole."
"Come to us to-morrow."
"I will do so, but I trust have some pledge of your affection this
"This morning? It's impossible."
"Excuse me; I will go upstairs with you, and you can shew me more
than one kindness while you are undressing."
We came back, and I was astonished to hear her telling her father
that the phaeton was mine, and all he had to do was to put in the
horses. The Jew grinned, and we all went upstairs, and Leah
"Count out the money."
"I have not any money about me, but I will write you a cheque, if
"Here is paper."
I wrote a cheque on Zappata for three hundred sequins, payable at
sight. The Jew went off to get the money, and Leah remained alone
"You have trusted me," she said, "and have thus shewn yourself
worthy of my love."
"Then undress, quick!"
"No, my aunt is about the house; and as I cannot shut the door
without exciting suspicion, she might come in; but I promise that
you shall be content with me tomorrow. Nevertheless, I am going
to undress, but you must go in this closet; you may come back when
I have got my woman's clothes on again."
I agreed to this arrangement, and she shut me in. I examined the
door, and discovered a small chink between the boards. I got on a
stool, and saw Leah sitting on a sofa opposite to me engaged in
undressing herself. She took off her shift and wiped her breasts
and her feet with a towel, and just as she had taken off her
breeches, and was as naked as my hand, one of her rings happened
to slip off her finger, and rolled under the sofa. She got up,
looked to right and left, and then stooped to search under the
sofa, and to do this she had to kneel with her head down. When
she got back to couch, the towel came again into requisition, and
she wiped herself all over in such a manner that all her charms
were revealed to my eager eyes. I felt sure that she knew I was a
witness of all these operations, and she probably guessed what a
fire the sight would kindle in my inflammable breast.
At last her toilette was finished, and she let me out. I clasped
her in my arms, with the words, "I have seen everything." She
pretended not to believe me, so I chewed her the chink, and was
going to obtain my just dues, when the accursed Moses came in. He
must have been blind or he would have seen the state his daughter
had put me in; however, he thanked me, and gave me a receipt for
the money, saying, "Everything in my poor house is at your
I bade them adieu, and I went away in an ill temper. I got into
my phaeton, and drove home and told the coachman to find me a
stable for the horses and a coach-house for the carriage.
I did not expect to see Leah again, and I felt enraged with her.
She had pleased me only too much by her voluptuous attitudes, but
she had set up an irritation wholly hostile to Love. She had made
Love a robber, and the hungry boy had consented, but afterwards,
when he craved more substantial fare, she refused him, and ardour
was succeeded by contempt. Leah did not want to confess herself
to be what she really was, and my love would not declare itself
I made the acquaintance of an amiable chevalier, a soldier, a man
of letters, and a great lover of horses, who introduced me to
several pleasant families. However, I did not cultivate them, as
they only offered me the pleasures of sentiment, while I longed
for lustier fare for which I was willing to pay heavily. The
Chevalier de Breze was not the man for me; he was too respectable
for a profligate like myself. He bought the phaeton and horses,
and I only lost thirty sequins by the transaction.
A certain M. Baretti, who had known me at Aix, and had been the
Marquis de Pries croupier, took me to see the Mazzoli, formerly a
dancer, and then mistress to the Chevalier Raiberti, a hardheaded
but honest man, who was then secretary for foreign affairs.
Although the Mazzoli was by no means pretty, she was extremely
complaisant, and had several girls at her house for me to see;
but I did not think any of them worthy of occupying Leah's place.
I fancied I no longer loved Leah, but I was wrong.
The Chevalier Cocona, who had the misfortune to be suffering from
a venereal disease, gave me up his mistress, a pretty little
'soubrette'; but in spite of the evidence of my own eyes, and in
spite of the assurances she gave me, I could not make up my mind
to have her, and my fear made me leave her untouched. Count
Trana, a brother of the chevalier's whom I had known at Aix,
introduced me to Madame de Sc----, a lady of high rank and very
good-looking, but she tried to involve me in a criminal
transaction, and I ceased to call on her. Shortly after, Count
Trana's uncle died and he became rich and got married, but he
lived an unhappy life.
I was getting bored, and Desarmoises, who had all his meals with
me, did not know what to do. At last he advised me to make the
acquaintance of a certain Madame R----, a Frenchwoman, and well
known in Turin as a milliner and dressmaker. She had six or eight
girls working for her in a room adjoining her shop. Desarmoises
thought that if I got in there I might possibly be able to find
one to my taste. As my purse was well furnished I thought I
should not have much difficulty, so I called on Madame R----. I
was agreeably surprised to find Leah there, bargaining for a
quantity of articles, all of which she pronounced to be too dear.
She told me kindly but reproachfully that she had thought I must
"I have been very busy," I said; and felt all my old ardour
revive. She asked me to come to a Jewish wedding, where there
would be a good many people and several pretty girls. I knew that
ceremonies of this kind are very amusing, and I promised to be
present. She proceeded with her bargaining, but the price was
still too high and she left the shop. Madame R---- was going to
put back all the trifles in their places, but I said,--
"I will take the lot myself."
She smiled, and I drew out my purse and paid the money.
"Where do you live, sir?" said she; "and when shall I send you
"You may bring them to-morrow yourself, and do me the honour of
breakfasting with me."
"I can never leave the shop, sir." In spite of her thirty-five
years, Madame R---- was still what would be called a tasty morsel,
and she had taken my fancy.
"I want some dark lace," said I.
"Then kindly follow me, sir."
I was delighted when I entered the room to see a lot of young
work-girls, all charming, hard at work, and scarcely daring to
look at me. Madame R---- opened several cupboards, and showed me
some magnificent lace. I was distracted by the sight of so many
delicious nymphs, and I told her that I wanted the lace for two
'baoutes' in the Venetian style. She knew what I meant. The lace
cost me upwards of a hundred sequins. Madame R---- told two of
her girls to bring me the lace the next day, together with the
goods which Leah had thought too dear. They meekly replied,--
They rose and kissed the mother's hand, which I thought a
ridiculous ceremony; however, it gave me an opportunity of
examining them, and I thought them delicious. We went back to the
shop, and sitting down by the counter I enlarged on the beauty of
the girls, adding, though not with strict truth, that I vastly
preferred their mistress. She thanked me for the compliment and
told me plainly that she had a lover, and soon after named him.
He was the Comte de St. Giles, an infirm and elderly man, and by
no means a model lover. I thought Madame R---- was jesting, but
next day I ascertained that she was speaking the truth. Well,
everyone to his taste, and I suspect that she was more in love
with the count's purse than his person. I had met him at the
The next day the two pretty milliners brought me my goods. I
offered them chocolate, but they firmly and persistently declined.
The fancy took me to send them to Leah with all the things she had
chosen, and I bade them return and tell me what sort of a
reception they had had. They said they would do so, and waited
for me to write her a note.
I could not give them the slightest mark of affection. I dared
not shut the door, and the mistress and the ugly young woman of
the house kept going and coming all the time; but when they came
back I waited for them on the stairs, and giving them a sequin
each told each of them that she might command my heart if she
would. Leah had accepted my handsome present and sent to say that
she was waiting for me.
As I was walking aimlessly about in the afternoon I happened to
pass the milliner's shop, and Madame R---- saw me and made me come
in and sit down beside her.
"I am really much obliged to you," said she, "for your kindness to
my girls. They came home enchanted. Tell me frankly whether you
are really in love with the pretty Jewess."
"I am really in love with her, but as she will not make me happy I
have signed my own dismissal."
"You were quite right. All Leah thinks of is duping those who are
captivated by her charms."
"Do not your charming apprentices follow your maxims?"
"No; but they are only complaisant when I give them leave."
"Then I commend myself to your intercession, for they would not
even take a cup of chocolate from me."
"They were perfectly right not to accept your chocolate: but I see
you do not know the ways of Turin. Do you find yourself
comfortable in your present lodging?"
"Are you perfectly free to do what you like?"
"I think so."
"Can you give supper to anyone you like in your own rooms? I am
certain you can't."
"I have not had the opportunity of trying the experiment so far,
but I believe . . . ."
"Don't flatter yourself by believing anything; that house is full
of the spies of the police."
"Then you think that I could not give you and two or three of your
girls a little supper?"
"I should take very good care not to go to it, that's all I know.
By next morning it would be known to all the town, and especially
to the police."
"Well, supposing I look out for another lodging?"
"It's the same everywhere. Turin is a perfect nest of spies; but
I do know a house where you could live at ease, and where my girls
might perhaps be able to bring you your purchases. But we should
have to be very careful."
"Where is the house I will be guided by you in everything."
"Don't trust a Piedmontese; that's the first commandment here."
She then gave me the address of a small furnished house, which was
only inhabited by an old door-keeper and his wife.
"They will let it you by the month," said she, "and if you pay a
month in advance you need not even tell them your name."
I found the house to be a very pretty one, standing in a lonely
street at about two hundred paces from the citadel. One gate,
large enough to admit a carriage, led into the country. I found
everything to be as Madame R---- had described it. I paid a month
in advance without any bargaining, and in a day I had settled in
my new lodging. Madame R---- admired my celerity.
I went to the Jewish wedding and enjoyed myself, for there is
something at once solemn and ridiculous about the ceremony; but I
resisted all Leah's endeavours to get me once more into her
meshes.. I hired a close carriage from her father, which with the
horses I placed in the coach-house and stables of my new house.
Thus I was absolutely free to go whenever I would by night or by
day, for I was at once in the town and in the country. I was
obliged to tell the inquisitive Gama where I was living, and I hid
nothing from Desarmoises, whose needs made him altogether
dependent on me. Nevertheless I gave orders that my door was shut
to them as to everyone else, unless I had given special
instructions that they were to be admitted. I had no reason to
doubt the fidelity of my two servants.
In this blissful abode I enjoyed all Mdlle. R----'s girls, one
after the other. The one I wanted always brought a companion,
whom I usually sent back after giving her a slice of the cake.
The last of them, whose name was Victorine, as fair as day and as
soft as a dove, had the misfortune to be tied, though she knew
nothing about it. Mdlle. R----, who was equally ignorant on the
subject, had represented her to me as a virgin, and so I thought
her for two long hours in which I strove with might and main to
break the charm, or rather open the shell. All my efforts were in
vain. I was exhausted at last, and I wanted to see in what the
obstacle consisted. I put her in the proper position, and armed
with a candle I began my scrutiny. I found a fleshy membrane
pierced by so small a hole that large pin's head could scarcely
have gone through. Victorine encouraged me to force a passage
with my little finger, but in vain I tried to pierce this wall,
which nature had made impassable by all ordinary means. I was
tempted to see what I could do with a bistoury, and the girl
wanted me to try, but I was afraid of the haemorrhage which might
have been dangerous, and I wisely refrained.
Poor Victorine, condemned to die a maid, unless some clever
surgeon performed the same operation that was undergone by Mdlle.
Cheruffini shortly after M. Lepri married her, wept when I said,--
"My dear child, your little Hymen defies the most vigorous lover
to enter his temple."
But I consoled her by saying that a good surgeon could easily make
a perfect woman of her.
In the morning I told Madame R---- of the case.
She laughed and said,--
"It may prove a happy accident for Victorine; it may make her
A few years after the Count of Padua had her operated on, and made
her fortune. When I came back from Spain I found that she was
with child, so that I could not exact the due reward for all the
trouble I had taken with her.
Early in the morning on Maunday Thursday they told me that Moses
and Leah wanted to see me. I had not expected to see them, but I
welcomed them warmly. Throughout Holy Week the Jews dared not
shew themselves in the streets of Turin, and I advised them to
stay with me till the Saturday. Moses began to try and get me to
purchase a ring from him, and I judged from that that I should not
have to press them very much.
"I can only buy this ring from Leah's hands," said I.
He grinned, thinking doubtless that I intended to make her a
present of it, but I was resolved to disappoint him. I gave them
a magnificent dinner and supper, and in the evening they were
shewn a double-bedded room not far from mine. I might have put
them in different rooms, and Leah in a room adjoining mine, which
would have facilitated any nocturnal excursions; but after all I
had done for her I was resolved to owe nothing to a surprise; she
should come of herself.
The next day Moses (who noticed that I had not yet bought the
ring) was obliged to go out on business, and asked for the loan of
my carriage for the whole day, telling me that he would come for
his daughter in the evening. I had the horses harnessed, and when
he was gone I bought the ring for six hundred sequins, but on my
own terms. I was in my own house, and Leah could not deceive me.
As soon as the father was safely out of the way I possessed myself
of the daughter. She proved a docile and amorous subject the
whole day. I had reduced her to a state of nature, and though her
body was as perfect as can well be imagined I used it and abused
it in every way imaginable. In the evening her father found her
looking rather tired, but he seemed as pleased as I was. Leah was
not quite so well satisfied, for till the moment of their
departure she was expecting me to give her the ring, but I
contented myself with saying that I should like to reserve myself
the pleasure of taking it to her.
On Easter Monday a man brought me a note summoning me to appear at
the police office.
My Victory Over the Deputy Chief of Police--My Departure--
Chamberi--Desarmoises's Daughter--M. Morin--M * * * M * * *
--At Aix--The Young Boarder--Lyons--Paris
This citation, which did not promise to lead to anything
agreeable, surprised and displeased me exceedingly. However, I
could not avoid it, so I drove to the office of the deputy-
superintendent of police. I found him sitting at a long table,
surrounded by about a score of people in a standing posture. He
was a man of sixty, hideously ugly, his enormous nose half
destroyed by an ulcer hidden by a large black silk plaster, his
mouth of huge dimensions, his lips thick, with small green eyes
and eyebrows which had partly turned white. As soon as this
disgusting fellow saw me, he began,--
"You are the Chevalier de Seingalt?"
"That is my name, and I have come here to ask how I can oblige
"I have summoned you here to order you to leave the place in three
days at latest."
"And as you have no right to give such an order, I have come here
to tell you that I shall go when I please, and not before."
"I will expel you by force."
"You may do that whenever you please. I cannot resist force, but
I trust you will give the matter a second thought; for in a well-
ordered city they do not expel a man who has committed no crimes,
and has a balance of a hundred thousand francs at the bank."
"Very good, but in three days you have plenty of time to pack up
and arrange matters with your banker. I advise you to obey, as
the command comes from the king."
"If I were to leave the town I should become accessory to your
injustice! I will not obey, but since you mention the king's
name, I will go to his majesty at once, and he will deny your
words or revoke the unjust order you have given me with such
"Pray, does not the king possess the power to make you go?"
"Yes, by force, but not by justice. He has also the power to kill
me, but he would have to provide the executioner, as he could not
make me commit suicide."
"You argue well, but nevertheless you will obey."
"I argue well, but I did not learn the art from you, and I will
With these words I turned my back on him, and left without another
I was in a furious rage. I felt inclined to offer overt
resistance to all the myrmidons of the infamous superintendent.
Nevertheless I soon calmed myself, and summoning prudence to my
aid I remembered the Chevalier Raiberti, whom I had seen at his
mistress's house, and I decided on asking his advice. He was the
chief permanent official in the department of foreign affairs. I
told the coachman to drive to his house, and I recounted to him
the whole tale, saying, finally, that I should like to speak to
the king, as I was resolved that I would not go unless I was
forced to do so. The worthy man advised me to go to the Chevalier
Osorio, the principal secretary for foreign affairs, who could
always get an audience of the king. I was pleased with his
advice, and I went immediately to the minister, who was a Sicilian
and a man of parts. He gave me a very good reception, and after I
had informed him of the circumstances of the case I begged him to
communicate the matter to his majesty, adding that as the
superintendent's order appeared horribly unjust to me I was
resolved not to obey it unless compelled to do so by main force.
He promised to oblige me in the way I wished, and told me to call
again the next day.
After leaving him I took a short walk to cool myself, and then
went to the Abbe Gama, hoping to be the first to impart my
ridiculous adventure to him. I was disappointed; he already knew
that I had been ordered to go, and how I had answered the
superintendent. When he saw that I persisted in my determination
to resist, he did not condemn my firmness, though he must have
thought it very extraordinary, for the good abbe could not
understand anybody's disobeying the order of the authorities. He
assured me that if I had to go he would send me the necessary
instructions to any address I liked to name.
The next day the Chevalier Osorio received me with the utmost
politeness, which I thought a good omen. The Chevalier Raiberti
had spoken to him in my behalf, and he had laid the matter before
the king and also before the Count d'Aglie, and the result was
that I could stay as long as I liked. The Count d'Aglie was none
other than the horrible superintendent. I was told that I must
wait on him, and he would give me leave to remain at Turin till my
affairs were settled.
"My only business here," said I, "is to spend my money till I have
instructions from the Court of Portugal to attend the Congress of
Augsburg on behalf of his most faithful majesty."
"Then you think that this Congress will take place?"
"Nobody doubts it."
"Somebody believes it will all end in smoke. However, I am
delighted to have been of service to you, and I shall be curious
to hear what sort of reception you get from the superintendent."
I felt ill at ease. I went to the police office immediately, glad
to shew myself victorious, and anxious to see how the
superintendent would look when I came in. However, I could not
flatter myself that he looked ashamed of himself; these people
have a brazen forehead, and do not know what it is to blush.
As soon as he saw me, he began,--
"The Chevalier Osorio tells me that you have business in Turin
which will keep you for some days. You may therefore stay, but
you must tell me as nearly as possible how long a time you
"I cannot possibly tell you that."
"Why? if you don't mind telling me."
"I am awaiting instructions from the Court of Portugal to attend
the Congress to be held at Augsburg, and before I could tell you
how long I shall have to stay I should be compelled to ask his
most faithful majesty. If this time is not sufficient for me to
do my business, I will intimate the fact to you."
"I shall be much obliged by your doing so."
This time I made him a bow, which was returned, and on leaving the
office I returned to the Chevalier Osorio, who said, with a smile,
that I had caught the superintendent, as I had taken an indefinite
period, which left me quite at my ease.
The diplomatic Gama, who firmly believed that the Congress would
meet, was delighted when I told him that the Chevalier Osorio was
incredulous on the subject. He was charmed to think his wit
keener than the minister's; it exalted him in his own eyes. I
told him that whatever the chevalier might say I would go to
Augsburg, and that I would set out in three or four weeks.
Madame R. congratulated me over and over again, for she was
enchanted that I had humiliated the superintendent; but all the
same we thought we had better give up our little suppers. As I
had had a taste of all her girls, this was not such a great
sacrifice for me to make.
I continued thus till the middle of May, when I left Turin, after
receiving letters from the Abbe Gama to Lord Stormont, who was to
represent England at the approaching Congress. It was with this
nobleman that I was to work in concert at the Congress.
Before going to Germany I wanted to see Madame d'Urfe, and I wrote
to her, asking her to send me a letter of introduction to M. de
Rochebaron, who might be useful to me. I also asked M. Raiberti
to give me a letter for Chamberi, where I wanted to visit the
divine M---- M---- (of whom I still thought with affection) at her
convent grating. I wrote to my friend Valenglard, asking him to
remind Madame Morin that she had promised to shew me a likeness to
somebody at Chamberi.
But here I must note down an event worthy of being recorded, which
was extremely prejudicial to me.
Five or six days before my departure Desarmoises came to me
looking very downcast, and told me that he had been ordered to
leave Turin in twenty-four hours.
"Do you know why?" I asked him.
"Last night when I was at the coffee-house, Count Scarnafis dared
to say that France subsidised the Berne newspapers. I told him he
lied, at which he rose and left the place in a rage, giving me a
glance the meaning of which is not doubtful. I followed him to
bring him to reason or to give him satisfaction; but he would do
nothing and I suspect he went to the police to complain. I shall
have to leave Turin early to-morrow morning."
"You're a Frenchman, and as you can claim the protection of your
ambassador you will be wrong to leave so suddenly."
"In the first place the ambassador is away, and in the second my
cruel father disavows me. No, I would rather go, and wait for you
at Lyons. All I want is for you to lend me a hundred crowns, for
which I will give you an account."
"It will be an easy account to keep," said I, "but a long time
before it is settled."
"Possibly; but if it is in my power I will shew my gratitude for
the kindnesses you have done me."
I gave him a hundred crowns and wished him a pleasant journey,
telling him that I should stop some time at Lyons.
I got a letter of credit on an Augsburg house, and three days
after I left Turin I was at Chamberi. There was only one inn
there in those days, so I was not much puzzled to choose where I
would go, but for all that I found myself very comfortable.
As I entered my room, I was struck by seeing an extremely pretty
girl coming out of an adjacent room.
"Who is that young lady?" said I to the chambermaid who was
"That's the wife of a young gentleman who has to keep his bed to
get cured of a sword-thrust which he received four days ago on his
way from France."
I could not look at her without feeling the sting of
concupiscence. As I was leaving my room I saw the door half open,
and I stopped short and offered my services as a neighbour. She
thanked me politely, and asked me in. I saw a handsome young man
sitting up in bed, so I went up to enquire how he felt.
"The doctor will not let him talk," said the young lady, "on
account of a sword-thrust in the chest he received at half a
league from here. We hope he will be all right in a few days, and
then we can continue our journey."
"Where are you going, madam?"
Just as I was leaving, a maid came to ask me if I would take
supper in my own room or with the lady. I laughed at her
stupidity, and said I would sup in my own apartment, adding that I
had not the honour of the lady's acquaintance.
At this the young lady said it would give her great pleasure if I
would sup with her, and the husband repeated this assurance in a
whisper. I accepted the invitation gratefully, and I thought that
they were really pleased. The lady escorted me out as far as the
stairs, and I took the liberty of kissing her hand, which in
France is a declaration of tender though respectful affection.
At the post-office I found a letter from Valenglard, telling me
that Madame Morin would wait on me at Chamberi if I would send her
a carriage, and another from Desarmoises dated from Lyons. He
told me that as he was on his way from Chamberi he had encountered
his daughter in company with a rascal who had carried her off. He
had buried his sword in his body, and would have killed them if he
had been able to stop their carriage. He suspected that they had
been staying in Chamberi, and he begged me to try and persuade his
daughter to return to Lyons; and he added that if she would not do
so I ought to oblige him by sending her back by force. He assured
me that they were not married, and he begged me to answer his
letter by express, for which purpose he sent me his address.
I guessed at once that this daughter of his was my fair neighbour,
but I did not feel at all inclined to come to the aid of the
father in the way he wished.
As soon as I got back to the inn I sent off Le Duc in a travelling
carriage to Madame Morin, whom I informed by letter that as I was
only at Chamberi for her sake I would await her convenience. This
done, I abandoned myself to the delight I felt at the romantic
adventure which fortune had put in my way.
I repeated Mdlle. Desarmoises and her ravisher, and I did not care
to enquire whether I was impelled in what I did by virtue or vice;
but I could not help perceiving that my motives were of a mixed
nature; for if I were amorous, I was also very glad to be of
assistance to two young lovers, and all the more from my knowledge
of the father's criminal passion.
On entering their room I found the invalid in the surgeon's hands.
He pronounced the wound not to be dangerous, in spite of its
depth; suppuration had taken place without setting up
inflammation--in short, the young man only wanted time and rest.
When the doctor had gone I congratulated the patient on his
condition, advising him to be careful what he ate, and to keep
silent. I then gave Mdlle. Desarmoises her father's letter, and
I said farewell for the present, telling them that I would go to
my own room till supper-time. I felt sure that she would come and
speak to me after reading her father's letter.
In a quarter of an hour she knocked timidly at my door, and when I
let her in she gave me back the letter and asked me what I thought
"Nothing. I shall be only too happy, however, if I can be of any
service to you."
"Ah! I breathe again!"
"Could you imagine me pursuing any other line of conduct? I am
much interested in you, and will do all in my power to help you.
Are you married?"
"Not yet, but we are going to be married when we get to Geneva."
"Sit down and tell me all about yourself. I know that your father
is unhappily in love with you, and that you avoid his attentions."
"He has told you that much? I am glad of it. A year ago he came
to Lyons, and as soon as I knew he was in the town I took refuge
with a friend of my mother's, for I was aware that I could not
stay in the same house with my father for an hour without exposing
myself to the most horrible outrage. The young man in bed is the
son of a rich Geneva merchant. My father introduced him to me two
years ago, and we soon fell in love with each other. My father
went away to Marseilles, and my lover asked my mother to give me
in marriage to him; but she did not feel authorized to do so
without my father's consent. She wrote and asked him, but he
replied that he would announce his decision when he returned to
Lyons. My lover went to Geneva, and as his father approved of the
match he returned with all the necessary documents and a strong
letter of commendation from M. Tolosan. When my father came
to Lyons I escaped, as I told you, and my lover got M. Tolosan
to ask my hand for him of my father. His reply was,
'I can give no answer till she returns to my house!'
"M. Tolosan brought this reply to me, and I told him that I was
ready to obey if my mother would guarantee my safety. She
replied, however, that she knew her husband too well to dare to
have us both under the same roof. Again did M. Tolosan endeavour
to obtain my father's consent, but to no purpose. A few days
after he left Lyons, telling us that he was first going to Aix and
then to Turin, and as it was evident that he would never give his
consent my lover proposed that I should go off with him, promising
to marry me as soon as we reached Geneva. By ill luck we
travelled through Savoy, and thus met my father. As soon as he
saw us he stopped the carriage and called to me to get out. I
began to shriek, and my lover taking me in his arms to protect me
my father stabbed him in the chest. No doubt he would have killed
him, but seeing that my shrieks were bringing people to our
rescue, and probably believing that my lover was as good as dead,
he got on horseback again and rode off at full speed. I can chew
you the sword still covered with blood."
"I am obliged to answer this letter of his, and I am thinking how
I can obtain his consent."
"That's of no consequence; we can marry and be happy without it."
"True, but you ought not to despise your dower."
"Good heavens! what dower? He has no money!"
"But on the death of his father, the Marquis Desarmoises . . . "
"That's all a lie. My father has only a small yearly pension for
having served thirty years as a Government messenger. His father
has been dead these thirty years, and my mother and my sister only
live by the work they do."
I was thunderstruck at the impudence of the fellow, who, after
imposing on me so long, had himself put me in a position to
discover his deceit. I said nothing. Just then we were told that
supper was ready, and we sat at table for three hours talking the
matter over. The poor wounded man had only to listen to me to
know my feelings on the subject. His young mistress, as witty as
she was pretty, jested on the foolish passion of her father, who
had loved her madly ever since she was eleven.
"And you were always able to resist his attempts?" said I.
"Yes, whenever he pushed things too far."
"And how long did this state of things continue?"
"For two years. When I was thirteen he thought I was ripe, and
tried to gather the fruit; but I began to shriek, and escaped from
his bed stark naked, and I went to take refuge with my mother, who
from that day forth would not let me sleep with him again."
"You used to sleep with him? How could your mother allow it?"
"She never thought that there was anything criminal in his
affection for me, and I knew nothing about it. I thought that
what he did to me, and what he made me do to him, were mere
"But you have saved the little treasure?"
"I have kept it for my lover."
The poor lover, who was suffering more from the effects of hunger
than from his wounds, laughed at this speech of hers, and she ran
to him and covered his face with kisses. All this excited me
intensely. Her story had been told with too much simplicity not
to move me, especially when I had her before my eyes, for she
possessed all the attractions which a woman can have, and I almost
forgave her father for forgetting she was his daughter and falling
in love with her.
When she escorted me back to my room I made her feel my emotion,
and she began to laugh; but as my servants were close by I was
obliged to let her go.
Early next morning I wrote to her father that his daughter had
resolved not to leave her lover, who was only slightly wounded,
that they were in perfect safety and under the protection of the
law at Chamberi, and finally that having heard their story, and
judging them to be well matched, I could only approve of the
course they had taken. When I had finished I went into their room
and gave them the letter to read, and seeing the fair runaway at a
loss how to express her 'gratitude, I begged the invalid to let me
"Begin with me," said he, opening his arms.
My hypocritical love masked itself under the guise of paternal
affection. I embraced the lover, and then more amorously I
performed the same office for the mistress, and skewed them my
purse full of gold, telling them it was at their service. While
this was going on the surgeon came in, and I retired to my room.
At eleven o'clock Madame Morin and her daughter arrived, preceded
by Le Duc on horseback, who announced their approach by numerous
smacks of his whip. I welcomed her with open arms, thanking her
for obliging me.
The first piece of news she gave me was that Mdlle. Roman had
become mistress to Louis XV., that she lived in a beautiful house
at Passi, and that she was five months gone with child. Thus she
was in a fair way to become queen of France, as my divine oracle
"At Grenoble," she added, "you are the sole topic of conversation;
and I advise you not to go there unless you wish to settle in the
country, for they would never let you go. You would have all the
nobility at your feet, and above all, the ladies anxious to know
the lot of their daughters. Everybody believes in judicial
astrology now, and Valenglard triumphs. He has bet a hundred
Louis to fifty that my niece will be delivered of a young prince,
and he is certain of winning; though to be sure, if he loses,
everybody will laugh at him."
"Don't be afraid of his losing."
"Is it quite certain?"
"Has not the horoscope proved truthful in the principal
particular? If the other circumstances do not follow, I must have
made a great mistake in my calculations."
"I am delighted to hear you say so."
"I am going to Paris and I hope you will give me a letter of
introduction to Madame Varnier, so that I may have the pleasure of
seeing your niece."
"You shall have the letter to-morrow without fail."
I introduced Mdlle. Desarmoises to her under the family name of
her lover, and invited her to dine with Madame Morin and myself.
After dinner we went to the convent, and M---- M---- came down
very surprised at this unexpected visit from her aunt; but when
she saw me she had need of all her presence of mind. When her
aunt introduced me to her by name, she observed with true feminine
tact that during her stay at Aix she had seen me five or six times
at the fountain, but that I could not remember her features as she
had always worn her veil. I admired her wit as much as her
exquisite features. I thought she had grown prettier than ever,
and no doubt my looks told her as much. We spent an hour in
talking about Grenoble and her old friends, whom she gladly
recalled to her memory, and then she went to fetch a young girl
who was boarding at the convent, whom she liked and wanted to
present to her aunt.
I seized the opportunity of telling Madame Morin that I was
astonished at the likeness, that her very voice was like that of
my Venetian M---- M-----, and I begged her to obtain me the
privilege of breakfasting with her niece the next day, and of
presenting her with a dozen pounds of capital chocolate. I had
brought it with me from Genoa.
"You must make her the present yourself," said Madame Morin, "for
though she's a nun she's a woman, and we women much prefer a
present from a man's than from a woman's hand."
M---- M---- returned with the superior of the convent, two other
nuns, and the young boarder, who came from Lyons, and was
exquisitely beautiful. I was obliged to talk to all the nuns, and
Madame Morin told her niece that I wanted her to try some
excellent chocolate I had brought from Genoa, but that I hoped her
lay-sister would make it.
"Sir," said M---- M----, "kindly send me the chocolate, and to-
morrow we will breakfast together with these dear sisters."
As soon as I got back to my inn I sent the chocolate with a
respectful note, and I took supper in Madame Morin's room with her
daughter and Mdlle. Desarmoises, of whom I was feeling more and
more amorous, but I talked of M---- M---- all the time, and I
could see that the aunt suspected that the pretty nun was not
altogether a stranger to me.
I breakfasted at the convent and I remember that the chocolate,
the biscuits, and the sweetmeats were served with a nicety which
savoured somewhat of the world. When we had finished breakfast I
told M---- M---- that she would not find it so easy to give me
a dinner, with twelve persons sitting down to table, but I added
that half the company could be in the convent and half in the
parlour, separated from the convent by a light grating.
"It's a sight I should like to see," said I, "if you will allow me
to pay all expenses."
"Certainly," replied M---- M-----, and this dinner was fixed for
the next day.
M---- M---- took charge of the whole thing, and promised to ask
six nuns. Madame Morin, who knew my tastes, told her to spare
nothing, and I warned her that I would send in the necessary
I escorted Madame Morin, her daughter, and Mdlle. Desarmoises back
to the hotel, and I then called on M. Magnan, to whom I had been
recommended by the Chevalier Raiberti. I asked him to get me some
of the best wine, and he took me down to his cellar, and told me
to take what I liked. His wines proved to be admirable.
This M. Magnan was a clever man, of a pleasant appearance, and
very comfortably off. He occupied an extremely large and
convenient house outside the town, and there his agreeable wife
dispensed hospitality. She had ten children, amongst whom there
were four pretty daughters; the eldest, who was nineteen, was
We went to the convent at eleven o'clock, and after an hour's
conversation we were told that dinner was ready. The table was
beautifully laid, covered with a fair white cloth, and adorned
with vases filled with artificial flowers so strongly scented that
the air of the parlour was quite balmy. The fatal grill was
heavier than I had hoped. I found myself seated to the left of
M---- M----, and totally unable to see her. The fair Desarmoises
was at my right, and she entertained us all the time with her
We in the parlour were waited on by Le Duc and Costa, and the nuns
were served by their lay-sisters. The abundant provision, the
excellent wines, the pleasant though sometimes equivocal
conversation, kept us all merrily employed for three hours. Mirth
had the mastery over reason, or, to speak more plainly, we were
all drunk; and if it had not been for the fatal grill, I could
have had the whole eleven ladies without much trouble. The young
Desarmoises was so gay, indeed, that if I had not restrained her
she would probably have scandalised all the nuns, who would have
liked nothing better. I was longing to have her to myself, that I
might quench the flame she had kindled in my breast, and I had no
doubt of my success on the first attempt. After coffee had been
served, we went into another parlour and stayed there till night
came on. Madame Morin took leave of her niece, and the hand-
shakings, thanks, and promises of remembrance between me and the
nuns, lasted for a good quarter of an hour. After I had said
aloud to M---- M---- that I hoped to have the pleasure of seeing
her before I left, we went back to the inn in high good humour
with our curious party which I still remember with pleasure.
Madame Morin gave me a letter for her cousin Madame Varnier, and I