Part 44 out of 70
of the best quality. We were twenty of us at table, and the feast
was given chiefly in honour of the learned theologian and myself,
as a rich foreigner who spent money freely. M. de Ximenes, who
had just arrived from Ferney was there, and told me that M. de
Voltaire was expecting me, but I had foolishly determined not to go.
Hedvig shone in solving the questions put to her by the company.
M. de Ximenes begged her to justify as best she could our first
mother, who had deceived her husband by giving him the fatal apple
"Eve," she said, "did not deceive her husband, she only cajoled
him into eating it in the hope of giving him one more perfection.
Besides Eve had not been forbidden to eat the fruit by God, but
only by Adam, and in all probability her woman's sense prevented
her regarding the prohibition as serious."
At this reply, which I found full of sense and wit, two scholars
from Geneva and even Hedvig's uncle began to murmur and shake
their heads. Madame Tronchin said gravely that Eve had received
the prohibition from God himself, but the girl only answered by a
humble "I beg your pardon, madam." At this she turned to the
pastor with a frightened manner, and said,--
"What do you say to this?"
"Madam, my niece is not infallible."
"Excuse me, dear uncle, I am as infallible as Holy Writ when I
speak according to it."
"Bring a Bible, and let me see."
"Hedvig, my dear Hedvig, you are right after all. Here it is.
The prohibition was given before woman was made."
Everybody applauded, but Hedvig remained quite calm; it was only
the two scholars and Madame Tronchin who still seemed disturbed.
Another lady then asked her if it was allowable to believe the
history of the apple to be symbolical. She replied,--
"I do not think so, because it could only be a symbol of sexual
union, and it is clear that such did not take place between Adam
and Eve in the Garden of Eden."
"The learned differ on this point."
"All the worse for them, madam, the Scripture is plain enough. In
the first verse of the fourth chapter it is written, that Adam
knew his wife after they had been driven from the Garden, and that
in consequence she conceived Cain."
"Yes, but the verse does not say that Adam did not know her before
and consequently he might have done so."
"I cannot admit the inference, as in that case she would have
conceived; for it would be absurd to suppose that two creatures
who had just left God's hands, and were consequently as nearly
perfect as is possible, could perform the act of generation
without its having any result."
This reply gained everyone's applause, and compliments to Hedvig
made the round of the table.
Mr. Tronchin asked her if the doctrine of the immortality of the
soul could be gathered from the Old Testament alone.
"The Old Testament," she replied, "does not teach this doctrine;
but, nevertheless, human reason teaches it, as the soul is a
substance, and the destruction of any substance is an unthinkable
"Then I will ask you," said the banker, "if the existence of the
soul is established in the Bible."
"Where there is smoke there is always fire."
"Tell me, then, if matter can think."
"I cannot answer that question, for it is beyond my knowledge. I
can only say that as I believe God to be all powerful, I cannot
deny Him the power to make matter capable of thought."
"But what is your own opinion?"
"I believe that I have a soul endowed with thinking capacities,
but I do not know whether I shall remember that I had the honour
of dining with you to-day after I die."
"Then you think that the soul and the memory may be separable; but
in that case you would not be a theologian."
"One may be a theologian and a philosopher, for philosophy never
contradicts any truth, and besides, to say 'I do not know' is not
the same as 'I am sure'"
Three parts of the guests burst into cries of admiration, and the
fair philosopher enjoyed seeing me laugh for pleasure at the
applause. The pastor wept for joy, and whispered something to
Helen's mother. All at once he turned to me, saying,--
"Ask my niece some question."
"Yes," said Hedvig, "but it must be something quite new."
"That is a hard task," I replied, "for how am I to know that what
I ask is new to you? However, tell me if one must stop at the
first principle of a thing one wants to understand."
"Certainly, and the reason is that in God there is no first
principle, and He is therefore incomprehensible."
"God be praised! that is how I would have you answer. Can God
have any self-consciousness?"
"There my learning is baffled. I know not what to reply. You
should not ask me so hard a thing as that."
"But you wished for something new. I thought the newest thing
would be to see you at a loss."
"That's prettily said. Be kind enough to reply for me, gentlemen,
and teach me what to say."
Everybody tried to answer, but nothing was said worthy of record.
Hedvig at last said,--
"My opinion is that since God knows all, He knows of His own
existence, but you must not ask me how He knows it."
"That's well said," I answered; and nobody could throw any further
light on the matter.
All the company looked on me as a polite Atheist, so superficial
is the judgment of society, but it did not matter to me whether
they thought me an Atheist or not.
M. de Ximenes asked Hedvig if matter had been created.
"I cannot recognize the word 'created,'" she replied. "Ask me
whether matter was formed, and I shall reply in the affirmative.
The word 'created' cannot have existence, for the existence of
anything must be prior to the word which explains it."
"Then what meaning do you assign to the word 'created'?"
"Made out of nothing. You see the absurdity, for nothing must
have first existed. I am glad to see you laugh. Do you think
that nothingness could be created?"
"You are right."
"Not at all, not at all," said one of the guests, superciliously.
"Kindly tell me who was your teacher?" said M. de Ximenes.
"My uncle there."
"Not at all, my dear niece. I certainly never taught you what you
have been telling us to-day. But my niece, gentlemen, reads and
reflects over what she has read, perhaps with rather too much
freedom, but I love her all the same, because she always ends by
acknowledging that she knows nothing."
A lady who had not opened her lips hitherto asked Hedvig for a
definition of spirit.
"Your question is a purely philosophical one, and I must answer
that I do not know enough of spirit or matter to be able to give a
"But since you acknowledge the existence of Deity and must
therefore have an abstract idea of spirit, you must have some
notions on the subject, and should be able to tell me how it acts
"No solid foundation can be built on abstract ideas. Hobbes calls
such ideas mere fantasms. One may have them, but if one begins to
reason on them, one is landed in contradiction. I know that God
sees me, but I should labour in vain if I endeavoured to prove it
by reasoning, for reason tells us no one can see anything without
organs of sight; and God being a pure spirit, and therefore
without organs, it is scientifically impossible that He can see us
any more than we can see Him. But Moses and several others have
seen Him, and I believe it so, without attempting to reason on
"You are quite right," said I, "for you would be confronted by
blank impossibility. But if you take to reading Hobbes you are in
danger of becoming an Atheist."
"I am not afraid of that. I cannot conceive the possibility of
After dinner everybody crowded round this truly astonishing girl,
so that I had no opportunity of whispering my love. However, I
went apart with Helen, who told me that the pastor and his niece
were going to sup with her mother the following day.
"Hedvig," she added, "will stay the night and sleep with me as she
always does when she comes to supper with her uncle. It remains
to be seen if you are willing to hide in a place I will shew you
at eleven o'clock tomorrow, in order to sleep with us. Call on my
mother at that hour to-morrow, and I will find an opportunity of
shewing you where it is. You will be safe though not comfortable,
and if you grow weary you can console yourself by thinking that
you are in our minds."
"Shall I have to stay there long?"
"Four hours at the most. At seven o'clock the street door is
shut, and only opened to anyone who rings."
"If I happen to cough while I am in hiding might I be heard?"
"Yes, that might happen."
"There's a great hazard. All the rest is of no consequence; but
no matter, I will risk all for the sake of so great happiness."
In the morning I paid the mother a visit, and as Helen was
escorting me out she shewed me a door between the two stairs.
"At seven o'clock," said she, "the door will be open, and when you
are in put on the bolt. Take care that no one sees you as you are
entering the house."
At a quarter to seven I was already a prisoner. I found a seat in
my cell, otherwise I should neither have been able to lie down or
to stand up. It was a regular hole, and I knew by my sense of
smell that hams and cheeses were usually kept there; but it
contained none at present, for I fell all round to see how the
land lay. As I was cautiously stepping round I felt my foot
encounter some resistance, and putting down my hand I recognized
the feel of linen. It was a napkin containing two plates, a nice
roast fowl, bread, and a second napkin. Searching again I came
across a bottle and a glass. I was grateful to my charmers for
having thought of my stomach, but as I had purposely made a late
and heavy meal I determined to defer the consumption of my cold
collation till a later hour.
At nine o'clock I began, and as I had neither a knife nor a
corkscrew I was obliged to break the neck of the bottle with a
brick which I was fortunately able to detach from the mouldering
floor. The wine was delicious old Neuchatel, and the fowl was
stuffed with truffles, and I felt convinced that my two nymphs
must have some rudimentary ideas on the subject of stimulants. I
should have passed the time pleasantly enough if it had not been
for the occasional visits of a rat, who nearly made me sick with
his disgusting odour. I remembered that I had been annoyed in the
same way at Cologne under somewhat similar circumstances.
At last ten o'clock struck, and I heard the pastor's voice as he
came downstairs talking; he warned the girls not to play any
tricks together, and to go to sleep quietly. That brought back to
my memory M. Rose leaving Madame Orio's house at Venice twenty-two
years before; and reflecting on my character I found myself much
changed, though not more reasonable; but if I was not so sensible
to the charms of the sex, the two beauties who were awaiting me
were much superior to Madame Orio's nieces.
In my long and profligate career in which I have turned the heads
of some hundreds of ladies, I have become familiar with all the
methods of seduction; but my guiding principle has been never to
direct my attack against novices or those whose prejudices were
likely to prove an obstacle except in the presence of another
woman. I soon found out that timidity makes a girl averse to
being seduced, while in company with another girl she is easily
conquered; the weakness of the one brings on the fall of the
other. Fathers and mothers are of the contrary opinion, but they
are in the wrong. They will not trust their daughter to take a
walk or go to a ball with a young man, but if she has another girl
with her there is no difficulty made. I repeat, they are in the
wrong; if the young man has the requisite skill their daughter is
a lost woman. A feeling of false shame hinders them from making
an absolute and determined resistance, and the first step once
taken the rest comes inevitably and quickly. The girl grants some
small favour, and immediately makes her friend grant a much
greater one to hide her own blushes; and if the seducer is clever
at his trade the young innocent will soon have gone too far to be
able to draw back. Besides the more innocence a girl has, the
less she knows of the methods of seduction. Before she has had
time to think, pleasure attracts her, curiosity draws her a little
farther, and opportunity does the rest.
For example, I might possibly have been able to seduce Hedvig
without Helen, but I am certain I should never have succeeded with
Helen if she had not seen her cousin take liberties with me which
she no doubt thought contrary to the feelings of modesty which a
respectable young woman ought to have.
Though I do not repent of my amorous exploits, I am far from
wishing that my example should serve for the perversion of the
fair sex, who have so many claims on my homage. I desire that
what I say may be a warning to fathers and mothers, and secure me
a place in their esteem at any rate.
Soon after the pastor had gone I heard three light knocks on my
prison door. I opened it, and my hand was folded in a palm as
soft as satin. All my being was moved. It was Helen's hand, and
that happy moment had already repaid me for my long waiting.
"Follow me on tiptoe," she whispered, as soon as she had shut the
door; but in my impatience I clasped her in my arms, and made her
feel the effect which her mere presence had produced on me, while
at the same time I assured myself of her docility. "There," she
said, "now come upstairs softly after me."
I followed her as best I could in the darkness, and she took me
along a gallery into a dark room, and then into a lighted one
which contained Hedvig almost in a state of nudity. She came to
me with open arms as soon as she saw me, and, embracing me
ardently, expressed her gratitude for my long and dreary
"Divine Hedvig," I answered, "if I had not loved you madly I would
not have stayed a quarter of an hour in that dismal cell, but I am
ready to spend four hours there every day till I leave Geneva for
your sake. But we must not lose any time; let us go to bed."
"Do you two go to bed," said Helen; "I will sleep on the sofa."
"No, no," cried Hedvig, "don't think of it; our fate must be
"Yes, darling Helen," said I, embracing her; "I love you both with
equal ardour, and these ceremonies are only wasting the time in
which I ought to be assuring you of my passion. Imitate my
proceedings. I am going to undress, and then I shall lie in the
middle of the bed. Come and lie beside me, and I'll shew you how
I love you. If all is safe I will remain with you till you send
me away, but whatever you do do not put out the light."
In the twinkling of an eye, discussing the theory of shame the
while with the theological Hedvig, I presented myself to their
gaze in the costume of Adam. Hedvig blushed and parted with the
last shred of her modesty, citing the opinion of St. Clement
Alexandrinus that the seat of shame is in the shirt. I praised
the charming perfection of her shape, in the hope of encouraging
Helen, who was slowly undressing herself; but an accusation of
mock modesty from her cousin had more effect than all my praises.
At last this Venus stood before me in a state of nature, covering
her most secret parts with her hand, and hiding one breast with
the other, and appearing woefully ashamed of what she could not
conceal. Her modest confusion, this strife between departing
modesty and rising passion, enchanted me.
Hedvig was taller than Helen; her skin was whiter, and her breasts
double the size of Helen's; but in Helen there was more animation,
her shape was more gently moulded, and her breast might have been
the model for the Venus de Medicis.
She got bolder by degrees, and we spent some moments in admiring
each other, and then we went to bed. Nature spoke out loudly, and
all we wanted was to satisfy its demands. With much coolness I
made a woman of Hedvig, and when all was over she kissed me and
said that the pain was nothing in comparison with the pleasure.
The turn of Helen (who was six years younger than Hedvig) now
came, but the finest fleece that I have ever seen was not won
without difficulty. She was jealous of her cousin's success, and
held it open with her two hands; and though she had to submit to
great pain before being initiated into the amorous mysteries, her
sighs were sighs of happiness, as she responded to my ardent
efforts. Her great charms and the vivacity of her movements
shortened the sacrifice, and when I left the sanctuary my two
sweethearts saw that I needed repose.
The alter was purified of the blood of the victims, and we all
washed, delighted to serve one another.
Life returned to me under their curious fingers, and the sight
filled them with joy. I told them that I wished to enjoy them
every night till I left Geneva, but they told me sadly that this
"In five or six days time, perhaps, the opportunity may recur
again, but that will be all."
"Ask us to sup at your inn to-morrow," said Hedvig; "and maybe,
chance will favour the commission of a sweet felony."
I followed this advice.
I overwhelmed them with happiness for several hours, passing five
or six times from one to the other before I was exhausted. In the
intervals, seeing them to be docile and desirous, I made them
execute Aretin's most complicated postures, which amused them
beyond words. We kissed whatever took our fancy, and just as
Hedvig applied her lips to the mouth of the pistol, it went off
and the discharge inundated her face and her bosom. She was
delighted, and watched the process to the end with all the
curiosity of a doctor. The night seemed short, though we had not
lost a moment's time, and at daybreak we had to part. I left them
in bed and I was fortunate enough to get away without being
I slept till noon, and then having made my toilette I went to call
on the pastor, to whom I praised Hedvig to the skies. This was
the best way to get him to come to supper at Balances the next
"We shall be in the town," said I, "and can remain together as
long as we please, but do not forget to bring the amiable widow
and her charming daughter."
He promised he would bring them both.
In the evening I went to see the syndic and his three friends, who
naturally found me rather insensible to their charms. I excused
myself by saying that I had a bad headache. I told them that I
had asked the young theologian to supper, and invited the girls
and the syndic to come too; but, as I had foreseen, the latter
would not hear of their going as it would give rise to gossip.
I took care that the most exquisite wines should form an important
feature of my supper. The pastor and the widow were both sturdy
drinkers, and I did my best to please them. When I saw that they
were pretty mellow and were going over their old recollections, I
made a sign to the girls, and they immediately went out as if to
go to a retiring-room. Under pretext of shewing them the way I
went out too, and took them into a room telling them to wait for
I went back to the supper-room, and finding the old friends taken
up with each other and scarcely conscious of my presence, I gave
them some punch, and told them that I would keep the young ladies
company; they were looking at some pictures, I explained. I lost
no time, and shewed them some extremely interesting sights. These
stolen sweets have a wonderful charm. When we were to some extent
satisfied, we went back, and I plied the punch-ladle more and more
freely. Helen praised the pictures to her mother, and asked her
to come and look at them.
"I don't care to," she replied.
"Well," said Helen, "let us go and see them again."
I thought this stratagem admissible, and going out with my two
sweethearts I worked wonders. Hedvig philosophised over pleasure,
and told me she would never have known it if I had not chanced to
meet her uncle. Helen did not speak; she was more voluptuous than
her cousin, and swelled out like a dove, and came to life only to
expire a moment afterwards. I wondered at her astonishing
fecundity; while I was engaged in one operation she passed from
death to life fourteen times. It is true that it was the sixth
time with me, so I made my progress rather slower to enjoy the
pleasure she took in it.
Before we parted I agreed to call on Helen's mother every day to
ascertain the night I could spend with them before I left Geneva.
We broke up our party at two o'clock in the morning.
Three or four days after, Helen told me briefly that Hedvig was to
sleep with her that night, and that she would leave the door open
at the same time as before.
"I will be there."
"And I will be there to shut you up, but you cannot have a light
as the servant might see it."
I was exact to the time, and when ten o'clock struck they came to
fetch me in high glee.
"I forgot to tell you," said Helen, "that you would find a fowl
I felt hungry, and made short work of it, and then we gave
ourselves up to happiness.
I had to set out on my travels in two days. I had received a
couple of letters from M. Raiberti. In the first he told me that
he had followed my instructions as to the Corticelli, and in the
second that she would probably he paid for dancing at the carnival
as first 'figurante'. I had nothing to keep me at Geneva, and
Madame d'Urfe, according to our agreement, would be waiting for me
at Lyons. I was therefore obliged to go there. Thus the night
that I was to pass with my two charmers would be my last.
My lessons had taken effect, and I found they had become past
mistresses in the art of pleasure. But now and again joy gave
place to sadness.
"We shall be wretched, sweetheart," said Hedvig, "and if you like
we will come with you."
"I promise to come and see you before two years have expired,"
said I; and in fact they had not so long to wait.
We fell asleep at midnight, and waking at four renewed our sweet
battles till six o'clock. Half an hour after I left them, worn
out with my exertions, and I remained in bed all day. In the
evening I went to see the syndic and his young friends. I found
Helen there, and she was cunning enough to feign not to be more
vexed at my departure than the others, and to further the
deception she allowed the syndic to kiss her. I followed suit,
and begged her to bid farewell for me to her learned cousin and to
excuse my taking leave of her in person.
The next day I set out in the early morning, and on the following
day I reached Lyons. Madame d'Urfe was not there, she had gone to
an estate of hers at Bresse. I found a letter in which she said
that she would be delighted to see me, and I waited on her without
losing any time.
She greeted me with her ordinary cordiality, and I told her that I
was going to Turin to meet Frederic Gualdo, the head of the
Fraternity of the Rosy Cross, and I revealed to her by the oracle
that he would come with me to Marseilles, and that there he would
complete her happiness. After having received this oracle she
would not go to Paris before she saw us. The oracle also bade her
wait for me at Lyons with young d'Aranda; who begged me to take
him with me to Turin. It may be imagined that I succeeded in
putting him off.
Madame d'Urfe had to wait a fortnight to get me fifty thousand
francs which I might require on my journey. In the course of this
fortnight I made the acquaintance of Madame Pernon, and spent a
good deal of money with her husband, a rich mercer, in
refurnishing my wardrobe. Madame Pernon was handsome and
intelligent. She had a Milanese lover, named Bono, who did
business for a Swiss banker named Sacco. It was through Madame
Peron that Bono got Madame d'Urfe the fifty thousand francs I
required. She also gave me the three dresses which she had
promised to the Countess of Lascaris, but which that lady had
One of these dresses was furred, and was exquisitely beautiful. I
left Lyons equipped like a prince, and journeyed towards Turin,
where I was to meet the famous Gualdo, who was none other than
Ascanio Pogomas, whom I had summoned from Berne. I thought it
would be easy to make the fellow play the part I had destined for
him, but I was cruelly deceived as the reader will see.
I could not resist stopping at Chamberi to see my fair nun, whom I
found looking beautiful and contented. She was grieving, however,
after the young boarder, who had been taken from the convent and
I got to Turin at the beginning of December, and at Rivoli I found
the Corticelli, who had been warned by the Chevalier de Raiberti
of my arrival. She gave me a letter from this worthy gentleman,
giving the address of the house he had taken for me as I did not
want to put up at an inn. I immediately went to take possession
of my new lodging.
My Old Friends--Pacienza--Agatha--Count Boryomeo--The Ball
The Corticelli was as gentle as a lamb, and left me as we got into
Turin. I promised I would come and see her, and immediately went
to the house the Chevalier had taken, which I found convenient in
The worthy Chevalier was not long in calling on me. He gave me an
account of the moneys he had spent on the Corticelli, and handed
over the rest to me.
"I am flush of money," I said, "and I intend to invite my friends
to supper frequently. Can you lay your hands on a good cook?"
"I know a pearl amongst cooks," said he, "and you can have him
"You, chevalier, are the pearl of men. Get me this wonder, tell
him I am hard to please, and agree on the sum I am to pay him per
The cook, who was an excellent one, came the same evening.
"It would be a good idea," said Raiberti, "to call on the Count
d'Aglie. He knows that the Corticelli is your mistress, and he
has given a formal order to Madame Pacienza, the lady with whom
she lives, that when you come and see her you are not to be left
This order amused me, and as I did not care about the Corticelli
it did not trouble me in the least, though Raiberti, who thought I
was in love with her, seemed to pity me.
"Since she has been here," he said, "her conduct has been
"I am glad to hear that."
"You might let her take some lessons from the dancing-master
Dupre," said he. "He will no doubt give her something to do at
I promised to follow his advice, and I then paid a visit to the
superintendent of police.
He received me well, complimented me on my return to Turin, and
then added with a smile:--
"I warn you that I have been informed that you keep a mistress,
and that I have given strict orders to the respectable woman with
whom she lives not to leave her alone with you."
"I am glad to hear it," I replied, "and the more as I fear her
mother is not a person of very rigid morals. I advised the
Chevalier Raiberti of my intentions with regard to her, and I am
glad to see that he has carried them out so well. I hope the girl
will shew herself worthy of your protection."
"Do you think of staying here throughout the carnival?"
"Yes, if your excellency approves."
"It depends entirely on your good conduct."
"A few peccadilloes excepted, my conduct is always above
"There are some peccadilloes we do not tolerate here. Have you
seen the Chevalier Osorio?"
"I think of calling on him to-day or to-morrow."
"I hope you will remember me to him."
He rang his bell, bowed, and the audience was over.
The Chevalier Osorio received me at his office, and gave me a most
gracious reception. After I had given him an account of my visit
to the superintendent, he asked me, with a smile, if I felt
inclined to submit with docility to not seeing my mistress in
"Certainly," said I, "for I am not in love with her."
Osorio looked at me slyly, and observed, "Somehow I don't think
your indifference will be very pleasing to the virtuous duenna."
I understood what he meant, but personally I was delighted not to
be able to see the Corticelli save in the presence of a female
dragon. It would make people talk, and I loved a little scandal,
and felt curious to see what would happen.
When I returned to my house I found the Genoese Passano, a bad
poet and worse painter, to whom I had intended to give the part of
a Rosicrucian, because there was something in his appearance which
inspired, if not respect, at least awe and a certain feeling of
fear. In point of fact, this was only a natural presentiment that
the man must be either a clever rogue or a morose and sullen
I made him sup with me and gave him a room on the third floor,
telling him not to leave it without my permission. At supper I
found him insipid in conversation, drunken, ignorant, and ill
disposed, and I already repented of having taken him under my
protection; but the thing was done.
The next day, feeling curious to see how the Corticelli was
lodged, I called on her, taking with me a piece of Lyons silk.
I found her and her mother in the landlady's room, and as I came
in the latter said that she was delighted to see me and that she
hoped I would often dine with them. I thanked her briefly and
spoke to the girl coolly enough.
"Shew me your room," said I. She took me there in her mother's
company. "Here is something to make you a winter dress," said I,
skewing her the silk.
"Is this from the marchioness?"
"No, it is from me"
"But where are the three dresses she said she would give me?"
"You know very well on what conditions you were to have them, so
let us say no more about it."
She unfolded the silk which she liked very much, but she said she
must have some trimmings. The Pacienza offered her services, and
said she would send for a dressmaker who lived close by. I
acquiesced with a nod, and as soon as she had left the room the
Signora Laura said she was very sorry only to be able to receive
me in the presence of the landlady.
"I should have thought," said I, "that a virtuous person like you
would have been delighted."
"I thank God for it every morning and night."
"You infernal old hypocrite!" said I, looking contemptuously at
"Upon my word, anybody who didn't know you would be taken in."
In a few minutes Victorine and another girl came in with their
"Are you still at Madame R----'s" said I.
"Yes sir," said she, with a blush.
When the Corticelli had chosen what she wanted I told Victorine to
present my compliments to her mistress, and tell her that I would
call and pay for the articles.
The landlady had also sent for a dressmaker, and while the
Corticelli was being measured, she shewed me her figure and said
she wanted a corset. I jested on the pregnancy with which she
threatened me, and of which there was now no trace, pitying Count
N---- for being deprived of the joys of fatherhood. I then gave
her what money she required and took my leave. She escorted me to
the door, and asked me if she should have the pleasure of seeing
me again before long.
"It's a pleasure, is it?" I replied; "well, I don't know when you
will have it again; it depends on my leisure and my fancy."
It is certain that if I had any amorous feelings or even curiosity
about the girl, I should not have left her in that house for a
moment; but I repeat my love for her had entirely vanished. There
was one thing, however, which annoyed me intolerably, namely, that
in spite of my coolness towards her, the little hussy pretended to
think that I had forgotten and forgiven everything.
On leaving the Corticelli, I proceeded to call on my bankers,
amongst others on M. Martin, whose wife was justly famous for her
wit and beauty.
I chanced to meet the horse-dealing Jew, who had made money out of
me by means of his daughter Leah. She was still pretty, but
married; and her figure was too rounded for my taste. She and her
husband welcomed me with great warmth, but I cared for her no
longer, and did not wish to see her again.
I called on Madame R----, who had been awaiting me impatiently
ever since Victorine had brought news of me. I sat down by the
counter and had the pleasure of hearing from her lips the amorous
histories of Turin for the past few months.
"Victorine and Caton are the only two of the old set that still
remain, but I have replaced them with others."
"Has Victorine found anyone to operate on her yet?"
"No, she is just as you left her, but a gentleman who is in love
with her is going to take her to Milan."
This gentleman was the Comte de Perouse, whose acquaintance I made
three years afterwards at Milan. I shall speak of him in due
time. Madame R---- told me that, in consequence of her getting
into trouble several times with the police, she had been obliged
to promise the Count d'Aglie only to send the girls to ladies,
and, consequently, if I found any of them to my taste I should be
obliged to make friends with their relations and take them to the
festas. She shewed me the girls in the work-room, but I did not
think any of them worth taking trouble about.
She talked about the Pacienza, and when I told her that I kept the
Corticelli, and of the hard conditions to which I was obliged to
submit, she exclaimed with astonishment, and amused me by her
jests on the subject.
"You are in good hands, my dear sir," said she; "the woman is not
only a spy of d'Aglie's, but a professional procuress. I wonder
the Chevalier Raiberti placed the girl with her."
She was not so surprised when I told her that the chevalier had
good reasons for his action, and that I myself had good reasons of
my own for wishing the Corticelli to remain there.
Our conversation was interrupted by a customer who wanted silk
stockings. Hearing him speak of dancing, I asked him if he could
tell me the address of Dupre, the ballet-master.
"No one better, sir, for I am Dupre, at your service."
"I am delighted at this happy chance. The Chevalier Raiberti gave
me to understand that you might be able to give dancing lessons to
a ballet-girl of my acquaintance."
"M. de Raiberti mentioned your name to me this morning. You must
be the Chevalier de Seingalt?"
"I can give the young lady lessons every morning at nine o'clock
at my own home."
"No, do you come to her house, but at whatever hour you like. I
will pay you, and I hope you will make her one of your best
pupils. I must warn you, however, that she is not a novice."
"I will call on her to-day, and to-morrow I will tell you what I
can make of her; but I think I had better tell you my terms: I
charge three Piedmontese livres a lesson."
"I think that is very reasonable; I will call on you to-morrow."
"You do me honour. Here is my address. If you like to come in
the afternoon you will see the rehearsal of a ballet."
"Is it not rehearsed at the theatre?"
"Yes, but at the theatre no on-lookers are allowed by the orders
of the superintendent of police."
"This superintendent of yours puts his finger into a good many
"In too many."
"But at your own house anybody may come?"
"Undoubtedly, but I could not have the dancers there if my wife
were not present. The superintendent knows her, and has great
confidence in her."
"You will see me at the rehearsal."
The wretched superintendent had erected a fearful system of
surveillance against the lovers of pleasure, but it must be
confessed that he was often cheated. Voluptuousness was all the
more rampant when thus restrained; and so it ever will be while
men have passions and women desires. To love and enjoy, to desire
and to satisfy one's desires, such is the circle in which we move,
and whence we can never be turned. When restrictions are placed
upon the passions as in Turkey, they still attain their ends,
but by methods destructive to morality.
At the worthy Mazzali's I found two gentlemen to whom she
introduced me. One was old and ugly, decorated with the Order of
the White Eagle--his name was Count Borromeo; the other, young and
brisk, was Count A---- B---- of Milan. After they had gone I was
informed that they were paying assiduous court to the Chevalier
Raiberti, from whom they hoped to obtain certain privileges for
their lordships which were under the Sardinian rule.
The Milanese count had not a penny, and the Lord of the Borromean
Isles was not much better off. He had ruined himself with women,
and not being able to live at Milan he had taken refuge in the
fairest of his isles, and enjoyed there perpetual spring and very
little else. I paid him a visit on my return from Spain, but I
shall relate our meeting when I come to my adventures, my
pleasures, my misfortunes, and above all my follies there, for of
such threads was the weft of my life composed, and folly was the
The conversation turned on my house, and the lively Mazzoli asked
me how I liked my cook. I replied that I had not yet tried him,
but I proposed to put him to test the next day, if she and the
gentlemen would do me the honour of supping with me.
The invitation was accepted, and she promised to bring her dear
chevalier with her, and to warn him of the event, as his health
only allowed him to eat once a day.
I called on Dupre in the afternoon. I saw the dancers, male and
female, the latter accompanied by their mothers, who stood on one
side muffled up in thick cloaks. As I passed them under review in
my lordly manner, I noticed that one of them still looked fresh
and pretty, which augured well for her daughter, though the fruit
does not always correspond to the tree.
Dupre introduced me to his wife, who was young and pretty, but who
had been obliged to leave the theatre owing to the weakness of her
chest. She told me that if the Corticelli would work hard her
husband would make a great dancer of her, as her figure was
eminently suited for dancing. While I was talking with Madame
Dupre, the Corticelli, late Lascaris, came running up to me with
the air of a favourite, and told me she wanted some ribbons and
laces to make a bonnet. The others girls began to whisper to each
other, and guessing what they must be saying I turned to Dupre
without taking any notice of Madame Madcap, and gave him twelve
pistoles, saying that I would pay for the lessons three months in
advance, and that I hoped he would bring his new pupil on well.
Such a heavy payment in advance caused general surprise, which I
enjoyed, though pretending not to be aware of it. Now I know that
I acted foolishly, but I have promised to speak the truth in these
Memoirs, which will not see the light till all light has left my
eyes, and I will keep my promise.
I have always been greedy of distinction; I have always loved to
draw the eyes of men towards men, but I must also add that if I
have humiliated anyone it has always been a proud man or a fool,
for it has been my rule to please everyone if I can.
I sat on one side, the better to observe the swarm of girls, and I
soon fixed my eyes on one whose appearance struck me. She had a
fine figure, delicate features, a noble air, and a patient look
which interested me in the highest degree. She was dancing with a
man who did not scruple to abuse her in the coarsest manner when
she made any mistakes, but she bore it without replying, though an
expression of contempt mingled with the sweetness of her face.
Instinct drew me to the mother I have remarked on, and I asked her
to whom the dancer that interested me belonged.
"I am her mother," she replied.
"You, madam! I should not have thought it possible."
"I was very young when she was born."
"I should think so. Where do you come from?"
"I am from Lucca, and what is more-a poor widow."
"How can you be poor, when you are still young and handsome, and
have an angel for a daughter?"
She replied only by an expressive glance. I understood her
reserve, and I stayed by her without speaking. Soon after,
Agatha, as her daughter was named, came up to her to ask for a
handkerchief to wipe her face.
"Allow me to offer you mine," said I. It was a white
handkerchief, and scented with attar of roses; this latter
circumstance gave her an excuse for accepting it, but after
smelling it she wanted to return it to me.
"You have not used it," said I! "do so."
She obeyed, and then returned it to me with a bow by way of
"You must not give it me back, fair Agatha, till you have had it
She smiled, and gave it to her mother, glancing at me in a
grateful manner, which I considered of good omen.
"May I have the pleasure of calling on you?" said I. "I cannot
receive you, sir, except in the presence of my landlady."
"This cursed restriction is general in Turin, then?"
"Yes, the superintendent uses everybody in the same way."
"Then I shall have the pleasure of seeing you again here?"
In the evening I had one of the best suppers I ever had in my
life, if I except those I enjoyed during my stay at Turin. My
cook was worthy of a place in the kitchen of Lucullus; but without
detracting from his skill I must do justice to the products of the
country. Everything is delicious; game, fish, birds, meat,
vegetables, fruit, milk, and truffles--all are worthy of the table
of the greatest gourmets, and the wines of the country yield to
none. What a pity that strangers do not enjoy liberty at Turin!
It is true that better society, and more politeness, such as are
found in several French and Italian towns, are to be wished for.
The beauty of the women of Turin is no doubt due to the excellence
of the air and diet.
I had not much trouble in extracting a promise from Madame Mazzoli
and the two counts to sup with me every night, but the Chevalier
de Raiberti would only promise to come whenever he could.
At the Carignan Theatre, where opera-bouffe was being played, I
saw Redegonde, with whom I had failed at Florence. She saw me in
the pit and gave me a smile, so I wrote to her, offering my
services if the mother had changed her way of thinking. She
answered that her mother was always the same, but that if I would
ask the Corticelli she could come and sup with me, though the
mother would doubtless have to be of the party. I gave her no
answer, as the terms she named were by no means to my taste.
I had a letter from Madame du Rumain, enclosing one from M. de
Choiseul to M. de Chauvelin, the French ambassador at Turin. It
will be remembered that I had known this worthy nobleman at
Soleure, and had been treated with great politeness by him, but I
wished to have a more perfect title to his acquaintance; hence I
asked Madame du Rumain to give me a letter.
M. de Chauvelin received me with the greatest cordiality; and
reproaching me for having thought a letter of introduction
necessary, introduced me to his charming wife, who was no less
kind than her husband. Three or four days later he asked me to
dine with him, and I met at his table M. Imberti, the Venetian
ambassador, who said he was very sorry not to be able to present
me at Court. On hearing the reason M. de Chauvelin offered to
present me himself, but I thought it best to decline with thanks.
No doubt it would have been a great honour, but the result would
be that I should be more spied on than even in this town of spies,
where the most indifferent actions do not pass unnoticed. My
pleasures would have been interfered with.
Count Borromeo continued to honour me by coming every night to sup
with me, preserving his dignity the while, for as he accompanied
Madame Mazzoli it was not to be supposed that he came because he
was in need of a meal. Count A---- B---- came more frankly, and I
was pleased with him. He told me one day that the way I put up
with his visits made him extremely grateful to Providence, for his
wife could not send him any money, and he could not afford to pay
for his dinner at the inn, so that if it were not for my kindness
he would often be obliged to go hungry to bed. He shewed me his
wife's letters; he had evidently a high opinion of her. "I hope,"
he would say, "that you will come and stay with us at Milan, and
that she will please you."
He had been in the service of Spain, and by what he said I judged
his wife to be a pleasing brunette of twenty-five or twenty-six.
The count had told her how I had lent him money several times, and
of my goodness to him, and she replied, begging him to express her
gratitude to me, and to make me promise to stay with them at
Milan. She wrote wittily, and her letters interested me to such
an extent that I gave a formal promise to journey to Milan, if it
were only for the sake of seeing her.
I confess that in doing so I was overcome by my feelings of
curiosity. I knew they were poor, and I should not have given a
promise which would either bring them into difficulties or expose
me to paying too dearly for my lodging. However, by way of
excuse, I can only say that curiosity is near akin to love. I
fancied the countess sensible like an Englishwoman, passionate
like a Spaniard, caressing like a Frenchwoman, and as I had a good
enough opinion of my own merit, I did not doubt for a moment that
she would respond to my affection. With these pleasant delusions
in my head, I counted on exciting the jealousy of all the ladies
and gentlemen of Milan. I had plenty of money, and I longed for
an opportunity of spending it.
Nevertheless, I went every day to rehearsal at Dupre's, and I soon
got madly in love with Agatha. Madame Dupre won over by several
presents I made her, received my confidences with kindness, and by
asking Agatha and her mother to dinner procured me the pleasure of
a more private meeting with my charmer. I profited by the
opportunity to make known my feelings, and I obtained some slight
favours, but so slight were they that my flame only grew the
Agatha kept on telling me that everybody knew that the Corticelli
was my mistress, and that for all the gold in the world she would
not have it said that she was my last shift, as I could not see
the Corticelli in private. I swore to her that I did not love the
Corticelli, and that I only kept her to prevent M. Raiberti being
compromised; but all this was of no avail, she had formed her
plans, and nothing would content her but a formal rupture which
would give all Turin to understand that I loved her and her alone.
On these conditions she promised me her heart, and everything
which follows in such cases.
I loved her too well not to endeavour to satisfy her, since my
satisfaction depended on hers. With this idea I got Dupre to give
a ball at my expense in some house outside the town, and to invite
all the dancers, male and female, who were engaged for the
carnival at Turin. Every gentleman had the right to bring a lady
to have supper and look on, as only the professional dancers were
allowed to dance.
I told Dupre that I would look after the refreshment department,
and that he might tell everybody that no expense was to be spared.
I also provided carriages and sedan-chairs for the ladies, but
nobody was to know that I was furnishing the money. Dupre saw
that there was profit in store for him, and went about it at once.
He found a suitable house, asked the lady dancers, and distributed
about fifty tickets.
Agatha and her mother were the only persons who knew that the
project was mine, and that I was responsible to a great extent for
the expenses; but these facts were generally known the day after
Agatha had no dress that was good enough, so I charged Madame
Dupre to provide one at my expense, and I was well served. It is
well known that when this sort of people dip their fingers into
other's purses they are not sparing, but that was just what I
wanted. Agatha promised to dance all the quadrilles with me, and
to return to Turin with Madame Dupre.
On the day fixed for the ball I stayed to dinner at the Dupre's to
be present at Agatha's toilette. Her dress was a rich and newly-
made Lyons silk, and the trimming was exquisite Alencon point
lace, of which the girl did not know the value. Madame R----, who
had arranged the dress, and Madame Dupre, had received
instructions to say nothing about it to her.
When Agatha was ready to start, I told her that the ear-rings she
was wearing were not good enough for her dress.
"That's true," said Madame Dupre, "and it's a great pity."
"Unfortunately," said the mother, "my poor girl hasn't got another
"I have some pretty imitation pendants, which I could lend you,"
said I; "they are really very brilliant."
I had taken care to put the ear-rings which Madame d'Urfe had
intended for the Countess Lascaris in my pocket. I drew them out,
and they were greatly admired.
"One would swear they were real diamonds," said Madame Dupre.
I put them in Agatha's ears. She admired them very much, and said
that all the other girls would be jealous, as they would certainly
take them for real stones.
I went home and made an elaborate toilette, and on arriving at the
ball I found Agatha dancing with Lord Percy, a young fool, who was
the son of the Duke of Northumberland, and an extravagant
I noticed several handsome ladies from Turin, who, being merely
onlookers, might be thinking that the ball was given for their
amusement, like the fly on the chariot wheel. All the ambassadors
were present, and amongst others M. de Chauvelin, who told me that
to make everything complete my pretty housekeeper at Soleure was
The Marquis and Marchioness de Prie were there also. The marquis
did not care to dance, so was playing a little game of quinze with
a rude gamester, who would not let the marquis's mistress look
over his cards. She saw me, but pretended not to recognize me;
the trick I had played her at Aix being probably enough to last
her for some time.
The minuets came to an end, and Dupre announced the quadrilles,
and I was glad to see the Chevalier Ville-Follet dancing with the
Corticelli. My partner was Agatha, who had great difficulty in
getting rid of Lord Percy, though she told him that she was fully
Minuets and quadrilles followed each other in succession, and
refreshments began to make their appearance. I was delighted to
see that the refreshment counter was furnished with the utmost
liberality. The Piedmontese, who are great at calculations,
estimated that Dupre must lose by it, the firing of champagne
corks was continuous.
Feeling tired I asked Agatha to sit down, and I was telling her
how I loved her when Madame de Chauvelin and another lady
interrupted us. I rose to give them place, and Agatha imitated my
example; but Madame de Chauvelin made her sit down beside her, and
praised her dress, and above all the lace trimming. The other
lady said how pretty her ear-rings were, and what a pity it was
that those imitation stones would lose their brilliance in time.
Madame de Chauvelin, who knew something about precious stones,
said that they would never lose their brilliance, as they were
diamonds of the first water.
"It is not so?" she added, to Agatha, who in the candour of her
heart confessed that they were imitation, and that I had lent them
At this Madame de Chauvelin burst out laughing, and said,--
"M. de Seingalt has deceived you, my dear child. A gentleman of
his caste does not lend imitation jewellery to such a pretty girl
as you are. Your ear-rings are set with magnificent diamonds."
She blushed, for my silence confirmed the lady's assertion, and
she felt that the fact of my having lent her such stones was a
palpable proof of the great esteem in which I held her.
Madame de Chauvelin asked me to dance a minuet with Agatha, and my
partner executed the dance with wonderful grace. When it was over
Madame de Chauvelin thanked me, and told me that she should always
remember our dancing together at Soleure, and that she hoped I
would dance again with her at her own house. A profound bow
shewed her how flattered I felt by the compliment.
The ball did not come to an end till four o'clock in the morning,
and I did not leave it till I saw Agatha going away in the company
with Madame Dupre.
I was still in bed the next morning, when my man told me a pretty
woman wanted to speak to me. I had her in and was delighted to
find it was Agatha's mother. I made her sit down beside me, and
gave her a cup of chocolate. As soon as we were alone she drew my
ear-rings from her pocket, and said, with a smile, that she had
just been shewing them to a jeweller, who had offered her a
thousand sequins for them.
"The man's mad," said I, "you ought to have let him have them;
they are not worth four sequins."
So saying, I drew her to my arms and gave her a kiss. Feeling
that she had shared in the kiss, and that she seemed to like it, I
went farther, and at last we spent a couple of hours in shewing
what a high opinion we had of each other.
Afterwards we both looked rather astonished, and it was the
beautiful mother who first broke the silence.
"Am I to tell my girl," said she, with a smile, "of the way in
which you proved to me that you love her?"
"I leave that to your discretion, my dear," said I. "I have
certainly proved that I love you, but it does not follow that I do
not adore your daughter. In fact, I burn for her; and yet, if we
are not careful to avoid being alone together, what has just
happened between us will often happen again."
"It is hard to resist you, and it is possible that I may have
occasion to speak to you again in private."
"You may be sure you will always be welcome, and all I ask of you
is not to put any obstacles in the way of my suit with Agatha."
"I have also a favour to ask."
"If it is within my power, you may be sure I will grant it."
"Very good! Then tell me if these ear-rings are real, and what
was your intention in putting them in my daughter's ears?"
"The diamonds are perfectly genuine, and my intention was that
Agatha should keep them as a proof of my affection."
She heaved a sigh, and then told me that I might ask them to
supper, with Dupre and his wife, whenever I pleased. I thanked
her, gave her ten sequins, and sent her away happy.
On reflection I decided that I had never seen a more sensible
woman than Agatha's mother. It would have been impossible to
announce the success of my suit in a more delicate or more
My readers will ho doubt guess that I seized the opportunity and
brought this interesting affair to a conclusion. The same evening
I asked Dupre and his wife, Agatha and her mother, to sup with me
the next day, in addition to my usual company. But as I was
leaving Dupre's I had an adventure.
My man, who was a great rascal, but who behaved well on this
occasion, ran up to me panting for breath, and said triumphantly,
"Sir, I have been looking for you to warn you that I have just
seen the Chevalier de Ville-Follet slip into Madame Pacienza's
house, and I suspect he is making an amorous call on the
I immediately walked to the abode of the worthy spy in high
spirits, and hoping that my servant's guess had been correct. I
walked in and found the landlady and the mother sitting together.
Without noticing them, I was making my way towards the
Corticelli's room when the two old ladies arrested my course,
telling me that the signora was not well and wanted rest. I
pushed them aside, and entered the room so swiftly and suddenly
that I found the gentleman in a state of nature while the girl
remained stretched on the bed as if petrified by my sudden
"Sir," said I, "I hope you will pardon me for coming in without
"Wait a moment, wait a moment."
Far from waiting I went away in high glee, and told the story to
the Chevalier Raiberti, who enjoyed it as well as I did. I asked
him to warn the Pacienza woman that from that day I would pay
nothing for Corticelli, who had ceased to belong to me. He
approved, and said,--
"I suppose you will not be going to complain to the Count
"It is only fools who complain, above all in circumstances like
This scandalous story would have been consigned to forgetfulness,
if it had not been for the Chevalier de Ville-Follet's
indiscretion. He felt angry at being interrupted in the middle of
the business, and remembering he had seen my man just before fixed
on him as the informer. Meeting him in the street the chevalier
reproached him for spying, whereon the impudent rascal replied
that he was only answerable to his master, and that it was his
duty to serve me in all things. On this the chevalier caned him,
and the man went to complain to the superintendent, who summoned
Ville-Follet to appear before him and explain his conduct. Having
nothing to fear, he told the whole story.
The Chevalier de Raiberti, too, was very ill received when he went
to tell Madame Pacienza that neither he nor I were going to pay
her anything more in future; but he would listen to no defence.
The chevalier came to sup with me, and he informed me that on
leaving the house he had met a police sergeant, whom he concluded
had come to cite the landlady to appear before the Count d'Aglie.
The next day, just as I was going to M. de Chauvelin's ball, I
received to my great surprise a note from the superintendent
begging me to call on him as he had something to communicate to
me. I immediately ordered my chairmen to take me to his
M. de Aglie received me in private with great politeness, and
after giving me a chair he began a long and pathetic discourse,
the gist of which was that it was my duty to forgive this little
slip of my mistress's.
"That's exactly what I am going to do," said I; "and for the rest
of my days I never wish to see the Corticelli again, or to make or
mar in her affairs, and for all this I am greatly obliged to the
Chevalier de Ville-Follet."
"I see you are angry. Come, come! you must not abandon the girl
for that. I will have the woman Pacienza punished in such a way
as to satisfy you, and I will place the girl in a respectable
family where you can go and see her in perfect liberty."
"I am greatly obliged to you for your kindness, indeed I am
grateful; but I despise the Pacienza too heartily to wish for her
punishment, and as to the Corticelli and her mother, they are two
female swindlers, who have given me too much trouble already.
I am well quit of them"
"You must confess, however, that you had no right to make a
forcible entry into a room in a house which does not belong to
"I had not the right, I confess, but if I had not taken it I could
never have had a certain proof of the perfidy of my mistress; and
I should have been obliged to continue supporting her, though she
entertained other lovers."
"The Corticelli pretends that you are her debtor, and not vice
versa. She says that the diamonds you have given another girl
belong of right to her, and that Madame d'Urfe, whom I have the
honour to know, presented her with them."
"She is a liar! And as you know Madame d'Urfe, kindly write to
her (she is at Lyons); and if the marchioness replies that I owe
the wretched girl anything, be sure that I will discharge the
debt. I have a hundred thousand francs in good banks of this
town, and the money will be a sufficient surety for the ear-rings
I have disposed of."
"I am sorry that things have happened so."
"And I am very glad, as I have ridden myself of a burden that was
hard to bear."
Thereupon we bowed politely to one another, and I left the office.
At the French ambassador's ball I heard so much talk of my
adventure that at last I refused to reply to any more questions on
the subject. The general opinion was that the whole affair was a
trifle of which I could not honourably take any notice; but I
thought myself the best judge of my own honour, and was determined
to take no notice of the opinions of others. The Chevalier de
Ville-Follet came up to me and said that if I abandoned the
Corticelli for such a trifle, he should feel obliged to give me
satisfaction. I shook his hand, saying,--
"My dear chevalier, it will be enough if you do not demand
satisfaction of me."
He understood how the land lay, and said no more about it; but not
so his sister, the Marchioness de Prie, who made a vigorous attack
on me after we had danced together. She was handsome, and might
have been victorious if she had liked, but luckily she did not
think of exerting her power, and so gained nothing.
Three days after, Madame de St. Giles, a great power in Turin, and
a kind of protecting deity to all actresses, summoned me to her
presence by a liveried footman. Guessing what she wanted, I
called on her unceremoniously in a morning coat. She received me
politely, and began to talk of the Corticelli affair with great
affability; but I did not like her, and replied dryly that I had
had no hesitation in abandoning the girl to the protection of the
gallant gentleman with whom I had surprised her in 'flagrante
delicto'. She told me I should be sorry for it, and that she
would publish a little story which she had already read and which
did not do me much credit. I replied that I never changed my
mind, and that threats were of no avail with me. With that
parting shot I left her.
I did not attach much importance to the town gossip, but a week
after I received a manuscript containing an account--accurate in
most respects--of my relations with the Corticelli and Madame
d'Urfe, but so ill written and badly expressed that nobody could
read it without weariness. It did not make the slightest
impression on me, and I stayed a fortnight longer in Turin without
its causing me the slightest annoyance. I saw the Corticelli
again in Paris six months after, and will speak of our meeting in
The day after M. de Chauvelin's ball I asked Agatha, her mother,
the Dupres, and my usual company to supper. It was the mother's
business to so arrange matters that the ear-rings should become
Agatha's lawful property, so I left everything to her. I knew she
would manage to introduce the subject, and while we were at supper
she said that the common report of Turin was that I had given her
daughter a pair of diamond ear-rings worth five hundred Louis,
which the Corticelli claimed as hers by right.
"I do not know," she added, "if they are real diamonds, or if they
belong to the Corticelli, but I do know that my girl has received
no such present from the gentleman."
"Well, well," said I, "we will have no more surmises in the
matter;" and going up to Agatha I put the earrings on her,
"Dearest Agatha, I make you a present of them before this company,
and my giving them to you now is a proof that hitherto they have
belonged to me."
Everybody applauded, and I read in the girl's eyes that I should
have no cause to regret my generosity.
We then fell to speaking of the affair of Ville-Follet and the
Corticelli, and of the efforts that had been made to compel me to
retain her. The Chevalier Raiberti said that in my place he would
have offered Madame de St. Giles or the superintendent to continue
paying for her board, but merely as an act of charity, and that I
could have deposited money with either of them.
"I should be very glad to do so," said I; and the next day the
worthy chevalier made the necessary arrangements with Madame de
St. Giles, and I furnished the necessary moneys.
In spite of this charitable action, the wretched manuscript came
out, but, as I have said, without doing me any harm. The
superintendent made the Corticelli live in the same house with
Redegonde, and Madame Pacienza was left in peace.
After supper, with the exception of the Chevalier Raiberti, we all
masked, and went to the ball at the opera-house. I soon seized
the opportunity of escaping with Agatha, and she granted me all
that love can desire. All constraint was banished; she was my
titular mistress, and we were proud of belonging the one to the
other, for we loved each other. The suppers I had given at my
house had set me perfectly at liberty, and the superintendent
could do nothing to thwart our love, though he was informed of it,
so well are the spies of Turin organized.
Divine Providence made use of me as its instrument in making
Agatha's fortune. It may be said that Providence might have
chosen a more moral method, but are we to presume to limit the
paths of Providence to the narrow circle of our prejudices and
conventions? It has its own ways, which often appear dark to us
because of our ignorance. At all events, if I am able to continue
these Memoirs for six or seven years more, the reader will see
that Agatha shewed herself grateful. But to return to our
The happiness we enjoyed by day and night was so great, Agatha was
so affectionate and I so amorous, that we should certainly have
remained united for some time if it had not been for the event I
am about to relate. It made me leave Turin much sooner than I had
intended, for I had not purposed to visit the wonderful Spanish
countess at Milan till Lent. The husband of the Spanish lady had
finished his business and left Turin, thanking me with tears in
his eyes; and if it had not been for me he would not have been
able to quit the town, for I paid divers small debts he had
incurred, and gave him the wherewithal for his journey. Often is
vice thus found allied to virtue or masking in virtue's guise; but
what matter? I allowed myself to be taken in, and did not wish to
be disabused. I do not seek to conceal my faults. I have always
led a profligate life, and have not always been very delicate in
the choice of means to gratify my passions, but even amidst my
vices I was always a passionate lover of virtue. Benevolence,
especially, has always had a great charm for me, and I have never
failed to exercise it unless when restrained by the desire of
vengeance--a vice which has always had a controlling influence on
Lord Percy, as I have remarked, was deeply in love with my Agatha.
He followed her about everywhere, was present at all the
rehearsals, waited for her at the wings, and called on her every
day, although her landlady, a duenna of the Pacienza school, would
never let her see him alone. The principal methods of seduction--
rich presents--had not been spared, but Agatha persistently
refused them all, and forbade her duenna to take anything from the
young nobleman. Agatha had no liking for him, and kept me well
informed of all his actions, and we used to laugh at him together.
I knew that I possessed her heart, and consequently Lord Percy's
attempts neither made me angry or jealous--nay, they flattered my
self-esteem, for his slighted love made my own happiness stand out
in greater relief. Everybody knew that Agatha remained faithful
to me, and at last Lord Percy was so convinced of the hopelessness
of the attempt that he resolved on making a friend of me, and
winning me over to his interests.
With the true Englishman's boldness and coolness he came to me one
morning, and asked me to give him breakfast. I welcomed him in
the French manner, that is, with combined cordiality and
politeness, and he was soon completely at his ease.
With insular directness he went straight to the point at the first
interview, declared his love for Agatha, and proposed an exchange,
which amused, but did not offend me, as I knew that such bargains
were common in England.
"I know," said he, "that you are in love with Redegonde, and have
long tried vainly to obtain her; now I am willing to exchange her
for Agatha, and all I want to know is what sum of money you want
over and above?"
"You are very good, my dear lord, but to determine the excess of
value would require a good mathematician. Redegonde is all very
well, and inspires me with curiosity, but what is she compared to
"I know, I know, and I therefore offer you any sum you like to
Percy was very rich, and very passionate. I am sure that if I had
named twenty-five thousand guineas as overplus, or rather as
exchange--for I did not care for Redegonde--he would have said
done. However, I did not, and I am glad of it. Even now, when a
hundred thousand francs would be a fortune to me, I never repent
of my delicacy.
After we had breakfasted merrily together, I told him that I liked
him well, but that in the first place it would be well to
ascertain whether the two commodities would consent to change
"I am sure of Redegonde's consent," said Lord Percy.
"But I am not at all sure of Agatha's," said I.
"I have very strong grounds for supposing that she would not
consent to the arrangement. What reasons have you for the
"She will shew her sense."
"But she loves me."
"Well, Redegonde loves me."
"I dare say; but does she love me?"
"I am sure I don't know, but she will love you."
"Have you consulted her upon the point?"
"No, but it is all the same. What I want to know now is whether
you approve of my plan, and how much you want for the exchange,
for your Agatha is worth much more than my Redegonde."
"I am delighted to hear you do my mistress justice. As for the
money question, we will speak of that later. In the first place I
will take Agatha's opinion, and will let you know the result to-
The plan amused me, and though I was passionately attached to
Agatha I knew my inconstant nature well enough to be aware that
another woman, may be not so fair as she, would soon make me
forget her. I therefore resolved to push the matter through if I
could do so in a manner that would be advantageous for her.
What surprised me was that the young nobleman had gained
possession of Redegonde, whose mother appeared so intractable, but
I knew what an influence caprice has on woman, and this explained
Agatha came to supper as usual, and laughed heartily when I told
her of Lord Percy's proposal.
"Tell me," said I, "if you would agree to the change?"
"I will do just as you like," said she; "and if the money he
offers be acceptable to you, I advise you to close with him."
I could see by the tone of her voice that she was jesting, but her
reply did not please me. I should have liked to have my vanity
flattered by a peremptory refusal, and consequently I felt angry.
My face grew grave, and Agatha became melancholy.
"We will see," said I, "how it all ends."
Next day I went to breakfast with the Englishman, and told him
Agatha was willing, but that I must first hear what Redegonde had
"Quite right," he observed.
"I should require to know how we are to live together."
"The four of us had better go masked to the first ball at the
Carignan Theatre. We will sup at a house which belongs to me, and
there the bargain can be struck."
The party took place according to agreement, and at the given
signal we all left the ball-room. My lord's carriage was in
waiting, and we all drove away and got down at a house I seemed to
know. We entered the hall, and the first thing I saw was the
Corticelli. This roused my choler, and taking Percy aside I told
him that such a trick was unworthy of a gentleman. He laughed,
and said he thought I should like her to be thrown in, and that
two pretty women were surely worth as much as Agatha. This
amusing answer made me less angry; but, calling him a madman, I
took Agatha by the arm and went out without staying for any
explanations. I would not make use of his carriage, and instead
of returning to the ball we went home in sedan-chairs, and spent a
delicious night in each other's arms.
by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
ADVENTURES IN THE SOUTH, Volume 4e--MILAN
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED
BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
I Give up Agatha to Lord Percy--I Set out for Milan--The Actress
at Pavia--Countess A * * * B * * *--Disappointment--Marquis
Triulzi--Zenobia--The Two Marchionesses Q * * *--The Venetian
Far from punishing the Corticelli by making her live with
Redegonde, the Count d'Aglie seemed to have encouraged her; and I
was not sorry for it, since as long as she did not trouble me any
more I did not care how many lovers she had. She had become a
great friend of Redegonde's, and did exactly as she pleased, for
their duenna was much more easy going than the Pacienza.
Nobody knew of the trick which Lord Percy had played me, and I
took care to say nothing about it. However, he did not give up
his designs on Agatha, his passion for her was too violent. He
hit upon an ingenious method for carrying out his plans. I have
already said that Percy was very rich, and spent his money wildly,
not caring at what expenditure he gratified his passion. I was
the last person to reproach him for his extravagance, and in a
country where money is always scarce his guineas opened every
door to him.
Four or five days after the ball night, Agatha came to tell me
that the manager of the Alexandria Theatre had asked her if she
would take the part of second dancer throughout the carnival time.
"He offered me sixty sequins," she added, "and I told him I would
let him know by to-morrow. Do you advise me to accept his offer?"
"If you love me, dearest Agatha, you will prove it by refusing all
engagements for a year. You know I will let you want for nothing.
"I will get you the best masters, and in that time you can perfect
your dancing, and will be able to ask for a first-class
appointment, with a salary of five hundred sequins a year."
"Mamma thinks that I should accept the offer, as the dancing on
the stage will improve my style, and I can study under a good
master all the same. I think myself that dancing in public would
do me good."
"There is reason in what you say, but you do not need the sixty
sequins. You will dishonour me by accepting such a poor offer,
and you will do yourself harm too, as you will not be able to ask
for a good salary after taking such a small one."
"But sixty sequins is not so bad for a carnival engagement."
"But you don't want sixty sequins; you can have them without
dancing at all. If you love me, I repeat, you will tell the
manager that you are going to rest for a year."
"I will do what you please, but it seems to me the best plan would
be to ask an exorbitant sum."
"You are right; that is a good idea. Tell him you must be first
dancer, and that your salary must be five hundred sequins."
"I will do so, and am only too happy to be able to prove that I
Agatha had plenty of inborn common sense, which only needed
development. With that and the beauty which Heaven had given her
her future was assured.
She was eventually happy, and she deserved her happiness.
The next day she told me that the manager did not appear at all
astonished at her demands.
"He reflected a few minutes," said she, "and told me he must think
it over, and would see me again. It would be amusing if he took
me at my word, would it not?"
"Yes, but we should then have to enquire whether he is a madman or
a beggar on the verge of bankruptcy."
"And if he turns out to be a man of means?"
"In that case you would be obliged to accept."
"That is easily said and easily done, but have I sufficient
talent? Where shall I find an actor to dance with me?"
"I will engage to find you one. As to talent, you have enough and
to spare; but you will see that it will come to nothing."
All the time I felt a presentiment that she would be engaged, and
I was right. The manager came to her the next day, and offered
her the agreement for her signature. She was quite alarmed, and
sent for me. I called at her house, and finding the manager there
asked him what security he could give for the fulfilment of his
part of the engagement.
He answered by naming M. Martin, a banker of my acquaintance, who
would be his surety. I could make no objection to this, and the
agreement was made out in duplicate in good form.
On leaving Agatha I went to M. Raiberti and told him the story.
He shared my astonishment that M. Martin should become surety for
the manager whom he knew, and whose financial position was by no
means good; but the next day the problem was solved, for in spite
of the secrecy that had been observed we found out that it was
Lord Percy who was behind the manager. I might still bar the
Englishman's way by continuing to keep Agatha, in spite of his
five hundred sequins, but I was obliged to return to France after
Easter to wait on Madame d'Urfe, and afterwards, peace having been
concluded, I thought it would be a good opportunity for seeing
England. I therefore determined to abandon Agatha, taking care to
bind her new lover to provide for her, and I proceeded to make a
friend of the nobleman.
I was curious to see how he would win Agatha's good graces, for
she did not love him, and physically he was not attractive.
In less than a week we had become intimate. We supped together
every night either at his house or mine, and Agatha and her mother
were always of the party. I concluded that his attentions would
soon touch Agatha's heart, and that finding herself so beloved she
would end by loving. This was enough to make me determine not to
put any obstacles in their way, and I resolved to leave Turin
earlier than I had intended. In consequence I spoke as follows to
Lord Percy, while we were breakfasting together:
"My lord, you know that I love Agatha, and that she loves me,
nevertheless I am your friend, and since you adore her I will do
my best to hasten your bliss. I will leave you in possession of
this treasure, but you must promise that when you abandon her you
will give her two thousand guineas."
"My dear sir," said he, "I will give them her now if you like."
"No, my lord, I do not wish her to know anything about our
agreement while you are living happily together."
"Then I will give you a bond binding myself to pay her the two
thousand guineas when we separate."
"I don't want that, the word of an Englishman is enough; but since
we cannot command the fates, and may die without having time to
put our affairs in order, I wish you to take such steps as may
seem convenient to you, whereby that sum would go to her after
"I give you my word on it."
"That is enough; but I have one other condition to make."
"It is that you promise to say nothing to Agatha before my
"I swear I will not."
"Very good; and on my part I promise to prepare her for the
The same day the Englishman, whose love grew hotter and hotter,
made Agatha and her mother rich presents, which under any other
circumstances I should not have allowed them to accept.
I lost no time in preparing Agatha and her mother for the
impending change. They seemed affected, but I knew they would
soon get reconciled to the situation. Far from giving me any
cause for complaint, Agatha was more affectionate than ever. She
listened attentively to my advice as to her conduct towards her
new lover and the world in general, and promised to follow it. It
was to this advice that she owed her happiness, for Percy made her
fortune. However, she did not leave the theatre for some years,
when we shall hear more of her.
I was not the man to take presents from my equals, and Percy no
doubt being aware of that succeeded in making me a handsome
present in a very singular way. I told him that I thought of
paying a visit to England and requested him to give me a letter of
introduction to the duchess, his mother, whereon he drew out a
portrait of her set with magnificent diamonds, and gave it to me,
"This is the best letter I can give you. I will write and tell
her that you will call and give her the portrait, unless, indeed,
she likes to leave it in your hands."
"I hope my lady will think me worthy of such an honour."
There are certain ideas, it seems to me, which enter no head but
I was invited by Count A---- B---- to Milan, and the countess
wrote me a charming letter, begging me to get her two pieces of
sarcenet, of which she enclosed the patterns.
After taking leave of all my friends and acquaintances I got a
letter of credit on the banker, Greppi, and started for the
capital of Lombardy.
My separation from Agatha cost me many tears, but not so many as
those shed by her. Her mother wept also, for she loved me, and
was grateful for all my kindness to her daughter. She said again
and again that she could never have borne any rival but her own
daughter, while the latter sobbed out that she wished she had not
to part from me.
I did not like Passano, so I sent him to his family at Genoa,
giving him the wherewithal to live till I came for him. As to my
man, I dismissed him for good reasons and took another, as I was
obliged to have somebody; but since I lost my Spaniard I have
never felt confidence in any of my servants.
I travelled with a Chevalier de Rossignan, whose acquaintance I
had made, and we went by Casal to see the opera-bouffe there.
Rossignan was a fine man, a good soldier, fond of wine and women,
and, though he was not learned, he knew the whole of Dante's
Divine Comedy by heart. This was his hobby-horse, and he was
always quoting it, making the passage square with his momentary
feelings. This made him insufferable in society, but he was an
amusing companion for anyone who knew the sublime poet, and could
appreciate his numerous and rare beauties. Nevertheless he made
me privately give in my assent to the proverb, Beware of the man
of one book. Otherwise he was intelligent, statesmanlike, and
good-natured. He made himself known at Berlin by his services as
ambassador to the King of Sardinia.
There was nothing interesting in the opera at Casal, so I went to
Pavia, where, though utterly unknown, I was immediately welcomed
by the Marchioness Corti, who received all strangers of any
importance. In 1786 I made the acquaintance of her son, an
admirable man, who honoured me with his friendship, and died quite
young in Flanders with the rank of major-general. I wept bitterly
for his loss, but tears, after all, are but an idle tribute to
those who cause them to flow. His good qualities had endeared him
to all his acquaintances, and if he had lived longer he would
undoubtedly have risen to high command in the army.
I only stopped two days at Pavia, but it was decreed that I should
get myself talked of, even in that short time.
At the second ballet at the opera an actress dressed in a tippet
held out her cap to the bones as if to beg an alms, while she was
dancing a pas de deux. I was in the Marchioness of Corti's box,
and when the girl held out her cap to me I was moved by feelings
of ostentation and benevolence to draw forth my purse and drop it
in. It contained about twenty ducats. The girl took it, thanked
me with a smile, and the pit applauded loudly. I asked the
Marquis Belcredi, who was near me, if she had a lover.
"She has a penniless French officer, I believe," he replied;
"there he is, in the pit."
I went back to my inn, and was supping with M. Basili, a Modenese
colonel, when the ballet girl, her mother, and her younger sister
came to thank me for my providential gift. "We are so poor," said
I had almost done supper, and I asked them all to sup with me
after the performance the next day. This offer was quite a
disinterested one, and it was accepted.
I was delighted to have made a woman happy at so little expense
and without any ulterior objects, and I was giving orders to the
landlord for the supper, when Clairmont, my man, told me that a
French officer wanted to speak to me. I had him in, and asked
what I could do for him.
"There are three courses before you, Mr. Venetian," said he, "and
you can take which you like. Either countermand this supper,
invite me to come to it, or come and measure swords with me now."
Clairmont, who was attending to the fire, did not give me time to
reply, but seized a burning brand and rushed on the officer, who
thought it best to escape. Luckily for him the door of my room
was open. He made such a noise in running downstairs that the
waiter came out and caught hold of him, thinking he had stolen
something; but Clairmont, who was pursuing him with his firebrand,
had him released.
This adventure became town talk directly. My servant, proud of
his exploit and sure of my approval, came to tell me that I need
not be afraid of going out, as the officer was only a braggart.
He did not even draw his sword on the waiter who had caught hold
of him, though the man only had a knife in his belt.
"At all events," he added, "I will go out with you."
I told him that he had done well this time, but that for the
future he must not interfere in my affairs.
"Sir," he replied, "your affairs of this kind are mine too, I
shall take care not to go beyond my duty."
With this speech, which I thought very sensible, though I did not
tell him so, he took one of my pistols and saw to the priming,
smiling at me significantly.
All good French servants are of the same stamp as Clairmont; they
are devoted and intelligent, but they all think themselves
cleverer than their masters, which indeed is often the case, and
when they are sure of it they become the masters of their masters,
tyrannize over them, and give them marks of contempt which the
foolish gentlemen endeavour to conceal. But when the master knows
how to make himself respected, the Clairmonts are excellent.
The landlord of my inn sent a report of the affair to the police,
and the French officer was banished from the town the same day.
At dinner Colonel Basili asked to hear the story, and said that no
one but a French officer would think of attacking a man in his own
room in such a foolish manner. I differed from him.
"The French are brave," I replied, "but generally they are
perfectly polite and have wonderful tact. Wretchedness and love,
joined to a false spirit of courage, makes a fool of a man all the
At supper the ballet-girl thanked me for ridding her of the poor
devil, who (as she said) was always threatening to kill her, and
wearied her besides. Though she was not beautiful, there was
something captivating about this girl. She was graceful, well-
mannered, and intelligent, her mouth was well-shaped, and her eyes
large and expressive. I think I should have found her a good
bargain, but as I wanted to get away from Pavia, and piqued myself
on having been good-natured without ulterior motive, I bade her
farewell after supper, with many thanks for her kindness in
coming. My politeness seemed rather to confuse her, but she went
away reiterating her gratitude.
Next day I dined at the celebrated Chartreuse, and in the evening
I reached Milan, and got out at Count A---- B----'s, who had not
expected me till the following day.
The countess, of whom my fancy had made a perfect woman,
disappointed me dreadfully. It is always so when passion gives
reins to the imagination. The Countess was certainly pretty,
though too small, and I might still have loved her, in spite of my
disappointment, but at our meeting she greeted me with a gravity
that was not to my taste, and which gave me a dislike to her.
After the usual compliments, I gave her the two pieces of sarcenet
she had commissioned me to get. She thanked me, telling me that
her confessor would reimburse me for my expenditure. The count
then took me to my room, and left me there till supper. It was
nicely furnished, but I felt ill at ease, and resolved to leave in
a day or two if the countess remained immovable. Twenty-four
hours was as much as I cared to give her.
We made a party of four at supper; the count talking all the time
to draw me out, and to hide his wife's sulkiness. I answered in
the same gay strain, speaking to his wife, however, in the hope of
rousing her. It was all lost labour. The little woman only
replied by faint smiles which vanished almost as they came, and by
monosyllabic answers of the briefest description, without taking
her eyes off the dishes which she thought tasteless; and it was to
the priest, who was the fourth person present, that she addressed
her complaints, almost speaking affably to him.
Although I liked the count very well, I could not help pronouncing
his wife decidedly ungracious. I was looking at her to see if I
could find any justification for her ill humour on her features,
but as soon as she saw me she turned away in a very marked manner,
and began to speak about nothing to the priest. This conduct
offended me, and I laughed heartily at her contempt, or her
designs on me, for as she had not fascinated me at all I was safe
from her tyranny.
After supper the sarcenet was brought in; it was to be used for a
dress with hoops, made after the extravagant fashion then
The count was grieved to see her fall so short of the praises he
had lavished on her, and came to my room with me, begging me to