Part 55 out of 70
"I did not think you were speaking seriously," said she.
"Perfectly seriously, and here is the object of my vows."
With these words I seized Sara's hand and covered it with kisses.
Sara blushed, said nothing, and the mother looked kindly at us; but
after a moment's silence she spoke at some length, and with the
utmost candour and wisdom. She gave me circumstantial information as
to the position of the family and her husband's restricted means,
saying that under the circumstances he could not have avoided running
into debt, but that he had done wrong to bring them all with him to
"If he had been by himself," she said, "he could have lived here
comfortably enough with only one servant, but with a family to
provide for the two thousand crowns per annum provided by the
Government are quite insufficient. My old father has succeeded in
persuading the State to discharge my husband's debts, but to make up
the extra expense they will not employ a Charge d'affaires; a banker
with the title of agent will collect the interest on their English
She ended by saying that she thought Sara was fortunate to have
pleased me, but that she was not sure whether her husband would
consent to the marriage.
The word "marriage" made Sara blush, and I was pleased, though it was
evident there would be difficulties in the way.
M---- F---- came back and told his wife that two clothes dealers
would come to purchase their superfluous clothes in the afternoon;
but after explaining my ideas I had not much trouble in convincing
him that it would be better not to sell them, and that he could
become my debtor to the amount of two hundred pounds, on which he
could pay interest till he was able to return me my capital. The
agreement was written out the same day, but I did not mention the
marriage question, as his wife had told me she would discuss it with
him in private.
On the third day he came down by himself to talk with me.
"My wife," he began, "has told me of your intentions, and I take it
as a great honour, I assure you; but I cannot give you my Sara, as
she is promised to M. de W----, and family reasons prevent me from
going back from my word. Besides my old father, a strict Calvinist,
would object to the difference in religion. He would never believe
that his dear little grandchild would be happy with a Roman Catholic"
As a matter of fact I was not at all displeased at what he said. I
was certainly very fond of Sara, but the word "marriage" had a
disagreeable sound to me. I answered that circumstances might change
in time, and that in the meanwhile I should be quite content if he
would allow me to be the friend of the family and to take upon myself
all the responsibility of the journey. He promised everything, and
assured me that he was delighted at his daughter having won my
After this explanation I gave Sara as warm marks of my love as
decency would allow in the presence of her father and mother, and I
could see that all the girl thought of was love.
The fifth day I went up to her room, and finding her in bed all the
fires of passion flamed up in my breast, for since my first visit to
their house I had not been alone with her. I threw myself upon her,
covering her with kisses, and she shewed herself affectionate but
reserved. In vain I endeavoured to succeed; she opposed a gentle
resistance to my efforts, and though she caressed me, she would not
let me attain my end.
"Why, divine Sara," said I, "do you oppose my loving ecstasy?"
"Dearest, I entreat of you not to ask for any more than I am willing
"Then you no longer love me?"
"Cruel man, I adore you!"
"Then why do you treat me to a refusal, after having once surrendered
"I have given myself to you, and we have both been happy, and I think
that should be enough for us."
"There must be some reason for this change. If you love me, dearest
Sara, this renunciation must be hard for you to bear."
"I confess it, but nevertheless I feel it is my duty. I have made up
my mind to subdue my passion from no weak motive, but from a sense of
what I owe to myself. I am under obligations to you, and if I were
to repay the debt I have contracted with my body I should be degraded
in my own eyes. When we enjoyed each other before only love was
between us--there was no question of debit and credit. My heart is
now the thrall of what I owe you, and to these debts it will not give
what it gave so readily to love."
"This is a strange philosophy, Sara; believe me it is fallacious, and
the enemy of your happiness as well as mine. These sophisms lead you
astray and wound me to the heart. Give me some credit for delicacy
of feeling, and believe me you owe me nothing."
"You must confess that if you had not loved me you would have done
nothing for my father."
"Certainly I will confess nothing of the kind; I would readily do as
much, and maybe more, out of regard for your worthy mother. It is
quite possible, indeed, that in doing this small service for your
father I had no thoughts of you at all."
"It might be so; but I do not believe it was so. Forgive me,
dearest, but I cannot make up my mind to pay my debts in the way you
"It seems to me that if you are grateful to me your love ought to be
still more ardent."
"It cannot be more ardent than it is already."
"Do you know how grievously you make me suffer?"
"Alas! I suffer too; but do not reproach me; let us love each other
This dialogue is not the hundredth part of what actually passed
between us till dinner-time. The mother came in, and finding me
seated at the foot of the daughter's bed, laughed, and asked me why I
kept her in bed. I answered with perfect coolness that we had been
so interested in our conversation that we had not noticed the flight
I went to dress, and as I thought over the extraordinary change which
had taken place in Sara I resolved that it should not last for long.
We dined together gaily, and Sara and I behaved in all respects like
two lovers. In the evening I took them to the Italian Opera, coming
home to an excellent supper.
The next morning I passed in the city, having accounts to settle with
my bankers. I got some letters of exchange on Geneva, and said
farewell to the worthy Mr. Bosanquet. In the afternoon I got a coach
for Madame M---- F---- to pay some farewells calls, and I went to say
good-bye to my daughter at school. The dear little girl burst into
tears, saying that she would be lost without me, and begging me not
to forget her. I was deeply moved. Sophie begged me to go and see
her mother before I left England, and I decided on doing so.
At supper we talked over our journey, and M. M---- F---- agreed with
me that it would be better to go by Dunkirk than Ostend. He had very
little more business to attend to. His debts were paid, and he said
he thought he would have a matter of fifty guineas in his pocket at
the journey's end, after paying a third share of all the travelling
expenses. I had to agree to this, though I made up my mind at the
same time not to let him see any of the accounts. I hoped to win
Sara, in one way or another, when we got to Berne.
The next day, after breakfast, I took her hand in presence of her
mother, and asked her if she would give me her heart if I could
obtain her father's consent at Berne.
"Your mother," I added, "has promised me that hers shall not be
At this the mother got up, and saying that we had no doubt a good
deal to talk over, she and her eldest daughter went out to pay some
As soon as we were alone Sara said that she could not understand how
I could have the smallest doubt as to whether her consent would be
"I have shewn you how well I love you," said she, tenderly; "and I am
sure I should be very happy as your wife. You may be sure that your
wishes will be mine, and that, however far you lead me, Switzerland
shall claim no thought of mine."
I pressed the amorous Sara to my bosom in a transport of delight,
which was shared by her; but as she saw me grow more ardent she
begged me to be moderate. Clasping me in her arms she adjured me not
to ask her for that which she was determined not to grant till she
was mine by lawful wedlock.
"You will drive me to despair! Have you reflected that this
resistance may cost me my life? Can you love, and yet entertain this
fatal prejudice? And yet I am sure you love me, and pleasure too."
"Yes, dearest one, I do love you, and amorous pleasure with you; but
you must respect my delicacy."
My eyes were wet with tears, and she was so affected that she fell
fainting to the ground. I lifted her up and gently laid her on the
bed. Her pallor alarmed me. I brought smelling-salts, I rubbed her
forehead with Savoy-water, and she soon opened her eyes, and seemed
delighted to find me calm again.
The thought of taking advantage of her helplessness would have
horrified me. She sat up on the bed, and said,--
"You have just given a true proof of the sincerity of your
"Did you think, sweetheart, that I was vile enough to abuse your
weakness? Could I enjoy a pleasure in which you had no share?"
"I did not think you would do such a thing, but I should not have
resisted, though it is possible that I should not have loved you
"Sara, though you do not know, you charm my soul out of my body."
After this I sat down sadly on the bed, and abandoned myself to the
most melancholy reflections, from which Sara did not endeavour to
Her mother came in and asked why she was on the bed, but not at all
suspiciously. Sara told her the truth.
M. M---- F---- came in soon after, and we dined together, but
silently. What I had heard from the girl's lips had completely
overwhelmed me. I saw I had nothing to hope for, and that it was
time for me to look to myself. Six weeks before, God had delivered
me from my bondage to an infamous woman, and now I was in danger of
becoming the slave of an angel. Such were my reflections whilst Sara
was fainting, but it was necessary for me to consider the matter at
There was a sale of valuable articles in the city, the means taken
for disposing of them being a lottery. Sara had read the
announcement, and I asked her with her mother and sister to come with
me and take part in it. I had not much trouble in obtaining their
consent, and we found ourselves in distinguished company, among the
persons present being the Countess of Harrington, Lady Stanhope, and
Emilie and her daughters. Emilie had a strange case before the
courts. She had given information to the police that her husband had
been robbed of six thousand pounds, though everyone said that she
herself was the thief.
Madame M---- F---- did not take a ticket, but she allowed me to take
tickets for her daughters, who were in high glee, since for ten or
twelve guineas they got articles worth sixty.
Every day I was more taken with Sara; but feeling sure that I should
only obtain slight favours from her, I thought it was time to come to
an explanation. So after supper I said that as it was not certain
that Sara could become my wife I had determined not to accompany them
to Berne. The father told me I was very wise, and that I could still
correspond with his daughter, Sara said nothing, but I could see she
was much grieved.
I passed a dreadful night; such an experience was altogether new to
me. I weighed Sara's reasons, and they seemed to me to be merely
frivolous, which drove me to conclude that my caresses had displeased
For the last three days I found myself more than once alone with her;
but I was studiously moderate, and she caressed me in a manner that
would have made my bliss if I had not already obtained the one great
favour. It was at this time I learnt the truth of the maxim that if
abstinence is sometimes the spur of love, it has also the contrary
effect. Sara had brought my feeling to a pitch of gentle friendship,
while an infamous prostitute like the Charpillon, who knew how to
renew hope and yet grant nothing, ended by inspiring me with
contempt, and finally with hatred.
The family sailed for Ostend, and I accompanied them to the mouth of
the Thames. I gave Sara a letter for Madame de W----. This was the
name of the learned Hedvig whom she did not know. They afterwards
became sisters-in-law, as Sara married a brother of M. de W----, and
was happy with him.
Even now I am glad to hear tidings of my old friends and their
doings, but the interest I take in such matters is not to be compared
to my interest in some obscure story of ancient history. For our
contemporaries, the companions, of our youthful follies, we have a
kind of contempt, somewhat similar to that which we entertain for
ourselves. Four years ago I wrote to Madame G---- at Hamburg, and my
"After a silence of twenty-one years . . ."
She did not deign to reply, and I was by no means displeased. We
cared no longer for one another, and it is quite natural that it
should be so.
When I tell my reader who Madame G---- is, he will be amused. Two
years ago I set out for Hamburg, but my good genius made me turn back
to Dux; what had I to do at Hamburg?
After my guests were gone I went to the Italian Opera at Covent
Garden, and met Goudar, who asked me if I would come to the Sartori's
concert. He told me I should see a beautiful young English woman
there who spoke Italian. As I had just lost Sara I did not much care
about making new acquaintances, but still I was curious to see the
young marvel. I indulged my curiosity, and I am glad to say that
instead of being amused I was wearied, though the young English woman
was pretty enough. A young Livonian, who called himself Baron of
Stenau, seemed extremely interested in her. After supper she offered
us tickets for the next concert, and I took one for myself and one
for Gondar, giving her two guineas, but the Livonian baron took fifty
tickets, and gave her a bank note for fifty guineas. I saw by this
that he wanted to take the place by storm, and I liked his way of
doing it. I supposed him to be rich, without caring to enquire into
his means. He made advances to me and we became friends, and the
reader will see in due time what a fatal acquaintance he was.
One day as I was walking with Goudar in Hyde Park he left me to speak
to two ladies who seemed pretty.
He was not long absent, and said, when he rejoined me,--
"A Hanoverian lady, a widow and the mother of five daughters, came to
England two months ago with her whole family. She lives close by,
and is occupied in soliciting compensation from the Government for
any injury that was done her by the passage of the Duke of
Cumberland's army. The mother herself is sick and and never leaves
her bed; she sends her two eldest daughters to petition the
Government, and they are the two young ladies you have just seen.
They have not met with any success. The eldest daughter is twenty-
two, and the youngest fourteen; they are all pretty and can speak
English, French, and German equally well, and are always glad to see
visitors. I had been to visit them myself, but as I gave them
nothing I do not care to go there alone a second time. If you like,
however, I can introduce you."
"You irritate my curiosity. Come along, but if the one that pleases
me is not complaisant she shall have nothing."
"They will not even allow one to take them by the hand."
"They are Charpillons, I suppose."
"It looks like it. But you won't see any men there:"
We were shewn into a large room where I noticed three pretty girls
and an evil-looking man. I began with the usual compliments, to
which the girls replied politely, but with an air of great sadness.
Goudar spoke to the man, and then came to me shrugging his shoulders,
"We have come at a sad time. That man is a bailiff who has come to
take the mother to prison if she can't pay her landlord the twenty
guineas' rent she owes him, and they haven't got a farthing. When
the mother has been sent to prison the landlord will no doubt turn
the girls out of doors."
"They can live with their mother for nothing."
"Not at all. If they have got the money they can have their meals in
prison, but no one is allowed to live in a prison except the
I asked one of them where her sisters were.
"They have gone out, to look for money, for the landlord won't accept
any surety, and we have nothing to sell."
"All this is very sad; what does your mother say?"
"She only weeps, and yet, though she is ill and cannot leave her bed,
they are going to take her to prison. By way of consolation the
landlord says he will have her carried."
"It is very hard. But your looks please me, mademoiselle, and if you
will be kind I may be able to extricate you from the difficulty."
"I do not know what you mean by 'kind.'"
"Your mother will understand; go and ask her."
"Sir, you do not know us; we are honest girls, and ladies of position
With these words the young woman turned her back on me, and began to
weep again. The two others, who were quite as pretty, stood straight
up and said not a word. Goudar whispered to me in Italian that
unless we did something for them we should cut but a sorry figure
there; and I was cruel enough to go away without saying a word.
As we were leaving the house we met the two eldest sisters, who came
home looking very sad. I was struck by their beauty, and extremely
surprised to hear myself greeted by one of them, who said,--
"It is M. the Chevalier de Seingalt."
"Himself, mademoiselle, and sorely grieved at your misfortune."
"Be kind enough to come in again for a moment."
"I am sorry to say that I have an important engagement."
"I will not keep you for longer than a quarter of an hour."
I could not refuse so small a favour, and she employed the time in
telling me how unfortunate they had been in Hanover, how they had
come to London to obtain compensation, of their failure, their debts,
the cruelty of the landlord, their mother's illness, the prison that
awaited her, the likelihood of their being cast into the street, and
the cruelty of all their acquaintances.
"We have nothing to sell, and all our resources consist of two
shillings, which we shall have to spend on bread, on which we live."
"Who are your friends? How can they abandon you at such a time?"
She mentioned several names--among others, Lord Baltimore, Marquis
Carracioli, the Neapolitan ambassador, and Lord Pembroke.
"I can't believe it," said I, "for I know the two last noblemen to be
both rich and generous. There must be some good reason for their
conduct, since you are beautiful; and for these gentlemen beauty is a
bill to be honoured on sight."
"Yes, there is a reason. These rich noblemen abandon us with
contempt. They refuse to take pity on us because we refuse to yield
to their guilty passion."
"That is to say, they have taken a fancy to you, and as you will not
have pity on them they refuse to have pity on you. Is it not so?"
"That is exactly the situation."
"Then I think they are in the right."
"In the right?"
"Yes, I am quite of their opinion. We leave you to enjoy your sense
of virtue, and we spend our money in procuring those favours which
you refuse us. Your misfortune really is your prettiness, if you
were ugly you would get twenty guineas fast enough. I would give you
the money myself, and the action would be put down to benevolence;
whereas, as the case stands, if I were to give you anything it would
be thought that I was actuated by the hope of favours to come, and I
should be laughed at, and deservedly, as a dupe."
I felt that this was the proper way to speak to the girl, whose
eloquence in pleading her cause was simply wonderful.
She did not reply to my oration, and I asked her how she came to know
"I saw you at Richmond with the Charpillon."
"She cost me two thousand guineas, and I got nothing for my money;
but I have profited by the lesson, and in future I shall never pay in
Just then her mother called her, and, begging me to wait a moment,
she went into her room, and returned almost directly with the request
that I would come and speak to the invalid.
I found her sitting up in her bed; she looked about forty-five, and
still preserved traces of her former beauty; her countenance bore the
imprint of sadness, but had no marks of sickness whatsoever. Her
brilliant and expressive eyes, her intellectual face, and a
suggestion of craft about her, all bade me be on my guard, and a sort
of false likeness to the Charpillon's mother made me still more
cautious, and fortified me in my resolution to give no heed to the
appeals of pity.
"Madam," I began, "what can I do for you?"
"Sir," she replied, "I have heard the whole of your conversations
with my daughters, and you must confess that you have not talked to
them in a very fatherly manner."
"Quite so, but the only part which I desire to play with them is that
of lover, and a fatherly style would not have been suitable to the
part. If I had the happiness of being their father, the case would
be altered. What I have said to your daughters is what I feel, and
what I think most likely to bring about the end I have in view. I
have not the slightest pretence to virtue, but I adore the fair sex,
and now you and they know the road to my purse. If they wish to
preserve their virtue, why let them; nobody will trouble them, and
they, on their side, must not expect anything from men. Good-bye,
madam; you may reckon on my never addressing your daughters again."
"Wait a moment, sir. My husband was the Count of ----, and you see
that my daughters are of respectable birth."
"Have you not pity for our situation?"
"I pity you extremely, and I would relieve you in an instant if your
daughters were ugly, but as it is they are pretty, and that alters
"What an argument!"
"It is a very strong one with me, and I think I am the best judge of
arguments which apply to myself. You want twenty guineas; well, you
shall have them after one of your five countesses has spent a joyous
night with me."
"What language to a woman of my station! Nobody has ever dared to
speak to me in such a way before."
"Pardon me, but what use is rank without a halfpenny? Allow me to
"To-day we have only bread to eat."
"Well, certainly that is rather hard on countesses."
"You are laughing at the title, apparently."
"Yes, I am; but I don't want to offend you. If you like, I will stop
to dinner, and pay for all, yourself included."
"You are an eccentric individual. My girls are sad, for I am going
to prison. You will find their company wearisome."
"That is my affair."
"You had much better give them the money you would spend on the
"No, madam. I must have at least the pleasures of sight and sound
for my money. I will stay your arrest till to-morrow, and afterwards
Providence may possibly intervene on your behalf."
"The landlord will not wait."
"Leave me to deal with him."
I told Goudar to go and see what the man would take to send the
bailiff away for twenty-four hours. He returned with the message
that he must have a guinea and bail for the twenty guineas, in case
the lodgers might take to flight before the next day.
My wine merchant lived close by. I told Gondar to wait for me, and
the matter was soon settled and the bailiff sent away, and I told the
five girls that they might take their ease for twenty-four hours
I informed Gondar of the steps I had taken, and told him to go out
and get a good dinner for eight people. He went on his errand, and I
summoned the girls to their mother's bedside, and delighted them all
by telling them that for the next twenty-four hours they were to make
good cheer. They could not get over their surprise at the suddenness
of the change I had worked in the house.
"But this is all I can do for you," said I to the mother. "Your
daughters are charming, and I have obtained a day's respite for you
all without asking for anything in return; I shall dine, sup, and
pass the night with them without asking so much as a single kiss, but
if your ideas have not changed by to-morrow you will be in exactly
the same position as you were a few minutes ago, and I shall not
trouble you any more with my attentions."
"What do you mean my 'changing my ideas'?"
"I need not tell you, for you know perfectly well what I mean."
"My daughters shall never become prostitutes."
"I will proclaim their spotless chastity all over London--but I shall
spend my guineas elsewhere."
"You are a cruel man."
"I confess I can be very cruel, but it is only when I don't meet with
Goudar came back and we returned to the ladies' room, as the mother
did not like to shew herself to my friend, telling me that I was the
only man she had permitted to see her in bed during the whole time
she had been in London.
Our English dinner was excellent in its way, but my chief pleasure
was to see the voracity with which the girls devoured the meal. One
would have thought they were savages devouring raw meat after a long
fast. I had got a case of excellent wine and I made each of them
drink a bottle, but not being accustomed to such an indulgence they
became quite drunk. The mother had devoured the whole of the
plentiful helpings I had sent in to her, and she had emptied a bottle
of Burgundy, which she carried very well.
In spite of their intoxication, the girls were perfectly safe; I kept
my word, and Goudar did not take the slightest liberty. We had a
pleasant supper, and after a bowl of punch I left them feeling in
love with the whole bevy, and very uncertain whether I should be able
to shew as brave a front the next day.
As we were going away Goudar said that I was conducting the affair
admirably, but if I made a single slip I should be undone.
I saw the good sense of his advice, and determined to shew that I was
as sharp as he.
The next day, feeling anxious to hear the result of the council which
the mother had doubtless held with the daughters, I called at their
house at ten o'clock. The two eldest sisters were out, endeavouring
to beat up some more friends, and the three youngest rushed up to me
as if they had been spaniels and I their master, but they would not
even allow me to kiss them. I told them they made a mistake, and
knocked at the mother's door. She told me to come in, and thanked me
for the happy day I had given them.
"Am I to withdraw my bail, countess?"
"You can do what you like, but I do not think you capable of such an
"You are mistaken. You have doubtless made a deep study of the human
heart; but you either know little of the human mind, or else you
think you have a larger share than any other person. All your
daughters have inspired me with love, but were it a matter of life
and death I would not do a single thing for them or you before you
have done me the only favour that is in your power. I leave you to
your reflections, and more especially to your virtues."
She begged me to stay, but I did not even listen to her. I passed by
the three charmers, and after telling my wine merchant to withdraw
his security I went in a furious mood to call on Lord Pembroke. As
soon as I mentioned the Hanoverians he burst out laughing, and said
these false innocents must be made to fulfil their occupation in a
"They came whining to me yesterday," he proceeded, "and I not only
would not give them anything, but I laughed them to scorn. They have
got about twelve guineas out of me on false pretences; they are as
cunning sluts as the Charpillon."
I told him what I had done the day before, and what I intended to
offer: twenty guineas for the first, and as much for each of the
others, but nothing to be paid in advance.
"I had the same idea myself, but I cried off, and I don't think
you'll succeed, as Lord Baltimore offered them forty apiece; that is
two hundred guineas in all, and the bargain has fallen through
because they want the money to be paid in advance. They paid him a
visit yesterday, but found him pitiless, for he has been taken in
several times by them."
"We shall see what will happen when the mother is under lock and key;
I'll bet we shall have them cheaply."
I came home for dinner, and Goudar, who had just been at their house,
reported that the bailiff would only wait till four o'clock, that the
two eldest daughters had come back empty-handed, and that they had
been obliged to sell one of their dresses to buy a morsel of bread.
I felt certain that they would have recourse to me again, and I was
right. We were at dessert when they put in an appearance. I made
them sit down, and the eldest sister exhausted her eloquence to
persuade me to give them another three days' grace.
"You will find me insensible," said I, "unless you are willing to
adopt my plan. If you wish to hear it, kindly follow me into the
She did so, leaving her sister with Goudar, and making her sit down
on a sofa beside me, I shewed her twenty guineas, saying,--
"These are yours; but you know on what terms?"
She rejected my offer with disdain, and thinking she might wish to
salve her virtue by being attacked, I set to work; but finding her
resistance serious I let her alone, and begged her to leave my house
immediately. She called to her sister, and they both went out.
In the evening, as I was going to the play, I called on my wine
merchant to hear the news. He told me that the mother had been taken
to prison, and that the youngest daughter had gone with her; but he
did not know what had become of the four others.
I went home feeling quite sad, and almost reproaching myself for not
having taken compassion on then; however, just as I was sitting down
to supper they appeared before me like four Magdalens. The eldest,
who was the orator of the company, told me that their mother was in
prison, and that they would have to pass the night in the street if I
did not take pity on them.
"You shall have rooms, beds, and good fires," said I, "but first let
me see you eat."
Delight appeared on every countenance, and I had numerous dishes
brought for them. They ate eagerly but sadly, and only drank water.
"Your melancholy and your abstinence displeases me," said I, to the
eldest girl; "go upstairs and you will find everything necessary for
your comfort, but take care to be gone at seven in the morning and
not to let me see your faces again."
They went up to the second floor without a word.
An hour afterwards, just as I was going to bed, the eldest girl came
into my room and said she wished to have a private interview with me.
I told my negro to withdraw, and asked her to explain herself.
"What will you do for us," said she, "if I consent to share your
"I will give you twenty guineas, and I will lodge and board you as
long as you give me satisfaction."
Without saying a word she began to undress, and got into bed. She
was submissive and nothing more, and did not give me so much as a
kiss. At the end of a quarter of an hour I was disgusted with her
and got up, and giving her a bank note for twenty guineas I told her
to put on her clothes and go back to her room.
"You must all leave my house to-morrow," I said, "for I am ill
pleased with you. Instead of giving yourself up for love you have
prostituted yourself. I blush for you."
She obeyed mutely, and I went to sleep in an ill humour.
At about seven o'clock in the morning I was awakened by a hand
shaking me gently. I opened my eyes, and I was surprised to see the
"What do you want?" I said, coldly.
"I want you to take pity on us, and shelter us in your house for a
few days longer. I will be very grateful. My sister has told me
all, you are displeased with her, but you must forgive her, for her
heart is not her own. She is in love with an Italian who is in
prison for debt."
"And I suppose you are in love with someone else?" "No, I am not."
"Could you love me?"
She lowered her eyes, and pressed my hand gently. I drew her towards
me, and embraced her, and as I felt her kisses answer mine,
"You have conquered."
"My name is Victoire."
"I like it, and I will prove the omen a true one."
Victoire, who was tender and passionate, made me spend two delicious
hours, which compensated me for my bad quarter of an hour of the
When our exploits were over, I said,--
"Dearest Victoire, I am wholly throe. Let your mother be brought
here as soon as she is free. Here are twenty guineas for you."
She did not expect anything, and the agreeable surprise made her in
an ecstasy; she could not speak, but her heart was full of happiness.
I too was happy, and I believed that a great part of my happiness was
caused by the knowledge that I had done a good deed. We are queer
creatures all of us, whether we are bad or good. From that moment I
gave my servants orders to lay the table for eight persons every day,
and told them that I was only at home to Goudar. I spent money
madly, and felt that I was within a measurable distance of poverty.
At noon the mother came in a sedan-chair, and went to bed directly.
I went to see her, and did not evince any surprise when she began to
thank me for my noble generosity. She wanted me to suppose that she
thought I had given her daughters forty guineas for nothing, and I
let her enjoy her hypocrisy.
In the evening I took them to Covent Garden, where the castrato
Tenducci surprised me by introducing me to his wife, of whom he had
two children. He laughed at people who said that a castrato could
not procreate. Nature had made him a monster that he might remain a
man; he was born triorchis, and as only two of the seminal glands had
been destroyed the remaining one was sufficient to endow him with
When I got back to my small seraglio I supped merrily with the five
nymphs, and spent a delicious night with Victoire, who was overjoyed
at having made my conquest. She told me that her sister's lover was
a Neapolitan, calling himself Marquis de Petina, and that they were
to get married as soon as he was out of prison. It seemed he was
expecting remittances, and the mother would be delighted to see her
daughter a marchioness.
"How much does the marquis owe?"
"And the Neapolitan ambassador allows him to languish in prison for
such a beggarly sum? I can't believe it."
"The ambassador won't have anything to do with him, because he left
Naples without the leave of the Government."
"Tell your sister that if the ambassador assures me that her lover's
name is really the Marquis de Petina, I will get him out of prison
I went out to ask my daughter, and another boarder of whom I was very
fond, to dinner, and on my way called on the Marquis of Caraccioli,
an agreeable man, whose acquaintance I had made at Turin. I found
the famous Chevalier d'Eon at his house, and I had no need of a
private interview to make my inquiries about Petina.
"The young man is really what he professes to me," said the
ambassador, "but I will neither receive him nor give him any money
till I hear from my Government that he has received leave to travel."
That was enough for me, and I stayed there for an hour listening to
d'Eon's amusing story.
Eon had deserted the embassy on account of ten thousand francs which
the department of foreign affairs at Versailles had refused to allow
him, though the money was his by right. He had placed himself under
the protection of the English laws, and after securing two thousand
subscribers at a guinea apiece, he had sent to press a huge volume in
quarto containing all the letters he had received from the French
Government for the last five or six years.
About the same time a London banker had deposited the sum of twenty
thousand guineas at the Bank of England, being ready to wager that
sum that Eon was a woman. The bet was taken by a number of persons
who had formed themselves into a kind of company for the purpose, and
the only way to decide it was that Eon should be examined in the
presence of witnesses. The chevalier was offered half the wager, but
he laughed them to scorn. He said that such an examination would
dishonour him, were he man or woman. Caraccioli said that it could
only dishonour him if he were a woman, but I could not agree with
this opinion. At the end of a year the bet was declared off; but in
the course of three years he received his pardon from the king, and
appeared at Court in woman's dress, wearing the cross of St. Louis.
Louis XV. had always been aware of the chevalier's sex, but Cardinal
Fleuri had taught him that it became kings to be impenetrable, and
Louis remained so all his life.
When I got home I gave the eldest Hanoverian twenty guineas, telling
her to fetch her marquis out of prison, and bring him to dine with
us, as I wanted to know him. I thought she would have died with joy.
The third sister, having taken counsel with Victoire, and doubtless
with her mother also, determined to earn twenty guineas for herself,
and she had not much trouble in doing so. She it was on whom Lord
Pembroke had cast the eye of desire.
These five girls were like five dishes placed before a gourmand, who
enjoys them one after the other. To my fancy the last was always the
best. The third sister's name was Augusta.
Next Sunday I had a large number of guests. There were my daughter
and her friend, Madame Cornelis, and her son. Sophie was kissed and
caressed by the Hanoverians, while I bestowed a hundred kisses on
Miss Nancy Steyne, who was only thirteen, but whose young beauty
worked sad havoc with my senses. My affection was supposed to be
fatherly in its character, but, alas I it was of a much more fleshly
kind. This Miss Nancy, who seemed to me almost divine, was the
daughter of a rich merchant. I said that I wanted to make her
father's acquaintance, and she replied that her father proposed
coming to call on me that very day. I was delighted to hear of the
coincidence, and gave order that he should be shewn in as soon as he
The poor marquis was the only sad figure in the company. He was
young and well-made, but thin and repulsively ugly. He thanked me
for my kindness, saying that I had done a wise thing, as he felt sure
the time would come when he would repay me a hundredfold.
I had given my daughter six guineas to buy a pelisse, and she took me
to my bedroom to shew it me. Her mother followed her to congratulate
me on my seraglio.
At dinner gaiety reigned supreme. I sat between my daughter and Miss
Nancy Steyne, and felt happy. Mr. Steyne came in as we were at the
oysters. He kissed his daughter with that tender affection which is
more characteristic, I think, of English parents than those of any
Mr. Steyne had dined, but he nevertheless ate a hundred scolloped
oysters, in the preparation of which my cook was wonderfully expert;
he also honoured the champagne with equal attention.
We spent three hours at the table and then proceeded to the third
floor, where Sophie accompanied her mother's singing on the piano,
and young Cornelis displayed his flute-playing talents. Mr. Steyne
swore that he had never been present at such a pleasant party in his
life, adding that pleasure was forbidden fruit in England on Sundays
and holidays. This convinced me that Steyne was an intelligent man,
though his French was execrable. He left at seven, after giving a
beautiful ring to my daughter, whom he escorted back to school with
The Marquis Petina foolishly observed to me that he did not know
where to find a bed. I understood what he wanted, but I told him he
would easily find one with a little money. Taking his sweetheart
aside I gave her a guinea for him, begging her to tell him not to
visit me again till he was invited.
When all the guests were gone, I led the five sisters to the mother's
room. She was wonderfully well, eating, drinking, and sleeping to
admiration, and never doing anything, not even reading or writing.
She enjoyed the 'dolce far niente' in all the force of the term.
However, she told me she was always thinking of her family, and of
the laws which it imposed on her.
I could scarcely help laughing, but I only said that if these laws
were the same as those which her charming daughters followed, I
thought them wiser than Solon's.
I drew Augusta on to my knee, and said,--
"My lady, allow me to kiss your delightful daughter."
Instead of giving me a direct answer, the old hypocrite began a long
sermon on the lawfulness of the parental kiss. All the time Augusta
was lavishing on me secret but delicious endearments.
'O tempora! O mores!'
The next day I was standing at my window, when the Marquis
Caraccioli, who was passing by, greeted me, and asked me if he could
come in. I bade him welcome, and summoning the eldest sister told
the ambassador that this young lady was going to marry the Marquis
Petina as soon as his remittances arrived.
He addressed himself to her, and spoke as follows:
"Mademoiselle, it is true that your lover is really a marquis, but he
is very poor and will never have any money; and if he goes back to
Naples he will be imprisoned, and if he is released from the State
prison his creditors will put him in the Vittoria."
However this salutary warning had no effect.
After the ambassador had taken his leave I was dressing to take a
ride when Augusta told me that, if I liked, Hippolyta her sister
would come with me, as she could ride beautifully.
"That's amusing," said I, "make her come down."
Hippolyta came down and begged me to let her ride with me, saying
that she would do me credit.
"Certainly;" said I, "but have you a man's riding suit or a woman's
"Then we must put off the excursion till to-morrow."
I spent the day in seeing that a suit was made for her, and I felt
quite amorous when Pegu, the tailor, measured her for the breeches.
Everything was done in time and we had a charming ride, for she
managed her horse with wonderful skill.
After an excellent supper, to which wine had not been lacking, the
happy Hippolyta accompanied Victoire into my room and helped her to
undress. When she kissed her sister I asked if she would not give me
a kiss too, and after some jesting Augusta changed the joke into
earnest by bidding her come to bed beside me, without taking the
trouble to ask my leave, so sure did she feel of my consent. The
night was well spent, and I had no reason to complain of want of
material, but Augusta wisely let the newcomer have the lion's share
of my attentions.
Next day we rode out again in the afternoon, followed by my negro,
who was a skilful horseman himself. In Richmond Park Hippolyta's
dexterity astonished me; she drew all eyes on her. In the evening we
came home well pleased with our day's ride, and had a good supper.
As the meal proceeded I noticed that Gabrielle, the youngest of all,
looked sad and a little sulky. I asked her the reason, and with a
little pout that became her childish face admirably, she replied,--
"Because I can ride on horseback as well as my sister."
"Very good," said I, "then you shall ride the day after to-morrow."
This put her into a good temper again.
Speaking of Hippolyta's skill, I asked her where she had learnt to
ride. She simply burst out laughing. I asked her why she laughed,
and she said,--
"Why, because I never learnt anywhere; my only masters were courage
and some natural skill."
"And has your sister learnt?"
"No," said Gabrielle, "but I can ride just as well."
I could scarcely believe it, for Hippolyta had seemed to float on her
horse, and her riding skewed the utmost skill and experience. Hoping
that her sister would vie with her, I said that I would take them out
together, and the very idea made them both jump with joy.
Gabrielle was only fifteen, and her shape, though not fully
developed, was well marked, and promised a perfect beauty by the time
she was in her maturity. Full of grace and simplicity, she said she
would like to come with me to my room, and I readily accepted her
offer, not caring whether the scheme had been concerted between her
and her other sisters.
As soon as we were alone, she told me that she had never had a lover,
and she allowed me to assure myself of the fact with the same child-
like simplicity. Gabrielle was like all the others; I would have
chosen her if I had been obliged to make the choice. She made me
feel sorry for her sake, to hear that the mother had made up her mind
to leave. In the morning I gave her her fee of twenty guineas and a
handsome ring as a mark of my peculiar friendship, and we spent the
day in getting ready our habits for the ride of the day following.
Gabrielle got on horseback as if she had had two years in the riding
school. We went along the streets at a walking pace, but as soon as
we were in the open country we broke into a furious gallop, and kept
it up till we got to Barnet, where we stopped to breakfast. We had
done the journey in twenty-five minutes, although the distance is
nearly ten miles. This may seem incredible, but the English horses
are wonderfully swift, and we were all of us well mounted. My two
nymphs looked ravishing. I adored them, and I adored myself for
making them so happy.
Just as we were remounting, who should arrive but Lord Pembroke. He
was on his way to St. Alban's. He stopped his horse, and admired the
graceful riding of my two companions; and not recognizing them
immediately, he begged leave to pay his court to them. How I laughed
to myself! At last he recognized them, and congratulated me on my
conquest, asking if I loved Hippolyta. I guessed his meaning, and
said I only loved Gabrielle.
"Very good," said he; "may I come and see you?"
"Certainly," I replied.
After a friendly hand-shake we set out once more, and were soon back
Gabrielle was done up and went to bed directly; she slept on till the
next morning without my disturbing her peaceful sleep, and when she
awoke and found herself in my arms, she began to philosophise.
"How easy it is," said she, "to be happy when one is rich, and how
sad it is to see happiness out of one's reach for lack of a little
money. Yesterday I was the happiest of beings, and why should I not
be as happy all my days? I would gladly agree that my life should be
short provided that it should be a happy one."
I, too, philosophised, but my reflections were sombre. I saw my
resources all but exhausted, and I began to meditate a journey to
Lisbon. If my fortune had been inexhaustible, the Hanoverians might
have held me in their silken fetters to the end of my days. It
seemed to me as if I loved them more like a father than a lover, and
the fact that I slept with them only added to the tenderness of the
tie. I looked into Gabrielle's eyes, and there I saw but love. How
could such a love exist in her unless she were naturally virtuous,
and yet devoid of those prejudices which are instilled into us in our
The next day Pembroke called and asked me to give him a dinner.
Augusta delighted him. He made proposals to her which excited her
laughter as he did not want to pay till after the event, and she
would not admit this condition. However, he gave her a bank note for
ten guineas before he left, and she accepted it with much grace. The
day after he wrote her a letter, of which I shall speak presently.
A few minutes after the nobleman had gone the mother sent for me to
come to her, and after paying an eloquent tribute to my virtues, my
generosity, and my unceasing kindness towards her family, she made
the following proposal:
"As I feel sure that you have all the love of a father for my
daughters, I wish you to become their father in reality! I offer you
my hand and heart; become my husband, you will be their father, their
lord and mine. What do you say to this?"
I bit my lips hard and had great difficulty in restraining my
inclination to laughter. Nevertheless, the amazement, the contempt,
and the indignation which this unparalleled piece of impudence
aroused in me soon brought me to myself. I perceived that this
consummate hypocrite had counted on an abrupt refusal, and had only
made this ridiculous offer with the idea of convincing me that she
was under the impression that I had left her daughters as I had found
them, and that the money I had spent on them was merely a sign of my
tender and fatherly affection. Of course she knew perfectly well how
the land lay, but she thought to justify herself by taking this step.
She was aware that I could only look upon such a proposal as an
insult, but she did not care for that.
I resolved to keep on the mask, and replied that her proposition was
undoubtedly a very great honour for me, but it was also a very
important question, and so I begged her to allow me some time for
When I got back to my room I found there the mistress of the wretched
Marquis Petina, who told me that her happiness depended on a
certificate from the Neapolitan ambassador that her lover was really
the person he professed to be. With this document he would be able
to claim a sum of two hundred guineas, and then they could both go to
Naples, and he would marry her there. "He will easily obtain the
royal pardon," said she. "You, and you alone, can help us in the
matter, and I commend myself to your kindness."
I promised to do all I could for her. In fact, I called on the
ambassador, who made no difficulty about giving the required
certificate. For the moment my chilly conquest was perfectly happy,
but though I saw she was very grateful to me I did not ask her to
prove her gratitude.
Augusta Becomes Lord Pembroke's Titular Mistress The King of
Corsica's Son--M. du Claude, or the Jesuit Lavalette--Departure of
the Hanoverians I Balance My Accounts--The Baron Stenau--The English
Girl, and What She Gave Me--Daturi--My Flight from London--Comte St.
Lord Pembroke wrote to Augusta offering her fifty guineas a month for
three years, with lodging, board, servants, and carriage at St.
Albans, without reckoning what she might expect from his grateful
affection if it were returned.
Augusta translated the letter for me, and asked for my advice.
"I can't give you any counsel," said I, "in a matter which only
concerns your own heart and your own interests."
She went up to her mother, who would come to no conclusion without
first consulting me, because, as she said, I was the wisest and most
virtuous of men. I am afraid the reader will differ from her here,
but I comfort myself by the thought that I, too, think like the
reader. At last it was agreed that Augusta should accept the offer
if Lord Pembroke would find a surety in the person of some reputable
London merchant, for with her beauty and numerous graces she was sure
to, become Lady Pembroke before long. Indeed, the mother said she
was perfectly certain of it, as otherwise she could not have given
her consent, as her daughters were countesses, and too good to be any
The consequence was that Augusta wrote my lord a letter, and in three
days it was all settled. The merchant duly signed the contract, at
the foot of which I had the honour of inscribing my name as a
witness, and then I took the merchant to the mother, and he witnessed
her cession of her daughter. She would not see Pembroke, but she
kissed her daughter, and held a private colloquy with her.
The day on which Augusta left my house was signalized by an event
which I must set down.
The day after I had given the Marquis Petina's future bride the
required certificate, I had taken out Gabrielle and Hippolyta for a
ride. When I got home I found waiting for me a person calling
himself Sir Frederick, who was said to be the son of Theodore, King
of Corsica, who had died in London. This gentleman said he wished to
speak to me in private, and when we were alone he said he was aware
of my acquaintance with the Marquis Petina, and being on the eve of
discounting a bill of two hundred guineas for him he wished to be
informed whether it was likely that he could meet the bill when it
"It is important that I should be informed on that point," he added,
"for the persons who are going to discount the bill want me to put my
signature to it."
"Sir," I replied, "I certainly am acquainted with the marquis, but I
know nothing about his fortune. However, the Neapolitan ambassador
assured me that he was the Marquis Petina."
"If the persons who have the matter in hand should drop it, would you
discount the bill? You shall have it cheap."
"I never meddle with these speculations. Good day, Sir Frederick."
The next day Goudar came and said that a M. du Claude wanted to speak
"Who is M. du Claude?"
"The famous Jesuit Lavalette, who was concerned in the great
bankruptcy case which ruined the Society in France. He fled to
England under a false name. I advise you to listen to him, for he
must have plenty of money."
"A Jesuit and a bankrupt; that does not sound very well."
"Well, I have met him in good houses, and knowing that I was
acquainted with you he addressed himself to me. After all, you run
no risk in listening to what he has to say."
"Well, well, you can take me to him; it will be easier to avoid any
entanglement than if he came to see me."
Goudar went to Lavalette to prepare the way, and in the afternoon he
took me to see him. I was well enough pleased to see the man, whose
rascality had destroyed the infamous work of many years. He welcomed
me with great politeness, and as soon as we were alone he shewed me a
bill of Petina's, saying,--
"The young man wants me to discount it, and says you can give me the
I gave the reverend father the same answer as I had given the King of
Corsica's son, and left him angry with this Marquis of Misery who had
given me so much needless trouble. I was minded to have done with
him, and resolved to let him know through his mistress that I would
not be his reference, but I could not find an opportunity that day.
The next day I took my two nymphs for a ride, and asked Pembroke to
dinner. In vain we waited for Petina's mistress; she was nowhere to
be found. At nine o'clock I got a letter from her, with a German
letter enclosed for her mother. She said that feeling certain that
her mother would not give her consent to her marriage, she had eloped
with her lover, who had got together enough money to go to Naples,
and when they reached that town he would marry her. She begged me to
console her mother and make her listen to reason, as she had not gone
off with an adventurer but with a man of rank, her equal. My lips
curled into a smile of pity and contempt, which made the three
sisters curious. I shewed them the letter I had just received, and
asked them to come with me to their mother.
"Not to-night," said Victoire, "this terrible news would keep her
I took her advice and we supped together, sadly enough.
I thought the poor wretch was ruined for life, and I reproached
myself with being the cause of her misfortune; for if I had not
released the marquis from prison this could never have happened. The
Marquis Caraccioli had been right in saying that I had done a good
deed, but a foolish one. I consoled myself in the arms of my dear
I had a painful scene with the mother the next morning. She cursed
her daughter and her seducer, and even blamed me. She wept and
It is never of any use to try and convince people in distress that
they are wrong, for one may only do harm, while if they are left to
themselves they soon feel that they have been unjust, and are
grateful to the person who let them exhaust their grief without any
After this event I spent a happy fortnight in the society of
Gabrielle, whom Hippolyta and Victoire looked on as my wife. She
made my happiness and I made hers in all sorts of ways, but
especially by my fidelity; for I treated her sisters as if they had
been my sisters, shewing no recollection of the favours I had
obtained from them, and never taking the slightest liberty, for I
knew that friendship between women will hardly brook amorous rivalry.
I had bought them dresses and linen in abundance, they were well
lodged and well fed, I took them to the theatre and to the country,
and the consequence was they all adored me, and seemed to think that
this manner of living would go on for ever. Nevertheless, I was
every day nearer and nearer to moral and physical bankruptcy. I had
no more money, and I had sold all my diamonds and precious stones. I
still possessed my snuff-boxes, my watches, and numerous trifles,
which I loved and had not the heart to sell; and, indeed, I should
not have got the fifth part of what I gave for them. For a whole
month I had not paid my cook, or my wine merchant, but I liked to
feel that they trusted me. All I thought of was Gabrielle's love,
and of this I assured myself by a thousand delicacies and attentions.
This was my condition when one day Victoire came to me with sadness
on her face, and said that her mother had made up her mind to return
to Hanover, as she had lost all hope of getting anything from the
"When does she intend to leave?"
"In three or four days."
"And is she going without telling me, as if she were leaving an inn
after paying her bill?"
"On the contrary, she wishes to have a private talk with you."
I paid her a visit, and she began by reproaching me tenderly for not
coming to see her more often. She said that as I had refused her
hand she would not run the risk of incurring censure or slander of
any kind. "I thank you from my heart," she added, "for all the
kindness you have shewn my girls, and I am going to take the three I
have left away, lest I lose them as I have lost the two eldest. If
you like, you may come too and stay with us as long as you like in my
pretty country house near the capital."
Of course I had to thank her and reply that my engagements did not
allow me to accept her kind offer.
Three days after, Victoire told me, as I was getting up, that they
were going on board ship at three o'clock. Hippolyta and Gabrielle
made me come for a ride, according to a promise I had given them the
night before. The poor things amused themselves, while I grieved
bitterly, as was my habit when I had to separate from anyone that I
When we came home I lay down on my bed, not taking any dinner, and
seeing nothing of the three sisters till they had made everything
ready for the journey. I got up directly before they left, so as not
to see the mother in my own room, and I saw her in hers just as she
was about to be taken down into my carriage, which was in readiness
at the door. The impudent creature expected me to give her some
money for the journey, but perceiving that I was not likely to bleed,
she observed, with involuntary sincerity, that her purse contained
the sum of a hundred and fifty guineas, which I had given to her
daughters; and these daughters of hers were present, and sobbed
When they were gone I closed my doors to everyone, and spent three
days in the melancholy occupation of making up my accounts. In the
month I had spent with the Hanoverians I had dissipated the whole of
the sum resulting from the sale of the precious stones, and I found
that I was in debt to the amount of four hundred guineas. I resolved
to go to Lisbon by sea, and sold my diamond cross, six or seven gold
snuff-boxes (after removing the portraits), all my watches except
one, and two great trunks full of clothes. I then discharged my
debts and found I was eighty guineas to the good, this being what
remained of the fine fortune I had squandered away like a fool or a
philosopher, or, perhaps, a little like both. I left my fine house
where I had lived so pleasantly, and took a little room at a guinea a
week. I still kept my negro, as I had every reason to believe him to
be a faithful servant.
After taking these measures I wrote to M. de Bragadin, begging him to
send me two hundred sequins.
Thus having made up my mind to leave London without owing a penny to
anyone, and under obligations to no man's purse, I waited for the
bill of exchange from Venice. When it came I resolved to bid
farewell to all my friends and to try my fortune in Lisbon, but such
was not the fate which the fickle goddess had assigned to me.
A fortnight after the departure of the Hanoverians (it was the end of
February in the year 1764), my evil genius made me go to the "Canon
Tavern," where I usually dined in a room by myself. The table was
laid and I was just going to sit down, when Baron Stenau came in and
begged me to have my dinner brought into the next room, where he and
his mistress were dining.
"I thank you," said I, "for the solitary man grows weary of his
I saw the English woman I had met at Sartori's, the same to whom the
baron had been so generous. She spoke Italian, and was attractive in
many ways, so I was well pleased to find myself opposite to her, and
we had a pleasant dinner.
After a fortnight's abstinence it was not surprising that she
inspired me with desires, but I concealed them nevertheless, for her
lover seemed to respect her. I only allowed myself to tell the baron
that I thought him the happiest of men.
Towards the close of the dinner the girl noticed three dice on the
mantel and took them up, saying,--
"Let us have a wager of a guinea, and spend it on oysters and
We could not refuse, and the baron having lost called the waiter and
gave him his orders.
While we were eating the oysters she suggested that we should throw
again to see which should pay for the dinner.
We did so and she lost.
I did not like my luck, and wishing to lose a couple of guineas I
offered to throw against the baron. He accepted, and to my annoyance
I won. He asked for his revenge and lost again.
"I don't want to win your money," said I, "and I will give you your
revenge up to a hundred guineas."
He seemed grateful and we went on playing, and in less than half an
hour he owed me a hundred guineas.
"Let us go on," said he.
"My dear baron, the luck's against you; you might lose a large sum of
money. I really think we have had enough."
Without heeding my politeness, he swore against fortune and against
the favour I seemed to be shewing him. Finally he got up, and taking
his hat and cane, went out, saying,--
"I will pay you when I come back."
As soon as he had gone the girl said:
"I am sure you have been regarding me as your partner at play."
"If you have guessed that, you will also have guessed that I think
"Yes, I think I have."
"Are you angry with me?"
"Not in the least."
"You shall have the fifty guineas as soon as he has paid me."
"Very good, but the baron must know nothing about it."
"Of course not."
The bargain was scarcely struck before I began to shew her how much I
loved her. I had every reason to congratulate myself on her
complaisance, and I thought this meeting a welcome gleam of light
when all looked dark around me. We had to make haste, however, as
the door was only shut with a catch. I had barely time to ascertain
her address and the hour at which she could see me, and whether I
should have to be careful with her lover. She replied that the
baron's fidelity was not of a character to make him very exacting. I
put the address in my pocket, and promised to pass a night with her.
The baron came in again, and said,--
"I have been to a merchant to discount this bill of exchange, and
though it is drawn on one of the best house in Cadiz, and made out by
a good house in London, he would not have anything to do with it."
I took the bill and saw some millions mentioned on it, which
The baron said with a laugh that the currency was Portuguese milries,
and that they amounted to five hundred pounds sterling.
"If the signatures are known," said I, "I don't understand why the
man won't discount it. Why don't you take it to your banker?"
"I haven't got one. I came to England with a thousand gold pieces in
my pocket, and I have spent them all. As I have not got any letters
of credit I cannot pay you unless the bill is discounted. If you
have got any friends on the Exchange, however, you could get it
"If the names prove good ones I will let you have the money to-morrow
"Then I will make it payable to your order."
He put his name to it, and I promised to send him either the money or
the bill before noon on the day following. He gave me his address
and begged me to come and dine with him, and so we parted.
The next day I went to Bosanquet, who told me that Mr. Leigh was
looking out for bills of exchange on Cadiz, and I accordingly waited
on him. He exclaimed that such paper was worth more than gold to
him, and gave me five hundred and twenty guineas, of course after I
had endorsed it.
I called on the baron and gave him the money I had just received, and
he thanked me and gave me back the hundred guineas. Afterwards we
had dinner, and fell to talking of his mistress.
"Are you in love with her?" said I.
"No; I have plenty of others, and if you like her you can have her
for ten guineas."
I liked this way of putting it, though I had not the slightest idea
of cheating the girl out of the sum I had promised her. On leaving
the baron I went to see her, and as soon as she heard that the baron
had paid me she ordered a delicious supper, and made me spend a night
that obliterated all my sorrows from my memory. In the morning, when
I handed over the fifty guineas, she said that as a reward for the
way in which I kept my promise I could sup with her whenever I liked
to spend six guineas. I promised to come and see her often.
The next morning I received a letter through the post, written in bad
Italian, and signed, "Your obedient godson, Daturi." This godson of
mine was in prison for debt, and begged me to give him a few
shillings to buy some food.
I had nothing particular to do, the appellation of godson made me
curious, and so I went to the prison to see Daturi, of whose identity
I had not the slightest idea. He was a fine young man of twenty; he
did not know me, nor I him. I gave him his letter, and begging me to
forgive him he drew a paper from his pocket and shewed me his
certificate of baptism, on which I saw my own name inscribed beside
his name and those of his father and mother, the parish of Venice,
where he was born, and the church in which he was baptized; but still
I racked my memory in vain; I could not recollect him.
"If you will listen to me," he said, "I can set you right; my mother
has told me the story a hundred times."
"Go on," said I, "I will listen;" and as he told his story I
remembered who he was.
This young man whom I had held at the font as the son of the actor
Daturi was possibly my own son. He had come to London with a troupe
of jugglers to play the illustrious part of clown, or pagliazzo, but
having quarrelled with the company he had lost his place and had got
into debt to the extent of ten pounds sterling, and for this debt he
had been imprisoned. Without saying anything to him about my
relations with his mother, I set him free on the spot, telling him to
come to me every morning, as I would give him two shillings a day for
A week after I had done this good work I felt that I had caught the
fearful disease from which the god Mercury had already delivered me
three times, though with great danger and peril of my life. I had
spent three nights with the fatal English woman, and the misfortune
was doubly inconvenient under the circumstances. I was on the eve of
a long sea voyage, and though Venus may have risen from the waves of
the sea, sea air is by no means favourable to those on whom she has
cast her malign aspect. I knew what to do, and resolved to have my
case taken in hand without delay.
I left my house, not with the intention of reproaching the English
woman after the manner of fools, but rather of going to a good
surgeon, with whom I could make an agreement to stay in his house
till my cure was completed.
I had my trunks packed just as if I was going to leave London,
excepting my linen, which I sent to my washerwoman who lived at a
distance of six miles from town, and drove a great trade.
The very day I meant to change my lodging a letter was handed to me.
It was from Mr. Leigh, and ran as follows:
"The bill of exchange I discounted for you is a forgery, so please to
send me at your earliest convenience the five hundred and twenty
guineas; and if the man who has cheated you will not reimburse the
money, have him arrested. For Heaven's sake do not force me to have
you arrested to-morrow, and whatever you do make haste, for this may
prove a hanging matter."
Fortunately I was by myself when I received the letter. I fell upon
my bed, and in a moment I was covered with a cold sweat, while I
trembled like a leaf. I saw the gallows before me, for nobody would
lend me the money, and they would not wait for my remittance from
Venice to reach me.
To my shuddering fit succeeded a burning fever. I loaded my pistols,
and went out with the determination of blowing out Baron Stenau's
brains, or putting him under arrest if he did not give me the money.
I reached his house, and was informed that he had sailed for Lisbon
four days ago.
This Baron Stenau was a Livonian, and four months after these events
he was hanged at Lisbon. I only anticipate this little event in his
life because I might possibly forget it when I come to my sojourn at
As soon as I heard he was gone I saw there was no remedy, and that I
must save myself. I had only ten or twelve guineas left, and this
sum was insufficient. I went to Treves, a Venetian Jew to whom I had
a letter from Count Algarotti, the Venetian banker. I did not think
of going to Bosanquet, or Sanhel, or Salvador, who might possibly
have got wind of my trouble, while Treves had no dealings with these
great bankers, and discounted a bill for a hundred sequins readily
enough. With the money in my pocket I made my way to my lodging,
while deadly fear dogged every step. Leigh had given me twenty-four
hours' breathing time, and I did not think him capable of breaking
his word, still it would not do to trust to it. I did not want to
lose my linen nor three fine suits of clothes which my tailor was
keeping for me, and yet I had need of the greatest promptitude.
I called in Jarbe and asked him whether he would prefer to take
twenty guineas and his dismissal, or to continue in my service. I
explained that he would have to wait in London for a week, and join
me at the place from which I wrote to him.
"Sir," said he, "I should like to remain in your service, and I will
rejoin you wherever you please. When are you leaving?"
"In an hour's time; but say not a word, or it will cost me my life."
"Why can't you take me with you?"
"Because I want you to bring my linen which is at the wash, and my
clothes which the tailor is making. I will give you sufficient money
for the journey."
"I don't want anything. You shall pay me what I have spent when I
rejoin you. Wait a moment."
He went out and came back again directly, and holding out sixty
"Take this, sir, I entreat you, my credit is good for as much more in
case of need."
"I thank you, my good fellow, but I will not take your money, but be
sure I will not forget your fidelity."
My tailor lived close by and I called on him, and seeing that my
clothes were not yet made up I told him that I should like to sell
them, and also the gold lace that was to be used in the trimming. He
instantly gave me thirty guineas which meant a gain to him of twenty-
five per cent. I paid the week's rent of my lodging, and after
bidding farewell to my negro I set out with Daturi. We slept at
Rochester, as my strength would carry me no farther. I was in
convulsions, and had a sort of delirium. Daturi was the means of
saving my life.
I had ordered post-horses to continue our journey, and Daturi of his
own authority sent them back and went for a doctor, who pronounced me
to be in danger of an apoplectic fit and ordered a copious blood-
letting, which restored my calm. Six hours later he pronounced me
fit to travel. I got to Dover early in the morning, and had only
half an hour to stop, as the captain of the packet said that the tide
would not allow of any delay. The worthy sailor little knew how well
his views suited mine. I used this half hour in writing to Jarbe,
telling him to rejoin me at Calais, and Mrs. Mercier, my landlady, to
whom I had addressed the letter, wrote to tell me that she had given
it him with her own hands. However, Jarbe did not come. We shall
hear more of this negro in the course of two years.
The fever and the virus that was in my blood put me in danger of my
life, and on the third day I was in extremis. A fourth blood-letting
exhausted my strength, and left me in a state of coma which lasted
for twenty-four hours. This was succeeded by a crisis which restored
me to life again, but it was only by dint of the most careful
treatment that I found myself able to continue my journey a fortnight
after my arrival in France.
Weak in health, grieved at having been the innocent cause of the
worthy Mr. Leigh's losing a large sum of money, humiliated by my
flight from London, indignant with Jarbe, and angry at being obliged
to abandon my Portuguese project, I got into a post-chaise with
Daturi, not knowing where to turn or where to go, or whether I had
many more weeks to live.
I had written to Venice asking M. de Bragadin to send the sum I have
mentioned to Brussels instead of London.
When I got to Dunkirk, the day after I left Paris, the first person I
saw was the merchant S----, the husband of that Therese whom my
readers may remember, the niece of Tiretta's mistress, with whom I
had been in love seven years ago. The worthy man recognized me, and
seeing his astonishment at the change in my appearance I told him I
was recovering from a long illness, and then asked after his wife.
"She is wonderfully well," he answered, "and I hope we shall have the
pleasure of seeing you to dinner tomorrow."
I said I wanted to be off at day-break, but he would not hear of it,
and protested he would be quite hurt if I went away without seeing
his wife and his three children. At last I appeased him by saying
that we would sup together.
My readers will remember that I had been on the point of marrying
Therese, and this circumstance made me ashamed of presenting myself
to her in such a sorry plight.
In a quarter of an hour the husband arrived with his wife and three
children, the eldest of whom looked, about six. After the usual
greetings and tiresome enquiries after my health, Therese sent back
the two younger children, rightly thinking that the eldest would be
the only one in whom I should take any interest. He was a charming
boy; and as he was exactly like his mother, the worthy merchant had
no doubts as to the parentage of the child.
I laughed to myself at finding my offspring thus scattered all over
Europe. At supper Therese gave me news of Tiretta. He had entered
the Dutch East India Company's service, but having been concerned in
a revolt at Batavia, he had only escaped the gallows by flight--I had
my own thoughts as to the similarity between his destiny and mine,
but I did not reveal them. After all it is an easy enough matter for
an adventurous man, who does not look where he is going, to get
hanged for a mere trifle.
The next day, when I got to Tournay, I saw some grooms walking fine
horses up and down, and I asked to whom they belonged.
"'To the Comte de St. Germain, the adept, who has been here a month,
and never goes out. Everybody who passes through the place wants to
see him; but he is invisible."
This was enough to give me the same desire, so I wrote him a letter,
expressing my wish to speak to him, and asking him to name an hour.
His reply, which I have preserved, ran as follows:
"The gravity of my occupation compels me to exclude everyone, but you
are an exception. Come whenever you like, you will be shewn in. You
need not mention my name nor your own. I do not ask you to share my
repast, far my food is not suitable to others--to you least of all,
if your appetite is what it used to be."
At nine o'clock I paid my call, and found he had grown a beard two
inches long. He had a score of retorts before him, full of liquids
in various stages of digestion. He told me he was experimenting with
colours for his own amusement, and that he had established a hat
factory for Count Cobenzl, the Austrian ambassador at Brussels. He
added that the count had only given him a hundred and fifty thousand
florins, which were insufficient. Then we spoke of Madame d'Urfe.
"She poisoned herself," said he, "by taking too strong a dose of the
Universal Medicine, and her will shews that she thought herself to be
with child. If she had come to me, I could have really made her so,
though it is a difficult process, and science has not advanced far
enough for us to be able to guarantee the sex of the child."
When he heard the nature of my disease, he wanted me to stay three
days at Tournay for him to give me fifteen pills, which would
effectually cure me, and restore me to perfect health. Then he
shewed me his magistrum, which he called athoeter. It was a white
liquid contained in a well-stoppered phial. He told me that this
liquid was the universal spirit of nature, and that if the wax on the
stopper was pricked ever so lightly, the whole of the contents would
disappear. I begged him to make the experiment. He gave me the
phial and a pin, and I pricked the wax, and to lo! the phial was
"It is very fine," said I, "but what good is all this?"
"I cannot tell you; that is my secret."
He wanted to astonish me before I went, and asked me if I had any
money about me. I took out several pieces and put them on the table.
He got up, and without saying what he was going to do he took a
burning coal and put it on a metal plate, and placed a twelve-sols
piece with a small black grain on the coal. He then blew it, and in
two minutes it seemed on fire.
"Wait a moment," said the alchemist, "let it get cool;" and it cooled
"Take it; it is yours," said he.
I took up the piece of money and found it had become gold. I felt
perfectly certain that he had smuggled my silver piece away, and had
substituted a gold piece coated with silver for it. I did not care
to tell him as much, but to let him see that I was not taken in, I
"It is really very wonderful, but another time you should warn me
what you are going to do, so that the operation might be attentively
watched, and the piece of money noted before being placed on the
"Those that are capable of entertaining doubts of my art," said the
rogue, "are not worthy to speak to me."
This was in his usual style of arrogance, to which I was accustomed.
This was the last time I saw this celebrated and learned impostor; he
died at Schlesing six or seven years after. The piece of money he
gave me was pure gold, and two months after Field-marshal Keith took
such a fancy to it that I gave it him.
I left Tournay the next morning, and stopped at Brussels to await the
answer of the letter which I had written to M. de Bragadin. Five
days after I got the letter with a bill of exchange for two hundred
I thought of staying in Brussels to get cured, but Daturi told me
that he had heard from a rope-dancer that his father and mother and
the whole family were at Brunswick, and he persuaded me to go there,
assuring me that I should be carefully looked after.
He had not much difficulty in getting me to go to Brunswick, as I was
curious to see again the mother of my godson, so I started the same
day. At Ruremonde I was so ill that I had to stop for thirty-six
hours. At Wesel I wished to get rid of my post-chaise, for the
horses of the country are not used to going between shafts, but what
was my surprise to meet General Bekw there.
After the usual compliments had passed, and the general had condoled
with me on my weak state of health, he said he should like to buy my
chaise and exchange it for a commodious carriage, in which I could
travel all over Germany. The bargain was soon struck, and the
general advised me to stay at Wesel where there was a clever young
doctor from the University of Leyden, who would understand my case
better than the Brunswick physicians.
Nothing is easier than to influence a sick man, especially if he be
in search of fortune, and knows not where to look for the fickle
goddess. General Bekw----, who was in garrison at Wesel, sent for
Dr. Pipers, and was present at my confession and even at the
I will not revolt my readers by describing the disgusting state in
which I was, suffice it to say that I shudder still when I think of
The young doctor, who was gentleness personified, begged me to come
and stay with him, promising that his mother and sisters should take
the greatest care of me, and that he would effect a radical cure in
the course of six weeks if I would carry out all his directions. The
general advised me strongly to stay with the doctor, and I agreed all
the more readily as I wished to have some amusement at Brunswick and
not to arrive there deprived of the use of all my limbs. I therefore
gave in, but the doctor would not hear of any agreement. He told me
that I could give him whatever I liked when I went away, and he would
certainly be satisfied. He took his leave to go and make my room
ready, and told me to come in an hour's time. I went to his house in
a sedan-chair, and held a handkerchief before my face, as I was
ashamed that the young doctor's mother and sisters should see me in
the state I was in.
As soon as I got to my room, Daturi undressed me and I went to bed.
My Cure--Daturi is Beaten by Some Soldiers--I Leave Wesel for
Brunswick--Redegonde--Brunswick--The Hereditary Prince--The Jew--
My Stay at Wolfen-Buttel The Library--Berlin Calsabigi and the Berlin
At Supper-time, the doctor, his mother, and one of his sisters came
to see me. All of them bore the love of their kind written on their
features; they assured me that I should have all possible care at
their hands. When the ladies were gone the doctor explained his
treatment. He said that he hoped to cure me by the exhibition of
sudorifices and mercurial pills, but he warned me I must be very
careful in my diet and must not apply myself in any way. I promised
to abide by his directions, and he said that he would read me the
newspaper himself twice a week to amuse me, and by way of a beginning
he informed me that the famous Pompadour was dead.
Thus I was condemned to a state of perfect rest, but it was not the
remedies or the abstinence I dreaded most; I feared the effects of
ennui; I thought I should die of it. No doubt the doctor saw the
danger as well as myself, for he asked me if I would mind his sister
coming and working in my room occasionally with a few of her friends.
I replied that, despite my shame of shewing myself to young ladies in
such a condition, I accepted her offer with delight. The sister was
very grateful for what she was pleased to call my kindness, for my
room was the only one which looked in the street, and as everyone
knows girls are very fond of inspecting the passers-by. Unfortunately
this arrangement turned out ill for Daturi. The poor young man had
only received the education of a mountebank, and it was tiresome for
him to pass all his time in my company. When he saw that I had
plenty of friends, he thought I could dispense with his society, and
only thought of amusing himself. On the third day towards the
evening he was carried home covered with bruises. He had been in the
guard-room with the soldiers, and some quarrel having arisen he had
got a severe beating. He was in a pitiable state; all over blood and
with three teeth missing. He told me the story with tears, and
begged me to take vengeance on his foes.
I sent my doctor to General Bekw----, who said that all he could do
was to give the poor man a bed in the hospital. Baturi had no bones
broken, and in a few days was quite well, so I sent him on to
Brunswick with a passport from General Salomon. The loss of his
teeth secured him from the conscription; this, at any rate, was a
The treatment of the young doctor was even more successful than he
had anticipated, for in a month I was perfectly well again, though
terribly thin. The worthy people of the house must have taken an
idea of me not in the least like myself; I was thought to be the most
patient of men, and the sister and her young lady friends must have
considered me as modesty personified; but these virtues only resulted
from my illness and my great depression. If you want to discover the
character of a man, view him in health and freedom; a captive and in
sickness he is no longer the same man.
I gave a beautiful dress to the sister, and twenty louis to the
doctor, and both seemed to me extremely satisfied.
On the eve of my departure I received a letter from Madame du Rumain,
who had heard I was in want from my friend Baletti, and sent me a
bill of exchange on Amsterdam for six hundred florins. She said I
could repay her at my convenience, but she died before I was able to
discharge the debt.
Having made up my mind to go to Brunswick, I could not resist the
temptation to pass through Hanover, for whenever I thought of
Gabrielle I loved her still. I did not wish to stop any length of
time, for I was poor and I had to be careful of my health. I only
wished to pay her a flying visit on the estate which her mother had
at Stocken, as she had told me. I may also say that curiosity was a
motive for this visit.
I had decided to start at day-break in my new carriage, but the fates
had ordained it otherwise.
The English general wrote me a note asking me to sup with him,
telling me that some Italians would be present, and this decided me
to stay on, but I had to promise the doctor to observe strict
My surprise may be imagined when I saw the Redegonde and her
abominable mother. The mother did not recognize me at first, but
Redegonde knew me directly, and said,--
"Good Heavens! how thin you have become!"
I complimented her on her beauty, and indeed she had improved
"I have just recovered from a dangerous illness," said I, "and I am
starting for Brunswick at day-break tomorrow."
"So are we," she exclaimed, looking at her mother.
The general, delighted to find that we knew each other, said we could
"Hardly, I think," I replied, "unless the lady-mother has changed her
principles since I knew her."
"I am always the same," she said, dryly enough; but I only replied
with a glance of contempt.
The general held a bank at faro at a small table. There were several
other ladies and some officers, and the stakes were small. He
offered me a place, but I excused myself, saying that I never played
while on a journey.
At the end of the deal the general returned to the charge, and
"Really, chevalier, this maxim of yours is anti-social; you must
So saying he drew several English bank notes from his pocket-book,
telling me they were the same I had given him in London six months
"Take your revenge," he added; "there are four hundred pounds here."
"I don't want to lose as much as that," I replied, "but I will risk
fifty pounds to amuse you."
With this I took out the bill of exchange that Madame du Rumain had
The general went on dealing, and at the third deal I found I was
fifty guineas to the good, and with that I was satisfied. Directly
afterwards supper was announced, and we went into the dining-room.
Redegonde, who had learnt French admirably, kept everybody amused.
She had been engaged by the Duke of Brunswick as second singer, and
she had come from Brussels. She bemoaned her journey in the
uncomfortable post-chaise, and expressed a fear that she would be ill
by the time she got to her journey's end.
"Why, there's the Chevalier Seingalt all alone in a most comfortable
carriage," said the general.
"How many people will your carriage hold?"
"Then it's out of the question, for I never let my daughter travel
alone with anybody."
A general burst of laughter, in which Redegonde joined, seemed to
confuse the mother in some degree; but like a good daughter Redegonde
explained that her mother was always afraid of her being
The evening passed away in pleasant conversation, and the younger
singer did not need much persuasion to seat herself at the piano,
where she sang in a manner that won genuine applause.
When I wanted to go the general begged me to breakfast with him,
saying that the post-chaise did not go till twelve, and that this act
of politeness was due to my young fellow-countrywoman. Redegonde
joined in, reproaching me with my behaviour at Turin and Florence,
though she had nothing really to complain of. I gave in, and feeling
that I wanted rest I went to bed.
The next morning, at nine o'clock, I took leave of the worthy doctor
and his family and walked to the general's, giving orders that my
carriage should be brought round as soon as it was ready.
In half an hour Redegonde and her mother arrived, and I was
astonished to see them accompanied by the brother who had been my
servant at Florence.
When breakfast was over my carriage stood at the door, and I made my
bow to the general and all the company, who were standing in the hall
to see me off. Redegonde came down the steps with me, and asked if
my carriage was comfortable, and then got into it. I got in after
her without the slightest premeditation, and the postillion, seeing
the carriage full, gave a crack with his whip and we were off,
Redegonde shrieking with laughter. I was on the point of telling him
to stop, but seeing her enjoyment of the drive I held my tongue, only
waiting for her to say, "I have had enough." But I waited in vain,
and we had gone over half a league before she said a word.
"I have laughed, and laugh still," she said, "when I think of what my
mother will say at this freak of mine. I had no intentions in
getting into the carriage, and I am sure you cannot have told the
postillion to drive on."
"You may be quite sure of that."
"All the same my mother will believe it to be a deeply-laid plan, and
that strikes me as amusing."
"So it is; I am quite satisfied, certainly. Now you are here you had
better come on with me to Brunswick; you will be more comfortable
than in a villainous stage coach."
"I should be delighted, but that would be pushing matters too far.
No, we will stop at the first stage and wait for the coach."
"You may do so if you please, but you will excuse my waiting."