Part 56 out of 70
"What! you would leave me all alone?"
"You know, dear Redegonde, that I have always loved you, and I am
ready to take you with me to Brunswick; what more can I say?"
"If you love me you will wait with me and restore me to my mother,
who must be in despair."
"In spite of my devotion I am afraid I cannot do so."
Instead of turning sulky the young madcap began to laugh again; and I
determined she should come with me to Brunswick.
When we got to the end of the stage there were no horses ready. I
arranged matters with the postillion, and after baiting the horses we
set out once more. The roads were fearful, and we did not come to
the second posting-stage till nightfall.
We might have slept there, but not wishing to be caught up by the
coach and to lose my prize, I ordered fresh horses and we resumed our
journey in spite of Redegonde's tears and supplications. We
travelled all night and reached Lippstadt in the early morning, and
in spite of the unseasonableness of the hour I ordered something to
eat. Redegonde wanted a rest, as indeed did I, but she had to give
way when I said caressingly that we could sleep at Minden. Instead
of scolding me she began to smile, and I saw she guessed what she had
to expect; in fact, when we got to Minden we had supper, and then
went to bed together as man and wife, and stayed in bed for five
hours. She was quite kind, and only made me entreat her for form's
We got to Hanover and put up at an excellent inn where we had a
choice meal, and where I found the waiter who was at the inn in
Zurich when I waited on the ladies at table. Miss Chudleigh had
dined there with the Duke of Kingston, and they had gone on to
We had a beautiful French bed in which to spend the night, and in the
morning we were awakened by the noise of the stage coach. Redegonde
not wishing to be surprised in my arms rang the bell and told the
waiter by no means to admit the lady who would come out of the coach
and ask to be shewn in directly; but her precaution was vain, for, as
the waiter went out, the mother and son came in, and we were taken in
I told them to wait outside, and getting up in my shirt I locked the
door. The mother began to abuse me and her daughter, and threatened
me with criminal proceedings if I did not give her up. Redegonde,
however, calmed her by telling her the story, and she believed, or
pretended to believe, it was all chance; but she said,--
"That's all very well; but you can't deny, you little slut, that you
have been sleeping with him."
"Oh, there's no harm in that, for you know, dear mamma, nobody does
Without giving her the time to reply she threw her arms round her
neck and promised to go on with her in the coach.
After things had been thus settled, I dressed myself, and gave them
all a good breakfast, and went on my way to Brunswick, where I
arrived a few hours before them.
Redegonde had deprived me of my curiosity to see Gabrielle; besides,
in the condition I was in, my vanity would have suffered grievously.
As soon as I had settled in a good inn I sent for Daturi, who came
immediately, elegantly dressed, and very anxious to introduce to me a
certain Signor Nicolini, theatrical manager. This Nicolini
understood his craft perfectly, and was high in favour with the
prince to whom his daughter Anna was mistress. He gave me a
distinguished and a cordial greeting, and was very anxious that I
should stay with him, but I was able to escape the constraint of such
an arrangement without giving him any offense. I accepted his offer
to take my meals at his table, which was furnished by an excellent
cook and surrounded by a distinguished company. Here was no
gathering of men of title, with the cold and haughty manners of the
Court, all were talented, and such company to my mind was delightful.
I was not well, and I was not rich, or else I should have made a
longer stay at Brunswick, which had its charms for me. But we will
not anticipate, though as old age steals on a man he is never tired
of dwelling again and again on the incidents of his past life, in
spite of his desire to arrest the sands which run out so quickly.
The third day after my arrival at Brunswick, Redegonde knowing that I
was dining at Nicolini's came there too. Everybody had found out,
somehow or other, that we had travelled from Wesel to Hanover
together, and they were at liberty to draw whatever conclusions they
Two days later the crown prince arrived from Potsdam on a visit to
his future bride, the daughter of the reigning duke, whom he married
the year after.
The Court entertained in the most magnificent manner, and the
hereditary prince, now the reigning duke, honoured me with an
invitation. I had met his highness at an assembly in Soho Square,
the day after he had been made a London citizen.
It was twenty-two years since I had been in love with Daturi's
mother. I was curious to see the ravages which time had worked on
her, but I had reason to repent of my visit, for she had grown
terribly ugly. She knew it herself, and a blush of shame appeared on
those features which had once been fair.
The prince had an army of six thousand foot in good condition. This
army was to be reviewed on a plain at a little distance from the
town, and I went to see the spectacle, and was rewarded by having
rain dripping down my back the whole time. Among the numerous
spectators were many persons of fashion, ladies in handsome dresses,
and a good sprinkling of foreigners. I saw the Honourable Miss
Chudleigh, who honoured me by addressing me, and asked me, amongst
other questions, how long I had left London. She was dressed in
Indian muslin, and beneath it she only wore a chemise of fine
cambric, and by the time the rain had made her clothes cling to her
body she looked more than naked, but she did not evince any
confusion. Most of the ladies sheltered themselves from the rain
under elegant tents which had been erected.
The troops, who took no notice of the weather, executed their
manoeuvres, and fired their muskets in a manner which seemed to
satisfy good judges.
There was nothing further to attract me at Brunswick, and I thought
of spending the summer at Berlin, which I concluded would be more
amusing than a small provincial town. Wanting an overcoat I bought
the material from a Jew, who offered to discount bills of exchange
for me if I had any. I had the bill which Madame du Rumain had sent
me, and finding that it would be convenient for me to get it
discounted, I gave it to the Israelite, who cashed it, deducting
commission at the ordinary rate of two per cent. The letter was
payable to the order of the Chevalier de Seingalt, and with that name
I endorsed it.
I thought no more of the matter, but early the next day the same Jew
called on me, and told me that I must either return him his money, or
give sureties for the amount till he had ascertained whether the bill
was a forgery or not.
I was offended at this piece of impertinence, and feeling certain
that the bill was a good one I told the fellow that he might set his
mind at rest and let me alone, as I should not give him any sureties.
"I must either have the money or the surety," said he, "and if you
refuse I will have you arrested; your character is well known."
This was too much for me, and raising my cane I gave him a blow on
the head which he must have felt for many a long day. I then dressed
and dined with Nicolini, without thinking or speaking of this
The next day as I was taking a walk outside the town walls, I met the
prince on horseback, followed by a single groom. I bowed to him as
he passed, but he came up to me and said,--
"You are leaving Brunswick, chevalier?"
"In two or three days, your highness."
"I heard this morning that a Jew has brought a complaint against you
for beating him because he asked you to give him security for a bill
of exchange which he was afraid of."
"My lord, I cannot answer for the effects of my indignation against a
rascal who dared to come and insult me in my own house, but I do know
that if I had given him security I should have impugned my own
honour. The impertinent scoundrel threatened to have me arrested,
but I know that a just Government rules here, and not arbitrary
"You are right; it would be unjust to have you arrested, but he is
afraid for his ducats."
"He need not be afraid, my lord, for the bill is drawn by a person of
honour and of high station in society."
"I am delighted to hear it. The Jew said he would never have
discounted the bill if you had not mentioned my name."
"That's a lie! Your highness' name never passed, my lips."
"He also says that you endorsed the bill with a false name."
"Then he lies again, for I signed myself Seingalt, and that name is
"In short, it is a case of a Jew who has been beaten, and is afraid
of being duped. I pity such an animal, and I must see what I can do
to prevent his keeping you here till he learns the fate of the bill
at Amsterdam. As I have not the slightest doubt as to the goodness
of the bill, I will take it up myself, and this very morning: thus
you will be able to leave when you like. Farewell, chevalier!
I wish you a pleasant journey."
With this compliment the prince left me, without giving me time to
answer him. I might have felt inclined to tell him that by taking up
the bill he would give the Jew and everyone else to understand that
it was a favour done to me, to the great hurt of my honour, and that
consequently I should be obliged by his doing nothing of the kind.
But though the prince was a man of generosity and magnanimity, he was
deficient in that delicate quality which we call tact. This defect,
common amongst princes, arises from their education, which places
them above the politeness which is considered necessary in ordinary
He could not have treated me worse than he did, if he had been
certain of my dishonesty, and wished me to understand that I was
forgiven, and that he would bear all the consequences of my
misdemeanour. With this idea in my head, I said to myself; "Perhaps,
indeed, this is exactly what the prince does think. Is it the Jew or
me that he pities? If the latter, I think I must give him a lesson,
though I do not wish to cause him any humiliation."
Feeling deeply humiliated myself, and pondering on my position,
I walked away, directing my attention especially to the duke's
concluding words. I thought his wish for a pleasant journey
supremely out of place, under the circumstances, in the mouth of one
who enjoyed almost absolute power. It was equivalent to an order to
leave the town, and I felt indignant at the thought.
I therefore resolved to vindicate my honour by neither going away nor
"If I stay," I said to myself, "the Jew will be adjudged to be in the
right; and if I go the duke will think I have profited by his favour,
and so to speak, by his present of fifty louis if the bill were
protested. I will not let anyone enjoy a satisfaction which is no
After these considerations, which I thought worthy of a wiser head
than mine, I packed up my trunk, ordered horses, and after a good
dinner and the payment of my bill I went to Wolfenbuttel with the
idea of spending week there. I was sure of finding amusement, for
Wolfenbuttel contains the third largest library in Europe, and I had
long been anxious to see it.
The learned librarian, whose politeness was all the better for being
completely devoid of affection, told me that not only could I have
whatever books I wished to see, but that I could take them to my
lodging, not even excepting the manuscripts, which are the chief
feature in that fine library.
I spent a week in the library, only leaving it to take my meals and
go to bed, and I count this week as one of the happiest I have ever
spent, for then I forgot myself completely; and in the delight of
study, the past, the present, and the future were entirely blotted
out. Of some such sort, I think, must be the joys of the redeemed;
and now I see that only a few trifling little circumstances and
incidents were wanting to make me a perfect sage. And here I must
note a circumstance which my readers may scarcely believe, but which,
for all that, is quite true-namely, that I have always preferred
virtue to vice, and that when I sinned I did so out of mere lightness
of heart, for which, no doubt, I shall be blamed by many persons.
But, no matter--a man has only to give an account of his actions to
two beings, to himself here and to God hereafter.
At Wolfenbuttel I gathered a good many hints on the "Iliad" and
"Odyssey," which will not be found in any commentator, and of which
the great Pope knew nothing. Some of these considerations will be
found in my translation of the "Iliad," the rest are still in
manuscript, and will probably never see the light. However, I burn
nothing, not even these Memoirs, though I often think of doing so,
but the time never comes.
At the end of the week I returned to the same inn at Brunswick which
I had occupied before, and let my godson Daturi know of my arrival.
I was delighted to hear that no one suspected that I had spent the
fortnight within five leagues of Brunswick. Daturi told me that the
general belief was that I had returned the Jew his money and got the
bill of exchange back. Nevertheless I felt sure that the bill had
been honoured at Amsterdam, and that the duke knew that I had been
staying at Wolfenbuttel.
Daturi told me that Nicolini was expecting to see me at dinner, and I
was not astonished to hear of it, for I had not taken leave of
anyone. I accordingly went, and the following incident, which served
to justify me in the eyes of all men, took place:
We were at the roast when one of the prince's servants came in with
the Jew I had beaten. The poor man came up humbly to me, and spoke
"I am ordered to come here, sir, to apologize for suspecting the
authenticity of the bill of exchange you gave me. I have been
punished by being fined the amount of my commission."
"I wish that had been your only punishment," said I.
He made me a profound bow, and went out, saying that I was only too
When I 'got back to the inn, I found a letter from Redegonde in which
she reproached me tenderly for not having been once to see her all
the time I had been at Brunswick, and begging me to breakfast with
her in a little country house.
"I shall not be in my mother's company," she added, "but in that of a
young lady of your acquaintance, whom, I am sure, you will be glad to
see once more."
I liked Redegonde, and I had only neglected her at Brunswick because
my means did not allow my making her a handsome present. I resolved
to accept her invitation, my curiosity being rather stimulated by the
account of the young lady.
I was exact at the time indicated, and I found Redegonde looking
charming in a pretty room on the ground floor, and with her was a
young artiste whom I had known as a child shortly before I had been
put under the Leads. I pretended to be delighted to see her, but I
was really quite taken up with Redegonde, and congratulated her upon
her pretty house. She said she had taken it for six months, but did
not sleep there. After coffee had been served we were on the point
of going out for a stroll, when who should come in but the prince.
He smiled pleasantly when he saw us, and apologized to Redegonde for
interrupting our little party.
The appearance of the prince enlightened me as to the position of my
delightful fellow countrywoman, and I understood why she had been so
precise about the time at which I was to come. Redegonde had made
the conquest of the worthy prince, who was always disposed to
gallantry, but felt it his duty during the first year of his marriage
with the King of England's sister to preserve some kind of incognito
in his amours.
We spent an hour in walking up and down and talking of London and
Berlin, but nothing was said of the Jew or the bill of exchange. He
was delighted with my warm eulogium of his library at Wolfenbuttel,
and laughed with all his heart when I said that unless it had been
for the intellectual nourishment I enjoyed, the bad fare at the inn
would certainly have reduced me to half my present size.
After bidding a graceful farewell to the nymph, the prince left us,
and we heard him galloping away on his horse.
When I was alone with Redegonde, far from begging for new favours, I
advised her to be faithful to the prince; but though appearances were
certainly not deceitful in this case, she would not admit anything.
This was in accordance with her part as young mistress, and I did not
reproach her for her want of confidence.
I spent the rest of the day at the inn, and started the next morning
When I got to Magdeburg, I took a letter of introduction from General
Bekw---- to an officer. He shewed me the fortress, and kept me for
three days making me taste all the pleasures of the table, women, and
gaming. However, I was very moderate, and managed to increase my
savings in a small degree, contenting myself with modest wagers.
From Magdeburg I went straight to Berlin, without caring to stop at
Potsdam, as the king was not there. The fearful Prussian roads with
their sandy soil made me take three days to do eighteen Prussian
miles. Prussia is a country of which much could be made with labour
and capital, but I do not think it will ever become a really fine
I put up at the "Hotel de Paris," which was both comfortable and
economical. Madame Rufin who kept it had entered into the spirit of
her business without losing her French politeness, and thus the inn
had got a reputation. As soon as I was in my room she came to ask me
if I were satisfied, and to make divers arrangements for my comfort.
There was a table d'hote, and those who ate in their private rooms
"This arrangement," I said, "may suit you, but for the present it
will not suit me. I want to dine in my own room, but I don't want to
pay double; I will therefore pay as if I were in the public room, but
if you like you need only send me up half the number of dishes."
"I agree, on the condition that you sup with me; we will not put it
in the accounts, and you will only meet friends at my little
I thought her proposal so curious a one that I had a great
inclination to laugh, but finding it at the same time very
advantageous I accepted frankly, and as if we had long been friends.
On the first day I was tired, and did not sup with her till the day
following. Madame Rufin had a husband who attended to the cooking,
and a son, but neither of them came to these suppers. The first time
I went to one of them I met an elderly but agreeable and sensible
gentleman. He lodged in a room adjoining mine, and called himself
Baron Treidel; his sister had married the Duke of Courland, Jean
Ernest Biron, or Birlen. The baron, who was extremely pleasant,
became my friend, and remained so for the couple of months I spent in
Berlin. I also met a Hamburg merchant, named Greve, and his wife,
whom he had just married and had brought to Berlin that she might see
the marvels of the Warrior-King's Court. She was as pleasant as her
husband, and I paid her an assiduous court. A lively and high-
spirited individual called Noel, who was the sole and beloved cook of
his Prussian Majesty, was the fourth person. He only came rarely to
the suppers on account of his duties in the king's kitchen. As I
have said, his majesty had only this one cook, and Noel had only one
scullion to help him.
M. Noel, the ambassador of the French Republic at the Hague, is, as I
am assured, the son of this cook, who was an excellent man. And here
I must say, in despite of my hatred for the French Revolutionary
Government, that I am not at all ill pleased that a man of talents
should be enabled to fill exalted offices, which under the old system
of privilege were often occupied by fools.
If it had not been for the culinary skill of Noel the cook, the
famous Atheist physician Lametrie would not have died of indigestion,
for the pie he succeeded in eating in his extremity was made by Noel.
Lametrie often supped with Madame Rufin and I thought it disobliging
of him to die so soon, for I should have liked to know him, as he was
a learned man and full of mirth. He expired laughing, though it is
said that death from indigestion is the most painful of all.
Voltaire told me that he thought Lametrie the most obstinate Atheist
in the world, and I could easily believe it after reading his works.
The King of Prussia himself pronounced his funeral oration, using the
words, "It is not wonderful that he only believed in the existence of
matter, for all the spirit in the world was enclosed in his own body.
No one but a king would venture on such a sally in a funeral oration.
However, Frederick the Great was a Deist and not an Atheist; but that
is of little consequence, since he never allowed the belief in a God
to influence his actions in the slightest degree. Some say that an
Atheist who ponders over the possible existence of a God is better
than a Deist who never thinks of the Deity, but I will not venture to
decide this point."
The first visit I paid in Berlin was to Calsabigi, the younger
brother of the Calsabigi with whom I had founded the lottery in Paris
in 1757. He had left Paris and his wife too, and had set up a
lottery in Brussels; but his extravagance was so great that he became
a bankrupt in spite of the efforts of Count Cobenzl to keep him
going. He fled from Brussels to Berlin, and was introduced to the
King of Prussia. He was a plausible speaker, and persuaded the
monarch to establish a lottery, to make him the manager, and to give
him the title of Counsellor of State. He promised that the lottery
should bring in an annual revenue of at least two hundred thousand
crowns, and only asked a percentage of ten per cent. for himself.
The lottery had been going for two years, and had had a great
success, as hitherto it had had no large losses; but the king, who
knew that the luck might turn, was always in a fidget about it. With
this idea he told Calsabigi that he must carry it on on his own
responsibility and pay him a hundred thousand crowns per annum, that
being the cost of his Italian Theatre.
I happened to call on Calsabigi on the very day on which the king
intimated to him this decision. After talking over our old
relationship and the vicissitudes we had both experienced, he told me
what had happened; it seemed an unexpected blow to him. The next
drawing, he said, would be at the king's risk; but the public would
have to be informed that in future the lottery would be a private
one. He wanted capital to the amount of two million crowns, for he
foresaw that otherwise the lottery would collapse, as people would
not risk their money without the certainty of being paid in the event
of their winning. He said he would guarantee me an income of ten
thousand crowns per annum if I succeeded in making the king change
his mind, and by way of encouragement he recalled to my mind the
effect of my persuasive powers at Paris seven years before.
"'Tis a good omen," said he, "and without any superstition I believe
that the good genius of the lottery has brought me to Berlin just
I laughed at his illusions, but I pitied him. I shewed him the
impossibility of convincing an individual whose only argument was,
"I am afraid, and I don't wish to be afraid any longer." He begged
me to stay to dinner and introduced me to his wife. This was a
double surprise for me, in the first place because I thought General
La Motte, as his first wife was called, to be still living, and in
the second place because I recognized in this second wife of his,
Mdlle. Belanger. I addressed the usual compliments to her and
enquired after her mother. She replied with a profound sigh, and
told me not to ask any questions about her family as she had only bad
news to tell me.
I had known Madame Belanger at Paris; she was a widow with one
daughter, and seemed to be well off. Now I saw this daughter, pretty
enough and well married, and yet in this doleful humour, and I felt
embarrassed and yet curious.
After Calsabigi had placed me in a position to entertain a high
opinion of the skill of his cook, he shewed me his horses and
carriages, begging me to take a drive with his wife and come back to
supper, which, as he said, was his best meal.
When we were in the carriage together, the necessity of talking about
something led me to ask the lady by what happy chain of circumstances
she found herself the wife of Calsabigi.
"His real wife is still alive, so I have not the misfortune of
occupying that position, but everyone in Berlin thinks I am his
lawful wife. Three years ago I was deprived of my mother and the
means of livelihood at one stroke, for my mother had an annuity.
None of my relations were rich enough to help me, and wishing to live
virtuously above all things I subsisted for two years on the sale of
my mother's furniture, boarding with a worthy woman who made her
living by embroidery. I learnt her art, and only went out to mass on
Sundays. I was a prey to melancholy, and when I had spent all I had
I went to M. Brea, a Genoese, on whom I thought I could rely. I
begged him to get me a place as a mere waiting-maid, thinking that I
was tolerably competent for such a position. He promised to do what
he could for me, and five or six days afterwards he made me the
"He read me a letter from Calsabigi, of whom I had never heard, in
which he charged him to send a virtuous young lady to Berlin. She
must be of good birth, good education, and pleasant appearance, as
when his aged and infirm wife died he intended to marry her.
"As such a person would most probably be badly off, Calsabigi begged
M. Brea to give her fifty Louis to buy clothes and linen and fifty
Louis to journey to Berlin with a maid. M. Brea was also authorized
to promise that the young lady should hold the position of
Calsabigi's wife, and be presented in that character to all his
friends; that she should have a waiting-maid, a carriage, an
allowance of clothes, and a certain monthly amount as pin-money to be
spent as she chose. He promised, if the arrangement was not found
suitable, to set her free at the end of a year, giving her a hundred
Louis, and leaving her in possession of whatever money she might have
saved, and such clothes and jewels as he might have given her; in
fine, if the lady agreed to live with him till he was able to marry
her, Calsabigi promised to execute a deed of gift in her favour to
the amount of ten thousand crowns which the public would believe to
be her dowry, and if he died before being able to marry her she would
have a right to claim the aforesaid sum from his estate.
"With such fine promises did Brea persuade me to leave my native
country to come and dishonour myself here, for though everybody
treats me as if I were his wife, it is probably known that I am only
his mistress. I have been here for six months, and I have never had
an instant's happiness."
"Has he not kept the conditions you have mentioned?" "Conditions!
Calsabigi's state of health will kill him long before his wife, and
in that case I shall have nothing, for he is loaded with debt, and
his creditors would have the first claim on the estate. Besides, I
do not like him; and the reason is that he loves me too much. You
can understand that; his devotion worries me."
"At all events, you can return to Paris in six months' time, or, in
fact, do anything you like when the term stipulated has expired. You
will get your hundred louis, and can lay in a pretty stock of linen."
"If I go to Paris I shall be dishonoured, and if I remain here I
shall be dishonoured. In fact, I am very unhappy, and Brea is the
cause of my woe. Nevertheless, I can't blame him, as he could not
have been aware that his friend's property only consisted of debts.
And now the king has withdrawn his countenance, the lottery will
fail, and Calsabigi will inevitably become a bankrupt."
She had studiously refrained from exaggeration, and I could not help
confessing that she was to be pitied. I advised her to try and sell
the deed of gift for ten thousand crowns, as it was not likely he
would raise any objection.
"I have thought it over," said she, "but to do that I have need of a
friend; of course, I do not expect to dispose of it save at a great
I promised to see what I could do for her.
There were four of us at supper. The fourth person was a young man
who had helped in the Paris and Brussels Lotteries, and had followed
Calsabigi to Berlin. He was evidently in love with Mdlle. Belanger,
but I did not think his love was crowned with success.
At dessert Calsabigi begged me to give him my opinion of a scheme he
had drafted, the aim of which was to bring in a sum of two million
crowns, so that the credit of the lottery might remain secure.
The lady left us to talk business at our ease. She was between
twenty-four and twenty-five, and without having much wit she
possessed a great knowledge of the usages of society, which is better
than wit in a woman; in fine, she had all that a man could well
desire. The sentiments I felt for her were confined to those of
friendship and esteem after the confidence she had placed in me.
Calsabigi's project was brief, but clear and well imagined. He
invited capitalists not to speculate in the lottery, but to guarantee
it for a certain sum. In the case of the lottery's losing, each
guarantor would have to share in paying according to the sum named,
and in like manner they would share in the profits.
I promised to give him my opinion in writing by the next day, and I
substituted the following plan for his:
1. A capital of a million, would, I judged, be ample.
2. This million should be divided into a hundred shares of ten
thousand crowns each.
3. Each share must be taken up before a notary, who would answer for
the shareholder's solvency.
4. All dividends to be paid the third day after the drawing.
5. In case of loss the shareholder to renew his share.
6. A cashier, chosen by a majority of four-fifths of the
shareholders, to have the control of all moneys.
7. Winning tickets to be paid the day after the drawing.
8. On the eve of a drawing the shareholders' cashier to have an
account of receipts from the lottery cashier, and the former to lock
the safe with three keys, one of which to remain in his hands, one in
the hands of the lottery cashier, and one in the hands of the manager
of the lottery.
9. Only the simple drawing, the ambe and the terne to be retained;
the quarterne and the quine to be abolished.
10. On the three combinations a shilling to be the minimum, and a
crown the maximum stake; the offices to be closed twenty-four hours
before the drawing.
11. Ten per cent. to go to Calsabigi, the manager; all expenses of
farming to be paid by him.
12. Calsabigi to be entitled to the possession of two shares,
without a guarantee being required.
I saw by Calsabigi's face that the plan did not please him, but I
told him that he would not get shareholders save on these terms, or
on terms even less favourable to himself.
He had degraded the lottery to the level of biribi; his luxury and
extravagance caused him to be distrusted; it was known that he was
head over ears in debt, and the king could not banish the fear that
he would be cheated in spite of the keenness of his comptroller-
The last drawing under the king's sanction made everyone in good
spirits, for the lottery lost twenty thousand crowns. The king sent
the money immediately by a privy councillor, but it was said, when he
heard the result of the drawing, that he burst out laughing,
"I knew it would be so, and I am only too happy to have got quit of
it so cheaply."
I thought it my duty to go and sup with the director to console him,
and I found him in a state of great depression. He could not help
thinking that his unhappy drawing would make the task of getting
shareholders more difficult than ever. Hitherto the lottery had
always been a gainer, but its late loss could not have come at a
Nevertheless, he did not lose heart, and the next morning the public
were informed by printed bills that the office would remain closed
till a sufficient number of guarantors were found.
Lord Keith--My Appointment to Meet the King in the Garden of Sans-
Souci My Conversation with Frederick the Great--Madame Denis The
Pomeranian Cadets--Lambert--I Go to Mitau My Welcome at the Court,
and My Administrative Journey
The fifth day after my arrival at Berlin I presented myself to the
lord-marshal, who since the death of his brother had been styled Lord
Keith. I had seen him in London after his return from Scotland,
where he had been reinstated in the family estates, which had been
confiscated for Jacobinism. Frederick the Great was supposed to have
brought this about. Lord Keith lived at Berlin, resting on his
laurels, and enjoying the blessings of peace.
With his old simplicity of manner he told me he was glad to see me
again, and asked if I proposed making any stay at Berlin. I replied
that I would willingly do so if the king would give me a suitable
office. I asked him if he would speak a word in my favour; but he
replied that the king liked to judge men's characters for himself,
and would often discover merit where no one had suspected its
presence, and vice versa.
He advised me to intimate to the king in writing that I desired to
have the honour of an interview. "When you speak to him," the good
old man added, "you may say that you know me, and the king will
doubtless address me on the subject, and you may be sure what I say
shall not be to your disadvantage."
"But, my lord, how can I write to a monarch of whom I know nothing,
and who knows nothing of me? I should not have thought of such a
"I daresay, but don't you wish to speak to him?"
"That is enough. Your letter will make him aware of your desire and
"But will he reply?"
"Undoubtedly; he replies to everybody. He will tell you when and
where he will see you. His Majesty is now at Sans-Souci. I am
curious to know the nature of your interview with the monarch who, as
you can see, is not afraid of being imposed on."
When I got home I wrote a plain but respectful letter to the king,
asking where and at what time I could introduce myself to him.
In two days I received a letter signed "Frederick," in which the
receipt of my letter was acknowledged, and I was told that I should
find his majesty in the garden of Sans-Souci at four o'clock.
As may be imagined I was punctual to my appointment. I was at Sans-
Souci at three, clad in a simple black dress. When I got into the
court-yard there was not so much as a sentinel to stop me, so I went
on mounted a stair, and opened a door in front of me. I found myself
in a picture-gallery, and the curator came up to me and offered to
shew me over it.
"I have not come to admire these masterpieces," I replied, "but to
see the king, who informed me in writing that I should find him in
"He is now at a concert playing the flute; he does so every day after
dinner. Did he name any time?"
"Yes, four o'clock, but he will have forgotten that."
"The king never forgets anything; he will keep the appointment, and
you will do well to go into the garden and await him."
I had been in the garden for some minutes when I saw him appear,
followed by his reader and a pretty spaniel. As soon as he saw me he
accosted me, taking off his old hat, and pronouncing my name. Then
he asked in a terrible voice what I wanted of him. This greeting
surprised me, and my voice stuck in my throat.
"Well, speak out. Are you not the person who wrote to me?"
"Yes, sire, but I have forgotten everything now. I thought that I
should not be awed by the majesty of a king, but I was mistaken. My
lord-marshal should have warned me."
"Then he knows you? Let us walk. What is it that you want? What do
you think of my garden?"
His enquiries after my needs and of his garden were simultaneous. To
any other person I should have answered that I did not know anything
about gardening, but this would have been equivalent to refusing to
answer the question; and no monarch, even if he be a philosopher,
could endure that. I therefore replied that I thought the garden
"But," he said, "the gardens of Versailles are much finer."
"Yes, sire, but that is chiefly on account of the fountains."
"True, but it is not my fault; there is no water here. I have spent
more than three hundred thousand crowns to get water, but
"Three hundred thousand crowns, sire! If your majesty had spent them
all at once, the fountains should be here."
"Oh, oh! I see you are acquainted with hydraulics."
I could not say that he was mistaken, for fear of offending him, so I
simply bent my head, which might mean either yes or no. Thank God
the king did not trouble to test my knowledge of the science of
hydraulics, with which I was totally unacquainted.
He kept on the move all the time, and as he turned his head from one
side to the other hurriedly asked me what forces Venice could put
into the field in war time.
"Twenty men-of-war, sire, and a number of galleys."
"What are the land forces?"
"Seventy thousand men, sire; all of whom are subjects of the
Republic, and assessing each village at one man."
"That is not true; no doubt you wish to amuse me by telling me these
fables. Give me your opinions on taxation."
This was the first conversation I had ever had with a monarch. I
made a rapid review of the situation, and found myself much in the
same position as an actor of the improvised comedy of the Italians,
who is greeted by the hisses of the gods if he stops short a moment.
I therefore replied with all the airs of a doctor of finance that I
could say something about the theory of taxation.
"That's what I want," he replied, "for the practice is no business of
"There are three kinds of taxes, considered as to their effects. The
first is ruinous, the second a necessary evil, and the third
"Good! Go on."
"The ruinous impost is the royal tax, the necessary is the military,
and the beneficial is the popular."
As I had not given the subject any thought I was in a disagreeable
position, for I was obliged to go on speaking, and yet not to talk
"The royal tax, sire, is that which deplenishes the purses of the
subject to fill the coffers of the king."
"And that kind of tax is always ruinous, you think."
"Always, sire; it prevents the circulation of money--the soul of
commerce and the mainstay of the state."
"But if the tax be levied to keep up the strength of the army, you
say it is a necessary evil."
"Yes, it is necessary and yet evil, for war is an evil."
"Quite so; and now about the popular tax."
"This is always a benefit, for the monarch takes with one hand and
gives with the other; he improves towns and roads, founds schools,
protects the sciences, cherishes the arts; in fine, he directs this
tax towards improving the condition and increasing the happiness of
"There is a good deal of truth in that. I suppose you know
"I ought to, your majesty, as he and I established the Genoa Lottery
at Paris seven years ago."
"In what class would you put this taxation, for you will agree that
it is taxation of a kind?"
"Certainly, sire, and not the least important. It is beneficial when
the monarch spends his profits for the good of the people."
"But the monarch may lose?"
"Once in fifty."
"Is that conclusion the result of a mathematical calculation?"
"Such calculations often prove deceptive."
"Not so, may it please your majesty, when God remains neutral."
"What has God got to do with it?"
"Well, sire, we will call it destiny or chance."
"Good! I may possibly be of your opinion as to the calculation, but
I don't like your Genoese Lottery. It seems to me an elaborate
swindle, and I would have nothing more to do with it, even if it were
positively certain that I should never lose."
"Your majesty is right, for the confidence which makes the people
risk their money in a lottery is perfectly fallacious."
This was the end of our strange dialogue, and stopping before a
building he looked me over, and then, after a short silence,
"Do you know that you are a fine man?"
"Is it possible that, after the scientific conversation we have had,
your majesty should select the least of the qualities which adorn
your life guardsmen for remark?"
The king smiled kindly, and said,--
"As you know Marshal Keith, I will speak to him of you."
With that he took off his hat, and bade me farewell. I retired with
a profound bow.
Three or four days after the marshal gave me the agreeable news that
I had found favour in the king's eyes, and that his majesty thought
of employing me.
I was curious to learn the nature of this employment, and being in no
kind of hurry I resolved to await events in Berlin. The time passed
pleasantly enough, for I was either with Calsabigi, Baron Treidel, or
my landlady, and when these resources failed me, I used to walk in
the park, musing over the events of my life.
Calsabigi had no difficulty in obtaining permission to continue the
lottery on his own account, and he boldly announced that henceforward
he would conduct the lottery on his own risk. His audacity was
crowned with success, and he obtained a profit of a hundred thousand
crowns. With this he paid most of his debts, and gave his mistress
ten thousand crowns, she returning the document entitling her to that
amount. After this lucky drawing it was easy to find guarantors, and
the lottery went on successfully for two or three years.
Nevertheless Calsabigi ended by becoming bankrupt and died poor
enough in Italy. He might be compared to the Danaides; the more he
got the more he spent. His mistress eventually made a respectable
marriage and returned to Paris, where she lived in comfort.
At the period of which I am speaking, the Duchess of Brunswick, the
king's sister, came to pay him a visit. She was accompanied by her
daughter who married the Crown Prince of Prussia in the following
year. I saw the king in a suit of lustring trimmed with gold lace,
and black silk stockings on his legs. He looked truly comic, and
more like a theatrical heavy father than a great king. He came into
the hall with his sister on his arm and attracted universal
attention, for only very old men could remember seeing him without
his uniform and top-boots.
I was not aware that the famous Madame Denis was at Berlin, and it
was therefore an agreeable surprise to me to see her in the ballet
one evening, dancing a pas seul in an exquisite manner. We were old
friends, and I resolved to pay her a visit the next day.
I must tell the reader (supposing I ever have one), that when I was
about twelve years old I went to the theatre with my mother and saw,
not without much heart-beating, a girl of eight who danced a minuet
in so ravishing a manner that the whole house applauded loudly. This
young dancer, who was the pantaloon's daughter, charmed me to such a
degree that I could not resist going to her dressing-room to
compliment her on her performance. I wore the cassock in those days,
and she was astonished when she heard her father order her to get up
and kiss me. She kissed me, nevertheless, with much grace, and
though I received the compliment with a good deal of awkwardness I
was so delighted, that I could not help buying her a little ring from
a toy merchant in the theatre. She kissed me again with great
gratitude and enthusiasm.
The pleasantest part about this was that the sequin I had given for
the ring belonged to Dr. Gozzi, and so when I went back to him I was
in a pitiable state, for I had not only spent money which did not
belong to me, but I had spent it for so small a favour as a kiss.
I knew that the next day I should have to give an account of the
money he had entrusted to me, and not having the least idea as to
what I should say, I had a bad night of it. The next morning
everything came out, and my mother made up the sequin to the doctor.
I laugh now when I think of this childish piece of gallantry, which
was an omen of the extent to which my heart was to be swayed by the
The toy-woman who had sold me the ring came the next day at dinner-
time to our house, and after producing several rings and trinkets
which were judged too dear, she began to praise my generosity, and
said that I had not thought the ring I had given to pretty Jeannette
too dear. This did my business; and I had to confess the whole,
laying my fault to the account of love, and promising not to do such
a thing again. But when I uttered the word love, everybody roared
with laughter, and began to make cruel game of me. I wished myself a
mile away, and registered an interior resolve never to confess my
faults again. The reader knows how well I kept my promise.
The pantaloon's little daughter was my mother's goddaughter, and my
thoughts were full of her. My mother, who loved me and saw my pain,
asked me if I would like the little girl to be asked to supper. My
grandmother, however, opposed the idea, and I was obliged to her.
The day after this burlesque scene I returned to Padua, where Bettina
soon made me forget the little ballet-girl. I saw her again at
Charlottenbourg, and that was now seventeen years ago.
I longed to have a talk with her, and to see whether she would
remember me, though I did not expect her to do so. I asked if her
husband Denis was with her, and they told me that the king had
banished him because he ill-treated her.
I called on her the day after the performance, and was politely
received, but she said she did not think she had had the pleasure of
seeing me before.
By degrees I told her of the events of her childhood, and how she
enchanted all Venice by the grace with which she danced the minuet.
She interrupted me by saying that at that time she was only six years
"You could not be more," I replied, "for I was only ten; and
nevertheless, I fell in love with you, and never have I forgotten the
kiss you gave me by your father's order in return for some trifling
present I made you."
"Be quiet; you gave me a beautiful ring, and I kissed you of my own
free will. You wore the cassock then. I have never forgotten you.
But can it really be you?"
"It is indeed."
"I am. delighted to see you again. But I could never have
recognized you, and I suppose you would not have recognized me."
"No, I should not have known you, unless I had heard your name
"One alters in twenty years, you know."
"Yes, one cannot expect to have the same face as at six."
"You can bear witness that I am not more than twenty-six, though some
evil speakers give me ten years more."
"You should not take any notice of such calumnies, my dear. You are
in the flower of your age, and made for the service of love. For my
part, I congratulate myself on being able to tell you that you are
the first woman that inspired me with a real passion."
We could not help becoming affectionate if we continued to keep up
the conversation in this style, but experience had taught us that it
was well to remain as we were for the present.
Madame Denis was still fresh and youthful looking, though she
persisted in abbreviating her age by ten years. Of course she could
not deceive me, and she must have known it, nevertheless, she liked
me to bear outward testimony to her youthfulness. She would have
detested me if I had attempted to prove to her what she knew
perfectly well, but did not care to confess. No doubt she cared
little for my thoughts on the subject, and she may have imagined that
I owed her gratitude for diminishing her age, as it enabled me to
diminish my own to make our tales agree. However, I did not trouble
myself much about it, for it is almost a duty in an actress to
disguise her age, as in spite of talent the public will not forgive a
woman for having been born too soon.
I thought her behaviour augured well, and I hoped she would not make
me languish long. She shewed me her house, which was all elegance
and good taste. I asked her if she had a lover, and she replied with
a smile that all Berlin thought so, but that it was nevertheless
deceived on the principal point, as the individual in question was
more of a father than a lover.
"But you deserve to have a real lover; I cannot conceive how you can
do without one."
"I assure you I don't trouble myself about it. I am subject to
convulsions, which are the plague of my life. I want to try the
Teplitz waters, which are said to be excellent for all nervous
affections; but the king has refused his permission, which I,
nevertheless, hope to obtain next year."
I felt ardently disposed, and I thought she was pleased with the
restraint I put upon myself.
"Will you be annoyed," said I, "if I call upon you frequently?"
"If you don't mind I will call myself your niece, or your cousin, and
then we can see each other."
"Do you know that that may possibly be true? I would not swear that
you were not my sister."
This sally made us talk of the friendship that had subsisted between
her father and my mother, and we allowed ourselves those caresses
which are permitted to near relations; but feeling that things were
going too far we ceased. As she bade me farewell, she asked me to
dine with her the next day, and I accepted.
As I went back to my inn I reflected on the strange combinations
which made my life one continuous chain of events, and I felt it my
duty to give thanks to eternal Providence, for I felt that I had been
born under a happy star.
The next day, when I went to dine with Madame Denis, I found a
numerous company assembled. The first person who greeted me with the
warmth of an old friend was a young dancer named Aubri, whom I had
known at Paris and at Venice. He was famous for having been the
lover of one of the most exalted Venetian ladies, and at the same
time her husband's pathic. It was said that this scandalous intimacy
was of such a nature that Aubri used to sleep between the husband and
wife. At the beginning of Lent the State Inquisitors sent him to
Trieste. He introduced me to his wife, who danced like himself and
was called La Panting. He had married her at St. Petersburg, from
which city he had just come, and they were going to spend the winter
in Paris. The next person who advanced to greet me was a fat man,
who held out his hand and said we had been friends twenty-five years
ago, but that we were so young then that it would be no wonder if we
did not know each other. "We knew each other at Padua, at Dr.
Gozzi's," he added; "my name is Joseph da Loglio."
"I remember you," I replied, "in those days you were violoncello at
the Russian chapel."
"Exactly; and now I am returning to my native land to leave it no
more. I have the honour to introduce you to my wife, who was born at
St. Petersburg, but is a daughter of Modonis the violinist, whose
reputation is European. In a week I shall be at Dresden, where I
hope to have the honour of seeing Madame Casanova, your mother."
I was delighted to find myself in such congenial society, but I could
see that Madame Denis did not relish these recollections extending
over a quarter of a century, and I turned the conversation to the
events at St. Petersburg which had resulted in Catherine the Great
ascending the throne. Da Loglio told us that he had taken a small
part in this conspiracy, and had thought it prudent to get out of the
way. "Fortunately," he added, "this was a contingency I had long
provided against, and I am in a position to spend the rest of my days
in comfort in Italy."
Madame Denis then observed:
"A week ago a Piedmontese, named Audar, was introduced to me. He had
been a chief mover in the conspiracy, and the empress gave him a
present of a hundred thousand roubles and an order to leave Russia
I heard afterwards that this Audar bought an estate in Piedmont on
which he built a fine mansion. In two or three years it was struck
by a thunder-bolt, and the unfortunate man was killed in the ruins of
his own house. If this was a blow from an Almighty hand, it could
not, at all events, have been directed by the genius of Russia, for
if the unfortunate Peter III. had lived, he would have retarded
Russian civilization by a hundred years.
The Empress Catherine rewarded all the foreigners who had assisted
her in her plots most magnificently, and shewed herself grateful to
the Russians who had helped her to mount the throne; while, like a
crafty politician, she sent such nobles as she suspected to be averse
to revolution out of the country.
It was Da Loglio and his pretty wife who determined me to betake
myself to Russia in case the King of Prussia did not give me any
employment. I was assured that I should make my fortune there, and
Da Loglio promised to give me good instructions.
As soon as this worthy man left Berlin my intimacy with Madame Denis
commenced. One night when I was supping with her she was seized with
convulsions which lasted all the night. I did not leave her for a
moment, and in the morning, feeling quite recovered, her gratitude
finished what my love had begun twenty-six years before, and our
amorous commerce lasted while I stayed at Berlin. We shall hear of
her again at Florence six years later.
Some days after Madame Denis took me to Potsdam to shew me all the
sights of the town. Our intimacy offended no one, for she was
generally believed to be my niece, and the general who kept her
either believed the report, or like a man of sense pretended to
Amongst other notable things I saw at Potsdam was the sight of the
king commanding the first battalion of his grenadiers, all picked
men, the flower of the Prussian army.
The room which we occupied at the inn faced a walk by which the king
passed when he came from the castle. The shutters were all closed,
and our landlady told us that on one occasion when a pretty dancer
called La Reggiana was sleeping in the same room, the king had seen
her in 'puris naturalibus'. This was too much for his modesty, and
he had ordered the shutters to be closed, and closed they had
remained, though this event was four years old. The king had some
cause to fear, for he had been severely treated by La Barbarina. In
the king's bedroom we saw her portrait, that of La Cochois, sister to
the actress who became Marchioness d'Argens, and that of Marie
Theresa, with whom Frederick had been in love, or rather he had been
in love with the idea of becoming emperor.
After we had admired the beauty and elegance of the castle, we could
not help admiring the way in which the master of the castle was
lodged. He had a mean room, and slept on a little bed with a screen
around it. There was no dressing-gown and no slippers. The valet
shewed us an old cap which the king put on when he had a cold; it
looked as if it must be very uncomfortable. His majesty's bureau was
a table covered with pens, paper, half-burnt manuscripts, and an ink-
pot; beside it was a sofa. The valet told us that these manuscripts
contained the history of the last Prussian war, and the king had been
so annoyed by their accidentally getting burnt that he had resolved
to have no more to do with the work. He probably changed his mind,
for the book, which is little esteemed, was published shortly after
Five or six weeks after my curious conversation with the monarch,
Marshal Keith told me that his majesty had been pleased to create me
a tutor to the new corps of Pomeranian cadets which he was just
establishing. There were to be fifteen cadets and five tutors, so
that each should have the care of three pupils. The salary was six
hundred crowns and board found. The duty of the tutors was to follow
or accompany the cadets wherever they went, Court included. I had to
be quick in making up my mind, for the four others were already
installed, and his majesty did not like to be kept waiting. I asked
Lord Keith where the college was, and I promised to give him a reply
by the next day.
I had to summon all my powers of self-restraint to my assistance when
I heard this extravagant proposal as coming from a man who was so
discreet in most things, but my astonishment was increased when I saw
the abode of these fifteen young noblemen of rich Pomerania. It
consisted of three or four great rooms almost devoid of furniture,
several whitewashed bedrooms, containing a wretched bed, a deal
table, and two deal chairs. The young cadets, boys of twelve or
thirteen, all looked dirty and untidy, and were boxed up in a
wretched uniform which matched admirably their rude and rustic faces.
They were in company with their four governors, whom I took for their
servants, and who looked at me in a stupefied manner, not daring to
think that I was to be their future colleague.
Just as I was going to bid an eternal farewell to this abode of
misery, one of the governors put his head out of the window and
"The king is riding up."
I could not avoid meeting him, and besides, I was glad enough to see
him again, especially in such a place.
His majesty came up with his friend Icilius, examined everything, and
saw me, but did not honour me with a word. I was elegantly dressed,
and wore my cross set with brilliants. But I had to bite my lips so
as not to burst out laughing when Frederick the Great got in a
towering rage at a chamber utensil which stood beside one of the
beds, and which did not appear to be in a very cleanly condition.
"Whose bed is this?" cried the monarch.
"Mine, sire," answered a trembling cadet.
"Good! but it is not you I am angry with; where is your governor?"
The fortunate governor presented himself, and the monarch, after
honouring him with the title of blockhead, proceeded to scold him
roundly. However, he ended by saying that there was a servant, and
that the governor ought to see that he did his work properly.
This disgusting scene was enough for me, and I hastened to call on
Marshal Keith to announce my determination. The old soldier laughed
at the description I gave him of the academy, and said I was quite
right to despise such an office; but that I ought, nevertheless, to
go and thank the king before I left Berlin. I said I did not feel
inclined for another interview with such a man, and he agreed to
present my thanks and excuses in my stead.
I made up my mind to go to Russia, and began my preparations in good
earnest. Baron Treidel supported my resolve by offering to give me a
letter of introduction to his sister, the Duchess of Courland. I
wrote to M. de Bragadin to 'give me a letter for a banker at St.
Petersburg, and to remit me through him every month a sum which would
keep me in comfort.
I could not travel without a servant, and chance kindly provided me
with one. I was sitting with Madame Rufin, when a young Lorrainer
came in; like Bias, he bore all his fortune with him, but, in his
case, it was carried under his arm. He introduced himself thus:
"Madam, my name is Lambert, I come from Lorraine, and I wish to lodge
"Very good, sir, but you must pay for your board and lodging every
"That, madam, is out of the question, for I have not got a farthing,
but I shall have some money when I discover who I am."
"I am afraid I cannot put you up on those conditions, sir."
He was going away with a mortified air, when my heart was touched,
and I called him back.
"Stay," said I, "I will pay for you to-day."
Happiness beamed over his face.
"What have you got in that little bundle?" said I.
"Two shirts, a score of mathematical books, and some other trifles."
I took him to my room, and finding him tolerably well educated, I
asked him how he came to be in such a state of destitution.
"I come from Strasburg," he replied, "and a cadet of a regiment
stationed there having given me a blow in a coffee-house I paid him a
visit the next day in his own room and stabbed him there.
"After this I went home, made up my bundle, and left the town. I
walked all the way and lived soberly, so that my money lasted till
this morning. To-morrow I shall write to my mother, who lives at
Luneville, and I am sure she will send me some money."
"And what do you think of doing?"
"I want to become a military engineer, but if needs must I am ready
to enlist as a private soldier."
"I can give you board and lodging till you hear from your mother."
"Heaven has sent you in my way," said he, kissing my hand gratefully.
I did not suspect him of deceiving me, though he stumbled somewhat in
his narrative. However my curiosity led me to write to M.
Schauenbourg, who was then at Strasburg, to enquire if the tale were
The next day I happened to meet an officer of engineers, who told me
that young men of education were so plentiful that they did not
receive them into the service unless they were willing to serve as
common soldiers. I was sorry for the young man to be reduced so low
as that. I began to spend some time with him every day in
mathematical calculations, and I conceived the idea of taking him
with me to St. Petersburg, and broached the subject to him.
"It would be a piece of good fortune for me," he replied, "and to
shew my gratitude I will gladly wait on you as a servant during the
He spoke French badly, but as he was a Lorrainer I was not astonished
at that. Nevertheless I was surprised to find that he did not know a
word of Latin, and that his spelling was of the wildest description.
He saw me laughing, but did not seem in the least ashamed. Indeed he
said that he had only gone to school to learn mathematics, and that
he was very glad that he had escaped the infliction of learning
grammar. Indeed, on every subject besides mathematics, he was
profoundly ignorant. He had no manners whatever; in fact, he was a
Ten or twelve days later I received a letter from M. de Schauenbourg,
saying that the name of Lambert was unknown in Strasburg, and that no
cadet had been killed or wounded.
When I shewed Lambert this letter he said that as he wished to enter
the army he thought it would be of service to him to shew that he was
brave, adding that as this lie had not been told with the idea of
imposing on me I should forgive it.
"Poverty," said he, "is a rascally teacher, that gives a man some bad
lessons. I am not a liar by disposition, but I have nevertheless
told you a lie on another and a more important matter. I don't
expect any money whatever from my poor mother, who rather needs that
I should send money to her. So forgive me, and be sure I shall be a
faithful servant to you."
I was always ready to forgive other men's peccadilloes, and not
without cause. I liked Lambert's line of argument, and told him that
we would set out in five or six days.
Baron Bodisson, a Venetian who wanted to sell the king a picture by
Andrea del Sarto, asked me to come with him to Potsdam and the desire
of seeing the monarch once again made me accept the invitation. When
I reached Potsdam I went to see the parade at which Frederick was
nearly always to be found. When he saw me he came up and asked me in
a familiar manner when I was going to start for St. Petersburg.
"In five or six days, if your majesty has no objection."
"I wish you a pleasant journey; but what do you hope to do in that
"What I hoped to do in this land, namely, to please the sovereign."
"Have you got an introduction to the empress?"
"No, but I have an introduction to a banker."
"Ah! that's much better. If you pass through Prussia on your return
I shall be delighted to hear of your adventures in Russia."
Such was the second interview I had with this great king, whom I
never saw again.
After I had taken leave of all my friends I applied to Baron Treidel,
who gave me a letter for M. de Kaiserling, lord-chancellor at Mitau,
and another letter for his sister, the Duchess of Courland, and I
spent the last night with the charming Madame Denis. She bought my
post-chaise, and I started with two hundred ducats in my purse. This
would have been ample for the whole journey if I had not been so
foolish as to reduce it by half at a party of pleasure with some
young merchants at Dantzic. I was thus unable to stay a few days at
Koenigsberg, though I had a letter to Field-Marshal von Lewald, who
was the governor of the place. I could only stay one day to dine
with this pleasant old soldier, who gave me a letter for his friend
General Woiakoff, the Governor of Riga.
I found I was rich enough to arrive at Mitau in state, and I
therefore took a carriage and six, and reached my destination in
three days. At the inn where I put up I found a Florentine artiste
named Bregonei, who overwhelmed me with caresses, telling me that I
had loved her when I was a boy and wore the cassock. I saw her six
years later at Florence, where she was living with Madame Denis.
The day after my departure from Memel, I was accosted in the open
country by a man whom I recognized as a Jew. He informed me that I
was on Polish territory, and that I must pay duty on whatever
merchandise I had with me.
"I am no merchant," said I, "and you will get nothing out of me."
"I have the right to examine your effects," replied the Israelite,
"and I mean to make use of it."
"You are a madman," I exclaimed, and I ordered the postillion to whip
But the Jew ran and seized the fore horses by the bridle and stopped
us, and the postillion, instead of whipping him, waited with Teutonic
calm for me to come and send the Jew away. I was in a furious rage,
and leaping out with my cane in one hand and a pistol in the other I
soon put the Jew to flight after applying about a dozen good sound
blows to his back. I noticed that during the combat my fellow-
traveller, my Archimedes-in-ordinary, who had been asleep all the
way, did not offer to stir. I reproached him for his cowardice; but
he told me that he did not want the Jew to say that we had set on him
two to one.
I arrived at Mitau two days after this burlesque adventure and got
down at the inn facing the castle. I had only three ducats left.
The next morning I called on M. de Kaiserling, who read the Baron de
Treidel's letter, and introduced me to his wife, and left me with her
to take the baron's letter to his sister.
Madame de Kaiserling ordered a cup of chocolate to be brought me by a
beautiful young Polish girl, who stood before me with lowered eyes as
if she wished to give me the opportunity of examining her at ease.
As I looked at her a whim came into my head, and, as the reader is
aware, I have never resisted any of my whims. However, this was a
curious one. As I have said, I had only three ducats left, but after
I had emptied the cup of chocolate I put it back on the plate and the
three ducats with it.
The chancellor came back and told me that the duchess could not see
me just then, but that she invited me to a supper and ball she was
giving that evening. I accepted the supper and refused the ball, on
the pretext that I had only summer clothes and a black suit. It was
in the beginning of October, and the cold was already commencing to
make itself felt. The chancellor returned to the Court, and I to my
Half an hour later a chamberlain came to bring me her highness's
compliments, and to inform me that the ball would be a masked one,
and that I could appear in domino.
"You can easily get one from the Jews," he added. He further
informed me that the ball was to have been a full-dress one, but that
the duchess had sent word to all the guests that it would be masked,
as a stranger who was to be present had sent on his trunks.
"I am sorry to have caused so much trouble," said I.
"Not at all," he replied, "the masked ball will be much more relished
by the people."
He mentioned the time it was to begin, and left me.
No doubt the reader will think that I found myself in an awkward
predicament, and I will be honest and confess I was far from being at
my ease. However, my good luck came to my assistance.
As Prussian money (which is the worst in Germany) is not current in
Russia, a Jew came and asked me if I had any friedrichs d'or,
offering to exchange them against ducats without putting me to any
"I have only ducats," I replied, "and therefore I cannot profit by
"I know it sir, and you give them away very cheaply."
Not understanding what he meant, I simply gazed at him, and he went
on to say that he would be glad to let me have two hundred ducats if
I would kindly give him a bill on St. Petersburg for roubles to that
I was somewhat surprised at the fellow's trustfulness, but after
pretending to think the matter over I said that I was not in want of
ducats, but that I would take a hundred to oblige him. He counted
out the money gratefully, and I gave him a bill on the banker,
Demetrio Papanelopoulo, for whom Da Loglio had given me a letter.
The Jew went his way, thanking me, and saying that he would send me
some beautiful dominos to choose from. Just then I remembered that I
wanted silk stockings, and I sent Lambert after the Jew to tell him
to send some. When he came back he told me that the landlord had
stopped him to say that I scattered my ducats broadcast, as the Jew
had informed him that I had given three ducats to Madame de
This, then, was the key to the mystery, and it made me lose myself in
wonder at the strangeness of the decrees of fortune. I should not
have been able to get a single crown at Mitau if it had not been for
the way in which I scattered my three remaining ducats. No doubt the
astonished girl had published my generosity all over the town, and
the Jew, intent on money-making, had hastened to offer his ducats to
the rich nobleman who thought so little of his money.
I repaired to Court at the time appointed, and M. de Kaiserling
immediately presented me to the duchess, and she to the duke, who was
the celebrated Biron, or Birlen, the former favourite of Anna
Ivanovna. He was six feet in height, and still preserved some traces
of having been a fine man, but old age had laid its heavy hand on
him. I had a long talk with him the day after the ball.
A quarter of an hour after my arrival, the ball began with a
polonaise. I was a stranger with introductions, so the duchess asked
me to open the ball with her. I did not know the dance, but I
managed to acquit myself honourably in it, as the steps are simple
and lend themselves to the fancy of the dancer.
After the polonaise we danced minuets, and a somewhat elderly lady
asked me if I could dance the "King Conqueror," so I proceeded to
execute it with her. It had gone out of fashion since the time of
the Regency, but my companion may have shone in it in those days.
All the younger ladies stood round and watched us with admiration.
After a square dance, in which I had as partner Mdlle. de Manteufel,
the prettiest of the duchess's maids of honour, her highness told me
that supper was ready. I came up to her and offered my arm, and
presently found myself seated beside her at a table laid for twelve
where I was the only gentleman. However, the reader need not envy
me; the ladies were all elderly dowagers, who had long lost the power
of turning men's heads. The duchess took the greatest care of my
comforts, and at the end of the repast gave me with her own hands a
glass of liqueur, which I took for Tokay and praised accordingly, but
it turned out to be only old English ale. I took her back to the
ball when we rose from table. The young chamberlain who had invited
me told me the names of all the ladies present, but I had no time to
pay my court to any of them.
The next day I dined with M. de Kaiserling, and handed Lambert over
to a Jew to be clothed properly.
The day after I dined with the duke with a party consisting only of
men. The old prince made me do most of the talking, and towards the
end of the dinner the conversation fell upon the resources of the
country which was rich in minerals and semi-minerals. I took it into
my head to say that these resources ought to be developed, and that
they would become precious if that were done. To justify this remark
I had to speak upon the matter as if I had made it my principal
study. An old chamberlain, who had the control of the mines, after
allowing me to exhaust my enthusiasm, began to discuss the question
himself, made divers objections, but seemed to approve of many of my
If I had reflected when I began to speak in this manner that I should
have to act up to my words, I should certainly have said much less;
but as it was, the duke fancied that I knew much more than I cared to
say. The result was that, when the company had risen from the table,
he asked me if I could spare him a fortnight on my way to St.
Petersburg. I said I should be glad to oblige him, and he took me to
his closet and said that the chamberlain who had spoken to me would
conduct me over all the mines and manufactories in his duchies, and
that he would be much obliged if I would write down any observations
that struck me. I agreed to his proposal, and said I would start the
The duke was delighted with my compliance, and gave the chamberlain
the necessary orders, and it was agreed that he should call for me at
day-break with a carriage and six.
When I got home I made my preparations, and told Lambert to be ready
to accompany me with his case of instruments. I then informed him of
the object of the journey, and he promised to assist me to the best
of his ability, though he knew nothing about mines, and still less of
the science of administration.
We started at day-break, with a servant on the box, and two others
preceding us on horseback, armed to the teeth. We changed horses
every two or three hours, and the chamberlain having brought plenty
of wine we refreshed ourselves now and again.
The tour lasted a fortnight, and we stopped at five iron and copper
manufactories. I found it was not necessary to have much technical
knowledge to make notes on what I saw; all I required was a little
sound argument, especially in the matter of economy, which was the
duke's main object. In one place I advised reforms, and in another I
counselled the employment of more hands as likely to benefit the
revenue. In one mine where thirty convicts were employed I ordered
the construction of a short canal, by which three wheels could be
turned and twenty men saved. Under my direction Lambert drew the
plans, and made the measurements with perfect accuracy. By means of
other canals I proposed to drain whole valleys, with a view to obtain
the sulphur with which the soil was permeated.
I returned to Mitau quite delighted at having made myself useful, and
at having discovered in myself a talent which I had never suspected.
I spent the following day in making a fair copy of my report and in
having the plans done on a larger scale. The day after I took the
whole to the duke, who seemed well pleased; and as I was taking leave
of him at the same time he said he would have me drive to Riga in one
of his carriages, and he gave me a letter for his son, Prince
Charles, who was in garrison there.
The worthy old man told me to say plainly whether I should prefer a
jewel or a sum of money of equivalent value.
"From a philosopher like your highness," I replied, "I am not afraid
to take money, for it may be more useful to me than jewels."
Without more ado he gave me a draft for four hundred albertsthalers,
which I got cashed immediately, the albertsthaler being worth half a
ducat. I bade farewell to the duchess, and dined a second time with
M. de Kaiserling.
The next day the young chamberlain came to bring me the duke's
letter, to wish me a pleasant journey, and to tell me that the Court
carriage was at my door. I set out well pleased with the assistance
the stuttering Lambert had given me, and by noon I was at Riga. The
first thing I did was to deliver my letter of introduction to Prince
by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
THE MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA DE SEINGALT
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED BY ARTHUR
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
IN LONDON AND MOSCOW, Volume 5e--RUSSIA AND POLAND
RUSSIA AND POLAND
My Stay at Riga--Campioni St. Heleine--D'Asagon--Arrival of the
Empress--I Leave Riga and Go to St. Petersburg--I See Society
--I Buy Zaira
Prince Charles de Biron, the younger son of the Duke of Courland,
Major-General in the Russian service, Knight of the Order of St.
Alexander Newski, gave me a distinguished reception after reading his
father's letter. He was thirty-six years of age, pleasant-looking
without being handsome, and polite and well-mannered, and he spoke
French extremely well. In a few sentences he let me know what he
could do for me if I intended to spend some time at Riga. His table,
his friends, his pleasures, his horses, his advice, and his purse,
all these were at my service, and he offered them with the frankness
of the soldier and the geniality of the prince.
"I cannot offer you a lodging," he said, "because I have hardly
enough room for myself, but I will see that you get a comfortable
The apartment was soon found, and I was taken to it by one of the
prince's aides-de-camp. I was scarcely established when the prince
came to see me, and made me dine with him just as I was. It was an
unceremonious dinner, and I was pleased to meet Campioni, of whom I
have spoken several times in these Memoirs. He was a dancer, but
very superior to his fellows, and fit for the best company polite,
witty, intelligent, and a libertine in a gentlemanly way. He was
devoid of prejudices, and fond of women, good cheer, and heavy play,
and knew how to keep an even mind both in good and evil fortune. We
were mutually pleased to see each other again.
Another guest, a certain Baron de St. Heleine from Savoy, had a
pretty but very insignificant wife. The baron, a fat man, was a
gamester, a gourmand, and a lover of wine; add that he was a past
master in the art of getting into debt and lulling his creditors into
a state of false security, and you have all his capacities, for in
all other respects he was a fool in the fullest sense of the word.
An aide-decamp and the prince's mistress also dined with us. This
mistress, who was pale, thin, and dreamy-looking, but also pretty,
might be twenty years old. She hardly ate anything, saying that she
was ill and did not like anything on the table. Discontent shewed
itself on her every feature. The prince endeavoured, but all in
vain, to make her eat and drink, she refused everything disdainfully.
The prince laughed good-humouredly at her in such a manner as not to
wound her feelings.
We spent two hours pleasantly enough at table, and after coffee had
been served, the prince, who had business, shook me by the hand and
left me with Campioni, telling me always to regard his table as my
This old friend and fellow-countryman took me to his house to
introduce me to his wife and family. I did not know that he had
married a second time. I found the so-called wife to be an
Englishwoman, thin, but full of intelligence. She had a daughter of
eleven, who might easily have been taken for fifteen; she, too, was
marvellously intelligent, and danced, sang, and played on the piano
and gave such glances that shewed that nature had been swifter than
her years. She made a conquest of me, and her father congratulated
me to my delight, but her mother offended her dreadfully by calling
I went for a walk with Campioni, who gave me a good deal of
information, beginning with himself.
"I have lived for ten years," he said, "with that woman. Betty, whom
you admired so much, is not my daughter, the others are my children
by my Englishwoman. I have left St. Petersburg for two years, and I
live here well enough, and have pupils who do me credit. I play with
the prince, sometimes winning and sometimes losing, but I never win
enough to enable me to satisfy a wretched creditor I left at St.
Petersburg, who persecutes me on account of a bill of exchange. He
may put me in prison any day, and I am always expecting him to do
"Is the bill for a large sum?"
"Five hundred roubles."
"That is only two thousand francs."
"Yes, but unfortunately I have not got it."
"You ought to annul the debt by paying small sums on account."
"The rascal won't let me."
"Then what do you propose doing?"
"Win a heavy sum, if I can, and escape into Poland.
"The Baron de St. Heleine will run away, too if he can, for he only
lives on credit. The prince is very useful to us, as we are able to
play at his house; but if we get into difficulty he could not
extricate us, as he is heavily in debt himself. He always loses at
play. His mistress is expensive, and gives him a great deal of
trouble by her ill-humour."
"Why is she so sour?"
"She wants him to keep his word, for he promised to get her married
at the end of two years; and on the strength of this promise she let
him give her two children. The two years have passed by and the
children are there, and she will no longer allow him to have anything
to do with her for fear of having a third child."
"Can't the prince find her a husband?"
"He did find her a lieutenant, but she won't hear of anybody under
the rank of major."
The prince gave a state dinner to General Woyakoff (for whom I had a
letter), Baroness Korf, Madame Ittinoff, and to a young lady who was
going to marry Baron Budberg, whom I had known at Florence, Turin,
and Augsburg, and whom I may possibly have forgotten to mention.
All these friends made me spend three weeks very pleasantly, and I
was especially pleased with old General Woyakoff. This worthy man
had been at Venice fifty years before, when the Russians were still
called Muscovites, and the founder of St. Petersburg was still alive.
He had grown old like an oak, without changing his horizons. He
thought the world was just the same as it had been when he was young,
and was eloquent in his praise of the Venetian Government, imagining
it to be still the same as he had left it.
At Riga an English merchant named Collins told me that the so-called
Baron de Stenau, who had given me the forged bill of exchange, had
been hanged in Portugal. This "baron" was a poor clerk, and the son
of a small tradesman, and had left his desk in search of adventure,
and thus he had ended. May God have mercy upon his soul!
One evening a Russian, on his way from Poland, where he had been
executing some commission for the Russian Court, called on the
prince, played, and lost twenty thousand roubles on his word of
honour. Campioni was the dealer. The Russian gave bills of exchange
in payment of his debts; but as soon as he got to St. Petersburg he
dishonoured his own bills, and declared them worthless, not caring
for his honour or good faith. The result of this piece of knavery
was not only that his creditors were defrauded, but gaming was
henceforth strictly forbidden in the officers' quarters.
This Russian was the same that betrayed the secrets of Elizabeth
Petrovna, when she was at war with Prussia. He communicated to
Peter, the empress's nephew and heir-presumptive, all the orders she
sent to her generals, and Peter in his turn passed on the information
to the Prussian king whom he worshipped.
On the death of Elizabeth, Peter put this traitor at the head of the
department for commerce, and the fellow actually made known, with the
Czar's sanction, the service for which he had received such a reward,
and thus, instead of looking upon his conduct as disgraceful, he
gloried over it. Peter could not have been aware of the fact that,
though it is sometimes necessary to reward treachery, the traitor
himself is always abhorred and despised.
I have remarked that it was Campioni who dealt, but he dealt for the
prince who held the bank. I had certain claims, but as I remarked
that I expected nothing and would gladly sell my expectations for a
hundred roubles, the prince took me at my word and gave me the amount
immediately. Thus I was the only person who made any money by our
Catherine II, wishing to shew herself to her new subjects, over whom
she was in reality supreme, though she had put the ghost of a king in
the person of Stanislas Poniatowski, her former favourite, on the
throne of Poland, came to Riga, and it was then I saw this great
sovereign for the first time. I was a witness of the kindness and
affability with which she treated the Livonian nobility, and of the
way in which she kissed the young ladies, who had come to kiss her
hand, upon the mouth. She was surrounded by the Orloffs and by other
nobles who had assisted in placing her on the throne. For the
comfort and pleasure of her loyal subjects the empress graciously
expressed her intention of holding a bank at faro of ten thousand
Instantly the table and the cards were brought forward, and the piles
of gold placed in order. She took the cards, pretended to shuffle
them, and gave them to the first comer to cut. She had the pleasure
of seeing her bank broken at the first deal, and indeed this result
was to be expected, as anybody not an absolute idiot could see how
the cards were going. The next day the empress set out for Mitau,
where triumphal arches were erected in her honour. They were made of
wood, as stone is scarce in Poland, and indeed there would not have
been time to build stone arches.
The day after her arrival great alarm prevailed, for news came that a
revolution was ready to burst out at St. Petersburg, and some even
said that it had begun. The rebels wished to have forth from his
prison the hapless Ivan Ivanovitz, who had been proclaimed emperor in
his cradle, and dethroned by Elizabeth Petrovna. Two officers to
whom the guardianship of the prince had been confided had killed the
poor innocent monarch when they saw that they would be overpowered.
The assassination of the innocent prince created such a sensation
that the wary Panin, fearing for the results, sent courier after
courier to the empress urging her to return to St. Petersburg and
shew herself to the people.
Catherine was thus obliged to leave Mitau twenty-four hours after she
had entered it, and after hastening back to the capital she arrived
only to find that the excitement had entirely subsided. For politic
reasons the assassins of the wretched Ivan were rewarded, and the
bold man who had endeavoured to rise by her fall was beheaded.
The report ran that Catherine had concerted the whole affair with the
assassins, but this was speedily set down as a calumny. The czarina
was strong-minded, but neither cruel nor perfidious. When I saw her
at Riga she was thirty-five, and had reigned two years. She was not
precisely handsome, but nevertheless her appearance was pleasing, her
expression kindly, and there was about her an air of calm and
tranquillity which never left her.
At about the same time a friend of Baron de St. Heleine arrived from
St. Petersburg on his way to Warsaw. His name was Marquis Dragon,
but he called himself d'Aragon. He came from Naples, was a great
gamester, a skilled swordsman, and was always ready to extract
himself from a difficulty by a duel. He had left St. Petersburg
because the Orloffs had persuaded the empress to prohibit games of
chance. It was thought strange that the prohibition should come from
the Orloffs, as gaming had been their principal means of gaining a
livelihood before they entered on the more dangerous and certainly
not more honourable profession of conspiracy. However, this measure
was really a sensible one. Having been gamesters themselves they
knew that gamesters are mostly knaves, and always ready to enter into
any intrigue or conspiracy provided it assures them some small gain;
there could not have been better judges of gaming and its
consequences than they were.
But though a gamester may be a rogue he may still have a good heart,
and it is only just to say that this was the case with the Orloffs.
Alexis gained the slash which adorns his face in a tavern, and the
man who gave the blow had just lost to him a large sum of money, and
considered his opponent's success to be rather the result of
dexterity than fortune. When Alexis became rich and powerful,
instead of revenging himself, he hastened to make his enemy's
fortune. This was nobly done.
Dragon, whose first principle was always to turn up the best card,
and whose second principle was never to shirk a duel, had gone to St.
Petersburg in 1759 with the Baron de St. Heleine. Elizabeth was
still on the throne, but Peter, Duke of Holstein, the heir-
presumptive, had already begun to loom large on the horizon. Dragon
used to frequent the fencing school where the prince was a frequent
visitor, and there encountered all comers successfully. The duke got
angry, and one day he took up a foil and defied the Neapolitan
marquis to a combat. Dragon accepted and was thoroughly beaten,
while the duke went off in triumph, for he might say from henceforth
that he was the best fencer in St. Petersburg.
When the prince had gone, Dragon could not withstand the temptation
of saying that he had only let himself be beaten for fear of
offending his antagonist; and this boast soon got to the grand-duke's
ears. The great man was terribly enraged, and swore he would have
him banished from St. Petersburg if he did not use all his skill, and
at the same time he sent an order to Dragon to be at the fencing
school the next day.
The impatient duke was the first to arrive, and d'Aragon was not long
in coming. The prince began reproaching him for what he had said the
day before, but the Neapolitan, far from denying the fact, expressed
himself that he had felt himself obliged to shew his respect for his
prince by letting him rap him about for upwards of two hours.
"Very good," said the duke, "but now it is your turn; and if you
don't do your best I will drive you from St. Petersburg."
"My lord, your highness shall be obeyed. I shall not allow you to
touch me once, but I hope you will deign to take me under your
The two champions passed the whole morning with the foils, and the
duke was hit a hundred times without being able to touch his
antagonist. At last, convinced of Dragon's superiority, he threw
down his foil and shook him by the hand, and made him his fencer-in-
ordinary, with the rank of major in his regiment of Holsteiners.
Shortly after, D'Aragon having won the good graces of the duke
obtained leave to hold a bank at faro in his court, and in three or
four years he amassed a fortune of a hundred thousand roubles, which
he took with him to the Court of King Stanislas, where games of all
sorts were allowed. When he passed through Riga, St. Heleine
introduced him to Prince Charles, who begged him to call on him the
next day, and to shew his skill with the foils against himself and
some of his friends. I had the honour to be of the number; and
thoroughly well he beat us, for his skill was that of a demon. I was
vain enough to become angry at being hit at every pass, and told him
that I should not be afraid to meet him at a game of sharps. He was
calmer, and replied by taking my hand, and saying,--
"With the naked sword I fence in quite another style, and you are
quite right not to fear anyone, for you fence very well."
D'Aragon set out for Warsaw the next day, but he unfortunately found
the place occupied by more cunning Greeks than himself. In six
months they had relieved him of his hundred thousand roubles, but
such is the lot of gamesters; no craft can be more wretched than
A week before I left Riga (where I stayed two months) Campioni fled
by favour of the good Prince Charles, and in a few days the Baron de
St. Heleine followed him without taking leave of a noble army of
creditors. He only wrote a letter to the Englishman Collins, to whom
he owed a thousand crowns, telling him that like an honest man he had
left his debts where he had contracted them. We shall hear more of
these three persons in the course of two years.
Campioni left me his travelling carriage, which obliged me to use six
horses on my journey to St. Petersburg. I was sorry to leave Betty,
and I kept up an epistolary correspondence with her mother throughout
the whole of my stay at St. Petersburg.
I left Riga with the thermometer indicating fifteen degrees of frost,
but though I travelled day and night, not leaving the carriage for
the sixty hours for which my journey lasted, I did not feel the cold
in the least. I had taken care to pay all the stages in advance, and
Marshal Braun, Governor of Livonia, had given me the proper passport.
On the box seat was a French servant who had begged me to allow him
to wait on me for the journey in return for a seat beside the
coachman. He kept his word and served me well, and though he was but
ill clad he bore the horrible cold for two days and three nights
without appearing to feel it. It is only a Frenchman who can bear
such trials; a Russian in similar attire would have been frozen to
death in twenty-four hours, despite plentiful doses of corn brandy.
I lost sight of this individual when I arrived at St. Petersburg,
but I met him again three months after, richly dressed, and occupying
a seat beside mine at the table of M. de Czernitscheff. He was the
uchitel of the young count, who sat beside him. But I shall have
occasion to speak more at length of the office of uchitel, or tutor,
As for Lambert, who was beside me in the carriage, he did nothing but
eat, drink, and sleep the whole way; seldom speaking, for he
stammered, and could only talk about mathematical problems, on which
I was not always in the humour to converse. He was never amusing,
never had any sensible observation to make on the varied scenes
through which we passed; in short, he was a fool, and wearisome to
all save himself.
I was only stopped once, and that was at Nawa, where the authorities
demanded a passport, which I did not possess. I told the governor
that as I was a Venetian, and only travelled for pleasure, I did not
conceive a passport would be necessary, my Republic not being at war
with any other power, and Russia having no embassy at Venice.
"Nevertheless," I added, "if your excellency wills it I will turn
back; but I shall complain to Marshal Braun, who gave me the passport
for posting, knowing that I had not the political passport."
After rubbing his forehead for a minute, the governor gave me a pass,
which I still possess, and which brought me into St. Petersburg,
without my having to allow the custom-house officers to inspect my
Between Koporie and St. Petersburg there is only a wretched hut for
the accommodation of travellers. The country is a wilderness, and
the inhabitants do not even speak Russian. The district is called
Ingria, and I believe the jargon spoken has no affinity with any
other language. The principal occupation of the peasants is robbery,
and the traveller does well not to leave any of his effects alone for
I got to St. Petersburg just as the first rays of the sun began to
gild the horizon. It was in the winter solstice, and the sun rose at
the extremity of an immense plain at twenty-four minutes past nine,
so I am able to state that the longest night in Russia consists of
eighteen hours and three quarters.
I got down in a fine street called the Millione. I found a couple of
empty rooms, which the people of the house furnished with two beds,