Part 59 out of 70
the first floor of the house where my mother lived for six months,
and proceeded about my cure. Everyone asked me what I had done with
my housekeeper, and I said that having no further need of her
services I had sent her away.
A week afterwards my brother John came to tell me that Bellegarde and
five or six of his friends were on the sick list; Maton had certainly
lost no time.
"I am sorry for them, but it's their own fault; why didn't they take
"But the girl came to Dresden with you."
"Yes, and I sent her about her business. It was enough for me to
keep them off while she was under my charge. Tell them that if they
complain of me they are wrong, and still more wrong to publish their
shame. Let them learn discretion and get themselves cured in
secrecy, if they do not want sensible men to laugh at them. Don't
you think I am right?"
"The adventure is not a very honourable one for you."
"I know it, and that's why I say nothing; I am not such a fool as to
proclaim my shame from the housetops. These friends of yours must be
simpletons indeed; they must have known that I had good reasons for
sending the girl away, and should consequently have been on their
guard. They deserve what they got, and I hope it may be a lesson to
"They are all astonished at your being well."
"You may comfort them by saying that I have been as badly treated as
they, but that I have held my tongue, not wishing to pass for a
Poor John saw he had been a simpleton himself and departed in
silence. I put myself under a severe diet, and by the middle of
August my health was re-established.
About this time, Prince Adam Czartoryski's sister came to Dresden,
lodging with Count Bruhl. I had the honour of paying my court to
her, and I heard from her own mouth that her royal cousin had had the
weakness to let himself be imposed on by calumnies about me. I told
her that I was of Ariosto's opinion that all the virtues are nothing
worth unless they are covered with the veil of constancy.
"You saw yourself when I supped with you, how his majesty completely
ignored me. Your highness will be going to Paris next year; you will
meet me there and you can write to the king that if I had been burnt
in effigy I should not venture to shew myself."
The September fair being a great occasion at Leipzig, I went there to
regain my size by eating larks, for which Leipzig is justly famous.
I had played a cautious but a winning game at Dresden, the result of
which had been the gain of some hundreds of ducats, so I was able to
start for Leipzig with a letter of credit for three thousand crowns
on the banker Hohman, an intelligent old man of upwards of eighty.
It was of him I heard that the hair of the Empress of Russia, which
looked a dark brown or even black, had been originally quite fair.
The old banker had seen her at Stettin every day between her seventh
and tenth years, and told me that even then they had begun to comb
her hair with lead combs, and to rub a certain composition into it.
From an early age Catherine had been looked upon as the future bride
of the Duke of Holstein, afterwards the hapless Peter III. The
Russians are fair as a rule, and so it was thought it that the
reigning family should be dark.
Here I will note down a pleasant adventure I had at Leipzig. The
Princess of Aremberg had arrived from Vienna, and was staying at the
same hotel as myself. She took a fancy to go to the fair incognito,
and as she had a large suite she dressed up one of her maids as the
princess, and mingled with her following. I suppose my readers to be
aware that this princess was witty and beautiful, and that she was
the favourite mistress of the Emperor Francis the First.
I heard of his masquerade, and leaving my hotel at the same time I
followed her till she stopped at a stall, and then going up to her
and addressing her as one would any other maid, I asked if that
(pointing at the false princess) were really the famous Princess of
"Certainly," she replied.
"I can scarcely believe it, for she is not pretty, and she, has, not
the look nor the manners of a princess."
"Perhaps you are not a good judge of princesses."
"I have seen enough of them anyhow, and to prove that I am a good
judge I say that it is you who ought to be the princess; I would
willingly give a hundred ducats to spend the night with you."
"A hundred ducats! What would you do if I were to take you at your
"Try me. I lodge at the same hotel as you, and if yet can contrive
ways and means, I will give you the money in advance, but not till I
am sure of my prize, for I don't like being taken in."
"Very good. Say not a word to anyone, but try to speak with me
either before or after supper. If you are brave enough to face
certain risks, we will spend the night together."
"What is your name?"
I felt certain it would come to nothing, but I was glad to have
amused the princess, and to have let her know that I appreciated her
beauties, and I resolved to go on with the part I was playing.
About supper-time I began a promenade near the princess's apartments,
stopping every now and then in front of the room where her women were
sitting, till one of them came out to ask me if I wanted anything.
"I want to speak for a moment to one of your companions to whom I had
the pleasure of talking at the fair."
"You mean Caroline, I expect?"
"She is waiting on the princess, but she will be out in half an
I spent this half hour in my own room, and then returned to dance
attendance. Before long the same maid to whom I had spoken came up
to me and told me to wait in a closet which she shewed me, telling me
that Caroline would be there before long. I went into the closet,
which was small, dark, and uncomfortable. I was soon joined by a
woman. This time I was sure it was the real Caroline, but I said
She came, in, took my hand, and told me that if I would wait there
she would come to me as soon as her mistress was in bed.
"Without any light?"
"Of course, or else the people of the house would notice it, and I
should not like that."
"I cannot do anything without light, charming Caroline; and besides,
this closet is not a very nice place to pass five or six hours.
There is another alternative, the first room above is mine. I shall
be alone, and I swear to you that no one shall come in; come up and
make me happy; I have got the hundred ducats here."
"Impossible! I dare not go upstairs for a million ducats."
"So much the worse for you, as I am not going to stay in this hole
which "has only a chair in it, if you offer me a million and a half.
Farewell, sweet Caroline."
"Wait a moment; let me go out first."
The sly puss went out quickly enough, but I was as sharp as she, and
trod on the tail of her dress so that she could not shut the door
after her. So we went out together, and I left her at the door,
"Good night, Caroline, you see it was no use."
I went to bed well pleased with the incident. The princess, it was
plain, had intended to make me pass the night in the hole of a
closet, as a punishment for having dared to ask the mistress of an
emperor to sleep with me for a hundred crowns.
Two days later, as I was buying a pair of lace cuffs, the princess
came into the shop with Count Zinzendorf, whom I had known at Paris
twelve years before. just as I was making way for the lady the count
recognized me, and asked me if I knew anything about the Casanova
that had fought the duel at Warsaw.
"Alas! count, I am that Casanova, and here is my arm still in a
"I congratulate you, my dear fellow; I should like to hear about it."
With these words he introduced me to the princess, asking her if she
had heard of the duel.
"Yes; I heard something about it in the papers. So this is the hero
of the tale. Delighted to make your acquaintance."
The princess spoke with great kindness, but with the cool politeness
of the Court. She did not give me the slightest sign of recognition,
and of course I imitated her in her reserve.
I visited the count in the afternoon, and he begged me to come and
see the princess, who would be delighted to hear the account of my
duel from my own lips, and I followed him to her apartment with
pleasure. The princess listened to my narrative in stately sort, and
her women never looked at me. She went away the day after, and the
story went no farther.
Towards the end of the fair I received a very unexpected visit from
the fair Madame Castelbajac. I was just sitting down to table to eat
a dozen larks, when she made her appearance.
"What, madam, you here!"
"Yes, to my sorrow. I have been here for the last three weeks, and
have seen you several times, but you have always avoided us."
"Who are 'us'?"
"Schwerin and myself"
"Schwerin is here, is he?"
"Yes; and in prison on account of a forged bill. I am sure I do not
know what they will do to the poor wretch. He would have been wise
to have fled, but it seems as if he wanted to get hanged."
"And you have been with him ever since you left England? that is,
three years ago."
"Exactly. Our occupation is robbing, cheating, and escaping from one
land to another. Never was a woman so unhappy as I."
"For how much is the forged bill?"
"For three hundred crowns. Do a generous action M. Casanova, and let
bygones be bygones; deliver the poor wretch from the gallows and me
from death, for if he is hanged I shall kill myself."
"Indeed, madam, he may hang for me, for he did his best to send me to
the gallows with his forged bills; but I confess I pity you. So
much, indeed, that I invite you to come to Dresden with me the day
after to-morrow, and I promise to give you three hundred crowns as
soon as Schwerin has undergone the extreme penalty of the law. I
can't understand how a woman like you can have fallen in love with a
man that has neither face, nor talents, nor wit, nor fortune, for all
that he has to boast of is his name of Schwerin."
"I confess, to my shame, that I never loved him. Ever since the
other rogue, Castelbajac--who, by the way, was never married to me--
made me know him, I have only lived with him by force, though his
tears and his despairs have excited my compassion. If destiny had
given me an honest man in his stead, I would have forsaken him long
ago, for sooner or later he will be the death of me."
"Where do you live?"
"Nowhere. I have been turned out into the street with nothing but
the clothes on my back. Have compassion on me."
With these words the hapless woman threw herself at my knees and
burst into tears. I was much affected. The waiter of the inn stood
staring with amazement till I told him to go out. I may safely say
that this woman was one of the most handsome in France; she was
probably about twenty-six years old. She had been the wife of a
druggist of Montpellier, and had been so unfortunate as to let
Castelbajac seduce her. At London her beauty had produced no
impression on me, my heart was another's; nevertheless, she was made
to seduce the heart of man.
I raised her from her knees, and said I felt inclined to help her,
but that in the first place she must calm herself, and in the second
share my supper. The waiter brought another bed and put it in my
room, without receiving any orders to do so; this made me feel
inclined to laugh.
The appetite with which the poor woman ate, despite her sorrow,
reminded me of the matron of Ephesus. When supper was over I gave
her her choice: she might either stay in Leipzig and fare as best she
might, or I would reclaim her effects, take her with me to Dresden,
and pay her a hundred gold ducats as soon as I could be certain that
she would not give the money to the wretch who had reduced her to
such an extremity. She did not ask much time for reflection. She
said that it would be no good for her to stay in Leipzig, for she
could do nothing for the wretched Schwerin or even keep herself for a
day, for she had not got a farthing. She would have to beg or to
become a prostitute, and she could not make up her mind to either
"Indeed," she concluded, "if you were to give me the hundred ducats
this moment, and I used them to free Schwerin, I should be no better
off than before; so I accept your generous offer thankfully."
I embraced her, promised to get back what her landlord had seized for
rent, and then begged her to go to bed, as she was in need of rest.
"I see," she answered, "that either out of liking or for politeness'
sake you will ask me for those favours which I should be only too
happy to grant, but if I allowed that it would be a bad return indeed
for your kindness. Look at my linen, and behold in what a state that
unhappy wretch has left me!"
I saw that I ran the risk of being infected again, and thanked her
for warning me of the danger I ran. In spite of her faults she was a
woman of feeling, and had an excellent heart, and from these good
qualitites of hers proceeded all her misfortunes.
The next morning I arranged for the redemption of her effects, which
cost me sixty crowns of Saxony, and in the afternoon the poor woman
saw herself once more in possession of her belongings, which she had
thought never to see again. She seemed profoundly grateful, and
deplored her state, which hindered her from proving the warmth of her
Such is the way of women: a grateful woman has only one way of
shewing her gratitude, and that is to surrender herself without
reserve. A man is different, but we are differently constituted; a
man is made to give and a woman to receive.
The next day, a short while before we left, the broker I had employed
in the redemption of the lady's effects, told me that the banker,
whom Schwerin had cheated, was going to send an express to Berlin, to
enquire whether the king would object to Count Schwerin's being
proceeded against with the utmost rigour of the law.
"Alas!" cried his late mistress, "that's what he was most afraid of.
It's all up with him. The King of Prussia will pay his debts, but he
will end his days at Spandau. Why didn't they put him there before I
ever knew him?"
She left Leipzig with me, and our appearance at Dresden caused a good
deal of surprise. She was not a mere girl, like Maton; she had a
good appearance, and a modest yet distinguished manner. I called her
Countess Blasin, and introduced her to my mother and relations, and
put her in my best room. I summoned the doctor who had treated me,
and made him swear not to disclose the countess's state, but to tell
everyone that he came to see me. I took her to the theatre, and it
was my humour to have her regarded as a person of distinction. Good
treatment soon restored her to health, and by the end of November she
believed herself in a state to reward me for my kindness.
The wedding was a secret one, but none the less pleasant; and as if
by way of wedding present the next day I heard that the King of
Prussia had paid Schwerin's debts, and had had him brought to Berlin
under a strong escort. If he is alive, the rascal is at Spandau to
The time had come for me to pay her the hundred ducats. I told her
frankly that I was obliged to go to Portugal, and that I could not
make my appearance there in company with a pretty woman without
failing in my project. I added that my means would not allow me to
pay double expenses for so long a journey.
She had received too many proofs of my love to think for a moment
that I had got tired of her, and wanted to be on with some other
woman. She told me that she owed everything to me, while I owed
nothing to her; and that all she asked of me was to enable her to
return to Montpellier.
"I have relations there," said she, "who will be glad to see me, and
I hope that my husband will let me return to him. I am the Prodigal
Son, and I hope to find in him the forgiving father."
I told her I would do my utmost to send her home in safety and
Towards the middle of December I left Dresden with Madame Blasin. My
purse only contained four hundred ducats, for I had had a run of bad
luck at play; and the journey to Leipzig had cost me altogether three
hundred ducats. I told my mistress nothing of all this, for my only
thought was how to please her.
We stayed a short while at Prague, and reached Vienna on Christmas
Day. We put up at the "Red Bull," the Countess Blasin (who had been
transformed into a milliner) in one room, and I in another, so that
we might pass for strangers while continuing our intimacy.
The next morning, as we were taking coffee together, two individuals
came into the room, and asked the rude question,--
"Who are you, madam?"
"My name is Blasin."
"Who is this gentleman?"
"You had better ask him."
"What are you doing at Vienna?"
"Taking coffee. I should have thought you could have seen that for
"If the gentleman is not your husband, you will leave the town within
"The gentleman is my friend, and not my husband; and I shall leave
Vienna exactly when I choose, unless you make me go away by force."
"Very good. We are aware, sir, that you have a separate room, but
that makes no difference."
Thereupon one of the policemen entered my room, I following him.
"What do you want here?" said I.
"I am looking at your bed, and I can see you have not slept in it.
"The devil! What business have you here at all, and who authorizes
such disgraceful proceedings?"
He made no reply, but returned to Madame Blasin's room, where they
both ordered her to leave Vienna in the course of twenty-four hours,
and then they both left us.
"Dress yourself," said I to her, "and tell the French ambassador the
whole story. Tell him that you are a milliner, Blasin by name, and
that all you want is to go from here to Strasburg, and from there to
While she was dressing I ordered a carriage and a servant to be in
attendance. She returned in an hour's time, and said the ambassador
had assured her that she would be left alone, and need not leave
Vienna till she thought fit. I took her to mass in triumph, and
then, as the weather was bad, we spent the rest of the day in eating
and drinking and sitting by the fire.
At eight o'clock in the evening the landlord came up and said very
politely that he had been ordered by the police to give the lady a
room at some distance from mine, and that he was obliged to obey.
"I am quite ready to change my room," said Madame Blasin, with a
"Is the lady to sup alone?" I asked.
"I have received no instructions on that point."
"Then I will sup with her, and I hope you will treat us well."
"You shall be well served, sir."
In spite of the detestable and tyrannical police we spent the last
four days and nights together in the closest intimacy. When she left
I wanted her to take fifty Louis; but she would only have thirty,
saying that she could travel to Montpellier on that sum, and have
money in her pocket when she got there. Our parting was an affecting
one. She wrote to me from Strasburg, and we shall hear of her again
when I describe my visit to Montpellier.
The first day of the year 1767 I took an apartment in the house of a
certain Mr. Schroder, and I took letters of introduction to Madame de
Salmor and Madame de Stahremberg. I then called on the elder
Calsabigi, who was in the service of Prince Kaunitz.
This Calsabigi, whose whole body was one mass of eruption, always
worked in bed, and the minister, his master, went to see him almost
every day. I went constantly to the theatre, where Madame Vestris
was dancing. On January the 7th or 8th, I saw the empress dowager
come to the theatre dressed in black; she was received with applause,
as this was the first appearance she had made since the death of her
husband. At Vienna I met the Comte de la Perouse, who was trying to
induce the empress to give him half a million of florins, which
Charles VI. owed his father. Through him I made the acquaintance of
the Spaniard Las Casas, a man of intelligence, and, what is a rare
thing in a Spaniard, free from prejudices. I also met at the count's
house the Venetian Uccelli, with whom I had been at St. Cyprian's
College at Muran; he was, at the time of which I write, secretary to
the ambassador, Polo Renieri. This gentleman had a great esteem for
me, but my affair with the State Inquisitors prevented him from
receiving me. My friend Campioni arrived at this date from Warsaw;
he had passed through Cracovia. I accommodated him in my apartment
with great pleasure. He had an engagement at London, but to my great
delight he was able to spend a couple of months with me.
Prince Charles of Courland, who had been at Venice and had been well
received by M. de Bragadin and my other friends, had been in Vienna
and had left it a fortnight before my arrival to return to Venice.
Prince Charles wrote to tell me that there was no bounds to the care
and kindness of my Venetian friends, and that he would be grateful to
me for all his days.
I lived very quietly at Vienna; my health was good, and I thought of
nothing but my journey to Portugal, which I intended to take place in
the spring. I saw no company of any kind, whether good or ill.
I often called on Calsabigi, who made a parade of his Atheism, and
slandered my friend Metastasio, who dispised him. Calsabigi knew it
and laughed at him; he was a profound politician and the right hand
of Prince Kaunitz.
One day after dinner, as I was sitting at table with my friend
Campioni, a pretty little girl, between twelve and thirteen, as I
should imagine, came into my room with mingled boldness and fear, and
made me a low bow. I asked her what she wanted, and she replied in
Latin verse to the effect that her mother was in the next room, and
that if I liked she would come in. I replied in Latin prose that I
did not care about seeing her mother, telling her my reasons with
great plainness. She replied with four Latin lines, but as they were
not to the point I could see that she had learnt them by heart, and
repeated them like a parrot. She went on-still in Latin verse--to
tell me that her mother must come in or else the authorities might
think I was abusing her.
This last phrase was uttered with all the directness of the Latin
style. It made me burst out laughing, and I felt inclined to explain
to her what she had said in her own language. The little slut told
me she was a Venetian, and this putting me at my ease I told her that
the authorities would never suspect her of doing such a thing as she
was too young. At this the girl seemed to reflect a moment, and then
recited some verses from the Priapeia to the effect that unripe fruit
is often more piquant than that which is ripe. This was enough to
set me on fire, and Campioni, seeing that he was not wanted, went
back to his room.
I drew her gently to me and asked her if her father was at Vienna.
She said yes, and instead of repulsing my caresses she proceeded to
accompany my actions with the recital of erotic verses. I sent her
away with a fee of two ducats, but before she went she gave me her
address written in German with four Latin verses beneath, stating
that her bedfellow would find her either Hebe or Ganymede, according
to his liking.
I could not help admiring the ingenuity of her father, who thus
contrived to make a living out of his daughters. She was a pretty
girl enough, but at Vienna pretty girls are so common that they often
have to starve in spite of their charms. The Latin verses had been
thrown in as an attraction in this case, but I did not think she
would find it very remunerative in Vienna.
Next evening my evil genius made me go and seek her out at the
address she had given me. Although I was forty-two years old, in
spite of the experience I had had, I was so foolish as to go alone.
The girl saw me coming from the window, and guessing that I was
looking for her, she came down and shewed me in. I went in, I went
upstairs, and when I found myself in the presence of the wretch
Pocchini my blood froze in my veins. A feeling of false shame
prevented my retracing my steps, as it might have looked as if I had
been afraid. In the same room were his pretended wife, Catina, two
Sclavonic-looking assassins, and the decoy-duck. I saw that this was
not a laughing matter, so I dissembled to the best of my ability, and
made up my mind to leave the place in five minutes' time.
Pocchini, swearing and blaspheming, began to reproach me with the
manner in which I had treated him in England, and said that his time
had come, and that my life was in his hands. One of the two Sclavs
broke in, and said we must make friends, and so made me sit down,
opened a bottle, and said we must drink together. I tried to put as
good a face upon it as I could, but I begged to be excused, on which
Pocchini swore that I was afraid of having to pay for the bottle of
"You are mistaken," said I; "I am quite ready to pay."
I put my hand in my pocket to take out a ducat without drawing out my
purse, but the Sclav told me I need not be afraid, as I was amongst
honest people. Again shame made me yield, and as I had some
difficulty in extracting my purse, the Sclav kindly did it for me.
Pocchini immediately snatched it from his hands, and said he should
keep it as part compensation for all I had made him endure.
I saw that it was a concerted scheme, and said with a smile that he
could do as he liked, and so I rose to leave them. The Sclav said we
must embrace each other, and on my declaring that to be unnecessary,
he and his comrade drew their sabres, and I thought myself undone.
Without more ado, I hastened to embrace them. To my astonishment
they let me go, and I went home in a grievous state, and not knowing
what else to do went to bed.
by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
SPANISH PASSIONS, Volume 6a--SPAIN
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 SYMONS.
I Am Ordered to Leave Vienna--The Empress Moderates but Does Not Annul
the Order--Zavoiski at Munich--My Stay at Augsburg--Gasconnade at
Louisburg--The Cologne Newspaper--My Arrival at Aix-la-Chapelle
The greatest mistake a man that punishes a knave can commit is to leave
the said rogue alive, for he is certain to take vengeance.
If I had had my sword in the den of thieves, I should no doubt have
defended myself, but it would have gone ill with me, three against one,
and I should probably have been cut to pieces, while the murderers would
have escaped unpunished.
At eight o'clock Campioni came to see me in my bed, and was astonished at
my adventure. Without troubling himself to compassionate me, we both
began to think how we could get back my purse; but we came to the
conclusion that it would be impossible, as I had nothing more than my
mere assertion to prove the case. In spite of that, however, I wrote out
the whole story, beginning with the girl who recited the Latin verses. I
intended to bring the document before the police; however, I had not time
to do so.
I was just sitting down to dinner, when an agent of the police came and
gave me an order to go and speak to Count Schrotembach, the Statthalter.
I told him to instruct my coachman, who was waiting at the door, and that
I would follow him shortly.
When I called on the Statthalter, I found him to be a thick-set
individual; he was standing up, and surrounded by men who seemed ready to
execute his orders. When he saw me, he shewed me a watch, and requested
me to note the hour.
"I see it."
"If you are at Vienna at that time to-morrow I shall have you expelled
from the city."
"Why do you give me such an unjust order?"
"In the first place, I am not here to give you accounts or reasons for my
actions. However, I may tell you that you are expelled for playing at
games of chance, which are forbidden by the laws under pain of the
galleys. Do you recognize that purse and these cards?"
I did not know the cards, but I knew the purse which had been stolen from
me. I was in a terrible rage, and I only replied by presenting the
magistrate with the truthful narrative of what had happened to me. He
read it, and then said with a laugh that I was well known to be a man of
parts, that my character was known, that I had been expelled from Warsaw,
and that as for the document before him he judged it to be a pack of
lies, since in his opinion it was altogether void of probability.
"In fine," he added, "you will obey my order to leave the town, and you
must tell me where you are going."
"I will tell you that when I have made up my mind to go."
"What? You dare to tell me that you will not obey?"
"You yourself have said that if I do not go I shall be removed by force."
"Very good. I have heard you have a strong will, but here it will be of
no use to you. I advise you to go quietly, and so avoid harsh measures."
"I request you to return me that document."
"I will not do so. Begone!"
This was one of the most terrible moments of my life. I shudder still
when I think of it. It was only a cowardly love of life that hindered me
from running my sword through the body of the Statthalter, who had
treated me as if he were a hangman and not a judge.
As I went away I took it into my head to complain to Prince Kaunitz,
though I had not the honour of knowing him. I called at his house, and a
man I met told me to stay in the ante-chamber, as the prince would pass
through to go to dinner.
It was five o'clock. The prince appeared, followed by his guests,
amongst whom was M. Polo Renieri, the Venetian ambassador. The prince
asked me what he could do for me, and I told my story in a loud voice
before them all.
"I have received my order to go, but I shall not obey. I implore your
highness to give me your protection, and to help me to bring my plea to
the foot of the throne."
"Write out your petition," he replied, "and I will see that the empress
gets it. But I advise you to ask her majesty for a respite, for if you
say that you won't obey, she will be predisposed against you."
"But if the royal grace does not place me in security, I shall be driven
away by violence."
"Then take refuge with the ambassador of your native country."
"Alas, my lord, my country has forsaken me. An act of legal though
unconstitutional violence has deprived me of my rights as a citizen. My
name is Casanova, and my country is Venice."
The prince looked astonished and turned to the Venetian ambassador, who
smiled, and whispered to him for ten minutes.
"It's a pity," said the prince, kindly, "that you cannot claim the
protection of any ambassador."
At these words a nobleman of colossal stature stepped forward and said I
could claim his protection, as my whole family, myself included, had
served the prince his master. He spoke the truth, for he was the
ambassador of Saxony.
"That is Count Vitzthum," said the prince. "Write to the empress, and I
will forward your petition immediately. If there is any delay in the
answer, go to the count; you will be safe with him, until you like to
In the meanwhile the prince ordered writing materials to be brought me,
and he and his guests passed into the dining-hall.
I give here a copy of the petition, which I composed in less than ten
minutes. I made a fair copy for the Venetian ambassador to send home to
"MADAM,--I am sure that if, as your royal and imperial highness were
walking in your garden, an insect appealed plaintively to you not to
crush it, you would turn aside, and so avoid doing the poor creature any
"I, madam, am an insect, and I beg of you that you will order
M. Statthalter Schrotembach to delay crushing me with your majesty's
slipper for a week. Possibly, after that time has elapsed, your majesty
will not only prevent his crushing me, but will deprive him of that
slipper, which was only meant to be the terror of rogues, and not of an
humble Venetian, who is an honest man, though he escaped from The Leads.
"In profound submission to your majesty's will,
"Given at Vienna, January 21st, 1769."
When I had finished the petition, I made a fair draft of it, and sent it
in to the prince, who sent it back to me telling me that he would place
it in the empress's hands immediately, but that he would be much obliged
by my making a copy for his own use.
I did so, and gave both copies to the valet de chambre, and went my way.
I trembled like a paralytic, and was afraid that my anger might get me
into difficulty. By way of calming myself, I wrote out in the style of a
manifesto the narrative I had given to the vile Schrotembach, and which
that unworthy magistrate had refused to return to me.
At seven o'clock Count Vitzthum came into my room. He greeted me in a
friendly manner and begged me to tell him the story of the girl I had
gone to see, on the promise of the Latin quatrain referring to her
accommodating disposition. I gave him the address and copied out the
verses, and he said that was enough to convince an enlightened judge that
I had been slandered; but he, nevertheless, was very doubtful whether
justice would be done me.
"What! shall I be obliged to leave Vienna to-morrow?"
"No, no, the empress cannot possibly refuse you the week's delay."
"Oh! no one could refuse such an appeal as that. Even the prince could
not help smiling as he was reading it in his cold way. After reading it
he passed it on to me, and then to the Venetian ambassador, who asked him
if he meant to give it to the empress as it stood. 'This petition,'
replied the prince, 'might be sent to God, if one knew the way;' and
forthwith he ordered one of his secretaries to fold it up and see that it
was delivered. We talked of you for the rest of dinner, and I had the
pleasure of hearing the Venetian ambassador say that no one could
discover any reason for your imprisonment under the Leads. Your duel was
also discussed, but on that point we only knew what has appeared in the
newspapers. Oblige me by giving me a copy of your petition; that phrase
of Schrotembach and the slipper pleased me vastly."
I copied out the document, and gave it him with a copy of my manifesto.
Before he left me the count renewed the invitation to take refuge with
him, if I did not hear from the empress before the expiration of the
At ten o'clock I had a visit from the Comte de la Perouse, the Marquis de
las Casas, and Signor Uccelli, the secretary of the Venetian embassy.
The latter came to ask for a copy of my petition for his chief. I
promised he should have it, and I also sent a copy of my manifesto. The
only thing which rather interfered with the dignity of this latter piece,
and gave it a somewhat comic air, were the four Latin verses, which might
make people imagine that, after enjoying the girl as Hebe, I had gone in
search of her as Ganymede. This was not the case, but the empress
understood Latin and was familiar with mythology, and if she had looked
on it in the light I have mentioned I should have been undone. I made
six copies of the two documents before I went to bed; I was quite tired
out, but the exertion had somewhat soothed me. At noon the next day,
young Hasse (son of the chapel-master and of the famous Trustina),
secretary of legation to Count Vitzthum, came to tell me from the
ambassador that nobody would attack me in my own house, nor in my
carriage if I went abroad, but that it would be imprudent to go out on
foot. He added that his chief would have the pleasure of calling on me
at seven o'clock. I begged M. Hasse to let me have all this in writing,
and after he had written it out he left me.
Thus the order to leave Vienna had been suspended; it must have been done
by the sovereign.
"I have no time to lose," said I to myself, "I shall have justice done
me, my assassins will be condemned, my purse will be returned with the
two hundred ducats in it, and not in the condition in which it was shewn
to me by the infamous Schrotembach, who will be punished by dismissal, at
Such were my castles in Spain; who has not built such? 'Quod nimis
miseri volunt hoc facile credunt', says Seneca. The wish is father to
Before sending my manifesto to the empress, Prince Kaunitz, and to all
the ambassadors, I thought it would be well to call on the Countess of
Salmor, who spoke to the sovereign early and late. I had had a letter of
introduction for her.
She greeted me by saying that I had better give up wearing my arm in a
sling, as it looked as ii I were a charlatan; my arm must be well enough
after nine months.
I was extremely astonished by this greeting, and replied that if it were
not necessary I should not wear a sling, and that I was no charlatan.
"However," I added, "I have come to see you on a different matter."
"Yes, I know, but I will have nothing to do with it. You are all as bad
I gave a turn round and left the room without taking any further notice
of her. I returned home feeling overwhelmed by the situation. I had
been robbed and insulted by a band of thorough-paced rascals;
I could do nothing, justice was denied me, and now I had been made a mock
of by a worthless countess. If I had received such an insult from a man
I would have soon made him feel the weight of one arm at all events. I
could not bear my arm without a sling for an hour; pain and swelling set
in immediately. I was not perfectly cured till twenty months after the
Count Vitzthum came to see me at seven o'clock. He said the empress had
told Prince Kaunitz that Schrotembach considered my narrative as pure
romance. His theory was that I had held a bank at faro with sharpers'
cards, and had dealt with both hands the arm in the sling being a mere
pretence. I had then been taken in the act by one of the gamesters, and
my unjust gains had been very properly taken from me. My detector had
then handed over my purse, containing forty ducats, to the police, and
the money had of course been confiscated. The empress had to choose
between believing Schrotembach and dismissing him; and she was not
inclined to do the latter, as it would be a difficult matter to find him
a successor in his difficult and odious task of keeping Vienna clear of
"This is what Prince Kaunitz asked me to tell you. But you need not be
afraid of any violence, and you can go when you like."
"Then I am to be robbed of two hundred ducats with impunity. The empress
might at least reimburse me if she does nothing more. Please to ask the
prince whether I can ask the sovereign to give me that satisfaction; the
least I can demand."
"I will tell him what you say."
"If not, I shall leave; for what can I do in a town where I can only
drive, and where the Government keeps assassins in its pay?"
"You are right. We are all sure that Pocchini has calumniated you. The
girl who recites Latin verses is well known, but none know her address.
I must advise you not to publish your tale as long as you are in Vienna,
as it places Schrotembach in a very bad light, and you see the empress
has to support him in the exercise of his authority."
"I see the force of your argument, and I shall have to devour my anger.
I will leave Vienna as soon as the washerwoman sends home my linen, but I
will have the story printed in all its black injustice."
"The empress is prejudiced against you, I don't know by whom."
"I know, though; it is that infernal old hag, Countess Salmor."
The next day I received a letter from Count Vitzthum, in which he said
that Prince Kaunitz advised me to forget the two hundred ducats, that the
girl and her so-called mother had left Vienna to all appearance, as
someone had gone to the address and had failed to find her.
I saw that I could do nothing, and resolved to depart in peace, and
afterwards to publish the whole story and to hang Pocchini with my own
hands when next I met him. I did neither the one nor the other.
About that time a young lady of the Salis de Coire family arrived at
Vienna without any companion. The imperial hangman Schrotembach, ordered
her to leave Vienna in two days. She replied that she would leave
exactly when she felt inclined. The magistrate consigned her to
imprisonment in a convent, and she was there still when I left. The
emperor went to see her, and the empress, his mother, asked him what he
thought of her. His answer was, "I thought her much more amusing than
Undoubtedly, every man worthy of the name longs to be free, but who is
really free in this world? No one. The philosopher, perchance, may be
accounted so, but it is at the cost of too precious sacrifices at the
phantom shrine of Liberty.
I left the use of my suite of rooms, for which I had paid a month in
advance, to Campioni, promising to wait for him at Augsburg, where the
Law alone is supreme. I departed alone carrying with me the bitter
regret that I had not been able to kill the monster, whose despotism had
crushed me. I stopped at Linz on purpose to write to Schrotembach even a
more bitter letter than that which I had written to the Duke of
Wurtemburg in 1760. I posted it myself, and had it registered so as to
be sure of its reaching the scoundrel to whom it had been addressed. It
was absolutely necessary for me to write this letter, for rage that has
no vent must kill at last. From Linz I had a three days' journey to
Munich, where I called on Count Gaetan Zavoicki, who died at Dresden
seven years ago. I had known him at Venice when he was in want, and I
had happily been useful to him. On my relating the story of the robbery
that had been committed on me, he no doubt imagined I was in want, and
gave me twenty-five louis. To tell the truth it was much less than what
I had given him at Venice, and if he had looked upon his action as paying
back a debt we should not have been quits; but as I had never wished him
to think that I had lent, not given him money, I received the present
gratefully. He also gave me a letter for Count Maximilian Lamberg,
marshal at the court of the Prince-Bishop of Augsburg, whose acquaintance
I had the honour of having.
There was no theatre then in Augsburg, but there were masked balls in
which all classes mingled freely. There were also small parties where
faro was played for small stakes. I was tired of the pleasure, the
misfortune, and the griefs I had had in three capitals, and I resolved to
spend four months in the free city of Augsburg, where strangers have the
same privileges as the canons. My purse was slender, but with the
economical life I led I had nothing to fear on that score. I was not far
from Venice, where a hundred ducats were always at my service if I wanted
them. I played a little and waged war against the sharpers who have
become more numerous of late than the dupes, as there are also more
doctors than patients. I also thought of getting a mistress, for what is
life without love? I had tried in vain to retrace Gertrude; the engraver
was dead, and no one knew what had become of his daughter.
Two or three days before the end of the carnival I went to a hirer of
carriages, as I had to go to a ball at some distance from the town.
While the horses were being put in, I entered the room to warm my hands,
for the weather was very cold. A girl came up and asked me if I would
drink a glass of wine.
"No," said I; and on the question being repeated, repeated the
monosyllable somewhat rudely. The girl stood still and began to laugh,
and I was about to turn angrily away when she said,--
"I see you do not remember me?"
I looked at her attentively, and at last I discovered beneath her
unusually ugly features the lineaments of Anna Midel, the maid in the
"You remind me of Anna Midel," said I.
"Alas, I was Anna Midel once. I am no longer an object fit for love, but
that is your fault."
"Yes; the four hundred florins you gave me made Count Fugger's coachman
marry me, and he not only abandoned me but gave me a disgusting disease,
which was like to have been my death. I recovered my health, but I never
shall recover my good looks."
"I am very sorry to hear all this; but tell me what has become of
"Then you don't know that you are going to a ball at her house to-night?"
"Yes. After her father's death she married a well-to-do and respectable
man, and I expect you will be pleased with the entertainment"
"Is she pretty still?"
"She is just as she used to be, except that she is six years older and
has had children."
"Is she gallant?"
"I don't think so."
Anna had spoken the truth. Gertrude was pleased to see me, and
introduced me to her husband as one of her father's old lodgers, and I
had altogether a pleasant welcome; but, on sounding her, I found she
entertained those virtuous sentiments which might have been expected
under the circumstances.
Campioni arrived at Augsburg at the beginning of Lent. He was in company
with Binetti, who was going to Paris. He had completely despoiled his
wife, and had left her for ever. Campioni told me that no one at Vienna
doubted my story in the slightest degree. Pocchini and the Sclav had
disappeared a few days after my departure, and the Statthalter had
incurred a great deal of odium by his treatment of me. Campioni spent a
month with me, and then went on to London.
I called on Count Lamberg and his countess, who, without being beautiful,
was an epitome of feminine charm and amiability. Her name before
marriage was Countess Dachsberg. Three months after my arrival, this
lady, who was enciente, but did not think her time was due, went with
Count Fugger, dean of the chapter, to a party of pleasure at an inn three
quarters of a league from Augsburg. I was present; and in the course of
the meal she was taken with such violent pains that she feared she would
be delivered on the spot. She did not like to tell the noble canon, and
thinking that I was more likely to be acquainted with such emergencies
she came up to me and told me all. I ordered the coachman to put in his
horses instantly, and when the coach was ready I took up the countess and
carried her to it. The canon followed us in blank astonishment, and
asked me what was the matter. I told him to bid the coachman drive fast
and not to spare his horses. He did so, but he asked again what was the
"The countess will be delivered of a child if we do not make haste."
I thought I should be bound to laugh, in spite of my sympathies for the
poor lady's pains, when I saw the dean turn green and white and purple,
and look as if he were going into a fit, as he realized that the countess
might be delivered before his eyes in his own carriage. The poor man
looked as grievously tormented as St. Laurence on his gridiron. The
bishop was at Plombieres; they would write and tell him! It would be in
all the papers! "Quick! coachman, quick!"
We got to the castle before it was too late. I carried the lady into her
rook, and they ran for a surgeon and a midwife. It was no good, however,
for in five minutes the count came out and said the countess
had just been happily delivered. The dean looked as if a weight had
been taken off his mind; however, he took the precaution of having
I spent an extremely pleasant four months at Augsburg, supping twice or
thrice a week at Count Lamberg's. At these suppers I made the
acquaintance of a very remarkable man--Count Thura and Valsamina, then a
page in the prince-bishop's household, now Dean of Ratisbon. He was
always at the count's, as was also Dr. Algardi, of Bologna, the prince's
physician and a delightful man.
I often saw at the same house a certain Baron Sellenthin, a Prussian
officer, who was always recruiting for his master at Augsburg. He was a
pleasant man, somewhat in the Gascon style, soft-spoken, and an expert
gamester. Five or six years ago I had a letter from him dated Dresden,
in which he said that though he was old, and had married a rich wife, he
repented of having married at all. I should say the same if I had ever
chanced to marry.
During my stay at Augsburg several Poles, who had left their country on
account of the troubles, came to see me. Amongst others was Rzewuski,
the royal Prothonotary, whom I had known at St. Petersburg as the lover
of poor Madame Langlade.
"What a diet! What plots! What counterplots! What misfortunes!" said
this honest Pole, to me. "Happy are they who have nothing to do with
He was going to Spa, and he assured me that if I followed him I should
find Prince Adam's sister, Tomatis, and Madame Catai, who had become the
manager's wife. I determined to go to Spa, and to take measures so that
I might go there with three or four hundred ducats in my purse. To this
intent I wrote to Prince Charles of Courland, who was at Venice, to send
me a hundred ducats, and in my letter I gave him an infallible receipt
for the philosopher's stone. The letter containing this vast secret was
not in cypher, so I advised him to burn it after he had read it, assuring
him that I possessed a copy. He did not do so, and it was taken to Paris
with his order papers when he was sent to the Bastile.
If it had not been for the Revolution my letter would never have seen the
light. When the Bastille was destroyed, my letter was found and printed
with other curious compositions, which were afterwards translated into
German and English. The ignorant fools that abound in the land where my
fate wills that I should write down the chief events of my long and
troublous life--these fools, I say, who are naturally my sworn foes (for
the ass lies not down with the horse), make this letter an article of
accusation against me, and think they can stop my mouth by telling me
that the letter has been translated into German, and remains to my
eternal shame. The ignorant Bohemians are astonished when I tell them
that I regard the letter as redounding to my glory, and that if their
ears were not quite so long their blame would be turned into praise.
I do not know whether my letter has been correctly translated, but since
it has become public property I shall set it down here in homage to
truth, the only god I adore. I have before me an exact copy of the
original written in Augsburg in the year 1767, and we are now in the year
It runs as follows:
"MY LORD,--I hope your highness will either burn this letter after
reading it, or else preserve it with the greatest care. It will be
better, however, to make a copy in cypher, and to burn the original. My
attachment to you is not my only motive in writing; I confess my interest
is equally concerned. Allow me to say that I do not wish your highness
to esteem me alone for any qualities you may have observed in me; I wish
you to become my debtor by the inestimable secret I am going to confide
to you. This secret relates to the making of gold, the only thing of
which your highness stands in need. If you had been miserly by nature
you would be rich now; but you are generous, and will be poor all your
days if you do not make use of my secret.
"Your highness told me at Riga that you would like me to give you the
secret by which I transmuted iron into copper; I never did so, but now I
shall teach you how to make a much more marvellous transmutation. I
should point out to you, however, that you are not at present in a
suitable place for the operation, although all the materials are easily
procurable. The operation necessitates my presence for the construction
of a furnace, and for the great care necessary, far the least mistake
will spoil all. The transmutation of Mars is an easy and merely
mechanical process, but that of gold is philosophical in the highest
degree. The gold produced will be equal to that used in the Venetian
sequins. You must reflect, my lord, that I am giving you information
which will permit you to dispense with me, and you must also reflect that
I am confiding to you my life and my liberty.
"The step I am taking should insure your life-long protection, and should
raise you above that prejudice which is entertained against the general
mass of alchemists. My vanity would be wounded if you refuse to
distinguish me from the common herd of operators. All I ask you is that
you will wait till we meet before undertaking the process. You cannot do
it by yourself, and if you employ any other person but myself, you will
betray the secret. I must tell you that, using the same materials, and
by the addition of mercury and nitre, I made the tree of projection for
the Marchioness d'Urfe and the Princess of Anhalt. Zerbst calculated the
profit as fifty per cent. My fortune would have been made long ago, if I
had found a prince with the control of a mint whom I could trust. Your
character enables me to confide in you. However, we will come to the
"You must take four ounces of good silver, dissolve in aqua fortis,
precipitate secundum artem with copper, then wash in lukewarm water to
separate the acids; dry, mix with half an ounce of sal ammoniac, and
place in a suitable vessel. Afterwards you must take a pound of alum, a
pound of Hungary crystals, four ounces of verdigris, four ounces of
cinnabar, and two ounces of sulphur. Pulverise and mix, and place in a
retort of such size that the above matters will only half fill it. This
retort must be placed over a furnace with four draughts, for the heat
must be raised to the fourth degree. At first your fire must be slow so
as to extract the gross phlegm of the matter, and when the spirit begins
to appear, place the receiver under the retort, and Luna with the
ammoniac salts will appear in it. All the joinings must be luted with
the Philosophical Luting, and as the spirit comes, so regulate your
furnace, but do not let it pass the third degree of heat.
"So soon as the sublimation begins then boldly open your forth vent, but
take heed that that which is sublimed pass not into the receiver where is
your Luna, and so you must shut, the mouth of the retort closely, and
keep it so for twenty-four hours, and then take off your fastenings, and
allow the distillation to go on. Then you must increase your fire so
that the spirits may pass, over, until the matter in the retort is quite
desiccated. After this operation has been performed three times, then
you shall see, the gold appear in the retort. Then draw it forth and
melt it, adding your corpus perfectum. Melt with it two ounces of gold,
then lay it in water, and you shall find four ounces of pure gold.
"Such my lord, is the gold mine for your mint of Mitau, by which, with
the assistance of a manager and four men, you can assure yourself a
revenue of a thousand ducats a week, and double, and quadruple that sum,
if your highness chooses to increase the men and the furnaces. I ask
your highness to make me your manager. But remember it must be a State
secret, so burn this letter, and if your highness would give me any
reward in advance, I only ask you to give me your affection and esteem.
I shall be happy if I have reason to believe that my master will also be
my friend. My life, which this letter places in your power, is ever at
your service, and I know not what I shall do if I ever have cause to
repent having disclosed my secret. I have the honour to be, etc."
In whatever language this letter may have been translated, if its sense
run not as above, it is not my letter, and I am ready to give the lie to
all the Mirabeaus in the world. I have been called an exile, but
wrongfully, for a man who has to leave a country by virtue of a 'lettre
de cachet' is no exile. He is forced to obey a despotic monarch who
looks upon his kingdom as his house, and turns out of doors anyone who
meets with his displeasure.
As soon as my purse swelled to a respectable size, I left Augsburg, The
date of my departure was June 14th, 1767. I was at Ulm when a courier of
the Duke of Wurtemburg's passed through the town with the news that his
highness would arrive from Venice in the course of five or six days.
This courier had a letter for me. It had been entrusted to him by Prince
Charles of Courland, who had told the courier that he would find me at
the "Hotel du Raisin," in Augsburg. As it happened, I had left the day
before, but knowing the way by which I had gone he caught me up at Ulm.
He gave me the letter and asked me if I were the same Casanova who had
been placed under arrest and had escaped, on account of some gambling
dispute with three officers. As I was never an adept in concealing the
truth, I replied in the affirmative. A Wurtemburg officer who was
standing beside us observed to me in a friendly manner that he was at
Stuttgart at the time, and that most people concurred in blaming the
three officers for their conduct in the matter.
Without making any reply I read the letter, which referred to our private
affairs, but as I was reading it I resolved to tell a little lie--one of
those lies which do nobody any harm.
"Well, sir," I said to the officer, "his highness, your sovereign, has
listened to reason at last, and this letter informs me of a reparation
which is in every way satisfactory. The duke has created me his private
secretary, with a salary of twelve hundred a year. But I have waited for
it a long time. God knows what has become of the three officers!"
"They are all at Louisburg, and ------ is now a colonel."
"Well, they will be surprised to hear my news, and they will hear it
to-morrow, for I am leaving this place in an hour. If they are at
Louisburg, I shall have a triumph; but I am sorry not to be able to
accompany you, however we shall see each other the day after tomorrow."
I had an excellent night, and awoke with the beautiful idea of going to
Louisburg, not to fight the three officers but to frighten them, triumph
over them, and to enjoy a pleasant vengeance for the injury they had done
me. I should at the same time see a good many old friends; there was
Madame Toscani, the duke's mistress; Baletti, and Vestri, who had married
a former mistress of the duke's. I had sounded the depths of the human
heart, and knew I had nothing to fear. The duke was on the point of
returning, and nobody would dream of impugning the truth of my story.
When he actually did arrive he would not find me, for as soon as the
courier announced his approach I should go away, telling everybody that I
had orders to precede his highness, and everybody would be duped.
I never had so pleasant an idea before. I was quite proud of it, and I
should have despised myself if I had failed to carry it into effect. It
would be my vengeance on the duke, who could not have forgotten the
terrible letter I had written him; for princes do not forget small
injuries as they forget great services.
I slept badly the following night, my anxiety was so great, and I reached
Louisburg and gave my name at the town gates, without the addition of my
pretended office, for my jest must be matured by degrees. I went to stay
at the posting-inn, and just as I was asking for the address of Madame
Toscani, she and her husband appeared on the scene. They both flung
their arms around my neck, and overwhelmed me with compliments on my
wounded arm and the victory I had achieved.
"Your appearance here has filled the hearts of all your friends with
"Well, I certainly am in the duke's service, but how did you find it
"It's the common talk. The courier who gave you the letter has spread it
all abroad, and the officer who was present and arrived here yesterday
morning confirmed it. But you cannot imagine the consternation of your
three foes. However, we are afraid that you will have some trouble with
them, as they have kept your letter of defiance given from Furstenberg."
"Why didn't they meet me, then?"
"Two of them could not go, and the third arrived too late."
"Very good. If the duke has no objection I shall be happy to meet them
one after another, not three all at once. Of course, the duel must be
with pistols; a sword duel is out of the question with my arm in a
"We will speak of that again. My daughter wants to make peace before the
duke comes, and you had better consent to arrangements, for there are
three of them, and it isn't likely that you could kill the whole three
one after the other."
"Your daughter must have grown into a beauty."
"You must stop with us this evening; you will see her, for she is no
longer the duke's mistress. She is going to get married."
"If your daughter can bring about an arrangement I would gladly fall in
with it, provided it is an honourable one for me."
"How is it that you are wearing the sling after all these months?"
"I am quite cured, and yet my arm swells as soon as I let it swing loose.
You shall see it after dinner, for you must dine with me if you want me
to sup with you."
Next came Vestri, whom I did not know, accompained by my beloved Baletti.
With them was an officer who was in love with Madame Toscani's second
daughter, and another of their circle, with whom I was also unacquainted.
They all came to congratulate me on my honourable position in the duke's
service. Baletti was quite overcome with delight. The reader will
recollect that he was my chief assistant in my escape from Stuttgart, and
that I was once going to marry his sister. Baletti was a fine fellow,
and the duke was very fond of him. He had a little country house, with a
spare room, which he begged me to accept, as he said he was only too
proud that the duke should know him as my best friend. When his highness
came, of course I would have an apartment in the palace. I accepted; and
as it was still early, we all went to see the young Toscani. I had loved
her in Paris before her beauty had reached its zenith, and she was
naturally proud to shew me how beautiful she had become. She shewed me
her house and her jewels, told me the story of her amours with the duke,
of her breaking with him on account of his perpetual infidelities, and of
her marriage with a man she despised, but who was forced on her by her
At dinner-time we all went to the inn, where we met the offending
colonel; he was the first to take off his hat, we returned the salute,
and he passed on his way.
The dinner was a pleasant one, and when it was over I proceeded to take
up my quarters with Baletti. In the evening we went to Madame Toscani's,
where I saw two girls of ravishing beauty, Madame Toscani's daughter and
Vestri's wife, of whom the duke had had two children. Madame Vestri was
a handsome woman, but her wit and the charm of her manner enchanted me
still more. She had only one fault--she lisped.
There was a certain reserve about the manner of Mdlle. Toscani, so I
chiefly addressed myself to Madame Vestri, whose husband was not jealous,
for he neither cared for her nor she for him. On the day of my arrival
the manager had distributed the parts of a little play which was to be
given in honour of the duke's arrival. It had been written by a local
author, in hopes of its obtaining the favour of the Court for him.
After supper the little piece was discussed. Madame Vestri played the
principal part, which she was prevailed upon to recite.
"Your elocution is admirable, and your expression full of spirit," I
observed; "but what a pity it is that you do not pronounce the dentals."
The whole table scouted my opinion.
"It's a beauty, not a defect," said they. "It makes her acting soft and
delicate; other actresses envy her the privilege of what you call a
I made no answer, but looked at Madame Vestri.
"Do you think I am taken in by all that?" said she.
"I think you are much too sensible to believe such nonsense."
"I prefer a man to say honestly, 'what a pity,' than to hear all that
foolish flattery. But I am sorry to say that there is no remedy for the
"Pardon me, I have an infallible remedy for your complaint. You shall
give me a good hearty blow if I do not make you read the part perfectly
by to-morrow, but if I succeed in making you read it as your husband, for
example's sake, might read it you shall permit me to give you a tender
"Very good; but what must I do?"
"You must let me weave a spell over your part, that is all. Give it to
me. To-morrow morning at nine o'clock I will bring it to you to get my
blow or my kiss, if your husband has no objection."
"None whatever; but we do not believe in spells."
"You are right, in a general way; but mine will not fail."
Madame Vestri left me the part, and the conversation turned on other
subjects. I was condoled with on my swollen hand, and I told the story
of my duel. Everybody seemed to delight in entertaining me and feasting
me, and I went back to Baletti's in love with all the ladies, but
especially with Madame Vestri and Mdlle. Toscani.
Baletti had a beautiful little girl of three years old.
"How did you get that angel?" I asked.
"There's her mother; and, as a proof of my hospitality, she shall sleep
with you to-night."
"I accept your generous offer; but let it be to-morrow night."
"And why not to-night?"
"Because I shall be engaged all night in weaving my spell."
"What do you mean? I thought that was a joke."
"No, I am quite serious."
"Are you a little crazy?"
"You shall see. Do you go to bed, and leave me a light and writing
I spent six hours in copying out the part, only altering certain phrases.
For all words in which the letter r appeared I substituted another. It
was a tiresome task, but I longed to embrace Madame Vestri before her
husband. I set about my task in the following manner:
The text ran:
"Les procedes de cet homme m'outragent et me deseparent, je dois penser a
For this I substituted:
"Cet homme a des facons qui m'offensent et me desolent, il faut que je
m'en defasse;" and so on throughout the piece.
When I had finished I slept for three hours, and then rose and dressed.
Baletti saw my spell, and said I had earned the curses of the young
author, as Madame Vestri would no doubt make him write all
parts for her without using the letter 'r'; and, indeed, that was just
what she did.
I called on the actress and found her getting up. I gave her the part,
and as soon as she saw what I had done she burst out into exclamations of
delight; and calling her husband shewed him my contrivance, and said she
would never play a part with an 'r' in it again. I promised to copy them
all out, and added that I had spent the whole night in amending the
present part. "The whole night! Come and take your reward, for you are
cleverer than any sorcerer. We must have the author to dinner, and I
shall make him promise to write all my parts without the 'r', or the duke
will not employ him. Indeed, I don't wonder the duke has made you his
secretary. I never thought it would be possible to do what you have
done; but I suppose it was very difficult?"
"Not at all. If I were a pretty woman with the like defect I should take
care to avoid all words with an 'r; in them."
"Oh, that would be too much trouble."
"Let us bet again, for a box or a kiss, that you can spend a whole day
without using an 'r'. Let us begin now."
"All in good time," said she, "but we won't have any stake, as I think
you are too greedy."
The author came to dinner, and was duly attacked by Madame Vestri. She
began by saying that it was an author's duty to be polite to actresses,
and if any of them spoke with a lisp the least he could do was to write
their parts without the fatal letter.
The young author laughed, and said it could not be done without spoiling
the style. Thereupon Madame Vestri gave him my version of her part,
telling him to read it, and to say on his conscience whether the style
had suffered. He had to confess that my alterations were positive
improvements, due to the great richness of the French language. And he
was right, for there is no language in the world that can compare in
copiousness of expression with the French.
This trifling subject kept us merry, but Madame Vestri expressed a devout
wish that all authors would do for her what I had done. At Paris, where
I heard her playing well and lisping terribly, she did not find the
authors so obliging, but she pleased the people. She asked me if I would
undertake to recompose Zaire, leaving out the r's.
"Ah!" said I, "considering that it would have to be in verse, and in
Voltairean verse, I would rather not undertake the task."
With a view to pleasing the actress the young author asked me how I would
tell her that she was charming without using an 'r'.
"I should say that she enchanted me, made me in an ecstasy, that she is
She wrote me a letter, which I still keep, in which the 'r' does not
appear. If I could have stayed at Stuttgart, this device of mine might
have won me her favours; but after a week of feasting and triumph the
courier came one morning at ten o'clock and announced that his highness,
the duke, would arrive at four.
As soon as I heard the news I told Baletti with the utmost coolness that
I thought it would be only polite to meet my lord, and swell his train on
his entry into Louisburg; and as I wished to meet him at a distance of
two stages I should have to go at once. He thought my idea an excellent
one, and went to order post-horses immediately; but when he saw me
packing up all my belongings into my trunk, he guessed the truth and
applauded the jest. I embraced him and confessed my hardihood. He was
sorry to lose me, but he laughed when he thought of the feelings of the
duke and of the three officers when they found out the trick. He
promised to write to me at Mannheim, where I had decided on spending a
week to see my beloved Algardi, who was in the service of the Elector. I
had also letters for M. de Sickirigen and Baron Becker, one of the
When the horses were put in I embraced Baletti, his little girl, and his
pretty housekeeper, and ordered the postillion to drive to Mannheim.
When we reached Mannheim I heard that the Court was at Schwetzingen, and
I bade the postillion drive on. I found everyone I had expected to see.
Algardi had got married, M. de Sickingen was soliciting the position of
ambassador to Paris, and Baron Becker introduced me to the Elector. Five
or six days after my arrival died Prince Frederic des Deux Ponts, and I
will here relate an anecdote I heard the day before he died.
Dr. Algardi had attended on the prince during his last illness. I was
supping with Veraci, the poet-laureate, on the eve of the prince's death,
and in the course of supper Algardi came in.
"How is the prince?" said I.
"The poor prince--he cannot possibly live more than twenty-four hours."
"Does he know it?"
"No, he still hopes. He grieved me to the heart by bidding me tell him
the whole truth; he even bade me give my word of honour that I was
speaking the truth. Then he asked me if he were positively in danger of
"And you told him the truth?"
"Certainly not. I told him his sickness was undoubtedly a mortal one,
but that with the help of nature and art wonders might be worked."
"Then you deceived him, and told a lie?"
"I did not deceive him; his recovery comes under the category of the
possible. I did not want to leave him in despair, for despair would most
certainly kill him."
"Yes, yes; but you will confess that you told him a lie and broke your
word of honour."
"I told no lie, for I know that he may possibly be cured."
"Then you lied just now?"
"Not at all, for lie will die to-morrow."
"It seems to me that your reasoning is a little Jesuitical."
"No, it is not. My duty was to prolong my patient's life and to spare
him a sentence which would most certainly have shortened it, possibly by
several hours; besides, it is not an absolute impossibility that he
should recover, therefore I did not lie when I told him that he might
recover, nor did I lie just now when I gave it as my opinion (the result
of my experience) that he would die to-morrow. I would certainly wager a
million to one that he will die to-morrow, but I would not wager my
"You are right, and yet for all that you deceived the poor man; for his
intention in asking you the question was not to be told a commonplace
which he knew as well as you, but to learn your true opinion as to his
life or death. But again I agree with you that as his physician you were
quite right not to shorten his few remaining hours by telling him the
After a fortnight I left Schwetzingen, leaving some of my belongings
under the care of Veraci the poet, telling him I would call for them some
day; but I never came, and after a lapse of thirty-one years Veraci keeps
them still. He was one of the strangest poets I have ever met. He
affected eccentricity to make himself notorious, and opposed the great
Metastasio in everything, writing unwieldy verses which he said gave more
scope for the person who set them to music. He had got this extravagant
notion from Jumelli.
I traveled to Mayence and thence I sailed to Cologne, where I looked
forward to the pleasure of meeting with the burgomaster's wife who
disliked General Kettler, and had treated me so well seven years ago.
But that was not the only reason which impelled me to visit that odious
town. When I was at Dresden I had read in a number of the Cologne
Gazette that "Master Casanova has returned to Warsaw only to be sent
about his business again. The king has heard some stories of this famous
adventurer, which compel him to forbid him his Court."
I could not stomach language of this kind, and I resolved to pay Jacquet,
the editor, a visit, and now my time had come.
I made a hasty dinner and then called on the burgomaster, whom I found
sitting at table with his fair Mimi. They welcomed me warmly, and for
two hours I told them the story of my adventures during the last seven
years. Mimi had to go out, and I was asked to dine with them the next
I thought she looked prettier than ever, and my imagination promised me
some delicious moments with her. I spent an anxious and impatient night,
and called on my Amphitryon at an early hour to have an opportunity of
speaking to his dear companion. I found her alone, and began with an
ardent caress which she gently repelled, but her face froze my passion in
"Time is an excellent doctor," said she, "and it has cured me of a
passion which left behind it the sting of remorse."
"What! The confessional . . . ."
"Should only serve as a place wherein to confess our sins of the past,
and to implore grace to sin no more."
"May the Lord save me from repentance, the only source of which is a
prejudice! I shall leave Cologne to-morrow."
"I do not tell you to go."
"If there is no hope, it is no place for me. May I hope?"
She was delightful at table, but I was gloomy and distracted. At seven
o'clock next day I set out, and as soon as I had passed the Aix la
Chapelle Gate, I told the postillion to stop and wait for me. I then
walked to Jacquet's, armed with a pistol and a cane, though I only meant
to beat him.
The servant shewed me into the room where he was working by himself. It
was on the ground floor, and the door was open for coolness' sake.
He heard me coming in and asked what he could do for me.
"You scoundrelly journalist." I replied, "I am the adventurer Casanova
whom you slandered in your miserable sheet four months ago."
So saying I directed my pistol at his head, with my left hand, and lifted
my cane with my right. But the wretched scribbler fell on his knees
before me with clasped hands and offered to shew me the signed letter he
had received from Warsaw, which contained the statements he had inserted
in his paper.
"Where is this letter?"
"You shall have it in a moment."
I made way for him to search, but I locked and bolted the door to prevent
his escaping. The man trembled like a leaf and began to look for the
letter amongst his Warsaw correspondence, which was in a disgraceful
state of confusion. I shewed him the date of the article in the paper,
but the letter could not be found; and at the end of an hour he fell down
again on his knees, and told me to do what I would to him. I gave him a
kick and told him to get up and follow me. He made no reply, and
followed me bareheaded till he saw me get into my chaise and drive off,
and I have no doubt he gave thanks to God for his light escape. In the
evening, I reached Aix-la-Chapelle, where I found Princess Lubomirska,
General Roniker, several other distinguished Poles, Tomatis and his wife,
and many Englishmen of my acquaintance.
My Stay at Spa--The Blow--The Sword--Della Croce--Charlotte; Her Lying-in
and Death--A Lettre de Cachet Obliges Me to Leave Paris in the Course of
All my friends seemed delighted to see me, and I was well pleased to find
myself in such good company. People were on the point of leaving Aix for
Spa. Nearly everyone went, and those who stayed only did so because
lodgings were not to be had at Spa. Everybody assured me that this was
the case, and many had returned after seeking in vain for a mere garret.
I paid no attention to all this, and told the princess that if she would
come with me I would find some lodging, were it only in my carriage. We
accordingly set out the next day, and got to Spa in good time, our
company consisting of the princess, the prothonotary, Roniker, and the
Tomatis. Everyone except myself had taken rooms in advance, I alone knew
not where to turn. I got out and prepared for the search, but before
going along the streets I went into a shop and bought a hat, having lost
mine on the way. I explained my situation to the shopwoman, who seemed
to take an interest in me, and began speaking to her husband in Flemish
or Walloon, and finally informed me that if it were only for a few days
she and her husband would sleep in the shop and give up their room to me.
But she said that she had absolutely no room whatever for my man.
"I haven't got one."
"All the better. Send away your carriage."
"Where shall I send it?"
"I will see that it is housed safely."
"How much am I to pay?"
"Nothing; and if you are not too particular, we should like you to share
"I accept your offer thankfully."
I went up a narrow staircase, and found myself in a pretty little room
with a closet, a good bed, suitable furniture, and everything perfectly
neat and clean. I thought myself very lucky, and asked the good people
why they would not sleep in the closet rather than the shop, and they
replied with one breath that they would be in my way, while their niece
would not interfere with me.
This news about the niece was a surprise to me. The closet had no door,
and was not much bigger than the bed which it contained; it was, in fact,
a mere alcove, without any window.
I must note that my hostess and her husband, both of them from Liege,
were perfect models of ugliness.
"It's not within the limits of possibility," I said to myself, "for the
niece to be uglier than they, but if they allow her to sleep thus in the
same room with the first comer, she must be proof against all
However, I gave no sign, and did not ask to see the niece for fear of
offense, and I went out without opening my trunk. I told them as I went
out that I should not be back till after supper, and gave them some money
to buy wax candles and night lights.
I went to see the princess with whom I was to sup. All the company
congratulated me on my good fortune in finding a lodging. I went to the
concert, to the bank at faro, and to the other gaming saloons, and there
I saw the so-called Marquis d'Aragon, who was playing at piquet with an
old count of the Holy Roman Empire. I was told about the duel he had had
three weeks before with a Frenchman who had picked a quarrel with him;
the Frenchman had been wounded in the chest, and was still ill.
Nevertheless, he was only waiting for his cure to be completed to have
his revenge, which he had demanded as he was taken off the field. Such
is the way of the French when a duel is fought for a trifling matter.
They stop at the first blood, and fight the duel over and over again. In
Italy, on the other hand, duels are fought to the death. Our blood burns
to fire when our adversary's sword opens a vein. Thus stabbing is common
in Italy and rare in France; while duels are common in France, and rare
Of all the company at Spa, I was most pleased to see the Marquis
Caraccioli, whom I had left in London. His Court had given him leave of
absence, and he was spending it at Spa. He was brimful of wit and the
milk of human kindness, compassionate for the weaknesses of others, and
devoted to youth, no matter of what sex, but he knew well the virtue of
moderation, and used all things without abusing them. He never played,
but he loved a good gamester and despised all dupes. The worthy marquis
was the means of making the fortune of the so-called Marquis d'Aragon by
becoming surety for his nobility and bona fides to a wealthy English
widow of fifty, who had taken a fancy to him, and brought him her fortune
of sixty thousand pounds sterling. No doubt the widow was taken with the
gigantic form and the beautiful title of d'Aragon, for Dragon (as his
name really was) was devoid of wit and manners, and his legs, which I
suppose he kept well covered, bore disgusting marks of the libertine life
he had led. I saw the marquis some time afterwards at Marseilles, and a
few years later he purchased two estates at Modena. His wife died in due
course, and according to the English law he inherited the whole of her
I returned to my lodging in good time, and went to bed without seeing the
niece, who was fast asleep. I was waited on by the ugly aunt, who begged
me not to take a servant while I remained in her house, for by her
account all servants were thieves.
When I awoke in the morning the niece had got up and gone down. I
dressed to go to the Wells, and warned my host and hostess that I should
have the pleasure of dining with them. The room I occupied was the only
place in which they could take their meals, and I was astonished when
they came and asked my permission to do so. The niece had gone out, so I
had to put my curiosity aside. When I was out my acquaintances pointed
out to me the chief beauties who then haunted the Wells. The number of
adventurers who flock to Spa during the season is something incredible,
and they all hope to make their fortunes; and, as may be supposed, most
of them go away as naked as they came, if not more so. Money circulates
with great freedom, but principally amongst the gamesters, shop-keepers,
money-lenders, and courtezans. The money which proceeds from the
gaming-table has three issues: the first and smallest share goes to the
Prince-Bishop of Liege; the second and larger portion, to the numerous
amateur cheats who frequent the place; and by far the largest of all to
the coffers of twelve sharpers, who keep the tables and are authorized by
Thus goes the money. It comes from the pockets of the dupes--poor moths
who burn their wings at Spa!
The Wells are a mere pretext for gaming, intriguing, and fortune-hunting.
There are a few honest people who go for amusement, and a few for rest
and relaxation after the toils of business.
Living is cheap enough at Spa. The table d'hote is excellent, and only
costs a small French crown, and one can get good lodging for the like
I came home at noon having won a score of louis. I went into the shop,
intending to go to my room, but I was stopped short by seeing a handsome
brunette, of nineteen or twenty, with great black eyes, voluptuous lips,
and shining teeth, measuring out ribbon on the counter. This, then, was
the niece, whom I had imagined as so ugly. I concealed my surprise and
sat down in the shop to gaze at her and endeavour to make her
acquaintance. But she hardly seemed to see me, and only acknowledged my
presence by a slight inclination of the head. Her aunt came down to say
that dinner was ready, and I went upstairs and found the table laid for
four. The servant brought in the soup, and then asked me very plainly to
give her some money if I wanted any wine, as her master and mistress only
drank beer. I was delighted with her freedom, and gave her money to buy
two bottles of Burgundy.
The master came up and shewed me a gold repeater with a chain also of
gold by a well-known modern maker. He wanted to know how much it was
"Forty louis at the least."
"A gentleman wants me to give him twenty louis for it, on the condition
that I return it to-morrow if he brings me twenty-two."
"Then I advise you to accept his offer."
"I haven't got the money."
"I will lend it you with pleasure."
I gave him the twenty Louis, and placed the watch in my jewel-casket. At
table the niece sat opposite to me, but I took care not to look at her,
and she, like a modest girl, did not say a score of words all through the
meal. The meal was an excellent one, consisting of soup, boiled beef, an
entree, and a roast. The mistress of the house told me that the roast
was in my honour, "for," she said, "we are not rich people, and we only
allow ourselves this Luxury on a Sunday." I admired her delicacy, and
the evident sincerity with which she spoke. I begged my entertainers to
help me with my wine, and they accepted the offer, saying they only
wished they were rich enough to be able to drink half a bottle a day.
"I thought trade was good with you."
"The stuff is not ours, and we have debts; besides, the expenses are very
great. We have sold very little up to now."
"Do you only sell hats?"
"No, we have silk handkerchiefs, Paris stockings, and lace ruffs, but
they say everything is too dear."
"I will buy some things for you, and will send all my friends here.
Leave it to me; I will see what I can do for you."
"Mercy, fetch down one or two packets of those handkerchiefs and some
stockings, large size, for the gentleman has a big leg."
Mercy, as the niece was called, obeyed. I pronounced the handkerchiefs
superb and the stockings excellent. I bought a dozen, and I promised
them that they should sell out their whole stock. They overwhelmed me
with thanks, and promised to put themselves entirely in my hands.
After coffee, which, like the roast, was in my honour, the aunt told her
niece to take care to awake me in the morning when she got up. She said
she would not fail, but I begged her not to take too much trouble over
me, as I was a very heavy sleeper.
In the afternoon I went to an armourer's to buy a brace of pistols, and
asked the man if he knew the tradesman with whom I was staying.
"We are cousins-german," he replied.
"Is he rich?"
"Yes, in debts."
"Because he is unfortunate, like most honest people."
"How about his wife?"
"Her careful economy keeps him above water."
"Do you know the niece?"
"Yes; she's a good girl, but very pious. Her silly scruples keep
customers away from the shop."
"What do you think she should do to attract customers?"
"She should be more polite, and not play the prude when anyone wants to
give her a kiss."
"She is like that, is she?"
"Try her yourself and you will see. Last week she gave an officer a box
on the ear. My cousin scolded her, and she wanted to go back to Liege;
however, the wife soothed her again. She is pretty enough, don't you
"Certainly I do, but if she is as cross-grained as you say, the best
thing will be to leave her alone."
After what I had heard I made up my mind to change my room, for Mercy had
pleased me in such a way that I was sure I should be obliged to pay her a
call before long, and I detested Pamelas as heartily as Charpillons.
In the afternoon I took Rzewuski and Roniker to the shop, and they bought
fifty ducats' worth of goods to oblige me. The next day the princess and
Madame Tomatis bought all the handkerchiefs.
I came home at ten o'clock, and found Mercy in bed as I had done the
night before. Next morning the watch was redeemed, and the hatter
returned me twenty-two louis. I made him a present of the two louis, and
said I should always be glad to lend him money in that way--the profits
to be his. He left me full of gratitude.
I was asked to dine with Madame Tomatis, so I told my hosts that I would
have the pleasure of supping with them, the costs to be borne by me. The
supper was good and the Burgundy excellent, but Mercy refused to taste
it. She happened to leave the room for a moment at the close of the
meal, and I observed to the aunt that her niece was charming, but it was
a pity she was so sad.
"She will have to change her ways, or I will keep her no longer."
"Is she the same with all men?"
"Then she has never been in love."
"She says she has not, but I don't believe her."
"I wonder she can sleep so comfortably with a man at a few feet distant."
"She is not afraid."
Mercy came in, bade us good night, and said she would go to bed. I made
as if I would give her a kiss, but she turned her back on me, and placed
a chair in front of her closet so that I might not see her taking off her
chemise. My host and hostess then went to bed, and so did I, puzzling my
head over the girl's behaviour which struck me as most extraordinary and
unaccountable. However, I slept peacefully, and when I awoke the bird
had left the nest. I felt inclined to have a little quiet argument with
the girl, and to see what I could make of her; but I saw no chance of my
getting an opportunity. The hatter availed himself of my offer of purse
to lend money on pledges, whereby he made a good profit. There was no
risk for me in the matter, and he and his wife declared that they blessed
the day on which I had come to live with them.
On the fifth or sixth day I awoke before Mercy, and only putting on my
dressing-gown I came towards her bed. She had a quick ear and woke up,
and no sooner did she see me coming towards her than she asked me what I
wanted. I sat down on her bed and said gently that I only wanted to wish
her a good day and to have a little talk. It was hot weather, and she
was only covered by a single sheet; and stretching out one arm I drew her
towards me, and begged her to let me give her a kiss. Her resistance
made me angry; and passing an audacious hand under the sheet I discovered
that she was made like other women; but just as my hand was on the spot,
I received a fisticuff on the nose that made me see a thousand stars, and
quite extinguished the fire of my concupiscence. The blood streamed from
my nose and stained the bed of the furious Mercy. I kept my presence of
mind and left her on the spot, as the blow she had given me was but a
sample of what I might expect if I attempted reprisals. I washed my face
in cold water, and as I was doing so Mercy dressed herself and left the
At last my blood ceased to flow, and I saw to my great annoyance that my
nose was swollen in such a manner that my face was simply hideous. I
covered it up with a handkerchief and sent for the hairdresser to do my
hair, and when this was done my landlady brought me up some fine trout,
of which I approved; but as I was giving her the money she saw my face
and uttered a cry of horror. I told her the whole story, freely
acknowledging that I was in the wrong, and begging her to say nothing to
her niece. Then heeding not her excuses I went out with my handkerchief
before my face, and visited a house which the Duchess of Richmond had
left the day before.
Half of the suite she had abandoned had been taken in advance by an
Italian marquis; I took the other half, hired a servant, and had my
effects transported there from my old lodgings. The tears and
supplications of my landlady had no effect whatever upon me, I felt I
could not bear the sight of Mercy any longer.
In the house into which I had moved I found an Englishman who said he
would bring down the bruise in one hour, and make the discoloration of
the flesh disappear in twenty-four. I let him do what he liked and he
kept his word. He rubbed the place with spirits of wine and some drug
which is unknown to me; but being ashamed to appear in public in the
state I was in, I kept indoors for the rest of the day. At noon the
distressed aunt brought me my trout, and said that Mercy was cut to the
heart to have used me so, and that if I would come back I could do what I
liked with her.
"You must feel," I replied, "that if I complied with your request the
adventure would become public to the damage of my honour and your
business, and your niece would not be able to pass for a devotee any
I made some reflections on the blow she had given the officer, much to
the aunt's surprise, for she could not think how I had heard of it; and I
shewed her that, after having exposed me to her niece's brutality, her
request was extremely out of place. I concluded by saying that I could
believe her to be an accomplice in the fact without any great stretch of
imagination. This made her burst into tears, and I had to apologize and
to promise to continue forwarding her business by way of consolation, and
so she left me in a calmer mood. Half an hour afterwards her husband
came with twenty-five Louis I had lent him on a gold snuff-box set with
diamonds, and proposed that I should lend two hundred Louis on a ring
worth four hundred.
"It will be yours," he said, "if the owner does not bring me two hundred
and twenty Louis in a week's time."
I had the money and proceeded to examine the stone which seemed to be a
good diamond, and would probably weigh six carats as the owner declared.
The setting was in gold.
"I consent to give the sum required if the owner is ready to give me a
"I will do so myself in the presence of witnesses."
"Very good. You shall have the money in the course of an hour; I am
going to have the stone taken out first. That will make no difference to
the owner, as I shall have it reset at my own expense. If he redeems it,
the twenty Louis shall be yours."
"I must ask him whether he has any objection to the stone being taken
"Very good, but you can tell him that if he will not allow it to be done
he will get nothing for it."
He returned before long with a jeweller who said he would guarantee the
stone to be at least two grains over the six carats.
"Have you weighed it?"
"No, but I am quite sure it weighs over six carats."
"Then you can lend the money on it?"
"I cannot command such a sum."