Part 61 out of 70
Messa was going to pay me a visit that same night with a band of police,
"of whom," he added, "I am one. He knows you have concealed weapons in
your room. He knows, or thinks he knows, certain other things which
authorize him to seize your person and to take you to the prison where
persons destined for the galleys are kept. I give you all this warning
because I believe you to be a man of honour. Despise not my advice, but
look to yourself, and get into some place of security."
I credited what he told me, as the circumstance of my having arms was
perfectly true, so I gave the man a doubloon, and, instead of calling on
Donna Ignazia, as I intended, I went back to my lodging, and after
putting the weapons under my cloak I went to Mengs's, leaving word at the
cafe to send me my page as soon as he came back. In Mengs's house I was
safe, as it belonged to the king.
The painter was an honest fellow, but proud and suspicious in excess. He
did not refuse me an asylum for the night, but he told me that I must
look out for some other refuge, as the alcalde must have some other
accusation against me, and that knowing nothing of the merits or demerits
of the case he could not take any part in it. He gave me a room and we
supped together, discussing the matter all the time, I persisting that
the possession of arms was my only offence, and he replying that if it
were so I should have awaited the alcalde fearlessly, as it stood to
reason that a man had a right to keep defensive weapons in his own room.
To this I answered that I had only come to him to avoid passing the night
in prison, as I was certain that the man had told me the truth.
"To-morrow I shall look out for another lodging."
I confessed, however, that it would have been wiser of me to leave my
pistols and musket in my room.
"Yes, and you might have remained there yourself. I did not think you
were so easily frightened."
As we were arguing it over my landlord came and said that the alcalde
with thirty constables had been to my apartment and had broken open the
door. He had searched everything, but unsuccessfully, and had gone away
after sealing the room and its contents. He had arrested and imprisoned
my page on the charge of having warned me, "for otherwise," he said, "the
Venetian gentleman would never have gone to the house of Chevalier Mengs,
where he is out of my power."
At this Mengs agreed that I had been right in believing my informant's
tale, and he added that the first thing in the morning I should go and
protest my innocence before the Count of Aranda, but he especially urged
on me the duty of defending the poor page. My landlord went his way, and
we continued the discussion, Mengs insisting on the page's innocence,
till at last I lost all patience, and said,--
"My page must be a thorough-paced scoundrel; the magistrate's arresting
him for warning me is an absolute proof that he knew of my approaching
arrest. What is a servant who does not warn his master under such
circumstances but a rascal? Indeed I am absolutely certain that he was
the informer, for he was the only person who knew where the arms were
Mengs could find no answer to this, and left to go to bed. I did the
same and had an excellent night.
Early the next morning the great Mengs sent me linen and all the
requisites of the toilette. His maid brought me a cup of chocolate, and
his cook came to ask if I had permission to eat flesh-meat. In such ways
a prince welcomes a guest, and bids him stay, but such behaviour in a
private person is equivalent to a hint to go. I expressed my gratitude,
and only accepted a cup of chocolate and one handkerchief.
My carriage was at the door, and I was just taking leave of Mengs when an
officer appeared on the scene, and asked the painter if the Chevalier de
Casanova was in his house.
"I am the Chevalier de Casanova," said I.
"Then I hope you will follow me of your own free will to the prison of
Buen Retiro. I cannot use force here, for this house is the king's, but
I warn you that in less than an hour the Chevalier Mengs will have orders
to turn you out, and then you will be dragged to prison, which would be
unpleasant for you. I therefore advise you to follow me quietly, and to
give up such weapons as you may possess."
"The Chevalier Mengs will give you the weapons in question. I have
carried them with me for eleven years; they are meant to protect me on
the highways. I am ready to follow you, but first allow me to write four
notes; I shall not be half an hour."
"I can neither allow you to wait nor to write, but you will be at liberty
to do so after you have reached the prison."
"Very good; then I am ready to follow you, for I have no choice. I shall
remember Spanish justice!"
I embraced Mengs, had the weapons put into my carriage, and got in with
the officer, who seemed a perfect gentleman.
He took me to the Castle of Buen Retiro, formerly a royal palace, and now
a prison. When my conductor had consigned me to the officer of the watch
I was handed over to a corporal, who led me into a vast hall on the
ground floor of the building. The stench was dreadful, and the prisoners
were about thirty, ten of them being soldiers. There were ten or twelve
large beds, some benches, no tables, and no chairs.
I asked a guard to get me some pens, ink, and paper, and gave him a duro
for the purpose. He took the coin smilingly, and went away, but he did
not return. When I asked his brethren what had become of him they
laughed in my face. But what surprised me the most was the sight of my
page and Marazzini, who told me in Italian that he had been there for
three days, and that he had not written to me as he had a presentiment
that we should soon meet. He added that in a fortnight's time we should
be sent off under a heavy escort to work in some fortress, though we
might send our pleas to the Government, and might possibly be let out
after three or four years' imprisonment.
"I hope," he said, "not to be condemned before I am heard. The alcalde
will come and interrogate you tomorrow, and your answers will be taken
down; that's all. You may then be sent to hard labour in Africa."
"Has your case been heard yet?"
"They were at me about it for three hours yesterday."
"What kind of questions did they ask you?"
"They wished to know what banker furnished me with money for my expenses.
I told them I had not got a banker, and that I lived by borrowing from my
friends, in the expectation of becoming one of the king's body-guard.
They then asked me how it was that the Parmese ambassador knew nothing
about me, and I replied that I had never been presented to him.
"'Without the favour of your ambassador,' they objected, 'you could never
join the royal guard, and you must be aware of that, but the king's
majesty shall give you employment where you will stand in need of no
commendation;' and so the alcalde left me. If the Venetian ambassador
does not interpose in your behalf you will be treated in the same way."
I concealed my rage, and sat down on a bed, which I left after three
hours, as I found myself covered with the disgusting vermin which seem
endemic in Spain. The very sight of them made me sick. I stood upright,
motionless, and silent, devouring the bile which consumed me.
There was no good in talking; I must write; but where was I to find
writing materials? However, I resolved to wait in silence; my time must
come, sooner or later.
At noon Marazzini told me that he knew a soldier for whose
trustworthiness he would answer, and who would get me my dinner if I gave
him the money.
"I have no appetite," I replied, "and I am not going to give a farthing
to anyone till the stolen crown is restored to me."
He made an uproar over this piece of cheating, but the soldiers only
laughed at him. My page then asked him to intercede with me, as he was
hungry, and had no money wherewith to buy food.
"I will not give him a farthing; he is no longer in my service, and would
to God I had never seen him!"
My companions in misery proceeded to dine on bad garlic soup and wretched
bread, washed down by plain water, two priests and an individual who was
styled corregidor excepted, and they seemed to fare very well.
At four o'clock one of Mengs's servants brought me a dinner which would
have sufficed for four. He wanted to leave me the dinner and come for
the plates in the evening; but not caring to share the meal with the vile
mob around me I made him wait till I had done and come again at the same
time the next day, as I did not require any supper. The servant obeyed.
Marazzini said rudely that I might at least have kept the bottle of wine;
but I gave him no answer.
At five o'clock Manucci appeared, accompanied by a Spanish officer.
After the usual compliments had passed between us I asked the officer if
I might write to my friends, who would not allow me to stay much longer
in prison if they were advised of my arrest.
"We are no tyrants," he replied; "you can write what letters you like."
"Then," said I, "as this is a free country, is it allowable for a soldier
who has received certain moneys to buy certain articles to pocket the
money and appropriate it to his own use?"
"What is his name?"
The guard had been relieved, and no one seemed to know who or where he
"I promise you, sir," said the officer, "that the soldier shall be
punished and your money restored to you; and in the meanwhile you shall
have pens, ink, paper, a table, and a candle, immediately."
"And I," added Manucci, "promise you that one of the ambassador's
servants shall wait on you at eight o'clock to deliver any letters you
I took three crowns from my pocket, and told my fellow-prisoners that the
first to name the soldier who had deceived me should have the money;
Marazzini was the first to do so. The officer made a note of the man's
name with a smile; he was beginning to know me; I had spent three crowns
to get back one, and could not be very avaricious.
Manucci whispered to me that the ambassador would do his best in a
confidential way to get my release, and that he had no doubt of his
When my visitors were gone I sat down to write, but I had need of all my
patience. The rascally prisoners crowded round me to read what I was
writing, and when they could not understand it they were impudent enough
to ask me to explain it to them. Under the pretext of snuffing the
candle, they put it out. However, I bore with it all. One of the
soldiers said he would keep them quiet for a crown, but I gave him no
answer. In spite of the hell around me, I finished my letters and sealed
them up. They were no studied or rhetorical epistles, but merely the
expression of the fury with which I was consumed.
I told Mocenigo that it was his duty to defend a subject of his prince,
who had been arrested and imprisoned by a foreign power on an idle
pretext. I shewed him that he must give me his protection unless I was
guilty, and that I had committed no offence against the law of the land.
I reminded him that I was a Venetian, in spite of my persecution at the
hands of the State Inquisitors, and that being a Venetian I had a right
to count on his protection.
To Don Emmanuel de Roda, a learned scholar, and the minister of justice,
I wrote that I did not ask any favour but only simple justice.
"Serve God and your master," said I. "Let his Catholic majesty save me
from the hands of the infamous alcalde who has arrested me, an honest and
a law-abiding man, who came to Spain trusting in his own innocence and
the protection of the laws. The person who writes to you, my lord, has a
purse full of doubloons in his pocket; he has already been robbed, and
fears assassination in the filthy den in which he has been imprisoned."
I wrote to the Duke of Lossada, requesting him to inform the king that
his servants had subjected to vile treatment a man whose only fault was
that he had a little money. I begged him to use his influence with his
Catholic majesty to put a stop to these infamous proceedings.
But the most vigorous letter of all was the one I addressed to the Count
of Aranda. I told him plainly that if this infamous action went on I
should be forced to believe that it was by his orders, since I had stated
in vain that I came to Madrid with an introduction to him from a
"I have committed no crime," I said; "what compensation am I to have when
I am released from this filthy and abominable place? Set me at liberty
at once, or tell your hangmen to finish their work, for I warn you that
no one shall take me to the galleys alive."
According to my custom I took copies of all the letters, and I sent them
off by the servant whom the all-powerful Manucci despatched to the
prison. I passed such a night as Dante might have imagined in his Vision
of Hell. All the beds were full, and even if there had been a spare
place I would not have occupied it. I asked in vain for a mattress, but
even if they had brought me one, it would have been of no use, for the
whole floor was inundated. There were only two or three chamber utensils
for all the prisoners, and everyone discharged his occasions on the
I spent the night on a narrow bench without a back, resting my head on my
At seven o'clock the next morning Manucci came to see me; I looked upon
him as my Providence. I begged him to take me down to the guard-room,
and give me some refreshment, for I felt quite exhausted. My request was
granted, and as I told my sufferings I had my hair done by a barber.
Manucci told me that my letters would be delivered in the course of the
day, and observed, smilingly, that my epistle to the ambassador was
rather severe. I shewed him copies of the three others I had written,
and the inexperienced young man told me that gentleness was the best way
to obtain favours. He did not know that there are circumstances in which
a man's pen must be dipped in gall. He told me confidentially that the
ambassador dined with Aranda that day, and would speak in my favour as a
private individual, adding that he was afraid my letter would prejudice
the proud Spaniard against me.
"All I ask of you," said I, "is not to tell the ambassador that you have
seen the letter I wrote to the Count of Aranda."
He promised he would keep the secret.
An hour after his departure I saw Donna Ignazia and her father coming in,
accompanied by the officer who had treated me with such consideration.
Their visit cut me to the quick; nevertheless, I felt grateful, for it
shewed me the 'goodness of Don Diego's heart and the love of the fair
I gave them to understand, in my bad Spanish, that I was grateful for the
honour they had done me in visiting me in this dreadful situation. Donna
Ignazia did not speak, she only wept in silence; but Don Diego gave me
clearly to understand that he would never have come to see me unless he
had felt certain that my accusation was a mistake or an infamous calumny.
He told me he was sure I should be set free, and that proper satisfaction
would be given me.
"I hope so," I replied, "for I am perfectly innocent of any offence."
I was greatly touched when the worthy man slipped into my hands a
rouleau, telling me it contained twelve quadruples, which I could repay
at my convenience.
It was more than a thousand francs, and my hair stood on end. I pressed
his hand warmly, and whispered to him that I had fifty in my pocket,
which I was afraid to shew him, for fear the rascals around might rob me.
He put back his rouleau, and bade me farewell in tears, and I promised to
come and see him as soon as I should be set at liberty.
He had not sent in his name, and as he was very well dressed he was taken
for a man of importance. Such characters are not altogether exceptional
in heroic Spain; it is a land of extremes.
At noon Mengs's servant came with a dinner that was choicer than before,
but not so plentiful. This was just what I liked. He waited for me to
finish, and went away with the plates, carrying my heartiest thanks to
At one o'clock an individual came up to me and bade me follow him.
He took me to a small room, where I saw my carbine and pistols. In front
of me was the Alcalde Messa, seated at a table covered with documents,
and a policeman stood on each side of him. The alcalde told me to sit
down, and to answer truly such questions as might be put to me, warning
me that my replies would be taken down.
"I do not understand Spanish well, and I shall only give written answers
to any questions that may be asked of me, in Italian, French, or Latin."
This reply, which I uttered in a firm and determined voice, seemed to
astonish him. He spoke to me for an hour, and I understood him very
well, but he only got one reply:
"I don't understand what you say. Get a judge who understands one of the
languages I have named, and I will write down my answers."
The alcalde was enraged, but I did not let his ill-humour or his threats
Finally he gave me a pen, and told me to write my name, profession, and
business in Spain in Italian. I could not refuse him this pleasure, so I
wrote as follows:
"My name is Jacques Casanova; I am a subject of the Republic of Venice,
by profession a man of letters, and in rank a Knight of the Golden Spur.
I have sufficient means, and I travel for my pleasure. I am known to the
Venetian ambassador, the Count of Aranda, the Prince de la Catolica, the
Marquis of Moras, and the Duke of Lossada. I have offended in no manner
against the laws of his Catholic majesty, but in spite of my innocence I
have been cast into a den of thieves and assassins by magistrates who
deserve a ten times greater punishment. Since I have not infringed the
laws, his Catholic majesty must know that he has only one right over me,
and that is to order me to leave his realms, which order I am ready to
obey. My arms, which I see before me, have travelled with me for the
last eleven years; I carry them to defend myself against highwaymen.
They were seen when my effects were examined at the Gate of Alcala, and
were not confiscated; which makes it plain that they have served merely
as a pretext for the infamous treatment to which I have been subjected."
After I had written out this document I gave it to the alcalde, who
called for an interpreter. When he had had it read to him he rose
angrily and said to me,--
"Valga me Dios! You shall suffer for your insolence."
With this threat he went away, ordering that I should be taken back to
At eight o'clock Manucci called and told me that the Count of Aranda had
been making enquiries about me of the Venetian ambassador, who had spoken
very highly in my favour, and expressed his regret that he could not take
my part officially on account of my being in disgrace with the State
"He has certainly been shamefully used," said the count, "but an
intelligent man should not lose his head. I should have known nothing
about it, but for a furious letter he has written me; and Don
Emmanuel de Roda and the Duke of Lossada have received epistles in the
same style. Casanova is in the right, but that is not the way to address
"If he really said I was in the right, that is sufficient."
"He said it, sure enough."
"Then he must do me justice, and as to my style everyone has a style of
their own. I am furious, and I wrote furiously. Look at this place; I
have no bed, the floor is covered with filth, and I am obliged to sleep
on a narrow bench. Don't you think it is natural that I should desire to
eat the hearts of the scoundrels who have placed me here? If I do not
leave this hell by tomorrow, I shall kill myself, or go mad."
Manucci understood the horrors of my situation. He promised to come
again early the next day, and advised me to see what money would do
towards procuring a bed, but I would not listen to him, for I was
suffering from injustice, and was therefore obstinate. Besides, the
thought of the vermin frightened me, and I was afraid for my purse and
the jewels I had about me.
I spent a second night worse than the first, going to sleep from sheer
exhaustion, only to awake and find myself slipping off the bench.
Manucci came before eight o'clock, and my aspect shocked him. He had
come in his carriage, bringing with him some excellent chocolate, which
in some way restored my spirits. As I was finishing it, an officer of
high rank, accompanied by two other officers, came in and called out,--
"M. de Casanova!"
I stepped forward and presented myself.
"Chevalier," he began, "the Count of Aranda is at the gate of the prison;
he is much grieved at the treatment you have received. He only heard
about it through the letter you wrote him yesterday, and if you had
written sooner your pains would have been shorter."
"Such was my intention, colonel, but a soldier . . . ."
I proceeded to tell him the story of the swindling soldier, and on
hearing his name the colonel called the captain of the guard, reprimanded
him severely, and ordered him to give me back the crown himself. I took
the money laughingly, and the colonel then ordered the captain to fetch
the offending soldier, and to give him a flogging before me.
This officer, the emissary of the all-powerful Aranda, was Count Royas,
commanding the garrison of Buen Retiro. I told him all the circumstances
of my arrest, and of my imprisonment in that filthy place. I told him
that if I did not get back that day my arms, my liberty, and my honour, I
should either go mad or kill myself.
"Here," I said, "I can neither rest nor sleep, and a man needs sleep
every night. If you had come a little earlier you would have seen the
disgusting filth with which the floor was covered."
The worthy man was taken aback with the energy with which I spoke. I saw
his feelings, and hastened to say,--
"You must remember, colonel, that I am suffering from injustice, and am
in a furious rage. I am a man of honour, like yourself, and you can
imagine the effect of such treatment on me."
Manucci told him, in Spanish, that in my normal state I was a good fellow
enough. The colonel expressed his pity for me, and assured me that my
arms should be restored to me, and my liberty too, in the course of the
"Afterwards," said he, "you must go and thank his excellency the Count of
Aranda, who came here expressly for your sake. He bade me tell you that
your release would be delayed till the afternoon, that you may have full
satisfaction for the affront you have received, if it is an affront, for
the penalties of the law only dishonour the guilty. In this instance the
Alcalde Messa has been deceived by the rascal who was in your service."
"There he is," said I. "Be good enough to have him removed, or else, in
my indignation, I might kill him."
"He shall be taken away this moment," he replied.
The colonel went out, and two minutes later two soldiers came in and took
the rogue away between them. I never saw him again, and never troubled
myself to enquire what had become of him.
The colonel begged me to accompany him to the guard-room, to see the
thieving soldier flogged. Manucci was at my side, and at some little
distance stood the Count of Aranda, surrounded by officers, and
accompanied by a royal guard.
The business kept us there for a couple of hours. Before leaving me the
colonel begged me to meet Mengs at dinner at his house.
When I returned to my filthy prison I found a clean arm-chair, which I
was informed had been brought in for me. I sat down in it immediately,
and Manucci left me, after embracing me again and again. He was my
sincere friend, and I can never forgive myself the stupidity which made
me offend him grievously. He never forgave me, at which I am not
surprised, but I believe my readers will agree with me in thinking that
he carried his vengeance too far.
After the scene which had taken place, the vile crowd of prisoners stood
gazing at me in stupid silence, and Marazzini came up to me and begged me
to use my offices for him.
Dinner was brought me as usual, and at three o'clock the Alcalde Messa
appeared and begged me to follow him, as he had received orders to take
me back to my lodging, where he hoped I should find everything in perfect
order. At the same time he shewed me my arms, which one of his men was
going to bring to my house. The officer of the guard returned me my
sword, the alcalde, who was in his black cloak, put himself on my left
hand, and thus I was escorted home with a guard of thirty constables.
The seals were removed from my apartment, and after a brief inspection I
pronounced that everything was in perfect order.
"If you had not a rascal and a traitor (who shall end his days in the
galleys) in your service, Senor Caballero, you would never have written
down the servants of his Catholic majesty as scoundrels."
"Senor Alcalde, my indignation made me write the same sentence to four of
his majesty's ministers. Then I believed what I wrote, but I do so no
longer. Let us forget and forgive; but you must confess that if I had
not known how to write a letter you would have sent me to the galleys."
"Alas! it is very likely."
I need not say that I hastened to remove all traces of the vile prison
where I had suffered so much. When I was ready to go out my first
grateful visit was paid to the noble cobbler. The worthy man was proud
of the fulfilment of his prophecy, and glad to see me again. Donna
Ignazia was wild with delight--perhaps she had not been so sure of my
release--and when Don Diego heard of the satisfaction that had been given
me he said that a grandee of Spain could not have asked for more. I
begged the worthy people to come and dine with me, telling them that I
would name the day another time, and they accepted gladly.
I felt that my love for Donna Ignazia had increased immensely since our
Afterwards I called on Mengs, who with his knowledge of Spanish law
expected nothing less than to see me. When he heard of my triumphant
release he overwhelmed me with congratulations. He was in his Court
dress--an unusual thing with him, and on my asking him the reason he told
me that he had been to Don Emmanuel de Roda's to speak on my behalf, but
had not succeeded in obtaining an audience. He gave me a Venetian letter
which had just arrived for me. I opened it, and found it was from M.
Dandolo, and contained an enclosure for M. de Mocenigo. M. Dandolo said
that on reading the enclosed letter the ambassador would have no more
scruples about introducing me, as it contained a recommendation from one
of the Inquisitors on behalf of the three.
When I told Mengs of this he said it was now in my power to make my
fortune in Spain, and that now was the time when all the ministers would
be only too anxious to do something for me to make me forget the wrongs I
"I advise you," he said, "to take the letter to the ambassador
immediately. Take my carriage; after what you have undergone for the
last few days you cannot be in a walking humour."
I had need of rest, and told Mengs that I would not sup with him that
night, but would dine with him the next day. The ambassador was out, so
I left the letter with Manucci, and then drove home and slept profoundly
for twelve hours.
Manucci came to see me the next day in high spirits, and told me that M.
Girolamo Zulian had written to the ambassador on behalf of M. du Mula,
informing him that he need not hesitate to countenance me, as any
articles the Tribunal might have against me were in no degree prejudicial
to my honour.
"The ambassador," he continued, "proposes to introduce you at Court next
week, and he wants you to dine with him to-day; there will be a numerous
company at dinner."
"I am engaged to Mengs."
"No matter, he shall be asked as well; you must come. Consider the
effect of your presence at the ambassador's the day after your triumph."
"You are right. Go and ask Mengs, and tell the ambassador that I have
much pleasure in accepting his invitation."
Campomanes--Olavides--Sierra Morena--Aranjuez--Mengs--The Marquis
Grimaldi--Toledo--Madame Pelliccia--My Return to Madrid
Different circumstances in my life seem to have combined to render me
somewhat superstitious; it is a humiliating confession, and yet I make
it. But who could help it? A man who abandons himself to his whims and
fancies is like a child playing with a billiard cue. It may make a
stroke that would be an honour to the most practised and scientific
player; and such are the strange coincidences of life which, as I have
said, have caused me to become superstitious.
Fortune, which under the humbler name of luck seems but a word, is a very
divinity when it guides the most important actions of a man's life.
Always it has seemed to me that this divinity is not blind, as the
mythologists affirm; she had brought me low only to exalt me, and I found
myself in high places, only, as it seems, to be cast into the depths.
Fortune has done her best to make me regard her as a reasoning, almighty
power; she has made me feel that the strength of my will is as nothing
before this mysterious power, which takes my will and moulds it, and
makes it a mere instrument for the accomplishment of its decrees.
I could not possibly have done anything in Spain without the help of the
representative of my country, and he would not have dared to do anything
for me without the letter I had just given him. This letter, in its
turn, would probably have had but slight effect if it had not come to
hand so soon after my imprisonment, which had become the talk of the
town, through the handsome satisfaction the Count of Aranda had given me.
The letter made the ambassador sorry that he had not interposed on my
behalf, but he hoped people would believe that the count would not have
acted as he did if it had not been for his interposition. His favourite,
Count Manucci, had come to ask me to dinner; as it happened I was engaged
to Mengs, which obtained an invitation for the painter, and flattered his
vanity excessively. He fancied that the invitation proceeded from
gratitude, and it certainly smoothed away the mortification he had felt
at seeing me arrested in his house. He immediately wrote to the effect
that he would call upon me with his carriage.
I called on the Count of Aranda, who kept me waiting for a quarter of an
hour, and then came in with some papers in his hand. He smiled when he
saw me, and said,--
"Your business is done. Stay, here are four letters; take them and read
them over again."
"Why should I read them again? This is the document I gave the alcalde."
"I know that. Read, and confess that you should not have written so
violently, in spite of the wrongs that vexed you."
"I crave your pardon, my lord, but a man who meditates suicide does not
pick terms. I believed that your excellency was at the bottom of it
"Then you don't know me. Go and thank Don Emmanuel de Roda, who wants to
know you, and I shall be glad if you will call once on the alcalde, not
to make him an apology, for you owe him none, but as an act of politeness
to salve over the hard things you said of him. If you write the history
of Princess Lubomirska, I hope you will tell her that I did my best for
I then called on Colonel Royas, who told me that I had made a great
mistake in saying that I was satisfied.
"What could I claim?"
"Everything. Dismissal of the alcalde and compensation to the tune of
fifty thousand duros. Spain is a country where a man may speak out save
in the matters which the Holy Inquisition looks after."
This colonel, now a general, is one of the pleasantest Spaniards I have
I had not long returned to my lodging when Mengs called for me in his
carriage. The ambassador gave me a most gracious reception, and
overwhelmed Mengs with compliments for having endeavoured to shelter me.
At dinner I told the story of my sufferings at Buen Retiro, and the
conversation I had just had with the Count of Aranda, who had returned me
my letters. The company expressed a desire to see them, and everyone
gave an opinion on the matter.
The guests were Abbe Bigliardi, the French consul, Don Rodrigues de
Campomanes, and the famous Don Pablo d'Olavides. Everyone spoke his
mind, and the ambassador condemned the letters as too ferocious. On the
other hand, Campomanes approved them, saying that they were not abusive,
and were wonderfully adapted to my purpose, namely, to force the reader
to do me prompt justice, were the reader to be the king himself.
Olavides and Bigliardi echoed this sentiment. Mengs sided with the
ambassador, and begged me to come and live with him, so as not to be
liable to any more inconveniences from spying servants. I did not accept
this invitation till I had been pressed for some time, and I noted the
remark of the ambassador, who said I owed Mengs this reparation for the
indirect affront he had received.
I was delighted to make the acquaintance of Campomanes and Olavides, men
of intellect and of a stamp very rare in Spain. They were not exactly
men of learning, but they were above religious prejudices, and were not
only fearless in throwing public scorn upon them but even laboured openly
for their destruction. It was Campomanes who had furnished Aranda with
all the damaging matter against the Jesuits. By a curious coincidence,
Campomanes, the Count of Aranda, and the General of the Jesuits, were all
squint-eyed. I asked Campomanes why he hated the Jesuits so bitterly,
and he replied that he looked upon them in the same light as the other
religious orders, whom he considered a parasitical and noxious race, and
would gladly banish them all, not only from the peninsula but from the
face of the earth.
He was the author of all the pamphlets that had been written on the
subject of mortmain; and as he was an intimate friend of the
ambassador's, M. Mocenigo had furnished him with an account of the
proceedings of the Venetian Republic against the monks. He might have
dispensed with this source of information if he had read the writings of
Father Paul Sarpi on the same subject. Quick-sighted, firm, with the
courage of his opinions, Campomanes was the fiscal of the Supreme Council
of Castille, of which Aranda was president. Everyone knew him to be a
thoroughly honest man, who acted solely for the good of the State. Thus
statesmen and officials had warm feelings of respect for him, while the
monks and bigots hated the sound of his name, and the Inquisition had
sworn to be his ruin. It was said openly that he would either become a
bishop or perish in the cells of the holy brotherhood. The prophecy was
only partly fulfilled. Four years after my visit to Spain he was
incarcerated in the dungeons of the Inquisition, but he obtained his
release after three years' confinement by doing public penance. The
leprosy which eats out the heart of Spain is not yet cured. Olavides was
still more harshly treated, and even Aranda would have fallen a victim if
he had not had the good sense to ask the king to send him to France as
his ambassador. The king was very glad to do so, as otherwise he would
have been forced to deliver him up to the infuriated monks.
Charles III. (who died a madman) was a remarkable character. He was as
obstinate as a mule, as weak as a woman, as gross as a Dutchman, and a
thorough-paced bigot. It was no wonder that he became the tool of his
At the time of which I am speaking the cabinet of Madrid was occupied in
a curious scheme. A thousand Catholic families had been enticed from
Switzerland to form a colony in the beautiful but deserted region called
the Sierra Morena, well known all over Europe by its mention in Don
Quixote. Nature seemed there to have lavished all her gifts; the climate
was perfect, the soil fertile, and streams of all kinds watered the land,
but in spite of all it was almost depopulated.
Desiring to change this state of things, his Catholic majesty had decided
to make a present of all the agricultural products for a certain number
of years to industrious colonists. He had consequently invited the Swiss
Catholics, and had paid their expenses for the journey. The Swiss
arrived, and the Spanish government did its best to provide them with
lodging and spiritual and temporal superintendence. Olavides was the
soul of this scheme. He conferred with the ministers to provide the new
population with magistrates, priests, a governor, craftsmen of all kinds
to build churches and houses, and especially a bull-ring, a necessity for
the Spaniards, but a perfectly useless provision as far as the simple
Swiss were concerned.
In the documents which Don Pablo Olavides had composed on the subject he
demonstrated the inexpediency of establishing any religious orders in the
new colony, but if he could have proved his opinion to be correct with
foot and rule he would none the less have drawn on his head the
implacable hatred of the monks, and of the bishop in whose diocese the
new colony was situated. The secular clergy supported Olavides, but the
monks cried out against his impiety, and as the Inquisition was eminently
monkish in its sympathies persecution had already begun, and this was one
of the subjects of conversation at the dinner at which I was present.
I listened to the arguments, sensible and otherwise, which were advanced,
and I finally gave my opinion, as modestly as I could, that in a few
years the colony would banish like smoke; and this for several reasons.
"The Swiss," I said, "are a very peculiar people; if you transplant them
to a foreign shore, they languish and die; they become a prey to home-
sickness. When this once begins in a Switzer, the only thing is to take
him home to the mountain, the lake, or the valley, where he was born, or
else he will infallibly die."
"It would be wise, I think," I continued, "to endeavour to combine a
Spanish colony with the Swiss colony, so as to effect a mingling of
races. At first, at all events, their rules, both spiritual and
temporal, should be Swiss, and, above all, you would have to insure them
complete immunity from the Inquisition. The Swiss who has been
bred in the country has peculiar customs and manners of love-making, of
which the Spanish Church might not exactly approve; but the least attempt
to restrain their liberty in this respect would immediately bring about a
At first Olavides thought I was joking, but he soon found out that my
remarks had some sense in them. He begged me to write out my opinions on
the subject, and to give him the benefit of my knowledge. I promised to
do so, and Mengs fixed a day for him to come and dine with me at his
The next day I moved my household goods to Mengs's house, and began my
philosophical and physiological treatise on the colony.
I called on Don Emmanuel de Roda, who was a man of letters, a 'rara aves'
in Spain. He liked Latin poetry, had read some Italian, but very
naturally gave the palm to the Spanish poets. He welcomed me warmly,
begged me to come and see him again, and told me how sorry he had been at
my unjust imprisonment.
The Duke of Lossada congratulated me on the way in which the Venetian
ambassador spoke of me everywhere, and encouraged me in my idea of
getting some place under Government, promising to give me his support in
The Prince della Catolica, invited me to dinner with the Venetian
ambassador; and in the course of three weeks I had made a great number of
valuable acquaintances. I thought seriously of seeking employment in
Spain, as not having heard from Lisbon I dared not go there on the chance
of finding something to do. I had not received any letters from Pauline
of late, and had no idea as to what had become of her.
I passed a good many of my evenings with a Spanish lady, named Sabatini,
who gave 'tertullas' or assemblies, frequented chiefly by fifth-rate
literary men. I also visited the Duke of Medina-Sidonia, a well-read and
intelligent man, to whom I had been presented by Don Domingo Varnier, one
of the gentlemen of the king's chamber, whom I had met at Mengs's house.
I paid a good many visits to Donna Ignazia, but as I was never left alone
with her these visits became tiresome. When I suggested a party of
pleasure with her and her cousins, she replied that she would like it as
much as I, but as it was Lent and near Holy Week, in which God died for
our salvation, it was more fit to think of penance than pleasure. After
Easter, she said, we might consider the matter. Ignazia was a perfect
example of the young Spanish devotee.
A fortnight after, the King and Court left Madrid for Aranjuez.
M. de Mocenigo asked me to come and stay with him, as he would be able to
present me at Court. As may be imagined, I should have been only too
glad to accept, but on the eve of my departure, as I was driving with
Mengs, I was suddenly seized with a fever, and was convulsed so violently
that my head was dashed against the carriage window, which it shivered to
fragments. Mengs ordered the coachman to drive home, and I was put to
bed. In four hours I was seized with a sweating fit, which lasted for
ten or twelve hours. The bed and two mattresses were soaked through with
my perspiration, which dripped on to the floor beneath. The fever abated
in forty-eight hours, but left me in such a state of weakness that I was
kept to my bed for a whole week, and could not go to Aranjuez till Holy
Saturday. The ambassador welcomed me warmly, but on the night I arrived
a small lump which I had felt in the course of the day grew as large as
an egg, and I was unable to go to mass on Easter Day.
In five days the excrescence became as large as an average melon, much to
the amazement of Manucci and the ambassador, and even of the king's
surgeon, a Frenchman who declared he had never seen the like before. I
was not alarmed personally, for, as I suffered no pain and the lump was
quite soft, I guessed it was only a collection of lymph, the remainder of
the evil humours which I had sweated away in the fever. I told the
surgeon the history of the fever and begged him to lance the abscess,
which he did, and for four days the opening discharged an almost
incredible amount of matter. On the fifth day the wound was almost
healed, but the exhaustion had left me so weak that I could not leave my
Such was my situation when I received a letter from Mengs. It is before
me at the present moment, and I give below a true copy:
"Yesterday the rector of the parish in which I reside affixed to the
church-door a list of those of his parishioners who are Atheists and have
neglected their Easter duties. Amongst them your name figures in full,
and the aforesaid rector has reproached me bitterly for harbouring a
heretic. I did not know what answer to make, for I feel sure that you
could have stopped in Madrid a day longer to discharge the duties of a
Christian, even if it were only out of regard for me. The duty I owe to
the king, my master, the care I am bound to take of my reputation, and my
fears of being molested, all make me request you to look upon my house as
yours no longer. When you return to Madrid you may go where you will,
and my servants shall transport your effects to your new abode.
"I am, etc.,
"ANTONIO RAPHAEL MENGS."
I was so annoyed by this rude, brutal, and ungrateful letter, that if I
had not been seven leagues from Madrid, and in a state of the utmost
weakness, Mengs should have suffered for his insolence. I told the
messenger who had brought it to begone, but he replied that he had orders
to await my reply. I crushed the letter in my hand and flung it at his
"Go and tell your unworthy master what I did with his letter, and tell
him that is the only answer that such a letter deserves."
The innocent messenger went his way in great amazement.
My anger gave me strength, and having dressed myself and summoned a
sedan-chair I went to church, and was confessed by a Grey Friar, and at
six o'clock the next morning I received the Sacrament.
My confessor was kind enough to give me a certificate to the effect that
I had been obliged to keep my bed since my arrival 'al sitio', and that
in spite of my extreme weakness I had gone to church, and had confessed
and communicated like a good Christian. He also told me the name of the
priest who had affixed the paper containing my name to the door of the
When I returned to the ambassador's house I wrote to this priest, telling
him that the certificate enclosed would inform him as to my reasons for
not communicating. I expressed a hope that, being satisfied of my
orthodoxy, he would not delay in removing my name from his church-doors,
and I concluded by begging him to hand the enclosed letter to the
To the painter I wrote that I felt that I had deserved the shameful
insult he had given me by my great mistake in acceding to his request to
honour him by staying in his house. However, as a good Christian who had
just received the Holy Communion, I told him that his brutal behaviour
was forgiven; but I bade him to take to heart the line, well known to all
honest people, and doubtless unknown to him:
'Turpius ejicitur quam non admittitur hospes.'
After sending the letter I told the ambassador what had happened, to
which he replied,--
"I am not at all surprised at what you tell me. Mengs is only liked for
his talents in painting; in everything else he is well known to be little
better than a fool."
As a matter of fact he had only asked me to stay with him to gratify his
own vanity. He knew that all the town was talking of my imprisonment and
of the satisfaction the Count of Aranda had accorded me, and he wanted
people to think that his influence had obtained the favour that had been
shewn me. Indeed, he had said in a moment of exaltation that I should
have compelled the Alcade Messa to escort me not to my own house but to
his, as it was in his house that I had been arrested.
Mengs was an exceedingly ambitious and a very jealous man; he hated all
his brother painters. His colour and design were excellent, but his
invention was very weak, and invention is as necessary to a great painter
as a great poet.
I happened to say to him one day, "Just as every poet should be a
painter, so every painter should be a poet;" and he got quite angry,
thinking that I was alluding to his weakness of imagination, which he
felt but would not acknowledge.
He was an ignorant man, and liked to pass for a scholar; he sacrificed to
Bacchus and Comus, and would fain be thought sober; he was lustful, bad-
tempered, envious, and miserly, but yet would be considered a virtuous
man. He loved hard work, and this forced him to abstain, as a rule, from
dinner, as he drank so inordinately at that meal that he could do nothing
after it. When he dined out he had to drink nothing but water, so as not
to compromise his reputation for temperance. He spoke four languages,
and all badly, and could not even write his native tongue with
correctness; and yet he claimed perfection for his grammar and
orthography, as for all his other qualities. While I was staying with
him I became acquainted with some of his weak points, and endeavoured to
correct them, at which he took great offence. The fellow writhed under a
sense of obligation to me. Once I prevented his sending a petition to
the Court, which the king would have seen, and which would have made
Mengs ridiculous. In signing his name he had written 'el mas inclito',
wishing to say your most humble. I pointed out to him that 'el mas
inclito' meant the most illustrious, and that the Spanish for the
expression he wanted was 'el mas humilde'. The proud fool was quite
enraged, telling me that he knew Spanish better than I, but when the
dictionary was searched he had to swallow the bitter pill of confessing
himself in the wrong.
Another time I suppressed a heavy and stupid criticism of his on someone
who had maintained that there were no monuments still existing of the
antediluvian period. Mengs thought he would confound the author by
citing the remains of the Tower of Babel--a double piece of folly, for in
the first place there are no such remains, and in the second, the Tower
of Babel was a post-diluvian building.
He was also largely given to the discussion of metaphysical questions, on
which his knowledge was simply nil, and a favourite pursuit of his was
defining beauty in the abstract, and when he was on this topic the
nonsense he talked was something dreadful.
Mengs was a very passionate man, and would sometimes beat his children
most cruelly. More than once I have rescued his poor sons from his
furious hands. He boasted that his father, a bad Bohemian artist, had
brought him up with the stick. Thus, he said, he had become a great
painter, and he wished his own children to enjoy the same advantages.
He was deeply offended when he received a letter, of which the address
omitted his title of chevalier, and his name, Rafael. One day I ventured
to say that these things were but trifles after all, and that I had taken
no offence at his omitting the chevalier on the letters he had written to
me, though I was a knight of the same order as himself. He very wisely
made no answer; but his objection to the omission of his baptismal name
was a very ridiculous one. He said he was called Antonio after Antonio
Correggio, and Rafael after Rafael da Urbino, and that those who omitted
these names, or either of them, implicitly denied his possession of the
qualities of both these great painters.
Once I dared to tell him that he had made a mistake in the hand of one of
his figures, as the ring finger was shorter than the index. He replied
sharply that it was quite right, and shewed me his hand by way of proof.
I laughed, and shewed him my hand in return, saying that I was certain
that my hand was made like that of all the descendants of Adam.
"Then whom do you think that I am descended from?"
"I don't know, but you are certainly not of the same species as myself."
"You mean you are not of my species; all well-made hands of men, and
women too, are like mine and not like yours."
"I'll wager a hundred doubloons that you are in the wrong."
He got up, threw down brushes and palette, and rang up his servants,
"We shall see which is right."
The servants came, and on examination he found that I was right. For
once in his life, he laughed and passed it off as a joke, saying,--
"I am delighted that I can boast of being unique in one particular, at
Here I must note another very sensible remark of his.
He had painted a Magdalen, which was really wonderfully beautiful. For
ten days he had said every morning, "The picture will be finished to-
night." At last I told him that he had made a mistake in saying it would
be finished, as he was still working on it.
"No, I have not," he replied, "ninety-nine connoisseurs out of a hundred
would have pronounced it finished long ago, but I want the praise of the
hundredth man. There's not a picture in the world that can be called
finished save in a relative sense; this Magdalen will not be finished
till I stop working at it, and then it will be only finished relatively,
for if I were to give another day's work to it it would be more finished
still. Not one of Petrarch's sonnets is a really finished production;
no, nor any other man's sonnets. Nothing that the mind of man can
conceive is perfect, save it be a mathematical theorem."
I expressed my warm approval of the excellent way in which he had spoken.
He was not so sensible another time when he expressed a wish to have been
"He was such a great painter."
"Certainly," said I, "but what can you mean by wishing you had been
Raphael? This is not sense; if you had been Raphael, you would no longer
be existing. But perhaps you only meant to express a wish that you were
tasting the joys of Paradise; in that case I will say no more."
"No, no; I mean I would have liked to have been Raphael without troubling
myself about existing now, either in soul or body."
"Really such a desire is an absurdity; think it over, and you will see it
He flew into a rage, and abused me so heartily that I could not help
Another time he made a comparison between a tragic author and a painter,
of course to the advantage of the latter.
I analysed the matter calmly, shewing him that the painter's labour is to
a great extent purely mechanical, and can be done whilst engaged in
casual talk; whilst a well-written tragedy is the work of genius pure and
simple. Therefore, the poet must be immeasurably superior to the
"Find me if you can," said I, "a poet who can order his supper between
the lines of his tragedy, or discuss the weather whilst he is composing
When Mengs was beaten in an argument, instead of acknowledging his
defeat, he invariably became brutal and insulting. He died at the age of
fifty, and is regarded by posterity as a Stoic philosopher, a scholar,
and a compendium of all the virtues; and this opinion must be ascribed to
a fine biography of him in royal quarto, choicely printed, and dedicated
to the King of Spain. This panegyric is a mere tissue of lies. Mengs
was a great painter, and nothing else; and if he had only produced the
splendid picture which hangs over the high altar of the chapel royal at
Dresden, he would deserve eternal fame, though indeed he is indebted to
the great Raphael for the idea of the painting.
We shall hear more of Mengs when I describe my meeting with him at Rome,
two or three years later.
I was still weak and confined to my room when Manucci came to me, and
proposed that I should go with him to Toledo.
"The ambassador," he said, "is going to give a grand official dinner to
the ambassadors of the other powers, and as I have not been presented at
Court I am excluded from being present. However, if I travel, my absence
will not give rise to any remarks. We shall be back in five or six
I was delighted to have the chance of seeing Toledo, and of making the
journey in a comfortable carriage, so I accepted. We started the next
morning, and reached Toledo in the evening of the same day. For Spain we
were lodged comfortably enough, and the next day we went out under the
charge of a cicerone, who took us to the Alcazar, the Louvre of Toledo,
formerly the palace of the Moorish kings. Afterwards we inspected the
cathedral, which is well worthy of a visit, on account of the riches it
contains. I saw the great tabernacle used on Corpus Christi. It is made
of silver, and is so heavy that it requires thirty strong men to lift it.
The Archbishop of Toledo has three hundred thousand duros a year, and his
clergy have four hundred thousand, amounting to two million francs in
French money. One of the canons, as he was shewing me the urns
containing the relics, told me that one of them contained the thirty
pieces of silver for which Judas betrayed our Lord. I begged him to let
me see them, to which he replied severely that the king himself would not
have dared to express such indecent curiosity.
I hastened to apologise, begging him not to take offence at a stranger's
heedless questions; and this seemed to calm his anger.
The Spanish priests are a band of knaves, but one has to treat them with
more respect than one would pay to honest men elsewhere. The following
day we were shewn the museum of natural history. It was rather a dull
exhibition; but, at all events, one could laugh at it without exciting
the wrath of the monks and the terrors of the Inquisition. We were
shewn, amongst other wonders, a stuffed dragon, and the man who exhibited
"This proves, gentlemen, that the dragon is not a fabulous animal;" but I
thought there was more of art than nature about the beast. He then
shewed us a basilisk, but instead of slaying us with a glance it only
made us laugh. The greatest wonder of all, however, was nothing else
than a Freemason's apron, which, as the curator very sagely declared,
proved the existence of such an order, whatever some might say.
The journey restored me to health, and when I returned to Aranjuez, I
proceeded to pay my court to all the ministers. The ambassador presented
me to Marquis Grimaldi, with whom I had some conversations on the subject
of the Swiss colony, which was going on badly. I reiterated my opinion
that the colony should be composed of Spaniards.
"Yes," said he, "but Spain is thinly peopled everywhere, and your plan
would amount to impoverishing one district to make another rich."
"Not at all, for if you took ten persons who are dying of poverty in the
Asturias, and placed them in the Sierra Morena, they would not die till
they had begotten fifty children. This fifty would beget two hundred and
My scheme was laid before a commission, and the marquis promised that I
should be made governor of the colony if the plan was accepted.
An Italian Opera Comique was then amusing the Court, with the exception
of the king, who had no taste for music. His majesty bore a considerable
resemblance to a sheep in the face, and it seemed as if the likeness went
deeper, for sheep have not the slightest idea of sound. His favourite
pursuit was sport, and the reason will be given later on.
An Italian musician at the Court desired to compose some music for a new
opera, and as there was no time to send to Italy I offered to compose the
libretto. My offer was accepted, and by the next day the first act was
ready. The music was composed in four days, and the Venetian ambassador
invited all the ministers to the rehearsal in the grand hall of his
palace. The music was pronounced exquisite; the two other acts were
written, and in a fortnight the opera was put upon the stage. The
musician was rewarded handsomely, but I was considered too grand to work
for money and my reward was paid me in the Court money of compliments.
However, I was glad to see that the ambassador was proud of me and that
the minister's esteem for me seemed increased.
In writing the libretto I had become acquainted with the actresses. The
chief of them was a Roman named Pelliccia, neither pretty nor ugly, with
a slight squint, and but moderate talents. Her younger sister was pretty
if not handsome; but no one cared for the younger, while the elder was a
universal favourite. Her expression was pleasant, her smile delightful,
and her manners most captivating. Her husband was an indifferent
painter, plain-looking, and more like her servant than her husband. He
was indeed her very humble servant, and she treated him with great
kindness. The feelings she inspired me with were not love, but a sincere
respect and friendship. I used to visit her every day, and wrote verses
for her to sing to the Roman airs she delivered so gracefully.
On one of the days of rehearsals I was pointing out to her the various
great personages who were present. The manager of the company,
Marescalchi by name, had entered into an arrangement with the Governor of
Valentia to bring the company there in September to play comic opera in a
small theatre which had been built on purpose. Italian opera had
hitherto never been presented at Valentia, and Marecalchi hoped to make a
good deal of money there. Madame Pelliccia knew nobody in Valentia, and
wanted a letter of introduction to someone there. She asked me if I
thought she could venture to ask the Venetian ambassador to do her the
favour, but I advised her to try the Duke of Arcos.
"Where is he?"
"That gentleman who is looking in your direction now."
"How can I dare to ask him?"
"He is a true nobleman, and I am sure he will be only too happy to oblige
you. Go and ask him now; you will not be denied."
"I haven't the courage to do so. Come with me and introduce me."
"That would spoil everything; he must not even think that I am your
adviser in the matter. I am just going to leave you; you must make your
request directly afterwards."
I walked towards the orchestra, and looking round I saw that the duke was
approaching the actress.
"The thing's as good as done," I said to myself.
After the rehearsal was over Madame Pelliccia came and told me that the
Duke would give her the letter on the day on which the opera was
produced. He kept his word, and she received a sealed letter for a
merchant and banker, Don Diego Valencia.
It was then May, and she was not to go to Valentia till September, so we
shall hear what the letter contained later on.
I often saw the king's gentleman of the chamber, Don Domingo Varnier,
another 'gentleman in the service of the Princess of the Asturias, and
one of the princess's bed-chamber women. This most popular princess
succeeded in suppressing a good deal of the old etiquette, and the tone
of her Court had lost the air of solemnity common in Spanish society. It
was a strange thing to see the King of Spain always dining at eleven
o'clock, like the Parisian cordwainers in the seventeenth century. His
meal always consisted of the same dishes, he always went out hunting at
the same hour, coming back in the evening thoroughly fatigued.
The king was ugly, but everything is relative, he was handsome compared
with his brother, who was terrifically ugly.
This brother never went anywhere without a picture of the Virgin, which
Mengs had painted for him. It was two feet high by three and a half
broad. The figure was depicted as seated on the grass with legs crossed
after the Eastern fashion, and uncovered up to the knees. It was, in
reality, a voluptuous painting; and the prince mistook for devotion that
which was really a sinful passion, for it was impossible to look upon the
figure without desiring to have the original within one's arms. However,
the prince did not see this, and was delighted to find himself in love
with the mother of the Saviour. In this he was a true Spaniard; they
only love pictures of this kind, and interpret the passions they excite
in the most favourable sense.
At Madrid I had, seen a picture of the Madonna with the child at her
breast. It was the altarpiece of a chapel in the Calle St. Jeronimo.
The place was filled all day by the devout, who came to adore the Mother
of God, whose figure was only interesting by reason of her magnificent
breast. The alms given at this chapel were so numerous, that in the
hundred and fifty years, since the picture had been placed there, the
clergy had been able to purchase numerous lamps and candlesticks of
silver, and vessels of silver gilt, and even of gold. The doorway was
always blocked by carriages, and a sentinel was placed there to keep
order amongst the coachmen; no nobleman would pass by without going in to
pray to the Virgin, and to contemplate those 'beata ubera, quae
lactaverunt aeterni patris filium'. But there came a change.
When I returned to Madrid I wanted to pay a visit to the Abbe Pico, and
told my coachman to take another way so as to avoid the crush in front of
"It is not so frequented now, senor," said he, "I can easily get by it."
He went on his way, and I found the entrance to the chapel deserted. As
I was getting out of the carriage I asked my coachman what was the reason
of the change, and he replied,--
"Oh, senor! men are getting more wicked every day,"
This reason did not satisfy me, and when I had taken my chocolate with
the abbe, an intelligent and venerable old man, I asked him why the
chapel in question had lost its reputation.
He burst out laughing, and replied,--
"Excuse me, I really cannot tell you. Go and see for yourself; your
curiosity will soon be satisfied."
As soon as I left him I went to the chapel, and the state of the picture
told me all. The breast of the Virgin had disappeared under a kerchief
which some profane brush had dared to paint over it. The beautiful
picture was spoilt; the magic and fascination had disappeared. Even the
teat had been painted out; the Child held on to nothing, and the head of
the Virgin no longer appeared natural.
This disaster had taken place at the end of the Carnival of 1768. The
old chaplain died, and the Vandal who succeeded him pronounced the
painting to be a scandalous one, and robbed it of all its charm.
He may have been in the right as a fool, but as a Christian and a
Spaniard he was certainly in the wrong, and he was probably soon
convinced of the mistake he had made by the diminution in the offerings
of the faithful.
My interest in the study of human nature made me call on this priest,
whom I expected to find a stupid old man.
I went one morning, but instead of being old, the priest was an active,
clever-looking man of thirty, who immediately offered me chocolate with
the best grace imaginable. I refused, as was my duty as a stranger, and
indeed the Spaniards offer visitors chocolate so frequently at all hours,
that if one accepted it all one would be choked.
I lost no time in exordiums, but came to the point at once, by saying
that as a lover of paintings I had been grieved at finding the
magnificent Madonna spoilt.
"Very likely," he replied, "but it was exactly the physical beauty of the
picture that rendered it in my eyes unfit to represent one whose aspect
should purify and purge the senses, instead of exciting them. Let all
the pictures in the world be destroyed, if they be found to have caused
the commission of one mortal sin."
"Who allowed you to commit this mutilation? The Venetian State
Inquisitors, even M. Barberigo, though he is a devout man, would have
put you under the Leads for such a deed. The love of Paradise should not
be allowed to interfere with the fine arts, and I am sure that St. Luke
himself (who was a painter, as you know) would condemn you if he could
come to life again."
"Sir, I needed no one's leave or license. I have to say mass at that
altar every day, and I am not ashamed to tell you that I was unable to
consecrate. You are a man and a Christian, you can excuse my weakness.
That voluptuous picture drew away my thoughts from holy things."
"Who obliged you to look at it?"
"I did not look at it; the devil, the enemy of God, made me see it in
spite of myself."
"Then you should have mutilated yourself like Origen. Your generative
organs, believe me, are not so valuable as the picture you have ruined."
"Sir, you insult me."
"Not at all, I have no intention of doing so."
That young priest shewed me the door with such brusqueness that I felt
sure he would inform against me to the Inquisition. I knew he would have
no difficulty in finding out my name, so I resolved to be beforehand with
Both my fear and my resolve were inspired by an incident which I shall
mention as an episode.
A few days before, I had met a Frenchman named Segur, who had just come
out of the prisons of the Inquisition. He had been shut up for three
years for committing the following crime:
In the hall of his house there was a fountain, composed of a marble basin
and the statue of a naked child, who discharged the water in the same way
as the well-known statue of Brussels, that is to say, by his virile
member. The child might be a Cupid or an Infant Jesus, as you pleased,
but the sculptor had adorned the head with a kind of aureole; and so the
fanatics declared that it was a mocking of God.
Poor Segur was accused of impiety, and the Inquisition dealt with him
I felt that my fault might be adjudged as great as Segur's, and not
caring to run the risk of a like punishment I called on the bishop, who
held the office of Grand Inquisitor, and told him word for word the
conversation I had had with the iconoclast chaplain. I ended by craving
pardon, if I had offended the chaplain, as I was a good Christian, and
orthodox on all points.
I had never expected to find the Grand Inquisitor of Madrid a kindly and
intelligent, though ill-favoured, prelate; but so it was, and he did
nothing but laugh from the beginning to the end of my story, for he would
not let me call it a confession.
"The chaplain," he said, "is himself blameworthy and unfit for his
position, in that he has adjudged others to be as weak as himself; in
fact, he has committed a wrong against religion. Nevertheless, my dear
son, it was not wise of you to go and irritate him."
As I had told him my name he shewed me, smilingly, an accusation against
me, drawn up by someone who had witnessed the fact. The good bishop
gently chid me for having called the friar-confessor of the Duke of
Medina an ignoramus. He had refused to admit that a priest might say
mass a second time on a high festival, after breaking his fast, on the
command of his sovereign prince, who, by the hypothesis, had not heard
"You were quite right in your contention," said the Inquisitor, "but yet
every truth is not good to utter, and it was wrong to call the man an
ignoramus in his presence. For the future you would do well to avoid all
idle discussion on religious matters, both on dogma and discipline. And
I must also tell you, in order that you may not leave Spain with any
harsh ideas on the Inquisition, that the priest who affixed your name to
the church-door amongst the excommunicated has been severely reprimanded.
He ought to have given you a fatherly admonition, and, above all,
enquired as to your health, as we know that you were seriously ill at the
Thereupon I knelt down and kissed his hand, and went my way, well pleased
with my call.
To go back to Aranjuez. As soon as I heard that the ambassador could not
put me up at Madrid, I wrote to the worthy cobbler, Don Diego, that I
wanted a well-furnished room, a closet, a good bed, and an honest
servant. I informed him how much I was willing to spend a month, and
said I would leave Aranjuez as soon as I heard that everything was ready.
I was a good deal occupied with the question of colonising the Sierra
Morena; I wrote principally on the subject of the civil government, a
most important item in a scheme for a new colony. My articles pleased
the Marquis Grimaldi and flattered Mocenigo; for the latter hoped that I
should become governor of the colony, and that his embassy would thereby
shine with a borrowed light.
My labours did not prevent my amusing myself, and I frequented the
society of those about the Court who could tell me most of the king and
royal family. Don Varnier, a man of much frankness and intelligence, was
my principal source of information.
I asked him one day whether the king was fond of Gregorio Squillace only
because he had been once his wife's lover.
"That's an idle calumny," he replied. "If the epithet of 'chaste' can be
applied to any monarch, Charles III. certainly deserves it better than
any other. He has never touched any woman in his life except his wife,
not only out of respect or the sanctity of marriage, but also as a good
Christian. He has avoided this sin that his soul may remain pure, and so
as not to have the shame of confessing it to his chaplain. He enjoys an
iron constitution, sickness is unknown to him, and he is a thorough
Spaniard in temperament. Ever since his marriage he has paid his duty to
his wife every day, except when the state of her health compelled her to
call for a truce. In such seasons this chaste husband brought down his
fleshly desires by the fatigue of hunting and by abstinence. You can
imagine his distress at being left a widower, for he would rather die
than take a mistress. His only resource was in hunting, and in so
planning out his day that he should have no time left wherein to think of
women. It was a difficult matter, for he cares neither for reading nor
writing, music wearies him, and conversation of a lively turn inspires
him with disgust.
"He has adopted the following plan, in which he will preserve till his
dying day: He dresses at seven, then goes into his closet and has his
hair dressed. At eight o'clock he says his prayers, then hears mass, and
when this is over he takes chocolate and an enormous pinch of snuff, over
which his big nose ruminates for some minutes; this is his only pinch in
the whole day. At nine o'clock he sees his ministers, and works with
them till eleven. Then comes dinner, which he always takes alone, then a
short visit to the Princess of the Austurias, and at twelve sharp he gets
into his carriage and drives to the hunting-grounds. At seven o'clock he
takes a morsel wherever he happens to be, and at eight o'clock he comes
home, so tired that he often goes to sleep before he can get his clothes
off. Thus he keeps down the desires of the flesh."
"Poor voluntary martyr!"
"He thought of marrying a second time, but when Adelaide of France saw
his portrait she was quite frightened and refused him. He was very
mortified, and renounced all thoughts of marriage; and woe to the
courtier who should advise him to get a mistress!"
In further speaking of his character Don Domingo told me that the
ministers had good cause for making him inaccessible, as whenever anyone
did succeed in getting at him and asked a favour, he made a point of
granting it, as it was at such times that he felt himself really a king.
"Then he is not a hard man, as some say?"
"Not at all. Kings seldom have the reputation they deserve. The most
accessible monarchs are the least generous; they are overwhelmed with
importunate requests, and their first instinct is always to refuse."
"But as Charles III. is so inaccessible he can have no opportunity of
either granting or refusing."
"People catch him when he is hunting; he is usually in a good humour
then. His chief defect is his obstinacy; when he has once made up his
mind there is no changing it.
"He has the greatest liking for his brother, and can scarce refuse him
anything, though he must be master in all things. It is thought he will
give him leave to marry for the sake of his salvation; the king has the
greatest horror of illegitimate children, and his brother has three
There were an immense number of persons at Aranjuez, who persecuted the
ministers in the hope of getting employment.
"They will go back as they come," said Don Domingo, "and that is empty-
"Then they ask impossibilities?"
"They don't ask anything. 'What do you want?' says a minister.
"'What your excellency will let me have.'
"'What can you do?'
"'I am ready to do whatever your excellency pleases to think best for me'
"'Please leave me. I have no time to waste.'"
That is always the way. Charles III. died a madman; the Queen of
Portugal is mad; the King of England has been mad, and, as some say, is
not really cured. There is nothing astonishing in it; a king who tries
to do his duty is almost forced into madness by his enormous task.
I took leave of M. Mocenigo three days before he left Aranjuez, and I
embraced Manucci affectionately. He had been most kind to me throughout
My cobbler had written to tell me that for the sum I had mentioned he
could provide me with a Biscayan maid who could cook. He sent me the
address of my new lodging in the Calle Alcala. I arrived there in the
afternoon, having started from Aranjuez in the morning.
I found that the Biscayan maid could speak French; my room was a very
pleasant one, with another chamber annexed where I could lodge a friend.
After I had had my effects carried up I saw my man, whose face pleased
I was anxious to test the skill of my cook, so I ordered her to get a
good supper for me, and I gave her some money.
"I have some money," she replied, "and I will let you have the bill to-
After taking away whatever I had left with Mengs I went to Don Diego's
house, and to my astonishment found it empty. I went back and asked
Philippe, my man, where Don Diego was staying.
"It's some distance, sir; I will take you there tomorrow."
"Where is my landlord?"
"In the floor above; but they are very quiet people."
"I should like to see him."
"He is gone out and won't be home till ten."
At nine o'clock I was told that my supper was ready. I was very hungry,
and the neatness with which the table was laid was a pleasant surprise in
Spain. I was sorry that I had had no opportunity of expressing my
satisfaction to Don Diego, but I sat down to supper. Then indeed I
thought the cobbler a hero; the Biscayan maid might have entered into
rivalry with the best cook in France. There were five dishes, including
my favourite delicacy 'las criadillas', and everything was exquisite. My
lodging was dear enough, but the cook made the whole arrangement a
Towards the end of supper Philippe told me that the landlord had come in,
and that with my leave he would wish me a good evening.
"Shew him in by all means."
I saw Don Diego and his charming daughter enter; he had rented the house
on purpose to be my landlord.
My Amours With Donna Ignazia--Return of M. de Mocenino to Madrid
All you barons, counts, and marquises who laugh at an untitled man who
calls himself a gentleman, pause and reflect, spare your disdain till you
have degraded him; allow him a gentle title so long as he does gentle
deeds. Respect the man that defines nobility in a new way, which you
cannot understand. With him nobility is not a series of descents from
father to son; he laughs at pedigrees, in which no account is taken of
the impure blood introduced by wifely infidelities; he defines a nobleman
as one who does noble deeds, who neither lies nor cheats, who prefers his
honour to his life.
This latter part of the definition should make you tremble for your
lives, if you meditate his dishonour. From imposture comes contempt,
from contempt hatred, from hatred homicide, which takes out the blot of
The cobbler Don Diego might have feared, perhaps, that I should laugh at
him, when he told me he was noble; but feeling himself to be really so he
had done his best to prove it to me. The fineness of his behaviour when
I was in prison had given me some idea of the nobility of his soul, but
he was not content with this. On the receipt of my letter, he had taken a
new house only to give up the best part of it to me. No doubt he
calculated on not losing in the long run, as after I had left he would
probably have no difficulty in letting the apartment, but his chief
motive was to oblige me.
He was not disappointed; henceforth I treated him entirely as an equal.
Donna Ignazia was delighted at what her father had done for me. We
talked an hour, settling our business relations over a bottle of
excellent wine. I succeeded in my contention that the Biscayan cook
should be kept at my expense. All the same, I wanted the girl to think
that she was in Don Diego's service, so I begged him to pay her every
day, as I should take all my meals at home, at all events, till the
return of the ambassador. I also told him that it was a penance to me to
eat alone, and begged him to keep me company at dinner and supper every
day. He tried to excuse himself, and at last gave in on the condition
that his daughter should take his place when he had too much work to do.
As may be imagined I had anticipated this condition, and made no
difficulty about it.
The next morning, feeling curious to see the way in which my landlord was
lodged, I paid him a visit. I went into the little room sacred to Donna
Ignazia. A bed, a chest, and a chair made up the whole furniture; but
beside the bed was a desk before a picture, four feet high, representing
St. Ignatius de Loyola as a fine young man, more calculated to irritate
the sense than to arouse devotion.
My cobbler said to me,
"I have a much better lodging than I had before; and the rent of your
room pays me for the house four times over."
"How about the furniture and the linen?"
"It will all be paid in the course of four years. I hope this house will
be the dower of my daughter. It is an excellent speculation, and I have
to thank you for it."
"I am glad to hear it; but what is this, you seem to be making new
"Quite so; but if you look you will see that I am working on a last which
has been given me. In this way I have not to put them on, nor need I
trouble myself whether they fit well or ill."
"How much do you get?"
"That's a larger price than usual."
"Yes, but there's a great difference between my work and my leather, and
the usual work and leather of the bootmakers."
"Then I will have a last made, and you shall make me a pair of shoes, if
you will; but I warn you they must be of the finest skin, and the soles
"They will cost more, and not last so long."
"I can't help that; I can't bear any but the lightest boots."
Before I left him he said his daughter should dine with me that day as he
was very busy.
I called on the Count of Aranda, who received me coldly, but with great
politeness. I told him how I had been treated by my parish priest and by
"I heard about it; this was worse than your imprisonment, and I don't
know what I could have done for you if you had not communicated, and
obliged the priest to take out your name. Just now they are trying to
annoy me with posters on the walls, but I take no notice."
"What do they want your excellency to do?"
To allow long cloaks and low-crowned hats; you must know all about it."
"I only arrived at Madrid yesterday evening."
"Very good. Don't come here on Sunday, as my house is to be blown up."
"I should like to see that, my lord, so I will be in your hall at noon."
"I expect you will be in good company."
I duly went, and never had I seen it so full. The count was addressing
the company, under the last poster threatening him with death, two very
energetic lines were inscribed by the person who put up the poster,
knowing that he was at the same time running his head into the noose:
Si me cogen, me horqueran,
Pero no me cogeran.
"If they catch me, they will hang me,
So I shall not let them catch me."
At dinner Donna Ignazia told me how glad she was to have me in the house,
but she did not respond to all my amorous speeches after Philippe had
left the room. She blushed and sighed, and then being obliged to say
something, begged me to forget everything that had passed between us. I
smiled, and said that I was sure she knew she was asking an
impossibility. I added that even if I could forget the past I would not
I knew that she was neither false nor hypocritical, and felt sure that
her behaviour proceeded from devotion; but I knew this could not last
long. I should have to conquer her by slow degrees. I had had to do so
with other devotees who had loved me less than she, nevertheless, they
had capitulated. I was therefore sure of Donna Ignazia.
After dinner she remained a quarter of an hour with me, but I refrained
from any amorous attempts.
After my siesta I dressed, and went out without seeing her. In the
evening when she came in for her father, who had supped with me, I
treated her with the greatest politeness without shewing any ill-humour.
The following day I behaved in the same manner. At dinner she told me
she had broken with her lover at the beginning of Lent, and begged me not
to see him if he called on me.
On Whit Sunday I called on the Count of Aranda, and Don Diego, who was
exquisitely dressed, dined with me. I saw nothing of his daughter. I
asked after her, and Don Diego replied, with a smile, that she had shut
herself up in her room to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. He
pronounced these words in a manner and with a smile that he would not
have dared to use if he had been speaking to a fellow-Spaniard. He added
that she would, no doubt, come down and sup with me, as he was going to
sup with his brother.
"My dear Don Diego, don't let there be any false compliments between us.
Before you go out, tell your daughter not to put herself out for me, and
that I do not pretend to put my society in comparison with that of God.
Tell her to keep her room to-night, and she can sup with me another time.
I hope you will take my message to her."
"As you will have it so, you shall be obeyed."
After my siesta, the worthy man said that Donna Ignazia thanked me and
would profit by my kindness, as she did not want to see anyone on that
"I am very glad she has taken me at my word, and to-morrow I will thank
her for it."
I had some difficulty in shaping my lips to this reply; for this excess
of devotion displeased me, and even made me tremble for her love. I
could not help laughing, however, when Don Diego said that a wise father
forgives an ecstasy of love. I had not expected such a philosophic
remark from the mouth of a Spaniard.
The weather was unpleasant, so I resolved to stay indoors. I told
Philippe that I should not want the carriage, and that he could go out.
I told my Biscayan cook that I should not sup till ten. When I was alone
I wrote for some time, and in the evening the mother lit my candles,
instead of the daughter, so in the end I went to bed without any supper.
At nine o'clock next morning, just as I was awaking, Donna Ignazia
appeared, to my great astonishment, telling me how sorry she was to hear
that I had not taken any supper.
"Alone, sad, and unhappy," I replied, "I felt that abstinence was the
best thing for me."
"You look downcast."
"You alone can make me look cheerful."
Here my barber came in, and she left me. I then went to mass at the
Church of the Good Success, where I saw all the handsome courtezans in
Madrid. I dined with Don Diego, and when his daughter came in with
dessert he told her that it was her fault I had gone supperless to bed.
"It shall not happen again," said she.
"Would you like to come with me to our Lady of Atocha?" said I.
"I should like it very much," she replied, with a side-glance at her
"My girl," said Don Diego, "true devotion and merriment go together, and
the reason is that the truly devout person has trust in God and in the
honesty of all men. Thus you can trust in Don Jaime as an honest man,
though he has not the good fortune to be born in Spain."
I could not help laughing at this last sentence, but Don Diego was not
offended. Donna Ignazia kissed her father's hands, and asked if she
might bring her cousin too.
"What do you want to take the cousin for?" said Don Diego; "I will answer
for Don Jaime."
"You are very kind, Don Diego, but if Ignazia likes her cousin to come I
shall be delighted, provided it be the elder cousin, whom I like better
than the younger."
After this arrangement the father went his way, and I sent Philippe to
the stables to put in four mules.
When we were alone Ignazia asked me repentantly to forgive her.
"Entirely, if you will forgive me for loving you."
"Alas, dearest! I think I shall go mad if I keep up the battle any
"There needs no battle, dearest Ignazia, either love me as I love you, or
tell me to leave the house, and see you no more. I will obey you, but
that will not make you happy."
"I know that. No, you shall not go from your own house. But allow me to
tell you that you are mistaken in your estimate of my cousins'
characters. I know what influenced you, but you do not know all. The
younger is a good girl, and though she is ugly, she too has succumbed to
love. But the elder, who is ten times uglier, is mad with rage at never
having had a lover. She thought she had made you in love with her, and
yet she speaks evil of you. She reproaches me for having yielded so
easily. and boasts that she would never have gratified your passion."
"Say no more, we must punish her; and the younger shall come."
"I am much obliged to you."
"Does she know that we love each other?"
"I have never told her, but she has guessed it, and pities me. She wants
me to join her in a devotion to Our Lady de la Soledad, the effect of
which would be a complete cure for us both."
"Then she is in love, too?"
"Yes; and she is unhappy in her love, for it is not returned. That must
be a great grief."
"I pity her, and yet, with such a face, I do not know any man who would
take compassion on her. The poor girl would do well to leave love alone.
But as to you. . . ."
"Say nothing about me: my danger is greater than hers. I am forced to
defend myself or to give in, and God knows there are some men whom it is
impossible to ward off! God is my witness that in Holy Week I went to a
poor girl with the smallpox, and touched her in the hope of catching it,
and so losing my beauty; but God would not have it so, and my confessor
blamed me, bidding me to do a penance I had never expected."
"Tell me what it is?"
"He told me that a handsome face is the index of a handsome soul, and is
a gift of God, for which a woman should render thanks continually; that
in attempting to destroy this beauty I had sinned, for I had endeavoured
to destroy God's handiwork. After a good deal of rebuke in this style,
he ordered me to put a little rouge on my cheeks whenever I felt myself
looking pale. I had to submit, and I have bought a pot of rouge, but
hitherto I have not felt obliged to use it. Indeed, my father might
notice it, and I should not like to tell him that it is done by way of
"Is your confessor a young man?"
"He is an old man of seventy."
"Do you tell him all your sins without reserve?"
"Certainly, for the smallest circumstance may be really a great sin."
"Does he ask you questions?"
"No, for he sees that I am telling him the whole truth. It is a great
trial, but I have to submit to it."
"Have you had this confessor for long?"
"For two years. Before him I had a confessor who was quite unbearable.
He asked me questions which made me quite indignant."
"What questions were these?"
"You must please excuse me telling you."
"Why do you go to confession so often?"
"Why? Would to God I had not good cause! but after all I only go once a
"That's too often."
"Not so, for when I am in mortal sin I cannot sleep at night. I am
afraid of dying in my sleep."
"I pity you, dearest; I have a consolation which is denied you. I have
an infinite trust in the infinite mercy of God."
The cousin arrived and we set out. We found a good many carriages in
front of the church-door, and the church itself was full of devotees,
both male and female. Amongst others I saw the Duchess of Villadorias,
notorious for her andromania. When the 'furor uterinus' seized her,
nothing could keep her back. She would rush at the man who had excited
her, and he had no choice but to satisfy her passion. This had happened
several times in public assemblies, and had given rise to some
extraordinary scenes. I had seen her at a ball; she was still both young
and pretty. As I entered the church I saw her kneeling on the stones of
the church floor. She lifted her eyes, and gazed at me, as if doubtful
whether she knew me or not, as she had only seen me in domino. After my
devotees had prayed for half an hour, they rose to go, and the duchess
rose also; and as soon as we were out of the church she asked me if I
knew her. I replied in the affirmative, and she asked why I had not been
to see her, and if I visited the Duchess of Benevento. I told her that I
did not visit her grace, and that I should have the honour of paying her
a call before long.
On our way I explained to my two companions the nature of the duchess's
malady. Donna Ignazia asked me anxiously if I really meant to go and see
her. She seemed reassured when I replied in the negative.
A common and to my mind a ridiculous question is which of the two sexes
enjoys the generative act the more. Homer gives us Jupiter and Juno
disputing on this point. Tiresias, who was once a woman, has given a
correct though amusing decision on the point. A laconic answer has it
that a woman enjoys the act the most because with her it is sharper,
repeated more frequently, and finally because the battle is fought in her
field. She is at the same time an active and passive agent, while action
is indispensable to the pleasure of the man. But the most conclusive
reason is that if the woman's pleasure were not the greater nature would
be unjust, and she never is or can be unjust. Nothing in this universe
is without its use, and no pleasure or pain is without its compensation
or balance. If woman had not more pleasure than man she would not have
more organs than he. The greater nervous power planted in the female
organ is demonstrated by the andromania to which some women are subject,
and which makes them either Messalines or martyrs. Men have nothing at
all similar to this.
Nature has given to women this special enjoyment to compensate for the
pains they have to undergo. What man would expose himself, for the
pleasure he enjoys, to the pains of pregnancy and the dangers of
childbed? But women will do so again and again; so it must be concluded
that they believe the pleasure to outbalance the pain; and so it is
clearly the woman who has the better share in the enjoyment.
In spite of this, if I had the choice of being born again as a woman, I
should say no; for in spite of my voluptuousness, a man has pleasures
which a woman cannot enjoy. Though, indeed, rather than not be born
again, I would be a woman, and even a brute, provided always that I had
my memory, for without it I should no longer be myself.
We had some ices, and my two companions returned home with me, well
pleased with the enjoyment I had given them without offending God.
Donna Ignazia, who was delighted with my continence during the day, and
apparently afraid of its not lasting, begged me to invite her cousin to
supper. I agreed, and even did so with pleasure.
The cousin was ugly, and also a fool, but she had a great heart and was
sympathetic. I knew that Donna Ignazia had told her all, and as
she was no restraint on me I did not mind her being at supper, while
Ignazia looked upon her as a safeguard.
The table had been laid for three, when I heard a step coming up the
stairs. It was the father, and I asked him to sup with us. Don Diego
was a pleasant man, as I have said, but what amused me most of all about
him was his moral maxims. He knew or suspected that I was fond of his
daughter, though in an honourable way; he thought my honour or his
daughter's piety would be a sufficient safeguard. If he had suspected
what had really happened, I do not think he would ever have allowed us to
He sat beside his niece and facing his daughter, and did most of the
talking, for your Spaniard, though grave, is eloquent, and fond of
hearing the fine harmonies of his native tongue.
It was very hot, so I asked him to take off his waistcoat, and to tell
his daughter to do just as she would if only he and his wife had been
Donna Ignazia had not to be entreated long before she took off her
kerchief, but the poor cousin did not like having to shew us her bones
and swarthy skin.
Donna Ignazia told her father how much she had enjoyed herself, and how
they had seen the Duchess of Villadorias, who had asked me to come and
The good man began to philosophise and to jest on her malady, and he told
me some stories, germane to the question, which the girls pretended not
The good wine of La Mancha kept us at table till a late hour, and the
time seemed to pass very quickly. Don Diego told his niece that she
could sleep with his daughter, in the room we were in, as the bed was big
enough for two. I hastened to add that if the ladies would do so I
should be delighted; but Donna Ignazia blushed and said it would not do,
as the room was only separated from mine by a glass door.
At this I smiled at Don Diego, who proceeded to harangue his daughter in
a manner which amused me extremely. He told her that I was at least
twenty years older than herself, and that in suspecting me she had
committed a greater sin than if she allowed me to take some slight
"I am sure," he added, "that when you go to confession next Sunday you
will forget to accuse yourself of having wrongfully suspected Don Jaime
of a dishonourable action."
Donna Ignazia looked at me affectionately, asked my pardon, and said she
would do whatever her father liked. The cousin said nothing, and the
father kissed his daughter, bade me a good night, and went away well
pleased with the harangue he had delivered.
I suspected that Donna Ignazia expected me to make some attempt on her
honour, and feeling sure that she would resist for the sake of
appearance, I determined to leave her in peace. Next morning I got up
and went into their room in the hope of playing some trick on them.
However, the birds were flown, and I had no doubt that they had gone to
Donna Ignazia came home by herself at ten o'clock. She found me alone,
dressed, and writing. She told me she had been in the church for three
"You have been to confession, I suppose?"
"No; I went last Sunday, and I shall wait till next Sunday."
"I am very glad that your confession will not be lengthened by any sins I
have helped you to commit."
"You are wrong."
"Wrong? I understand; but you must know that I am not going to be damned
for mere desires. I do not wish to torment you or to become a martyr
myself. What you granted me has made me fall deeply in love with you,
and it makes me shudder when I imagine that our love has become a subject
of repentance with you. I have had a bad night; and it is time for me to
think of my health. I must forget you, but to bring about that effect I
will see you no longer. I will keep on the house, but I will not live in
it. If your religion is an intelligent one, you will approve of my idea.
Tell your confessor of it next Sunday, and you will see that he will
"You are right, but I cannot agree to it. You can go away if you like,
and I shall say nothing, but I shall be the most unhappy girl in all
As she spoke these words, two big tears rolled down her cheeks, and her
face dropped; I was profoundly moved.
"I love you, dearest Ignazia, and I hope not to be damned for my love. I
cannot see you without loving you and to this love some positive proof is
essential; otherwise, I am unhappy. If I go you say you will be unhappy,
and if I stay it is I that will be unhappy, my health will be ruined.
But tell me which I shall do stay or go? Say."
"Then you must be as loving and tender as you were before."
"Alas! I promised to commit that sin no more. I tell you to stay,
because I am sure that in eight or ten days we shall have become so
accustomed to one another that I shall be able to love you like a father,
and you will be able to take me in your arms without any amorous
"Are you sure of this?"
"Yes, dearest, quite sure."
"You make a mistake."
"Let me be mistaken, and believe me I shall be glad to be mistaken."
"Nothing, nothing. I may be too long, I shall endanger . . . let