Part 67 out of 70
After these polite preliminaries I felt that I must comply with his
I asked after the marquis, his mother-in-law, and Anastasia, saying that
I was delighted to hear from the marchioness from whom I had been
expecting an answer for the last month.
"The charming marchioness has deigned to entrust me with the answer you
"I long to read it."
"Then I may give you the letter now, though I shall still claim the
privilege of calling on you to-morrow. I will bring it to you in your
box, if you will allow me."
"Pray do so."
He might easily have given it to me from the box where he was, but this
would not have suited his plans. He came in, and politeness obliged me
to give him my place next to Armelline. He took out an elaborate pocket-
book, and gave me the letter. I opened it, but finding that it covered
four pages, I said I would read it when I got home, as the box was dark.
"I shall stay in Rome till Easter," he said, "as I want to see all the
sights; though indeed I cannot hope to see anything more beautiful than
the vision now before me."
Armelline, who was gazing fixedly at him, blushed deeply. I felt that
his compliment, though polite, was entirely out of place, and in some
sort an insult to myself. However, I said nothing, but decided mentally
that the Florentine Adonis must be a fop of the first water.
Finding his compliment created a silence, he saw he had made himself
offensive, and after a few disconnected remarks withdrew from the box.
In spite of myself the man annoyed me, and I congratulated Armelline on
the rapidity of her conquest, asking her what she thought of him.
"He is a fine man, but his compliments shews he has no taste. Tell me,
is it the custom for people of fashion to make a young girl blush the
first time they see her?"
"No, dear Armelline, it is neither customary nor polite; and anyone who
wishes to mix in good society would never do such a thing."
I lapsed into silence, as though I wanted to listen to the music; but as
a matter of fact my heart was a prey to cruel jealousy. I thought the
matter over, and came to the conclusion that the Florentine had treated
me rudely. He might have guessed that I was in love with Armelline, and
to make such an open declaration of love to my very face was nothing more
nor less than an insult to me.
After I had kept this unusual silence for a quarter of an hour the simple
Armelline made me worse by saying that I must calm myself, as I might be
sure that the young man's compliment had not given her the slightest
pleasure. She did not see that by saying this she made me feel that the
compliment had had the directly opposite effect.
I said that I had hoped he had pleased her.
To finish the matter up, she said by way of soothing me that the young
man did not mean to vex me, as he doubtless took me for her father.
What could I reply to this observation, as cruel as it was reasonable?
Nothing; I could only take refuge in silence and a fit of childish ill-
At last I could bear it no longer, and begged the two girls to come away
The second act was just over, and if I had been in my right senses I
should never have made them such an unreasonable request; but the
crassness of my proceedings did not strike me till the following day.
In spite of the strangeness of my request they merely exchanged glances
and got ready to go. Not knowing what better excuse to give I told them
I did not want the princess's carriage to be noticed as everyone left the
theatre, and that I would bring them again to the theatre the following
I would not let Armelline put her head inside the Marchioness d'Aout's
box, and so we went out. I found the man who accompanied the carriage
talking to one of his mates at the door of the theatre, and this made me
think that the princess had come to the opera.
We got down at the inn, and I whispered to the man to take his horses
home and to call for us at three o'clock; for the cold was intense, and
both horses and men had to be considered.
We began by sitting down in front of a roaring fire, and for half an hour
we did nothing but eat oysters, which were opened in our presence by a
clever waiter, who took care not to lose a drop of the fluid. As quick
as he opened we ate, and the laughter of the girls, who talked of how we
had eaten them before, caused my anger to gradually disappear.
In Armelline's gentleness I saw the goodness of her heart, and I was
angry with myself for my absurd jealousy of a man who was much more
calculated to please a young girl than I.
Armelline drank champagne, and stole occasional glances in my direction
as if to entreat me to join them in their mirth.
Emilie spoke of her marriage, and without saying anything about my
projected visit to Civita Vecchia I promised that her future husband
should have his plenary dispensation before very long. While I spoke I
kissed Armelline's fair hands, and she looked at me as if thankful for
the return of my affection.
The oysters and champagne had their natural effect, and we had a
delightful supper. We had sturgeon and some delicious truffles, which I
enjoyed not so much for my own sake as for the pleasure with which my
companions devoured them.
A man in love is provided with a kind of instinct which tells him that
the surest way to success is to provide the beloved object with pleasures
that are new to her.
When Armelline saw me become gay and ardent once more she recognized her
handiwork, and was doubtless proud of the power she exercised over me.
She took my hand of her own accord, and continued gazing into my eyes.
Emilie was occupied in the enjoyment of the meal, and did not trouble
herself about our behaviour. Armelline was so tender and loving that I
made sure of victory after we had had some more oysters and a bowl of
When the dessert, the fifty oysters, and all the materials for making the
punch were on the table, the waiter left the room, saying that the ladies
would find every requisite in the neighbouring apartment.
The room was small, and the fire very hot, and I bade the two friends
arrange their dress more comfortably.
Their dresses fitted their figures, and were trimmed with fur and
stiffened with whalebones, so they went into the next room, and came back
in white bodices and short dimity petticoats, laughing at the slightness
of their attire.
I had sufficient strength of mind to conceal my emotion, and even not to
look at their breasts when they complained of having no neckerchiefs or
breast-bands to their chemises. I knew how inexperienced they were, and
felt certain that when they saw the indifference with which I took their
slight attire they themselves would think it was of no consequence.
Armelline and Emilie had both beautiful breasts, and knew it; they were
therefore astonished at my indifference, perhaps thought that I had never
seen a fine breast. As a matter of fact a fine figure is much more
scarce at Rome than a pretty face.
Thus, in spite of their modesty, their vanity impelled them to shew me
that my indifference was ill-placed, but it was my part to put them at
their ease, and to make them fling shame to the winds.
They were enchanted when I told them to try their hands at a bowl of
punch, and they simply danced for joy when I pronounced it better than my
Then came the oyster-game, and I scolded Armelline for having swallowed
the liquid as I was taking the oyster from her lips. I agreed that it
was very hard to avoid doing so, but I offered to shew them how it could
be done by placing the tongue in the way. This gave me an opportunity of
teaching them the game of tongues, which I shall not explain because it
is well known to all true lovers. Armelline played her part with such
evident relish that I could see she enjoyed it as well as I, though she
agreed it was a very innocent amusement.
It so chanced that a fine oyster slipped from its shell as I was placing
it between Emilie's lips. It fell on to her breast, and she would have
recovered it with her fingers; but I claimed the right of regaining it
myself, and she had to unlace her bodice to let me do so. I got hold of
the oyster with my lips, but did so in such a manner as to prevent her
suspecting that I had taken any extraordinary pleasure in the act.
Armelline looked on without laughing; she was evidently surprised at the
little interest I had taken in what was before my eye. Emilie laughed
and relaced her bodice.
The opportunity was too good to be lost, so taking Armelline on my knee I
gave her an oyster and let it slip as Emilie's had slipped, much to the
delight of the elder, who wanted to see how her young companion would go
through the ordeal.
Armelline was really as much delighted herself, though she tried to
conceal her pleasure.
"I want my oyster," said I.
"Take it, then."
There was no need to tell me twice. I unlaced her corset in such a way
as to make it fall still lower, bewailing the necessity of having to
search for it with my hands.
What a martyrdom for an amorous man to have to conceal his bliss at such
I did not let Armelline have any occasion to accuse me of taking too much
licence, for I only touched her alabaster spheres so much as was
When I had got the oyster again I could restrain myself no more, and
affixing my lips to one of the blossoms of her breast I sucked it with a
voluptuous pleasure which is beyond all description.
She was astonished, but evidently moved, and I did not leave her till my
enjoyment was complete.
When she marked my dreamy langourous gaze, she asked me it it had given
me much pleasure to play the part of an infant.
"Yes, dearest," I replied, "but it's only an innocent jest."
"I don't think so; and I hope you will say nothing about it to the
superioress. It may be innocent for you, but it is not for me, as I
experienced sensations which must partake of the nature of sin. We will
pick up no more oysters."
"These are mere trifles," said Emilie, "the stain of which will easily be
wiped out with a little holy water. At all events we can swear that
there has been no kissing between us."
They went into the next room for a moment, I did the same, and we then
sat on the sofa before the fire. As I sat between them I observed that
our legs were perfectly alike, and that I could not imagine why women
stuck so obstinately to their petticoats.
While I talked I touched their legs, saying it was just as if I were to
touch my own.
They did not interrupt this examination which I carried up to the knee,
and I told Emilie that all the reward I would ask for my services was
that I might see her thighs, to compare them with Armelline's.
"She will be bigger than I," said Armelline, "though I am the taller."
"Well, there would be no harm in letting me see."
"I think there would."
"Well, I will feel with my hands."
"No, you would look at the same time."
"I swear I will not."
"Let me bandage your eyes."
"Certainly; but I will: bandage yours too."
"Yes; we will play, at blindman's buff."
Before the bandaging began I took care to make them swallow a good dose
of punch, and, then we proceeded to play. The two girls let me span
their thighs several times, laughing and falling over me whenever my
hands went too high.
I lifted the bandage and saw everything, but they pretended not to
They treated me in the same way, no doubt to see what it was that they
felt when they fell upon me.
This delightful game went on; till exhausted, nature would not allow me
to play it any more. I put myself in a state of decency, and then told
them to take off their bandages.
They did so and sat beside me, thinking, perhaps, that they would be able
to, disavow everything on the score of the bandage.
It seemed to me that Emilie had had a lover, though I took good care not
to tell her so; but Armelline was a pure virgin. She was meeker than her
friend, and her great eyes shone as voluptuously but more modestly.
I would have snatched a kiss from her pretty mouth, but she turned away
her head, though she squeezed my hands tenderly. I was astonished at
this refusal after the liberties I had taken with her.
We had talked about balls, and they were both extremely anxious to see
The public ball was the rage with all the young Romans. For ten long
years the Pope Rezzonico had deprived them of this pleasure.
Although Rezzonico forbade dancing, he allowed gaming of every
description. Ganganelli, his successor, had other views, and forbade
gaming but allowed dancing.
So much for papal infallibility; what one condemns the other approves.
Ganganelli thought it better to let his subjects skip than to give them
the opportunity of ruining themselves, of committing suicide, or of
becoming brigands; but Rezzonico did not see the matter in that light.
I promised the girls I would take them to the ball as soon as I could
discover one where I was not likely to be recognized.
Three o'clock struck, and I took them back to the convent, well enough
pleased with the progress I had made, though I had only increased my
passion. I was surer than ever that Armelline was born to exercise an
irresistible sway over every man who owed fealty to beauty.
I was amongst her liegemen, and am so still, but the incense is all gone
and the censer of no value.
I could not help reflecting on the sort of glamour which made me fall in
love with one who seemed all new to me, while I loved her in exactly the
same manner as I had loved her predecessor. But in reality there was no
real novelty; the piece was the same, though the title might be altered.
But when I had won what I coveted, did I realize that I was going over
old ground? Did I complain? Did I think myself deceived?
Not one whit; and doubtless for this reason, that whilst I enjoyed the
piece I kept my eyes fixed on the title which had so taken my fancy.
If this be so, of what use is title at all? The title of a book, the
name of a dish, the name of a town--of what consequence are all these
when what one wants is to read the book, to eat the dish, and to see the
The comparison is a sophism. Man becomes amorous through the senses,
which, touch excepted, all reside in the head. In love a beautiful face
is a matter of the greatest moment.
A beautiful female body might well excite a man to carnal indulgence,
even though the head were covered, but never to real love. If at the
moment of physical delight the covering were taken away, and a face of
hideous, revolting ugliness disclosed, one would fly in horror, in spite
of the beauties of the woman's body.
But the contrary does not hold good. If a man has fallen in love with a
sweet, enchanting face, and succeeds in lifting the veil of the sanctuary
only to find deformities there, still the face wins the day, atones for
all, and the sacrifice is consummated.
The face is thus paramount, and hence it has come to be agreed that
women's bodies shall be covered and their faces disclosed; while men's
clothes are arranged in such a way that women can easily guess at what
they cannot see.
This arrangement is undoubtedly to the advantage of women; art can
conceal the imperfections of the face, and even make it appear beautiful,
but no cosmetic can dissemble an ugly breast, stomach, or any other part
of the man body.
In spite of this, I confess that the phenomerides of Sparta were in the
right, like all women who, though they possess a fine figure, have a
repulsive face; in spite of the beauty of the piece, the title drives
spectators away. Still an interesting face is an inseparable accident of
Thrice happy are they who, like Armelline, have beauty both in the face
When I got home I was so fortunate as to find Margarita in a deep sleep.
I took care not to awake her, and went to bed with as little noise as
possible. I was in want of rest, for I no longer enjoyed the vigour of
youth, and I slept till twelve.
When I awoke, Margarita told me that a handsome young man had called on
me at ten o'clock, and that she had amused him till eleven, not daring to
"I made him some coffee," said she, "and he was pleased to pronounce it
excellent. He would not tell me his name, but he will come again
tomorrow. He gave me a piece of money, but I hope you will not mind.
I don't know how much it is worth."
I guessed that it was the Florentine. The piece was of two ounces. I
only laughed, for not loving Margarita I was not jealous of her. I told
her she had done quite right to amuse him and to accept the piece, which
was worth forty-eight pauls.
She kissed me affectionately, and thanks to this incident I heard nothing
about my having come home so late.
I felt curious to learn more about this generous Tuscan, so I proceeded
to read Leonilda's letter.
His name, it appeared, was M----. He was a rich merchant established in
London, and had been commended to her husband by a Knight of Malta.
Leonilda said he was generous, good-hearted, and polished, and assured me
that I should like him.
After telling me the family news, Leonilda concluded by saying that she
was in a fair way to become a mother, and that she would be perfectly
happy if she gave birth to a son. She begged me to congratulate the
Whether from a natural instinct or the effects of prejudice, this news
made me shudder. I answered her letter in a few days, enclosing it in a
letter to the marquis, in which I told him that the grace of God was
never too late, and that I had never been so much pleased by any news as
at hearing he was likely to have an heir.
In the following May Leonilda gave birth to a son, whom I saw at Prague,
on the occasion of the coronation of Leopold. He called himself Marquis
C----, like his father, or perhaps we had better say like his mother's
husband, who attained the age of eighty.
Though the young marquis did not know my name, I got introduced to him,
and had the pleasure of meeting him a second time at the theatre. He was
accompanied by a priest, who was called his governor, but such an office
was a superfluity for him, who was wiser at twenty than most men are at
I was delighted to see that the young man was the living image of the old
marquis. I shed tears of joy as I thought how this likeness must have
pleased the old man and his wife, and I admired this chance which seemed
to have abetted nature in her deceit.
I wrote to my dear Leonilda, placing the letter in the hands of her son.
She did not get it till the Carnival of 1792, when the young marquis
returned to Naples; and a short time after I received an answer inviting
me to her son's marriage and begging me to spend the remainder of my days
"Who knows? I may eventually do so."
I called on the Princess Santa Croce at three o'clock, and found her in
bed, with the cardinal reading to her.
The first question she asked was, why I had left the opera at the end of
the second act.
"Princess, I can tell you an interesting history of my six hours of
adventure, but you must give me a free hand, for some of the episodes
must be told strictly after nature."
"Is it anything in the style of Sister M---- M----?" asked the cardinal.
"Yes, my lord, something of the kind."
"Princess, will you be deaf?" said his eminence,
"Of course I will," she replied.
I then told my tale almost as I have written it. The slipping oysters
and the game of blind man's buff made the princess burst with laughing,
in spite of her deafness. She agreed with the cardinal that I had acted
with great discretion, and told me that I should be sure to succeed on
the next attempt.
"In three or four days," said the cardinal, "you will have the
dispensation, and then Emilie can marry whom she likes."
The next morning the Florentine came to see me at nine o'clock, and I
found him to answer to the marchioness's description; but I had a bone to
pick with him, and I was none the better pleased when he began asking me
about the young person in my box at the theatre; he wanted to know
whether she were married or engaged, if she had father, mother, or any
I smiled sardonically, and begged to be excused giving him the required
information, as the young lady was masked when he saw her.
He blushed, and begged my pardon.
I thanked him for doing Margarita the honour of accepting a cup of coffee
from her hands, and begged him to take one with me, saying I would
breakfast with him next morning. He lived with Roland, opposite St.
Charles, where Madame Gabrieli, the famous singer, nicknamed la Coghetta,
As soon as the Florentine was gone, I went to St. Paul's in hot haste,
for I longed to see what reception I should have from the two vestals I
had initiated so well.
When they appeared I noticed a great change. Emilie had become gay,
while Armelline looked sad.
I told the former that she should have her dispensation in three days,
and her warrant for four hundred crowns in a week.
"At the same time," I added, "you shall have your grant of two hundred
At this happy tidings she ran to tell the superioress of her good
As soon as I was alone with Armelline I took her hands and covered them
with kisses, begging her to resume her wonted gaiety.
"What shall I do," said she, "without Emilie? What shall I do when you
are gone? I am unhappy. I love myself no longer."
She shed tears which pierced me to the heart. I swore I would not leave
Rome till I had seen her married with a dowry of a thousand crowns.
"I don't want a thousand crowns, but I hope you will see me married as
you say; if you do not keep your promise it will kill me."
"I would die rather than deceive you; but you on your side must forgive
my love, which, perhaps, made me go too far the other evening."
"I forgive you everything if you will remain my friend."
"I will; and now let me kiss your beautiful lips."
After this first kiss, which I took as a pledge of certain victory, she
wiped away her tears; and soon after Emilie reappeared, accompanied by
the superioress, who treated me with great cordiality.
"I want you to do as much for Armelline's new friend as you have done for
Emilie," said she.
"I will do everything in my power," I replied; "and in return I hope you
will allow me to take these young ladies to the theatre this evening."
"You will find them ready; how could I refuse you anything?"
When I was alone with the two friends I apologised for having disposed of
them without their consent.
"Our consent!" said Emilie: "we should be ungrateful indeed if we refused
you anything after all you have done for us."
"And you, Armelline, will you withstand my love?"
"No; so long as it keeps within due bounds. No more blind man's buff!"
"And it is such a nice game! You really grieve me."
"Well, invent another game," said Emilie.
Emilie was becoming ardent, somewhat to my annoyance, for I was afraid
Armelline would get jealous. I must not be charged with foppishness on
this account. I knew the human heart.
When I left them I went to the Tordinona Theatre and took a box, and then
ordered a good supper at the same inn, not forgetting the oysters, though
I felt sure I should not require their aid.
I then called on a musician, whom I requested to get me three tickets for
a ball, where no one would be likely to know me.
I went home with the idea of dining by myself, but I found a note from
the Marchioness d'Aout, reproaching me in a friendly manner for not
having broken bread with her, and inviting me to dinner. I resolved to
accept the invitation, and when I got to the house I found the young
Florentine already there.
It was at this dinner that I found out many of his good qualities, and I
saw that Donna Leonilda had not said too much in his favour.
Towards the end of the meal the marchioness asked why I had not stayed
till the end of the opera.
"Because the young ladies were getting tired."
"I have found out that they do not belong to the Venetian ambassador's
"You are right, and I hope you will pardon my small fiction."
"It was an impromptu effort to avoid telling me who they are, but they
"Then I congratulate the curious."
"The one I addressed deserves to excite general curiosity; but if I were
in your place I should make her use a little powder."
"I have not the authority to do so, and if I had, I would not trouble her
for the world."
I was pleased with the Florentine, who listened to all this without
saying a word. I got him to talk of England and of his business. He
told me that he was going to Florence to take possession of his
inheritance, and to get a wife to take back with him to London. As I
left, I told him that I could not have the pleasure of calling on him
till the day after next, as I was prevented by important business. He
told me I must come at dinnertime, and I promised to do so.
Full of love and hope, I went for my two friends, who enjoyed the whole
play without any interruption.
When we alighted at the inn I told the coachman to call for me at two,
and we then went up to the third floor, where we sat before the fire
while the oysters were being opened. They did not interest us as they
had done before.
Emilie had an important air; she was about to make a good marriage.
Armelline was meek, smiling, and affectionate, and reminded me of the
promise I had given her. I replied by ardent kisses which reassured her,
while they warned her that I would fain increase the responsibility I had
already contracted towards her. However, she seemed resigned, and I sat
down to table in a happy frame of mind.
As Emilie was on the eve of her wedding, she no doubt put down my neglect
of her to my respect for the sacrament of matrimony.
When supper was over I got on the sofa with Armelline, and spent three
hours which might have been delicious if I had not obstinately
endeavoured to obtain the utmost favour. She would not give in; all my
supplications and entreaties could not move her; she was sweet, but firm.
She lay between my arms, but would not grant what I wanted, though she
gave me no harsh or positive refusal.
It seems a puzzle, but in reality it is quite simple.
She left my arms a virgin, sorry, perhaps, that her sense of duty had not
allowed her to make me completely happy.
At last nature bade me cease, in spite of my love, and I begged her to
forgive me. My instinct told me that this was the only way by which I
might obtain her consent another time.
Half merry and half sad, we awoke Emilie who was in a deep sleep, and
then we started. I went home and got into bed, not troubling myself
about the storm of abuse with which Margarita greeted me.
The Florentine gave me a delicious dinner, overwhelmed me with
protestations of friendship, and offered me his purse if I needed it.
He had seen Armelline, and had been pleased with her. I had answered him
sharply when he questioned me about her, and ever since he had never
mentioned her name.
I felt grateful to him, and as if I must make him some return.
I asked him to dinner, and had Margarita to dine with us. Not caring for
her I should have been glad if he had fallen in love with her; there
would have been no difficulty, I believe, on her part, and certainly not
on mine; but nothing came of it. She admired a trinket which hung from
his watch-chain, and he begged my permission to give it her. I told him
to do so by all means, and that should have been enough; but the affair
went no farther.
In a week all the arrangements for Emilie's marriage had been made. I
gave her her grant, and the same day she was married and went away with
her husband to Civita Vecchia. Menicuccio, whose name I have not
mentioned for some time, was well pleased with my relations with his
sister, foreseeing advantages for himself, and still better pleased with
the turn his own affairs were taking, for three days after Emilie's
wedding he married his mistress, and set up in a satisfactory manner.
When Emilie was gone the superioress gave Armelline a new companion. She
was only a few years older than my sweetheart, and very pretty; but she
did not arouse a strong interest in my breast. When violently in love no
other woman has ever had much power over me.
The superioress told me that her name was Scholastica, and that she was
well worthy of my esteem, being, as she said, as good as Emilie. She
expressed a hope that I would do my best to help Scholastica to marry a
man whom she knew and who was in a good position.
This man was the son of a cousin of Scholastica's. She called him her
nephew, though he was older than she. The dispensation could easily be
got for money, but if it was to be had for nothing I should have to make
interest with the Holy Father. I promised I would do my best in the
The carnival was drawing to a close, and Scholastica had never seen an
opera or a play. Armelline wanted to see a ball, and I had at last
succeeded in finding one where it seemed unlikely that I should be
recognized. However, it would have to be carefully managed, as serious
consequences might ensue; so I asked the two friends if they would wear
men's clothes, to which they agreed very heartily.
I had taken a box at the Aliberti Theatre for the day after the ball, so
I told the two girls to obtain the necessary permission from the
Though Armelline's resistance and the presence of her new friend
discouraged me, I procured everything requisite to transform them into
two handsome lads.
As Armelline got into the carriage she gave me the bad news that
Scholastica knew nothing about our relations, and that we must be careful
what we did before her. I had no time to reply, for Scholastica got in,
and we drove off to the inn. When we were seated in front of a good
fire, I told them that if they liked I would go into the next room in
spite of the cold.
So saying, I shewed them their disguises, and Armelline said it would do
if I turned my back, appealing to Scholastics to confirm her.
"I will do as you like," said she, "but I am very sorry to be in the way.
You are in love with each other, and here am I preventing you from giving
one another marks of your affection. Why don't you treat me with
confidence? I am not a child, and I am your friend."
These remarks shewed that she had plenty of common sense, and I breathed
"You are right, fair Scholastics," I said, "I do love Armelline, but she
does not love me, and refuses to make me happy on one pretence or
With these words I left the room, and after shutting the door behind me
proceeded to make up a fire in the second apartment.
In a quarter of an hour Armelline knocked at the door, and begged me to
open it. She was in her breeches, and said they needed my assistance as
their shoes were so small they could not get them on.
I was in rather a sulky humour, so she threw her arms round my neck and
covered my face with kisses which soon restored me to myself.
While I was explaining the reason of my ill temper, and kissing whatever
I could see, Scholastica burst out laughing.
"I was sure that I was in the way," said she; "and if you do not trust
me, I warn you that I will not go with you to the opera to-morrow."
"Well, then, embrace him," said Armelline.
"With all my heart."
I did not much care for Armelline's generosity, but I embraced
Scholastica as warmly as she deserved. Indeed I would have done so if
she had been less pretty, for such kindly consideration deserved a
reward. I even kissed her more ardently than I need have done, with the
idea of punishing Armelline, but I made a mistake. She was delighted,
and kissed her friend affectionately as if in gratitude.
I made them sit down, and tried to pull on their shoes, but I soon found
that they were much too small, and that we must get some more.
I called the waiter who attended to us, and told him to go and fetch a
bootmaker with an assortment of shoes.
In the meanwhile I would not be contented with merely kissing Armelline.
She neither dared to grant nor to refuse; and as if to relieve herself of
any responsibility, made Scholastica submit to all the caresses I
lavished on her. The latter seconded my efforts with an ardour that
would have pleased me exceedingly if I had been in love with her.
She was exceedingly beautiful, and her features were as perfectly
chiselled as Armelline's, but Armelline was possessed of a delicate and
subtle charm of feature peculiar to herself.
I liked the amusement well enough, but there was a drop of bitterness in
all my enjoyment. I thought it was plain that Armelline did not love me,
and that Scholastica only encouraged me to encourage her friend.
At last I came to the conclusion that I should do well to attach myself
to the one who seemed likely to give me the completest satisfaction.
As soon as I conceived this idea I felt curious to see whether Armelline
would discover any jealousy if I shewed myself really in love with
Scholastica, and if the latter pronounced me to be too daring, for
hitherto my hands had not crossed the Rubicon of their waistbands. I was
just going to work when the shoemaker arrived, and in a few minutes the
girls were well fitted.
They put on their coats, and I saw two handsome young men before me,
while their figures hinted their sex sufficiently to make a third person
jealous of my good fortune.
I gave orders for supper to be ready at midnight, and we went to the
ball. I would have wagered a hundred to one that no one would recognize
me there, as the man who got the tickets had assured me that it was a
gathering of small tradesmen. But who can trust to fate or chance?
We went into the hall, and the first person I saw was the Marchioness
d'Aout, with her husband and her inseparable abbe.
No doubt I turned a thousand colours, but it was no good going back, for
the marchioness had recognized me, so I composed myself and went up to
her. We exchanged the usual compliments of polite society, to which she
added some good-natured though ironical remarks on my two young friends.
Not being accustomed to company, they remained confused and speechless.
But the worst of all was to come. A tall young lady who had just
finished a minuet came up to Armelline, dropped a curtsy, and asked her
In this young lady I recognized the Florentine who had disguised himself
as a girl, and looked a very beautiful one.
Armelline thought she would not appear a dupe, and said she recognized
"You are making a mistake," said he, calmly. "I have a brother who is
very like me, just as you have a sister who is your living portrait. My
brother had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with her at the
Capronica." The Florentine's cleverness made the marchioness laugh, and
I had to join in her mirth, though I felt little inclination to do so.
Armelline begged to be excused dancing, so the marchioness made her sit
between the handsome Florentine and herself. The marquis took possession
of Scholastica, and I had to be attentive to the marchioness without
seeming to be aware of the existence of Armelline, to whom the Florentine
was talking earnestly.
I felt as jealous as a tiger; and having to conceal my rage under an air
of perfect satisfaction, the reader may imagine how well I enjoyed the
However, there was more anxiety in store for me; for presently I noticed
Scholastica leave the marquis, and go apart with a middle-aged man, with
whom she conversed in an intimate manner.
The minuets over, the square dances began, and I thought I was dreaming
when I saw Armelline and the Florentine taking their places.
I came up to congratulate them, and asked Armelline, gently, if she was
sure of the steps.
"This gentleman says I have only to imitate him, and that I cannot
possibly make any mistakes."
I had nothing to say to this, so I went towards Scholastica, feeling very
curious to know who was her companion.
As soon as she saw me she introduced me to him, saying timidly that this
was the nephew of whom she had spoken, the same that wished to marry her.
I was surprised, but I did not let it appear. I told him that the
superioress had spoken of him to me, and that I was thinking over the
ways and means of obtaining a dispensation without any costs.
He was an honest-looking man, and thanked me heartily, commending himself
to my good offices, as he said he was far from rich.
I left them together, and on turning to view the dance I was astonished
to see that Armelline was dancing admirably, and executing all the
figures. The Florentine seemed a finished dancer, and they both looked
I was far from pleased, but I congratulated them both on their
performance. The Florentine had disguised himself so admirably that no
one would have taken him for a man. It was the Marchioness d'Aout who
had been his dresser.
As I was too jealous to leave Armelline to her own devices, I refused to
dance, preferring to watch her.
I was not at all uneasy about Scholastica, who was with her betrothed.
About half-past eleven the Marchioness d'Aout, who was delighted with
Armelline, and possibly had her protege's happiness in view, asked me, in
a tone that amounted to a command, to sup with her in company with my two
"I cannot have the honour," I replied, "and my two companions know the
"That is as much as to say," said the marchioness, "that he will do as
you please," turning to Armelline as she spoke.
I addressed myself to Armelline, and observed smilingly that she knew
perfectly well that she must be home by half-past twelve at latest.
"True," she replied, "but you can do as you please."
I replied somewhat sadly that I did not feel myself at liberty to break
my word, but that she could make me do even that if she chose.
Thereupon the marchioness, her husband, the abbe, and the Florentine,
urged her to use her power to make me break my supposed word, and
Armelline actually began to presume to do so.
I was bursting with rage; but making up my mind to do anything rather
than appear jealous, I said simply that I would gladly consent if her
friend would consent also.
"Very well," said she, with a pleased air that cut me to the quick, "go
and ask her."
That was enough for me. I went to Scholastica and told her the
circumstances in the presence of her lover, begging her to refuse without
Her lover said I was perfectly right, but Scholastica required no
persuasion, telling me that she had quite made up her mind not to sup
She came with me, and I told her to speak to Armelline apart before
saying anything to the others.
I led Scholastica before the marchioness, bewailing my want of success.
Scholastica told Armelline that she wanted to say a few words to her
aside, and after a short conversation they came back looking sorry, and
Armelline told the marchioness that she found it would be impossible for
them to come. The lady did not press us any longer, so we went away.
I told Scholastica's intended to keep what had passed to himself, and
asked him to dine with me on the day after Ash Wednesday.
The night was dark, and we walked to the place where I had ordered the
carriage to be in waiting.
To me it was as if I had come out of hell, and on the way to the inn I
did not speak a word, not even answering the questions which the too-
simple Armelline addressed to me in a voice that would have softened a
heart of stone. Scholastica avenged me by reproaching her for having
obliged me to appear either rude or jealous, or a breaker of my word.
When we got to the inn Armelline changed my jealous rage into pity; her
eyes swam with tears, which Scholastica's home truths had drawn forth.
The supper was ready, so they had no time to change their dress. I was
sad enough, but I could not bear to see Armelline sad also. I resolved
to do my best to drive away her melancholy, even though I suspected that
it arose from love of the Florentine.
The supper was excellent, and Scholastica did honour to it, while
Armelline, contrary to her wont, scarcely touched a thing. Scholastica
was charming. She embraced her friend, and told her to be merry with
her, as I had become the friend of her betrothed, and she was sure I
would do as much for her as I had done for Emilie. She blessed the ball
and the chance which had brought him there. In short, she did her best
to shew Armelline that with my love she had no reason to be sad.
Armelline dared not disclose the true cause of her sadness. The fact
was, that she wanted to get married, and the handsome Florentine was the
man to her liking.
Our supper came to an end, and still Armelline was gloomy. She only
drank one glass of punch, and as she had eaten so little I would not try
and make her drink more for fear lest it should do her harm.
Scholastica, on the other hand, took such a fancy to this agreeable
fluid, which she tasted for the first time, that she drank deeply, and
was amazed to find it mounting to her head instead of descending to her
stomach. In this pleasant state, she felt it was her duty to reconcile
Armelline and myself, and to assure us that we might be as tender as we
liked without minding her presence.
Getting up from table and standing with some difficulty, she carried her
friend to the sofa, and caressed her in such a way that Armelline could
not help laughing, despite her sadness. Then she called me and placed
her in my arms. I caressed her, and Armelline, though she did not
repulse me, did not respond as Scholastica had hoped. I was not
disappointed; I did not think it likely she would grant now what she had
refused to grant when I had held her in my arms for those hours whilst
Emilie was fast asleep.
However, Scholastica began to reproach me with my coldness, though I
deserved no blame at all on this score.
I told them to take off their men's clothes, and to dress themselves as
I helped Scholastica to take off her coat and waistcoat, and then aided
Armelline in a similar manner.
When I brought them their chemises, Armelline told me to go and stand by
the fire, and I did so.
Before long a noise of kissing made me turn round, and I saw Scholastica,
on whom the punch had taken effect, devouring Armelline's breast with
kisses. At last this treatment had the desired result; Armelline became
gay, and gave as good as she got.
At this sight the blood boiled in my veins, and running to them I found
Scholastic was not ill pleased that I should do justice to her beautiful
spheres, while for the nonce I transformed her into a nurse.
Armelline was ashamed to appear less generous than her friend, and
Scholastica was triumphant when she saw the peculiar use to which (for
the first time) I put Armelline's hands.
Armelline called to her friend to help, and she was not backward; but in
spite of her twenty years her astonishment at the catastrophe was great.
After it was over I put on their chemises and took off their breeches
with all the decency imaginable, and after spending a few minutes in the
next room they came and sat down on my knee of their own accord.
Scholastica, instead of being annoyed at my giving the preference to the
hidden charms of Armelline, seemed delighted, watching what I did, and
how Armelline took it, with the closest attention. She no doubt longed
to see me perform the magnum opus, but the gentle Armelline would not
allow me to go so far.
After I had finished with Armelline I recollected I had duties towards
Scholastica, and I proceeded to inspect her charms.
It was difficult to decide which of the two deserved to carry off the
apple. Scholastica, perhaps, was strictly speaking the more beautiful of
the two, but I loved Armelline, and love casts a glamour over the beloved
object. Scholastica appeared to me to be as pure a virgin as Armelline,
and I saw that I might do what I liked with her. But I would not abuse
my liberty, not caring to confess how powerful an ally the punch had
However, I did all in my power to give her pleasure without giving her
the greatest pleasure of all. Scholastica, was glutted with voluptuous
enjoyment, and was certain that I had only eluded her desires from
motives of delicacy.
I took them back to the convent, assuring them that I would take them to
the opera on the following evening.
I went to bed, doubtful whether I had gained a victory or sustained a
defeat; and it was not till I awoke that I was in a position to give a
[There is here a considerable hiatus in the authors manuscript.]
by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
SPANISH PASSIONS, Volume 6d--FLORENCE TO TRIESTE
THE MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA DE SEINGALT
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR MACHEN TO
WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
FLORENCE to TRIESTE
Madame Denis--Dedini--Zanovitch--Zen--I Am Obliged to Leave--I Arrive at
Without speaking at any length I asked the young grand duke to give me an
asylum in his dominions for as long as I might care to stay. I
anticipated any questions he might have asked by telling him the reasons
which had made me an exile from my native land.
"As to my necessities," I added, "I shall ask for help of no one; I have
sufficient funds to ensure my independence. I think of devoting the
whole of my time to study."
"So long as your conduct is good," he replied, "the laws guarantee your
freedom; but I am glad you have applied to me. Whom do you know in
"Ten years ago, my lord, I had some distinuished acquaintances here; but
now I propose to live in retirement, and do not intend renewing any old
Such was my conversation with the young sovereign, and after his
assurances I concluded that no one would molest me.
My adventures in Tuscany the years before were in all probability
forgotten, or almost forgotten, as the new Government had nothing in
common with the old.
After my interview with the grand duke I went to a bookseller's shop and
ordered some books. A gentleman in the shop, hearing me making enquiries
about Greek works, accosted me, and we got on well together. I told him
I was working at a translation of the "Iliad," and in return he informed
me that he was making a collection of Greek epigrams, which he wished to
publish in Greek and Italian. I told him I should like to see this work,
whereupon he asked me where I lived. I told him, learnt his name and
address, and called on him the next day. He returned the visit, and we
became fast friends, though we never either walked or ate together.
This worthy Florentine was named (or is named, if he be still alive)
Everard de Medici.
I was very comfortable with Allegranti; I had the quiet so necessary to
literary labours, but nevertheless I made up my mind to change my
lodging. Magdalena, my landlord's niece, was so clever and charming,
though but a child, that she continually disturbed my studies. She came
into my room, wished me good day, asked me what kind of a night I had
spent, if I wanted anything, and the sight of her grace and beauty and
the sound of her voice so ravished me, that I determined to seek safety
A few years later Magdalena became a famous musician.
After leaving Allegranti I took rooms in a tradesman's house; his wife
was ugly, and he had no pretty daughters or seductive nieces. There I
lived for three weeks like Lafontaine's rat, very discreetly.
About the same time, Count Stratico arrived at Florence with his pupil,
the Chevalier Morosini, who was then eighteen. I could not avoid calling
on Stratico. He had broken his leg some time before and was still unable
to go out with his pupil, who had all the vices and none of the virtues
of youth. Consequently, Stratico was always afraid of something
happening to him, and he begged me to make myself his companion, and even
to share his pleasures, so that he might not go into bad company and
dangerous houses alone and undefended.
Thus my days of calm study vanished away. I had to partake in the
debauchery of a young rake, and all out of pure sensibility.
The Chevalier Morosini was a thorough-paced profligate. He hated
literature, good society, and the company of sensible people. His daily
pleasures were furious riding, hard drinking, and hard dissipation with
prostitutes, whom he sometimes almost killed.
This young nobleman paid a man for the sole service of getting him a
woman or a girl every day.
During the two months which he passed in Florence I saved his life a
score of times. I got very tired of my duty, but I felt bound to
He was liberal to the verge of recklessness, and would never allow me to
pay for anything. Even here, however, disputes often arose between us;
as he paid, he wanted me to eat, drink, and dissipate in the same
measures as himself. However, I had my own way on most occasions, only
giving in when it suited me to do so.
We went to see the opera at Lucca, and drought two of the dancers home to
supper. As the chevalier was drunk as usual, he treated the woman he had
chosen--a superb creature--very indifferently. The other was pretty
enough, but I had done nothing serious with her, so I proceeded to avenge
the beauty. She took me for the chevalier's father, and advised me to
give him a better education.
After the chevalier was gone I betook myself to my studies again, but I
supped every night with Madame Denis, who had formerly been a dancer in
the King of Prussia's service, and had retired to Florence.
She was about my age, and therefore not young, but still she had
sufficient remains of her beauty to inspire a tender passion; she did not
look more than thirty. She was as fresh as a young girl, had excellent
manners, and was extremely intelligent. Besides all these advantages,
she had a comfortable apartment on the first floor of one of the largest
cafes in Florence. In front of her room was a balcony where it was
delicious to sit and enjoy the cool of the evening.
The reader may remember how I had become her friend at Berlin in 1764,
and when we met again at Florence our old flames were rekindled.
The chief boarder in the house where she lived was Madame Brigonzi, whom
I had met at Memel. This lady, who pretended that she had been my
mistress twenty-five years before, often came into Madame Denis's rooms
with an old lover of hers named Marquis Capponi.
He was an agreeable and well-educated man; and noticing that he seemed to
enjoy my conversation I called on him, and he called on me, leaving his
card as I was not at home.
I returned the visit, and he introduced me to his family and invited me
to dinner. For the first time since I had come to Florence I dressed
myself with elegance and wore my jewels.
At the Marquis Capponi's I made the acquaintance of Corilla's lover, the
Marquis Gennori, who took me to a house where I met my fate. I fell in
love with Madame a young widow, who had been spending a few months in
Paris. This visit had added to her other attractions the charm of a good
manner, which always counts for so much.
This unhappy love made the three months longer which I spent in Florence
painful to me.
It was at the beginning of October, and about that time Count Medini
arrived at Florence without a penny in his pocket, and without being able
to pay his vetturino, who had arrested him.
The wretched man, who seemed to follow me wherever I went, had taken up
his abode in the house of a poor Irishman.
I do not know how Medini found out that I was at Florence, but he wrote
me a letter begging me to come and deliver him from the police, who
besieged his room and talked of taking him to prison. He said he only
wanted me to go bail for him, and protested that I should not run any
risk, as he was sure of being able to pay in a few days.
My readers will be aware that I had good reason for not liking Medini,
but in spite of our quarrel I could not despise his entreaty. I even
felt inclined to become his surety, if he could prove his capability of
paying the sum for which he had been arrested. I imagined that the sum
must be a small one, and could not understand why the landlord did not
answer for him. My surprise ceased, however, when I entered his room.
As soon as I appeared he ran to embrace me, begging me to forget the
past, and to extract him from the painful position in which he found
I cast a rapid glance over the room, and saw three trunks almost empty,
their contents being scattered about the floor. There was his mistress,
whom I knew, and who had her reasons for not liking me; her young sister,
who wept; and her mother, who swore, and called Medini a rogue, saying
that she would complain of him to the magistrate, and that she was not
going to allow her dresses and her daughter's dresses to be seized for
I asked the landlord why he did not go bail, as he had these persons and
their effects as security.
"The whole lot," he answered, "won't pay the vetturino, and the sooner
they are out of my house the better I shall be pleased."
I was astonished, and could not understand how the bill could amount to
more than the value of all the clothes I saw on the floor, so I asked the
vetturino to tell me the extent of the debt.
He gave me a paper with Medini's signature; the amount was two hundred
and forty crowns.
"How in the world," I exclaimed, "could he contract this enormous debt?"
I wondered no longer when the vetturino told me that he had served them
for the last six weeks, having conducted the count and the three women
from Rome to Leghorn, and from Leghorn to Pisa, and from Pisa to
Florence, paying for their board all the way.
"The vetturino will never take me as bail for such an amount," I said to
Medini, "and even if he would I should never be so foolish as to contract
such a debt."
"Let me have a word with you in the next room," said he; "I will put the
matter clearly before you."
Two of the police would have prevented his going into the next room, on
the plea that he might escape through the window, but I said I would be
answerable for him.
Just then the poor vetturino came in and kissed my hand, saying that if I
would go bail for the count he would let me have three months wherein to
find the money.
As it happened it was the same man who had taken me to Rome with the
Englishwoman who had been seduced by the actor l'Etoile. I told him to
wait a moment.
Medini who was a great talker and a dreadful liar thought to persuade me
by shewing me a number of open letters, commending him in pompous terms
to the best houses in Florence. I read the letters, but I found no
mention of money in them, and I told him as much.
"I know," said he, "but there is play going on in these houses, and I am
sure of gaining immense sums."
"You may be aware that I have no confidence in your good luck."
"Then I have another resource."
"What is that?"
He shewed me a bundle of manuscript, which I found to be an excellent
translation of Voltaire's "Henriade" into Italian verse. Tasso himself
could not have done it better. He said he hoped to finish the poem at
Florence, and to present it to the grand duke, who would be sure to make
him a magnificent present, and to constitute him his favourite.
I would not undeceive him, but I laughed to myself, knowing that the
grand duke only made a pretence of loving literature. A certain Abbe
Fontaine, a clever man, amused him with a little natural history, the
only science in which he took any interest. He preferred the worst prose
to the best verse, not having sufficient intellect to enjoy the subtle
charms of poetry. In reality he had only two passions--women and money.
After spending two wearisome hours with Medini, whose wit was great and
his judgment small, after heartily repenting of having yielded to my
curiosity and having paid him a visit, I said shortly that I could do
nothing for him. Despair drives men crazy; as I was making for the door,
he seized me by the collar.
He did not reflect in his dire extremity that he had no arms, that I was
stronger than he, that I had twice drawn his blood, and that the police,
the landlord, the vetturirco, and the servants, were in the next room. I
was not coward enough to call for help; I caught hold of his neck with
both hands and squeezed him till he was nearly choked. He had to let go
at last, and then I took hold of his collar and asked him if he had gone
I sent him against the wall, and opened the door and the police came in.
I told the vetturino that I would on no account be Medini's surety, or be
answerable for him in any way.
Just as I was going out, he leapt forward crying that I must not abandon
I had opened the door, and the police, fearing he would escape, ran
forward to get hold of him. Then began an interesting battle. Medini,
who had no arms, and was only in his dressing-gown, proceeded to
distribute kicks, cuffs, and blows amongst the four cowards, who had
their swords at their sides, whilst I held the door to prevent the
Irishman going out and calling for assistance.
Medini, whose nose was bleeding and his dress all torn, persisted in
fighting till the four policemen let him alone. I liked his courage, and
There was a moment's silence, and I asked his two liveried servants who
were standing by me why they had not helped their master. One said he
owed him six months' wages, and the other said he wanted to arrest him on
his own account.
As Medini was endeavouring to staunch the blood in a basin of water, the
vetturino told him that as I refused to be his surety he must go to
I was moved by the scene that I had witnessed, and said to the vetturino,
"Give him a fortnight's respite, and if he escapes before the expiration
of that term I will pay you."
He thought it over for a few moments, and then said,--
"Very good, sir, but I am not going to pay any legal expenses."
I enquired how much the costs amounted to, and paid them, laughing at the
policemen's claim of damages for blows they had received.
Then the two rascally servants said that if I would not be surety in the
same manner on their account, they would have Medini arrested. However,
Medini called out to me to pay no attention to them whatever.
When I had given the vetturino his acknowledgment and paid the four or
five crowns charged by the police, Medini told me that he had more to say
to me; but I turned my back on him, and went home to dinner.
Two hours later one of his servants came to me and promised if I would
give him six sequins to warn me if his master made any preparations for
I told him drily that his zeal was useless to me, as I was quite sure
that the count would pay all his debts within the term; and the next
morning I wrote to Medini informing him of the step his servant had
taken. He replied with a long letter full of thanks, in which he exerted
all his eloquence to persuade me to repair his fortunes. I did not
However, his good genius, who still protected him, brought a person to
Florence who drew him out of the difficulty. This person was Premislas
Zanovitch, who afterwards became as famous as his brother who cheated
the Amsterdam merchants, and adopted the style of Prince Scanderbeck. I
shall speak of him later on. Both these finished cheats came to a bad
Premislas Zanovitch was then at the happy age of twenty-five; he was the
son of a gentleman of Budua, a town on the borders of Albania and
Dalmatia, formerly subject to the Venetian Republic and now to the Grand
Turk. In classic times it was known as Epirus.
Premislas was a young man of great intelligence, and after having studied
at Venice, and contracted a Venetian taste for pleasures and enjoyments
of all sorts, he could not make up his mind to return to Budua, where his
only associates would be dull Sclavs--uneducated, unintellectual, coarse,
and brutish. Consequently, when Premislas and his still more talented
brother Stephen were ordered by the Council of Ten to enjoy the vast sums
they had gained at play in their own country, they resolved to become
adventurers. One took the north and the other the south of Europe, and
both cheated and duped whenever the opportunity for doing so presented
I had seen Premislas when he was a child, and had already heard reports
of a notable achievement of his. At Naples he had cheated the Chevalier
de Morosini by persuading him to become his surety to the extent of six
thousand ducats, and now he arrived in Florence in a handsome carriage,
bringing his mistress with him, and having two tall lackeys and a valet
in his service.
He took good apartments, hired a carriage, rented a box at the opera, had
a skilled cook, and gave his mistress a lady-in-waiting. He then shewed
himself at the best club, richly dressed, and covered with jewellery. He
introduced himself under the name of Count Premislas Zanovitch.
There is a club in Florence devoted to the use of the nobility. Any
stranger can go there without being introduced, but so much the worse for
him if his appearance fails to indicate his right to be present. The
Florentines are ice towards him, leave him alone, and behave in such a
manner that the visit is seldom repeated. The club is at once decent and
licentious, the papers are to be read there, games of all kinds are
played, food and drink may be had, and even love is available, for ladies
frequent the club.
Zanovitch did not wait to be spoken to, but made himself agreeable to
everyone, and congratulated himself on mixing in such distinguished
company, talked about Naples which he had just left, brought in his own
name with great adroitness, played high, lost merrily, paid after
pretending to forget all about his debts, and in short pleased everyone.
I heard all this the next day from the Marquis Capponi, who said that
someone had asked him if he knew me, whereat he answered that when I left
Venice he was at college, but that he had often heard his father speak of
me in very high terms. He knew both the Chevalier Morosini and Count
Medini, and had a good deal to say in praise of the latter. The marquis
asked me if I knew him, and I replied in the affirmative, without feeling
it my duty to disclose certain circumstances which might not have been
advantageous to him; and as Madame Denis seemed curious to make his
acquaintance the Chevalier Puzzi promised to bring him to see her, which
he did in the course of a few days.
I happened to be with Madame Denis when Puzzi presented Zanovitch, and I
saw before me a fine-looking young men, who seemed by his confident
manner to be sure of success in all his undertakings. He was not exactly
handsome, but he had a perfect manner and an air of gaiety which seemed
infectious, with a thorough knowledge of the laws of good society. He
was by no means an egotist, and seemed never at a loss for something to
talk about. I led the conversation to the subject of his country, and he
gave me an amusing description of it, talking of his fief-part of which
was within the domains of the sultan-as a place where gaiety was unknown,
and where the most determined misanthrope would die of melancholy.
As soon as he heard my name he began speaking to me in a tone of the most
delicate flattery. I saw the makings of a great adventurer in him, but I
thought his luxury would prove the weak point in his cuirass. I thought
him something like what I had been fifteen years ago, but as it seemed
unlikely that he had my resources I could not help pitying him.
Zanovitch paid me a visit, and told me that Medini's position had excited
his pity, and that he had therefore paid his debts.
I applauded his generosity, but I formed the conclusion that they had
laid some plot between them, and that I should soon hear of the results
of this new alliance.
I returned Zanovitch's call the next day. He was at table with his
mistress, whom I should not have recognized if she had not pronounced my
name directly she saw me.
As she had addressed me as Don Giacomo, I called her Donna Ippolita, but
in a voice which indicated that I was not certain of her identity. She
told me I was quite right.
I had supped with her at Naples in company with Lord Baltimore, and she
was very pretty then.
Zanovitch asked me to dine with him the following day, and I should have
thanked him and begged to be excused if Donna Ippolita had not pressed me
to come. She assured me that I should find good company there, and that
the cook would excel himself.
I felt rather curious to see the company, and with the idea of shewing
Zanovitch that I was not likely to become a charge on his purse, I
dressed myself magnificently once more.
As I had expected, I found Medini and his mistress there, with two
foreign ladies and their attendant cavaliers, and a fine-looking and
well-dressed Venetian, between thirty-five and forty, whom I would not
have recognized if Zanovitch had not told me his name, Alois Zen.
"Zen was a patrician name, and I felt obliged to ask what titles I ought
to give him.
"Such titles as one old friend gives another, though it is very possible
you do not recollect me, as I was only ten years old when we saw each
Zen then told me he was the son of the captain I had known when I was
under arrest at St. Andrews.
"That's twenty-eight years ago; but I remember you, though you had not
had the small-pox in those days."
I saw that he was annoyed by this remark, but it was his fault, as he had
no business to say where he had known me, or who his father was.
He was the son of a noble Venetian--a good-for-nothing in every sense of
When I met him at Florence he had just come from Madrid, where he had
made a lot of money by holding a bank at faro in the house of the
Venetian ambassador, Marco Zen.
I was glad to meet him, but I found out before the dinner was over that
he was completely devoid of education and the manners of a gentleman; but
he was well content with the one talent he possessed, namely, that of
correcting the freaks of fortune at games of chance. I did not wait to
see the onslaught of the cheats on the dupes, but took my leave while the
table was being made ready.
Such was my life during the seven months which I spent at Florence.
After this dinner I never saw Zen, or Medini, or Zanovitch, except by
chance in the public places.
Here I must recount some incidents which took place towards the middle of
Lord Lincoln, a young man of eighteen, fell in love with a Venetian
dancer named Lamberti, who was a universal favourite. On every night
when the opera was given the young Englishman might be seen going to her
camerino, and everyone wondered why he did not visit her at her own
house, where he would be certain of a good welcome, for he was English,
and therefore rich, young, and handsome. I believe he was the only son
of the Duke of Newcastle.
Zanovitch marked him down, and in a short time had become an intimate
friend of the fair Lamberti. He then made up to Lord Lincoln, and took
him to the lady's house, as a polite man takes a friend to see his
Madame Lamberti, who was in collusion with the rascal, was not niggardly
of her favours with the young Englishman. She received him every night
to supper with Zanovitch and Zen, who had been presented by the Sclav,
either because of his capital, or because Zanovitch was not so
accomplished a cheat.
For the first few nights they took care to let the young nobleman win.
As they played after supper, and Lord Lincoln followed the noble English
custom of drinking till he did not know his right hand from his left, he
was quite astonished on waking the next morning to find that luck had
been as kind to him as love. The trap was baited, the young lord
nibbled, and, as may be expected, was finally caught.
Zen won twelve thousand pounds of him, and Zanovitch lent him the money
by installments of three and four hundred louis at a time, as the
Englishman had promised his tutor not to play, on his word of honour.
Zanovitch won from Zen what Zen won from the lord, and so the game was
kept up till the young pigeon had lost the enormous sum of twelve
Lord Lincoln promised to pay three thousand guineas the next day, and
signed three bills of exchange for three thousand guineas each, payable
in six months, and drawn on his London banker.
I heard all about this from Lord Lincoln himself when we met at Bologna
three months later.
The next morning the little gaming party was the talk of Florence. Sasso
Sassi, the banker, had already paid Zanovitch six thousand sequins by my
Medini came to see me, furious at not having been asked to join the
party, while I congratulated myself on my absence. My surprise may be
imagined, when, a few days after, a person came up to my room, and
ordered me to leave Florence in three days and Tuscany in a week.
I was petrified, and called to my landlord to witness the unrighteous
order I had received.
It was December 28th. On the same date, three years before, I had
received orders to leave Barcelona in three days.
I dressed hastily and went to the magistrate to enquire the reason for my
exile, and on entering the room I found it was the same man who had
ordered me to leave Florence eleven years before.
I asked him to give me his reasons, and he replied coldly that such was
the will of his highness.
"But as his highness must have his reasons, it seems to me that I am
within my rights in enquiring what they are."
"If you think so yqu had better betake yourself to the prince; I know
nothing about it. He left yesterday for Pisa, where he will stay three
days; you can go there."
"Will he pay for my journey?"
"I should doubt it, but you can see for yourself."
"I shall not go to Pisa, but I will write to his highness if you will
promise to send on the letter."
"I will do so immediately, for it is my duty."
"Very good; you shall have the letter before noon tomorrow, and before
day-break I shall be in the States of the Church."
"There's no need for you to hurry yourself."
"There is a very great hurry. I cannot breathe the air of a country
where liberty is unknown and the sovereign breaks his word; that is what
I am going to write to your master."
As I was going out I met Medini, who had come on the same business as
I laughed, and informed him of the results of my interview, and how I had
been told to go to Pisa.
"What! have you been expelled, too?"
"What have you done?"
"Nor I. Let us go to Pisa."
"You can go if you like, but I shall leave Florence tonight."
When I got home I told my landlord to get me a carriage and to order four
post-horses for nightfall, and I then wrote the following letter to the
"My Lord; The thunder which Jove has placed in your hands is only for the
guilty; in launching it at me you have done wrong. Seven months ago you
promised that I should remain unmolested so long as I obeyed the laws.
I have done so scrupulously, and your lordship has therefore broken your
word. I am merely writing to you to let you know that I forgive you, and
that I shall never give utterance to a word of complaint. Indeed I would
willingly forget the injury you have done me, if it were not necessary
that I should remember never to set foot in your realms again. The
magistrate tells me that I can go and see you at Pisa, but I fear such a
step would seem a hardy one to a prince, who should hear what a man has
to say before he condemns him, and not afterwards.
"I am, etc."
When I had finished the letter I sent it to the magistrate, and then I
began my packing.
I was sitting down to dinner when Medini came in cursing Zen and
Zanovitch, whom he accused of being the authors of his misfortune, and of
refusing to give him a hundred sequins, without which he could not
"We are all going to Pisa," said he, "and cannot imagine why you do not
"Very good," I said, laughingly, "but please to leave me now as I have to
do my packing."
As I expected, he wanted me to lend him some money, but on my giving him
a direct refusal he went away.
After dinner I took leave of M. Medici and Madame Dennis, the latter of
whom had heard the story already. She cursed the grand duke, saying she
could not imagine how he could confound the innocent with the guilty.
She informed me that Madame Lamberti had received orders to quit, as also
a hunchbacked Venetian priest, who used to go and see the dancer but had
never supped with her. In fact, there was a clean sweep of all the
Venetians in Florence.
As I was returning home I met Lord Lincoln's governor; whom I had known
at Lausanne eleven years before. I told him of what had happened to me
through his hopeful pupil getting himself fleeced. He laughed, and told
me that the grand duke had advised Lord Lincoln not to pay the money he
had lost, to which the young man replied that if he were not to pay he
should be dishonoured since the money he had lost had been lent to him.
In leaving Florence I was cured of an unhappy love which would doubtless
have had fatal consequences if I had stayed on. I have spared my readers
the painful story because I cannot recall it to my mind even now without
being cut to the heart. The widow whom I loved, and to whom I was so
weak as to disclose my feelings, only attached me to her triumphal car to
humiliate me, for she disdained my love and myself. I persisted in my
courtship, and nothing but my enforced absence would have cured me.
As yet I have not learnt the truth of the maxim that old age, especially
when devoid of fortune, is not likely to prove attractive to youth.
I left Florence poorer by a hundred sequins than when I came there. I
had lived with the most careful economy throughout the whole of my stay.
I stopped at the first stage within the Pope's dominions, and by the last
day but one of the year I was settled at Bologna, at "St. Mark's Hotel."
My first visit was paid to Count Marulli, the Florentine charge
d'affaires. I begged him to write and tell his master, that, out of
gratitude for my banishment, I should never cease to sing his praises.
As the count had received a letter containing an account of the whole
affair, he could not quite believe that I meant what I said.
"You may think what you like," I observed, "but if you knew all you would
see that his highness has done me a very great service though quite
He promised to let his master know how I spoke of him.
On January 1st, 1772, I presented myself to Cardinal Braneaforte, the
Pope's legate, whom I had known twenty years before at Paris, when he had
been sent by Benedict XVI. with the holy swaddling clothes for the newly-
born Duke of Burgundy. We had met at the Lodge of Freemasons, for the
members of the sacred college were by no means afraid of their own
anathemas. We had also some very pleasant little suppers with pretty
sinners in company with Don Francesco Sensate and Count Ranucci. In
short, the cardinal was a man of wit, and what is called a bon vivant.
"Oh, here you are!" cried he, when he saw me; "I was expecting you"
"How could you, my lord? Why should I have come to Bologna rather than
to any other place?"
"For two reasons. In the first place because Bologna is better than many
other places, and besides I flatter myself you thought of me. But you
needn't say anything here about the life we led together when we were
"It has always been a pleasant recollection to me."
"No doubt. Count Marulli told me yesterday that you spoke very highly of
the grand duke, and you are quite right. You can talk to me in
confidence; the walls of this room have no ears. How much did you get of
the twelve thousand guineas?"
I told him the whole story, and shewed him a copy of the letter which I
had written to the grand duke. He laughed, and said he was sorry I had
been punished for nothing.
When he heard I thought of staying some months at Bologna he told me that
I might reckon on perfect freedom, and that as soon as the matter ceased
to become common talk he would give me open proof of his friendship.
After seeing the cardinal I resolved to continue at Bologna the kind of
life that I had been leading at Florence. Bologna is the freest town in
all Italy; commodities are cheap and good, and all the pleasures of life
may be had there at a low price. The town is a fine one, and the streets
are lined with arcades--a great comfort in so hot a place.
As to society, I did not trouble myself about it. I knew the Bolognese;
the nobles are proud, rude, and violent; the lowest orders, known as the
birichini, are worse than the lazzaroni of Naples, while the tradesmen
and the middle classes are generally speaking worthy and respectable
people. At Bologna, as at Naples, the two extremes of society are
corrupt, while the middle classes are respectable, and the depository of
virtue, talents, and learning.
However, my intention was to leave society alone, to pass my time in
study, and to make the acquaintance of a few men of letters, who are
easily accessible everywhere.
At Florence ignorance is the rule and learning the exception, while at
Bologna the tincture of letters is almost universal. The university has
thrice the usual number of professors; but they are all ill paid, and
have to get their living out of the students, who are numerous. Printing
is cheaper at Bologna than anywhere else, and though the Inquisition is
established there the press is almost entirely free.
All the exiles from Florence reached Bologna four or five days after
myself. Madame Lamberti only passed through on her way to Venice.
Zanovitch and Zen stayed five or six days; but they were no longer in
partnership, having quarreled over the sharing of the booty.
Zanovitch had refused to make one of Lord Lincoln's bills of exchange
payable to Zen, because he did not wish to make himself liable in case
the Englishman refused to pay. He wanted to go to England, and told Zen
he was at liberty to do the same.
They went to Milan without having patched up their quarrel, but the
Milanese Government ordered them to leave Lombardy, and I never heard
what arrangements they finally came to. Later on I was informed that the
Englishman's bills had all been settled to the uttermost farthing.
Medini, penniless as usual, had taken up his abode in the hotel where I
was staying, bringing with him his mistress, her sister, and her mother,
but with only one servant. He informed me that the grand duke had
refused to listen to any of them at Pisa, where he had received a second
order to leave Tuscany, and so had been obliged to sell everything. Of
course he wanted me to help him, but I turned a deaf ear to his
I have never seen this adventurer without his being in a desperate state
of impecuniosity, but he would never learn to abate his luxurious habits,
and always managed to find some way or other out of his difficulties. He
was lucky enough to fall in with a Franciscan monk named De Dominis at
Bologna, the said monk being on his way to Rome to solicit a brief of
'laicisation' from the Pope. He fell in love with Medini's mistress, who
naturally made him pay dearly for her charms.
Medini left at the end of three weeks. He went to Germany, where he
printed his version of the "Henriade," having discovered a Maecenas in
the person of the Elector Palatin. After that he wandered about Europe
for twelve years, and died in a London prison in 1788.
I had always warned him to give England a wide berth, as I felt certain
that if he once went there he would not escape English bolts and bars,
and that if he got on the wrong side of the prison doors he would never
come out alive. He despised my advice, and if he did so with the idea of
proving me a liar, he made a mistake, for he proved me to be a prophet.
Medini had the advantage of high birth, a good education, and
intelligence; but as he was a poor man with luxurious tastes he either
corrected fortune at play or went into debt, and was consequently obliged
to be always on the wing to avoid imprisonment.
He lived in this way for seventy years, and he might possibly be alive
now if he had followed my advice.
Eight years ago Count Torio told me that he had seen Medini in a London
prison, and that the silly fellow confessed he had only come to London
with the hope of proving me to be a liar.
Medini's fate shall never prevent me from giving good advice to a poor
wretch on the brink of the precipice. Twenty years ago I told Cagliostro
(who called himself Count Pellegrini in those days) not to set his foot
in Rome, and if he had followed this counsel he would not have died
miserably in a Roman prison.
Thirty years ago a wise man advised me to beware visiting Spain. I went,
but, as the reader knows, I had no reason to congratulate myself on my
A week after my arrival at Bologna, happening to be in the shop of
Tartuffi, the bookseller, I made the acquaintance of a cross-eyed priest,
who struck me, after a quarter of an hour's talk as a man of learning and
talent. He presented me with two works which had recently been issued by
two of the young professors at the university He told me that I should
find them amusing reading, and he was right.
The first treatise contended that women's faults should be forgiven them,
since they were really the work of the matrix, which influenced them in
spite of themselves. The second treatise was a criticism of the first.
The author allowed that the uterus was an animal, but he denied the
alleged influence, as no anatomist had succeeded in discovering any
communication between it and the brain.
I determined to write a reply to the two pamphlets, and I did so in the
course of three days. When my reply was finished I sent it to M.
Dandolo, instructing him to have five hundred copies printed. When they
arrived I gave a bookseller the agency, and in a fortnight I had made a
The first pamphlet was called "Lutero Pensante," the second was in French
and bore the title "La Force Vitale," while I called my reply "Lana
Caprina." I treated the matter in an easy vein, not without some hints
of deep learning, and made fun of the lucubrations of the two physicians.
My preface was in French, but full of Parisian idioms which rendered it
unintelligible to all who had not visited the gay capital, and this
circumstance gained me a good many friends amongst the younger
The squinting priest, whose name was Zacchierdi, introduced me to the
Abbe Severini, who became my intimate friend in the course of ten or
This abbe made me leave the inn, and got me two pleasant rooms in the
house of a retired artiste, the widow of the tenor Carlani. He also made
arrangements with a pastrycook to send me my dinner and supper. All
this, plus a servant, only cost me ten sequins a month.
Severini was the agreeable cause of my losing temporarily my taste for
study. I put by my "Iliad," feeling sure that I should be able to finish
Severini introduced me to his family, and before long I became very
intimate with him. I also became the favourite of his sister, a lady
rather plain than pretty, thirty years old, but full of intelligence.
In the course of Lent the abbe introduced me to all the best dancers and
operatic singers in Bologna, which is the nursery of the heroines of the
stage. They may be had cheaply enough on their native soil.
Every week the good abbe introduced me to a fresh one, and like a true
friend he watched carefully over my finances. He was a poor man himself,
and could not afford to contribute anything towards the expenses of our
little parties; but as they would have cost me double without his help,
the arrangement was a convenient one for both of us.
About this time there was a good deal of talk about a Bolognese nobleman,
Marquis Albergati Capacelli. He had made a present of his private
theatre to the public, and was himself an excellent actor. He had made
himself notorious by obtaining a divorce from his wife, whom he did not
like, so as to enable him to marry a dancer, by whom he had two children.
The amusing point in this divorce was that he obtained it on the plea
that he was impotent, and sustained his plea by submitting to an
examination, which was conducted as follows:
Four skilled and impartial judges had the marquis stripped before them,
and did all in their power to produce an erection; but somehow or other
he succeeded in maintaining his composure, and the marriage was
pronounced null and void on the ground of relative impotence, for it was
well known that he had had children by another woman.
If reason and not prejudice had been consulted, the procedure would have
been very different; for if relative impotence was considered a
sufficient ground for divorce, of what use was the examination?
The marquis should have sworn that he could do nothing with his wife, and
if the lady had traversed this statement the marquis might have
challenged her to put him into the required condition.
But the destruction of old customs and old prejudices is often the work
of long ages.
I felt curious to know this character, and wrote to M. Dandolo to get me
a letter of introduction to the marquis.
In a week my good old friend sent me the desired letter. It was written
by another Venetian, M. de Zaguri, an intimate friend of the marquis.
The letter was not sealed, so I read it. I was delighted; no one could
have commended a person unknown to himself but the friend of a friend in
a more delicate manner.
I thought myself bound to write a letter of thanks to M. Zaguri. I said
that I desired to obtain my pardon more than ever after reading his
letter, which made me long to go to Venice, and make the acquaintance of
such a worthy nobleman.
I did not expect an answer, but I got one. M. Zaguri said that my desire
was such a flattering one to himself, that he meant to do his best to
obtain my recall.
The reader will see that he was successful, but not till after two years
of continuous effort.
Albergati was away from Bologna at the time, but when he returned
Severini let me know, and I called at the palace. The porter told me
that his excellence (all the nobles are excellences at Bologna) had gone
to his country house, where he meant to pass the whole of the spring.
In two or three days I drove out to his villa. I arrived at a charming
mansion, and finding no one at the door I went upstairs, and entered a
large room where a gentleman and an exceedingly pretty woman were just
sitting down to dinner. The dishes had been brought in, and there were
only two places laid.
I made a polite bow, and asked the gentleman if I had the honour of
addressing the Marquis Albergati. He replied in the affirmative,
whereupon I gave him my letter of introduction. He took it, read the
superscription, and put it in his pocket, telling me I was very kind to
have taken so much trouble, and that he would be sure to read it.
"It has been no trouble at all," I replied, "but I hope you will read the
letter. It is written by M. de Zaguri, whom I asked to do me this
service, as I have long desired to make your lordship's acquaintance."
His lordship smiled and said very pleasantly that he would read it after
dinner, and would see what he could do for his friend Zaguri.
Our dialogue was over in a few seconds. Thinking him extremely rude I
turned my back and went downstairs, arriving just in time to prevent the
postillion taking out the horses. I promised him a double gratuity if he
would take me to some village at hand, where he could bait his horses
while I breakfasted.
Just as the postillion had got on horseback a servant came running up.
He told me very politely that his excellence begged me to step upstairs.
I put my hand in my pocket and gave the man my card with my name and
address, and telling him that that was what his master wanted, I ordered
the postillion to drive off at a full gallop.
When we had gone half a league we stopped at a good inn, and then
proceeded on our way back to Bologna.
The same day I wrote to M. de Zaguri, and described the welcome I had
received at the hands of the marquis. I enclosed the letter in another
to M. Dandolo, begging him to read it, and to send it on. I begged the
noble Venetian to write to the marquis that having offended me grievously
he must prepare to give me due satisfaction.
I laughed with all my heart next day when my landlady gave me a visiting
card with the inscription, General the Marquis of Albeygati. She told me
the marquis had called on me himself, and on hearing I was out had left
I began to look upon the whole of his proceedings as pure gasconnade,
only lacking the wit of the true Gascon. I determined to await M.
Zaguri's reply before making up my mind as to the kind of satisfaction I
While I was inspecting the card, and wondering what right the marquis had
to the title of general, Severini came in, and informed me that the
marquis had been made a Knight of the Order of St. Stanislas by the King
of Poland, who had also given him the style of royal chamberlain.
"Is he a general in the Polish service as well?" I asked.
"I really don't know."
"I understand it all," I said to myself. "In Poland a chamberlain has
the rank of adjutant-general, and the marquis calls himself general. But
general what? The adjective without a substantive is a mere cheat."
I saw my opportunity, and wrote a comic dialogue, which I had printed the
next day. I made a present of the work to a bookseller, and in three or
four days he sold out the whole edition at a bajocco apiece.
Farinello and the Electress Dowager of Saxony--Madame Slopitz--Nina--
The Midwife--Madame Soavi--Abbe Bolini--Madame Viscioletta--
The Seamstress--The Sorry Pleasure of Revenge--Severini Goes to Naples
--My Departure--Marquis Mosca
Anyone who attacks a proud person in a comic vein is almost sure of
success; the laugh is generally on his side.
I asked in my dialogue whether it was lawful for a provost-marshal to
call himself simply marshal, and whether a lieutenant-colonel had a right
to the title of colonel. I also asked whether the man who preferred
titles of honour, for which he had paid in hard cash, to his ancient and
legitimate rank, could pass for a sage.
Of course the marquis had to laugh at my dialogue, but he was called the
general ever after. He had placed the royal arms of Poland over the gate
of his palace, much to the amusement of Count Mischinski, the Polish
ambassador to Berlin, who happened to be passing through Bologna at that
I told the Pole of my dispute with the mad marquis, and persuaded him to
pay Albergati a visit, leaving his card. The ambassador did so, and the
call was returned, but Albergati's cards no longer bore the title of
The Dowager Electress of Saxony having come to Bologna, I hastened to pay
my respects to her. She had only come to see the famous catstrato
Farinello, who had left Madrid, and now lived at Bologna in great
comfort. He placed a magnificent collation before the Electress, and
sang a song of his own composition, accompanying himself on the piano.
The Electress, who was an enthusiastic musician, embraced Farinello,
"Now I can die happy."
Farinello, who was also known as the Chevalier Borschi had reigned, as it
were, in Spain till the Parmese wife of Philip V. had laid plots which
obliged him to leave the Court after the disgrace of Enunada. The
Electress noticed a portrait of the queen, and spoke very highly of her,
mentioning some circumstances which must have taken place in the reign of
The famous musician burst into tears, and said that Queen Barbara was as
good as Elizabeth of Parma was wicked.
Borschi might have been seventy when I saw him at Bologna. He was very
rich and in the enjoyment of good health, and yet he was unhappy,