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  • 1894
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locked up in a good room, with a good bed to sleep on, and a good supper; and I told the landlord that I should hold him answerable for the lad as long as I was in his inn. The postillion had caught him up at the fifth post, just before Amiens, and as he was already quite tired out the little man surrendered like a lamb.

At day-break I summoned him before me, and asked him if he would come to London of his own free will or bound hand and foot.

“I will come with you, I give you my word of honour; but you must let me ride on before you. Otherwise, with this dress of mine, I should be ashamed to go. I don’t want it to be thought that you had to give chase to me, as if I had robbed you.”

“I accept your word of honour, but be careful to keep it. Embrace me, and order another saddle-horse.”

He mounted his horse in high spirits, and rode in front of the carriage with Clairmont. He was quite astonished to find his trunk at Calais, which he reached two hours before me.


My Arrival in London; Madame Cornelis–I Am Presented at Court– I Rent a Furnished House–I Make a Large Circle of Acquaintance– Manners of the English

When I got to Calais I consigned my post-chaise to the care of the landlord of the inn, and hired a packet. There was only one available for a private party, there being another for public use at six francs apiece. I paid six guineas in advance, taking care to get a proper receipt, for I knew that at Calais a man finds himself in an awkward position if he is unable to support his claim by documents.

Before the tide was out Clairmont got all my belongings on board, and I ordered my supper. The landlord told me that louis were not current in England, and offered to give me guineas in exchange for mine; but I was surprised when I found he gave me the same number of guineas as I had given him of louis. I wanted him to take the difference–four per cent.–but he refused, saying that he did not allow anything when the English gave him guineas for louis. I do not know whether he found his system a profitable one on the whole, but it was certainly so for me.

The young Count d’Aranda, to whom I had restored his humble name of Trenti, was quite resigned, but proud of having given me a specimen of his knowingness by riding post. We were just going to sit down at table, well pleased with one another, when I heard a loud conversation in English going on near my door, and mine host came in to tell me what it was about.

“It’s the courier of the Duke of Bedford, the English ambassador,” said he; “he announces the approach of his master, and is disputing with the captain of the packet. He says he hired the boat by letter, and that the captain had no right to let it to you. The master maintains that he has received no such letter, and no one can prove that he is telling a lie.”

I congratulated myself on having taken the packet and paid the earnest-money, and went to bed. At day-break the landlord said that the ambassador had arrived at midnight, and that his man wanted to see me.

He came in and told me that the nobleman, his master, was in a great hurry to get to London, and that I should oblige him very much by yielding the boat to him.

I did not answer a word, but wrote a note which ran as follows:

“My lord duke may dispose of the whole of the packet, with the exception of the space necessary for my own accommodation, that of two other persons, and my luggage. I am delighted to have the opportunity of obliging the English ambassador.”

The valet took the note, and returned to thank me on behalf of his master, who stipulated, however, that he should be allowed to pay for the packet.

“Tell him that it is out of the question, as the boat is paid for already.”

“He will give you the six guineas”

“Tell your master that I cannot allow him to pay. I do not buy to sell again.”

The duke called on me in the course of half an hour, and said that we were both of us in the right.

“However,” he added, “there is a middle course, let us adopt it, and I shall be just as much indebted to you.”

“What is that, my lord?”

“We will each pay half.”

“My desire to oblige you, my lord, will not allow me to refuse, but it is I who will be indebted to you for the honour your lordship does me. We will start as soon as you like, and I can make my arrangements accordingly.”

He shook my hand and left the room, and when he had gone I found three guineas on the table. He had placed them there without my noticing them. An hour afterwards I returned his call, and then told the master to take the duke and his carriages on board.

We took two hours and a half in crossing the Channel; the wind was strong, but we made a good passage.

The stranger who sets his foot on English soil has need of a good deal of patience. The custom-house officials made a minute, vexatious and even an impertinent perquisition; but as the duke and ambassador had to submit, I thought it best to follow his example; besides, resistance would be useless. The Englishman, who prides himself on his strict adherence to the law of the land, is curt and rude in his manner, and the English officials cannot be compared to the French, who know how to combine politeness with the exercise of their rights.

English is different in every respect from the rest of Europe; even the country has a different aspect, and the water of the Thames has a taste peculiar to itself. Everything has its own characteristics, and the fish, cattle, horses, men, and women are of a type not found in any other land. Their manner of living is wholly different from that of other countries, especially their cookery. The most striking feature in their character is their national pride; they exalt themselves above all other nations.

My attention was attracted by the universal cleanliness, the beauty of the country, the goodness of the roads, the reasonable charges for posting, the quickness of the horses, although they never go beyond a trot; and lastly, the construction of the towns on the Dover road; Canterbury and Rochester for instance, though large and populous, are like long passages; they are all length and no breadth.

We got to London in the evening and stopped at the house of Madame Cornelis, as Therese called herself. She was originally married to an actor named Imer, then to the dancer Pompeati, who committed suicide at Venice by ripping up his stomach with a razor.

In Holland she had been known as Madame Trenti, but at London she had taken the name of her lover Cornelius Rigerboos, whom she had contrived to ruin.

She lived in Soho Square, almost facing the house of the Venetian ambassador. When I arrived I followed the instructions I had received in her last letter. I left her son in the carriage, and sent up my name, expecting she would fly to meet me; but the porter told me to wait, and in a few minutes a servant in grand livery brought me a note in which Madame Cornelis asked me to get down at the house to which her servant would conduct me. I thought this rather strange behaviour, but still she might have her reasons for acting in this manner, so I did not let my indignation appear. When we got to the house, a fat woman named Rancour, and two servants, welcomed us, or rather welcomed my young friend; for the lady embraced him, told him how glad she was to see him, and did not appear to be aware of my existence.

Our trunks were taken in, and Madame Rancour having ascertained which belonged to Cornelis, had them placed in a fine suite of three rooms, and said, pointing out to him the apartment and the two servants,

“This apartment and the two servants are for you, and I, too, am your most humble servant.”

Clairmont told me that he had put my things in a room which communicated with Cornelis’s. I went to inspect it, and saw djrectly that I was being treated as if I were a person of no consequence. The storm of anger was gathering, but wonderful to relate, I subdued myself, and did not say a word.

“Where is your room?” I said to Clairmont.

“Near the roof, and I am to share it with one of those two louts you saw.”

The worthy Clairmont, who knew my disposition, was surprised at the calm with which I said,–

“Take your trunk there.”

“Shall I open yours?”

“No. We will see what can be done to-morrow.”

I still kept on my mask, and returned to the room of the young gentleman who seemed to be considered as my master. I found him listening with a foolish stare to Madame Rancour, who was telling him of the splendid position his mother occupied, her great enterprise, her immense credit, the splendid house she had built, her thirty- three servants, her two secretaries, her six horses, her country house, etc., etc.

“How is my sister Sophie?” said the young gentleman.

“Her name is Sophie, is it? She is only known as Miss Cornelis. She is a beauty, a perfect prodigy, she plays at sight on several instruments, dances like Terpsichore, speaks English, French, and Italian equally well–in a word, she is really wonderful. She has a governess and a maid. Unfortunately, she is rather short for her age; she is eight.”

She was ten, but as Madame Rancour was not speaking to me I refrained from interrupting her.

My lord Cornelis, who felt very tired, asked at what hour they were to sup.

“At ten o’clock and not before,” said the duenna, “for Madame Cornelis is always engaged till then. She is always with her lawyer, on account of an important law-suit she has against Sir Frederick Fermer.”

I could see that I should learn nothing worth learning by listening to the woman’s gossip, so I took my hat and cane and went for a walk in the immense city, taking care not to lose my way.

It was seven o’clock when I went out, and a quarter of an hour after, seeing a number of people in a coffeehouse, I entered it. It was the most notorious place in London, the resort of all the rascally Italians in town. I had heard of it at Lyons, and had taken a firm resolve never to set foot in it, but almighty chance made me go there unknown to myself. But it was my only visit.

I sat down by myself and called for a glass of lemonade, and before long a man came and sat by me to profit by the light. He had a printed paper in his hand, and I could see that the words were Italian. He had a pencil with which he scratched out some words and letters, writing the corrections in the margin. Idle curiosity made me follow him in his work, and I noticed him correcting the word ‘ancora’, putting in an ‘h’ in the margin. I was irritated by this barbarous spelling, and told him that for four centuries ‘ancora’ had been spelt without an ‘h’.

“Quite so,” said he, “but I am quoting from Boccaccio, and one should be exact in quotations.”

“I apologize, sir; I see you are a man of letters.”

“Well, in a small way. My name is Martinelli.”

“Then you are in a great way indeed. I know you by repute, and if I am not mistaken you are a relation of Calsabigi, who has spoken of you to me. I have read some of your satires.”

“May I ask to whom I have the honour of speaking?”

“My name is Seingalt. Have you finished your edition of the Decameron?”

“I am still at work on it, and trying to increase the number of my subscribers.”

“If you will be so kind I should be glad to be of the number.”

“You do me honour.”

He gave me a ticket, and seeing that it was only for a guinea I took four, and telling him I hoped to see him again at the same coffee- house, the name of which I asked him, he told it me, evidently astonished at my ignorance; but his surprise vanished when I informed him that I had only been in London for an hour, and that it was my first visit to the great city.

“You will experience some trouble in finding your way back,” said he, “allow me to accompany you.”

When we had got out he gave me to understand that chance had led me to the “Orange Coffee House,” the most disreputable house in London.

“But you go there.”

“Yes, but I can say with Juvenal:

“‘Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator.’

“The rogues can’t hurt me; I know them and they know me; we never trouble each other.”

“You have been a long time in London, I suppose.”

“Five years.”

“I presume you know a good many people.”

“Yes, but I seldom wait on anyone but Lord Spencer. I am occupied with literary work and live all by myself. I don’t make much, but enough to live on. I live in furnished apartments, and have twelve shirts and the clothes you see on my back, and that is enough for my happiness.

“‘Nec ultra deos lacesso.'”

I was pleased with this honest man, who spoke Italian with the most exquisite correctness.

On the way back I asked him what I had better do to get a comfortable lodging. When he heard the style in which I wished to live and the time I proposed to spend in London, he advised me to take a house completely furnished.

“You will be given an inventory of the goods,” said he, “and as soon as you get a surety your house will be your castle.”

“I like the idea,” I answered, “but how shall I find such a house?”

“That is easily done.”

He went into a shop, begged the mistress to lend him the Advertiser, noted down several advertisements, and said,–

“That’s all we have to do.”

The nearest house was in Pall Mall and we went to see it. An old woman opened the door to us, and shewed us the ground floor and the three floors above. Each floor contained two rooms and a closet. Everything shone with cleanliness; linen, furniture, carpets, mirrors, and china, and even the bells and the bolts on the doors. The necessary linen was kept in a large press, and in another was the silver plate and several sets of china. The arrangements in the kitchen were excellent, and in a word, nothing was lacking in the way of comfort. The rent was twenty guineas a week, and, not stopping to bargain, which is never of any use in London, I told Martinelli that I would take it on the spot.

Martinelli translated what I said to the old woman, who told me that if I liked to keep her on as housekeeper I need not have a surety, and that it would only be necessary for me to pay for each week in advance. I answered that I would do so, but that she must get me a servant who could speak French or Italian as well as English. She promised to get one in a day’s time, and I paid her for four weeks’ rent on the spot, for which she gave me a receipt under the name of the Chevalier de Seingalt. This was the name by which I was known during the whole of my stay in London.

Thus in less than two hours I was comfortably settled in a town which is sometimes described as a chaos, especially for a stranger. But in London everything is easy to him who has money and is not afraid of spending it. I was delighted to be able to escape so soon from a house where I was welcomed so ill, though I had a right to the best reception; but I was still more pleased at the chance which had made me acquainted with Martinelli, whom I had known by repute for six years.

When I got back Madame Cornelis had not yet arrived, though ten o’clock had struck. Young Cornelis was asleep on the sofa. I was enraged at the way the woman treated me, but I resolved to put a good face on it.

Before long three loud knocks announced the arrival of Madame Cornelis in a sedan-chair, and I heard her ascending the stairs. She came in and seemed glad to see me, but did not come and give me those caresses which I had a right to expect. She ran to her son and took him on her knee, but the sleepy boy did not respond to her kisses with any great warmth.

“He is very tired, like myself,” said I, “and considering that we are travellers in need of rest you have kept us waiting a long time.”

I do not know whether she would have answered at all, or, if so, what her answer would have been, for just at that moment a servant came in and said that supper was ready. She rose and did me the honour to take my arm, and we went into another room which I had not seen. The table was laid for four, and I was curious enough to enquire who was the fourth person.

“It was to have been my daughter, but I left her behind, as when I told her that you and her brother had arrived she asked me if you were well.”

“And you have punished her for doing so?”

“Certainly, for in my opinion she ought to have asked for her brother first and then for you. Don’t you think I was right?”

“Poor Sophie! I am sorry for her. Gratitude has evidently more influence over her than blood relationship.”

“It is not a question of sentiment, but of teaching young persons to think with propriety.”

“Propriety is often far from proper.”

The woman told her son that she was working hard to leave him a fortune when she died, and that she had been obliged to summon him to England as he was old enough to help her in her business.

“And how am I to help you, my dear mother?”

“I give twelve balls and twelve suppers to the nobility, and the same number to the middle classes in the year. I have often as many as six hundred guests at two guineas a head. The expenses are enormous, and alone as I am I must be robbed, for I can’t be in two places at once. Now that you are here you can keep everything under lock and key, keep the books, pay and receive accounts, and see that everyone is properly attended to at the assemblies; in fine, you will perform the duties of the master.”

“And do you think that I can do all that?”

“You will easily learn it.”

“I think it will be very difficult.”

“One of my secretaries will come and live with you, and instruct you in everything. During the first year you will only have to acquire the English language, and to be present at my assemblies, that I may introduce you to the most distinguished people in London. You will get quite English before long.”

“I would rather remain French.”

“That’s mere prejudice, my dear, you will like the sound of Mister Cornelis by-and-bye.”


“Yes; that is your name.”

“It’s a very funny one.”

“I will write it down, so that you may not forget it.” Thinking that her dear son was joking. Madame Cornelis looked at me in some astonishment, and told him to go to bed, which he did instantly. When we were alone she said he struck her as badly educated, and too small for his age.

“I am very much afraid,” said she, “that we shall have to begin his education all over again. What has he learnt in the last six years?”

“He might have learnt a great deal, for he went to the best boarding school in Paris; but he only learnt what he liked, and what he liked was not much. He can play the flute, ride, fence, dance a minuet, change his shirt every day, answer politely, make a graceful bow, talk elegant trifles, and dress well. As he never had any application, he doesn’t know anything about literature; he can scarcely write, his spelling is abominable, his arithmetic limited, and I doubt whether he knows in what continent England is situated.”

“He has used the six years well, certainly.”

“Say, rather, he has wasted them; but he will waste many more.”

“My daughter will laugh at him; but then it is I who have had the care of her education. He will be ashamed when he finds her so well instructed though she is only eight.”

“He will never see her at eight, if I know anything of reckoning; she is fully ten.”

“I think I ought to know the age of my own daughter. She knows geography, history, languages, and music; she argues correctly, and behaves in a manner which is surprising in so young a child. All the ladies are in love with her. I keep her at a school of design all day; she shews a great taste for drawing. She dines with me on Sundays, and if you would care to come to dinner next Sunday you will confess that I have not exaggerated her capacities.”

It was Monday. I said nothing, but I thought it strange that she did not seem to consider that I was impatient to see my daughter. She should have asked me to meet her at supper the following evening.

“You are just in time,” said she, “to witness the last assembly of the year; for in a few weeks all the nobility will leave town in order to pass the summer in the country. I can’t give you a ticket, as they are only issued to the nobility, but you can come as my friend and keep close to me. You will see everything. If I am asked who you are, I will say that you have superintended the education of my son in Paris, and have brought him back to me.”

“You do me too much honour.”

We continued talking till two o’clock in the morning, and she told me all about the suit she had with Sir Frederick Fermer. He maintained that the house she had built at a cost of ten thousand guineas belonged to him as he had furnished the money. In equity he was right, but according to English law wrong, for it was she who had paid the workmen, the contractors, and the architect; it was she that had given and received receipts, and signed all documents. The house, therefore, belonged to her, and Fermer admitted as much; but he claimed the sum he had furnished, and here was the kernel of the whole case, for she had defied him to produce a single acknowledgment of money received.

“I confess,” said this honest woman, “that you have often given me a thousand pounds at a time, but that was a friendly gift, and nothing to be wondered at in a rich Englishman, considering that we were lovers and lived together.”

She had won her suit four times over in two years, but Fermer took advantage of the intricacies of English law to appeal again and again, and now he had gone to the House of Lords, the appeal to which might last fifteen years.

“This suit,” said the honest lady, “dishonours Fermer.”

“I should think it did, but you surely don’t think it honours you.”

“Certainly I do.”

“I don’t quite understand how you make that out.”

“I will explain it all to you.”

“We will talk it over again”

In the three hours for which we talked together this woman did not once ask me how I was, whether I was comfortable, how long I intended to stay in London, or whether I had made much money. In short she made no enquiries what ever about me, only saying with a smile, but not heedlessly,–

“I never have a penny to spare.”

Her receipts amounted to more than twenty-four thousand pounds per annum, but her expenses were enormous and she had debts.

I avenged myself on her indifference by not saying a word about myself. I was dresssed simply but neatly, and had not any jewellry or diamonds about my person.

I went to bed annoyed with her, but glad to have discovered the badness of her heart. In spite of my longing to see my daughter I determined not to take any steps to meet her till the ensuing Sunday, when I was invited to dinner.

Early next morning I told Clairmont to pull all my goods and chattels in a carriage, and when all was ready I went to take leave of young Cornelis, telling him I was going to live in Pall Mall, and leaving him my address.

“You are not going to stay with me, then?” said he.

“No, your mother doesn’t know how to welcome or to treat me.”

“I think you are right. I shall go back to Paris.”

“Don’t do anything so silly. Remember that here you are at home, and that in Paris you might not find a roof to shelter you. Farewell; I shall see you on Sunday.”

I was soon settled in my new house, and I went out to call on M. Zuccato, the Venetian ambassador. I gave him M. Morosini’s letter, and he said, coldly, that he was glad to make my acquaintance. When I asked him to present me at Court the insolent fool only replied with a smile, which might fairly be described as contemptuous. It was the aristocratic pride coming out, so I returned his smile with a cold bow, and never set foot in his house again.

On leaving Zuccato I called on Lord Egremont, and finding him ill left my letter with the porter. He died a few days after, so M. Morosini’s letters were both useless through no fault of his. We shall learn presently what was the result of the little note.

I then went to the Comte de Guerchi, the French ambassador, with a letter from the Marquis Chauvelin, and I received a warm welcome. This nobleman asked me to dine with him the following day, and told me that if I liked he would present me at Court after chapel on Sunday. It was at that ambassador’s table that I made the acquaintance of the Chevalier d’Eon, the secretary of the embassy, who afterwards became famous. This Chevalier d’Eon was a handsome woman who had been an advocate and a captain of dragoons before entering the diplomatic service; she served Louis XV. as a valiant soldier and a diplomatist of consummate skill. In spite of her manly ways I soon recognized her as a woman; her voice was not that of a castrato, and her shape was too rounded to be a man’s. I say nothing of the absence of hair on her face, as that might be an accident.

In the first days of my stay in London I made the acquaintance of my bankers; who held at least three hundred thousand francs of my money. They all honoured my drafts and offered their services to me, but I did not make use of their good offices.

I visited the theatres of Covent Garden and Drury Lane, but I could not extract much enjoyment out of the perfomances as I did not know a word of English. I dined at all the taverns, high and low, to get some insight into the peculiar manners of the English. In the morning I went on ‘Change, where I made some friends. It was there that a merchant to whom I spoke got me a Negro servant who spoke English, French, and Italian with equal facility; and the same individual procured me a cook who spoke French. I also visited the bagnios where a rich man can sup, bathe, and sleep with a fashionable courtezan, of which species there are many in London. It makes a magnificent debauch and only costs six guineas. The expense may be reduced to a hundred francs, but economy in pleasure is not to my taste.

On Sunday I made an elegant toilette and went to Court about eleven, and met the Comte de Guerchi as we had arranged. He introduced me to George III., who spoke to me, but in such a low voice that I could not understand him and had to reply by a bow. The queen made up for the king, however, and I was delighted to observe that the proud ambassador from my beloved Venice was also present. When M. de Guerchi introduced me under the name of the Chevalier de Seingalt, Zuccato looked astonished, for Mr. Morosini had called me Casanova in his letter. The queen asked me from what part of France I came, and understanding from my answer that I was from Venice, she looked at the Venetian ambassador, who bowed as if to say that he had no objection to make. Her Majesty then asked me if I knew the ambassadors extraordinary, who had been sent to congratulate the king, and I replied that I had the pleasure of knowing them intimately, and that I had spent three days in their society at Lyons, where M. Morosini gave me letters for my Lord d’Egremont and M. Zuccato.

“M. Querini amused me extremely,” said the queen; “he called me a little devil.”

“He meant to say that your highness is as witty as an angel.”

I longed for the queen to ask me why I had not been presented by M. Zuccatto, for I had a reply on the tip of my tongue that would have deprived the ambassador of his sleep for a week, while I should have slept soundly, for vengeance is a divine pleasure, especially when it is taken on the proud and foolish; but the whole conversation was a compound of nothings, as is usual in courts.

After my interview was over I got into my sedan-chair and went to Soho Square. A man in court dress cannot walk the streets of London without being pelted with mud by the mob, while the gentleman look on and laugh. All customs must be respected; they are all at once worthy and absurd.

When I got to the house of Madame Cornelis, I and my Negro Jarbe were shewn upstairs, and conducted through a suite of gorgeous apartments to a room where the lady of the house was sitting with two English ladies and two English gentlemen. She received me with familiar politeness, made me sit down in an armchair beside her, and then continued the conversation in English without introducing me. When her steward told her that dinner was ready, she gave orders for the children to be brought down.

I had long desired this meeting, and when I saw Sophie I ran to meet her; but she, who had profited by her mother’s instructions, drew back with profound courtesy and a compliment learnt by heart. I did not say anything for fear I should embarrass her, but I felt grieved to the heart.

Madame Cornelis then brought forward her son, telling the company that I had brought him to England after superintending his education for six years. She spoke in French, so I was glad to see that her friends understood that language.

We sat down to table; Madame Cornelis between her two children, and I between the two Englishwomen, one of whom delighted me by her pleasant wit. I attached myself to her as soon as I noticed that the mistress of the house only spoke to me by chance, and that Sophie did not look at me. She was so like me that no mistake was possible. I could see that she had been carefully tutored by her mother to behave in this manner, and I felt this treatment to be both absurd and impertinent.

I did not want to let anyone see that I was angry, so I began to discourse in a pleasant strain on the peculiarities of English manners, taking care, however, not to say anything which might wound the insular pride of the English guests. My idea was to make them laugh and to make myself agreeable, and I succeeded, but not a word did I speak to Madame Cornelis; I did not so much as look at her.

The lady next to me, after admiring the beauty of my lace, asked me what was the news at Court.

“It was all news to me,” said I, “for I went there to-day for the first time.”

“Have you seen the king?” said Sir Joseph Cornelis.

“My dear, you should not ask such questions,” said his mother.

“Why not?”

“Because the gentleman may not wish to answer them.”

“On the contrary, madam, I like being questioned. I have been teaching your son for the last six years to be always asking something, for that is the way to acquire knowledge. He who asks nothing knows nothing.”

I had touched her to the quick, and she fell into a sulky silence.

“You have not told me yet,” said the lad, “whether you saw the king.”

“Yes, my man, I saw the king and the queen, and both their majesties did me the honour to speak to me.”

“Who introduced you?”

“The French ambassador.”

“I think you will agree with me,” said the mother, “that last question was a little too much.”

“Certainly it would be if it were addressed to a stranger, but not to me who am his friend. You will notice that the reply he extracted from me did me honour. If I had not wished it to be known that I had been at Court, I should not have come here in this dress.”

“Very good; but as you like to be questioned, may I ask you why you were not presented by your own ambassador?”

“Because the Venetian ambassador would not present me, knowing that his Government have a bone to pick with me.”

By this time we had come to the dessert, and poor Sophie had not uttered a syllable.

“Say something to M. de Seingalt,” said her mother.

“I don’t know what to say,” she answered. “Tell M. de Seingalt to ask me some questions, and I will answer to the best of my ability.”

“Well, Sophie, tell me in what studies you are engaged at the present time.”

“I am learning drawing; if you like I will shew you some of my work.”

“I will look at it with pleasure; but tell me how you think you have offended me; you have a guilty air.”

“I, sir? I do not think I have done anything amiss.”

“Nor do I, my dear; but as you do not look at me when you speak I thought you must be ashamed of something. Are you ashamed of your fine eyes? You blush. What have you done?”

“You are embarrassing her,” said the mother. “Tell him, my dear, that you have done nothing, but that a feeling of modesty and respect prevents you from gazing at the persons you address.”

“Yes,” said I; “but if modesty bids young ladies lower their eyes, politeness should make them raise them now and again.”

No one replied to this objection, which was a sharp cut for the absurd woman; but after an interval of silence we rose from the table, and Sophie went to fetch her drawings.

“I won’t look at anything, Sophie, unless you will look at me.”

“Come,” said her mother, “look at the gentleman.”

She obeyed as quickly as lightning, and I saw the prettiest eyes imaginable.

“Now,” said I, “I know you again, and perhaps you may remember having seen me.”

“Yes, although it is six years ago since we met, I recognized you directly.”

“And yet you did not look me in the face! If you knew how impolite it was to lower your eyes when you are addressing anyone, you would not do it. Who can have given you such a bad lesson?”

The child glanced towards her mother, who was standing by a window, and I saw who was her preceptress.

I felt that I had taken sufficient vengeance, and began to examine her drawings, to praise them in detail, and to congratulate her on her talents. I told her that she ought to be thankful to have a mother who had given her so good an education. This indirect compliment pleased Madame Cornelis, and Sophie, now free from all restraint, gazed at me with an expression of child-like affection which ravished me. Her features bore the imprint of a noble soul within, and I pitied her for having to grow up under the authority of a foolish mother. Sophie went to the piano, played with feeling, and then sang some Italian airs, to the accompaniment of the guitar, too well for her age. She was too precocious, and wanted much more discretion in her education than Madame Cornelis was able to give her.

When her singing had been applauded by the company, her mother told her to dance a minuet with her brother, who had learnt in Paris, but danced badly for want of a good carriage. His sister told him so with a kiss, and then asked me to dance with her, which I did very readily. Her mother, who thought she had danced exquisitely, as was indeed the case, told her that she must give me a kiss. She came up to me, and drawing her on my knee I covered her face with kisses, which she returned with the greatest affection. Her mother laughed with all her heart, and then Sophie, beginning to be doubtful again, went up to her and asked if she were angry. Her mother comforted her with a kiss.

After we had taken coffee, which was served in the French fashion, Madame Cornelis shewed me a magnificent hall which she had built, in which she could give supper to four hundred persons seated at one table. She told me, and I could easily believe her, that there was not such another in all London.

The last assembly was given before the prorogation of Parliament; it was to take place in four or five days. She had a score of pretty girls in her service, and a dozen footmen all in full livery.

“They all rob me,” said she, “but I have to put up with it. What I want is a sharp man to help me and watch over my interests; if I had such an one I should make an immense fortune in a comparatively short time; for when it is a question of pleasure, the English do not care what they spend.”

I told her I hoped she would find such man and make the fortune, and then I left her, admiring her enterprise.

When I left Soho Square I went to St. James’s Park to see Lady Harrington for whom I bore a letter, as I have mentioned. This lady lived in the precincts of the Court, and received company every Sunday. It was allowable to play in her house, as the park is under the jurisdiction of the Crown. In any other place there is no playing cards or singing on Sundays. The town abounds in spies, and if they have reason to suppose that there is any gaming or music going on, they watch for their opportunity, slip into the house, and arrest all the bad Christians, who are diverting themselves in a manner which is thought innocent enough in any other country. But to make up for this severity the Englishman may go in perfect liberty to the tavern or the brothel, and sanctify the Sabbath as he pleases.

I called on Lady Harrington, and having sent up my letter she summoned me into her presence. I found her in the midst of about thirty persons, but the hostess was easily distinguished by the air of welcome she had for me.

After I had made my bow she told me she had seen me at Court in the morning, and that without knowing who I was she had been desirous of making my acquaintance. Our conversation lasted three-quarters of an hour, and was composed of those frivolous observations and idle questions which are commonly addressed to a traveller.

The lady was forty, but she was still handsome. She was well known for her gallantries and her influence at Court. She introduced me to her husband and her four daughters, charming girls of a marriageable age. She asked me why I had come to London when everybody was on the point of going out of town. I told her that as I always obeyed the impulse of the moment, I should find it difficult to answer her question; besides, I intended staying for a year, so that the pleasure would be deferred but not lost.

My reply seemed to please her by its character of English independence, and she offered with exquisite grace to do all in her power for me.

“In the meanwhile,” said she, “we will begin by letting you see all the nobility at Madame Cornelis’s on Thursday next. I can give you a ticket to admit to ball and supper. It is two guineas.”

I gave her the money, and she took the ticket again, writing on it, “Paid.–Harrington.”

“Is this formality necessary, my lady?”

“Yes; or else they would ask you for the money at the doors.”

I did not think it necessary to say anything about my connection with the lady of Soho Square.

While Lady Harrington was making up a rubber at whist, she asked me if I had any other letters for ladies.

“Yes,” said I, “I have one which I intend to present to-morrow. It is a singular letter, being merely a portrait.”

“Have you got it about you?”

“Yes, my lady.”

“May I see it?”

“Certainly. Here it is.”

“It is the Duchess of Northumberland. We will go and give it her.”

“With pleasure!”

“Just wait till they have marked the game.”

Lord Percy had given me this portrait as a letter of introduction to his mother.

“My dear duchess,” said Lady Harrington, “here is a letter of introduction which this gentleman begs to present to you.”

“I know, it is M. de Seingalt. My son has written to me about him. I am delighted to see you, Chevalier, and I hope you will come and see me. I receive thrice a week.”

“Will your ladyship allow me to present my valuable letter in person?”

“Certainly. You are right.”

I played a rubber of whist for very small stakes, and lost fifteen guineas, which I paid on the spot. Directly afterwards Lady Harrington took me apart, and gave me a lesson which I deem worthy of record.

“You paid in gold,” said she; “I suppose you had no bank notes about you?”

“Yes, my lady, I have notes for fifty and a hundred pounds.”

“Then you must change one of them or wait till another time to play, for in England to pay in gold is a solecism only pardonable in a stranger. Perhaps you noticed that the lady smiled?”

“Yes; who is she?”

“Lady Coventry, sister of the Duchess of Hamilton.”

“Ought I to apologize?”

“Not at all, the offence is not one of those which require an apology. She must have been more surprised than offended, for she made fifteen shillings by your paying her in gold.”

I was vexed by this small mischance, for Lady Coventry was an exquisitely beautiful brunette. I comforted myself, however, without much trouble.

The same day I made the acquaintance of Lord Hervey, the nobleman who conquered Havana, a pleasant an intelligent person. He had married Miss Chudleigh, but the marriage was annulled. This celebrated Miss Chudleigh was maid of honour to the Princess Dowager of Wales, and afterwards became Duchess of Kingston. As her history is well known I shall say something more of her in due course. I went home well enough pleased with my day’s work.

The next day I began dining at home, and found my cook very satisfactory; for, besides the usual English dishes, he was acquainted with the French system of cooking, and did fricandeaus, cutlets, ragouts, and above all, the excellent French soup, which is one of the principal glories of France.

My table and my house were not enough for my happiness. I was alone, and the reader will understand by this that Nature had not meant me for a hermit. I had neither a mistress nor a friend, and at London one may invite a man to dinner at a tavern where he pays for himself, but not to one’s own table. One day I was invited by a younger son of the Duke of Bedford to eat oysters and drink a bottle of champagne. I accepted the invitation, and he ordered the oysters and the champagne, but we drank two bottles, and he made me pay half the price of the second bottle. Such are manners on the other side of the Channel. People laughed in my face when I said that I did not care to dine at a tavern as I could not get any soup.

“Are you ill?” they said, “soup is only fit for invalids.”

The Englishman is entirely carnivorous. He eats very little bread, and calls himself economical because he spares himself the expense of soup and dessert, which circumstance made me remark that an English dinner is like eternity: it has no beginning and no end. Soup is considered very extravagant, as the very servants refuse to eat the meat from which it has been made. They say it is only fit to give to dogs. The salt beef which they use is certainly excellent. I cannot say the same for their beer, which was so bitter that I could not drink it. However, I could not be expected to like beer after the excellent French wines with which the wine merchant supplied me, certainly at a very heavy cost.

I had been a week in my new home without seeing Martinelli. He came on a Monday morning, and I asked him to dine with me. He told me that he had to go to the Museum, and my curiosity to see the famous collection which is such an honour to England made me accompany him. It was there that I made the acquaintance of Dr. Mati, of whom I shall speak in due course.

At dinner Martinelli made himself extremely pleasant. He had a profound knowledge of the English manners and customs which it behoved me to know if I wished to get on. I happened to speak of the impoliteness of which I had been guilty in paying a gaming debt in gold instead of paper, and on this text he preached me a sermon on the national prosperity, demonstrating that the preference given to paper shews the confidence which is felt in the Bank, which may or may not be misplaced, but which is certainly a source of wealth. This confidence might be destroyed by a too large issue of paper money, and if that ever took place by reason of a protracted or unfortunate war, bankruptcy would be inevitable, and no one could calculate the final results.

After a long discussion on politics, national manners, literature, in which subjects Martinelli shone, we went to Drury Lane Theatre, where I had a specimen of the rough insular manners. By some accident or other the company could not give the piece that had been announced, and the audience were in a tumult. Garrick, the celebrated actor who was buried twenty years later in Westminster Abbey, came forward and tried in vain to restore order. He was obliged to retire behind the curtain. Then the king, the queen, and all the fashionables left the theatre, and in less than an hour the theatre was gutted, till nothing but the bare walls were left.

After this destruction, which went on without any authority interposing, the mad populace rushed to the taverns to consume gin and beer. In a fortnight the theatre was refitted and the piece announced again, and when Garrick appeared before the curtain to implore the indulgence of the house, a voice from the pit shouted, “On your knees.” A thousand voices took up the cry “On your knees,” and the English Roscius was obliged to kneel down and beg forgiveness. Then came a thunder of applause, and everything was over. Such are the English, and above all, the Londoners. They hoot the king and the royal family when they appear in public, and the consequence is, that they are never seen, save on great occasions, when order is kept by hundreds of constables.

One day, as I was walking by myself, I saw Sir Augustus Hervey, whose acquaintance I had made, speaking to a gentleman, whom he left to come to me. I asked him whom he had been speaking to.

“That’s the brother of Earl Ferrers,” said he, “who was hanged a couple of months ago for murdering one of his people.”

“And you speak to his brother?”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“Is he not dishonoured by the execution of his relative?”

“Dishonoured! Certainly not; even his brother was not dishonoured. He broke the law, but he paid for it with his life, and owed society nothing more. He’s a man of honour, who played high and lost; that’s all. I don’t know that there is any penalty in the statute book which dishonours the culprit; that would be tyrannical, and we would not bear it. I may break any law I like, so long as I am willing to pay the penalty. It is only a dishonour when the criminal tries to escape punishment by base or cowardly actions.”

“How do you mean?”

“To ask for the royal mercy, to beg forgiveness of the people, and the like.”

“How about escaping from justice?”

“That is no dishonour, for to fly is an act of courage; it continues the defiance of the law, and if the law cannot exact obedience, so much the worse for it. It is an honour for you to have escaped from the tyranny of your magistrates; your flight from The Leads was a virtuous action. In such cases man fights with death and flees from it. ‘Vir fugiens denuo pugnabit’.”

“What do you think of highway robbers, then?”

“I detest them as wretches dangerous to society, but I pity them when I reflect that they are always riding towards the gallows. You go out in a coach to pay a visit to a friend three or four miles out of London. A determined and agile-looking fellow springs upon you with his pistol in his hand, and says, ‘Your money or your life.’ What would you do in such a case?”

“If I had a pistol handy I would blow out his brains, and if not I would give him my purse and call him a scoundrelly assassin.”

“You would be wrong in both cases. If you killed him, you would be hanged, for you have no right to take the law into your own hands; and if you called him an assassin, he would tell you that he was no assassin as he attacked you openly and gave you a free choice. Nay, he is generous, for he might kill you and take your money as well. You might, indeed, tell him he has an evil trade, and he would tell you that you were right, and that he would try to avoid the gallows as long as possible. He would then thank you and advise you never to drive out of London without being accompanied by a mounted servant, as then no robber would dare to attack you. We English always carry two purses on our journeys; a small one for the robbers and a large one for ourselves.”

What answer could I make to such arguments, based as they were on the national manners? England is a rich sea, but strewn with reefs, and those who voyage there would do well to take precautions. Sir Augustus Hervey’s discourse gave me great pleasure.

Going from one topic to another, as is always the way with a desultory conversation, Sir Augustus deplored the fate of an unhappy Englishman who had absconded to France with seventy thousand pounds, and had been brought back to London, and was to be hanged.

“How could that be?” I asked.

“The Crown asked the Duc de Nivernois to extradite him, and Louis XV. granted the request to make England assent to some articles of the peace. It was an act unworthy of a king, for it violates the right of nations. It is true that the man is a wretch, but that has nothing to do with the principle of the thing.”

“Of course they have got back the seventy thousand pounds?”

“Not a shilling of it.”

“How was that?”

“Because no money was found on him. He has most likely left his little fortune to his wife, who can marry again as she is still young and pretty.”

“I wonder the police have not been after her.”

“Such a thing is never thought of. What could they do? It’s not likely that she would confess that her husband left her the stolen money. The law says robbers shall be hanged, but it says nothing about what they have stolen, as they are supposed to have made away with it. Then if we had to take into account the thieves who had kept their theft and thieves who had spent it, we should have to make two sets of laws, and make all manner of allowances; the end of it would be inextricable confusion. It seems to us Englishmen that it would not be just to ordain two punishments for theft. The robber becomes the owner of what he has stolen; true, he ‘got it by violence, but it is none the less his, for he can do what he likes with it. That being the case, everyone should be careful to keep what he has, since he knows that once stolen he will never see it again. I have taken Havana from Spain: this was robbery on a large scale.”

He talked at once like a philosopher and a faithful subject of his king.

Engaged in this discussion we walked towards the Duchess of Northumberland’s, where I made the acquaintance of Lady Rochefort, whose husband had just been appointed Spanish ambassador. This lady’s gallantries were innumerable, and furnished a fresh topic of conversation every day.

The day before the assembly at Soho Square Martinelli dined with me, and told me that Madame Cornelis was heavily in debt, and dared not go out except on Sundays, when debtors are privileged.

“The enormous and unnecessary expense which she puts herself to,” said he, “will soon bring her to ruin. She owes four times the amount of her assets, even counting in the house, which is a doubtful item, as it is the subject of litigation.”

This news only distressed me for her children’s sake, for I thought that she herself well deserved such a fate.


The Assembly–Adventure at Ranelagh The English Courtezans–Pauline

I went in due time to the assembly, and the secretary at the door wrote down my name as I handed in my ticket. When Madame Cornelis saw me she said she was delighted I had come in by ticket, and that she had had some doubts as to whether I would come.

“You might have spared yourself the trouble of doubting,” said I, “for after hearing that I had been to Court you might have guessed that a matter of two guineas would not have kept me away. I am sorry for our old friendship’s sake that I did not pay the money to you; for you might have known that I would not condescend to be present in the modest manner you indicated.”

This address, delivered with an ironical accent, embarrassed Madame Cornelis, but Lady Harrington, a great supporter of hers, came to her rescue.

“I have a number of guineas to hand over to you, my dear Cornelis, and amongst others two from M. de Seingalt, who, I fancy, is an old friend of yours. Nevertheless, I did not dare to tell him so,” she added, with a sly glance in my direction.

“Why not, my lady? I have known Madame Cornelis for many years.”

“I should think you have,” she answered, laughing, “and I congratulate you both. I suppose you know the delightful Miss Sophie too, Chevalier?”

“Certainly, my lady, who so knows the mother knows the daughter.”

“Quite so, quite so.”

Sophie was standing by, and after kissing her fondly Lady Harrington said,–

“If you love yourself, you ought to love her, for she is the image of you.”

“Yes, it is a freak of nature.”

“I think there is something more than a freak in this instance.”

With these words the lady took Sophie’s hand, and leaning on my arm she led us through the crowd, and I had to bear in silence the remarks of everyone.

“There is Madame Cornelis’s husband.”

“That must be M. Cornelis.”

“Oh! there can be no doubt about it.”

“No, no,” said Lady Harrington, “you are all quite wrong.”

I got tired of these remarks, which were all founded on the remarkable likeness between myself and Sophie. I wanted Lady Harrington to let the child go, but she was too much amused to do so.

“Stay by me,” she said, “if you want to know the names of the guests.” She sat down, making me sit on one side and Sophie on the other.

Madame Cornelis then made her appearance, and everyone asked her the same questions, and made the same remarks about me. She said bravely that I was her best and her oldest friend, and that the likeness between me and her daughter might possibly be capable of explanation. Everyone laughed and said it was very natural that it should be so. To change the subject, Madame Cornelis remarked that Sophie had learnt the minuet and danced it admirably.

“Then fetch a violin player,” said Lady Harrington, “that we may have the pleasure of witnessing the young artist’s performance.”

The ball had not yet begun, and as soon as the violinist appeared, I stepped forward and danced with Sophie, to the delight of the select circle of spectators.

The ball lasted all night without ceasing, as the company ate by relays, and at all times and hours; the waste and prodigality were worthy of a prince’s palace. I made the acquaintance of all the nobility and the Royal Family, for they were all there, with the exception of the king and queen, and the Prince of Wales. Madame Cornelis must have received more than twelve hundred guineas, but the outlay was enormous, without any control or safeguard against the thefts, which must have been perpetrated on all sides. She tried to introduce her son to everybody, but the poor lad looked like a victim, and did nothing but make profound bows. I pitied him from my heart.

As soon as I got home I went to bed and spent the whole of the next day there. The day after I went to the “Staven Tavern,” as I had been told that the prettiest girls in London resorted to it. Lord Pembroke gave me this piece of information; he went there very frequently himself. When I got to the tavern I asked for a private room, and the landlord, perceiving that I did not know English, accosted me in French, and came to keep me company. I was astonished at his grave and reverend manner of speaking, and did not like to tell him that I wanted to dine with a pretty Englishwoman. At last, however, I summoned up courage to say, with a great deal of circumlocution, that I did not know whether Lord Pembroke had deceived me in informing me that I should find the prettiest girls in London at his house.

“No, sir,” said he, “my lord has not deceived you, and you can have as many as you like.”

“That’s what I came for.”

He called out some name, and a tidy-looking lad making his appearance, he told him to get me a wench just as though he were ordering a bottle of champagne. The lad went out, and presently a girl of herculean proportions entered.

“Sir,” said I, “I don’t like the looks of this girl.”

“Give her a shilling and send her away. We don’t trouble ourselves about ceremonies in London.”

This put me at my ease, so I paid my shilling and called for a prettier wench. The second was worse than the first, and I sent her away, and ten others after her, while I could see that my fastidiousness amused the landlord immensely.

“I’ll see no more girls,” said I at last, “let me have a good dinner. I think the procurer must have been making game of me for the sake of the shillings.”

“It’s very likely; indeed it often happens so when a gentleman does not give the name and address of the wench he wants.”

In the evening as I was walking in St. James’s Park, I remembered it was a Ranelagh evening, and wishing to see the place I took a coach and drove there, intending to amuse myself till midnight, and to find a beauty to my taste.

I was pleased with the rotunda. I had some tea, I danced some minuets, but I made no acquaintances; and although I saw several pretty women, I did not dare to attack any of them. I got tired, and as it was near midnight I went out thinking to find my coach, for which I had not paid, still there, but it was gone, and I did not know what to do. An extremely pretty woman who was waiting for her carriage in the doorway, noticed my distress, and said that if I lived anywhere near Whitehall, she could take me home. I thanked her gratefully, and told her where I lived. Her carriage came up, her man opened the door, and she stepped in on my arm, telling me to sit beside her, and to stop the carriage when it got to my house.

As soon as we were in the carriage, I burst out into expressions of gratitude; and after telling her my name I expressed my regret at not having seen her at Soho Square.

“I was not in London,” she replied, “I returned from Bath to-day.”

I apostrophised my happiness in having met her. I covered her hands with kisses, and dared to kiss her on the cheek; and finding that she smiled graciously, I fastened my lips on hers, and before long had given her an unequivocal mark of the ardour with which she had inspired me.

She took my attentions so easily that I flattered myself I had not displeased her, and I begged her to tell me where I could call on her and pay my court while I remained in London, but she replied,–

“We shall see each other again; we must be careful.”

I swore secrecy, and urged her no more. Directly after the carriage stopped, I kissed her hand and was set down at my door, well pleased with the ride home.

For a fortnight I saw nothing of her, but I met her again in a house where Lady Harrington had told me to present myself, giving her name. It was Lady Betty German’s, and I found her out, but was asked to sit down and wait as she would be in soon. I was pleasantly surprised to find my fair friend of Ranelagh in the room, reading a newspaper. I conceived the idea of asking her to introduce me to Lady Betty, so I went up to her and proffered my request, but she replied politely that she could not do so not having the honour to know my name.

“I have told you my name, madam. Do you not remember me?”

“I remember you perfectly, but a piece of folly is not a title of acquaintance.”

I was dumbfounded at the extraordinary reply, while the lady calmly returned to her newspaper, and did not speak another word till the arrival of Lady Betty.

The fair philosopher talked for two hours without giving the least sign of knowing who I was, although she answered me with great politeness whenever I ventured to address her. She turned out to be a lady of high birth and of great reputation.

Happening to call on Martinelli, I asked him who was the pretty girl who was kissing her hands to me from the house opposite. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that she was a dancer named Binetti. Four years ago she had done me a great service at Stuttgart, but I did not know she was in London. I took leave of Martinelli to go and see her, and did so all the more eagerly when I heard that she had parted from her husband, though they were obliged to dance together at the Haymarket.

She received me with open arms, telling me that she had recognized me directly.

“I am surprised, my dear elder,” said she, “to see you in London.”

She called me “elder” because I was the oldest of her friends.

“Nor did I know that you were here. I came to town after the close of the opera. How is it that you are not living with your husband?”

“Because he games, loses, and despoils me of all I possess. Besides, a woman of my condition, if she be married, cannot hope that a rich lover will come and see her, while if she be alone she can receive visits without any constraint.”

“I shouldn’t have thought they would be afraid of Binetti; he used to be far from jealous.”

“Nor is he jealous now; but you must know that there is an English law which allows the husband to arrest his wife and her lover if he finds them in ‘flagrante delicto’. He only wants two witnesses, and it is enough that they are sitting together on a bed. The lover is forced to pay to the husband the half of all he possesses. Several rich Englishmen have been caught in this way, and now they are very shy of visiting married women, especially Italians.”

“So you have much to be thankful for. You enjoy perfect liberty, can receive any visitors you like, and are in a fair way to make a fortune.”

“Alas! my dear friend, you do not know all. When he has information from his spies that I have had a visitor, he comes to me in a sedan- chair at night, and threatens to turn me out into the street if I do not give him all the money I have. He is a terrible rascal!”

I left the poor woman, after giving her my address, and telling her to come and dine with me whenever she liked. She had given me a lesson on the subject of visiting ladies. England has very good laws, but most of them are capable of abuse. The oath which jurymen have to take to execute them to the letter has caused several to be interpreted in a manner absolutely contrary to the intention of the legislators, thus placing the judges in a difficult predicament. Thus new laws have constantly to be made, and new glosses to explain the old ones.

My Lord Pembroke, seeing me at my window, came in, and after examining my house, including the kitchen, where the cook was at work, told me that there was not a nobleman in town who had such a well-furnished and comfortable house. He made a calculation, and told me that if I wanted to entertain my friends I should require three hundred pounds a month. “You can’t live here,” said he, “without a pretty girl, and those who know that you keep bachelor’s hall are of opinion that you are very wise, and will save a great deal of useless expense.”

“Do you keep a girl, my lord?”

“No, for I am unfortunate enough to be disgusted with a woman after I have had her for a day.”

“Then you require a fresh one every day?”

“Yes, and without being as comfortable as you I spend four times as much. You must know that I live in London like a stranger. I never dine at my own house. I wonder at your dining alone.”

“I can’t speak English. I like soup and good wine, and that is enough to keep me from your taverns.”

“I expect so, with your French tastes.”

“You will confess that they are not bad tastes.”

“You are right, for, good Englishman as I am, I get on very well in Paris.”

He burst out laughing when I told him how I had dispatched a score of wenches at the “Staven Tavern,” and that my disappointment was due to him.

“I did not tell you what names to send for, and I was wrong.”

“Yes, you ought to have told me.”

“But even if I did they wouldn’t have come, for they are not at the orders of the procurers. If you will promise to pay them as I do, I will give you some tickets which will make them come.”

“Can I have them here?”

“Just as you like.”

“That will be most convenient for me. Write out the tickets and let them know French if you can.”

“That’s the difficulty; the prettiest only speak English.”

“Never mind, we shall understand each other well enough for the purpose I dare say.”

He wrote several tickets for four and six guineas each; but one was marked twelve guineas.

“She is doubly pretty, is she?” said I.

“Not exactly, but she has cuckolded a duke of Great Britain who keeps her, and only uses her once or twice a month.”

“Would you do me the honour of testing the skill of my cook?”

“Certainly, but I can’t make an appointment.”

“And supposing I am out.”

“I’ll go to the tavern.”

Having nothing better to do I sent Jarbe to one of the four-guinea wenches, telling him to advise her that she would dine with me. She came. She did not attract me sufficiently to make me attempt more than some slight toying. She went away well pleased with her four guineas, which she had done nothing to earn. Another wench, also at four guineas, supped with me the following evening. She had been very pretty, and, indeed, was so still, but she was too melancholy and quiet for my taste, and I could not makeup my mind to tell her to undress.

The third day, not feeling inclined to try another ticket, I went to Covent Garden, and on meeting an attractive young person I accosted her in French, and asked her if she would sup with me.

“How much will you give me at dessert?”

“Three guineas.”

“Come along.”

After the play I ordered a good supper for two, and she displayed an appetite after mine own heart. When we had supped I asked for her name and address, and I was astonished to find that she was one of the girls whom Lord Pembroke had assessed at six guineas. I concluded that it was best to do one’s own business, or, at any rate, not to employ noblemen as agents. As to the other tickets, they procured me but little pleasure. The twelve-guinea one, which I had reserved for the last, as a choice morsel, pleased me the least of all, and I did not care to cuckold the noble duke who kept her.

Lord Pembroke was young, handsome, rich, and full of wit. I went to see him one day, and found him just getting out of bed. He said he would walk with me and told his valet to shave him.

“But,” said I, “there’s not a trace of beard on your face.”

“There never is,” said he, “I get myself shaved three times a day.”

“Three times?”

“Yes, when I change my shirt I wash my hands; when I wash my hands I have to wash my face, and the proper way to wash a man’s face is with a razor.”

“When do you make these three ablutions?”

“When I get up, when I dress for dinner, and when I go to bed, for I should not like the woman who is sleeping with me to feel my beard.”

We had a short walk together, and then I left him as I had some writing to do. As we parted, he asked me if I dined at home. I replied in the affirmative, and foreseeing that he intended dining with me I warned my cook to serve us well, though I did not let him know that I expected a nobleman to dinner. Vanity has more than one string to its bow.

I had scarcely got home when Madame Binetti came in, and said that if she were not in the way, she would be glad to dine with me. I gave her a warm welcome, and she said I was really doing her a great service, as her husband would suffer the torments of hell in trying to find out with whom she had dined.

This woman still pleased me; and though she was thirty-five, nobody would have taken her for more than twenty-five. Her appearance was in every way pleasing. Her lips were of the hue of the rose, disclosing two exquisite rows of teeth. A fine complexion, splendid eyes, and a forehead where Innocence might have been well enthroned, all this made an exquisite picture. If you add to this, that her breast was of the rarest proportions, you will understand that more fastidious tastes than mine would have been satisfied with her.

She had not been in my house for half an hour when Lord Pembroke came in. They both uttered an exclamation, and the nobleman told me that he had been in love with her for the last six months; that he had written ardent letters to her of which she had taken no notice.

“I never would have anything to do with him,” said she, “because he is the greatest profligate in all England; and it’s a pity,” she added, “because he is a kindhearted nobleman.”

This explanation was followed by a score of kisses, and I saw that they were agreed.

We had a choice dinner in the French style, and Lord Pembroke swore he had not eaten so good a dinner for the last year.

“I am sorry for you,” he said, “when I think of you being alone every day.”

Madame Binetti was as much a gourmet as the Englishman, and when we rose from table we felt inclined to pass from the worship of Comus to that of Venus; but the lady was too experienced to give the Englishman anything more than a few trifling kisses.

I busied myself in turning over the leaves of some books I had bought the day before, and left them to talk together to their heart’s content; but to prevent their asking me to give them another dinner I said that I hoped chance would bring about such another meeting on another occasion.

At six o’clock, after my guests had left me, I dressed and went to Vauxhaull, where I met a French officer named Malingan, to whom I had given some money at Aix-la-Chapelle. He said he would like to speak to me, so I gave him my name and address. I also met a well-known character, the Chevalier Goudar, who talked to me about gaming and women. Malingan introduced me to an individual who he said might be very useful to me in London. He was a man of forty, and styled himself son of the late Theodore, the pretender to the throne of Corsica, who had died miserably in London fourteen years before, after having been imprisoned for debt for seven years. I should have done better if I had never gone to Vauxhall that evening.

The entrance-fee at Vauxhall was half the sum charged at Ranelagh, but in spite of that the amusements were of the most varied kinds. There was good fare, music, walks in solitary alleys, thousands of lamps, and a crowd of London beauties, both high and low.

In the midst of all these pleasures I was dull, because I had no girl to share my abode or my good table, and make it dear to me. I had been in London for six weeks; ana in no other place had I been alone for so long.

My house seemed intended for keeping a mistress with all decency, and as I had the virtue of constancy a mistress was all I wanted to make me happy. But how was I to find a woman who should be the equal of those women I had loved before? I had already seen half a hundred of girls, whom the town pronounced to be pretty, and who did not strike me as even passable. I thought the matter over continually, and at last an odd idea struck me.

I called the old housekeeper, and told her by the servant, who acted as my interpreter, that I wanted to let the second or third floor for the sake of company; and although I was at perfect liberty to do what I liked with the house, I would give her half-a-guinea a week extra. Forthwith I ordered her to affix the following bill to the window:

Second or third floor to be let, furnished, to a young lady speaking English and French, who receives no visitors, either by day or night.

The old Englishwoman, who had seen something of the world, began to laugh so violently when the document was translated to her that I thought she would have choked.

“What are you laughing at, my worthy woman?”

“Because this notice is a laughing matter.”

“I suppose you think I shall have no applications?”

“Not at all, the doorstep will be crowded from morn to night, but I shall leave it all to Fanny. Only tell me how much to ask.”

“I will arrange about the rent in my interview with the young lady. I don’t think I shall have so many enquiries, for the young lady is to speak French and English, and also to be respectable. She must not receive any visits, not even from her father and mother, if she has them.”

“But there will be a mob in front of the house reading the notice.”

“All the better. Nothing is the worse for being a little odd.”

It happened just as the old woman had foretold; as soon as the notice was up, everybody stopped to read it, made various comments, and passed on. On the second day after it was up, my Negro told me that my notice was printed in full in the St. James’s Chronicle, with some amusing remarks. I had the paper brought up to me, and Fanny translated it. It ran as follows:

“The landlord of the second and third floors probably occupies the first floor himself. He must be a man of the world and of good taste, for he wants a young and pretty lodger; and as he forbids her to receive visits, he will have to keep her company himself.”

He added,–

“The landlord should take care lest he become his own dupe, for it is very likely that the pretty lodger would only take the room to sleep in, and possibly only to sleep in now and then; and if she chose she would have a perfect right to refuse to receive the proprietor’s visits.”

These sensible remarks delighted me, for after reading them I felt forewarned.

Such matters as these give their chief interest to the English newspapers. They are allowed to gossip about everything, and the writers have the knack of making the merest trifles seem amusing. Happy is the nation where anything may be written and anything said!

Lord Pembroke was the first to come and congratulate me on my idea, and he was succeeded by Martinelli; but he expressed some fears as to the possible consequences, “for,” said he, “there are plenty of women in London who would come and lodge with you to be your ruin.”

“In that case,” I answered, “it would be a case of Greek meeting Greek; however, we shall see. If I am taken in, people will have the fullest right to laugh at me, for I have been warned.”

I will not trouble my readers with an account of the hundred women who came in the first ten days, when I refused on one pretext or another, though some of them were not wanting in grace and beauty. But one day, when I was at dinner, I received a visit from a girl of from twenty to twenty-four years, simply but elegantly dressed; her features were sweet and gracious, though somewhat grave, her complexion pale, and her hair black. She gave me a bow which I had to rise to return, and as I remained standing she politely begged me not to put myself out, but to continue my dinner. I begged her to be seated and to take dessert, but she refused with an air of modesty which delighted me.

This fair lady said, not in French, but in Italian worthy of a Sinnese, its purity was so perfect, that she hoped I would let her have a room on the third floor, and that she would gladly submit to all my conditions.

“You may only make use of one room if you like, but all the floor will belong to you.”

“Although the notice says the rooms will be let cheaply, I shall not be able to afford more than one room. Two shillings a week is all I can spend.”

“That’s exactly what I want for the whole suite of rooms; so you see you can use them all. My maid will wait on you, get you whatever food you may require, and wash your linen as well. You can also employ her to do your commissions, so that you need not go out for trifles.”

“Then I will dismiss my maid,” she said; “she robs me of little, it is true, but still too much for my small means. I will tell your maid what food to buy for me every day, and she shall have six sots a week for her pains.”

“That will be ample. I should advise you to apply to my cook’s wife, who will get your dinner and supper for you as cheaply as you could buy it.”

“I hardly think so, for I am ashamed to tell you how little I spend.”

“Even if you only spend two sols a day, she will give you two sols’ worth. All the same I advise you to be content with what you get from the kitchen, without troubling about the price, for I usually have provision made for four, though I dine alone, and the rest is the cook’s perquisite. I merely advise you to the best of my ability, and I hope you will not be offended at my interest in your welfare.”

“Really, sir, you are too generous.”

“Wait a moment, and you will see how everything will be settled comfortably.”

I told Clairmont to order up the maid and the cook’s wife, and I said to the latter:

“For how much could you provide dinner and supper for this young lady who is not rich, and only wants to eat to live?”

“I can do it very cheaply; for you usually eat alone, and have enough for four.”

“Very good; then I hope you will treat her very well for the sum she gives you.”

“I can only afford five sols a day.”

“That will do nicely.”

I gave orders that the bill should be taken down directly, and that the young lady’s room should be made comfortable. When the maid and the cook’s wife had left the room, the young lady told me that she should only go out on Sundays to hear mass at the Bavarian ambassador’s chapel, and once a month to a person who gave her three guineas to support her.

“You can go out when you like,” said I, “and without rendering an account to anybody of your movements.”

She begged me not to introduce anyone to her, and to tell the, porter to deny her to anyone who might come to the door to make enquiries. I promised that her wishes should be respected, and she went away saying that she was going for her trunk.

I immediately ordered my household to treat her with the utmost respect. The old housekeeper told me that she had paid the first week in advance, taking a receipt, and had gone, as she had come, in a sedan-chair. Then the worthy old woman made free to tell me to be on my guard.

“Against what? If I fall in love with her, so much the better; that is just what I want. What name did she give you?”

“Mistress Pauline. She was quite pale when she came, and she went away covered with blushes.”

I was delighted to hear it. I did not want a woman merely to satisfy my natural desires, for such can be found easily enough; I wished for some one whom I could love. I expected beauty, both of the body and the soul; and my love increased with the difficulties and obstacles I saw before me. As to failure, I confess I did not give it a moment’s thought, for there is not a woman in the world who can resist constant and loving attentions, especially when her lover is ready to make great sacrifices.

When I got back from the theatre in the evening the maid told me that the lady had chosen a modest closet at the back, which was only suitable for a servant. She had had a moderate supper, only drinking water, and had begged the cook’s wife only to send her up soup and one dish, to which the woman had replied that she must take what was served, and what she did not eat would do for the servant.

“When she finished she shut herself up to write, and wished me good evening with much politeness.”

“What is she going to take in the morning?”

“I asked her, and she said she would only take a little bread.”

“Then you had better tell her that it is the custom of the house for the cook to serve everybody with coffee, chocolate, or tea, according to taste, in the morning, and that I shall be pained if she refuses to fare like the rest of us. But don’t tell her I said so. Here’s a crown for you, and you shall have one every week if you will wait upon and care for her properly.”

Before going to bed I wrote her a polite note, begging her to leave the closet. She did so, but she went into another back room, and consented to take coffee for her breakfast. Wishing to make her dine and sup with me, I was dressing myself, and preparing to proffer my request in such a way as to make a refusal impossible, when young Cornelis was announced. I received him smilingly, and thanked him for the first visit he had paid me in the course of six weeks.

“Mamma hasn’t allowed me to come. I have tried to do so a score of times without her leave. Read this letter, and you will find something which will surprise you.”

I opened the letter and read as follows:

“Yesterday a bailiff waited for my door to be opened and slipped in and arrested me. I was obliged to go with him, and I am now in the sponging-house, and if I can’t get bail by to-day he will take me to Kings Bench Prison. The bail I require is to the amount of two hundred pounds, to pay a bill which has fallen due. Dear friend, come and succour me or else my other creditors will get wind of my imprisonment and I shall be ruined. You surely will not allow that to happen, if not for my sake at least for the sake of my innocent children. You cannot bail me yourself, but you can easily get a householder to do so. If you have the time come and call on me, and I will shew you that I could not help doing the bill, otherwise I could not have given my last ball, as the whole of my plate and china was pledged.”

I felt angry with the impudent woman who had hitherto paid me so little attention, and I wrote that I could only pity her, and that I had no time to go and see her, and that I should be ashamed to ask anyone to bail her out.

When young Cornelis had gone away in a melancholy mood, I told Clairmont to ask Pauline if she would allow me to bid her a good day. She sent word that I was at liberty to do so, and on going upstairs to her room I found her sitting at a table on which were several books.

Some linen on a chest of drawers did not give me the idea that she was very poor.

“I am immensely obliged,” said she, “for all your goodness to me.”

“Say nothing of that, madam; it is I who have need of your goodness.”

“What can I do to shew my gratitude?”

“Could you trouble yourself to take your meals with me? When I am alone I eat like an ogre, and my health suffers. If you do not feel inclined to grant me that favour, do not hesitate to refuse, and I assure you you shall fare just as well as if you had acceded to my request.”

“I shall be delighted to dine and sup with you; sir, whenever you are alone and you like to send for me. Nevertheless, I am not sure that my society will amuse you.”

“Very good, I am grateful to you, and I promise you you shall never repent of your kindness. I will do my best to amuse you, and I hope I shall succeed, for you have inspired me with the liveliest interest. We will dine at one to-day.”

I did not sit down or look at her books, or even ask her if she had spent a good night. The only thing I noted was that she had looked pale and careworn when I came in, and when I went out her cheeks were the colour of the rose.

I went for a walk in the park, feeling quite taken with this charming woman, and resolved to make her love me, for I did not want to owe anything to gratitude. I felt curious to know where she came from, and suspected she was an Italian; but I determined to ask her no questions for fear of offending her.

When I got home Pauline came down of her own free will, and I was delighted with this, which I took for a good omen. As we had half an hour before us, I asked her how she found her health.

“Nature,” she replied, “has favoured me with such a good constitution that I have never had the least sickness in my life, except on the sea.”

“You have made a voyage, then.”

“I must have done so to come to England.”

“You might be an Englishwoman.”

“Yes, for the English language has been familiar to me from my childhood.”

We were seated on a sofa, and on the table in front of us was a chess-board. Pauline toyed with the pawns, and I asked her if she could play chess.

“Yes, and pretty well too from what they tell me.”

“Then we will have a game together; my blunders will amuse you.”

We began, and in four moves I was checkmated. She laughed, and I admired her play. We began again, and I was checkmated in five moves. My agreeable guest laughed heartily, and while she laughed I became intoxicated with love, watching the play of her features, her exquisite teeth, and her happy expression. We began another game, Pauline played carelessly, and I placed her in a difficult position.

“I think you may conquer me,” said she.

“What happiness for me!”

The servant came in to tell us that dinner was ready.

“Interruptions are often extremely inconvenient,” said I, as I offered her my arm, feeling quite sure that she had not lost the significance of my last words, for women find a meaning for everything.

We were just sitting down to table when Clairmont announced my daughter and Madame Rancour.

“Tell them that I am at dinner, and that I shall not be disengaged till three o’clock.”

Just as my man was leaving the room to carry back my answer, Sophie rushed in and knelt before me, choking with sobs.

This was too much for me, and raising her I took her on my knees, saying I knew what she had come for, and that for love of her I would do it.

Passing from grief to joy the dear child kissed me, calling me her father, and at last made me weep myself.

“Dine with us, dear Sophie,” said I, “I shall be the more likely to do what you wish.”

She ran from my arms to embrace Pauline, who was weeping out of sympathy, and we all dined happily together. Sophie begged me to give Madame Rancour some dinner.

“It shall be so if you please, but only for your sake, for that woman Rancour deserves that I should leave her standing at the door to punish her for her impertinence to me when I came to London.”

The child amused us in an astonishing way all dinnertime, Pauline keeping her ears open and not saying a word, so surprised was she to hear a child of her age talk in a way that would have excited attention in a woman of twenty. Although perfectly respectful she condemned her mother’s conduct, and said that she was unfortunate in being obliged to give her a blind obedience.

“I would wager that you don’t love her much.”

“I respect, but I cannot love her, for I am always afraid. I never see her without fearing her.”

“Why do you weep, then, at her fate?”

“I pity her, and her family still more, and the expressions she used in sending me to you were very affecting.”

“What were these expressions?”

“‘Go,’ said she, ‘kneel before him, for you and you alone can soften his heart.'”

“Then you knelt before me because your mother told you to do so.”

“Yes, for if I had followed my own inclination I should have rushed to your arms.”

“You answer well. But are you sure of persuading me?”

“No, for one can never be sure of anything; but I have good hopes of success, remembering what you told me at the Hague. My mother told me that I was only three then, but I know I was five. She it was who told me not to look at you when I spoke to you, but fortunately you made her remove her prohibition. Everybody says that you are my father, and at the Hague she told me so herself; but here she is always dinning it into my ears that I am the daughter of M. de Monpernis.”

“But, Sophie dear, your mother does wrong in making you a bastard when you are the legitimate daughter of the dancer Pompeati, who killed himself at Vienna.”

“Then I am not your daughter?”

“Clearly, for you cannot have two fathers, can you?”

“But how is it that I am your image?”

“It’s a mere chance.”

“You deprive me of a dream which has made me happy.”

Pauline said nothing, but covered her with kisses, which Sophie returned effusively. She asked me if the lady was my wife, and on my replying in the affirmative she called Pauline her “dear mamma,” which made “dear mamma” laugh merrily.

When the dessert was served I drew four fifty-pound notes out of my pocket-book, and giving them to Sophie told her that she might hand them over to her mother if she liked, but that the present was for her and not for her mother.

“If you give her the money,” I said, “she will be able to sleep to- night in the fine house where she gave me such a poor reception.”

“It makes me unhappy to think of it, but you must forgive her.”

“Yes, Sophie; but out of love for you.”

“Write to her to the effect that it is to me you give the money, not to her; I dare not tell her so myself.”

“I could not do that, my dear; it would be insulting her in her