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A Fearful Misfortune Befalls Me—Love Cools Down—Leave
Corfu and Return to Venice—Give Up the Army and Become a
The wound was rapidly healing up, and I saw near at hand the moment when
Madame F—— would leave her bed, and resume her usual
The governor of the galeasses having issued orders for a general review at
Gouyn, M. F——, left for that place in his galley, telling me
to join him there early on the following day with the felucca. I took
supper alone with Madame F——, and I told her how unhappy it
made me to remain one day away from her.
"Let us make up to-night for to-morrow's disappointment," she said, "and
let us spend it together in conversation. Here are the keys; when you know
that my maid has left me, come to me through my husband's room."
I did not fail to follow her instructions to the letter, and we found
ourselves alone with five hours before us. It was the month of June, and
the heat was intense. She had gone to bed; I folded her in my arms, she
pressed me to her bosom, but, condemning herself to the most cruel
torture, she thought I had no right to complain, if I was subjected to the
same privation which she imposed upon herself. My remonstrances, my
prayers, my entreaties were of no avail.
"Love," she said, "must be kept in check with a tight hand, and we can
laugh at him, since, in spite of the tyranny which we force him to obey,
we succeed all the same in gratifying our desires."
After the first ecstacy, our eyes and lips unclosed together, and a little
apart from each other we take delight in seeing the mutual satisfaction
beaming on our features.
Our desires revive; she casts a look upon my state of innocence entirely
exposed to her sight. She seems vexed at my want of excitement, and,
throwing off everything which makes the heat unpleasant and interferes
with our pleasure, she bounds upon me. It is more than amorous fury, it is
desperate lust. I share her frenzy, I hug her with a sort of delirium, I
enjoy a felicity which is on the point of carrying me to the regions of
bliss.... but, at the very moment of completing the offering, she fails
me, moves off, slips away, and comes back to work off my excitement with a
hand which strikes me as cold as ice.
"Ah, thou cruel, beloved woman! Thou art burning with the fire of love,
and thou deprivest thyself of the only remedy which could bring calm to
thy senses! Thy lovely hand is more humane than thou art, but thou has not
enjoyed the felicity that thy hand has given me. My hand must owe nothing
to thine. Come, darling light of my heart, come! Love doubles my existence
in the hope that I will die again, but only in that charming retreat from
which you have ejected me in the very moment of my greatest enjoyment."
While I was speaking thus, her very soul was breathing forth the most
tender sighs of happiness, and as she pressed me tightly in her arms I
felt that she was weltering in an ocean of bliss.
Silence lasted rather a long time, but that unnatural felicity was
imperfect, and increased my excitement.
"How canst thou complain," she said tenderly, "when it is to that very
imperfection of our enjoyment that we are indebted for its continuance? I
loved thee a few minutes since, now I love thee a thousand times more, and
perhaps I should love thee less if thou hadst carried my enjoyment to its
"Oh! how much art thou mistaken, lovely one! How great is thy error! Thou
art feeding upon sophisms, and thou leavest reality aside; I mean nature
which alone can give real felicity. Desires constantly renewed and never
fully satisfied are more terrible than the torments of hell."
"But are not these desires happiness when they are always accompanied by
"No, if that hope is always disappointed. It becomes hell itself, because
there is no hope, and hope must die when it is killed by constant
"Dearest, if hope does not exist in hell, desires cannot be found there
either; for to imagine desires without hopes would be more than madness."
"Well, answer me. If you desire to be mine entirely, and if you feel the
hope of it, which, according to your way of reasoning, is a natural
consequence, why do you always raise an impediment to your own hope?
Cease, dearest, cease to deceive yourself by absurd sophisms. Let us be as
happy as it is in nature to be, and be quite certain that the reality of
happiness will increase our love, and that love will find a new life in
our very enjoyment."
"What I see proves the contrary; you are alive with excitement now, but if
your desires had been entirely satisfied, you would be dead, benumbed,
motionless. I know it by experience: if you had breathed the full ecstacy
of enjoyment, as you desired, you would have found a weak ardour only at
"Ah! charming creature, your experience is but very small; do not trust to
it. I see that you have never known love. That which you call love's grave
is the sanctuary in which it receives life, the abode which makes it
immortal. Give way to my prayers, my lovely friend, and then you shall
know the difference between Love and Hymen. You shall see that, if Hymen
likes to die in order to get rid of life, Love on the contrary expires
only to spring up again into existence, and hastens to revive, so as to
savour new enjoyment. Let me undeceive you, and believe me when I say that
the full gratification of desires can only increase a hundredfold the
mutual ardour of two beings who adore each other."
"Well, I must believe you; but let us wait. In the meantime let us enjoy
all the trifles, all the sweet preliminaries of love. Devour thy mistress,
dearest, but abandon to me all thy being. If this night is too short we
must console ourselves to-morrow by making arrangements for another one."
"And if our intercourse should be discovered?"
"Do we make a mystery of it? Everybody can see that we love each other,
and those who think that we do not enjoy the happiness of lovers are
precisely the only persons we have to fear. We must only be careful to
guard against being surprised in the very act of proving our love. Heaven
and nature must protect our affection, for there is no crime when two
hearts are blended in true love. Since I have been conscious of my own
existence, Love has always seemed to me the god of my being, for every
time I saw a man I was delighted; I thought that I was looking upon
one-half of myself, because I felt I was made for him and he for me. I
longed to be married. It was that uncertain longing of the heart which
occupies exclusively a young girl of fifteen. I had no conception of love,
but I fancied that it naturally accompanied marriage. You can therefore
imagine my surprise when my husband, in the very act of making a woman of
me, gave me a great deal of pain without giving me the slightest idea of
pleasure! My imagination in the convent was much better than the reality I
had been condemned to by my husband! The result has naturally been that we
have become very good friends, but a very indifferent husband and wife,
without any desires for each other. He has every reason to be pleased with
me, for I always shew myself docile to his wishes, but enjoyment not being
in those cases seasoned by love, he must find it without flavour, and he
seldom comes to me for it.
"When I found out that you were in love with me, I felt delighted, and
gave you every opportunity of becoming every day more deeply enamoured of
me, thinking myself certain of never loving you myself. As soon as I felt
that love had likewise attacked my heart, I ill-treated you to punish you
for having made my heart sensible. Your patience and constancy have
astonished me, and have caused me to be guilty, for after the first kiss I
gave you I had no longer any control over myself. I was indeed astounded
when I saw the havoc made by one single kiss, and I felt that my happiness
was wrapped up in yours. That discovery flattered and delighted me, and I
have found out, particularly to-night, that I cannot be happy unless you
are so yourself."
"That is, my beloved, the most refined of all sentiments experienced by
love, but it is impossible for you to render me completely happy without
following in everything the laws and the wishes of nature."
The night was spent in tender discussions and in exquisite voluptuousness,
and it was not without some grief that at day-break I tore myself from her
arms to go to Gouyn. She wept for joy when she saw that I left her without
having lost a particle of my vigour, for she did not imagine such a thing
After that night, so rich in delights, ten or twelve days passed without
giving us any opportunity of quenching even a small particle of the
amorous thirst which devoured us, and it was then that a fearful
misfortune befell me.
One evening after supper, M. D—— R—— having
retired, M. F—— used no ceremony, and, although I was present,
told his wife that he intended to pay her a visit after writing two
letters which he had to dispatch early the next morning. The moment he had
left the room we looked at each other, and with one accord fell into each
other's arms. A torrent of delights rushed through our souls without
restraint, without reserve, but when the first ardour had been appeased,
without giving me time to think or to enjoy the most complete, the most
delicious victory, she drew back, repulsed me, and threw herself, panting,
distracted, upon a chair near her bed. Rooted to the spot, astonished,
almost mad, I tremblingly looked at her, trying to understand what had
caused such an extraordinary action. She turned round towards me and said,
her eyes flashing with the fire of love,
"My darling, we were on the brink of the precipice."
"The precipice! Ah! cruel woman, you have killed me, I feel myself dying,
and perhaps you will never see me again."
I left her in a state of frenzy, and rushed out, towards the esplanade, to
cool myself, for I was choking. Any man who has not experienced the
cruelty of an action like that of Madame F——, and especially
in the situation I found myself in at that moment, mentally and bodily,
can hardly realize what I suffered, and, although I have felt that
suffering, I could not give an idea of it.
I was in that fearful state, when I heard my name called from a window,
and unfortunately I condescended to answer. I went near the window, and I
saw, thanks to the moonlight, the famous Melulla standing on her balcony.
"What are you doing there at this time of night?" I enquired.
"I am enjoying the cool evening breeze. Come up for a little while."
This Melulla, of fatal memory, was a courtezan from Zamte, of rare beauty,
who for the last four months had been the delight and the rage of all the
young men in Corfu. Those who had known her agreed in extolling her
charms: she was the talk of all the city. I had seen her often, but,
although she was very beautiful, I was very far from thinking her as
lovely as Madame F——, putting my affection for the latter on
one side. I recollect seeing in Dresden, in the year 1790, a very handsome
woman who was the image of Melulla.
I went upstairs mechanically, and she took me to a voluptuous boudoir; she
complained of my being the only one who had never paid her a visit, when I
was the man she would have preferred to all others, and I had the infamy
to give way.... I became the most criminal of men.
It was neither desire, nor imagination, nor the merit of the woman which
caused me to yield, for Melulla was in no way worthy of me; no, it was
weakness, indolence, and the state of bodily and mental irritation in
which I then found myself: it was a sort of spite, because the angel whom
I adored had displeased me by a caprice, which, had I not been unworthy of
her, would only have caused me to be still more attached to her.
Melulla, highly pleased with her success, refused the gold I wanted to
give her, and allowed me to go after I had spent two hours with her.
When I recovered my composure, I had but one feeling-hatred for myself and
for the contemptible creature who had allured me to be guilty of so vile
an insult to the loveliest of her sex. I went home the prey to fearful
remorse, and went to bed, but sleep never closed my eyes throughout that
In the morning, worn out with fatigue and sorrow, I got up, and as soon as
I was dressed I went to M. F——, who had sent for me to give me
some orders. After I had returned, and had given him an account of my
mission, I called upon Madame F——, and finding her at her
toilet I wished her good morning, observing that her lovely face was
breathing the cheerfulness and the calm of happiness; but, suddenly, her
eyes meeting mine, I saw her countenance change, and an expression of
sadness replace her looks of satisfaction. She cast her eyes down as if
she was deep in thought, raised them again as if to read my very soul, and
breaking our painful silence, as soon as she had dismissed her maid, she
said to me, with an accent full of tenderness and of solemnity,
"Dear one, let there be no concealment either on my part or on yours. I
felt deeply grieved when I saw you leave me last night, and a little
consideration made me understand all the evil which might accrue to you in
consequence of what I had done. With a nature like yours, such scenes
might cause very dangerous disorders, and I have resolved not to do again
anything by halves. I thought that you went out to breathe the fresh air,
and I hoped it would do you good. I placed myself at my window, where I
remained more than an hour without seeing alight in your room. Sorry for
what I had done, loving you more than ever, I was compelled, when my
husband came to my room, to go to bed with the sad conviction that you had
not come home. This morning, M. F. sent an officer to tell you that he
wanted to see you, and I heard the messenger inform him that you were not
yet up, and that you had come home very late. I felt my heart swell with
sorrow. I am not jealous, dearest, for I know that you cannot love anyone
but me; I only felt afraid of some misfortune. At last, this morning, when
I heard you coming, I was happy, because I was ready to skew my
repentance, but I looked at you, and you seemed a different man. Now, I am
still looking at you, and, in spite of myself, my soul reads upon your
countenance that you are guilty, that you have outraged my love. Tell me
at once, dearest, if I am mistaken; if you have deceived me, say so
openly. Do not be unfaithful to love and to truth. Knowing that I was the
cause of it, I should never forgive my self, but there is an excuse for
you in my heart, in my whole being."
More than once, in the course of my life, I have found myself under the
painful necessity of telling falsehoods to the woman I loved; but in this
case, after so true, so touching an appeal, how could I be otherwise than
sincere? I felt myself sufficiently debased by my crime, and I could not
degrade myself still more by falsehood. I was so far from being disposed
to such a line of conduct that I could not speak, and I burst out crying.
"What, my darling! you are weeping! Your tears make me miserable. You
ought not to have shed any with me but tears of happiness and love. Quick,
my beloved, tell me whether you have made me wretched. Tell me what
fearful revenge you have taken on me, who would rather die than offend
you. If I have caused you any sorrow, it has been in the innocence of a
loving and devoted heart."
"My own darling angel, I never thought of revenge, for my heart, which can
never cease to adore you, could never conceive such a dreadful idea. It is
against my own heart that my cowardly weakness has allured me to the
commission of a crime which, for the remainder of my life, makes me
unworthy of you."
"Have you, then, given yourself to some wretched woman?"
"Yes, I have spent two hours in the vilest debauchery, and my soul was
present only to be the witness of my sadness, of my remorse, of my
"Sadness and remorse! Oh, my poor friend! I believe it. But it is my
fault; I alone ought to suffer; it is I who must beg you to forgive me."
Her tears made mine flow again.
"Divine soul," I said, "the reproaches you are addressing to yourself
increase twofold the gravity of my crime. You would never have been guilty
of any wrong against me if I had been really worthy of your love."
I felt deeply the truth of my words.
We spent the remainder of the day apparently quiet and composed,
concealing our sadness in the depths of our hearts. She was curious to
know all the circumstances of my miserable adventure, and, accepting it as
an expiation, I related them to her. Full of kindness, she assured me that
we were bound to ascribe that accident to fate, and that the same thing
might have happened to the best of men. She added that I was more to be
pitied than condemned, and that she did not love me less. We both were
certain that we would seize the first favourable opportunity, she of
obtaining her pardon, I of atoning for my crime, by giving each other new
and complete proofs of our mutual ardour. But Heaven in its justice had
ordered differently, and I was cruelly punished for my disgusting
On the third day, as I got up in the morning, an awful pricking announced
the horrid state into which the wretched Melulla had thrown me. I was
thunderstruck! And when I came to think of the misery which I might have
caused if, during the last three days, I had obtained some new favour from
my lovely mistress, I was on the point of going mad. What would have been
her feelings if I had made her unhappy for the remainder of her life!
Would anyone, then, knowing the whole case, have condemned me if I had
destroyed my own life in order to deliver myself from everlasting remorse?
No, for the man who kills himself from sheer despair, thus performing upon
himself the execution of the sentence he would have deserved at the hands
of justice cannot be blamed either by a virtuous philosopher or by a
tolerant Christian. But of one thing I am quite certain: if such a
misfortune had happened, I should have committed suicide.
Overwhelmed with grief by the discovery I had just made, but thinking that
I should get rid of the inconvenience as I had done three times before, I
prepared myself for a strict diet, which would restore my health in six
weeks without anyone having any suspicion of my illness, but I soon found
out that I had not seen the end of my troubles; Melulla had communicated
to my system all the poisons which corrupt the source of life. I was
acquainted with an elderly doctor of great experience in those matters; I
consulted him, and he promised to set me to rights in two months; he
proved as good as his word. At the beginning of September I found myself
in good health, and it was about that time that I returned to Venice.
The first thing I resolved on, as soon as I discovered the state I was in,
was to confess everything to Madame F——. I did not wish to
wait for the time when a compulsory confession would have made her blush
for her weakness, and given her cause to think of the fearful consequences
which might have been the result of her passion for me. Her affection was
too dear to me to run the risk of losing it through a want of confidence
in her. Knowing her heart, her candour, and the generosity which had
prompted her to say that I was more to be pitied than blamed, I thought
myself bound to prove by my sincerity that I deserved her esteem.
I told her candidly my position and the state I had been thrown in, when I
thought of the dreadful consequences it might have had for her. I saw her
shudder and tremble, and she turned pale with fear when I added that I
would have avenged her by killing myself.
"Villainous, infamous Melulla!" she exclaimed.
And I repeated those words, but turning them against myself when I
realized all I had sacrificed through the most disgusting weakness.
Everyone in Corfu knew of my visit to the wretched Melulla, and everyone
seemed surprised to see the appearance of health on my countenance; for
many were the victims that she had treated like me.
My illness was not my only sorrow; I had others which, although of a
different nature, were not less serious. It was written in the book of
fate that I should return to Venice a simple ensign as when I left: the
general did not keep his word, and the bastard son of a nobleman was
promoted to the lieutenancy instead of myself. From that moment the
military profession, the one most subject to arbitrary despotism, inspired
me with disgust, and I determined to give it up. But I had another still
more important motive for sorrow in the fickleness of fortune which had
completely turned against me. I remarked that, from the time of my
degradation with Melulla, every kind of misfortune befell me. The greatest
of all—that which I felt most, but which I had the good sense to try
and consider a favour—was that a week before the departure of the
army M. D—— R—— took me again for his adjutant,
and M. F—— had to engage another in my place. On the occasion
of that change Madame F told me, with an appearance of regret, that in
Venice we could not, for many reasons, continue our intimacy. I begged her
to spare me the reasons, as I foresaw that they would only throw
humiliation upon me. I began to discover that the goddess I had worshipped
was, after all, a poor human being like all other women, and to think that
I should have been very foolish to give up my life for her. I probed in
one day the real worth of her heart, for she told me, I cannot recollect
in reference to what, that I excited her pity. I saw clearly that she no
longer loved me; pity is a debasing feeling which cannot find a home in a
heart full of love, for that dreary sentiment is too near a relative of
contempt. Since that time I never found myself alone with Madame F——.
I loved her still; I could easily have made her blush, but I did not do
As soon as we reached Venice she became attached to M. F—— R——,
whom she loved until death took him from her. She was unhappy enough to
lose her sight twenty years after. I believe she is still alive.
During the last two months of my stay in Corfu, I learned the most bitter
and important lessons. In after years I often derived useful hints from
the experience I acquired at that time.
Before my adventure with the worthless Melulla, I enjoyed good health, I
was rich, lucky at play, liked by everybody, beloved by the most lovely
woman of Corfu. When I spoke, everybody would listen and admire my wit; my
words were taken for oracles, and everyone coincided with me in
everything. After my fatal meeting with the courtezan I rapidly lost my
health, my money, my credit; cheerfulness, consideration, wit, everything,
even the faculty of eloquence vanished with fortune. I would talk, but
people knew that I was unfortunate, and I no longer interested or
convinced my hearers. The influence I had over Madame F——
faded away little by little, and, almost without her knowing it, the
lovely woman became completely indifferent to me.
I left Corfu without money, although I had sold or pledged everything I
had of any value. Twice I had reached Corfu rich and happy, twice I left
it poor and miserable. But this time I had contracted debts which I have
never paid, not through want of will but through carelessness.
Rich and in good health, everyone received me with open arms; poor and
looking sick, no one shewed me any consideration. With a full purse and
the tone of a conqueror, I was thought witty, amusing; with an empty purse
and a modest air, all I said appeared dull and insipid. If I had become
rich again, how soon I would have been again accounted the eighth wonder
of the world! Oh, men! oh, fortune! Everyone avoided me as if the ill luck
which crushed me down was infectious.
We left Corfu towards the end of September, with five galleys, two
galeasses, and several smaller vessels, under the command of M. Renier. We
sailed along the shores of the Adriatic, towards the north of the gulf,
where there are a great many harbours, and we put in one of them every
night. I saw Madame F—— every evening; she always came with
her husband to take supper on board our galeass. We had a fortunate
voyage, and cast anchor in the harbour of Venice on the 14th of October,
1745, and after having performed quarantine on board our ships, we landed
on the 25th of November. Two months afterwards, the galeasses were set
aside altogether. The use of these vessels could be traced very far back
in ancient times; their maintenance was very expensive, and they were
useless. A galeass had the frame of a frigate with the rowing apparatus of
the galley, and when there was no wind, five hundred slaves had to row.
Before simple good sense managed to prevail and to enforce the suppression
of these useless carcasses, there were long discussions in the senate, and
those who opposed the measure took their principal ground of opposition in
the necessity of respecting and conserving all the institutions of olden
times. That is the disease of persons who can never identify themselves
with the successive improvements born of reason and experience; worthy
persons who ought to be sent to China, or to the dominions of the Grand
Lama, where they would certainly be more at home than in Europe.
That ground of opposition to all improvements, however absurd it may be,
is a very powerful one in a republic, which must tremble at the mere idea
of novelty either in important or in trifling things. Superstition has
likewise a great part to play in these conservative views.
There is one thing that the Republic of Venice will never alter: I mean
the galleys, because the Venetians truly require such vessels to ply, in
all weathers and in spite of the frequent calms, in a narrow sea, and
because they would not know what to do with the men sentenced to hard
I have observed a singular thing in Corfu, where there are often as many
as three thousand galley slaves; it is that the men who row on the
galleys, in consequence of a sentence passed upon them for some crime, are
held in a kind of opprobrium, whilst those who are there voluntarily are,
to some extent, respected. I have always thought it ought to be the
reverse, because misfortune, whatever it may be, ought to inspire some
sort of respect; but the vile fellow who condemns himself voluntarily and
as a trade to the position of a slave seems to me contemptible in the
highest degree. The convicts of the Republic, however, enjoy many
privileges, and are, in every way, better treated than the soldiers. It
very often occurs that soldiers desert and give themselves up to a
'sopracomito' to become galley slaves. In those cases, the captain who
loses a soldier has nothing to do but to submit patiently, for he would
claim the man in vain. The reason of it is that the Republic has always
believed galley slaves more necessary than soldiers. The Venetians may
perhaps now (I am writing these lines in the year 1797) begin to realize
A galley slave, for instance, has the privilege of stealing with impunity.
It is considered that stealing is the least crime they can be guilty of,
and that they ought to be forgiven for it.
"Keep on your guard," says the master of the galley slave; "and if you
catch him in the act of stealing, thrash him, but be careful not to
cripple him; otherwise you must pay me the one hundred ducats the man has
A court of justice could not have a galley slave taken from a galley,
without paying the master the amount he has disbursed for the man.
As soon as I had landed in Venice, I called upon Madame Orio, but I found
the house empty. A neighbour told me that she had married the Procurator
Rosa, and had removed to his house. I went immediately to M. Rosa and was
well received. Madame Orio informed me that Nanette had become Countess
R., and was living in Guastalla with her husband.
Twenty-four years afterwards, I met her eldest son, then a distinguished
officer in the service of the Infante of Parma.
As for Marton, the grace of Heaven had touched her, and she had become a
nun in the convent at Muran. Two years afterwards, I received from her a
letter full of unction, in which she adjured me, in the name of Our
Saviour and of the Holy Virgin, never to present myself before her eyes.
She added that she was bound by Christian charity to forgive me for the
crime I had committed in seducing her, and she felt certain of the reward
of the elect, and she assured me that she would ever pray earnestly for my
I never saw her again, but she saw me in 1754, as I will mention when we
reach that year.
I found Madame Manzoni still the same. She had predicted that I would not
remain in the military profession, and when I told her that I had made up
my mind to give it up, because I could not be reconciled to the injustice
I had experienced, she burst out laughing. She enquired about the
profession I intended to follow after giving up the army, and I answered
that I wished to become an advocate. She laughed again, saying that it was
too late. Yet I was only twenty years old.
When I called upon M. Grimani I had a friendly welcome from him, but,
having enquired after my brother Francois, he told me that he had had him
confined in Fort Saint Andre, the same to which I had been sent before the
arrival of the Bishop of Martorano.
"He works for the major there," he said; "he copies Simonetti's
battle-pieces, and the major pays him for them; in that manner he earns
his living, and is becoming a good painter."
"But he is not a prisoner?"
"Well, very much like it, for he cannot leave the fort. The major, whose
name is Spiridion, is a friend of Razetta, who could not refuse him the
pleasure of taking care of your brother."
I felt it a dreadful curse that the fatal Razetta should be the tormentor
of all my family, but I concealed my anger.
"Is my sister," I enquired, "still with him?"
"No, she has gone to your mother in Dresden."
This was good news.
I took a cordial leave of the Abbe Grimani, and I proceeded to Fort Saint
Andre. I found my brother hard at work, neither pleased nor displeased
with his position, and enjoying good health. After embracing him
affectionately, I enquired what crime he had committed to be thus a
"Ask the major," he said, "for I have not the faintest idea."
The major came in just then, so I gave him the military salute, and asked
by what authority he kept my brother under arrest.
"I am not accountable to you for my actions."
"That remains to be seen."
I then told my brother to take his hat, and to come and dine with me. The
major laughed, and said that he had no objection provided the sentinel
allowed him to pass.
I saw that I should only waste my time in discussion, and I left the fort
fully bent on obtaining justice.
The next day I went to the war office, where I had the pleasure of meeting
my dear Major Pelodoro, who was then commander of the Fortress of Chiozza.
I informed him of the complaint I wanted to prefer before the secretary of
war respecting my brother's arrest, and of the resolution I had taken to
leave the army. He promised me that, as soon as the consent of the
secretary for war could be obtained, he would find a purchaser for my
commission at the same price I had paid for it.
I had not long to wait. The war secretary came to the office, and
everything was settled in half an hour. He promised his consent to the
sale of my commission as soon as he ascertained the abilities of the
purchaser, and Major Spiridion happening to make his appearance in the
office while I was still there, the secretary ordered him rather angrily,
to set my brother at liberty immediately, and cautioned him not to be
guilty again of such reprehensible and arbitrary acts.
I went at once for my brother, and we lived together in furnished
A few days afterwards, having received my discharge and one hundred
sequins, I threw off my uniform, and found myself once more my own master.
I had to earn my living in one way or another, and I decided for the
profession of gamester. But Dame Fortune was not of the same opinion, for
she refused to smile upon me from the very first step I took in the
career, and in less than a week I did not possess a groat. What was to
become of me? One must live, and I turned fiddler. Doctor Gozzi had taught
me well enough to enable me to scrape on the violin in the orchestra of a
theatre, and having mentioned my wishes to M. Grimani he procured me an
engagement at his own theatre of Saint Samuel, where I earned a crown a
day, and supported myself while I awaited better things.
Fully aware of my real position, I never shewed myself in the fashionable
circles which I used to frequent before my fortune had sunk so low. I knew
that I was considered as a worthless fellow, but I did not care. People
despised me, as a matter of course; but I found comfort in the
consciousness that I was worthy of contempt. I felt humiliated by the
position to which I was reduced after having played so brilliant a part in
society; but as I kept the secret to myself I was not degraded, even if I
felt some shame. I had not exchanged my last word with Dame Fortune, and
was still in hope of reckoning with her some day, because I was young, and
youth is dear to Fortune.