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Il prolonge la vie, il secourt l'indigence;
Le plaisir d'être utile est seul sa récompense.
Cagliostro had, indeed, attained the culminating point of his credit and renown, and he selected the moment to crown the edifice of his Egyptian masonry. Out of the crowds that applied, he selected thirteen adepts as grand-masters. How they were found we cannot tell, for Grimm informs us that they must be bachelors, pure as the sun's rays, and possessed of an income of 53,000 francs.* In return for their money, Cagliostro promised them beatific visions as a result of their moral regeneration, and prolonged life as a result of their physical regeneration. He pretended himself to belong to times long gone by. Being one day in the gallery of the Louvre, he was seen to weep before Jouvenot's picture of the Descent from the Cross. The cause of his emotion being anxiously inquired into :
"Alas!" he replied, "I weep for the death of that great moralist, of that good man, of such infinitely agreeable manners and conversation, and to whom I have been indebted for such happy moments.
together at Pontius Pilate's."
"Who are you talking about ?" interrupted M. de Richelieu, perfectly amazed. The impostor's irreverent answer may be surmised. "I was quite intimate with him!" he even had the impudence to add. When his servant was once asked his master's age, he said he really did not know. He had always been as he was, eating well, drinking hard, sleeping like a top. He himself had been in his service since the fall of the Roman empire, for he remembered that his salary was fixed the very day that Cæsar perished assassinated in the senate.
The unfortunate affair of the diamond necklace came just at this time to interrupt the foundation of the temple of Egyptian freemasonry, and to tumble down Cagliostro from the dangerous pinnacle to which he had raised himself. We cannot enter here into the long and numerous details connected with this strange affair; suffice that the impostor and his wife, strong as they were, came in contact in this drama with persons still more daring than themselves.
Madame Lamotte is said to have won over Lorenza by discovering her passion for a certain Chevalier d'Oisemont, and to have insisted, as the terms of her secrecy, upon Lorenza's gaining over the interest of Cagliostro. This was perhaps all the more easily accomplished from the long-standing intimacy that existed between the latter and Cardinal de Rohan. The affair of the jeweller Boehmer, of his diamond necklace, worth sixteen hundred thousand francs, rejected by the good but unfortunate Marie Antoinette, was at that time current through all Paris. The cardinal had complained, in the presence of Cagliostro and of Madame Lamotte, of the indifference of the queen towards him. Madame Lamotte suggested a means of acquiring favour. It was neither more nor less than that the cardinal should obtain the necklace, and that Madame Lamotte should appropriate it to herself while she pretended to present it to the
• Correspondance littéraire, philosophique et critique de Grimm et Diderot, année 1785.
queen, who was to pay for it in bills falling due at intervals. She was abetted in her proceedings by Cagliostro and his wife, and by a note said to be signed by Marie Antoinette herself. One Vilette signed the acceptances. An Englishman by the name of Saint James was to have advanced money to pay off the first instalment, as Madame Lamotte said the queen was not prepared to do so. A young woman of the name of Leguay was also made actually to personify Marie Antoinette, and to grant M. de Rohan an interview. The jeweller Boehmer exploded the conspiracy. Obtaining nothing, he appealed to Madame de Campan, and through her to the queen herself; the latter of whom soon indignantly satisfied him that she knew nothing of the diamonds or the bills, or had she had any negotiations with M. de Rohan or Madame Lamotte. Marie Antoinette then appealed to the king, and all the parties concerned were forthwith hurried off to the Bastille. Lorenza alone is said to have saved herself by timely flight. When the officer presented himself before Cagliostro, he is said to have attempted resistance; but the soldier insisted: "It is by the king's order. I have ten well-armed men with me who do not care for sorcerers, so follow me." All the incantations of black and white magic faded away into thin air before a demand of so concise and straightforward a character. Cagliostro and De Rohan were, however, discharged, while Madame Lamotte was whipped and branded. The former was conveyed back to his home in triumph, although severely lectured by the parliamentary judges. When he boasted of his means and of his generosity, one of the latter observed, "We do not doubt your means, but the sources whence they are derived are a mystery to us." His triumph was of brief duration. An order came from the king the next day, bidding him take his departure from Paris within twenty-four hours. He did not go far, stopping at Passy for three weeks, and thence he proceeded to England, where, it is said, he was received with great honours. Here he turned prophet, and, among other things, proclaimed the overthrow of the Bastille. He is said to have been twice before in London, where he appears to have selected Quakers, and among others Mrs. Fry, for his victims, and where he was also imprisoned for debt. One of the greatest faults he committed, excepting his repeated pardonings of his wife's transgressions, was to quit London a third time for Rome. The arch-impostor had one there greater than himself, and who had power wherewith to oppose concurrence. Cagliostro was at once arrested by the officers of the Holy Inquisition, and consigned to the dark and damp dungeons of the Castle of San Angelo. His trial lasted eighteen months, his wife appearing as a witness against him. His papers were burnt, and he himself condemned to death, a sentence which was transmuted into one of perpetual imprisonment. He is said to have attempted to strangle a priest, whom he asked to confess with, but whose garb he coveted in order to effect his evasion in it. The actual period of his death remains a secret with the officers of the Roman Inquisition. The personal history or autobiography of Cagliostro, as handed down by himself, it is scarcely necessary to say, is a tissue of falsehoods and misrepresentations. He says in it that he
*Jules de Saint-Felix: "Aventures de Cagliostro," 18mo, 1855, pp. 131-133.
passed his early years at Medinah, under the name of Acharat, and that he resided with the governor Altotas. Very good conjuring names, but with only a slight and most elementary infusion of real Arabic in them. Thence he went to Mekkah, where he was introduced to the "sovereign." The city of sheriffs never knew either khalif, shah, or sultan-it is the city of the prophet, not of his vicegerents. He was afterwards, he says, accompanied in his travels by the Chevalier d'Aquino, of the illustrious house of the princes of Caramanica, an Italian descendant of the Seljukiyan beys of Karaman, who ruled before the foundation of the dynasty of the Osmanlis! He says he travelled under the names of Count Harat, Fenice, Marquis d'Anna, and other aliases, but omits to account for his sudden appearance in Alsatia, where we first meet him at the opening of our article. When the troops of the French republic reached Rome, they inquired anxiously after Cagliostro, whom they wished to liberate on account of his connexion with the diamond necklace affair, but they were obliged to admit, as the result of their inquiries, that without regretting the overthrow of the Bastille, even it gave up its prey more readily than the Castle of San Angelo. Such was the end, as mysterious as was the life, of Joseph Balsamo, better known as "Count de Cagliostro."
HOW VIOLET MOLYNEUX TOUCHED OTHER CHORDS THAN THOSE IN HER SONG.
SCARCELY any one was in town except a few very early birds, heralds of the coming season, and the members, victims to an unpitying nation; but there were still some people one knew dotted about in Belgravia and Park-lane, others in jointure-houses or villas up "Tamese Ripe," among them a very pretty widow, Leila Lady Puffdoff, who dwelt in the retirement of her dower-house at Twickenham, and enlivened the latter portion of her veuvage by matinées musicales, breakfasts, and luncheons for some of those dear friends who had been the detestation of le feu Puffdoff, he being old and not a little jealous. To a combination of all three, Sabretasche, De Vigne, Curly, a man called Monckton, and myself, drove in De Vigne's drag a day or two after our rencontre with little Alma Tressillian.
"An amateur affair, isn't it?" asked De Vigne. "Artistes' morning concerts are bad enough, where Italian singers barbarise Annie Laurie' into an allegro movement with shakes and aspeggios, and English singers scream Italian with vile British o's and a's, but amateur matinées musicales, where highly finished young beauties in becoming morning toilettes excruciate one's ears, whether they have melody in their voices or no, just because they have been taught by Garcia or Gardoni, are absolutely unbearable. Don't you think so, you worshipper of harmony ?"
"I? Certainly," responded Sabretasche. "As a rule, I shun all amateur things. Where professional people, who have applied sixteen hours a day, all their energies, and all their capabilities, to one subject, even then rarely succeed, how is it possible but that the performances of those who take up the study as a pastime must be a miserable failure, or at best but second-rate? Occasionally, however (indeed, whenever you see it, but the sight is so rare!), talent will do for you without study more than study ever will
"As you will show us in your songs this morning, I suppose?" laughed Monckton.
"If I sang ill I should never sing at all," replied Sabretasche, carelessly, with that consciousness of power which true talent is as sure to have, as it is sure not to have undue self-appreciation. "I mean, however, in Miss Molyneux's Aria; even you will admire that, De Vigne." "Violet?" said Monckton. "She does sing tolerably; but I can't say I like that girl-so much too satirical for a woman."
"I dare say you may find her so. I know popular preachers who consider Thackeray too satirical as an author, because he drew the portrait of Charles Honeymann," said Sabretasche, quietly.