“In order to follow his journeys in proper order we have temporarily abandoned his ‘Confession’ or Mémoire, and must now quote from a remarkable and truly pathetic publication he made in 1786, after his complete exoneration from all charges In the Diamond Necklace Trial.
Helped by Thilorier, his advocate in the trial, Cagliostro sent out this Letter to the English People in reply to the virulent attacks of Morande, a professional journalist-blackmailer of the worst type. It contains an account of his tragic experiences in London during his first visit in 1776.
Morande was editor of Courrier de l’Europe, a filthy rag subsidized for political purposes but which had quite a large circulation all over Europe.”
Theosophical Path Magazine, January to June 1932By G. De Purucker. P. 532
People of England! Deign to hear me. I am a man: I have a right to your justice; I am unhappy: I have a right to your protection. It is only too true that I suffered formerly in your capital the most horrible persecutions, but my private misfortunes have not at all altered the sentiments which took and take me among you.
My conduct, apparently imprudent, will prove to posterity my boundless confidence in a law-abiding people justly proud of their liberty. The only one, perhaps, among the nations which has not bowed the knee before the idol of power. Exiled from France, but made illustrious by my exile, the entire world was open to me. I chose England as my home, London as my refuge. Today, persecuted anew by more powerful and more bitter enemies than those of the first time I have in no way repented of my choice. They attack my honor here; but I am permitted to defend it. They threaten my liberty here; but your prisons are not Bastilles. They have hurled upon me the vilest and wickedest among you, but I have by no means learnt to despair of your laws; and if hitherto, listening to a perhaps misplaced clemency, I have hesitated to use their salutary rigor against rascals, today more just, and more wisely human, I will invoke their help against perverse men for whom perjury and false witness have become the object of an abominable traffic.
The editor of the Courrier de l’Europe has at last finished his defamatory harangues. Accustomed to despise insults and calumnies, I should have liked wrapping myself in a noble silence, to oppose to an adversary too unworthy of me only a blameless life, not without some virtues. But he summons me before you, O English People! and my respect for the tribunal, making me forget the baseness of the accuser, forces me to descend into the arena and to take up the pledge of a combat whose issue will cover the vanquished with infamy, without the victor having any hope of being consoled by the glory of the fatigues of a humiliating struggle.
If I believe my adversary, he is invulnerable; the weapons which he wields are of a temper capable of resisting the most vigorous blows; he declares himself conquered if I succeed in wounding him even in the very slightest degree. Far from desiring so easy a victory I declare to him in my turn that I recognize myself beaten if I do not succeed in breaking piece by piece the infernal armor upon which he bases his safety.
Let us begin by fixing THE STATE OF THE QUESTION:
Mr. Morande maintains that I am an impostor, a rascal, a depredator, a swindler, etc.
In the first place, whether I have merited these qualifications or nor, Mr. Morande has not the right to give me them; and in respect of this the laws offer me a certain vengeance. Veritas convicii injuriam non excusat.
In the second place, my adversary being the accuser, it is for him to prove the things he imputes to me. My position as the accused is absolutely passive; and if my accuser does not prove what he alleges, the accusation is not only insulting, it becomes a calumny, a libel.
Such is the law of all civilized nations, especially France and England. Actori incumbit onus probandi.
This principle replies for me to all the points of accusation of which Mr. Morande has not given proof.
So, as the facts which Mr. Morande has undertaken to prove do not form the twentieth part of those which he has adduced. It follows that without having said a single word I am already justified in regard to almost the whole of the damaging statements which are imputed to me.
Mr. Morande will perhaps say that this manner of justifying oneself is infinitely convenient. I agree: but my position as the accused is in my case so painful that I ought not to be grudged the only advantage which is attached to it; and then, indeed, I have neither the desire nor the means to bring to England the people who have known me in the different towns of Europe, Asia, and Africa where I have sojourned. In my first Memoire [the so called ‘Confession’] I have cited amongst my acquaintances in Europe people of some consideration. I was then in the Bastille. The enemies I had lacked neither money nor power; and yet none of the witnesses I mentioned disavowed me; and indeed the greater number of them have rendered loud and public homage to Truth. Their approbation, expressed or silent, at a time when any accuser would have been favorably received, will be always, in spite of the Courrier de l’Europe and of those who hire it, an irrefutable proof of the purity of my sentiments and of the correctness of my behavior.
I have only then to reply to the points of accusation which my accuser claims to have proved. A simple, unadorned recital of the persecutions I suffered in London in 1777, supported by proofs which providence has replaced in my power, will suffice to give the attentive and impartial reader the key to the different judicial acts produced by Mr. Morande.
The correctness of the facts and dates can be relied upon. I do not rely upon my memory for them at all, but upon a journal of which I have only learnt the existence since my return to London.
The journal was entirely written and signed by the hand of Mr. Vitellini, an eyewitness, who when dying confided it to Mr. O’Reilly, an Irish gentleman (*).
(* Mr. O’Reilly is ready to affirm, if necessary, that the journal is in fact entirely written by the hand of Mr. Vitellini. It is deposited at South Street, no. 33 at the house of a person of confidence and probity, who is quite wiling to make it public. )
This journal the more merits the confidence of the Public, since Mr. Vitellini there accuses himself of different abuses of confidence of which I should have for ever been unaware if they had not been confessed in a work which he did not foresee could be of any use to me.
My wife and I arrived in England for the first time in my life, in the month of July 1776. In money, in jewels, and in plate I had property to the value of three thousand pounds sterling. On my arrival I took an apartment at the house of Dame Juliet, no.4 Whitcomb Street; and shortly afterwards I took the whole house.
In the same house there lodged a very poor Portuguese lady, whom the mistress of the house recommended to our charity; she was called Madame de Blevary.
Strangers ourselves in a country of which we knew neither the language nor the laws, it was natural that we should take an interest in the fate of other foreigners. Madame de Blevary, too, seemed well born; she spoke Portuguese and French perfectly. The Countess de Cagliostro took her as an interpreter and companion.
As regards myself, I had need of a confidential interpreter; Mr. Vitellini was recommended to me. This man has been educated among the Jesuits; he spoke Latin, Italian and French. After the destruction of the Jesuits he had come to settle in London as a teacher of languages. He considered himself a great chemist; he had a passion for the lottery and all games of chance. It is easily understood that with these tastes the man must have often been in indigence. The state in which he was he was presented to me inspired me with real pity: I had him dressed from head to foot and gave him my table.
In accordance with my custom I arrived in England without any letter of introduction: I knew absolutely no one. I spent the greater part of the time at my house, occupied in making chemical experiments. Vitellini witnessed some which were new to him. He allowed himself to be carried away by his enthusiasm and he had the indiscretion to describe me to his acquaintances in the cafes, and in all public places, as an extraordinary man, a true adept, whose fortune was immense.
A crowd of people wanted to make my acquaintance, it was impossible for me to open my door to everyone: and I owe to the indiscretion of Vitellini a multitude of enemies whose names I do not even know. An Italian especially, named Pergolezzi, furious at my having refused to see him, sent word to me by Vitellini that if I continued to keep my door closed to him, he would spread the rumor that I had formerly been in England and that he knew me then as a poor, ignorant man of obscure birth.
One can imagine that such a threat did not intimidate me, and that its author inspired me less than ever with the idea of making his acquaintance. Mr. Pergolezzi kept his word; he invented and published on my account a ridiculous story which nobody believed, but through which a clever attorney M. Aylett, found out how to profit by swindling me out of about eighty guineas, as will soon be seen.
Madame de Blevary on her part, having conceived the same opinion of me as Vitellini did, formed the project of appropriating to herself a part of imaginary fortune which people supposed I had. With this object she proposed to me one day to make me acquainted with several Lords, especially Milord Scott, a Scotch Grand Seigneur, belonging by birth to all that was great in England. He was then on his estates in Scotland, but she expected him daily. I was far from supposing that this woman wished to deceive me. I accepted without suspicion an offer which I thought was genuine.
Madame de Blevary having fallen seriously ill at the beginning of September, I procured her a comfortable apartment outside my house. Every day the Countess and I went to visit her and we supplied all her needs.
One day in the same month I saw a Mrs. Gaudicheau enter my house (She was a sister of the Miss Fry of whom I will speak later.) She had a café at Charing Cross. She told me she had come at Madame de Blevary’s desire to inform me that Milord Scott had arrived. This woman did not speak English so I had Vitellini tell her that if Milord Scott wanted to come to my house, I should receive him with pleasure.
So Milord Scott came to my house in the afternoon. His infinitely negligent exterior did not bespeak the Grand Seigneur. He met my reflexions by begging me to excuse him for presenting himself to me in his traveling grab, telling me that his eagerness to see me had not permitted him to await the arrival of his trunks. I invited him to dine the next day; he accepted without ceremony, and from that moment he had his meals daily at my house.
A few days after our meeting, the conversation turned upon money-changing. I complained that, having changed some Portuguese coins he had given me seven shilling less than their real values. Scott inveighed against this deception and assured me that his banker would take the Portuguese pieces at the correct exchange. I thanked Scott and gave him twelve of these pieces for which he undertook to bring me the change.
Two days after, I saw him arrive, pale, downcast, and chagrined. Having asked him the cause of his dejection, he replied that there being a hole in the pocket in which he had twelve Portuguese coins he had lost them on the way. He added that it was a matter of genuine sorrow to him that his situation did not allow him to return the amount to me. I consoled him as best I could, telling him that this restitution was not a matter of pressing moment; of which I so thoroughly convinced him that it is still waiting to be made.
A few days after the incident of the twelve Portuguese coins , Scott appeared at my house superbly dressed; his trunks having arrived. He told me that he had sent for his wife from Scotland, and for his three children, and that immediately upon their arrival he would present Milady Scott to the Countess.
Milady Scott came to me with all the outward signs of poverty. She interested my wife by her wit and by the fabulous recital of her misfortunes. The Countess gave her some money, linen, and clothes both for her and for the children, who, like herself, lacked the most necessary things. I carried generosity to the point of lending them £200 sterling upon their simple note of hand.
I had in my possession a manuscript which contained very curious secrets, and among others different Kabalistic operations by the aid of which the author claimed to be able to test the lottery with invariable success. To submit chance to calculation appeared to me to be an absolutely unlikely thing; however, as I had long since contracted the habit of not pronouncing judgment upon matters not known to me, I was willing to try if, according to the rules indicated in my manuscript, I could succeed in divining some of the numbers which were to emerge from the Wheel of Fortune.
The drawing of the English lottery commenced on the 14th November: I jokingly suggested the first number. None of my acquaintances wished to play it, but chance decreed that the number actually turned up. I suggested for the 16th No. 20: Scott risked a little, and won. I suggested for the 17th No. 25:" No. 25 turned up, and Scott won 100 louis. I suggested for the 18th Nos. 55 and 57, both of which turned up. The profits of this day’s work were shared between Scott, Vitellini, and the pretended Lady Scott.
One can judge of my astonishment on seeing chance so constantly follow calculations which I had thought chimerical. Whatever might be the cause of this extraordinary event, I considered I ought from delicacy of feeling to refrain from giving any number in future. Scott and the woman he said was his wife pestered me in vain; I resisted all their importunities. Scott then wanted to try the effect of presents. He made my wife a present of a cloak-trimming worth four or five guineas. I did not wish to humiliate him by a refusal: but the same day I made him a present of a gold box worth 25 guineas. And to avoid being further pestered, I showed husband and wife the door.
Some days later the pretended Lady Scott found means to speak with the Countess de Cagliostro. She told her, weeping, that she was entirely ruined; that Scott was a chevalier d’industrie to whom she had had the weakness to become attached; that he had grabbed all the profits of the lottery and that he had abandoned her with the three children she had had by him. The Countess de Cagliostro, less provoked by the deception which they had practiced upon her than touched by the misfortune of that creature, had the generosity to speak to me in her favor. I sent her a guinea, and suggested No. 8 for the 7th December.
Miss Fry (the name of the pretended Lady Scott) sold and pawned all the goods that remained to her, and put all the money she could raise on No. 8. Chance again willed that No. 8 should turn up on the Wheel of Fortune.
Here all the details of the journal of Mr. Vitellini become interesting. He was in Miss Fry’s house when she returned with the product of her gambling. He himself counted 421 guineas and £460 sterling in banknotes. Miss Fry presented Vitellini with 20 guineas and in the first moment of her ecstasy came to give me the homage of all her fortune. The reply I made is written in Vitellini’s journal; you can see it there word for word: ‘I want nothing; take it all back again. I advise you, my good woman, to go and live in the country with your children. Take it all back, I tell you. All the thanks I want from you, is that you never set foot in my house again.’
Vitellini asserts that Scott won 700 guineas on the same number that I had given Miss Fry; which shows that their pretended disagreement was only a fable, or at least that it had not been of long duration. What is certain is that since that time they have always worked in concert.
Miss Fry’s greed was not satisfied. She busied herself with efforts to obtain new numbers. Imagining without doubt that the best plan would be to make the Countess de Cagliostro accept a present she offered her a little ivory tooth-pick box, in which were banknotes.
The Countess de Cagliostro, having formally declared that she would not accept any present, Miss Fry consulted with Vitellini as to the manner of making one that she could not refuse. Both of them went to Mr. P., a merchant of Princess Street, and there Miss Fry bought a Diamond Necklace, which cost her £94 sterling, and a double snuffbox of gold, which cost her £20 sterling. She put the diamond necklace in one of the compartments of the box and filled the other with a herbal powder resembling tobacco, good for the periodical sickness from which the Countess de Cagliostro was then suffering.
Miss Fry, having seized a moment when the Countess was alone, came to see her under the pretext of thanking her. During the conversation she artlessly brought out the box, and prayed the Countess to take a pinch of snuff. The latter, who did not at all know this kind of tobacco, praised the perfume; Miss Fry the offered her the box that contained it. Vitellini was present. The Countess refused several times. Miss Fry, seeing that insistence was useless, threw herself weeping at the feet of the Countess, who, not to disoblige her, finally consented to take the box.
It was only on the following day that my wife perceived that the box was double-bottomed and that it contained a diamond necklace. She then confessed to me what had taken place on the previous evening. I did not disguise from her the disgust I experienced, and I would have sent the box back to Miss Fry the same instant, if I had not feared to afflict and humiliate her by that tardy restitution.
I changed my quarters at the beginning of January, 1777, and rented the first floor of a house in Suffolk Street. Vitellini having advised Miss Fry of this, she hastened to rent the second floor, so that, however distasteful to me, it was impossible for me to avoid seeing her. She pretended at first that she had invested her money and was again in difficulties: she spoke of a journey to the country, by reason of which she needed 100 guineas, and she begged me to give her numbers for the French lottery. I replied that this request was pure madness, but in order to get rid of Miss Fry, I had my wife give her 14 Portuguese pieces worth £50 sterling and 8 shilling, and I begged the master of the house to put no obstacle in the way of her departure, and to bring me the receipt for what she owed, as soon as she left.
The next day, the 6th of February, I made inquiry if she had at last decided to go and was told that she replied that the sum I had caused to be given her was too small and that she was going to town to see if she could not obtain a sum of £400 that she said was due her. She came back in the evening to find my wife. Weeping, she told her that she was without money and begged her once more to persuade me to give her numbers. This last attempt being without avail, she resolved to carry out on the morrow a project she had in view.
It is well to know that Miss Fry had another apartment in the town and that she often joined Scott there. Vitellini often saw the both, but in the greatest secrecy. He had had the indiscretion to speak to them of the chemical experiments which I had let him witness; and as he was naturally presumptuous, he had assured them that if he could lay hands on a certain powder which I used in my experiments, he could in a very short time make his fortune and that of his friends. As to the lottery numbers, he likewise claimed that if he had in his hands the manuscript I possessed, he could predict them quite as well as myself. Mr. Scott and Miss Fry had enough command over Vitellini to persuade him to point out to them the cupboard and the place in the cupboard where I had shut up the golden box that contained the powder, the manuscript I have just spoken of, and my most precious papers.
From that moment, Mr. Scott and Miss Fry conceived the project of robbing me of everything, and of obliging me by harsh treatment to communicate to them the knowledge with which they credited me.
For this purpose they associated themselves with an attorney, a disgrace to his class, who has since undergone the infamous punishment of the pillory for swindling and perjury. Mr. Raynold, (the name of the attorney) was put at the head of the enterprise.
They needed a witness to confirm all that they wanted to establish. They chose a Mr. Broad, who lived with Miss Fry and passed as her domestic. In any event, there was need of a corps-de-reserve. Mr. Raynold had suggested another attorney of his own kidney, who for money was ready to swear to anything they wished; this was Mr. Aylett, who has been likewise condemned to the pillory for the crime of perjury. It had been arranged between them, to avert suspicion, that Miss Fry should take for attorney an honest man, inexperienced, who was to sign blindly all that Mr. Raynold judged suitable to be done. The choice fell on a Mr. Mitchel.
Affairs being thus arranged, it was decided that Miss Fry should take out a writ against me, and that Scott, Raynold and Broad should enter by stealth with the sheriff’s officer and profit by the tumult to make the coup-the-main they proposed.
The arrangement of my apartment favored their project the more because the cupboard they wished to force was not in the room where I usually was, and one could enter into the room where it was without passing through the reception room. (See Vitellini manuscript, folio 11. The plan of the arrangement of the apartment is there outlined).
I was in my house with my wife and Vitellini, when on the 7th of February at ten o’clock in the evening I saw a bailiff enter, accompanied by four or five constables, who declared to me that I was under arrest for £190 sterling at the instance of Miss Fry. (Miss Fry had entered the house at the same time as the constable and bailiffs, but she remained at the top of the stairs).
Whatever the opinion I had of that woman, I did not expect such a degree of impudence and baseness. The first moment of surprise being past, I prepared to follow the sheriff’s officer, when I heard a noise in the next room; it was Raynold and Scott, who had broken into one of my cupboards. Raynold imposed on me, saying that he was the Sheriff of London (The Sheriff had really a subordinate called Raynold, but this was another man, not the attorney.) he said he had the right to do what he was doing. The Sheriff’s officer, who had been drawn into the plot, feigned to believe this, and let Scott take away the manuscript and the gold box of which I had spoken, with several papers among which was the note of hand for £200.
I followed the sheriff’s officer to his house, where I passed the night. Having no bail to give, I gave into the hand of Mr. Saunders (the sheriff’s officer), the value of about £1000 sterling, in jewels and Portuguese coins. Among the jewels there was a cane in the handle of which was a watch, a repeater, surrounded by diamonds. (This is the same of which I have spoken in my first Memoirs. Mr. Morande claims that I bought it in Cadiz, and that I still owe its value to the merchant who supplied it to me. We must agree, if that is so, that no creditor has ever been more trusting or more patient.) The box and the necklace, of which Miss Fry had made a present to my wife, were also there.
I left Mr. Saunder’s house on the 8th of February. The following day at midnight a constable with his escort presented himself at my house and declared to my wife and myself that he arrested us in virtue of a warrant taken out against us at the request of Miss Fry. I asked, ‘of what crime am I accused?’ The constable replied that I was arrested as a ‘magician’ and my wife as a ‘sorceress’; and he took us both to the guardhouse, to await the hearing before the Justice of Peace who had granted the warrant. The night was cold. I succeeded by the aid of sundry guineas, in persuading the constable that he could, without failing in his duty, let me return to my house until it pleased the justice of the peace to have me called.
The next morning, being alone in my apartments, I saw Mr. Raynold arrive. He paid me the greatest compliments upon my alleged scientific knowledge, and begged me with all possible sweetness of manner to teach him, as well as Scott, the way to use the manuscript and the powder. He told me, in order to make me comply, that he was master of the situation, and in control of the matter of having my property returned to me. Scott, who, hidden behind the door, was listening to the conversation, seeing that Raynold’s honeyed tone had no effect on me, entered precipitately, and drawing a pistol from his pocket, put it to my breast, threatening to kill me if I did not show him the way to use the things of which he had robbed me. I made no reply.
Raynold disarmed him, and then both commenced to entreat me. I then replied that what they asked of me was impossible; that the objects they had in their hands would for ever be useless to them, and that they could be of use to me alone. ’Give them to me, I said, and I will leave you not only the £200 note which you have taken from me, but also the whole of the effects deposited in the hands of Saunders’.
Scott and Raynold accepted the proposal and went immediately to Saunders house to inform him of this arrangement. Saunders came to me and advised me to be on my guard against them and to give them nothing until they returned to me the box and the manuscript which I claimed. I followed Saunder’s advice. This condition displeased Scott and Raynold, and I heard no more said of them. As for me, after having appeared before the Justice of the Peace, I entered an appeal against the warrant in the Court of the King’s Bench; and on my giving two sureties, I ceased to fear the constable’s visit.
I was no sooner in peace than I began to consider the steps I ought to take to get back the effects that Scott and Raynold had stolen from me. I was advised to take out a warrant, both against them and their accomplice, Miss Fry.
I began on the 13th of February by making a first affidavit in the Court of the King’s Bench. Then I renewed it before a Justice of the Peace to whom they directed me and who granted me four warrants, one against Scott, one against Raynold, a third against Miss Fry, and a last one against Mr. Broad, the sham servant of Miss Fry, who had guided Scott and Raynold to the breaking open of my cupboard. Of these four accused persons three were warned and got away. Miss Fry alone was arrested and taken before the Justice of the Peace, who, not caring to take upon himself the rendering of a decision, sent the case and the parties thereto to the police-station at Litchfield Street.
Miss Fry had the strongest presumption of complicity against her. Mr. Scott was her ami, Mr. Raynold was her attorney and agent, and Mr. Broad passed as her servant; and amongst the objects stolen there was the note of hand for £200 signed by her. However, as she had not entered with them into my apartments, the Justices regarded her case as a civil one, but let the warrants against the other accused persons stand.
I was arrested several times during February and March, now at the instance of Miss Fry, now at that of Mr. Scott, now under one pretext, now under another. Each time I freed myself by giving sundry guineas to the sheriff’s officers. As these different writs are not to be found today, there is every reason to believe that they were false; and contrived with the object of disturbing my repose, and fleecing me.
Mr. Saunders pretended to be touched by the persecutions I had suffered. The remedy he suggested was far from being unselfish; it was that of taking apartments in his house. By this means my person became sacred, and I was sure of being able to lie in my bed. Wishing to be quiet at any price, I accepted this singular proposal and actually took up my quarters at Saunder’s house.
I occupied the best room in the house. I kept open table; I paid for the prisoners who were there. I even paid the debts of several among them who owe me their liberty. (Vitellini asserts in his journal that these pretended prisoners were put there on purpose and that it was Saunders who profited by their liberation.) My ordinary expenses were paid every evening. Such was my manner of life during the six weeks I lived at Saunders’s house. The latter is still living; he is at this moment prisoner in the King’s Bench. He perfectly recalls the circumstances of my sojourn with him. He has related them to several people of his own stamp, and especially to a Mr. Shannon, a druggist. He was even upon the point of attesting the truth in writing when Mr. Morande dissuaded him, by arguments which people like Saunders do not know how to resist.
I feel assured that such details are matters of indifference to the public, and I should have passed over them in silence if Mr. Morande had not forced me to bring them to the light of day by inventing a fable as ridiculous as unlikely. He asserts that I was lodged at Saunder’s house for four shillings a week, that I had only one meal a day. At a cost of ninepence, etc!
It was not without regret that Mr. Saunders saw a boarder of my standing leave his house. I was scarcely installed in my own when he came to arrest me once more at the instance of Miss Fry, but by means of a regular writ. She had really made a sworn deposition, on the 24th of May, that I had in my possession a quantity of sequins, belonging to her, of the value of £200 sterling. Mr. Saunders took me to his house, in the hope, without doubt, that I would again take up my residence there; but foreseeing what would happened to me, I provided two securities; they were accepted and I was released.
My trial was to take place on the 27th of June, before Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. I went there in the hope that it would be decided by that venerable man, perhaps the oldest, certainly the first, Magistrate in Europe.
Mr. Priddle, who was then my attorney, was the intimate friend of Saunders. When I was first arrested, Mr. Priddle having come to dine with his friend, the latter extolled to me his talents and his probity, and persuaded me to take him as my attorney. (The intimacy of Saunders and Priddle is a key which may serve to explain the conduct of his attorney in regard to myself). I had consulted with Miss Fry’s attorney, and it had been decided in the interview that the affair should not be pleaded, but put to arbitration before Mr. Howarth, Advocate. Mr. Dunning, Miss Fry’s advocate, and Mr. Wallace, whom they had chosen for me, were instructed by the attorney as to the parts they were to play; so that instead of pleading one against the other, the two advocates demanded in concert that the case be arbitrated before Mr. Howarth; this was actually decided by Lord Mansfield.
I asked my attorney why, without consulting me, they had given me for arbitrator a man I did not know. He replied that that was the usual formality; he added that he knew the arbitrator and that I was in very good hands.
The arbitration having been accepted by Mr. Howarth, the parties thereto, their attorneys, and the witnesses, were appointed to appear before him on the following 4th of July. Until that time Mr. Priddle’s behavior had only been equivocal. He now took off his mask.
My friend and I beseeched him in vain. He refused to appear for me before Mr. Howarth, and obliged me to defend my case myself. Not knowing a word of English, I was obliged to plead through Vitellini, my interpreter. So, as Vitellini knew no more than I of legal forms, one can judge of the advantage that an adversary such as Miss Fry had over us, counseled as she was by such an attorney as Raynold.
Today I am taunted with the judgment rendered against me by Mr. Howarth. I appeal from it to the tribunal of the nation; I maintain that this judgment is manifestly unjust; and it is in the very documents produced by Mr. Morande that I find the proofs of Mr. Howarth’s iniquity.
1st Miss Fry had sworn (see the Courrier de l’Europe, page 337, column 2) on the 7th of February, 1777, that I owed her the sum of £190 sterling, and more besides for money lent, advanced, paid, and disbursed by the complainant for my use, and also for goods actually sold and delivered by the complainant, likewise for my use.
Such was the first demand, upon the strength of which Miss Fry had had me arrested.
Mr. Howarth was judge of the legitimacy of this demand, I denied the debt. It was necessary either for Miss Fry to prove it or to pay the costs.
Miss Fry did not prove the debt. I, on the contrary, established the proof that the debt was false and that Miss Fry had perjured herself. Yet Mr. Howarth did not then reject the claim of Miss Fry in his respect and condemn her in costs and to damages and interest resulting from a vexatious imprisonment.
2nd Two days afterwards, Miss Fry swore before a Justice of the Peace that I was a magician, and that the Countess de Cagliostro was a sorceress (see the Courrier de l’Europe, page 238, Mr. Morande speaking of this warrant, has substituted the word swindler for that of magician.) The Justice of Peace having the complaisance or the imbecility to issue, on the strength of such a affidavit, a warrant against my wife and myself, I appealed against this warrant in the Court of the King’s Bench, and this appeal was likewise referred to Mr. Howarth.
The latter could not avoid under these circumstances declaring the warrant and the subsequent imprisonment injurious and vexatious, and on this count condemning Miss Fry to pay all costs, damages, and interests.
3rd Finally Miss Fry swore (see Courrier de l’Europe, page 240) that I had in my hands, or that I had had lately in my possession foreign coins called sequins, belonging to the complainant, to the value of £200 sterling and over, and on his affidavit she had taken out a writ. In virtue of which she had had me rearrested.
Mr. Howarth was also the judge of this last writ. However much he may have been in the interests of Miss Fry, he could not have failed to be struck by the improbability of the facts that she and her witness Broad attested on oath.
He asked them in the first place where they had found the sequins which they said they had put in my hands.
[Broad replied that he had bought them from a merchant, but couldn’t remember his name. ]1
Mr. Howarth observed that at least four hundred sequins were necessary to make £200 sterling; and that it was unlikely that a merchant had kept so great a quantity of them without sending them to the melting-pot.
Broad replied that indeed it was not the same merchant who had furnished them all to him, but that he had been to more that eighty merchants to complete the quantity.
Called upon to give the name of a single one of the eighty merchants, he declared that that was impossible, because he had forgotten their names.
Miss Fry then spoke and said that the four hundred sequins had been taken to her house by a Jew whose name and address she did not know.
The contradiction between Miss Fry and her witness, the silence she maintained as to the history of the four hundred sequins when the first writ was taken out by her and when she made her sworn deposition before the Justice of the Peace, and more than all that, the absurdity of what had been attested by her, too evidently proved perjury for the arbitrator to entertain any misunderstanding. He severely reprimanded Miss Fry and her witness Broad.
Miss Fry, being confounded on all these points, claimed that I ought to give her the box and the necklace, of which she had made a present to my wife. Mr. Howarth having asked what I had to say to this new claim, I replied ‘that I knew quite well that I should be in the right to keep the box and the necklace, either because they had been given to the Countess or because Miss Fry owed me for money lent, double and treble the value of these two objects; but that I did not wish to use the right I had to keep them and that I was content to return them as I had always offered to do.’ (Mr. Morande agrees, in fact, page 238, that I had made this offer to Miss Fry from the first day of the trial.)
The decision that Mr. Howarth ought to have rendered in a like circumstance, and which any other arbitrator would have rendered in his place, should have been to direct me, with my consent and in accordance with my offer, to give up the box and the necklace; to reject all the rest of Miss Fry’s demands, and to condemn her to pay all costs, damages and interests suffered or incurred by me, without preventing me from persecuting her as a common perjurer; if it seemed good to me to do so.
On the contrary, what did Mr. Howarth do? (See the Courrier de l’Europe, pages 249 and 250). He rendered a decision as to the writ of the 7th of February, by which I had been arrested as a debtor to the tune of £190 sterling for money lent, not upon the warrant of the 9th of February, in virtue of which my wife and I had been arrested as magicians, nor finally upon the writ of the 24 of May, in virtue of which I had been arrested for retaining a quantity of sequins of the value of £200 sterling. He leaves these objects out of consideration, though they alone formed the subject of the action submitted to his decision, and he gives a decision as to the restitution of the box and of the necklace only, to which I had consented. That is not all. This arbitrator had the guilty affectation of not mentioning in his decision, the consent I had given in the course the action, and which I had repeated in his presence, to give back the box and the necklace in question. He ordered purely and simply that I should restore the necklace and the box, and condemned me to pay all Miss Fry’s costs.
I should like, out of regard to the memory of Mr. Howarth, to refrain from any kind of reflexion upon the motives which could have led him to render such a decision. I should have even covered that adventure with the thickest veil if Mr. Morande had not by a misplaced panegyric put me under the necessity of demonstrating to the nation the injustice of the judgment given by Mr. Howarth as arbitrator.
The latter did not give his decision as soon as he might have done. The Long Vacation followed; and it was only in the following November that I learnt the strange manner in which he had decided the case submitted to his decision.
While waiting for the publication of this award the obligation taken by my securities still held good. One of them, Mr. Badioli, repented of the engagement he had entered into. He came to my house on the 9th of August to propose that I go for a drive. I accepted without suspicion. The carriage stopped before an edifice which I did not know: it was the King’s Bench Prison. Mr. Badioli alights; I do the same; a door opens; I enter first; the door closes upon me; and I am told that I am a prisoner, and that my sureties are discharged. (Sureties are discharged of all obligations on surrendering the defendant to the court, or by making him a prisoner).
I had been a month or more in the King’s Bench prison, when chance procured me the acquaintance of Mr. O’Reilly. The recital of my misfortunes touched him deeply; he promised to make every effort to procure my liberty; and he kept his word to me. It was to him that I owed the acquaintance of Mr. Sheridan, a young advocate of the highest merit, who was kind enough to take charge of my interests. To force my adversaries to accept new sureties I had to wait until the end of the Vacation. Mr. Sheridan resolved to abridge the time of my captivity; he went to Lord Mansfield and disclosed to him the persecutions to which I had been subjected, and that venerable magistrate did not disdain to interpose his authority to oblige Miss Fry’s attorney to receive the sureties I offered.
My new sureties being accepted, I prepared to leave the King’s Bench, when Mr. Crisp, Marshal of the Prison, advised me of a detainer lodged against me for £30 sterling by Mr. Aylett, an attorney. In this detainer I am described under several names, and especially by that of Balsamo. I learnt then that Mr. Aylett whom I had never seen, and who to all appearance had never seen me either, had sworn that I owed him £10 sterling and over; he had made out against me a claim for £30 sterling for expenses which he said were owing to him.
Understanding nothing of this new intrigue, but desirous of enjoying my liberty, I asked the Marshal what should I do. He replied that he would take the responsibility of letting me go, if I deposited in his hands the sum of £30 sterling. I replied that I would send the sum the next day and begged him meanwhile to take as security about £50 worth of plate. It was thus I left the King’s Bench, after six or seven weeks of captivity.
The next day I sent the £30 sterling in order to redeem my plate; but it was too late. The Marshal of the King’s Bench declared that Mr. Aylett seized it. Mr. Aylett denied the fact, but it has been impossible for me to learn what had become of my plate.
I ought not to forget one incident that happened during my stay at the King’s Bench. The windows of my apartment looked out upon the outside of the prison. One day, while I amused myself looking at the passers by, I saw Scott, who was driving with Miss Fry in an open carriage. They recognized me, and stopped a while to look at me. All of a sudden Scott took from his pocket the gold box he had stolen from me, the shape which I could very easily recognize; he raised it in the air, turned it about between his fingers, and showed it to me with a mocking laugh. Messrs. O’Reilly, Bristol, Sheridan, and Vitellini, witnesses of this bravado, went down as quickly as they could to have the man who had robbed me arrested; but he put his horse to the gallop, and it was impossible for them to come up with him.
Finally the time of the Long Vacation having expired, Mr. Howarth had the sentence he had pronounced against me communicated to me. The indignation excited in my soul by that atrocious injustice made me unjust myself. I attributed to the whole nation the fault of individuals, and I resolved to flee for ever from a country where people thus forgot the rights of justice, of gratitude, and of hospitality.
In vain my friends pressed me to appeal from the iniquitous judgment of Mr. Howarth; to bring an action for perjury against Attorney Aylett; another for swindling against the Marshal of the King’s Bench; and to have punished as they deserved Miss Fry, Scott, Raynold, and the false witness Broad. I would listen to nothing; I abandoned all my claims, only too happy to be allowed to go. I paid blindly all that I was asked, and finally I departed, taking with me only some fifty guineas and some jewels, the last remnant of the fortune which I had brought to England some months before.
The box and the manuscript which Scott had stolen from me, were, of all my losses, those which I most regret. I left Mr. O’Reilly my power of attorney to prosecute and bring him to judgment, and a second secret power to try to recover the box and the manuscript at any price whatever.
My fifty guineas took me to Brussels, where Providence awaited me, to rebuild the edifice of my fortune. Thence I recommenced my travels over Europe, often changing my name but everywhere showing the exterior of a wealthy man. I again assumed definitely the name of Cagliostro, which I used successively in Courland, Russia, in Poland and in France.
I had entirely lost sight of my affair in London, when I received at Strasbourg a letter from Mr. O’Reilly. He told me that Scott was in prison; that the proofs of this theft being complete, he would be hanged as a matter of course if the case were brought to trial; that in the circumstances he had offered him his liberty, with 500 guineas, to obtain the restitution from him of the box and the manuscript, but that Scott had declared to him, that, whatever might happen, he would deliver neither. Mr. O’Reilly observed in this letter to me the greater number of my persecutors had come to a miserable end, and finished by asking my last wishes in regard to Scott. I replied to him as to that, that I did not wish to be the cause of the death of a man, and that I should like the affair to terminate amicably.
Mr. O’Reilly, in consequence, made an arrangement with Scott, by which I desisted from the accusation intended against him and consented to his liberation. Scott on his part, renounced all manner of reparation and damages; he paid the costs and all was terminated.
Compounding a capital offense in this way does not show in the accused a very strong confidence in his innocence; and if Mr. Morande, who poisons all that passes through his hand, claims that of a generous pardon, I flatter myself that he will be alone in his opinion.
However that may be, after having practiced medicine in France for four years with a success which I dare say was unexampled, at length, worn out by the eternal complaints of the physicians, I abandoned the field of battle to them.
At Paris in the narrow circle of a choice society I had at last found peace and happiness. I flattered myself that I should live and die unknown, when the strangest and most cruel of adventures fixed more than ever the gaze of Europe upon me and caused me to remember that I was devoted by my star to misfortune and to celebrity.
Oppressed by the authority, marked by the law, my reputation torn to shreds, I sorely needed to raise my voice in my defense; but it was only with regret and after having long resisted the importunity of my defender, that I consented to allow in my Memoire the insertion of some singular adventures with which my life has been be-sprinkled.
However meager, however imperfect may be the recital of this kind it called the attention of the public to me. People wept for me, they deplored my fate, they detested my persecutors. Their hate, held back for an instant by the highest tribunal of the nation, only became the more envenomed People know all the evil that has been done to me. May God pardon them as I do! But in calumniating me, in distorting my simplest actions, in hurling upon me, to deceive the public, journalists whose favor I have scorned to buy, they have laid upon me the necessity of disabusing honest readers, and of publishing out of my life some anecdotes which I would have had made public only after my death.
Second Voyage to London
The adventures which have come to me since my departure from France are not in themselves particularly interesting; but their perusal is indispensable for all those who desire to know the springs which actuate M. Morande’s pen.
I arrived at Dover on the 18th of the last June. Well-intentioned people had warned the customs authorities of my arrival and of the nature of the effects I brought with me; so my trunks were emptied on the instant, and each thing they contained was unfolded and scrutinized with the most minute exactitude. Finally they found my jewel-casket, which I had not thought it necessary to display to their investigations. A cry of joy was heard; the mob crowded together to admire its beauties and the jewel-box passed from hand to hand. A customs officer, less curious than his comrades, finally put back in the trunk all the effects which he had taken out, with the exception of the diamonds, which formed the object of their admiration.
Finding this quiet appropriation of my property a little too much, I took the liberty to ask for their return; they gravely replied that my diamond and other jewels were confiscated to the profit of Great Britain I returned sadly to my inn.
‘So this is the way, I said to myself, in which Great Britain receives those who take refuge in her bosom! My diamonds have fallen from Charybdis into Scylla. I thought myself fortunate in having saved the greater part o f them; it would have been just as well to have left them in the Bastille.’ These reflections were not consoling. I resigned myself, however, and slept the most profound sleep.
I do not know what passed during the night; but the next morning, when I returned to the Custom House, I found the greatest change in manners and faces. The customs authorities spoke to me in the most respectful tone. They made a million excuses and gave me back my jewel box. More amazed by this reception than astonished by that of the previous evening, I thanked Providence and left for London.
[One of my friends, who had had relations with Mr. Swinton, but who knew him only very imperfectly, spoke of him as an honest man, and who, speaking both French and English equally well, could be of some use to me in London.]1
I needed a house situated in an open district. He suggested Sloane Street, and persuaded me to rent the house next to his. To furnish it, I needed different workmen; it was Mr. Swinton who selected them. The furnishing completed, they rendered bills in which each article was charged for at double its value. I wanted to make various complaints as to several items; they threatened me with the law. I paid, and remarkably enough of the workmen I had employed, not a single one, after having been paid, failed to go to Mr. Swinton on leaving my house and thank him.
My memoire against Messrs Chenon [or Chesnon] and de Launay appeared at Paris shortly after my arrival in London. Of thirty copies sent me through the post, only a single one came into my hands. But it was enough to give me the means of having it printed in English and in French. This memoire has made upon all minds a still existing impression and one which will always last, whatever happens because truth is indelible.
Some time after the publication of my Memoire, there appeared a translation of one of my letters, in which I had opened my heart, and had named one person whom, among all my enemies, I had the most reason to complain.
Scarcely had this letter appeared when I perceived a redoubled amount of assiduity and caresses on the part of Mr. Swinton, he wanted to make me thoroughly acquainted with the environs of London, there was, he said, a superb view from Greenwich Hospital and the dock yards, while a boat trip on the Thames was a delightful pleasure-party of which I could form no idea. I am naturally sedentary and meditative; my reflections and my experience decided me to refuse the invitation, I was surrounded by enemies. I had every thing to fear. I had heard of the story of a certain Chevalier de Belleport and of a certain Dame Drogard.
Mr. Swinton had founded the greatest hopes upon me. He pressed me to give public audiences as at Strasbourg and I was more or less attracted by the idea. But he wanted to set up a drugstore and himself be my apothecary! This offer was in no way pleasing. At length perceiving that I was daily becoming colder toward him, he made up his mind to speak clearly, and so had one of his daughters write me the following:
‘I am aware that you have helped many people to make money. I have a numerous family; we must eat. If you will assist me to make money, I will be your friend and the Courrier de l’Europe [(M. Swinton is co-proprietor of the Courrier de l’Europe)]1 will be your panegyrist if not…!’
Not having kept this note, I cannot assert that these are the precise expressions used; but I can testify that the expressions contained in it were absolutely the equivalent.
This open manner of putting the pistol to my throat did not seem exactly calculated to destroy the impression I had formed of Mr. Swinton. I ceased absolutely to set my foot in his house, and when he came to me I either did not receive him, or I received him so coldly that some day I expected to see him absent himself permanently–which, in fact, he did.
Mr. Swinton was the intimate friend and associate of M. Morande. He had often spoken to me of the advantage it would be for me to get him over to my side, and he very plainly pointed out the way for me to do so. I did not think it well to avail myself to it. M. Morande, attributing my indifference to the tactlessness of the negotiator, himself wished to sound me, so he came one day to Mr. Swinton’s house while I was there. His face did not prepossess me in his favor, and I found his questions out of place, his tone indecent, and his threats ridiculous. I told him frankly that I should trouble myself very little with whatever he might write about me.
Having nothing further to expect from me, M. Morande commenced to attack me, but with openness and moderation and all the appearance of impartiality.
Things were at this stage when I received the news that His Very Christian Majesty would now permit me to return to France. M. Barthélemy, Chargé d’Affaires of that Court, having indicated me a rendezvous in which to receive confirmation of that news, I went there with two fiends who on that day would not leave my side. Lord George Gordon, one of them, was not received by M. Barthélemy with the consideration due to his birth. They say that he revenged himself by an article put in the English papers, but about that I know nothing. What is certain is, that having seen that my interview with M. Barthélemy had been reported in a very inexact way in the Courrier de l’Europe, I had the following note inserted in the Public Advertiser, No. 16306 in French:
‘Le Courrier de l’Europe, having given a false report of what passed in the interview between the Comte de Cagliostro with the French minister, M. Barthélemy, the Count considers himself obliged to enlighten the nation as to facts which, when it is a question of himself, are almost always either distorted or maliciously interpreted by his detractors. Their number is great, but he has chosen as his retreat the country of justice and truth; he does not there fear the attacks of that swarm of disturbers of a repose he has come to seek, sure of finding it among a nation which knows all the rights of hospitality and is willing to accord it to him. Here then is the account of what actually took place.
On the 20th of August 1786 M. d’Aragon Secretary of the Ambassador, presented himself at M. le Comte de Cagliostro’s house to announce to him, on behalf of M. Barthélemy, that His Very Christian Majesty gave him free permission to return to France.
The Count asked if M. Barthélemy had received orders from the King. The Secretary’s reply was that if the Count would take the trouble to pass the hotel de France between eleven o clock and noon of the next day, M. Barthélemy would give him the explanations he asked.
Consequently, on the 21st, at the hour named, M. de Cagliostro ever filled with respect for His Majesty, went to M. Barthélemy, accompanied by Lord George Gordon and M. Bergeret de Frouville. The Count was bidden to enter a great hall to which his friends were refused entry; but the zeal of Lord George Gordon and M. Bergeret surmounted this obstacle. They would not leave him and although M. Barthélemy appeared to wish for a private interview, Lord George Gordon insisted on being present at the conversation here noted.
M. BARTHELEMY: Monsieur le Comte, I have orders to give you liberty to return to France.
LE COMTE: I have come here with pleasure to receive the orders of His Majesty.
M. Barthélemy then drew from his pocket, not an order from the King, as the Count had been given to expect, but a simple letter from the Baron the Breteuil, to which the Count replied:
LE COMTE: Is it possible to recognize such an order? To enter the Bastille, to leave it, and to depart from Paris, have I not received a letter de cachet signed by the king himself? A simple letter from M. de Breteuil–can this be sufficient to revoke His majesty’s positive orders? I recognize only His Majesty as Sovereign of the French. I speak to you with my customary candor. I have not come to you in your capacity of Minister, but as a Frenchman of whom all speak well; and I beg you to give me M. de Breteuil’s letter, or at least a copy.
M. BARTHELEMY: Monsieur le Comte, that is impossible, I understand, I feel, all that you tell me, but I have executed my orders and cannot enter into any detail.
Although M. Barthélemy seemed dissatisfied that Lord George Gordon should have been present at that conversation, the Count will always assert that the Chargé d’Affaires behaved in the most straightforward manner.
Such is the account of what passed between the Count and the Minister of France in the presence of Lord George Gordon, and M. Bergeret de Frouville, a cavalry officer in the service of France.’
Certainly what I told M. Barthélemy was only reasonable. I could not prudently embark for France without having in my hands a letter de cachet revoking the first. What should I have been able to reply to the Governor of Boulogne or Calais, if he had asked me by what right I was returning to France after the prohibition against returning, under pain of disobedience? Would it not have been his duty, either to make me re-embark or detain me in some stronghold until it should please M. le Baron de Breteuil to confirm the news upon credence in which I should quit England?
There is the every reason to believe that it is through forgetfulness that M. le Baron de Breteuil did not attach to his letter a letter de cachet revoking that which had exiled me; and this is all the more likely, since M. Barthélemy came to my house a month after this scene to bring me a letter de cachet in due form permitting me to return to France and to stay there until my action against Messrs Chenon and Launay was decided.
This favor of his most Christian majesty was all the more precious in my eyes, since it was accorded of his own free will, having been solicited neither directly nor indirectly. May that virtuous and well-intentioned monarch who reigns over the French receive here the evidence of my gratitude for a benefit which I consider the forerunner of the justice I solicit. My confidence in his royal word is unlimited, but I beg his majesty to acquiesce in my not using the permission he has been pleased to grant me. Whoever has agonized for nine months in the Bastille, although innocent, and been acquitted of the accusation by a unanimous decree, with by way of repartition only a letter of exile, has a right to doubt everything, and to see nothing but snares around him, The King’s intention is doubtless pure; but the manner in which the recall is drawn up gives me cause for alarm. The period put for my sojourn in France is uncertain; my action may be decided any day, and on the day following they will be free to arrest me again, without my letter of recall serving me as a safeguard.
I wish to spare my enemies new atrocities, and Europe another scandal. I shall not return to France. I blindly abandon my interests to the defenders I have chosen, and leave to them the decision of an action which is too just to have any need of solicitation.
But let us take up the facts against in order. As I have said, the first attacks of M. Morande had the appearance of straightforwardness and moderation. This tone, adopted to seduce honest souls, could have given M. Morande had it been sustained, a great number of partisan friends. Foreigners especially could only suppose that his aim was, as he announced, nothing than to acquaint the public with my birth place and my actual adventures. I foresaw, however, that the career upon which he had entered could carry him very far. While waiting for my reply to appear, it was important that everyone should be made aware of his motive and the springs that set him in motion. It would have been clumsy of me to have spoken, before being able to furnish proof: that would only have served to render M. Morande more circumspect. It was necessary then to find an expedient by the aid of which I could adroitly cause him to unmask himself, and show himself to the public in all his ugliness.
I had spoken in society of an experience known to all chemists which consists of gradually accustoming an animal to a poisoned diet, and by this means rendering its flesh a most subtle poison, M. Morande had joked in a dull sort of way on the subject, and this misplaced pleasantry was the pretext I used to attain my purpose. I had the following paragraph inserted in the Public Advertiser:
‘Letter from the Comte de Cagliostro to M. Morande, editor of the Courrier de l’Europe, the 3rd September, 1786
I do not know sufficiently well, Monsieur, the niceties of the French language to pay you all the compliments merited by the excellent pleasantries contained in Nos. 16, 17 and 18 of the Courrier de l’Europe, but as all those who have spoken to me of it have assured me that they unite wit to cleverness, decency of tone, and elegance of style, I judge that you are a man of good company; and as such I have conceived the keenest desire to make your acquaintance. However, as malicious people were permitted to debit to your account very ugly stories, I believe that I ought to enlighten them before giving myself up wholly to the feeling that I have for you.
I have seen with much satisfaction that all that has been said about you was pure scandal; that you were not one of those newspaper libelers who sell their pen to the highest bidder and are paid as long as they are silent; and that, finally, the secret propositions you made me through your worthy friend Mr. Swinton frightened me by their untimeliness, it being as natural to demand gold from an adept as to draw water from the Thames.
Of all the good stories you have told at my expense, the best without possibility of contradiction is that of the pigs fattened with arsenic which are used to poison lions, tigers, and leopards in the forests of Medina. Now, Mr. Joker, I am going to put you in a position to indulge in your pleasantries with full knowledge of this matter. In chemical and physical things, reasoning proves little, persiflage nothing, experience is everything. Permit me then to propose to you a little experiment whose upshot will divert the public, either at your expense or mine. I invite you to breakfast for the 9th of next November, at nine o’clock in the morning: you to furnish the wine and all accessories, I to supply only a dish of my own. It will be a little sucking pig, fattened by my method. Two hours before breakfast I will present it to you alive, very fat and in good health. You will undertake to have it killed and prepared and I will not go near it until the moment it is served at table. You yourself will cut into four parts. You will choose that which most flatters your appetite; and you will serve me with that which you think most suitable for me. The day after this breakfast one of four things will have happened: either we shall both be dead, or neither of us will be dead, or I shall be dead and you will not, or you will be dead and I shall not. Of these four chances I will give you three, and I wager 5000 guineas that the day after the breakfast you will be dead and that I shall be in good health. You will agree that one could not be a fairer gambler, and that you must either accept the offer, or agree that you have foolishly and stupidly jested about a fact that is beyond your ken.
If you accept the bet, I will deposit at once the 5000 guineas with any banker you choose. You will please do the same within the fortnight during which time it will be legitimate to you to put your croupiers and souteneurs under contribution.
Whatever part you take, I flatter myself that you will be good enough to insert my letter in your first number, and add it as a post script to the charming, although somewhat tardy, critique with which you are pleased to honor my memory.
I am Monsieur, with the sentiments which all those who have the happiness to have anything to do with you universally feel.
Yours, etc., ….’
I certainly expected that such a fantastic wager would disconcert M. Morande a little; but I did not expect so complete a success. One can scarcely form an idea of the imbecile fury into which he fell on reading my letter. The reply he made me, which may be read in no 19 of the Courrier de l’Europe is really that of a man who has lost his reason; he does not content himself with directing against me all the insults which his imagination furnishes; he even attacks my defender, (*) and maintains that in lending me his pen, he has made himself an accomplice on the poisoning of a man.
(*) M. Morande has employed, turn and turn about, praise and blame, flattery and threats. I do not know what could be M. Morande’s design: all I can assert is that the reputation of my defender is as independent of his support as of his insults; and that he will not let himself be seduced by flattery, nor intimidated by threats.
He has not even the wit to see that the bet proposed to him is anything else than an indirect manner of reproaching his ignorance and his presumption. He thinks the bet serious, and accepts it on condition that he may have the right to have the role I destined for him played by a carnivorous animal!
I thought I ought to profit by the advantage that M. Morande’s gaucherie had just given me over my enemies. So I wrote him the following letter through the same medium, to show his blunder, and at the same time to announce to the public when I should publish my reply.
Second letter of the Count Cagliostro to the Editor, dated September 6th, 1786, printed in the Public Advertiser, Saturday, 9th of the same month:
‘Receive Monsieur, my thanks for having been good enough to insert my letter in the Courrier of today. Your response is delicate, honest and moderate. I hasten to send you my reply, so that it may appear in your next number.
The knowledge of the art of preserving is essentially bound up in that of destroying Remedies and poisons, in the hands of a friend of mankind, can equally serve the happiness of mankind, the first in preserving useful beings, the second in destroying evil-doers. Such is the use I have always made of both of them: and it only depended on you, Monsieur, that my London sucking-pig was not quite as useful, or even more so, to Europe than that of Medina has been in former times to Arabia. I assure you I had a very keen desire for it. You had the kindness to acquaint me with the most attractive bait with which to catch you. I availed myself to it. The bet of 5000 guineas was just the bait by which I expected to hook you on my line. The extreme prudence (extreme prudence read cowardice, the accepted synonym of the dueling days–P.A.M) of which you have on more than one occasion given proof, does not permit you to take the hook, but as the 5000 guineas strongly appeals to your heart, you accept the bet on a condition which destroys all its interest, and to which, therefore, I cannot agree.
It matters little to me if I win 5000 guineas; but it matters a great deal to society to be delivered of a regular scourge. You refuse the breakfast to which I invite you, and you propose me to have your place filled by a carnivorous animal. That is not what I wish; indeed, such a guest would represent you but imperfectly. Where would you find a carnivorous animal which is among its species what you are among men? Besides, one is free to choose. It is not your representative with whom I wish to deal, but you. The fashion of fighting by champion is long out of date, but even if one were to render you the service of putting it into force again, honor would forbid me to struggle against the champion you offer me. A champion ought not be dragged into the arena. He ought to appear willingly and you will acknowledge that, however small your knowledge of animals not one could be found, either carnivorous or vegetarian, which would consent to become yours. Cease then to make proposals to which I cannot listen: your conditional acceptation is a veritable refusal and my dilemma remains.
Moreover, it is with veritable satisfaction that I see you, Monsieur, are charged with the defense of Messrs. Chenon and Launay. There was only lacking to such a cause and such clients, such a defense and such a defender!
Continue, Monsieur! Render yourself more than ever worthy of the esteem and the applause of the public! I shall not interrupt your eloquent pleading. When you pursue the honorable career upon which you have entered, I will see what step I shall take.
I am, etc….’
This letter succeeded in causing M. Morande to forget the role of sang-froid and impartiality which he proposed to play in attacking me. From that moment he has adopted, and never ceased, the grossly insulting tone from which all judicious readers have at once been able to form an opinion of the author , and of the nature of his work.
(*) M. Morande has not only been enlisted by my enemies as a defamatory scribe: he has also been given the task of finding witnesses and fabricating proofs. The unhappy man, without money, without credit, overwhelmed with debts, surrounded by process servers, dared to quit his house only on Sundays (when writs may not be served). Yet all of a sudden we see him paying his debts, buying suits and furniture for cash, ostentatiously showing a pocket-book full of banknotes, in a word, and displaying disreputable opulence. He has been seen in a carriage going to the main streets of the town and its environs from door to door, from smoking-room to smoking room, from prison to prison, purse in hand, canvassing for witnesses against me.
* There is not a single word in the Courrier de l’Europe which does not tend to throw a veil over my probity and my fortune; and that with the object of making the public believe that my claims in regard to the robbery of which I have been the victim during my stay in the Bastille are chimerical, and that no attention ought to be paid to my sworn statements. M. Morande carries his clumsiness to the extent of drawing this inference himself in ten places in his pamphlet.
The facts are within the knowledge of all London, M. du Bourg, Notary of the Ambassador of France, who sometimes accompanied M. Morande in his shadowy researches, has agreed to receive from the latter fifty guineas for his fees. M. Morande has offered as much as a hundred to Mr. Reilly (proprietor of the Freemason’s Hotel, at whose house I dwelt at the time of my departure from England in 1777) merely to declare that I had left without paying him. One can judge by that of the tremendous expense my enemies have been put to, to stop, by traducing me, the effect of my claims. In truth, I should be tempted to think that I am the one who is paying the costs of war and that M. Morande’s pocket-book is inflated only at the expense of mine.
It is at solicitation of M. Morande that Mr. Priddle, who had been my attorney in 1777, took out a writ against me for £60 pounds sterling, which I in no way owed him; and it is, to all appearances, by his advice that they have urged Mr. Sachi to come to England to take out another writ against me for £150 sterling, which I do not owe either.
The intention of my enemies was to have me ignominiously dragged to Newgate (a criminal prison which is also the civil prison of the county where I live.)
The writs (permission to imprison given upon a simple sworn statement, real or false) had been taken out in the greatest secrecy. The process-servers were ambushed in Mr. Swinton’s house; whilst that brave man, his housekeeper, and her children, took turns at the window to watch all my movements. Some days later I heard of the existence of the writs and the danger I had run. I provided the sureties, and went with them to the sheriff’s officer’s house. It was thus I wrecked the plot made against my liberty.
The details I have just given, and the proofs I had adduced in their support, are sufficient refutation of the calumnious imputations published broadcast by the Courrier de l’Europe*. I could stop there, but I do not wish to leave M. Morande the slightest subterfuge. He cites witnesses: we know how they were procured. No matter; let us examine them.
Attorney Raynold asserts, if one is to believe M. Morande, that I enriched myself at Miss Fry’s expense.
Reply: This witness is an infamous man. He has suffered the punishment of the pillory for the crime of perjury. Since [the date when] M. Morande referred to him as a witness, he has confessed to trustworthy persons, and more especially to M. Morande himself, the plot formed against me in 1777 and the role he played in it.
Attorney James, if one is to believe M. Morande will confirm Raynold’s testimony.
Reply: It is impossible. I have in my possession a note written by his hand in 1777, in which he personally attests the persecutions which Miss Fry has caused me to undergo.
The testimony he has given against me in this last case, in the presence of three trustworthy persons, will not allow me to believe that he could contradict himself in so shameful a manner.
When in 1777 I dismissed Attorney Priddle, Mr. James was the one to whom I gave my confidence. Before leaving I paid him what he asked me. Immediately I returned to London he came to find me telling me that he had made an error of six guineas against himself. This supposition was open to doubt; the presumption was in my favor. Yet I paid the six guineas. I wish to think that I was only just towards him; but at least I think I have acquired the right to ask of him that he should be just towards me.
Mr. Morande claims that Attorney Mitchel has curious information to give the public as to my action against Miss Fry.
Reply: I have difficulty in believing that Mr. Mitchel dares compromise himself on this point. He was not Miss Fry’s attorney, but only the substitute for Mr. Reynolds, her real attorney, who in my eyes flaunted the title of ‘sheriff’. When one has the misfortune to be compromised in a bad business, the most suitable part to take is that of silence; and that of all appearance is the one Mr. Mitchell will take.
Mr. Priddle has, they say, the same language as Raynold in favor of Miss Fry.
Reply: Priddle cannot be considered, because he was engaged by me in my action against her, because I dismissed him, and because the reason for his dismissal was precisely his excess of zeal for the interests of Miss Fry.
These causes for reproach are not the only ones. He has taken out a writ against me, and I have in my hands the proof by testimony, and in writing, that I have paid the debt he swore upon oath stood against me. I beg the reader, before forming an opinion upon Priddle, kindly to await the upshot of the action he has entered upon against me.
Attorney Aylett claims that I came in London in 1772 under the name of Balsamo.
Reply: Aylett has not been able to escape the penalty for the way he swindled me in 1777. He is condemned to the pillory for the crime of perjury.
[Mr. Pergolezzi claims the same thing as Mr. Aylett.
Reply: It is Mr. Pergolezzi who , in 1777 invented the fable from which Mr. Aylett profited. One could see in the account of the facts, what the motives were. Those which direct it today do not need to be stated.]1
Mr. Morande]1 claims that a Mr. Edmond, of whom he gives neither the rank nor the address, has heard Mr. Riciarelli say that I borrowed his ring, his watch and his tobacco box, that I put all in pawn, and that I deceived him as to the transmutation of metals, etc.
Reply: I am far from desiring to reject the testimony of Mr. Riciarelli; on the contrary, I invoke it. If Mr. Riciarelli still lives, he will be the first to give the lie to the calumnies which have been spread forth in his name.
Mr. Riciarelli was a perfectly honest man: he was a very clever musician. But his generosity and his taste for alchemy prevented him from enjoying the fortune which he had the right to expect from his talents. He came to see me at the time of my first journey to London. It was a real pleasure for me to offer him my table, and I continued to see him up to the moment of my departure. Would he have been so constantly attached to me, if I had the baseness to swindle him out of the few jewels he might have possessed?
Mr. Sachi attests the greater number of allegations stated in the Courrier de l’Europe.
Reply: it is good for the public to know what my relations with Mr. Sachi are.
During 1781 I found myself in my audience-room at Strasbourg surrounded by a great number of the sick poor, and having with me among others, Mr. Barbier, Commissary of War. An unknown man presented himself; it was Mr. Sachi. He pushes through the crowd and kneels before me, asking me to take him into my service out of charity, and offering to wear my livery. I lifted him up. Everything about him proclaimed the most profound destitution. He tells me his pretended history, says he is a notable bourgeois of Amsterdam. He tells me that he left that town after having undergone the greatest misfortunes. I ask him what he can do. He says that he has a smattering of surgical skill, that he can bleed, whiten teeth, etc.
His face seemed sinister to me; nevertheless, I overcame the repugnance with which it inspired me. I took a louis out of my pocket and gave it to him; I had him get a suit of clothes made, and kept him with me to help me in treating my patients.
As I thought it best not to admit him to my table, I then gave him every day a louis, now and again a half-louis, pay for his board at the inn. I carried my complaisance even to the extent of giving him the recipe for some medicaments, and among them a kind of elixir, called ‘yellow drops’ which he has since sold and which he sells today in London as being my balsam, although there is no kind of analogy between these two remedies.
He had been at most eight days in my service when an honest bourgeois, entering my house, said to me. ‘Monsieur, you have given life to my wife and daughter; I come to pay you the tribute of my gratitude. Know then that you have about you, in your assistant, a serpent. Sachi is a spy paid by the doctors, who are making it their business to work the ruin of your reputation. He has already levied contributions from several of your patients, telling them he acted so by your order.’
Mr. Sachi having entered during this conversation, the honest citizen repeated to Mr. Sachi present what he had just said of Mr. Sachi absent. The latter was confounded. I put him out of my doors. Furious at being unmasked, he boasted loudly that he would assassinate the one who had enlightened me as to himself. M. le Marquis de la Salle, commandant at Strasbourg having obtained information as to Sachi, had him expelled from the city.
The latter, when beyond the Rhine, wrote me an insolent letter in which he demanded of me 150 louis for the eight days he had passed in my service, declaring that if I did not pay that sum, he would defame me in a pamphlet.
I did not pay the money, and Mr. Sachi in conjunction with a M. Rochebrune–a French advocate who, by exiling himself, had avoided the penalty of the galleys, to which he had been condemned–composed the pamphlet which the Editor of the Courrier de l’Europe describes as a ‘Memoire’.
I left Strasbourg in 1783, to travel in Italy. Thence I returned to Bordeaux where I recommenced my public audiences. Mr. Sachi came to look for me there, not to bring me before the courts, but to hawk his pamphlet and to calumniate me anew. The town officers proposed to me to have him imprisoned. I opposed this and quitted Bordeaux.
At Lyons I did not practice medicine–they left me alone there–and it was the same at Paris until my imprisonment in the Bastille.
At that period Mr. Sachi joined forces with Jeanne de la Motte’s to issue a new edition of this pamphlet, which the Parliament at Paris had suppressed as containing insulting and calumnious statements.
Exiled from France and despoiled of my property, my necessary claims have aroused against me new enemies. Sachi, their worthy agent, followed me to England and there, not content with having brought out, with Mr. Morande’s help, the third edition of a pamphlet condemned by sovereign decision, has dared to affirm on oath that I owe him £150 sterling, and to have me arrested for that amount. (I learn at this moment that Sachi has just precipitately left England. The examples made of Raynold and Aylett have probably frightened him.)
Such is the witness that M. Morande extols as meriting the most complete confidence. If anyone should doubt the truth of the statements I have just made, let him write to Strasbourg; his doubts will soon be dissipated. All I say of Sachi can be verified at South Street No. 33 the house of the same person in whose hands is deposited Vitellini’s journal. There can be found attestation of the most formal, exact and authentic description signed by the Commissary of War, certified by a Notary, legalized by Messrs. the Praetors, Consuls and Magistrates of the town of Strasbourg. Can there be a clearer proof of my innocence, of the malice of M. Morande and the infamous procedure of Sachi?
As to my country
After having established the facts that Mr. Morande had twisted, and after having exposed his witnesses, may I be permitted to analyze some of the allegations and insulting reflexions with which he has be-sprinkled his pamphlet?
M. Morande, after having said that he is very certain that I was not born either at Medina, or Malta, or at Trebizonde, gives me three other countries out of which he wants me definitely to choose one.
You must necessarily be, he says to me, either Calabrian, because you have that accent; or Sicilian, because you have declared you were so; or Neapolitan, because Mr. Sachi attests that you were born in a suburb of Naples, and that your father is a poor man called ‘Ticho’.
Reply: Not knowing in what place in the world I first saw the light of day, it might be possible that M. Morande’s conjectures are well founded. I cannot, however, refrain from observing that the reasoning upon which he bases his remarks is very inconclusive.
1st: I was habituated from my tender youth to speak the Lingua Franca, a kind of jargon which has much affinity with the Italian language, and which it is necessary to speak in order to travel with any comfort in Barbary and the Levantine Ports. This is the reason why I speak Italian so badly, and it is apparently this bad pronunciation that has been described as the Calabrian accent and from which it has been lightly enough concluded that I was born in Calabria.
2nd: M. Morande claims to have in his hands an affidavit in which I have declared that I am Sicilian: whence he concludes that I must necessarily avow myself to be Sicilian, or that I commit perjury.
Reply: This reasoning would be good, if I had declared under oath that I was Sicilian; but the object of that affidavit of which M. Morande speaks was only to make a complaint of the robbery I had sustained. So I was able, without rendering myself guilty of perjury to give myself whatever name, country or description seemed good to me; for the reason that my name, country, my standing were matters outside the object of the sworn statement; and I had to take a name, a country, and a standing, to make the affidavit.
3rd: That I was born in a suburb of Naples; that my true name is Ticho; that my father was a coachman there; that I have been a barber and valet-de-chambre there. Mr. Sachi attests the truth of these statements.
Reply: I have already put the reader in a position to appreciate the testimony of Mr. Sachi; but if what he says in this regard is true, Naples is the town I ought most scrupulously to have avoided from fear of there finding either relatives or inconvenient acquaintances. Nevertheless, it is certain that I went there several times, not in 1783 only, two years after the publication of Mr. Sachi’s pamphlet. As to this I call to witness M. Desnon, Chargé d’Affaires of France at the Court of Naples. He will say whether I was or was not the friend of the Chevalier d’Acquino, and whether in fact the latter did not die at Naples during my last sojourn in that town.
Well, doubtless all this is too much about that article. Indeed what does it matter to the public whether I was born at Malta, at Medina, or at Trebizonde? What does it matter to the public whether I am Sicilian, Calabrian or Neapolitan? Let them give me for my country any place on Earth they like; I will accept it with gratitude, if I can at that price persuade my enemies not to trouble my tranquility any more.
But says M. Morande to me, you pass yourself off now as Comte, now as Marquis, now as a Prussian Colonel, now as a Spanish Captain,etc.
Reply: I agree. I agree moreover, that I am neither Count, nor Marquis, no Colonel, nor Captain. My actual rank, be it superior or inferior to those I have assumed, the public will one day learn. Meanwhile it cannot blame me for doing what all travelers do when they wish to preserve their incognito.
The same motives which have caused me to give myself fictitious names in my travels have also caused me to change my name several times. I agree in all good faith, that I have borne many different names in the different parts of the world; but I maintain with the same good faith, that I am neither named Ticho, nor Baltymore, nor Balsamo, nor Melisa, nor Cadislecker.
There is to be found on page 135, no 17 of the Courrier de l’Europe, after the enumeration of the different names which are said to have been mine, this remarkable phrase; ‘There are only two classes of people who can have the right to complain of these disguises: these are they who, having had business with M. le Comte under one of these names might have been forgotten by him when he had adopted another; or those who have reasons to remember that which he bears today.’
Is M. Morande in one of these two classes? Is there amongst his souteneurs a single person who is in a position to complain of me under any name whatsoever? Unquestionably, No! Why then, do they attack me, if the principles they themselves enunciate prohibit them from doing so?
The larger part of M. Morande’s long diatribe is occupied in proving that I came to London in 1772, under the name of Balsamo. To judge by the efforts M. Morande makes to establish this proof, one would suppose that the Balsamo with whom I am identified had deserved hanging, or at least had been guilty of dishonorable deeds. Not at all. This Balsamo, if one believes the Courrier de l’Europe, was a very ordinary painter who lived by his brush. A man named Benamore, an agent, or interpreter, or Chargé d’Affaires of the king of Morocco, had commissioned him to paint some pictures, and had not paid for them. Balsamo had brought an action against him for £47 sterling, which he claimed were due to him, acknowledging the receipt of two guineas on account. For the rest this Balsamo was so poor that his wife was obliged to go in person to sell her husband’s pictures about the town. Such is the portrait which M. Morande draws of Balsamo in London; a portrait which no one will accuse of being flattering and seeing which every intelligent reader will conclude merely that the Balsamo of London was an honest artist who worked for his living.
So I could acknowledge without blushing that I was I who, under the name of Balsamo, lived in London in 1772 on the product of my feeble talents in painting, for a chain of events might have reduced me to this extremity, and such an avowal not contradict what I have permitted to be glimpsed of my birth and my fortune. I might freely and openly have described the state to which Fortune had reduced me, without fear of the recital of that new adventure cooling the interest inspired by my misfortunes; but I formally deny it, simply because it is not true. It never happened.
One can see in the recital of the statements which have caused these rumors, and the cleverness with which Attorney Aylett has profited by it, not the desire to make me pay bills which I supposed left unpaid, but a plan to swindle me, by a false affidavit, out of 80 guineas in plate and goods. I do not know whether the action between Balsamo and Benamore is real or suppositious. What is certain is that there exists in London a qualified physician of irreproachable probity named Benamore. He is learned in oriental languages. He was formerly attached to the Morrocan Embassy in the character of interpreter, and he is at the present time still attached to the Tripolitan Embassy, in the same position. He will bear witness to all who wish to listen, that, for the thirty years he has been established in London, he has never known any other Benamore besides himself, and that he has never had a lawsuit with any person bearing the name of Balsamo.
However that may be, however little one reflects on the nature of the persecutions which I suffered in 1776 and 1777, it will be seen that they owe their origin solely to my profound ignorance of the language, customs, and usages of the country in which I was living. As may me believed in good faith, had I made in London a previous stay of a year or two, as it is sought to maintain that I did, I ask, should I have been the dupe of a Fry, and a Scott, and all the rascals who surrounded me? My first care would have been not to have fallen, on my arrival, into the hands of a Blevary and a Vitellini.
The great argument of M. Morande, in this respect rests upon the alleged resemblance existing between the signature of Joseph Balsamo and the signature Joseph Cagliostro.
Reply:–1st: M. Morande is the only one who asserts this resemblance and M. Morande is not an expert in this field. (The English law, wiser perhaps in this respect than the French law, does not know the procedure of proving writing. In England disputed writing is not taken into account, if witnesses are not provided.)]1
2nd: Resemblance of handwriting are too fortuitous to be able to base a judgment on a proof of that nature.
3rd: if this resemblance in handwriting is not the effect of chance it would be the work of some forger, paid either by my former or present enemies. These latter, weary without doubt of paying highly for defamatory columns which produce on the public no further effect than that of causing them to despise their authors, have decided to compose their material for themselves.
A confrere of Commissary Chenon found in the dust of his study an old dossier, made out in 1772, against Joseph Balsamo and Lorenza Feliciani, his wife. This pretended report, which is said at the present time to be deposited in the hands of M. le Procureur du Roi (the King’s Attorney), announces, if one believes what has been published in the Courrier de l’Europe and in other gazettes, that Balsamo came on horse-back from Calais to Paris, while Lorenza Feliciani traveled comfortably in a post-chaise with a M. Duplessis, secretary to the Marquis de Prie; that Balsamo and his wife after having lodged in the house of M. Duplessis, had a quarrel with him; that the husband was the expelled from the city as an empiric, and that the wife was shut up at Sainte-Pelagie, a prison to which only ‘filles de joie’ are consigned.
Reply: I do not know if the dossier, or report, is true or invented. What is certain is, that its nature and origin render it infinitely suspicious. The enemies I left at Paris have certainly the power and the willingness to harm me, and very certainly they are not scrupulous in their choice of means or doing so. If they have scattered gold broadcast in England; if, while themselves tranquil in their homes, they have succeeded thanks to that universal agent, in setting in motion a hundred leagues away, in a foreign realm, a mob of calumniators, false witnesses and perjurers, they have been able in Paris, under their own eyes …. But I refrain. Surrounded by horrors, it is more than I can bear to imagine new ones.
I limit myself then to the statement, and I think that it will not be difficult to believe me, that it is not I who under the name of Joseph Balsamo, was ignominiously expelled from Paris in 1772, and that it is not my wife who, under the name of Lorenza Feliciani, was imprisoned at the same time at Sainte-Pelagie.
The police of Paris are without doubt the best in the universe; when they hunt a vagabond, their first care is to give all their agents a description of the proscribed person, because without precaution he might return to Paris under another name, the day after his expulsion. If I were expelled from Paris in 1772, then my description must have been given to the entire police force; commissaries, inspectors, exempts, sbirri, spies, twenty thousand persons at least must have had in their hands the exterior details of my person.
I came to Strasbourg in 1780. I there attracted a multitude of patients. I cured them. And I refused to take their money, The physicians treated me as an empiric [an unqualified practitioner, a quack] The police of Paris wanted to know me, and deputed the honest M. de Brugnieres who was good enough in taking me to the Bastille in 1785 to confess the visit that had made to me incognito in 1780.
I came to Paris for thirteen days in 1781. I showed myself to three or four thousand people, among whom were certainly more than one police agent.
Shortly after my journey from Paris, an engraving was made–a perfect likeness of me. It as on exhibition in all the print seller’s shops in the capital and all the police spies and informers were free to compare it with the description they had in their possession.
In 1785 my wife and I were sent to the Bastille as suspected swindlers, for profanation and for lesé-majesté. At that time the police register of all Paris must have been searched and with more care than ever.
My wife was interrogated by the lieutenant General of Police in the presence of a Commissary. They asked her her name. That of Feliciani was the last name she would have given had it been true that under that name she had been confined in a bridewell by order of the police. Yet she declare her name to be Séraphine Feliciani.
All communication being impossible between my wife and myself, I did not know when I wrote my Memoire either she had been interrogate or not, and still less what she had replied. Nothing obliged me to make her name known. And surely one would not suppose me so awkward as to give my wife without any necessity for it, a name that was written in red letters on the police register and also upon those of House of Correction, a name which must of necessity recall to the police, and consequently the pulpit that I was no other that the empiric Balsamo, ignominiously expelled from Paris in 1772. And yet I declared in my first Memoire my wife’s name to be Séraphine Feliciani.
That is not all. I had not sooner entered the Bastille that I complained loudly of the pillage of some of my property. Afterwards I showed my uneasiness as to what could have happened to my money, papers and jewel I had. I declared openly that I would make the Commissary Chenon responsible for the damage and loss resulting from his failure to seal them up. Thus by my innocent claims I have personally embroiled myself with the most accredited agents of the police. And thus they have their private vengeance to satisfy also, independently of their duty. How is it that they did not at that time discover that there had existed at Paris a Feliciani, confined by the order of the police at Sainte-Pelagie? How does it happen that they have not tried to verify the existing record on the one hand, as to the character and description of Séraphine Feliciani, prisoner in the Bastille and those of Lorenza Feliciani, prisoner at Sainte-Pelagie; and on the other hand that character and description of the Comte de Cagliostro prisoner in the Bastille in 1785, husband of Séraphine Feliciani and those of Balsamo expelled from Paris in 1772, and husband of Lorenza Feliciani?
M. Morande who knows better that anyone the details, resources and administration of the Paris police, has been so struck by the absurdity of the story which his principals have obliged him to insert in his paper that he has found it necessary to declare that he does not guarantee the authenticity; so I am persuaded that this portion of my justification is needless for the French. But I write principally for the English; and I have not thought it right to lose an opportunity of acquainting them with the origins, motives, and purpose of the persecution I am undergoing.
Expulsion from St. Petersburg
M. Morande declares that I was expelled from St. Petersburg after the Spanish Chargé d’Affaires had forced me to cease wearing the uniform of a Spanish Colonel.
Reply: This is an old calumny, sprung from the Memoires of Madame de la Motte, which was refuted, in speech and writing, by the Baron de Corberon, Chargé d’Affaires of France in Russia, during my stay at St. Petersburg, and now Minister Plenipotentiary with the Duc de Deux-ponts.
Moreover, I have still in my possession the passport which was given me at my departure from St. Petersburg: and I can show it to those who desire to see it.
Letter from the Countess von Medem
M. Morande asserts that there exists in the Journal de Berlin, for the month of May last, a letter from the Countess von Medem, who accuses me of having tried, during my sojourn in Courland, to persuade her by fraud that I had made the image of her brother appear before her eyes.
Reply: This letter, if it exists, is certainly an apocryphal letter composed by forgers over the name of a lady in every way worthy of respect. I have in my possession a letter which she wrote me after my departure from Courland, in which she lavished upon me the most touching and unmistakable evidences of her affection, her esteem, her regret–I will go further and say, her respect for me. This letter which I keep as a precious souvenir will be made public if Madame la Comtesse von Recken permits me to have it printed, or puts me under the necessity of doing so, by a disavowal to which I neither can nor should be blind.
Debt to Mr. Silvestre
M. Morande claims that I have left debts in different towns of Europe where I have sojourned, and especially that I owe Mr. Silvestre of Cadiz a considerable sum.
Reply: I have ascertained the identity of this Mr. Silvestre. Mr. de M…, a very honest merchant, and one who is very well known, has given me information with regard to him, upon receipt of which I ceased to be surprise at his claims.
Mr. Silvestre is not the only creditor they threaten me with. I am assured that the Paris diligence is liable at any time to bring to London four Portuguese of the Faubourg St. Antoine (Parisian swindlers) and six Germans of the Marais, who will swear one after the other that I owe them considerable sums. So many writs will terrify my sureties and so I shall again have to occupy the London prisons.
The reader will perhaps be astonished to learn that during the six years I lived in France, in the sight and knowledge of all Europe, not a single creditor, foreigner or native, made any claim against me; while on the other hand I am scarcely established in England when they come upon me from all sides. But his astonishment will cease when he learns the differences in the civil laws of the two nations.
In France, to establish a debt of above four guineas one must have written proof. Here, to establish even the greatest indebtedness, one witness and the oath of the complainant suffice.
In France, the foreign complainant would not be heard did he not provide security for the payment of costs and damages. The defendant domiciled in England is not heard at all unless he is in prison or has given personal sureties. And if the complainant quits before a decision is rendered, the imprisoned defendant is obliged, before being able to obtain his liberty, to pay the costs of his defense and the costs of his imprisonment. I do not express a opinion as to the relative, merits of the laws of France and those of England, but I invite my new fellow-citizens to reflect upon this, and to prevent, if possible, an abuse which would make a stay in England formidable to all foreigners, and even to every citizen who is unfortunate enough to have powerful and unscrupulous enemies.
M. Morande alleges, without shadow of proof, that I took pay indiscriminately for the services I rendered my patients and that at Strasbourg, at Bordeaux, and elsewhere I shared the profits which the apothecaries made upon the drugs whose sale I obtained for them. I render this allegation plausible; he asserts that after my arrival in London I proposed to Mr. Jackson, Apothecary, to sell the Egyptian Pills on my account, at the rate of 36/- the box.
Reply: Mr. Jackson denied this calumny in the presence of his eldest boy and Mr. O’Reilly, but his connexion with Mr. Swinton does not permit him to make this disavowal as public as honesty would have required, truth demands that I render an account of my relations with Mr. Jackson.
I had need of a confidential apothecary for the preparation of the various remedies I administer to my patients. Mr. Swinton suggested Mr. Jackson, I went to him. As he spoke only English, I asked him through an interpreter for the drugs I needed. Mr. Jackson had only a very few of them. I took those he had and paid him at once for them. I then had some of the drugs which were not to be bought of Mr. Jackson bought elsewhere, and I compounded with those drugs and some other medicaments which are known to me alone, a certain quantity of paste for the Egyptian pills. I sent this paste to Mr. Jackson, with three books of leaf gold for him to make the pills ( Cagliostro always had his pills gilded in the fashion of the time.–P.A.M.) He sent me one small box of them but forgot to send the remainder of the gold and of the paste.
Mr. Jackson flattered himself that he would become my confidential apothecary. He made me several visits with that in view. I told him plainly that that was not possible, because it was indispensable for the apothecary I choose to understand me without the aid of an interpreter, as the slightest error on his part might be fatal to my patients; but Mr. Jackson was not discouraged. I had shown him the door, but he was not to be repulsed. Seeing that I was embroiled with Mr. Swinton, he went to M. Bergeret de Frouville, an old cavalry captain in the service of France, who had been good enough to place his house at my disposal for the treatment of the sick, and to help me in the manipulation and the administration of the remedies. Mr. de Frouville declared to Mr. Jackson that I had decided not to employ him but Mr. Jackson did not take that as final. He made two or three visits a day to M. de Frouville and ended by becoming such a nuisance that the latter was obliged, in order to get rid of his importunities, to have his door shut upon him.
M. and Madame de Frouville, M. Bergeret de Norinval, Secretary of Finance, and all their domestics, will testify if necessary, to the truth of this statement. They will declare it to be impossible to find anywhere in the world a more fawning, insinuating, and persistent apothecary than Mr. Jackson.
Moreover, it is wholly false that I have proposed to Mr. Jackson or to any other apothecary, to sell remedies for me. It is wholly false that I have ever made my patients pay for my remedies or my care. After my arrival in London a great number of them passed through my hands. The greater number was cured; all are living. I defy any one of them, rich or poor, cured or not cured to dare say that I have made them pay for my attendance or my remedies, either directly or indirectly.
M. Morande constitutes himself judge of my Masonic knowledge. He maintains that I have never in my life approached the Pyramids of Egypt, and that the Masons who have adopted the Egyptian Rite are all imbeciles, dupes of the false brethren who ought to be excluded from the lodges of the ordinary rite.
The proof that he gives appears to him to be unanswerable.
I received in 1777, in the Espérance Lodge in London, the four degrees of apprentice, companion, master and Scotch master. This lodge, if one is to believe M. Morande is composed of valets-de-chambre, perruquiers, artisans, in a word, of servants, and that such is the illustrious company where I saw the light for the first time.
Reply: M. Morande is very certainly unworthy of being a Mason. But either he is a Mason, or he is not. If he is not, he ought not to speak of what he does not know. If he is, he ought not to speak of what he does know. In any case, on behalf of a respectable society his manner of announcing himself ought to preclude him from entering not only all Masonic lodges, but even all clubs and assemblies where honesty counts for anything.
I have long since known the zeal of the English for Masonry, and my first care on arriving in their island was to visit their lodges. I ascertained the name of those where French was spoken. The lodge Espérance was suggested to me as one of the most regular. This ought to be enough for a true Mason, and it never struck me to inquire into the civil rank of each of its members.
The better to become instructed in the English method, I wished to present myself as a candidate. I confess that I was completely satisfied; that I found in the Lodge Espérance excellent Masons and that whatever rank the people that compose it may have in society, I shall always honor myself with the title of Brother.
As to the Egyptian Rite and the Masons who have embraced it, M. Morande can give himself free rein: the Science and its pupils are too far above him and his like to be afraid of his strictures.
My conduct towards my wife
M. Morande carries a prying eye into the interior of my household, in order to disturb the peace, he asserts that peace is banished from it. The reader most prejudiced against me has not read without indignation this part of his pamphlet. I am, if he is to be believed, the most ferocious of husbands, and my wife that most unfortunate of creatures. He agrees that my conduct towards her in society is that of a tender husband, but he maintain that I make her pay very dearly in private for the hypocritical regard I have for her in public.
The proof that this accusation is a calumny lies in the accusation itself. For if I torment my wife only when we are alone together, how can M. Morande assert that I do torment her? I could doubtless here invoke the testimony of those who have lived in friendship with me, but I should blush to have to justify myself as to such a matter. By what right does M. Morande dare to question me upon my private life? Who has constituted him upon this earth the censor of domestic manners, this man, who, if there existed such a magistracy, would be the last who ought to lay claim to it?
But even if it were true I had been so unjust, so cowardly, as to ill-treat the virtuous companion of my troubles, she alone would have the right to complain. When she is silent, no man in the world, be he magistrate or monarch, has the right to lift the veil with which her indulgent tenderness would have covered my outbursts of passion.
Before concluding, I think I owe a word of reply to M. Morande’s bravado, to reassure people who in the faith of Courrier de l’Europe, might fear that there had been no blood shed in this affair.
Neither my friends nor I will ever accept M. Morande’s challenges, for a very simple reason, which the reader will approve. M. Morande’s knows it perfectly, and it is precisely the certainty of refusal which gives him the hardihood to propose it.
Voltaire said (Questions sur l’Encyclopedie, édition de 1772, vol. VIII, p 261) speaking of M. Morande, ‘that fugitive from Bicêtre (a prison) abuses too much the contempt people have for him’. M. Morande fully bears out to-day the justice of that observation.
All London knew of his quarrels with M. le Comte de L…, with Madame la Chevaliere de E’…, with M. de C…., with M. de F…. and the uniform manner in which they have terminated.
My readers will perhaps not be wearied to learn what is, in such a case, M. Morande’s manner of acting and writing.
In the London paper entitled London Evening Post (dated November 26th, Nos. 8 to 62) is the following declaration:’ M. le Comte de l… after the HUMBLE SUBMISSIONS which I have made to him, having been kind enough to stay the proceedings commenced against me for having DEFAMED him, by verses full of falsities, and insulting to his honor and reputation, OF WHICH I AM THE AUTHOR, and which I have caused to be inserted etc., I beg you M…. to publish by the same channel by which I made my verses public, my sincere REPENTANCE for having so insultingly defamed M. le Comte de L…, and my VERY HUMBLE thanks for having accepted my SUBMISSIONS, and stayed his proceedings. (Signed) DE MORANDE.’
Perhaps one will be curious to know in what these submissions consist. M. Morande, after having sent his wife and children to intercede for him, went personally to throw himself at the feet of the Comte de L… and to beg him on his knees with clasped hands, kindly to pardon his impertinences. The humble penitent had, however, some days before, caused to be printed a note addressed to the same Comte de L… , in which he said ‘that he slept inter penas, sclopeta, et enses (*inter poena clupei et enses? -Ed.) and that he would wake when they wanted him.’
Such is the man that my enemies (M. Morande, so as to ring the changes upon his real principals, pretends today that it is M. le Baron de Breteuil who paid for his work, M. le Marquis de St. H…, and several other persons have been auricular witnesses of this statement, as imprudent as it is unlikely) have taken to their fold. Behold the worthy defender that my adversaries have chosen! And now this man has the audacity to challenge me and my friends to a duel! And he gives the choice of weapons to us, without dreaming that there is only one which can be honestly used against him.
At last I have carried out the troublesome task I imposed upon myself; I have demonstrated the falsity of all the defamatory alleged facts which the Sieur de Morande had undertaken to prove. If I have left without reply a mass of atrocious allegations, I have said enough to decide the verdict of the just and generous People whom I have the honor to regard as my judges. In unmasking my true enemies I have put it out of their power to hurt me; this victory is sufficient for me. I abandon to his own wickedness a branded scribe, whom France has rejected, England disavowed and Europe long appreciated at his true value. He can continue at liberty to defame me; I shall not bring him before the law courts. The wretched man has a wife; he is the father of three children; if I were to attack him, his inevitable ruin would entail that of his numerous family. I leave my vengeance in the hands of him who does not visit the crime of their father upon the children: it will perhaps be slower, but it will be none the less sure.
My trust in that Supreme Being has never been deceived; I have always seen his justice manifested sooner or later, and the wicked end miserably.
If the Sieur Morande can for an instant doubt this truth, so terrible for them, but consoling for good men; let him reflect upon the fate of those whose cause he has defended and whose horrors he has exceeded.
Madame de Blevary in payment for my benefactions delivered me into the hands of two swindlers. – She is dead.
Miss Fry, my implacable enemy, has not enjoyed the fortune she owed me. After having devoted the whole of it to suborning witnesses and corrupting the officers of justice, she fell into the most terrible misery.–She is dead.
Mr. Broad, the friend, the spy, the witness for Miss Fry, was in the flower of his age. – He is dead.
Mr. Dunning, Miss Fry’s lawyer, had been chosen to make a manifestly unjust cause triumph. – He is dead.
Mr. Wallace, my lawyer, instead of defending me, has delivered me up to the mercy of the arbitrator chosen by Miss Fry. – He is dead
Mr. Howarth gave an iniquitous judgment against me, which condemned innocence and left the perjurer unpunished. – He is dead (he drowned while crossing the Thames).
The Justice of the Peace at Hammersmith issued a warrant against my wife and myself for an imaginary crime: he was later dismissed in disgrace. – He is dead.
Madame Gaudicheau, sister of Miss Fry, was her accomplice, and Scott’s.–She is dead.
Mr. Crisp, Marshal of the King’s Bench prison, in connivance with Aylett, swindled me out of 50 guineas worth of plate, he has lost the lucrative position he enjoyed, and reduced to beggary has retired to an almshouse.–He died there.
Vitellini betrayed my confidence; his culpable indiscretion made him accomplice in a robbery of which he expected one day to enjoy the proceeds. He was thrown into a vagabond’s prison.–He died there.
Four years after my departure, there existed scarcely one of the persons I have just named. Of all my persecutors of that time there remain today only four individuals, whose manner of existence is such that death would be a benefit for them.
Raynold, the attorney of Miss Fry, and the accomplice of the theft from me committed by Scott, has suffered the infamous punishment of the pillory for the crime of perjury.
The attorney Aylett, who cheated me out of 80 guineas under pretext of my pretended identity with Balsamo of London, has just suffered the same punishment as Raynold, also for the crime of perjury. And this is the man who signed an affidavit against me! This is the man whom Morande consults, and whose friend he is!
The bailiff Saunders was involved in the plot against me. He delivered me into the hands of the attorney Priddle. His fortune was dissipated within a very short time; he was imprisoned for prevarication, and he has been in prison several years.
As for Scott, if I am not mistaken, he is living at this moment alone, without relatives and without friends, in the heart of Scotland. A prey to remorse, undergoing at the same time the anxieties of wealth and the miseries of poverty. He is tormented by the enjoyment of a wealth which ceaselessly escapes him, until at last he is perishing of inanition near the object of his cupidity, which has become the instrument of his suffering.
Such has been the destiny of the fourteen individuals who have been united against me and who violated the sacred rights of hospitality. A part of my readers will see in the series of these events only a combination of chance: as for me I recognize in them that divine providence which sometimes permitted me to be the victim of the wiles of the wicked, but which has always broken the instruments used to try me.
Now, my enemies think I am crushed. They have said to one another ‘let us trample under foot this man who knows us too well’; but they do not know that in spite of their efforts I shall rise triumphant, when the time of trial is over. They rejoice in the wounds they have inflicted upon me; but these foolish people in their mad transports do not see hovering over them the cloud from which the lightning will dart.
Oh that the truly terrible example I have just put before their eyes, provoking in their hearts a salutary repentance, might save me the grief of having to lament their fate! Let them recognize their errors! Let them make one simple step toward justice, and my lips will open only to bless them.
(signed) Le Comte de Cagliostro
Postscriptum: I do not know whether my enemies will reply to me, or adopt the role of silence. Whatever they may do I declare to them that this letter will be my only reply to all their calumnies, past, present or future; and I give my word of honor to the public that whatsoever they may say or do, I shall not write a single line more in my justification.
This document is a transcript of “http://www.scribd.com/doc/3056829/Letter-to-the-english-people” . The source reference documents are ‘Cagliostro. A messenger Long Misunderstood.’ By P.A. Malpas, M.A. in “Theosophical Path Magazine, July to October 1932,” p. 101ff, and continuing in ‘Cagliostro. A messenger Long Misunderstood.’ By P.A. Malpas, M.A. in “Theosophical Path Magazine, January to December 1935,” p. 373ff.
Thanks to the folks at “http://www.alkais.ro/fr/.” Check out the French-language source material offerings on Cagliostro at “http://www.alkais.ro/fr/.”
Portions of text in [ ] brackets are added by P. Wilford @ Faust.Com from “http://www.scribd.com/doc/12530462/Cagliostro-Lettre-Au-Peuple-Anglais”
The Letter to the English People
This is the 1787 letter Cagliostro sent to the newspapers in response to scandalous accusations that had been made against him in London. People have tended to believe what Cagliostro writes here, drawing facts for biographies from its contents, and accepting his point of view where it is the only one available–and except where it conflicts with the scandalous accusations. Thus, we accept his version of events in the small details, while still believing that he was Giuseppe Balsamo, previously in London–which he specifically denies. Cagliostro’s biography, of necessity, is a pastiche of contributions from both sides.