Where did you find that?"
"In a manuscript at Wolfenbuttel."
The king laughed loudly, though he himself had been citing manuscripts. But he returned to the charge and said,--
"Can you cite any passage of Horace (not in manuscript) where he shews his talent for delicacy and satire?"
"Sir, I could quote several passages, but here is one which seems to me very good: 'Coyam rege', says the poet, 'sua de paupertate tacentes, plus quan pocentes ferent."
"True indeed," said the king, with a smile.
Madame Schmit, who did not know Latin, and inherited curiosity from her mother, and eventually from Eve, asked the bishop what it meant, and he thus translated it:
"They that speak not of their necessities in the presence of a king, gain more than they that are ever asking."
The lady remarked that she saw nothing satirical in this.
After this it was my turn to be silent again; but the king began to talk about Ariosto, and expressed a desire to read it with me. I replied with an inclination of the head, and Horace's words: 'Tempora quoeram'.
Next morning, as I was coming out from mass, the generous and unfortunate Stanislas Augustus gave me his hand to kiss, and at the same time slid a roll of money into my hand, saying,--
"Thank no one but Horace, and don't tell anyone about it."
The roll contained two hundred ducats, and I immediately paid off my debts. Since then I went almost every morning to the king's closet, where he was always glad to see his courtiers, but there was no more said about reading Ariosto. He knew Italian, but not enough to speak it, and still less to appreciate the beauties of the great poet. When I think of this worthy prince, and of the great qualities he possessed as a man, I cannot understand how he came to commit so many errors as a king. Perhaps the least of them all was that he allowed himself to survive his country. As he could not find a friend to kill him, I think he should have killed himself. But indeed he had no need to ask a friend to do him this service; he should have imitated the great Kosciuszko, and entered into life eternal by the sword of a Russian.
The carnival was a brilliant one. All Europe seemed to have assembled at Warsaw to see the happy being whom fortune had so unexpectedly raised to a throne, but after seeing him all were agreed that, in his case at all events, the deity had been neither blind nor foolish. Perhaps, however, he liked shewing himself rather too much. I have detected him in some distress on his being informed that there was such a thing as a stranger in Warsaw who had not seen him. No one had any need of an introduction, for his Court was, as all Courts should be, open to everyone, and when he noticed a strange face he was the first to speak.
Here I must set down an event which took place towards the end of January. It was, in fact, a dream; and, as I think I have confessed before, superstition had always some hold on me.
I dreamt I was at a banquet, and one of the guests threw a bottle at my face, that the blood poured forth, that I ran my sword through my enemy's body, and jumped into a carriage, and rode away.
Prince Charles of Courland came to Warsaw, and asked me to dine with him at Prince Poninski's, the same that became so notorious, and was afterwards proscribed and shamefully dishonoured. His was a hospitable house, and he was surrounded by his agreeable family. I had never called on him, as he was not a 'persona grata' to the king or his relations.
In the course of the dinner a bottle of champagne burst, and a piece of broken glass struck me just below the eye. It cut a vein, and the blood gushed over my face, over my clothes, and even over the cloth. Everybody rose, my wound was bound up, the cloth was changed, and the dinner went on merrily. I was surprised at the likeness between my dream and this incident, while I congratulated myself on the happy difference between them. However, it all came true after a few months.
Madame Binetti, whom I had last seen in London, arrived at Warsaw with her husband and Pic the dancer.