After the abbe had delivered a brief discourse on the nature of secret missions and the discretion necessary to those charged with them, he told me that he would let me know when anything suitable for me presented itself.
I made the acquaintance of the Abbe Galiani, the secretary of the Neapolitan Embassy. He was a brother to the Marquis de Galiani, of whom I shall speak when we come to my Italian travels. The Abbe Galiani was a man of wit. He had a knack of making the most serious subjects appear comic; and being a good talker, speaking French with the ineradicable Neapolitan accent, he was a favourite in every circle he cared to enter. The Abbe de la Ville told him that Voltaire had complained that his Henriade had been translated into Neapolitan verse in such sort that it excited laughter.
"Voltaire is wrong," said Galiani, "for the Neapolitan dialect is of such a nature that it is impossible to write verses in it that are not laughable. And why should he be vexed; he who makes people laugh is sure of being beloved. The Neapolitan dialect is truly a singular one; we have it in translations of the Bible and of the Iliad, and both are comic."
"I can imagine that the Bible would be, but I should not have thought that would have been the case with the Iliad."
"It is, nevertheless."
I did not return to Paris till the day before the departure of Mdlle. de la Meure, now Madame P----. I felt in duty bound to go and see her, to give her my congratulations, and to wish her a pleasant journey. I found her in good spirits and quite at her ease, and, far from being vexed at this, I was pleased, a certain sign that I was cured. We talked without the slightest constraint, and I thought her husband a perfect gentleman. He invited us to visit him at Dunkirk, and I promised to go without intending to do so, but the fates willed otherwise.
Tiretta was now left alone with his darling, who grew more infatuated with her Strephon every day, so well did he prove his love for her.
With a mind at ease, I now set myself to sentimentalize with Mdlle. Baletti, who gave me every day some new mark of the progress I was making.
The friendship and respect I bore her family made the idea of seduction out of the question, but as I grew more and more in love with her, and had no thoughts of marriage, I should have been puzzled to say at what end I was aiming, so I let myself glide along the stream without thinking where I was going.
In the beginning of May the Abbe de Bernis told me to come and call on him at Versailles, but first to see the Abbe de la Ville. The first question the abbe asked me was whether I thought myself capable of paying a visit to eight or ten men-of-war in the roads at Dunkirk, of makin