He kept a dancing school, and had a good many pupils. He was delighted to have news of Fanny and his children. He sent them some money, but had no thoughts of having them at Warsaw, as Fanny wished. He assured me she was not his wife.
He told me that Tomatis, the manager of the comic opera, had made a fortune, and had in his company a Milanese dancer named Catai, who enchanted all the town by her charms rather than her talent. Games of chance were permitted, but he warned me that Warsaw was full of card-sharpers. A Veronese named Giropoldi, who lived with an officer from Lorrain called Bachelier, held a bank at faro at her house, where a dancer, who had been the mistress of the famous Afflisio at Vienna, brought customers.
Major Sadir, whom I have mentioned before, kept another gaming-house, in company with his mistress, who came from Saxony. The Baron de St. Heleine was also in Warsaw, but his principal occupation was to contract debts which he did not mean to pay. He also lived in Villier's house with his pretty and virtuous young wife, who would have nothing to say to us. Campioni told me of some other adventurers, whose names I was very glad to know that I might the better avoid them.
The day after my arrival I hired a man and a carriage, the latter being an absolute necessity at Warsaw, where in my time, at all events, it was impossible to go on foot. I reached the capital of Poland at the end of October, 1765.
My first call was on Prince Adam Czartoryski, Lieutenant of Podolia, for whom I had an introduction. I found him before a table covered with papers, surrounded by forty or fifty persons, in an immense library which he had made into his bedroom. He was married to a very pretty woman, but had not yet had a child by her because she was too thin for his taste.
He read the long letter I gave him, and said in elegant French that he had a very high opinion of the writer of the letter; but that as he was very busy just then he hoped I would come to supper with him if I had nothing better to do.
I drove off to Prince Sulkouski, who had just been appointed ambassador to the Court of Louis XV. The prince was the elder of four brothers and a man of great understanding, but a theorist in the style of the Abbe St. Pierre. He read the letter, and said he wanted to have a long talk with me; but that being obliged to go out he would be obliged if I would come and dine with him at four o'clock. I accepted the invitation.
I then went to a merchant named Schempinski, who was to pay me fifty ducats a month on Papanelopulo's order. My man told me that there was a public rehearsal of a new opera at the theatre, and I accordingly spent three hours there, knowing none and unknown to all. All the actresses were pretty, but especially the Catai, who did not know the first elements of dancing. She was greatly applauded, above all by Prince Repnin, the Russian ambassador, who seemed a person of the greatest consequence.
Prince Sulkouski kept me at table for four mortal hours, talking on every subject except those with which I happened to be acquainted. His strong points were politics and commerce, and as he found my mind a mere void on these subjects, he shone all the more, and took quite a fancy to me, as I believe, because he found me such a capital listener.
About nine o'clock, having nothing better to do (a favourite phrase with the Polish noblemen), I went to Prince Adam, who after pronouncing my name introduced me to the company. There were present Monseigneur Krasinski, the Prince-Bishop of Warmia, the Chief Prothonotary Rzewuski, whom I had known at St. Petersburg, the Palatin Oginski, General Roniker, and two others whose barbarous names I have forgotten. The last person to whom he introduced me was his wife, with whom I was very pleased. A few moments after a fine- looking gentleman came into the room, and everybody stood up. Prince Adam pronounced my name, and turning to me said, coolly,--
"That's the king."
This method of introducing a stranger to a sovereign prince was assuredly not an overwhelming one, but it was nevertheless a surprise; and I found that an excess of simplicity may be as confusing as the other extreme.