Commonplace Book – Pages 79-83
“The Chevalier D’eon – A correct and fine Portrait of this extraordinary character; also a Lady of distinction in the King’s birth-day Court full dress, beautifully colored; and a whole length portrait figure in the Kensington Gardens mantle dress, beautifully colored, a new song, taken from the Lady of the Lake, by Walter Scott, Esq. titled ‘The heath this night shall be my bed,’ and set to music expressly for this work by Mr. Hook, who has undertaken to set all the songs successively which are contained in the much admired work of Lady of the Lake, and in his most scientific manner. – The pattern for needle-work is also original and fanciful – Such are the interesting and very valuable embellishments which enrich the Sixth Number of the new series of La Belle Assemble, published on the first of July. The literary department includes Memoirs of the Life of the Chevalier D’eon, decorously written, preserving all the political and literary interest in his memoirs, and rejecting all equivocal construction, and a greater quantity than usual of other original and highly interesting literary articles and fashionable communications. The utmost exertions are making to render this new series of La Belle Assemblee a work deserving of the patronage of every lover of elegant literature, and of the admirers of chaste, appropriate and beautiful embellishments. Printed for John Bell, Proprietor of Bell’s Weekly Messenger, Southhampton street, Strand.
“The Castle of Perseverance” – a Morality Play of about 1425. Consists of: a prologue in the form of ‘Banns,’ the play itself, a list of characters and a plan.
The ‘Banns’: Contains 12 stanzas or 156 lines – They are written for delivery by 2 vexillatores as the stanzas alternate between them.
‘Glorious God! In all degrees Lord of most might -
That heaven and earth made of nought, both sea and land,
The angels in heaven him to serve bright,
And mankind in middle-earth he made with his hand,
And our Lovely Lady that lantern is of light -
Save our liege lord, the King, the leader of this land,
And all the nobles of this realm, and rede them the right,
And all the good commons of this town that before us stand in this place!’
It is a reference to Man’s bareness of all goods as eh enters and leaves the world, and alludes to the angel of Good and Bad that pull Man this way and that. Man has 3 enemies: The World, the Fiend and the Flesh. Pride and Avarice lead Man to the World, the Devil leads him to Anger and Envy, and the Flesh calls him to Sloth, Lechery, Gluttony and others. The Good Angel sends conscience and confession with penance-doing to call Man to good living. And then Meekness, Patience, Charity, Soberness, Busyness, Chastity, and Generosity bring him to refuge in the Castle of Perseverance.
Pride vs. Meekness, Anger vs. Patience, Envy vs. Charity but battle between Covetessness vs. Generosity will be longest. Covetessness also encourages Gluttony vs. Soberness, Lechery vs. Chastity and Sloth vs. Busyness.
The last and 7th sin, is Lust-liking, which in medieval times was different from lechery. Lechery represents only that desire directed towards sexual things while Lust – liking would signify any inordinate desire for material things.
The phrase ‘on the green’ is what we would call today the ‘acting area.’ The phrase dates back to the days of the old green baize stage-cloth used to cover the stage in Restoration times; and also used in the masques at Court.
The stage directions are written mostly in Latin and by a 15th c. scribe who was presumably an Englishman and thus may have had imperfect knowledge of its syntax. It also contains many abbreviations and certain letters are almost exactly the same in form as other letters or pairs of letters. There are 32 stage directions in the original script of ‘The Castle of Perseverance.”
According to the Plan, both World and God have separate scaffolds marked in their name, the World’s in the Wes and God’s in the East. The Devil also has his own scaffold, that on the North.
The plan of the Castle also calls for a ditch – an enormous and apparently disproportionate amount of labor just for one day’s performance. The audience would sit on the mound of dirt in front of the performance. It had to present persons crossing it with any ease, this means that it cannot have been less than some 10 ft wide, and cannot have been less han 5 ft deep. The Hill must have been 5 ft high and 10 ft thick at the base; or both higher and thinner, or both lower and thicker; but containing the same volume of earth as came out of the ditch.
Cornish Rounds: The earliest source is Richard Carew’s The Survey of Cornwall, 1602. There is no mention of a ditch, but rather the words ‘they raise an earthen Amphitheatre.’ It says its some 40 or 50 feet. This size is considerably less, but it presents us with the idea of a very compact little circle that, given good weather conditions, might probably have been pleasant both to speak in and to see in.
The next example quoted by Norris from a manuscript by Scawen, belonging to soon after the Restoration: ‘The play – shows or spectacles…solemnized not without shew of devotion in open and spacious downs, of great capacity, encompassed about with earthen banks, and in some part stonework of largeness to contain thousands, the shapes of which remain in many places at this day, though the use of them is long since gone.’ – The audience was not outside, but inside – ‘contained by the earthen banks – No ditch – much more expensive and expansive task – where as in the Castle legend: ‘if any ditch may be made where it shall be played…’
The Round of St. Just: William Borlase – published in 1745 – ‘observations on the Antiquities Historical and Monumental of Cornwall’ – 126 ft as the diameters of the circle at St. Just in Penwith. The height of the hill above the Place as ‘now’ 7 ft, the ditch is outside the bank of seats and a drop into it of now 10 ft.’ He also suggests that in addition to 6 rows of steps on the inner side of the bank, there was a wide ‘rampart’ round the top, 7 ft wide. The circle of such dimensions might hold 4,000 people.
‘Ye haste you then thitherwards, Sirs, hendly in height,
All good neighbors, full specially we you pray,
And look that ye be there betimes, lovely and light…”
The people come in and divide; they either climb the Hill round the side and settle in the seats here, or they pick a spot on the grass of the Place itself and settle.
Scaffold 1: Where God is enthroned with several angels – he is bald with a wreath fillet round his hair a spear in his hand, large winds and full plate armor.
Scaffold 2: Holds the orchestra – is level with 1 + 3
Scaffold 4 + 5: #4 seats ladies of quality and those in 5 are citizen’s wives
Scaffold 6: Hell – occupies both upper and lower stories – upper story is provided with loose drapery ‘balustrade’ skirting the bottom of the opening
Last line of the Castle Perseverance: ‘Surely I see him, Lord royal, There in the plain.’
It was not until the Italian Renaissance that the place of a performance could become attired in costume like an actor and take part in the drama – and scenery was born.
Commonplace Book – Pages 75-78
Excerpts of St. Germain in the Casanova Memoirs
“The most enjoyable dinner I had was with Madame de Gergi who came with the famous adventurer, known by the name of the Comte de St. Germain. This individual, instead of eating, talked from the beginning of the meal to the end, and I followed his example in one respect as I did not east, but listened to him with the greatest attention. It may safely be said that as a conversationalist he was unequaled.”
“St. Germain gave himself out for a marvel and always aimed at exciting amazement, which he often succeeded in doing. He was a scholar, linguist, musician, and chemist, good-looking and a perfect ladies’ man. For awhile he gave them paints and cosmetics; he flattered them , not that he would make them young again (which he modestly confessed was beyond him) but that their beauty would be preserved by means of a wash which, he said, cost him a lot of money, but which he gave away freely.”
“He had contrived to gain the favour of Madame de Pompadour, who had spoken about him to the King, for whom he had made a laboratory, in which the monarch – a martyr to boredom – tried to find a little pleasure or distraction, at all events, by making dyes. The King had given him a suite of room at Chambord, and a hundred thousand francs for the construction of a laboratory, and according to St. Germain the dyes discovered by the King would have a materially beneficial influence on the quality of French fabrics.”
“This extraordinary man, intended by nature to be the King of impostors and quacks, would say in an easy, assured manner that he was three hundred years old, that he knew the secret of the Universal Medicine, that he possessed a mastery over nature, that he could melt diamonds, professing himself capable of forming, out of ten or twelve small diamonds, one large on of the finest water without any loss of weight. All this, he said, was a mere trifle to him. Notwithstanding his boastings, his bare-faced lies, and his manifold eccentricities, I cannot say I though him offensive. In spite of my knowledge of what he was and in spite of my own feelings, I thought him an astonishing man as he was always astonishing me. I shall have something more to say of this character later on.”
“When Madame d’Urfe had introduced me to call her friends, I told her that I would dine with her whenever she wished, but that with the exception of her relations and St. Germain , whose wild talk amused me, I should prefer her to invite no company. St. Germain often dined with the best society in the capital, but never ate anything, saying that he was kept alive by mysterious food known only to himself. One soon got used to his eccentricities, but not to his wonderful flow of words which made him the soul of whatever company he was in.”
“In the course of my life I have often observed that the happiest hours are often the heralds of misfortune. The very next day my evil genius took me to the Ville de Lyon. This was the inn where Piccolomini and his wife were staying, and I found them there in the midst of a horse of cheats and sharpers, like themselves. As soon as the good people heard my name they rushed forward, some to meet me, and others to have a closer look at me, as if I were some strange wild beast. Amongst those present were a Chevalier de Sabi, who wore the uniform of a Polish major, and protested he had known me at Dresden; a Baron de Wiedan, claiming Bohemia as his fatherland, who greeted me by saying that his friend the Comte de St. Germain had arrived at the Etoile d’Orient, and had been inquiring after me; an attenuated-looking bravo who was introduced to me as the Chevalier de la Peine, whom I recognized a the first glance as the fellow called Talvis, who had robbed the Prince – Bishop of Presburg, who had lent me a hundred louis the same day, and with whom I had fought a duel at Paris. Finally, there was an Italian named Neri, who looked like a blacksmith minus his honesty, and said that he remembered seeing me one evening at the casino. I recollected having seen him at the place where I met the wretched Lucie.”
“Next morning I awoke late and in a bad humour, partly from the debauch of the night before (for profligacy depresses as well as degrades the mind) and partly from the thought that I had neglected Esther, who had unquestionably been grieved by my absence. I felt that I must hasten to reassure her, feeling certain that I should find some excuses to make, and that they would be well received. I rang for Le Duc, put on my dressing-gown, and sent him for my coffee. He had scarcely left the room when the door opened and I saw Perine and the fellow named Wiedan, whom I had seen at Piccolomini’s, and who styled himself a friend of St. Germain. I was sitting on my bed, putting on my stockings. My apartments consisted of three fine rooms, but they were at the back of the house, and all the noie I could have made would not have been heard. The bell was on the other side of the room; Le Duc would be gone fully ten minutes, and I was in imminent danger of being assassinated without the possibility of self-defense.”
“Sit down beside me, my dear children, and listen to your father and your best friend. I have just received a letter from one of the secretaries of their high mightinesses informing me that the French ambassador has demanded, in the name of the King his master, that the Comte de St. Germain should be delivered over, and that the Dutch authorities have answered that His Most Christian Majesty’s requests shall be carried out as soon as the person of the count can be secured. In consequence of this the police, knowing that the Comte de St. Germain was staying at the Etoile d’Orient, sent to arrest him at midnight, but the bird had flown. The landlord declared that the Count had posted off at nightfall, taking the way to Nimeguen. He has been followed, but there are small hopes of catching him up.” ‘It is not known how he can have discovered that a warrant existed against him, or how be continued to evade arrest.’
‘It is not known,’ went on M. d’O – laughing, ‘but everyone guesses that M. Calcoen, the same that wrote to me, let this friend of the French King’s know that he would be wanted at midnight, and that if he did not get the key of the fields he would be arrested. He is not so foolish as to despise a piece of advice like that. The Dutch government has expressed its sorrow to M. d’Afri that his excellence did not demand the arrest of St. Germain sooner, and the ambassador will not be astonished at this reply, as it is like many others given on similar occasions.’
“It soon became known that St. Germain had bone by Emden and had embarked for England, where he had arrived in safety. In due time we shall hear some further details concerning this celebrated impostor; and in the meanwhile I must relate a catastrophe of another kind, which was neat to have made me die in the death of a fool.”
“M. d’O – came back and I went to dine with him. He was pleased to hear that his daughter had effected a complete cure by spending a day with me. When we were alone he told me that he had heard at the Hague that the Comte de St. Germain had the art of making diamonds which only differed from the real ones in weight, and which, according to him, would make his fortune. M. d’O – would have been amused if I had told him all I knew about this charlatan.”
“This was enough to give me the same desire, so I wrote him a letter, expressing my wish to speak to him, and asking him to name an hour. His reply, which I have preserved, ran as follows: ‘The gravity of my occupation compels me to exclude everyone, but you are an exception. Come whenever you like, you will be shewn in. You need not mention my name nor your own. I do not ask you to share my repast, for my food is not suitable to others – to you least of all, if your appetite is what it used to be.”
“At nine o’clock I paid my call, and found he had grown a beard two inches long. He had a score of retorts before him, full of liquids in various stages of digestion. He told me he was experimenting with colours for his own amusement, and that he had established a hat factory for Count Cobenzl, the Austrian ambassador at Brussels. He added that the Count had only given him a hundred and fifty thousand florins, which were insufficient. Then we spoke of Madame d’Urfe.”
‘She poisoned herself,’ said he, ‘by taking too strong a dose of the Universal Medicine, and her will shews that she thought herself to be with child. If she had come to me, I could have really made her so, though it is a difficult process, and science has not advanced far enough for us to be able to guarantee the sex of the child.’
“When he heard the nature of my disease, he wanted me to stay three days at Tournay for him to give me fifteen pills, which would effectively cure me, and restore me to perfect health. The he shewed me his magistrum, which he called athoeter. It was a white liquid contained in a well-stoppered phial. He told me that this liquid was the universal spirit of nature, and that if the wax on the stopper was pricked ever so slightly, the whole of the contents would disappear. I begged him to make the experiment. He gave me the phial and a pin, and I pricked the wax, and to lo! the phial was empty.” It is very fine,” said I, “but what good is all this?” ‘I cannot tell you; that is my secret.’
“He wanted it to astonish me before I went, and asked me if I had any money about me. I took out several pieces and put them on the table. He got up, and without saying what he was going to do, he took a burning coal and put it on a metal plate and placed a twelve-sols piece with a small black grain on the coal. He then blew it, and in two minutes it seemed on fire.” ‘Wait a moment,’ said the alchemist, ‘let it get cool,’ and it cooled almost directly. ‘Take it; it is yours,’ said he.”
“I took up the piece of money and found it had become gold. I felt perfectly certain that he had smuggled my silver piece away, and had substituted a gold piece coated with silver for it. I did not care to tell him as much, but to let him see that I was not taken in, I said “It is really very wonderful, but another time you should warn me what you are going to do, so that the operation might be attentively watched, and the piece of money noted before being placed on the burning coal.” ‘Those that are capable of entertaining doubts of my art,’ said the rogue, ‘are not worthy to speak to me.’
“This was in his usual style of arrogance, to which I was accustomed. This was the last time I saw this celebrated and learned impostor; he died at Shlesing six or seven years after. The pieces of money he gave me was pure gold, and two months after Field-marshal Keith took such a fancy to it that I gave it to him.”
Commonplace Book – Pages 72-75
Notes on Le Comte de Saint Germain (Part 1)
Excerpts of St. Germain in the Memoirs of Madame du Hausset
“A man who was quite as astonishing as this fortune-teller, often visited Madame de Pompadour. This was Comte de St. Germain, who wished to have it believed that he had lived several centuries.”
[St. Germain] was an adept – a worthy predecessor of Cagliostro, who expected to live five hundred years. The Comte de St. Germain, pretended to have already lived two thousand, and according to him, the account was still running. He went so far as to claim the power of transmitting the gift of long life. One day, calling upon his servant to, bear witness to a fact that went pretty far back, the man replied, “I have no recollection of it, sir; you forget that I only had the honour of serving you for five hundred years.”
“St. Germain, like all other charlatans of this sort, assumed a theatrical magnificence, and an air of science calculated to deceive the vulgar. His best instrument of deception was the phantasmagoria; and as, by means of this abuse of the science of optics, he called up shades which were asked for, and almost always recognized, his correspondence with the other world was a thing proved by the concurrent testimony of numerous witnesses.”
“Some days afterwards, the King, Madame de Pompadour, some Lords of the Count, and the Comte de St. Germain were talking about his secret for causing the spots in diamonds to appear. The King ordered a diamond of middling size, which had a spot, to be brought. It was weighed; and the King said to the count, ‘It is valued at two hundred and forty louis; but it would be worth four hundred if it had no spot. Will you try to put a hundred and sixty louis into my pocket?’ He examined it carefully and said, ‘It may be done; and I will bring it to you again in a month.’ At the time appointed, the Count brought back the diamond without a spot, and gave it to the King. It was wrapped in a cloth of amianthus, which he took off. The King had it weighed, and found it but very little diminished. The King sent it to his jeweler by M. de Gontaut, without telling him anything of what had passed. The jeweler have three hundred and eighty louis for it. The King, however, sent for back again, and kept it as a curiosity. He would not overcome his surprise, and said that M. de St. Germain must be worth millions, especially if he had also the secret of making large diamonds out of small ones. He neither said that he had, nor that he had not; but he positively asserted that he could make pearls grow, and give them the finest water. The King, paid him great attention, and so did Madame de Pompadour.”
“M. de St. Germain said, one day, to the King. ‘To think well of mankind, one must be neither a Confessor, nor a Minister, nor a Lieutenant of Police.’ – ‘Nor a King,’ said his Majesty. ‘Ah! Sire,’ replied he, ‘you remember the fog we had a few days ago, when we could not see four steps before us. King are commonly surrounded by still thicker fogs, collected around them by men of intriguing character, and faithless Ministers – all, of every class, unite in endeavoring to make things appear to King in any, light but the true one.’ I head this from the mouth of the famous Comte de St. Germain, as I was attending upon Madame, who was ill in bed. The King was there; and the Count, who was welcome visitor, had been admitted. There were also present, M. de Gontaut, Madame de Brancas, and the Abbe de Bernis. I remember that the very same day, after the Count was gone out, the King talked in a style which gave Madame great pain. Speaking of the King of Prussia, he said, ‘That is a madman, who will risk all to gain all, and may perhaps, win the game, though he has neither religion, morals nor principles. He wants to make a noise in the world, and he will succeed. Julian, the Apostate, did the same.’ – ‘I never saw the King so animated before,’ observed Madame, when he was gone out,’ and really the comparison with Julian, the Apostate, is not amiss, considering the irreligion of the King of Prussia. If he gets out of his perplexities, surrounded as he is by his enemies, he will be one of the greatest men in history.’
“The Comte de St. Germain came to see Madame de Pompadour, who was ill, and lay on the sofa. He shewed her a little box, containing topazes, rubies and emeralds, He appeared to have enough to furnish a treasury Made sent for me to see all these beautiful things. I looked at them with an air of the utmost astonishment, but I made signs to Madame that I though them all false. The Count felt for something in his pocketbook, about twice as large as a spectacle – case, and at length, drew out two or three little paper packets, which he unfolded, and exhibited a superb ruby. He threw on the table, with a contemptuous air, a little cross of green and white stones. I looked at it and said, ‘That is not to be despised.’ I put it on, and admired it greatly. The Count begged me to accept it. I refused – he urged me to take it. Madame then refused it for me. At length, he pressed it upon me so warmly that Madame, seeing that it could not be worth above forty louis, made me a sign to accept it. I took the cross, much pleased at the Count’s politeness; and, some days after, Madame presented him with an enameled box, upon which was the portrait of some Grecian sage (whose name I don’t recollect) to whom she compared him. I shewed the cross to a jeweler, who valued it at sixty-five louis. The Count offered to bring Madame some enamel portraits, by Petitot, to look at and she told him to bring them after dinner, while the King was hunting. He shewed his portraits, after which Madame said to him, ‘I have heard a great deal of a charming story you told two days ago, at supper, at M. le Premier’s, of an occurrence you witnessed fifty or sixty years ago.’ He smiled and said, ‘It is rather long.’ – ‘So much the better,’ said she, with an air of delight. Madame de Gontaut and the ladies came in, and the door was shut; Madame made a sign to me to sit down behind the screen. The Count made many apologies for the ennui which his story would, perhaps, occasion. He said, ‘Sometimes one can tell a story pretty well; at other times it is quite a different thing.’
Commonplace Book – Pages 70-72
Excerpt from the Antiquarian Repertory
First, the citizens’ children walked before her magnificently dressed, after followed gentlemen habited in velvets of all sorts, some black, others in white, yellow, violet, and carnation; others wore satins or taffety, and some damasks of all colours, having plenty of gold buttons; afterwards followed the Mayor, with the City Companies, and the chiefs or masters of the several trades; after them, the Lords, richly habited, and the most considerate knights; next came the ladies, married and single, in the midst of whom was the Queen herself, mounted on a small while ambling nag, the housings of which were fringed with gold thread; about her were six lacqueys, habited in vests of gold.
The Queen herself was dressed in violet velvet, and was then about forty years of age, and rather fresh coloured. Before her were six lords bareheaded, each carrying in his hand a yellow mace, and some other bearing the arms and crown. Behind her followed the archers, as well as of the fist as the second guard.
She was followed by her sister, named Madame Elizabeth, in truth a beautiful Princess, who was also accompanied by ladies both married and single.
The representatives of the French people, organized in the National Assembly, considering that ignorance, forgetfulness or contempt of the rights of man are the sole causes of the public miseries and of the corruption of governments, have resolved to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of man, in order that this declaration, being ever present to all the members of the social body, may unceasingly remind them of their rights and their duties; in order that the acts of the legislative power and those of the executive power may be each moment compared with the aim of every political institution and thereby may be more respected; and in order that the demands of the citizens, grounded henceforth upon simple and incontestable principles, may always take the direction of maintaining the constitution and the welfare of all.
In consequence, the National Assembly recognizes and declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen.
1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions can be based only upon public utility.
2. The aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural and inprescriptable rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
3. The source of all sovereignty is essentially in the nation; no body, no individual can exercise authority that does not proceed from it in plain terms.
4. Liberty consists in the power to do anything that does not injure others; accordingly, the exercise of the natural rights of each man has for its only limits those that secure to the other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights. These limits can be determined only law.
5. The law has the rights to forbid only such actions as are injurious to society. Nothing can be forbidden that is not interdicted by the law, and no one can constrained to do that which it does not order.
6. Law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to take part personally or by their representatives in its formation. It must be the same for all, whether eligible to all public dignities, places, and employments, according to their capacities, and without other distinction than that of their virtues and their talents.
7. No man can be accused, arrested, or detained except in the cases determined by the law and according to the forms that it has prescribed. Those who procure, expedite, execute, or cause to be executed arbitrary order ought to be punished; but every citizen summoned or seized in virtue of the law ought to render instant obedience; he makes himself guilty by resistance.
8. The law ought to establish only penalties that are strictly and obviously necessary and no one can be punished except in virtue of the law established and promulgated prior to the offense and legally applied.
9. Every man being presumed innocent until he has been pronounced guilty, if it is thought indispensable to arrest him, all severity that may be necessary to secure his person ought to be strictly suppressed by law.
10. No one ought to be disturbed on account of his opinions, even religious, provided their manifestation does not derange the public order established by law.
11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man; every citizen then can freely speak, write, and print, subject to responsibility for the abuse of this freedom in the cases determined by law.
12. The guarantee of the rights of man and of the citizen requires a public force; this force then is instituted for the advantage of all and not for the personal benefit of those to whom it is entrusted.
13. For the maintenance of the public force and for the expenses of administration a general tax is indispensable; it ought to be equally apportioned among all the citizens according to their means.
14. All the citizens have the right to ascertain, by themselves or by their representatives, the necessity of the public tax, to consent to it freely, to follow the employment of it, and to determine the quota, the assessment, the collection, and the duration of it.
15. Society has the right to call for an account from every public agent of its administration.
16. Any society in which the guarantee of the rights is not secured or the separation of powers not determined has no constitution at all.
17. Property being a sacred and inviolable right, no one can be deprived of it unless a legally established public necessity evidently demands it, under the constitution of a just and prior indemnity.