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 54-58
Seems to have been free personally and enjoyed and sought the company of the pretty women of his day. Never ate any food in public, liked dining out because of the people he met and the conversation he heard.
It appears from the Memoirs of Baron von Gleichen, that when Saint Germain was in Paris, he became a lover of Mademoiselle Lambert, daughter of the Chevalier Lambert, who lived in the house in which he lodged.
He also had a love of jewels in an extreme form, and he ostentatiously showed off those he possessed. He kept a great quantity of them in a casket, which he carried about everywhere with him.
This is incompatible with the part he played in the Hermetic societies of Germany and France. His outward appearance of a man of the world was necessary in the first place for the purposes of the secret diplomacy [Secret du Roi] in which Louis XV often employed him.
“A man who knows everything and who never dies“, said Voltaire. Louis XV must have known who he was, as he alotted him rooms in the Chateau of Chambord – he would shut himself up with Germain and Madame de Pompadour for hours of conversation.
Most common hypothesis concerning his birth was that he was the son of Marie de Neubourg (widow of Charles II of Spain) and a Comte Adanero, whom she knew at Bayonne.
Another theory is that he was one of the sons of Francis Racoczi II, Prince of Transylvania. The children of Francis were brought up by the Emperor of Austria, but one of them was withdrawn from his guardianship. The story was that the child was dead, but was actually given into the charge of the last descendant of the Medici family.
He took the name of Saint Germain from the little town of San Germano, where he spent some years during his childhood and where his father had estates. “of middle height, strongly built, and dressed with superb simplicity” – Gleichen
He spoke with an entire lack of ceremony to the most highly placed personages and was fully conscious of his superiority. Many people who heard him play violin said of him that he equaled or even surpassed the greatest virtuosos of the period. Also an accomplished artist.
“I am pleased with you, and you have earned my showing you a few paintings of mine.”
“And he very effectively kept his word, for the paintings he showed me all bore a stamp of singularity or perfection which made them more interesting than many works of art of the highest order”- Gleichen
Nothing but the possession of alchemy could perhaps account for the enormous wealth at his command, though he was not known to have money on deposit on any banker’s. The diamonds that he wore in his shoes and garters were believed to be worth more than 200,000 francs. He asserted he could increase the size of pearls at will.
Madame du Hausset tells us that he was showing the queen some jewels and she commented on the beauty of a cross of white and green stones. Germain made a present of it and Hausset refused, but the queen signed to her that she might accept. Madame du Hausset had the stones valued, they turned out to be genuine and extremely valuable.
The musician Rameau and Madame de Gergy both assert that they had met him in Venice in 1710, under the name of le Marquis de Montferrat. Both of them agree that he appeared to be 40-50 years old.
Later, Madame de Gergy told Madame de Pompadour that she had received from Germain at Venice an elixir that enabled her to preserve the appearance of a woman of 25. 50 years later, Pompadour questioned Germain about the elixir, “It is not impossible; but I confess it is likely that this lady, for whom I have the greatest respect, is talking nonsense.”
The period of his great celebrity extended from 1750 – 1760, and then for 15 years he disappeared, and when the Comtesse d’Adhemar saw him again in 1775, she declared he was younger than ever. Twelve years later, she saw him and he was the same.
“These fools of Parisians, believe that I am five hundred years old. I confirm them in this idea because I see that it gives them much pleasure – not that I am infinitely older than I appear.”
Saint Germain asserted also that he had the capacity of stopping the mechanism of the human clock during sleep. He thus almost entirely stopped the physical wastage that proceeds, without our knowing it, from breathing and the beating of the heart.
He was interested in the preparation of dyes and even started a factory in Germany for the manufacture of felt hats. After the revolution of Russia in 1762, Count Alexis’ Orloff’s brother, Gregory, handed over to Soltikov (St. Germain) of his own free will 20,000 sequins, an uncommon action, seeing that St. Germain had not rendered him any particular service.
Beginning of the reign of Louis XVI, that St. Germain met with le Comtesse d’Adhemar to arrange a meeting with Queen Marie Antoinette, who immediately asked if he was going to settle in Paris again.
- “A century will pass before I come here again. The Encyclopedist party desires power, which it will obtain only by the complete fall of the clergy. In order to bring about this result, it will upset the monarchy. The Encyclopedists, who are seeking a chief among the member of the royal family, have cast their eyes on the Duke de Chartes. The duke will become the instrument of men who will sacrifice him when he has ceased to be useful to them. He will come to the scaffold instead of to the throne. Not for long will the laws remain the protection of the good and the terror of the wicked. The wicked will seize power with bloodstained hands. They will do away with the Catholic religion, the nobility and the magistracy.”
- “So that even the royalty will be left?”
- “Not even royalty. There will be a bloodthirsty republic, whose scepter will be the executioner’s knife.”
Saint Germain then asked to see the king, without his minister, Maurepas. The king did not possess sufficient authority and informed Maurepas of the interview with the Queen. Maurepas thought it wise to place Germain in the Bastille.
“The king has called on you to give him good counsel, and in refusing to allow me to see him you think only of maintaining your authority. You are destroying the monarchy, for I have only limited time to give to France, and when that time has passed I shall be seen again only after three generations. I shall not be to blame when anarchy with all its horrors devastates France. You will not see these calamities, but the face that you paved the way for them will be enough to blacken your memory.”
Secluded at Eckenforn in the Count of Hesse Cassel’s castle, St. Germain announced that he was tired, feeble but refused to see a doctor. No details exist of his supposed “death” in 1784.
It was known that he left all his papers and certain documents relating to Freemasonry to the Count – Germain must have been at least 100 years old at this time. Official Freemason documents say that in 1785 the French masons chose him as their representative at the great convention, with Mesmer, Saint-Martin, and Cagliostro present.
1786 – Was received by the Empress of Russia
1789 – Comtesse d’Adhemar met with him in the Church of the Recollets, after the fall of the Bastille.
1821 – Mdlle de Genlis met him during the negotiations for the Treaty of Vienna and again in the Piazza di San Marco. In Vienna he took part in the foundation of the Society of Asiatic Brothers and the Knights of Life, who studied alchemy, and it was he who gave Mesmer his fundamental ideas on personal magnetism and hypnotism.
With co-operation of Savalette de Lange, who was the nominal head, he founded the group of Philalethes. The Prince of Hesse, Condorcet, and Cagliostro were all members of this group.
“Man has in him infinite possibilities and that, from the practical point of view, he must strive unceasingly to free himself of matter in order to enter into communication with the world of higher intelligences.”