The Comte de St. Germaine was a real historical character. Of all the many adventurers brilliant and volatile that flitted across the polished surface of Parisian life during the gay butterfly days of La Pompadour, none was more interesting, none left a more fascinating reflection, than he. No one knew who he was, no one knew his antecedents, no one knew whence he came, but there he suddenly appeared, to shine transiently and somewhat luridly for a year or two in a certain heaven of quasi high life.
Nothing could have been more sudden than his advent. One day he was unheard of; the next, all the world talked of him, gazed at him, and wondered. Great people adopted him and [Pg 4]made much of him; courtiers and cabinet ministers bowed to him; the king petted him, talked with him in his privy closet by the hour, and held long and intimate discourse with him. He possessed the rare and distinguished privilege of a free and familiar entrée to Madame de Pompadour's dressing-room—a crowning honor, and one only enjoyed by the greatest and most favored courtiers.