The Crayon Papers/The Charming Letorières
The Charming Letorières 
"A good face is a letter of recommendation," says an old proverb; and it was never more verified than in the case of the Chevalier Letorieres. He was a young gentleman of good family, but who, according to the Spanish phrase, had nothing but his cloak and sword (capa y espada), that is to say, his gentle blood and gallant bearing, to help him forward in the world. Through the interest of an uncle, who was an abbe, he received a gratuitous education at a fashionable college, but finding the terms of study too long, and the vacations too short, for his gay and indolent temper, he left college without saying a word, and launched himself upon Paris, with a light heart and still lighter pocket. Here he led a life to his humor. It is true he had to make scanty meals, and to lodge in a garret; but what of that? He was his own master; free from all task or restraint. When cold or hungry, he sallied forth, like others of the chameleon order, and banqueted on pure air and warm sunshine in the public walks and gardens; drove off the thoughts of a dinner by amusing himself with the gay and grotesque throngs of the metropolis; and if one of the poorest, was one of the merriest gentlemen upon town. Wherever he went his good looks and frank, graceful demeanor, had an instant and magical effect in securing favor. There was but one word to express his fascinating powers--he was "charming."
Instances are given of the effect of his winning qualities upon minds of coarse, ordinary mold. He had once taken shelter from a heavy shower under a gateway. A hackney coachman, who was passing by, pulled up, and asked him if he wished a cast in his carriage. Letorieres declined, with a melancholy and dubious shake of the head. The coachman regarded him wistfully, repeared his solicitations, and wished to know what place he was going to "To the Palace of Justice, to walk in the galleries; but I will wait here until the rain is over."
"And why so?" inquired the coachman, pertinaciously.
"Because I've no money; do let me be quiet."
The coachman jumped down, and, opening the door of his carriage, "It shall never be said," cried he, "that I left so charming a young gentleman to weary himself, and catch cold, merely for the sake of twenty-four sous."
Arrived at the Palace of Justice, he stopped before the saloon of a famous restaurateur, opened the door of the carriage, and taking off his hat very respectfully, begged the youth to accept of a Louis-d'or. "You will meet with some young gentlemen within," said he, "with whom you may wish to take a hand at cards. The number of my coach is 144. You can find me out, and repay me whenever you please."
The worthy Jehu was some years afterward made coachman to the Princess Sophia, of France, through the recommendation of the handsome youth he had so generously obliged.
Another instance in point is given with respect to his tailor, to whom he owed four hundred livres. The tailor had repeatedly dunned him, but was always put off with the best grace in the world. The wife of the tailor urged her husband to assume a harsher tone. He replied that he could not find it in his heart to speak roughly to so charming a young gentleman.
"I've no patience with such want of spirit!" cried the wife; "you have not the courage to show your teeth: but I'm going out to get change for this note of a hundred crowns; before I come home, I'll seek this 'charming' youth myself, and see whether he has the power to charm me. I'll warrant he won't be able to put me off with fine looks and fine speeches."
With these and many more vaunts, the good dame sallied forth. When she returned home, however, she wore quite a different aspect.
"Well," said her husband, "how much have you received from the 'charming' young man?"
"Let me alone," replied the wife; "I found him playing on the guitar, and he looked so handsome, and was so amiable and genteel, that I had not the heart to trouble him."
"And the change for the hundred-crown note?" said the tailor.
The wife hesitated a moment: "Faith," cried she, "you'll have to add the amount to your next bill against him. The poor young gentleman had such a melancholy air that--I know not how it was, but--I left the hundred crowns on his mantel-piece in spite of him!"
The captivating looks and manners of Letorieres made his way with equal facility in the great world. His high connections entitled him to presentation at court, but some questions arose about the sufficiency of his proofs of nobility; whereupon the king, who had seen him walking in the gardens of Versailles, and had been charmed with his appearance, put an end to all demurs of etiquette by making him a viscount.
The same kind of fascination is said to have attended him throughout his career. He succeeded in various difficult family suits on questions of honors and privileges; he had merely to appear in court to dispose the judges in his favor. He at length became so popular that on one occasion, when he appeared at the theater on recovering from a wound received in a duel, the audience applauded him on his entrance. Nothing, it is said, could have been in more perfect good taste and high breeding than his conduct on this occasion. When he heard the applause, he rose in his box, stepped forward, and surveyed both sides of the house, as if he could not believe that it was himself they were treating like a favorite actor, or a prince of the blood.
His success with the fair sex may easily be presumed; but he had too much honor and sensibility to render his intercourse with them a series of cold gallantries and heartless triumphs. In the course of his attendance upon court, where he held a post of honor about the king, he fell deeply in love with the beautiful Princess Julia, of Savoy Carignan. She was young, tender, and simple-hearted, and returned his love with equal fervor. Her family took the alarm at this attachment, and procured an order that she should inhabit the Abbey of Montmartre, where she was treated with all befitting delicacy and distinction, but not permitted to go beyond the convent walls. The lovers found means to correspond. One of their letters was intercepted, and it is even hinted that a plan of elopement was discovered. A duel was the consequence, with one of the fiery relations of the princess. Letorieres received two sword-thrusts in his right side. His wounds were serious, yet after two or three days' confinement he could not resist his impatience to see the princess. He succeeded in scaling the walls of the abbey, and obtaining an interview in an arcade leading to the cloister of the cemetery. The interview of the lovers was long and tender. They exchanged vows of eternal fidelity, and flattered themselves with hopes of future happiness, which they were never to realize. After repeated farewells, the princess re-entered the convent, never again to behold the charming Letorieres. On the following morning his corpse was found stiff and cold on the pavement of the cloister!
It would seem that the wounds of the unfortunate youth had been reopened by his efforts to get over the wall; that he had refrained from calling assistance, lest he should expose the princess, and that he had bled to death, without any one to aid him, or to close his dying eyes.