Le Portefeuille de Madame Gourdan  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Le Portefeuille de Madame Gourdan (1783) is a collection of letters of Marguerite Gourdan, famous procuress in Paris of the 18th century. The collection was published by Charles Théveneau de Morande.

It was augmentend and republished in 1924 by Georges and Robert Briffaut as CORRESPONDANCE DE MADAME GOURDAN, dite La Comtesse with an introduction and notes by Jean Hervez (Raoul Veze) under the imprint Bibliothèque des curieux.

Portefeuille is French for portfolio or wallet.

Excerpted from The Erotic History of France , translations by Henry Marchand

From Mademoiselle Savigni,

Paris, July / j, i'J7<f'

Dear Mama,

The officer who supported me has had to return to his regiment because his furlough is over. I don't know what to do and am turning to you for help. You know that I'm a good girl, afraid of nothing, and that everything's all right with me provided I am well paid for it. I am not of the class that demands that everything be done according to rules of decency. That's nonsense. What do men expect to find? A regular whore is everywhere at her post and has every privilege. I hope that you will praise my principles and not forget your loving child.


From Mademoiselle Raucourt, July, 8, ijSi.

Madame:

At the Italian theatre yesterday I saw in your company a young pretty person. If you can get her for me for one night I shall pay you six louis d'or. Entirely yours, R.


From Mademoiselle Sophie,

Paris, February 2j, ijS^.

Dear Mama,

I've gotten into a hell of a hole with your damn Carmelite. He has gotten me into a terrible condition. Never in my life have I been so sick. A-Iy physician, for whom I have sent this morning, informs me that I shall be sick for at least two months. I hope that you will help me and not leave me in this condition. After all, I got this wound while under your standards. Please send me by this messenger, two louis. You will greatly oblige. Yours gratefully, S.


From Madame Berbier, Paris, April p, I'jS^.

Madame:

My daughter is not able to comply with your wish at this time. Immediately after the ballet she had a miscarriage. As soon as she will be well again, however, she will present herself at Madame's, and will be ready for service.

I have the honor to be your very devoted servant.

Mrs. Berbier.

From Mademoiselle François,

Arpajon, May 27, 77^5.

Madame:

I'm only a simple country girl but that I am pretty, no one can deny. I am an orphan, and not yet eighteen years old. I've heard the servants at the castle say that I have a maidenhead which would be bought dearly at Paris and that for you Madame, I would be worth much gold. Hence, I have obtained your address from them, who laughed at my request but gave it to me none the less. If you want me, you have merely to summon me and I shall come with my maidenhead. I don't know yet what it is, but they say that you will take care of everything. I remain very respectfuly,

Your devoted servant.


From M. T., Paris, 2^rd June I'jj^.

Madame:

My daughter is turning fourteen. If you wish we can talk about first fruits. It will not be at all difficult to win the youngster. With a few bonbons and a little courtesy one can do with her what one wills. One only needs certain preparations. It will be necessary that you take her to you as chambermaid. Please specify the time and I will come with my daughter and we shall settle everything. I have the honor to remain in all respect, your very devoted.

F.

From Monsieur de B., May i, i'j'j6.

Madame:

I possess a collection of the positions of Aretino in forty pictures. Since I am going to Rome I should like to dispose of them. It seems to me that as a room decoration nothing would be more suitable for you. They cost five thousand francs. Only a year ago I was unwilling to part with them to (Duke de ) for a hundred louis. If you wish to inspect them I shall remain at home all day tomorrow.


From Mr. D. (Book Agent), June 22, ijSo.

Madame:

I have just received from Holland editions de luxe of the Virgin, Portier des Chartreux, Margo, Positions of Aretino, Ode to Priapus, Futromanie, Discourse of Two Nuns, for the instruction of young dames who want to enter into society. If any of these appeal to you, madame, please inform me at what time to bring them.

This sheaf of letters from the portfolios of the notorious and powerful panderess gives us some insight into the nefarious life which she and countless others of her ilk led, and the infinite mischief and corruption they engendered.

See also




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