After the concert, when Paganini returned the instrument to M. Livron, the latter, who had been to hear him, exclaimed, "Never will I profane the strings which your fingers have touched! That instrument is yours." The astonishment and delight of the young artist may be more easily imagined than described.
* Livron: "Statistitcheskoe Obozrenie Rossiiskoi Imperii," St. Petersburg, 1875. The above figures include the whole Empire. The figures according to the latest census are not yet available. Armed with these materials, the traveller goes to his Russian friends who have assured him that their country knows nothing of class distinctions.
In this emergency he applied to M. Livron, a French gentleman, a merchant of Leghorn, and an excellent amateur performer, who possessed a Guarneri del Gesù violin, reputed among connoisseurs one of the finest instruments in the world. The generous Frenchman instantly acceded to the boy's wish, and the precious violin was put in his hands.
The owner of the estate on which the cavern was situated, though unaware of the meetings, was fined a thousand crowns, and imprisoned for a year in the Castle of Cret. Next month, Louis Ranc, a pastor, was seized at Livron while baptizing an infant, taken to Die, and hanged.
For a time his careless life had its allurements, but the young virtuoso was frequently reduced to great straits, and on one occasion, if not more, pawned his violin. This happened at Leghorn, where he was to play at a concert, and it was only through the kindness of a French merchant, M. Livron, who lent him a beautiful Guarnieri, that he was able to appear.
Lavoutte, on the right bank, is a picturesque congeries of red-tiled houses massed round a square chateau. The town indeed looks a mere appendage of this chateau, so conspicuous is the ancient stronghold of the Vivarais. Livron, perched on a hill, looks very pretty.
About a mile before we reached Loriol, and just after passing a small town called Livron, we crossed the Drome, over a noble bridge of three arches, constructed of a rough sort of whitish marble, and reminding us somewhat of a reduced section of the Strand bridge. Its massy solidity is not misplaced, as a view up the mountain glen to the left of it convinced us.
It is a curious coincidence that the fine violin which was presented to him by M. Livron, as we have just seen, was the cause of his abandoning, after a while, the allurements of the gaming-tables.