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Childhood, Casanova, v1 by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

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This etext was produced by David Widger





An Unpublished Chapter of History, By Arthur Symons


The Memoirs of Casanova, though they have enjoyed the popularity of a
bad reputation, have never had justice done to them by serious
students of literature, of life, and of history. One English writer,
indeed, Mr. Havelock Ellis, has realised that 'there are few more
delightful books in the world,' and he has analysed them in an essay
on Casanova, published in Affirmations, with extreme care and
remarkable subtlety. But this essay stands alone, at all events in
English, as an attempt to take Casanova seriously, to show him in his
relation to his time, and in his relation to human problems. And yet
these Memoirs are perhaps the most valuable document which we possess
on the society of the eighteenth century; they are the history of a
unique life, a unique personality, one of the greatest of
autobiographies; as a record of adventures, they are more
entertaining than Gil Blas, or Monte Cristo, or any of the imaginary
travels, and escapes, and masquerades in life, which have been
written in imitation of them. They tell the story of a man who loved
life passionately for its own sake: one to whom woman was, indeed,
the most important thing in the world, but to whom nothing in the
world was indifferent. The bust which gives us the most lively
notion of him shows us a great, vivid, intellectual face, full of
fiery energy and calm resource, the face of a thinker and a fighter
in one. A scholar, an adventurer, perhaps a Cabalist, a busy stirrer
in politics, a gamester, one 'born for the fairer sex,' as he tells
us, and born also to be a vagabond; this man, who is remembered now
for his written account of his own life, was that rarest kind of
autobiographer, one who did not live to write, but wrote because he
had lived, and when he could live no longer.

And his Memoirs take one all over Europe, giving sidelights, all the
more valuable in being almost accidental, upon many of the affairs
and people most interesting to us during two-thirds of the eighteenth
century. Giacomo Casanova was born in Venice, of Spanish and Italian
parentage, on April 2, 1725; he died at the Chateau of Dux, in
Bohemia, on June 4, 1798. In that lifetime of seventy-three years he
travelled, as his Memoirs show us, in Italy, France, Germany,
Austria, England, Switzerland, Belgium, Russia, Poland, Spain,
Holland, Turkey; he met Voltaire at Ferney, Rousseau at Montmorency,
Fontenelle, d'Alembert and Crebillon at Paris, George III. in London,
Louis XV. at Fontainebleau, Catherine the Great at St. Petersburg,
Benedict XII. at Rome, Joseph II. at Vienna, Frederick the Great at
Sans-Souci. Imprisoned by the Inquisitors of State in the Piombi at
Venice, he made, in 1755, the most famous escape in history. His
Memoirs, as we have them, break off abruptly at the moment when he is
expecting a safe conduct, and the permission to return to Venice
after twenty years' wanderings. He did return, as we know from
documents in the Venetian archives; he returned as secret agent of
the Inquisitors, and remained in their service from 1774 until 1782.
At the end of 1782 he left Venice; and next year we find him in
Paris, where, in 1784, he met Count Waldstein at the Venetian
Ambassador's, and was invited by him to become his librarian at Dux.
He accepted, and for the fourteen remaining years of his life lived
at Dux, where he wrote his Memoirs.

Casanova died in 1798, but nothing was heard of the Memoirs (which
the Prince de Ligne, in his own Memoirs, tells us that Casanova had
read to him, and in which he found 'du dyamatique, de la rapidite, du
comique, de la philosophie, des choses neuves, sublimes, inimitables
meme') until the year 1820, when a certain Carlo Angiolini brought to
the publishing house of Brockhaus, in Leipzig, a manuscript entitled
Histoire de ma vie jusqu' a l'an 1797, in the handwriting of Casanova.
This manuscript, which I have examined at Leipzig, is written on
foolscap paper, rather rough and yellow; it is written on both sides
of the page, and in sheets or quires; here and there the paging shows
that some pages have been omitted, and in their place are smaller
sheets of thinner and whiter paper, all in Casanova's handsome,
unmistakable handwriting. The manuscript is done up in twelve
bundles, corresponding with the twelve volumes of the original
edition; and only in one place is there a gap. The fourth and fifth
chapters of the twelfth volume are missing, as the editor of the
original edition points out, adding: 'It is not probable that these
two chapters have been withdrawn from the manuscript of Casanova by a
strange hand; everything leads us to believe that the author himself
suppressed them, in the intention, no doubt, of re-writing them, but
without having found time to do so.' The manuscript ends abruptly
with the year 1774, and not with the year 1797, as the title would
lead us to suppose.

This manuscript, in its original state, has never been printed. Herr
Brockhaus, on obtaining possession of the manuscript, had it
translated into German by Wilhelm Schutz, but with many omissions and
alterations, and published this translation, volume by volume, from
1822 to 1828, under the title, 'Aus den Memoiren des Venetianers
Jacob Casanova de Seingalt.' While the German edition was in course
of publication, Herr Brockhaus employed a certain Jean Laforgue, a
professor of the French language at Dresden, to revise the original
manuscript, correcting Casanova's vigorous, but at times incorrect,
and often somewhat Italian, French according to his own notions of
elegant writing, suppressing passages which seemed too free-spoken
from the point of view of morals and of politics, and altering the
names of some of the persons referred to, or replacing those names by
initials. This revised text was published in twelve volumes, the
first two in 1826, the third and fourth in 1828, the fifth to the
eighth in 1832, and the ninth to the twelfth in 1837; the first four
bearing the imprint of Brockhaus at Leipzig and Ponthieu et Cie at
Paris; the next four the imprint of Heideloff et Campe at Paris; and
the last four nothing but 'A Bruxelles.' The volumes are all
uniform, and were all really printed for the firm of Brockhaus.
This, however far from representing the real text, is the only
authoritative edition, and my references throughout this article will
always be to this edition.

In turning over the manuscript at Leipzig, I read some of the
suppressed passages, and regretted their suppression; but Herr
Brockhaus, the present head of the firm, assured me that they are not
really very considerable in number. The damage, however, to the
vivacity of the whole narrative, by the persistent alterations of M.
Laforgue, is incalculable. I compared many passages, and found
scarcely three consecutive sentences untouched. Herr Brockhaus
(whose courtesy I cannot sufficiently acknowledge) was kind enough to
have a passage copied out for me, which I afterwards read over, and
checked word by word. In this passage Casanova says, for instance:
'Elle venoit presque tous les jours lui faire une belle visite.'
This is altered into: 'Cependant chaque jour Therese venait lui faire
une visite.' Casanova says that some one 'avoit, comme de raison,
forme le projet d'allier Dieu avec le diable.' This is made to read:
'Qui, comme de raison, avait saintement forme le projet d'allier les
interets du ciel aux oeuvres de ce monde.' Casanova tells us that
Therese would not commit a mortal sin 'pour devenir reine du monde;'
pour une couronne,' corrects the indefatigable Laforgue. 'Il ne
savoit que lui dire' becomes 'Dans cet etat de perplexite;' and so
forth. It must, therefore, be realized that the Memoirs, as we have
them, are only a kind of pale tracing of the vivid colours of the

When Casanova's Memoirs were first published, doubts were expressed
as to their authenticity, first by Ugo Foscolo (in the Westminster
Review, 1827), then by Querard, supposed to be an authority in regard
to anonymous and pseudonymous writings, finally by Paul Lacroix, 'le
bibliophile Jacob', who suggested, or rather expressed his
'certainty,' that the real author of the Memoirs was Stendhal, whose
'mind, character, ideas and style' he seemed to recognise on every
page. This theory, as foolish and as unsupported as the Baconian
theory of Shakespeare, has been carelessly accepted, or at all events
accepted as possible, by many good scholars who have never taken the
trouble to look into the matter for themselves. It was finally
disproved by a series of articles of Armand Baschet, entitled
'Preuves curieuses de l'authenticite des Memoires de Jacques Casanova
de Seingalt,' in 'Le Livre,' January, February, April and May,
1881; and these proofs were further corroborated by two articles of
Alessandro d'Ancona, entitled 'Un Avventuriere del Secolo XVIII., in
the 'Nuovo Antologia,' February 1 and August 1, 1882. Baschet had
never himself seen the manuscript of the Memoirs, but he had learnt
all the facts about it from Messrs. Brockhaus, and he had himself
examined the numerous papers relating to Casanova in the Venetian
archives. A similar examination was made at the Frari at about the
same time by the Abbe Fulin; and I myself, in 1894, not knowing at
the time that the discovery had been already made, made it over again
for myself. There the arrest of Casanova, his imprisonment in the
Piombi, the exact date of his escape, the name of the monk who
accompanied him, are all authenticated by documents contained in the
'riferte' of the Inquisition of State; there are the bills for the
repairs of the roof and walls of the cell from which he escaped;
there are the reports of the spies on whose information he was
arrested, for his too dangerous free-spokenness in matters of
religion and morality. The same archives contain forty-eight letters
of Casanova to the Inquisitors of State, dating from 1763 to 1782,
among the Riferte dei Confidenti, or reports of secret agents; the
earliest asking permission to return to Venice, the rest giving
information in regard to the immoralities of the city, after his
return there; all in the same handwriting as the Memoirs. Further
proof could scarcely be needed, but Baschet has done more than prove
the authenticity, he has proved the extraordinary veracity, of the
Memoirs. F. W. Barthold, in 'Die Geschichtlichen Personlichkeiten
in J. Casanova's Memoiren,' 2 vols., 1846, had already examined about
a hundred of Casanova's allusions to well known people, showing the
perfect exactitude of all but six or seven, and out of these six or
seven inexactitudes ascribing only a single one to the author's
intention. Baschet and d'Ancona both carry on what Barthold had
begun; other investigators, in France, Italy and Germany, have
followed them; and two things are now certain, first, that Casanova
himself wrote the Memoirs published under his name, though not
textually in the precise form in which we have them; and, second,
that as their veracity becomes more and more evident as they are
confronted with more and more independent witnesses, it is only fair
to suppose that they are equally truthful where the facts are such as
could only have been known to Casanova himself.


For more than two-thirds of a century it has been known that Casanova
spent the last fourteen years of his life at Dux, that he wrote his
Memoirs there, and that he died there. During all this time people
have been discussing the authenticity and the truthfulness of the
Memoirs, they have been searching for information about Casanova in
various directions, and yet hardly any one has ever taken the
trouble, or obtained the permission, to make a careful examination in
precisely the one place where information was most likely to be
found. The very existence of the manuscripts at Dux was known only
to a few, and to most of these only on hearsay; and thus the singular
good fortune was reserved for me, on my visit to Count Waldstein in
September 1899, to be the first to discover the most interesting
things contained in these manuscripts. M. Octave Uzanne, though he
had not himself visited Dux, had indeed procured copies of some of
the manuscripts, a few of which were published by him in Le Livre, in
1887 and 1889. But with the death of Le Livre in 1889 the 'Casanova
inedit' came to an end, and has never, so far as I know, been
continued elsewhere. Beyond the publication of these fragments,
nothing has been done with the manuscripts at Dux, nor has an account
of them ever been given by any one who has been allowed to examine

For five years, ever since I had discovered the documents in the
Venetian archives, I had wanted to go to Dux; and in 1899, when I was
staying with Count Lutzow at Zampach, in Bohemia, I found the way
kindly opened for me. Count Waldstein, the present head of the
family, with extreme courtesy, put all his manuscripts at my
disposal, and invited me to stay with him. Unluckily, he was called
away on the morning of the day that I reached Dux. He had left
everything ready for me, and I was shown over the castle by a friend
of his, Dr. Kittel, whose courtesy I should like also to acknowledge.
After a hurried visit to the castle we started on the long drive to
Oberleutensdorf, a smaller Schloss near Komotau, where the Waldstein
family was then staying. The air was sharp and bracing; the two
Russian horses flew like the wind; I was whirled along in an
unfamiliar darkness, through a strange country, black with coal
mines, through dark pine woods, where a wild peasantry dwelt in
little mining towns. Here and there, a few men and women passed us
on the road, in their Sunday finery; then a long space of silence,
and we were in the open country, galloping between broad fields; and
always in a haze of lovely hills, which I saw more distinctly as we
drove back next morning.

The return to Dux was like a triumphal entry, as we dashed through
the market-place filled with people come for the Monday market, pots
and pans and vegetables strewn in heaps all over the ground, on the
rough paving stones, up to the great gateway of the castle, leaving
but just room for us to drive through their midst. I had the
sensation of an enormous building: all Bohemian castles are big, but
this one was like a royal palace. Set there in the midst of the
town, after the Bohemian fashion, it opens at the back upon great
gardens, as if it were in the midst of the country. I walked through
room after room, along corridor after corridor; everywhere there were
pictures, everywhere portraits of Wallenstein, and battle-scenes in
which he led on his troops. The library, which was formed, or at
least arranged, by Casanova, and which remains as he left it,
contains some 25,000 volumes, some of them of considerable value; one
of the most famous books in Bohemian literature, Skala's History of
the Church, exists in manuscript at Dux, and it is from this
manuscript that the two published volumes of it were printed. The
library forms part of the Museum, which occupies a ground-floor wing
of the castle. The first room is an armoury, in which all kinds of
arms are arranged, in a decorative way, covering the ceiling and the
walls with strange patterns. The second room contains pottery,
collected by Casanova's Waldstein on his Eastern travels. The third
room is full of curious mechanical toys, and cabinets, and carvings
in ivory. Finally, we come to the library, contained in the two
innermost rooms. The book-shelves are painted white, and reach to
the low-vaulted ceilings, which are whitewashed. At the end of a
bookcase, in the corner of one of the windows, hangs a fine engraved
portrait of Casanova.

After I had been all over the castle, so long Casanova's home, I was
taken to Count Waldstein's study, and left there with the
manuscripts. I found six huge cardboard cases, large enough to
contain foolscap paper, lettered on the back: 'Grafl. Waldstein-
Wartenberg'sches Real Fideicommiss. Dux-Oberleutensdorf:
Handschriftlicher Nachlass Casanova.' The cases were arranged so as
to stand like books; they opened at the side; and on opening them,
one after another, I found series after series of manuscripts roughly
thrown together, after some pretence at arrangement, and lettered
with a very generalised description of contents. The greater part of
the manuscripts were in Casanova's handwriting, which I could see
gradually beginning to get shaky with years. Most were written in
French, a certain number in Italian. The beginning of a catalogue in
the library, though said to be by him, was not in his handwriting.
Perhaps it was taken down at his dictation. There were also some
copies of Italian and Latin poems not written by him. Then there
were many big bundles of letters addressed to him, dating over more
than thirty years. Almost all the rest was in his own handwriting.

I came first upon the smaller manuscripts, among which I, found,
jumbled together on the same and on separate scraps of paper,
washing-bills, accounts, hotel bills, lists of letters written, first
drafts of letters with many erasures, notes on books, theological and
mathematical notes, sums, Latin quotations, French and Italian
verses, with variants, a long list of classical names which have and
have not been 'francises,' with reasons for and against; 'what I must
wear at Dresden'; headings without anything to follow, such as:
'Reflexions on respiration, on the true cause of youth-the crows'; a
new method of winning the lottery at Rome; recipes, among which is a
long printed list of perfumes sold at Spa; a newspaper cutting, dated
Prague, 25th October 1790, on the thirty-seventh balloon ascent of
Blanchard; thanks to some 'noble donor' for the gift of a dog called
'Finette'; a passport for 'Monsieur de Casanova, Venitien, allant
d'ici en Hollande, October 13, 1758 (Ce Passeport bon pour quinze
jours)', together with an order for post-horses, gratis, from Paris
to Bordeaux and Bayonne.'

Occasionally, one gets a glimpse into his daily life at Dux, as in
this note, scribbled on a fragment of paper (here and always I
translate the French literally): 'I beg you to tell my servant what
the biscuits are that I like to eat; dipped in wine, to fortify my
stomach. I believe that they can all be found at Roman's.' Usually,
however, these notes, though often suggested by something closely
personal, branch off into more general considerations; or else begin
with general considerations, and end with a case in point. Thus, for
instance, a fragment of three pages begins: 'A compliment which is
only made to gild the pill is a positive impertinence, and Monsieur
Bailli is nothing but a charlatan; the monarch ought to have spit in
his face, but the monarch trembled with fear.' A manuscript entitled
'Essai d'Egoisme,' dated, 'Dux, this 27th June, 1769,' contains, in
the midst of various reflections, an offer to let his 'appartement'
in return for enough money to 'tranquillise for six months two Jew
creditors at Prague.' Another manuscript is headed 'Pride and
Folly,' and begins with a long series of antitheses, such as: 'All
fools are not proud, and all proud men are fools. Many fools are
happy, all proud men are unhappy.' On the same sheet follows this
instance or application:

Whether it is possible to compose a Latin distich of the greatest
beauty without knowing either the Latin language or prosody. We must
examine the possibility and the impossibility, and afterwards see who
is the man who says he is the author of the distich, for there are
extraordinary people in the world. My brother, in short, ought to
have composed the distich, because he says so, and because he
confided it to me tete-'a-tete. I had, it is true, difficulty in
believing him; but what is one to do! Either one must believe, or
suppose him capable of telling a lie which could only be told by a
fool; and that is impossible, for all Europe knows that my brother is
not a fool.

Here, as so often in these manuscripts, we seem to see Casanova
thinking on paper. He uses scraps of paper (sometimes the blank page
of a letter, on the other side of which we see the address) as a kind
of informal diary; and it is characteristic of him, of the man of
infinitely curious mind, which this adventurer really was, that there
are so few merely personal notes among these casual jottings. Often,
they are purely abstract; at times, metaphysical 'jeux d'esprit,'
like the sheet of fourteen 'Different Wagers,' which begins:

I wager that it is not true that a man who weighs a hundred pounds
will weigh more if you kill him. I wager that if there is any
difference, he will weigh less. I wager that diamond powder has not
sufficient force to kill a man.

Side by side with these fanciful excursions into science, come more
serious ones, as in the note on Algebra, which traces its progress
since the year 1494, before which 'it had only arrived at the
solution of problems of the second degree, inclusive.' A scrap of
paper tells us that Casanova 'did not like regular towns.' 'I like,'
he says, 'Venice, Rome, Florence, Milan, Constantinople, Genoa.'
Then he becomes abstract and inquisitive again, and writes two pages,
full of curious, out-of-the-way learning, on the name of Paradise:

The name of Paradise is a name in Genesis which indicates a place of
pleasure (lieu voluptueux): this term is Persian. This place of
pleasure was made by God before he had created man.

It may be remembered that Casanova quarrelled with Voltaire, because
Voltaire had told him frankly that his translation of L'Ecossaise was
a bad translation. It is piquant to read another note written in
this style of righteous indignation:

Voltaire, the hardy Voltaire, whose pen is without bit or bridle;
Voltaire, who devoured the Bible, and ridiculed our dogmas, doubts,
and after having made proselytes to impiety, is not ashamed, being
reduced to the extremity of life, to ask for the sacraments, and to
cover his body with more relics than St. Louis had at Amboise.

Here is an argument more in keeping with the tone of the Memoirs:

A girl who is pretty and good, and as virtuous as you please, ought
not to take it ill that a man, carried away by her charms, should set
himself to the task of making their conquest. If this man cannot
please her by any means, even if his passion be criminal, she ought
never to take offence at it, nor treat him unkindly; she ought to be
gentle, and pity him, if she does not love him, and think it enough
to keep invincibly hold upon her own duty.

Occasionally he touches upon aesthetical matters, as in a fragment
which begins with this liberal definition of beauty:

Harmony makes beauty, says M. de S. P. (Bernardin de St. Pierre), but
the definition is too short, if he thinks he has said everything.
Here is mine. Remember that the subject is metaphysical. An object
really beautiful ought to seem beautiful to all whose eyes fall upon
it. That is all; there is nothing more to be said.

At times we have an anecdote and its commentary, perhaps jotted down
for use in that latter part of the Memoirs which was never written,
or which has been lost. Here is a single sheet, dated 'this 2nd
September, 1791,' and headed Souvenir:

The Prince de Rosenberg said to me, as we went down stairs, that
Madame de Rosenberg was dead, and asked me if the Comte de Waldstein
had in the library the illustration of the Villa d'Altichiero, which
the Emperor had asked for in vain at the city library of Prague, and
when I answered 'yes,' he gave an equivocal laugh. A moment
afterwards, he asked me if he might tell the Emperor. 'Why not,
monseigneur? It is not a secret, 'Is His Majesty coming to Dux?'
'If he goes to Oberlaitensdorf (sic) he will go to Dux, too; and he
may ask you for it, for there is a monument there which relates to
him when he was Grand Duke.' 'In that case, His Majesty can also see
my critical remarks on the Egyptian prints.'

The Emperor asked me this morning, 6th October, how I employed my
time at Dux, and I told him that I was making an Italian anthology.
'You have all the Italians, then?' 'All, sire.' See what a lie
leads to. If I had not lied in saying that I was making an
anthology, I should not have found myself obliged to lie again in
saying that we have all the Italian poets. If the Emperor comes to
Dux, I shall kill myself.

'They say that this Dux is a delightful spot,' says Casanova in one
of the most personal of his notes, 'and I see that it might be for
many; but not for me, for what delights me in my old age is
independent of the place which I inhabit. When I do not sleep I
dream, and when I am tired of dreaming I blacken paper, then I read,
and most often reject all that my pen has vomited.' Here we see him
blackening paper, on every occasion, and for every purpose. In one
bundle I found an unfinished story about Roland, and some adventure
with women in a cave; then a 'Meditation on arising from sleep, 19th
May 1789'; then a 'Short Reflection of a Philosopher who finds
himself thinking of procuring his own death. At Dux, on getting out
of bed on 13th October 1793, day dedicated to St. Lucy, memorable in
my too long life.' A big budget, containing cryptograms, is headed
'Grammatical Lottery'; and there is the title-page of a treatise on
The Duplication of the Hexahedron, demonstrated geometrically to all
the Universities and all the Academies of Europe.' [See Charles
Henry, Les Connaissances Mathimatiques de Casanova. Rome, 1883.]
There are innumerable verses, French and Italian, in all stages,
occasionally attaining the finality of these lines, which appear in
half a dozen tentative forms:

'Sans mystere point de plaisirs,
Sans silence point de mystere.
Charme divin de mes loisirs,
Solitude! que tu mes chere!

Then there are a number of more or less complete manuscripts of some
extent. There is the manuscript of the translation of Homer's
'Iliad, in ottava rima (published in Venice, 1775-8); of the
'Histoire de Venise,' of the 'Icosameron,' a curious book published
in 1787, purporting to be 'translated from English,' but really an
original work of Casanova; 'Philocalies sur les Sottises des
Mortels,' a long manuscript never published; the sketch and beginning
of 'Le Pollmarque, ou la Calomnie demasquee par la presence d'esprit.
Tragicomedie en trois actes, composed a Dux dans le mois de Juin de
l'Annee, 1791,' which recurs again under the form of the
'Polemoscope: La Lorgnette menteuse ou la Calomnie demasquge,' acted
before the Princess de Ligne, at her chateau at Teplitz, 1791. There
is a treatise in Italian, 'Delle Passioni'; there are long dialogues,
such as 'Le Philosophe et le Theologien', and 'Reve': 'Dieu-Moi';
there is the 'Songe d'un Quart d'Heure', divided into minutes; there
is the very lengthy criticism of 'Bernardin de Saint-Pierre'; there
is the 'Confutation d'une Censure indiscrate qu'on lit dans la
Gazette de Iena, 19 Juin 1789'; with another large manuscript,
unfortunately imperfect, first called 'L'Insulte', and then 'Placet
au Public', dated 'Dux, this 2nd March, 1790,' referring to the same
criticism on the 'Icosameron' and the 'Fuite des Prisons. L'Histoire
de ma Fuite des Prisons de la Republique de Venise, qu'on appelle les
Plombs', which is the first draft of the most famous part of the
Memoirs, was published at Leipzig in 1788; and, having read it in the
Marcian Library at Venice, I am not surprised to learn from this
indignant document that it was printed 'under the care of a young
Swiss, who had the talent to commit a hundred faults of orthography.'


We come now to the documents directly relating to the Memoirs, and
among these are several attempts at a preface, in which we see the
actual preface coming gradually into form. One is entitled 'Casanova
au Lecteur', another 'Histoire de mon Existence', and a third
Preface. There is also a brief and characteristic 'Precis de ma
vie', dated November 17, 1797. Some of these have been printed in Le
Livre, 1887. But by far the most important manuscript that I
discovered, one which, apparently, I am the first to discover, is a
manuscript entitled 'Extrait du Chapitre 4 et 5. It is written on
paper similar to that on which the Memoirs are written; the pages are
numbered 104-148; and though it is described as Extrait, it seems to
contain, at all events, the greater part of the missing chapters to
which I have already referred, Chapters IV. and V. of the last
volume of the Memoirs. In this manuscript we find Armeliine and
Scolastica, whose story is interrupted by the abrupt ending of
Chapter III.; we find Mariuccia of Vol. VII, Chapter IX., who married
a hairdresser; and we find also Jaconine, whom Casanova recognises as
his daughter, 'much prettier than Sophia, the daughter of Therese
Pompeati, whom I had left at London.' It is curious that this very
important manuscript, which supplies the one missing link in the
Memoirs, should never have been discovered by any of the few people
who have had the opportunity of looking over the Dux manuscripts. I
am inclined to explain it by the fact that the case in which I found
this manuscript contains some papers not relating to Casanova.
Probably, those who looked into this case looked no further. I have
told Herr Brockhaus of my discovery, and I hope to see Chapters IV.
and V. in their places when the long-looked-for edition of the
complete text is at length given to the world.

Another manuscript which I found tells with great piquancy the whole
story of the Abbe de Brosses' ointment, the curing of the Princess de
Conti's pimples, and the birth of the Duc de Montpensier, which is
told very briefly, and with much less point, in the Memoirs (vol.
iii., p. 327). Readers of the Memoirs will remember the duel at
Warsaw with Count Branicki in 1766 (vol. X., pp. 274-320), an affair
which attracted a good deal of attention at the time, and of which
there is an account in a letter from the Abbe Taruffi to the
dramatist, Francesco Albergati, dated Warsaw, March 19, 1766, quoted
in Ernesto Masi's Life of Albergati, Bologna, 1878. A manuscript at
Dux in Casanova's handwriting gives an account of this duel in the
third person; it is entitled, 'Description de l'affaire arrivee a
Varsovie le 5 Mars, 1766'. D'Ancona, in the Nuova Antologia (vol.
lxvii., p. 412), referring to the Abbe Taruffi's account, mentions
what he considers to be a slight discrepancy: that Taruffi refers to
the danseuse, about whom the duel was fought, as La Casacci, while
Casanova refers to her as La Catai. In this manuscript Casanova
always refers to her as La Casacci; La Catai is evidently one of M.
Laforgue's arbitrary alterations of the text.

In turning over another manuscript, I was caught by the name
Charpillon, which every reader of the Memoirs will remember as the
name of the harpy by whom Casanova suffered so much in London, in
1763-4. This manuscript begins by saying: 'I have been in London for
six months and have been to see them (that is, the mother and
daughter) in their own house,' where he finds nothing but 'swindlers,
who cause all who go there to lose their money in gambling.' This
manuscript adds some details to the story told in the ninth and tenth
volumes of the Memoirs, and refers to the meeting with the
Charpillons four and a half years before, described in Volume V.,
pages 428-485. It is written in a tone of great indignation.
Elsewhere, I found a letter written by Casanova, but not signed,
referring to an anonymous letter which he had received in reference
to the Charpillons, and ending: 'My handwriting is known.' It was
not until the last that I came upon great bundles of letters
addressed to Casanova, and so carefully preserved that little scraps
of paper, on which postscripts are written, are still in their
places. One still sees the seals on the backs of many of the
letters, on paper which has slightly yellowed with age, leaving the
ink, however, almost always fresh. They come from Venice, Paris,
Rome, Prague, Bayreuth, The Hague, Genoa, Fiume, Trieste, etc., and
are addressed to as many places, often poste restante. Many are
letters from women, some in beautiful handwriting, on thick paper;
others on scraps of paper, in painful hands, ill-spelt. A Countess
writes pitifully, imploring help; one protests her love, in spite of
the 'many chagrins' he has caused her; another asks 'how they are to
live together'; another laments that a report has gone about that she
is secretly living with him, which may harm his reputation. Some are
in French, more in Italian. 'Mon cher Giacometto', writes one woman,
in French; 'Carissimo a Amatissimo', writes another, in Italian.
These letters from women are in some confusion, and are in need of a
good deal of sorting over and rearranging before their full extent
can be realised. Thus I found letters in the same handwriting
separated by letters in other handwritings; many are unsigned, or
signed only by a single initial; many are undated, or dated only with
the day of the week or month. There are a great many letters, dating
from 1779 to 1786, signed 'Francesca Buschini,' a name which I cannot
identify; they are written in Italian, and one of them begins: 'Unico
Mio vero Amico' ('my only true friend'). Others are signed 'Virginia
B.'; one of these is dated, 'Forli, October 15, 1773.' There is also
a 'Theresa B.,' who writes from Genoa. I was at first unable to
identify the writer of a whole series of letters in French, very
affectionate and intimate letters, usually unsigned, occasionally
signed 'B.' She calls herself votre petite amie; or she ends with a
half-smiling, half-reproachful 'goodnight, and sleep better than I'
In one letter, sent from Paris in 1759, she writes: 'Never believe
me, but when I tell you that I love you, and that I shall love you
always: In another letter, ill-spelt, as her letters often are, she
writes: 'Be assured that evil tongues, vapours, calumny, nothing can
change my heart, which is yours entirely, and has no will to change
its master.' Now, it seems to me that these letters must be from
Manon Baletti, and that they are the letters referred to in the sixth
volume of the Memoirs. We read there (page 60) how on Christmas Day,
1759, Casanova receives a letter from Manon in Paris, announcing her
marriage with 'M. Blondel, architect to the King, and member of his
Academy'; she returns him his letters, and begs him to return hers,
or burn them. Instead of doing so he allows Esther to read them,
intending to burn them afterwards. Esther begs to be allowed to keep
the letters, promising to 'preserve them religiously all her life.'
'These letters,' he says, 'numbered more than two hundred, and the
shortest were of four pages: Certainly there are not two hundred of
them at Dux, but it seems to me highly probable that Casanova made a
final selection from Manon's letters, and that it is these which I
have found.

But, however this may be, I was fortunate enough to find the set of
letters which I was most anxious to find the letters from Henriette,
whose loss every writer on Casanova has lamented. Henriette, it will
be remembered, makes her first appearance at Cesena, in the year
1748; after their meeting at Geneva, she reappears, romantically 'a
propos', twenty-two years later, at Aix in Provence; and she writes
to Casanova proposing 'un commerce epistolaire', asking him what he
has done since his escape from prison, and promising to do her best
to tell him all that has happened to her during the long interval.
After quoting her letter, he adds: 'I replied to her, accepting the
correspondence that she offered me, and telling her briefly all my
vicissitudes. She related to me in turn, in some forty letters, all
the history of her life. If she dies before me, I shall add these
letters to these Memoirs; but to-day she is still alive, and always
happy, though now old.' It has never been known what became of these
letters, and why they were not added to the Memoirs. I have found a
great quantity of them, some signed with her married name in full,
'Henriette de Schnetzmann,' and I am inclined to think that she
survived Casanova, for one of the letters is dated Bayreuth, 1798,
the year of Casanova's death. They are remarkably charming, written
with a mixture of piquancy and distinction; and I will quote the
characteristic beginning and end of the last letter I was able to
find. It begins: 'No, it is impossible to be sulky with you!' and
ends: 'If I become vicious, it is you, my Mentor, who make me so, and
I cast my sins upon you. Even if I were damned I should still be
your most devoted friend, Henriette de Schnetzmann.' Casanova was
twenty-three when he met Henriette; now, herself an old woman, she
writes to him when he is seventy-three, as if the fifty years that
had passed were blotted out in the faithful affection of her memory.
How many more discreet and less changing lovers have had the quality
of constancy in change, to which this life-long correspondence bears
witness? Does it not suggest a view of Casanova not quite the view
of all the world? To me it shows the real man, who perhaps of all
others best understood what Shelley meant when he said:

True love in this differs from gold or clay
That to divide is not to take away.

But, though the letters from women naturally interested me the most,
they were only a certain proportion of the great mass of
correspondence which I turned over. There were letters from Carlo
Angiolini, who was afterwards to bring the manuscript of the Memoirs
to Brockhaus; from Balbi, the monk with whom Casanova escaped from
the Piombi; from the Marquis Albergati, playwright, actor, and
eccentric, of whom there is some account in the Memoirs; from the
Marquis Mosca, 'a distinguished man of letters whom I was anxious to
see,' Casanova tells us in the same volume in which he describes his
visit to the Moscas at Pesaro; from Zulian, brother of the Duchess of
Fiano; from Richard Lorrain, 'bel homme, ayant de l'esprit, le ton et
le gout de la bonne societe', who came to settle at Gorizia in 1773,
while Casanova was there; from the Procurator Morosini, whom he
speaks of in the Memoirs as his 'protector,' and as one of those
through whom he obtained permission to return to Venice. His other
'protector,' the 'avogador' Zaguri, had, says Casanova, 'since the
affair of the Marquis Albergati, carried on a most interesting
correspondence with me'; and in fact I found a bundle of no less than
a hundred and thirty-eight letters from him, dating from 1784 to
1798. Another bundle contains one hundred and seventy-two letters
from Count Lamberg. In the Memoirs Casanova says, referring to his
visit to Augsburg at the end of 1761:

I used to spend my evenings in a very agreeable manner at the house
of Count Max de Lamberg, who resided at the court of the
Prince-Bishop with the title of Grand Marshal. What particularly
attached me to Count Lamberg was his literary talent. A first-rate
scholar, learned to a degree, he has published several much esteemed
works. I carried on an exchange of letters with him which ended only
with his death four years ago in 1792.

Casanova tells us that, at his second visit to Augsburg in the early
part of 1767, he 'supped with Count Lamberg two or three times a
week,' during the four months he was there. It is with this year
that the letters I have found begin: they end with the year of his
death, 1792. In his 'Memorial d'un Mondain' Lamberg refers to
Casanova as 'a man known in literature, a man of profound knowledge.'
In the first edition of 1774, he laments that 'a man such as M. de S.
Galt' should not yet have been taken back into favour by the Venetian
government, and in the second edition, 1775, rejoices over Casanova's
return to Venice. Then there are letters from Da Ponte, who tells
the story of Casanova's curious relations with Mme. d'Urfe, in his
'Memorie scritte da esso', 1829; from Pittoni, Bono, and others
mentioned in different parts of the Memoirs, and from some dozen
others who are not mentioned in them. The only letters in the whole
collection that have been published are those from the Prince de
Ligne and from Count Koenig.


Casanova tells us in his Memoirs that, during his later years at Dux,
he had only been able to 'hinder black melancholy from devouring his
poor existence, or sending him out of his mind,' by writing ten or
twelve hours a day. The copious manuscripts at Dux show us how
persistently he was at work on a singular variety of subjects, in
addition to the Memoirs, and to the various books which he published
during those years. We see him jotting down everything that comes
into his head, for his own amusement, and certainly without any
thought of publication; engaging in learned controversies, writing
treatises on abstruse mathematical problems, composing comedies to be
acted before Count Waldstein's neighbours, practising verse-writing
in two languages, indeed with more patience than success, writing
philosophical dialogues in which God and himself are the speakers,
and keeping up an extensive correspondence, both with distinguished
men and with delightful women. His mental activity, up to the age of
seventy-three, is as prodigious as the activity which he had expended
in living a multiform and incalculable life. As in life everything
living had interested him so in his retirement from life every idea
makes its separate appeal to him; and he welcomes ideas with the same
impartiality with which he had welcomed adventures. Passion has
intellectualised itself, and remains not less passionate. He wishes
to do everything, to compete with every one; and it is only after
having spent seven years in heaping up miscellaneous learning, and
exercising his faculties in many directions, that he turns to look
back over his own past life, and to live it over again in memory, as
he writes down the narrative of what had interested him most in it.
'I write in the hope that my history will never see the broad day
light of publication,' he tells us, scarcely meaning it, we may be
sure, even in the moment of hesitancy which may naturally come to
him. But if ever a book was written for the pleasure of writing it,
it was this one; and an autobiography written for oneself is not
likely to be anything but frank.

'Truth is the only God I have ever adored,' he tells us: and we now
know how truthful he was in saying so. I have only summarised in
this article the most important confirmations of his exact accuracy
in facts and dates; the number could be extended indefinitely. In
the manuscripts we find innumerable further confirmations; and their
chief value as testimony is that they tell us nothing which we should
not have already known, if we had merely taken Casanova at his word.
But it is not always easy to take people at their own word, when they
are writing about themselves; and the world has been very loth to
believe in Casanova as he represents himself. It has been specially
loth to believe that he is telling the truth when he tells us about
his adventures with women. But the letters contained among these
manuscripts shows us the women of Casanova writing to him with all
the fervour and all the fidelity which he attributes to them; and
they show him to us in the character of as fervid and faithful a
lover. In every fact, every detail, and in the whole mental
impression which they convey, these manuscripts bring before us the
Casanova of the Memoirs. As I seemed to come upon Casanova at home,
it was as if I came upon old friend, already perfectly known to me,
before I had made my pilgrimage to Dux.



A series of adventures wilder and more fantastic than the wildest of
romances, written down with the exactitude of a business diary; a
view of men and cities from Naples to Berlin, from Madrid and London
to Constantinople and St. Petersburg; the 'vie intime' of the
eighteenth century depicted by a man, who to-day sat with cardinals
and saluted crowned heads, and to morrow lurked in dens of profligacy
and crime; a book of confessions penned without reticence and
without penitence; a record of forty years of "occult" charlatanism;
a collection of tales of successful imposture, of 'bonnes fortunes',
of marvellous escapes, of transcendent audacity, told with the humour
of Smollett and the delicate wit of Voltaire. Who is there
interested in men and letters, and in the life of the past, who would
not cry, "Where can such a book as this be found?"

Yet the above catalogue is but a brief outline, a bare and meagre
summary, of the book known as "THE MEMOIRS OF CASANOVA"; a work
absolutely unique in literature. He who opens these wonderful pages
is as one who sits in a theatre and looks across the gloom, not on a
stage-play, but on another and a vanished world. The curtain draws
up, and suddenly a hundred and fifty years are rolled away, and in
bright light stands out before us the whole life of the past; the gay
dresses, the polished wit, the careless morals, and all the revel and
dancing of those merry years before the mighty deluge of the
Revolution. The palaces and marble stairs of old Venice are no
longer desolate, but thronged with scarlet-robed senators, prisoners
with the doom of the Ten upon their heads cross the Bridge of Sighs,
at dead of night the nun slips out of the convent gate to the dark
canal where a gondola is waiting, we assist at the 'parties fines' of
cardinals, and we see the bank made at faro. Venice gives place to
the assembly rooms of Mrs. Cornely and the fast taverns of the London
of 1760; we pass from Versailles to the Winter Palace of St.
Petersburg in the days of Catherine, from the policy of the Great
Frederick to the lewd mirth of strolling-players, and the presence-
chamber of the Vatican is succeeded by an intrigue in a garret. It
is indeed a new experience to read this history of a man who,
refraining from nothing, has concealed nothing; of one who stood in
the courts of Louis the Magnificent before Madame de Pompadour and
the nobles of the Ancien Regime, and had an affair with an
adventuress of Denmark Street, Soho; who was bound over to keep the
peace by Fielding, and knew Cagliostro. The friend of popes and
kings and noblemen, and of all the male and female ruffians and
vagabonds of Europe, abbe, soldier, charlatan, gamester, financier,
diplomatist, viveur, philosopher, virtuoso, "chemist, fiddler, and
buffoon," each of these, and all of these was Giacomo Casanova,
Chevalier de Seingalt, Knight of the Golden Spur.

And not only are the Memoirs a literary curiosity; they are almost
equally curious from a bibliographical point of view. The manuscript
was written in French and came into the possession of the publisher
Brockhaus, of Leipzig, who had it translated into German, and
printed. From this German edition, M. Aubert de Vitry re-translated
the work into French, but omitted about a fourth of the matter, and
this mutilated and worthless version is frequently purchased by
unwary bibliophiles. In the year 1826, however, Brockhaus, in order
presumably to protect his property, printed the entire text of the
original MS. in French, for the first time, and in this complete
form, containing a large number of anecdotes and incidents not to be
found in the spurious version, the work was not acceptable to the
authorities, and was consequently rigorously suppressed. Only a few
copies sent out for presentation or for review are known to have
escaped, and from one of these rare copies the present translation
has been made and soley for private circulation.

In conclusion, both translator and 'editeur' have done their utmost
to present the English Casanova in a dress worthy of the wonderful
and witty original.


I will begin with this confession: whatever I have done in the course
of my life, whether it be good or evil, has been done freely; I am a
free agent.

The doctrine of the Stoics or of any other sect as to the force of
Destiny is a bubble engendered by the imagination of man, and is near
akin to Atheism. I not only believe in one God, but my faith as a
Christian is also grafted upon that tree of philosophy which has
never spoiled anything.

I believe in the existence of an immaterial God, the Author and
Master of all beings and all things, and I feel that I never had any
doubt of His existence, from the fact that I have always relied upon
His providence, prayed to Him in my distress, and that He has always
granted my prayers. Despair brings death, but prayer does away with
despair; and when a man has prayed he feels himself supported by new
confidence and endowed with power to act. As to the means employed
by the Sovereign Master of human beings to avert impending dangers
from those who beseech His assistance, I confess that the knowledge
of them is above the intelligence of man, who can but wonder and
adore. Our ignorance becomes our only resource, and happy, truly
happy; are those who cherish their ignorance! Therefore must we pray
to God, and believe that He has granted the favour we have been
praying for, even when in appearance it seems the reverse. As to the
position which our body ought to assume when we address ourselves to
the Creator, a line of Petrarch settles it:

'Con le ginocchia della mente inchine.'

Man is free, but his freedom ceases when he has no faith in it; and
the greater power he ascribes to faith, the more he deprives himself
of that power which God has given to him when He endowed him with the
gift of reason. Reason is a particle of the Creator's divinity.
When we use it with a spirit of humility and justice we are certain
to please the Giver of that precious gift. God ceases to be God only
for those who can admit the possibility of His non-existence, and
that conception is in itself the most severe punishment they can

Man is free; yet we must not suppose that he is at liberty to do
everything he pleases, for he becomes a slave the moment he allows
his actions to be ruled by passion. The man who has sufficient power
over himself to wait until his nature has recovered its even balance
is the truly wise man, but such beings are seldom met with.

The reader of these Memoirs will discover that I never had any fixed
aim before my eyes, and that my system, if it can be called a system,
has been to glide away unconcernedly on the stream of life, trusting
to the wind wherever it led. How many changes arise from such an
independent mode of life! My success and my misfortunes, the bright
and the dark days I have gone through, everything has proved to me
that in this world, either physical or moral, good comes out of evil
just as well as evil comes out of good. My errors will point to
thinking men the various roads, and will teach them the great art of
treading on the brink of the precipice without falling into it. It
is only necessary to have courage, for strength without self-
confidence is useless. I have often met with happiness after some
imprudent step which ought to have brought ruin upon me, and although
passing a vote of censure upon myself I would thank God for his
mercy. But, by way of compensation, dire misfortune has befallen me
in consequence of actions prompted by the most cautious wisdom. This
would humble me; yet conscious that I had acted rightly I would
easily derive comfort from that conviction.

In spite of a good foundation of sound morals, the natural offspring
of the Divine principles which had been early rooted in my heart, I
have been throughout my life the victim of my senses; I have found
delight in losing the right path, I have constantly lived in the
midst of error, with no consolation but the consciousness of my being
mistaken. Therefore, dear reader, I trust that, far from attaching
to my history the character of impudent boasting, you will find in my
Memoirs only the characteristic proper to a general confession, and
that my narratory style will be the manner neither of a repenting
sinner, nor of a man ashamed to acknowledge his frolics. They are
the follies inherent to youth; I make sport of them, and, if you are
kind, you will not yourself refuse them a good-natured smile. You
will be amused when you see that I have more than once deceived
without the slightest qualm of conscience, both knaves and fools. As
to the deceit perpetrated upon women, let it pass, for, when love is
in the way, men and women as a general rule dupe each other. But on
the score of fools it is a very different matter. I always feel the
greatest bliss when I recollect those I have caught in my snares, for
they generally are insolent, and so self-conceited that they
challenge wit. We avenge intellect when we dupe a fool, and it is a
victory not to be despised for a fool is covered with steel and it is
often very hard to find his vulnerable part. In fact, to gull a fool
seems to me an exploit worthy of a witty man. I have felt in my very
blood, ever since I was born, a most unconquerable hatred towards the
whole tribe of fools, and it arises from the fact that I feel myself
a blockhead whenever I am in their company. I am very far from
placing them in the same class with those men whom we call stupid,
for the latter are stupid only from deficient education, and I rather
like them. I have met with some of them--very honest fellows, who,
with all their stupidity, had a kind of intelligence and an upright
good sense, which cannot be the characteristics of fools. They are
like eyes veiled with the cataract, which, if the disease could be
removed, would be very beautiful.

Dear reader, examine the spirit of this preface, and you will at once
guess at my purpose. I have written a preface because I wish you to
know me thoroughly before you begin the reading of my Memoirs. It is
only in a coffee-room or at a table d'hote that we like to converse
with strangers.

I have written the history of my life, and I have a perfect right to
do so; but am I wise in throwing it before a public of which I know
nothing but evil? No, I am aware it is sheer folly, but I want to be
busy, I want to laugh, and why should I deny myself this

'Expulit elleboro morbum bilemque mero.'

An ancient author tells us somewhere, with the tone of a pedagogue,
if you have not done anything worthy of being recorded, at least
write something worthy of being read. It is a precept as beautiful
as a diamond of the first water cut in England, but it cannot be
applied to me, because I have not written either a novel, or the life
of an illustrious character. Worthy or not, my life is my subject,
and my subject is my life. I have lived without dreaming that I
should ever take a fancy to write the history of my life, and, for
that very reason, my Memoirs may claim from the reader an interest
and a sympathy which they would not have obtained, had I always
entertained the design to write them in my old age, and, still more,
to publish them.

I have reached, in 1797, the age of three-score years and twelve; I
can not say, Vixi, and I could not procure a more agreeable pastime
than to relate my own adventures, and to cause pleasant laughter
amongst the good company listening to me, from which I have received
so many tokens of friendship, and in the midst of which I have ever
lived. To enable me to write well, I have only to think that my
readers will belong to that polite society:

'Quoecunque dixi, si placuerint, dictavit auditor.'

Should there be a few intruders whom I can not prevent from perusing
my Memoirs, I must find comfort in the idea that my history was not
written for them.

By recollecting the pleasures I have had formerly, I renew them, I
enjoy them a second time, while I laugh at the remembrance of
troubles now past, and which I no longer feel. A member of this
great universe, I speak to the air, and I fancy myself rendering an
account of my administration, as a steward is wont to do before
leaving his situation. For my future I have no concern, and as a
true philosopher, I never would have any, for I know not what it may
be: as a Christian, on the other hand, faith must believe without
discussion, and the stronger it is, the more it keeps silent. I know
that I have lived because I have felt, and, feeling giving me the
knowledge of my existence, I know likewise that I shall exist no more
when I shall have ceased to feel.

Should I perchance still feel after my death, I would no longer have
any doubt, but I would most certainly give the lie to anyone
asserting before me that I was dead.

The history of my life must begin by the earliest circumstance which
my memory can evoke; it will therefore commence when I had attained
the age of eight years and four months. Before that time, if to
think is to live be a true axiom, I did not live, I could only lay
claim to a state of vegetation. The mind of a human being is formed
only of comparisons made in order to examine analogies, and therefore
cannot precede the existence of memory. The mnemonic organ was
developed in my head only eight years and four months after my birth;
it is then that my soul began to be susceptible of receiving
impressions. How is it possible for an immaterial substance, which
can neither touch nor be touched to receive impressions? It is a
mystery which man cannot unravel.

A certain philosophy, full of consolation, and in perfect accord with
religion, pretends that the state of dependence in which the soul
stands in relation to the senses and to the organs, is only
incidental and transient, and that it will reach a condition of
freedom and happiness when the death of the body shall have delivered
it from that state of tyrannic subjection. This is very fine, but,
apart from religion, where is the proof of it all? Therefore, as I
cannot, from my own information, have a perfect certainty of my being
immortal until the dissolution of my body has actually taken place,
people must kindly bear with me, if I am in no hurry to obtain that
certain knowledge, for, in my estimation, a knowledge to be gained at
the cost of life is a rather expensive piece of information. In the
mean time I worship God, laying every wrong action under an interdict
which I endeavour to respect, and I loathe the wicked without doing
them any injury. I only abstain from doing them any good, in the
full belief that we ought not to cherish serpents.

As I must likewise say a few words respecting my nature and my
temperament, I premise that the most indulgent of my readers is not
likely to be the most dishonest or the least gifted with

I have had in turn every temperament; phlegmatic in my infancy;
sanguine in my youth; later on, bilious; and now I have a disposition
which engenders melancholy, and most likely will never change. I
always made my food congenial to my constitution, and my health was
always excellent. I learned very early that our health is always
impaired by some excess either of food or abstinence, and I never had
any physician except myself. I am bound to add that the excess in
too little has ever proved in me more dangerous than the excess in
too much; the last may cause indigestion, but the first causes death.

Now, old as I am, and although enjoying good digestive organs, I must
have only one meal every day; but I find a set-off to that privation
in my delightful sleep, and in the ease which I experience in writing
down my thoughts without having recourse to paradox or sophism, which
would be calculated to deceive myself even more than my readers, for
I never could make up my mind to palm counterfeit coin upon them if I
knew it to be such.

The sanguine temperament rendered me very sensible to the attractions
of voluptuousness: I was always cheerful and ever ready to pass from
one enjoyment to another, and I was at the same time very skillful in
inventing new pleasures. Thence, I suppose, my natural disposition
to make fresh acquaintances, and to break with them so readily,
although always for a good reason, and never through mere fickleness.
The errors caused by temperament are not to be corrected, because our
temperament is perfectly independent of our strength: it is not the
case with our character. Heart and head are the constituent parts of
character; temperament has almost nothing to do with it, and,
therefore, character is dependent upon education, and is susceptible
of being corrected and improved.

I leave to others the decision as to the good or evil tendencies of
my character, but such as it is it shines upon my countenance, and
there it can easily be detected by any physiognomist. It is only on
the fact that character can be read; there it lies exposed to the
view. It is worthy of remark that men who have no peculiar cast of
countenance, and there are a great many such men, are likewise
totally deficient in peculiar characteristics, and we may establish
the rule that the varieties in physiognomy are equal to the
differences in character. I am aware that throughout my life my
actions have received their impulse more from the force of feeling
than from the wisdom of reason, and this has led me to acknowledge
that my conduct has been dependent upon my nature more than upon my
mind; both are generally at war, and in the midst of their continual
collisions I have never found in me sufficient mind to balance my
nature, or enough strength in my nature to counteract the power of my
mind. But enough of this, for there is truth in the old saying: 'Si
brevis esse volo, obscurus fio', and I believe that, without
offending against modesty, I can apply to myself the following words
of my dear Virgil:

'Nec sum adeo informis: nuper me in littore vidi
Cum placidum ventis staret mare.'

The chief business of my life has always been to indulge my senses; I
never knew anything of greater importance. I felt myself born for
the fair sex, I have ever loved it dearly, and I have been loved by
it as often and as much as I could. I have likewise always had a
great weakness for good living, and I ever felt passionately fond of
every object which excited my curiosity.

I have had friends who have acted kindly towards me, and it has been
my good fortune to have it in my power to give them substantial
proofs of my gratitude. I have had also bitter enemies who have
persecuted me, and whom I have not crushed simply because I could not
do it. I never would have forgiven them, had I not lost the memory
of all the injuries they had heaped upon me. The man who forgets
does not forgive, he only loses the remembrance of the harm inflicted
on him; forgiveness is the offspring of a feeling of heroism, of a
noble heart, of a generous mind, whilst forgetfulness is only the
result of a weak memory, or of an easy carelessness, and still
oftener of a natural desire for calm and quietness. Hatred, in the
course of time, kills the unhappy wretch who delights in nursing it
in his bosom.

Should anyone bring against me an accusation of sensuality he would
be wrong, for all the fierceness of my senses never caused me to
neglect any of my duties. For the same excellent reason, the
accusation of drunkenness ought not to have been brought against

'Laudibus arguitur vini vinosus Homerus.'

I have always been fond of highly-seasoned, rich dishes, such as
macaroni prepared by a skilful Neapolitan cook, the olla-podrida of
the Spaniards, the glutinous codfish from Newfoundland, game with a
strong flavour, and cheese the perfect state of which is attained
when the tiny animaculae formed from its very essence begin to shew
signs of life. As for women, I have always found the odour of my
beloved ones exceeding pleasant.

What depraved tastes! some people will exclaim. Are you not ashamed
to confess such inclinations without blushing! Dear critics, you
make me laugh heartily. Thanks to my coarse tastes, I believe myself
happier than other men, because I am convinced that they enhance my
enjoyment. Happy are those who know how to obtain pleasures without
injury to anyone; insane are those who fancy that the Almighty can
enjoy the sufferings, the pains, the fasts and abstinences which they
offer to Him as a sacrifice, and that His love is granted only to
those who tax themselves so foolishly. God can only demand from His
creatures the practice of virtues the seed of which He has sown in
their soul, and all He has given unto us has been intended for our
happiness; self-love, thirst for praise, emulation, strength,
courage, and a power of which nothing can deprive us--the power of
self-destruction, if, after due calculation, whether false or just,
we unfortunately reckon death to be advantageous. This is the
strongest proof of our moral freedom so much attacked by sophists.
Yet this power of self-destruction is repugnant to nature, and has
been rightly opposed by every religion.

A so-called free-thinker told me at one time that I could not
consider myself a philosopher if I placed any faith in revelation.
But when we accept it readily in physics, why should we reject it in
religious matters? The form alone is the point in question. The
spirit speaks to the spirit, and not to the ears. The principles of
everything we are acquainted with must necessarily have been revealed
to those from whom we have received them by the great, supreme
principle, which contains them all. The bee erecting its hive, the
swallow building its nest, the ant constructing its cave, and the
spider warping its web, would never have done anything but for a
previous and everlasting revelation. We must either believe that it
is so, or admit that matter is endowed with thought. But as we dare
not pay such a compliment to matter, let us stand by revelation.

The great philosopher, who having deeply studied nature, thought he
had found the truth because he acknowledged nature as God, died too
soon. Had he lived a little while longer, he would have gone much
farther, and yet his journey would have been but a short one, for
finding himself in his Author, he could not have denied Him: In Him
we move and have our being. He would have found Him inscrutable, and
thus would have ended his journey.

God, great principle of all minor principles, God, who is Himself
without a principle, could not conceive Himself, if, in order to do
it, He required to know His own principle.

Oh, blissful ignorance! Spinosa, the virtuous Spinosa, died before
he could possess it. He would have died a learned man and with a
right to the reward his virtue deserved, if he had only supposed his
soul to be immortal!

It is not true that a wish for reward is unworthy of real virtue, and
throws a blemish upon its purity. Such a pretension, on the
contrary, helps to sustain virtue, man being himself too weak to
consent to be virtuous only for his own 'gratification. I hold as a
myth that Amphiaraus who preferred to be good than to seem good. In
fact, I do not believe there is an honest man alive without some
pretension, and here is mine.

I pretend to the friendship, to the esteem, to the gratitude of my
readers. I claim their gratitude, if my Memoirs can give them
instruction and pleasure; I claim their esteem if, rendering me
justice, they find more good qualities in me than faults, and I claim
their friendship as soon as they deem me worthy of it by the candour
and the good faith with which I abandon myself to their judgment,
without disguise and exactly as I am in reality. They will find that
I have always had such sincere love for truth, that I have often
begun by telling stories for the purpose of getting truth to enter
the heads of those who could not appreciate its charms. They will
not form a wrong opinion of me when they see one emptying the purse
of my friends to satisfy my fancies, for those friends entertained
idle schemes, and by giving them the hope of success I trusted to
disappointment to cure them. I would deceive them to make them
wiser, and I did not consider myself guilty, for I applied to my own
enjoyment sums of money which would have been lost in the vain
pursuit of possessions denied by nature; therefore I was not actuated
by any avaricious rapacity. I might think myself guilty if I were
rich now, but I have nothing. I have squandered everything; it is my
comfort and my justification. The money was intended for extravagant
follies, and by applying it to my own frolics I did not turn it into
a very different, channel.

If I were deceived in my hope to please, I candidly confess I would
regret it, but not sufficiently so to repent having written my
Memoirs, for, after all, writing them has given me pleasure. Oh,
cruel ennui! It must be by mistake that those who have invented the
torments of hell have forgotten to ascribe thee the first place among
them. Yet I am bound to own that I entertain a great fear of hisses;
it is too natural a fear for me to boast of being insensible to them,
and I cannot find any solace in the idea that, when these Memoirs are
published, I shall be no more. I cannot think without a shudder of
contracting any obligation towards death: I hate death; for, happy or
miserable, life is the only blessing which man possesses, and those
who do not love it are unworthy of it. If we prefer honour to life,
it is because life is blighted by infamy; and if, in the alternative,
man sometimes throws away his life, philosophy must remain silent.

Oh, death, cruel death! Fatal law which nature necessarily rejects
because thy very office is to destroy nature! Cicero says that death
frees us from all pains and sorrows, but this great philosopher books
all the expense without taking the receipts into account. I do not
recollect if, when he wrote his 'Tusculan Disputations', his own
Tullia was dead. Death is a monster which turns away from the great
theatre an attentive hearer before the end of the play which deeply
interests him, and this is reason enough to hate it.

All my adventures are not to be found in these Memoirs; I have left
out those which might have offended the persons who have played a
sorry part therein. In spite of this reserve, my readers will
perhaps often think me indiscreet, and I am sorry for it. Should I
perchance become wiser before I give up the ghost, I might burn every
one of these sheets, but now I have not courage enough to do it.

It may be that certain love scenes will be considered too explicit,
but let no one blame me, unless it be for lack of skill, for I ought
not to be scolded because, in my old age, I can find no other
enjoyment but that which recollections of the past afford to me.
After all, virtuous and prudish readers are at liberty to skip over
any offensive pictures, and I think it my duty to give them this
piece of advice; so much the worse for those who may not read my
preface; it is no fault of mine if they do not, for everyone ought to
know that a preface is to a book what the play-bill is to a comedy;
both must be read.

My Memoirs are not written for young persons who, in order to avoid
false steps and slippery roads, ought to spend their youth in
blissful ignorance, but for those who, having thorough experience of
life, are no longer exposed to temptation, and who, having but too
often gone through the fire, are like salamanders, and can be
scorched by it no more. True virtue is but a habit, and I have no
hesitation in saying that the really virtuous are those persons who
can practice virtue without the slightest trouble; such persons are
always full of toleration, and it is to them that my Memoirs are

I have written in French, and not in Italian, because the French
language is more universal than mine, and the purists, who may
criticise in my style some Italian turns will be quite right, but
only in case it should prevent them from understanding me clearly.
The Greeks admired Theophrastus in spite of his Eresian style, and
the Romans delighted in their Livy in spite of his Patavinity.
Provided I amuse my readers, it seems to me that I can claim the same
indulgence. After all, every Italian reads Algarotti with pleasure,
although his works are full of French idioms.

There is one thing worthy of notice: of all the living languages
belonging to the republic of letters, the French tongue is the only
one which has been condemned by its masters never to borrow in order
to become richer, whilst all other languages, although richer in
words than the French, plunder from it words and constructions of
sentences, whenever they find that by such robbery they add something
to their own beauty. Yet those who borrow the most from the French,
are the most forward in trumpeting the poverty of that language, very
likely thinking that such an accusation justifies their depredations.
It is said that the French language has attained the apogee of its
beauty, and that the smallest foreign loan would spoil it, but I make
bold to assert that this is prejudice, for, although it certainly is
the most clear, the most logical of all languages, it would be great
temerity to affirm that it can never go farther or higher than it has
gone. We all recollect that, in the days of Lulli, there was but one
opinion of his music, yet Rameau came and everything was changed.
The new impulse given to the French nation may open new and
unexpected horizons, and new beauties, fresh perfections, may spring
up from new combinations and from new wants.

The motto I have adopted justifies my digressions, and all the
commentaries, perhaps too numerous, in which I indulge upon my
various exploits: 'Nequidquam sapit qui sibi non sapit'. For the
same reason I have always felt a great desire to receive praise and
applause from polite society:

'Excitat auditor stadium, laudataque virtus
Crescit, et immensum gloria calcar habet.

I would willingly have displayed here the proud axiom: 'Nemo laeditur
nisi a se ipso', had I not feared to offend the immense number of
persons who, whenever anything goes wrong with them, are wont to
exclaim, "It is no fault of mine!" I cannot deprive them of that
small particle of comfort, for, were it not for it, they would soon
feel hatred for themselves, and self-hatred often leads to the fatal
idea of self-destruction.

As for myself I always willingly acknowledge my own self as the
principal cause of every good or of every evil which may befall me;
therefore I have always found myself capable of being my own pupil,
and ready to love my teacher.



My Family Pedigree--My Childhood

Don Jacob Casanova, the illegitimate son of Don Francisco Casanova,
was a native of Saragosa, the capital of Aragon, and in the year of
1428 he carried off Dona Anna Palofax from her convent, on the day
after she had taken the veil. He was secretary to King Alfonso. He
ran away with her to Rome, where, after one year of imprisonment, the
pope, Martin III., released Anna from her vows, and gave them the
nuptial blessing at the instance of Don Juan Casanova, majordomo of
the Vatican, and uncle of Don Jacob. All the children born from that
marriage died in their infancy, with the exception of Don Juan, who,
in 1475, married Donna Eleonora Albini, by whom he had a son, Marco

In 1481, Don Juan, having killed an officer of the king of Naples,
was compelled to leave Rome, and escaped to Como with his wife and
his son; but having left that city to seek his fortune, he died while
traveling with Christopher Columbus in the year 1493.

Marco Antonio became a noted poet of the school of Martial, and was
secretary to Cardinal Pompeo Colonna.

The satire against Giulio de Medicis, which we find in his works,
having made it necessary for him to leave Rome, he returned to Como,
where he married Abondia Rezzonica. The same Giulio de Medicis,
having become pope under the name of Clement VII, pardoned him and
called him back to Rome with his wife. The city having been taken
and ransacked by the Imperialists in 1526, Marco Antonio died there
from an attack of the plague; otherwise he would have died of misery,
the soldiers of Charles V. having taken all he possessed. Pierre
Valerien speaks of him in his work 'de infelicitate litteratorum'.

Three months after his death, his wife gave birth to Jacques
Casanova, who died in France at a great age, colonel in the army
commanded by Farnese against Henri, king of Navarre, afterwards king
of France. He had left in the city of Parma a son who married
Theresa Conti, from whom he had Jacques, who, in the year 1681,
married Anna Roli. Jacques had two sons, Jean-Baptiste and Gaetan-
Joseph-Jacques. The eldest left Parma in 1712, and was never heard
of; the other also went away in 1715, being only nineteen years old.

This is all I have found in my father's diary: from my mother's lips
I have heard the following particulars:

Gaetan-Joseph-Jacques left his family, madly in love with an actress
named Fragoletta, who performed the chambermaids. In his poverty, he
determined to earn a living by making the most of his own person. At
first he gave himself up to dancing, and five years afterwards became
an actor, making himself conspicuous by his conduct still more than
by his talent.

Whether from fickleness or from jealousy, he abandoned the
Fragoletta, and joined in Venice a troop of comedians then giving
performances at the Saint-Samuel Theatre. Opposite the house in
which he had taken his lodging resided a shoemaker, by name Jerome
Farusi, with his wife Marzia, and Zanetta, their only daughter--a
perfect beauty sixteen years of age. The young actor fell in love
with this girl, succeeded in gaining her affection, and in obtaining
her consent to a runaway match. It was the only way to win her, for,
being an actor, he never could have had Marzia's consent, still less
Jerome's, as in their eyes a player was a most awful individual. The
young lovers, provided with the necessary certificates and
accompanied by two witnesses, presented themselves before the
Patriarch of Venice, who performed over them the marriage ceremony.
Marzia, Zanetta's mother, indulged in a good deal of exclamation, and
the father died broken-hearted.

I was born nine months afterwards, on the 2nd of April, 1725.

The following April my mother left me under the care of her own
mother, who had forgiven her as soon as she had heard that my father
had promised never to compel her to appear on the stage. This is a
promise which all actors make to the young girls they marry, and
which they never fulfil, simply because their wives never care much
about claiming from them the performance of it. Moreover, it turned
out a very fortunate thing for my mother that she had studied for the
stage, for nine years later, having been left a widow with six
children, she could not have brought them up if it had not been for
the resources she found in that profession.

I was only one year old when my father left me to go to London, where
he had an engagement. It was in that great city that my mother made
her first appearance on the stage, and in that city likewise that she
gave birth to my brother Francois, a celebrated painter of battles,
now residing in Vienna, where he has followed his profession since

Towards the end of the year 1728 my mother returned to Venice with
her husband, and as she had become an actress she continued her
artistic life. In 1730 she was delivered of my brother Jean, who
became Director of the Academy of painting at Dresden, and died there
in 1795; and during the three following years she became the mother
of two daughters, one of whom died at an early age, while the other
married in Dresden, where she still lived in 1798. I had also a
posthumous brother, who became a priest; he died in Rome fifteen
years ago.

Let us now come to the dawn of my existence in the character of a
thinking being.

The organ of memory began to develop itself in me at the beginning of
August, 1733. I had at that time reached the age of eight years and
four months. Of what may have happened to me before that period I
have not the faintest recollection. This is the circumstance.

I was standing in the corner of a room bending towards the wall,
supporting my head, and my eyes fixed upon a stream of blood flowing
from my nose to the ground. My grandmother, Marzia, whose pet I was,
came to me, bathed my face with cold water, and, unknown to everyone
in the house, took me with her in a gondola as far as Muran, a
thickly-populated island only half a league distant from Venice.

Alighting from the gondola, we enter a wretched hole, where we find
an old woman sitting on a rickety bed, holding a black cat in her
arms, with five or six more purring around her. The two old cronies
held together a long discourse of which, most likely, I was the
subject. At the end of the dialogue, which was carried on in the
patois of Forli, the witch having received a silver ducat from my
grandmother, opened a box, took me in her arms, placed me in the box
and locked me in it, telling me not to be frightened--a piece of
advice which would certainly have had the contrary effect, if I had
had any wits about me, but I was stupefied. I kept myself quiet in a
corner of the box, holding a handkerchief to my nose because it was
still bleeding, and otherwise very indifferent to the uproar going on
outside. I could hear in turn, laughter, weeping, singing, screams,
shrieks, and knocking against the box, but for all that I cared
nought. At last I am taken out of the box; the blood stops flowing.
The wonderful old witch, after lavishing caresses upon me, takes off
my clothes, lays me on the bed, burns some drugs, gathers the smoke
in a sheet which she wraps around me, pronounces incantations, takes
the sheet off me, and gives me five sugar-plums of a very agreeable
taste. Then she immediately rubs my temples and the nape of my neck
with an ointment exhaling a delightful perfume, and puts my clothes
on me again. She told me that my haemorrhage would little by little
leave me, provided I should never disclose to any one what she had
done to cure me, and she threatened me, on the other hand, with the
loss of all my blood and with death, should I ever breathe a word
concerning those mysteries. After having thus taught me my lesson,
she informed me that a beautiful lady would pay me a visit during the
following night, and that she would make me happy, on condition that
I should have sufficient control over myself never to mention to
anyone my having received such a visit. Upon this we left and
returned home.

I fell asleep almost as soon as I was in bed, without giving a
thought to the beautiful visitor I was to receive; but, waking up a
few hours afterwards, I saw, or fancied I saw, coming down the
chimney, a dazzling woman, with immense hoops, splendidly attired,
and wearing on her head a crown set with precious stones, which
seemed to me sparkling with fire. With slow steps, but with a
majestic and sweet countenance, she came forward and sat on my bed;
then taking several small boxes from her pocket, she emptied their
contents over my head, softly whispering a few words, and after
giving utterance to a long speech, not a single word of which I
understood, she kissed me and disappeared the same way she had come.
I soon went again to sleep.

The next morning, my grandmother came to dress me, and the moment she
was near my bed, she cautioned me to be silent, threatening me with
death if I dared to say anything respecting my night's adventures.
This command, laid upon me by the only woman who had complete
authority over me, and whose orders I was accustomed to obey blindly,
caused me to remember the vision, and to store it, with the seal of
secrecy, in the inmost corner of my dawning memory. I had not,
however, the slightest inclination to mention the circumstances to
anyone; in the first place, because I did not suppose it would
interest anybody, and in the second because I would not have known
whom to make a confidant of. My disease had rendered me dull and
retired; everybody pitied me and left me to myself; my life was
considered likely to be but a short one, and as to my parents, they
never spoke to me.

After the journey to Muran, and the nocturnal visit of the fairy, I
continued to have bleeding at the nose, but less from day to day, and
my memory slowly developed itself. I learned to read in less than a

It would be ridiculous, of course, to attribute this cure to such
follies, but at the same time I think it would be wrong to assert
that they did not in any way contribute to it. As far as the
apparition of the beautiful queen is concerned, I have always deemed
it to be a dream, unless it should have been some masquerade got up
for the occasion, but it is not always in the druggist's shop that
are found the best remedies for severe diseases. Our ignorance is
every day proved by some wonderful phenomenon, and I believe this to
be the reason why it is so difficult to meet with a learned man
entirely untainted with superstition. We know, as a matter of
course, that there never have been any sorcerers in this world, yet
it is true that their power has always existed in the estimation of
those to whom crafty knaves have passed themselves off as such.
'Somnio nocturnos lemures portentaque Thessalia vides'.

Many things become real which, at first, had no existence but in our
imagination, and, as a natural consequence, many facts which have
been attributed to Faith may not always have been miraculous,
although they are true miracles for those who lend to Faith a
boundless power.

The next circumstance of any importance to myself which I recollect
happened three months after my trip to Muran, and six weeks before my
father's death. I give it to my readers only to convey some idea of
the manner in which my nature was expanding.

One day, about the middle of November, I was with my brother
Francois, two years younger than I, in my father's room, watching him
attentively as he was working at optics. A large lump of crystal,
round and cut into facets, attracted my attention. I took it up, and
having brought it near my eyes I was delighted to see that it
multiplied objects. The wish to possess myself of it at once got
hold of me, and seeing myself unobserved I took my opportunity and
hid it in my pocket.

A few minutes after this my father looked about for his crystal, and
unable to find it, he concluded that one of us must have taken it.
My brother asserted that he had not touched it, and I, although
guilty, said the same; but my father, satisfied that he could not be
mistaken, threatened to search us and to thrash the one who had told
him a story. I pretended to look for the crystal in every corner of
the room, and, watching my opportunity I slyly slipped it in the
pocket of my brother's jacket. At first I was sorry for what I had
done, for I might as well have feigned to find the crystal somewhere
about the room; but the evil deed was past recall. My father, seeing
that we were looking in vain, lost patience, searched us, found the
unlucky ball of crystal in the pocket of the innocent boy, and
inflicted upon him the promised thrashing. Three or four years later
I was foolish enough to boast before my brother of the trick I had
then played on him; he never forgave me, and has never failed to take
his revenge whenever the opportunity offered.

However, having at a later period gone to confession, and accused
myself to the priest of the sin with every circumstance surrounding
it, I gained some knowledge which afforded me great satisfaction. My
confessor, who was a Jesuit, told me that by that deed I had verified
the meaning of my first name, Jacques, which, he said, meant, in
Hebrew, "supplanter," and that God had changed for that reason the
name of the ancient patriarch into that of Israel, which meant
"knowing." He had deceived his brother Esau.

Six weeks after the above adventure my father was attacked with an
abscess in the head which carried him off in a week. Dr. Zambelli
first gave him oppilative remedies, and, seeing his mistake, he tried
to mend it by administering castoreum, which sent his patient into
convulsions and killed him. The abscess broke out through the ear
one minute after his death, taking its leave after killing him, as if
it had no longer any business with him. My father departed this life
in the very prime of his manhood. He was only thirty-six years of
age, but he was followed to his grave by the regrets of the public,
and more particularly of all the patricians amongst whom he was held
as above his profession, not less on account of his gentlemanly
behaviour than on account of his extensive knowledge in mechanics.

Two days before his death, feeling that his end was at hand, my
father expressed a wish to see us all around his bed, in the presence
of his wife and of the Messieurs Grimani, three Venetian noblemen
whose protection he wished to entreat in our favour. After giving us
his blessing, he requested our mother, who was drowned in tears, to
give her sacred promise that she would not educate any of us for the
stage, on which he never would have appeared himself had he not been
led to it by an unfortunate attachment. My mother gave her promise,
and the three noblemen said that they would see to its being
faithfully kept. Circumstances helped our mother to fulfill her

At that time my mother had been pregnant for six months, and she was
allowed to remain away from the stage until after Easter. Beautiful
and young as she was, she declined all the offers of marriage which
were made to her, and, placing her trust in Providence, she
courageously devoted herself to the task of bringing up her young

She considered it a duty to think of me before the others, not so
much from a feeling of preference as in consequence of my disease,
which had such an effect upon me that it was difficult to know what
to do with me. I was very weak, without any appetite, unable to
apply myself to anything, and I had all the appearance of an idiot.
Physicians disagreed as to the cause of the disease. He loses, they
would say, two pounds of blood every week; yet there cannot be more
than sixteen or eighteen pounds in his body. What, then, can cause
so abundant a bleeding? One asserted that in me all the chyle turned
into blood; another was of opinion that the air I was breathing must,
at each inhalation, increase the quantity of blood in my lungs, and
contended that this was the reason for which I always kept my mouth
open. I heard of it all six years afterward from M. Baffo, a great
friend of my late father.

This M. Baffo consulted the celebrated Doctor Macop, of Padua, who
sent him his opinion by writing. This consultation, which I have
still in my possession, says that our blood is an elastic fluid which
is liable to diminish or to increase in thickness, but never in
quantity, and that my haemorrhage could only proceed from the
thickness of the mass of my blood, which relieved itself in a natural
way in order to facilitate circulation. The doctor added that I
would have died long before, had not nature, in its wish for life,
assisted itself, and he concluded by stating that the cause of the
thickness of my blood could only be ascribed to the air I was
breathing and that consequently I must have a change of air, or every
hope of cure be abandoned. He thought likewise, that the stupidity
so apparent on my countenance was caused by nothing else but the
thickness of my blood.

M. Baffo, a man of sublime genius, a most lascivious, yet a great and
original poet, was therefore instrumental in bringing about the
decision which was then taken to send me to Padua, and to him I am
indebted for my life. He died twenty years after, the last of his
ancient patrician family, but his poems, although obscene, will give
everlasting fame to his name. The state-inquisitors of Venice have
contributed to his celebrity by their mistaken strictness. Their
persecutions caused his manuscript works to become precious. They
ought to have been aware that despised things are forgotten.

As soon as the verdict given by Professor Macop had been approved of,
the Abbe Grimani undertook to find a good boarding-house in Padua for
me, through a chemist of his acquaintance who resided in that city.
His name was Ottaviani, and he was also an antiquarian of some
repute. In a few days the boarding-house was found, and on the 2nd
day of April, 1734, on the very day I had accomplished my ninth year,
I was taken to Padua in a 'burchiello', along the Brenta Canal. We
embarked at ten o'clock in the evening, immediately after supper.

The 'burchiello' may be considered a small floating house. There is
a large saloon with a smaller cabin at each end, and rooms for
servants fore and aft. It is a long square with a roof, and cut on
each side by glazed windows with shutters. The voyage takes eight
hours. M. Grimani, M. Baffo, and my mother accompanied me. I slept
with her in the saloon, and the two friends passed the night in one
of the cabins. My mother rose at day break, opened one of the
windows facing the bed, and the rays of the rising sun, falling on my
eyes, caused me to open them. The bed was too low for me to see the
land; I could see through the window only the tops of the trees along
the river. The boat was sailing with such an even movement that I
could not realize the fact of our moving, so that the trees, which,
one after the other, were rapidly disappearing from my sight, caused
me an extreme surprise. "Ah, dear mother!" I exclaimed, "what is
this? the trees are walking!" At that very moment the two noblemen
came in, and reading astonishment on my countenance, they asked me
what my thoughts were so busy about. "How is it," I answered, "that
the trees are walking."

They all laughed, but my mother, heaving a great sigh, told me, in a
tone of deep pity, "The boat is moving, the trees are not. Now dress

I understood at once the reason of the phenomenon. "Then it may be,"
said I, "that the sun does not move, and that we, on the contrary,
are revolving from west to east." At these words my good mother
fairly screamed. M. Grimani pitied my foolishness, and I remained
dismayed, grieved, and ready to cry. M. Baffo brought me life
again. He rushed to me, embraced me tenderly, and said, "Thou are
right, my child. The sun does not move; take courage, give heed to
your reasoning powers and let others laugh."

My mother, greatly surprised, asked him whether he had taken leave of
his senses to give me such lessons; but the philosopher, not even
condescending to answer her, went on sketching a theory in harmony
with my young and simple intelligence. This was the first real
pleasure I enjoyed in my life. Had it not been for M. Baffo, this
circumstance might have been enough to degrade my understanding; the
weakness of credulity would have become part of my mind. The
ignorance of the two others would certainly have blunted in me the
edge of a faculty which, perhaps, has not carried me very far in my
after life, but to which alone I feel that I am indebted for every
particle of happiness I enjoy when I look into myself.

We reached Padua at an early hour and went to Ottaviani's house; his
wife loaded me with caresses. I found there five or six children,
amongst them a girl of eight years, named Marie, and another of
seven, Rose, beautiful as a seraph. Ten years later Marie became the
wife of the broker Colonda, and Rose, a few years afterwards, married
a nobleman, Pierre Marcello, and had one son and two daughters, one
of whom was wedded to M. Pierre Moncenigo, and the other to a
nobleman of the Carrero family. This last marriage was afterwards
nullified. I shall have, in the course of events, to speak of all
these persons, and that is my reason for mentioning their names here.

Ottaviani took us at once to the house where I was to board. It was
only a few yards from his own residence, at Sainte-Marie d'Advance,
in the parish of Saint-Michel, in the house of an old Sclavonian
woman, who let the first floor to Signora Mida, wife of a Sclavonian
colonel. My small trunk was laid open before the old woman, to whom
was handed an inventory of all its contents, together with six
sequins for six months paid in advance. For this small sum she
undertook to feed me, to keep me clean, and to send me to a day-
school. Protesting that it was not enough, she accepted these terms.
I was kissed and strongly commanded to be always obedient and docile,
and I was left with her.

In this way did my family get rid of me.


My Grandmother Comes to Padua, and Takes Me to Dr. Gozzi's School
--My First Love Affair

As soon as I was left alone with the Sclavonian woman, she took me up
to the garret, where she pointed out my bed in a row with four
others, three of which belonged to three young boys of my age, who at
that moment were at school, and the fourth to a servant girl whose
province it was to watch us and to prevent the many peccadilloes in
which school-boys are wont to indulge. After this visit we came
downstairs, and I was taken to the garden with permission to walk
about until dinner-time.

I felt neither happy nor unhappy; I had nothing to say. I had
neither fear nor hope, nor even a feeling of curiosity; I was neither
cheerful nor sad. The only thing which grated upon me was the face
of the mistress of the house. Although I had not the faintest idea
either of beauty or of ugliness, her face, her countenance, her tone
of voice, her language, everything in that woman was repulsive to me.
Her masculine features repelled me every time I lifted my eyes
towards her face to listen to what she said to me. She was tall and
coarse like a trooper; her complexion was yellow, her hair black, her
eyebrows long and thick, and her chin gloried in a respectable
bristly beard: to complete the picture, her hideous, half-naked bosom
was hanging half-way down her long chest; she may have been about
fifty. The servant was a stout country girl, who did all the work of
the house; the garden was a square of some thirty feet, which had no
other beauty than its green appearance.

Towards noon my three companions came back from school, and they at
once spoke to me as if we had been old acquaintances, naturally
giving me credit for such intelligence as belonged to my age, but
which I did not possess. I did not answer them, but they were not
baffled, and they at last prevailed upon me to share their innocent
pleasures. I had to run, to carry and be carried, to turn head over
heels, and I allowed myself to be initiated into those arts with a
pretty good grace until we were summoned to dinner. I sat down to
the table; but seeing before me a wooden spoon, I pushed it back,
asking for my silver spoon and fork to which I was much attached,
because they were a gift from my good old granny. The servant
answered that the mistress wished to maintain equality between the
boys, and I had to submit, much to my disgust. Having thus learned
that equality in everything was the rule of the house, I went to work
like the others and began to eat the soup out of the common dish, and
if I did not complain of the rapidity with which my companions made
it disappear, I could not help wondering at such inequality being
allowed. To follow this very poor soup, we had a small portion of
dried cod and one apple each, and dinner was over: it was in Lent.
We had neither glasses nor cups, and we all helped ourselves out of
the same earthen pitcher to a miserable drink called graspia, which
is made by boiling in water the stems of grapes stripped of their
fruit. From the following day I drank nothing but water. This way
of living surprised me, for I did not know whether I had a right to
complain of it. After dinner the servant took me to the school, kept
by a young priest, Doctor Gozzi, with whom the Sclavonian woman had
bargained for my schooling at the rate of forty sous a month, or the
eleventh part of a sequin.

The first thing to do was to teach me writing, and I was placed
amongst children of five and six years, who did not fail to turn me
into ridicule on account of my age.

On my return to the boarding-house I had my supper, which, as a
matter of course, was worse than the dinner, and I could not make out
why the right of complaint should be denied me. I was then put to
bed, but there three well-known species of vermin kept me awake all
night, besides the rats, which, running all over the garret, jumped
on my bed and fairly made my blood run cold with fright. This is the
way in which I began to feel misery, and to learn how to suffer it
patiently. The vermin, which feasted upon me, lessened my fear of
the rats, and by a very lucky system of compensation, the dread of
the rats made me less sensitive to the bites of the vermin. My mind
was reaping benefit from the very struggle fought between the evils
which surrounded me. The servant was perfectly deaf to my screaming.

As soon as it was daylight I ran out of the wretched garret, and,
after complaining to the girl of all I had endured during the night,
I asked her to give me a Clean shirt, the one I had on being
disgusting to look at, but she answered that I could only change my
linen on a Sunday, and laughed at me when I threatened to complain to
the mistress. For the first time in my life I shed tears of sorrow
and of anger, when I heard my companions scoffing at me. The poor
wretches shared my unhappy condition, but they were used to it, and
that makes all the difference.

Sorely depressed, I went to school, but only to sleep soundly through
the morning. One of my comrades, in the hope of turning the affair
into ridicule at my expense, told the doctor the reason of my being
so sleepy. The good priest, however, to whom without doubt
Providence had guided me, called me into his private room, listened
to all I had to say, saw with his own eyes the proofs of my misery,
and moved by the sight of the blisters which disfigured my innocent
skin, he took up his cloak, went with me to my boarding-house, and
shewed the woman the state I was in. She put on a look of great
astonishment, and threw all the blame upon the servant. The doctor
being curious to see my bed, I was, as much as he was, surprised at
the filthy state of the sheets in which I had passed the night. The
accursed woman went on blaming the servant, and said that she would
discharge her; but the girl, happening to be close by, and not
relishing the accusation, told her boldly that the fault was her own,
and she then threw open the beds of my companions to shew us that
they did not experience any better treatment. The mistress, raving,
slapped her on the face, and the servant, to be even with her,
returned the compliment and ran away. The doctor left me there,
saying that I could not enter his school unless I was sent to him as
clean as the other boys. The result for me was a very sharp rebuke,
with the threat, as a finishing stroke, that if I ever caused such a
broil again, I would be ignominiously turned out of the house.

I could not make it out; I had just entered life, and I had no
knowledge of any other place but the house in which I had been born,
in which I had been brought up, and in which I had always seen
cleanliness and honest comfort. Here I found myself ill-treated,
scolded, although it did not seem possible that any blame could be
attached to me. At last the old shrew tossed a shirt in my face, and
an hour later I saw a new servant changing the sheets, after which we
had our dinner.

My schoolmaster took particular care in instructing me. He gave me a
seat at his own desk, and in order to shew my proper appreciation of
such a favour, I gave myself up to my studies; at the end of the
first month I could write so well that I was promoted to the grammar

The new life I was leading, the half-starvation system to which I was
condemned, and most likely more than everything else, the air of
Padua, brought me health such as I had never enjoyed before, but that
very state of blooming health made it still more difficult for me to
bear the hunger which I was compelled to endure; it became
unbearable. I was growing rapidly; I enjoyed nine hours of deep
sleep, unbroken by any dreams, save that I always fancied myself
sitting at a well-spread table, and gratifying my cruel appetite, but
every morning I could realize in full the vanity and the unpleasant
disappointment of flattering dreams! This ravenous appetite would at
last have weakened me to death, had I not made up my mind to pounce
upon, and to swallow, every kind of eatables I could find, whenever I
was certain of not being seen.

Necessity begets ingenuity. I had spied in a cupboard of the kitchen
some fifty red herrings; I devoured them all one after the other, as
well as all the sausages which were hanging in the chimney to be
smoked; and in order to accomplish those feats without being
detected, I was in the habit of getting up at night and of
undertaking my foraging expeditions under the friendly veil of
darkness. Every new-laid egg I could discover in the poultry-yard,
quite warm and scarcely dropped by the hen, was a most delicious
treat. I would even go as far as the kitchen of the schoolmaster in
the hope of pilfering something to eat.

The Sclavonian woman, in despair at being unable to catch the
thieves, turned away servant after servant. But, in spite of all my
expeditions, as I could not always find something to steal, I was as
thin as a walking skeleton.

My progress at school was so rapid during four or five months that
the master promoted me to the rank of dux. My province was to
examine the lessons of my thirty school-fellows, to correct their
mistakes and report to the master with whatever note of blame or of
approval I thought they deserved; but my strictness did not last
long, for idle boys soon found out the way to enlist my sympathy.
When their Latin lesson was full of mistakes, they would buy me off
with cutlets and roast chickens; they even gave me money. These
proceedings excited my covetousness, or, rather, my gluttony, and,
not satisfied with levying a tax upon the ignorant, I became a
tyrant, and I refused well-merited approbation to all those who
declined paying the contribution I demanded. At last, unable to bear
my injustice any longer, the boys accused me, and the master, seeing
me convicted of extortion, removed me from my exalted position. I
would very likely have fared badly after my dismissal, had not Fate
decided to put an end to my cruel apprenticeship.

Doctor Gozzi, who was attached to me, called me privately one day
into his study, and asked me whether I would feel disposed to carry
out the advice he would give me in order to bring about my removal
from the house of the Sclavonian woman, and my admission in his own
family. Finding me delighted at such an offer, he caused me to copy
three letters which I sent, one to the Abbe Grimani, another to my
friend Baffo, and the last to my excellent grandam. The half-year
was nearly out, and my mother not being in Venice at that period
there was no time to lose.

In my letters I gave a description of all my sufferings, and I
prognosticated my death were I not immediately removed from my
boarding-house and placed under the care of my school-master, who was
disposed to receive me; but he wanted two sequins a month.

M. Grimani did not answer me, and commissioned his friend Ottaviani
to scold me for allowing myself to be ensnared by the doctor; but M.
Baffo went to consult with my grandmother, who could not write, and
in a letter which he addressed to me he informed me that I would soon
find myself in a happier situation. And, truly, within a week the
excellent old woman, who loved me until her death, made her
appearance as I was sitting down to my dinner. She came in with the
mistress of the house, and the moment I saw her I threw my arms
around her neck, crying bitterly, in which luxury the old lady soon
joined me. She sat down and took me on her knees; my courage rose
again. In the presence of the Sclavonian woman I enumerated all my
grievances, and after calling her attention to the food, fit only for
beggars, which I was compelled to swallow, I took her upstairs to
shew her my bed. I begged her to take me out and give me a good
dinner after six months of such starvation. The boarding-house
keeper boldly asserted that she could not afford better for the
amount she had received, and there was truth in that, but she had no
business to keep house and to become the tormentor of poor children
who were thrown on her hands by stinginess, and who required to be
properly fed.

My grandmother very quietly intimated her intention to take me away
forthwith, and asked her to put all my things in my trunk. I cannot
express my joy during these preparations. For the first time I felt
that kind of happiness which makes forgiveness compulsory upon the
being who enjoys it, and causes him to forget all previous
unpleasantness. My grandmother took me to the inn, and dinner was
served, but she could hardly eat anything in her astonishment at the
voracity with which I was swallowing my food. In the meantime Doctor
Gozzi, to whom she had sent notice of her arrival, came in, and his
appearance soon prepossessed her in his favour. He was then a fine-
looking priest, twenty-six years of age, chubby, modest, and
respectful. In less than a quarter of an hour everything was
satisfactorily arranged between them. The good old lady counted out
twenty-four sequins for one year of my schooling, and took a receipt
for the same, but she kept me with her for three days in order to
have me clothed like a priest, and to get me a wig, as the filthy
state of my hair made it necessary to have it all cut off.

At the end of the three days she took me to the doctor's house, so as
to see herself to my installation and to recommend me to the doctor's
mother, who desired her to send or to buy in Padua a bedstead and
bedding; but the doctor having remarked that, his own bed being very
wide, I might sleep with him, my grandmother expressed her gratitude
for all his kindness, and we accompanied her as far as the burchiello
she had engaged to return to Venice.

The family of Doctor Gozzi was composed of his mother, who had great
reverence for him, because, a peasant by birth, she did not think
herself worthy of having a son who was a priest, and still more a
doctor in divinity; she was plain, old, and cross; and of his father,
a shoemaker by trade, working all day long and never addressing a
word to anyone, not even during the meals. He only became a sociable
being on holidays, on which occasions he would spend his time with
his friends in some tavern, coming home at midnight as drunk as a
lord and singing verses from Tasso. When in this blissful state the
good man could not make up his mind to go to bed, and became violent
if anyone attempted to compel him to lie down. Wine alone gave him
sense and spirit, for when sober he was incapable of attending to the
simplest family matter, and his wife often said that he never would
have married her had not his friends taken care to give him a good
breakfast before he went to the church.

But Doctor Gozzi had also a sister, called Bettina, who at the age of
thirteen was pretty, lively, and a great reader of romances. Her
father and mother scolded her constantly because she was too often
looking out of the window, and the doctor did the same on account of
her love for reading. This girl took at once my fancy without my
knowing why, and little by little she kindled in my heart the first
spark of a passion which, afterwards became in me the ruling one.

Six months after I had been an inmate in the house, the doctor found
himself without scholars; they all went away because I had become the
sole object of his affection. He then determined to establish a
college, and to receive young boys as boarders; but two years passed
before he met with any success. During that period he taught me
everything he knew; true, it was not much; yet it was enough to open
to me the high road to all sciences. He likewise taught me the
violin, an accomplishment which proved very useful to me in a
peculiar circumstance, the particulars of which I will give in good
time. The excellent doctor, who was in no way a philosopher, made me
study the logic of the Peripatetics, and the cosmography of the
ancient system of Ptolemy, at which I would laugh, teasing the poor
doctor with theorems to which he could find no answer. His habits,
moreover, were irreproachable, and in all things connected with
religion, although no bigot, he was of the greatest strictness, and,
admitting everything as an article of faith, nothing appeared
difficult to his conception. He believed the deluge to have been
universal, and he thought that, before that great cataclysm, men
lived a thousand years and conversed with God, that Noah took one
hundred years to build the ark, and that the earth, suspended in the
air, is firmly held in the very centre of the universe which God had
created from nothing. When I would say and prove that it was absurd
to believe in the existence of nothingness, he would stop me short
and call me a fool.

He could enjoy a good bed, a glass of wine, and cheerfulness at home.
He did not admire fine wits, good jests or criticism, because it
easily turns to slander, and he would laugh at the folly of men
reading newspapers which, in his opinion, always lied and constantly
repeated the same things. He asserted that nothing was more
troublesome than incertitude, and therefore he condemned thought
because it gives birth to doubt.

His ruling passion was preaching, for which his face and his voice

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