Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by David Widger
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
ADVENTURES IN THE SOUTH, Volume 4c--RETURN TO NAPLES
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED
BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
RETURN TO NAPLES
Cardinal Passianei--The Pope--Masiuccia--I Arrive At Naples
Cardinal Passionei received me in a large hall where he was
writing. He begged me to wait till he had finished, but he could
not ask me to take a seat as he occupied the only chair that his
vast room contained.
When he had put down his pen, he rose, came to me, and after
informing me that he would tell the Holy Father of my visit, he
"My brother Cornaro might have made a better choice, as he knows
the Pope does not like me."
"He thought it better to choose the man who is esteemed than the
man who is merely liked."
"I don't know whether the Pope esteems me, but I am sure he knows
I don't esteem him. I both liked and esteemed him before he was
pope, and I concurred in his election, but since he has worn the
tiara it's a different matter; he has shewn himself too much of a
"The conclave ought to have chosen your eminence."
"No, no; I'm a root-and-branch reformer, and my hand would not
have been stayed for fear of the vengeance of the guilty, and God
alone knows what would have come of that. The only cardinal fit
to be pope was Tamburini; but it can't be helped now. I hear
people coming; good-bye, come again to-morrow."
What a delightful thing to have heard a cardinal call the Pope a
fool, and name Tamburini as a fit person. I did not lose a moment
in noting this pleasant circumstance down: it was too precious a
morsel to let slip. But who was Tamburini? I had never heard of
him. I asked Winckelmann, who dined with me.
"He's a man deserving of respect for his virtues, his character,
his firmness, and his farseeing intelligence. He has never
disguised his opinion of the Jesuits, whom he styles the fathers
of deceits, intrigues, and lies; and that's what made Passionei
mention him. I think, with him, that Tamburini would be a great
and good pope."
I will here note down what I heard at Rome nine years later from
the mouth of a tool of the Jesuits. The Cardinal Tamburini was at
the last gasp, and the conversation turned upon him, when somebody
"This Benedictine cardinal is an impious fellow after all; he is
on his death-bed, and he has asked for the viaticum, without
wishing to purify his soul by confession."
I did not make any remark, but feeling as if I should like to know
the truth of the matter I asked somebody about it next day, my
informant being a person who must have known the truth, and could
not have had any motive for disguising the real facts of the case.
He told me that the cardinal had said mass three days before, and
that if he had not asked for a confessor it was doubtless because
he had nothing to confess.
Unfortunate are they that love the truth, and do not seek it out
at its source. I hope the reader will pardon this digression,
which is not without interest.
Next day I went to see Cardinal Passionei, who told me I was quite
right to come early, as he wanted to learn all about my escape
from The Leads, of which he had heard some wonderful tales told.
"I shall be delighted to satisfy your eminence, but the story is a
"All the better; they say you tell it well."
"But, my lord, am I to sit down on the floor?"
"No, no; your dress is too good for that."
He rang his bell, and having told one of his gentlemen to send up
a seat, a servant brought in a stool. A seat without a back and
without arms! It made me quite angry. I cut my story short, told
it badly, and had finished in a quarter of an hour.
"I write better than you speak," said he.
"My lord, I never speak well except when I am at my ease."
"But you are not afraid of me?"
"No, my lord, a true man and a philosopher can never make me
afraid; but this stool of yours . . . ."
"You like to be at your ease, above all things."
"Take this, it is the funeral oration of Prince Eugene; I make you
a present of it. I hope you will approve of my Latinity. You can
kiss the Pope's feet tomorrow at ten o'clock."
When I got home, as I reflected on the character of this strange
cardinal--a wit, haughty, vain, and boastful, I resolved to make
him a fine present. It was the 'Pandectarum liber unicus' which
M. de F. had given me at Berne, and which I did not know what to
do with. It was a folio well printed on fine paper, choicely
bound, and in perfect preservation. As chief librarian the
present should be a valuable one to him, all the more as he had a
large private library, of which my friend the Abbe Winckelmann was
librarian. I therefore wrote a short Latin letter, which I
enclosed in another to Winckelmann, whom I begged to present my
offering to his eminence.
I thought it was as valuable as his funeral oration at any rate,
and I hoped that he would give me a more comfortable chair for the
Next morning, at the time appointed, I went to Monte Cavallo,
which ought to be called Monte Cavalli, as it gets its name from
two fine statues of horses standing on a pedestal in the midst of
the square, where the Holy Father's palace is situated.
I had no real need of being presented to the Pope by anyone, as
any Christian is at liberty to go in when he sees the door open.
Besides I had known His Holiness when he was Bishop of Padua; but
I had preferred to claim the honor of being introduced by a
After saluting the Head of the Faithful, and kissing the holy
cross embroidered on his holy slipper, the Pope put his right hand
on my left shoulder, and said he remembered that I always forsook
the assembly at Padua, when he intoned the Rosary.
"Holy Father, I have much worse sins than that on my conscience,
so I come prostrate at your foot to receive your absolution."
He then gave me his benediction, and asked me very graciously what
he could do for me.
"I beg Your Holiness to plead for me, that I may be able to return
"We will speak of it to the ambassador, and then we will speak
again to you on the matter."
"Do you often go and see Cardinal Passionei?"
"I have been three times. He gave me his funeral oration on
Prince Eugene, and in return I sent him the 'Pandects'."
"Has he accepted them?"
"I think so, Holy Father."
"If he has, he will send Winckelmann to pay you for them."
"That would be treating me like a bookseller; I will not receive
"Then he will return the volume of the 'Pandects'; we are sure of
it, he always does so."
"If his eminence returns me the 'Pandects', I will return him his
At this the Pope laughed till his sides shook.
"We shall be pleased to hear the end of the story without anyone
being informed of our innocent curiosity."
With these words, a long benediction delivered with much unction
informed me that my audience was at an end.
As I was leaving His Holiness's palace, I was accosted by an old
abbe, who asked me respectfully if I were not the M. Casanova who
had escaped from The Leads.
"Yes," said I, "I am the man."
"Heaven be praised, worthy sir, that I see you again in such good
"But whom have I the honour of addressing?"
"Don't you recollect me? I am Momolo, formerly gondolier at
"Have you entered holy orders, then?"
"Not at all, but here everyone wears the cassock. I am the first
scopatore (sweeper) of His Holiness the Pope."
"I congratulate you on your appointment, but you mustn't mind me
"Laugh as much as you like. My wife and daughters laugh when I
put on the cassock and bands, and I laugh myself, but here the
dress gains one respect. Come and see us."
"Where do you live?"
"Behind the Trinity of Monti; here's my address."
"I will come to-night."
I went home delighted with this meeting, and determined to enjoy
the evening with my Venetian boatman. I got my brother to come
with me, and I told him how the Pope had received me.
The Abbe Winckelmann came in the afternoon and informed me that I
was fortunate enough to be high in favour with his cardinal, and
that the book I had sent him was very valuable; it was a rare
work, and in much better condition than the Vatican copy.
"I am commissioned to pay you for it."
"I have told his eminence that it was a present."
"He never accepts books as presents, and he wants yours for his
own library; and as he is librarian of the Vatican Library he is
afraid lest people might say unpleasant things."
"That's very well, but I am not a bookseller; and as this book
only cost me the trouble of accepting it, I am determined only to
sell it at the same price. Pray ask the cardinal to honour me by
"He is sure to send it back to you."
"He can if he likes, but I will send back his funeral oration, as
I am not going to be under an obligation to anyone who refuses to
take a present from me."
Next morning the eccentric cardinal returned me my Pandects, and I
immediately returned his funeral oration, with a letter in which I
pronounced it a masterpiece of composition, though I laid barely
glanced over it in reality. My brother told me I was wrong, but I
did not trouble what he said, not caring to guide myself by his
In the evening my brother and I went to the 'scopatore
santissimo', who was expecting me, and had announced me to his
family as a prodigy of a man. I introduced my brother, and
proceeded to a close scrutiny of the family. I saw an elderly
woman, four girls, of whom the eldest was twenty-four, two small
boys, and above all universal ugliness. It was not inviting for a
man of voluptuous tastes, but I was there, and the best thing was
to put a good face on it; so I stayed and enjoyed myself. Besides
the general ugliness, the household presented the picture of
misery, for the 'scopatore santissimo' and his numerous family
were obliged to live on two hundred Roman crowns a year, and as
there are no perquisites attached to the office of apostolic
sweeper, he was compelled to furnish all needs out of this slender
sum. In spite of that Momolo was a most generous man. As soon as
he saw me seated he told me he should have liked to give me a good
supper, but there was only pork chops and a polenta.
"They are very nice," said I; "but will you allow me to send for
half a dozen flasks of Orvieto from my lodging?"
"You are master here."
I wrote a note to Costa, telling him to bring the six flasks
directly, with a cooked ham. He came in half an hour, and the
four girls cried when they saw him, "What a fine fellow!" I saw
Costa was delighted with this reception, and said to Momolo,
"If you like him as well as your girls I will let him stay."
Costa was charmed with such honour being shewn him, and after
thanking me went into the kitchen to help the mother with the
The large table was covered with a clean cloth, and soon after
they brought in two huge dishes of polenta and an enormous pan
full of chops. We were just going to begin when a knocking on the
street door was heard.
"'Tis Signora Maria and her mother," said one of the boys.
At this announcement I saw the four girls pulling a wry face.
"Who asked them?" said one. "What do they want?" said another.
"What troublesome people they are!" said a third. "They might
have stayed at home," said the fourth. But the good, kindly
father said, "My children, they are hungry, and they shall share
what Providence has given us."
I was deeply touched with the worthy man's kindness. I saw that
true Christian charity is more often to be found in the breasts of
the poor than the rich, who are so well provided for that they
cannot feel for the wants of others.
While I was making these wholesome reflections the two hungry ones
came in. One was a young woman of a modest and pleasant aspect,
and the other her mother, who seemed very humble and as if ashamed
of their poverty. The daughter saluted the company with that
natural grace which is a gift of nature, apologizing in some
confusion for her presence, and saying that she would not have
taken the liberty to come if she had known there was company. The
worthy Momolo was the only one who answered her, and he said,
kindly, that she had done quite right to come, and put her a chair
between my brother and myself. I looked at her and thought her a
Then the eating began and there was no more talking. The polenta
was excellent, the chops delicious, and the ham perfect, and in
less than an hour the board was as bare as if there had been
nothing on it; but the Orvieto kept the company in good spirts.
They began to talk of the lottery which was to be drawn the day
after next, and all the girls mentioned the numbers on which they
had risked a few bajocchi.
"If I could be sure of one number," said I, "I would stake
something on it."
Mariuccia told me that if I wanted a number she could give me one.
I laughed at this offer, but in the gravest way she named me the
"Is the lottery still open?" I asked the Abbe Momolo.
"Till midnight," he replied, "and if you like I will go and get
the number for you."
"Here are fifty crowns," said I, "put twenty-five crowns on 27-
this for these five young ladies; and the other twenty-five on 27
coming out the fifth number, and this I will keep for myself."
He went out directly and returned with the two tickets.
My pretty neighbour thanked me and said she was sure of winning,
but that she did not think I should succeed as it was not probable
that 27 would come out fifth.
"I am sure of it," I answered, "for you are the fifth young lady I
saw in this house." This made everybody laugh. Momolo's wife
told me I would have done much better if I had given the money to
the poor, but her husband told her to be quiet, as she did not
know my intent. My brother laughed, and told me I had done a
foolish thing. "I do, sometimes," said I, "but we shall see how
it turns out, and when one plays one is obliged either to win or
I managed to squeeze my fair neighbour's hand, and she returned
the pressure with all her strength. From that time I knew that my
fate with Mariuccia was sealed. I left them at midnight, begging
the worthy Momolo to ask me again in two days' time, that we might
rejoice together over our gains. On our way home my brother said
I had either become as rich as Croesus or had gone mad. I told
him that both suppositions were incorrect, but that Mariuccia was
as handsome as an angel, and he agreed.
Next day Mengs returned to Rome, and I supped with him and his
family. He had an exceedingly ugly sister, who for all that, was
a good and talented woman. She had fallen deeply in love with my
brother, and it was easy to see that the flame was not yet
extinguished, but whenever she spoke to him, which she did
whenever she could get an opportunity, he looked another way.
She was an exquisite painter of miniatures, and a capital hand at
catching a likeness. To the best of my belief she is still living
at Rome with Maroni her husband. She often used to speak of my
brother to me, and one day she said that he must be the most
thankless of men or he would not despise her so. I was not
curious enough to enquire what claim she had to his gratitude.
Mengs's wife was a good and pretty woman, attentive to her
household duties and very submissive to her husband, though she
could not have loved him, for he was anything but amiable. He was
obstinate and fierce in his manner, and when he dined at home he
made a point of not leaving the table before he was drunk; out of
his own house he was temperate to the extent of not drinking
anything but water. His wife carried her obedience so far as to
serve as his model for all the nude figures he painted. I spoke
to her one day about this unpleasant obligation, and she said that
her confessor had charged her to fulfil it, "for," said he, "if
your husband has another woman for a model he will be sure to
enjoy her before painting her, and that sin would be laid to your
After supper, Winckelmann, who was as far gone as all the other
male guests, played with Mengs's children. There was nothing of
the pedant about this philosopher; he loved children and young
people, and his cheerful disposition made him delight in all kinds
Next day, as I was going to pay my court to the Pope, I saw Momolo
in the first ante-chamber, and I took care to remind him of the
polenta for the evening.
As soon as the Pope saw me, he said,--
"The Venetian ambassador has informed us that if you wish to
return to your native land, you must go and present yourself
before the secretary of the Tribunal."
"Most Holy Father, I am quite ready to take this step, if Your
Holiness will grant me a letter of commendation written with your
own hand. Without this powerful protection I should never dream
of exposing myself to the risk of being again shut up in a place
from which I escaped by a miracle and the help of the Almighty."
"You are gaily dressed; you do not look as if you were going to
"True, most Holy Father, but neither am I going to a ball."
"We have heard all about the presents being sent back. Confess
that you did so to gratify your pride."
"Yes, but also to lower a pride greater than mine."
The Pope smiled at this reply, and I knelt down and begged him to
permit me to present the volume of Pandects to the Vatican
Library. By way of reply he gave me his blessing, which
signifies, in papal language, "Rise; your request is granted."
"We will send you," said he, "a mark of our singular affection for
you without your having to pay any fees."
A second blessing bid me begone. I have often felt what a good
thing it would be if this kind of dismissal could be employed in
general society to send away importunate petitioners, to whom one
does not dare say, "Begone."
I was extremely curious to know what the Pope had meant by "a mark
of our singular affection." I was afraid that it would be a
blessed rosary, with which I should not have known what to do.
When I got home I sent the book by Costa to the Vatican, and then
I went to dine with Mengs. While we were eating the soup the
winning numbers from the lottery were brought in. My brother
glanced at them and looked at me with astonishment. I was not
thinking of the subject at that moment, and his gaze surprised me.
"Twenty-seven," he cried, "came out fifth."
"All the better," said I, "we shall have some amusement out of
I told the story to Mengs, who said,--
"It's a lucky folly for you this time; but it always is a folly."
He was quite right, and I told him that I agreed with him; but I
added that to make a worthy use of the fifteen hundred roman
crowns which fortune had given me, I should go and spend fifteen
days at Naples.
"I will come too," said the Abbe Alfani. "I will pass for your
"With all my heart," I answered, "I shall keep you to your word."
I asked Winckelmann to come and eat polenta with the scopatore
santissimo, and told my brother to shew him the way; and I then
called on the Marquis Belloni, my banker, to look into my
accounts, and to get a letter of credit on the firm at Naples, who
were his agents. I still had two hundred thousand francs: I had
jewellery worth thirty thousand francs, and fifty thousand florins
I got to Momolo's in the dusk of the evening, and I found
Winckelmann and my brother already there; but instead of mirth
reigning round the board I saw sad faces on all sides.
"What's the matter with the girls?" I asked Momolo.
"They are vexed that you did not stake for them in the same way as
you did for yourself."
"People are never satisfied. If I had staked for them as I did
for myself, and the number had come out first instead of fifth,
they would have got nothing, and they would have been vexed then.
Two days ago they had nothing, and now that they have twenty-seven
pounds apiece they ought to be contented."
"That's just what I tell their, but all women are the same."
"And men too, dear countryman, unless they are philosophers. Gold
does not spell happiness, and mirth can only be found in hearts
devoid of care. Let us say no more about it, but be happy."
Costa placed a basket containing ten packets of sweets, upon the
"I will distribute them," said I, "when everybody is here."
On this, Momolo's second daughter told me that Mariuccia and her
mother were not coming, but that they would send them the sweets.
"Why are they not coming?"
"They had a quarrel yesterday," said the father, "and Mariuccia,
who was in the right, went away saying that she would never come
"You ungrateful girls!" said I, to my host's daughters, "don't you
know that it is to her that you owe your winnings, for she gave me
the number twenty-seven, which I should never have thought of.
Quick! think of some way to make her come, or I will go away and
take all the sweets with me."
"You are quite right," said Momolo.
The mortified girls looked at one another and begged their father
to fetch her.
"Ira," said he, "that won't do; you made her say that she would
never come here again, and you must make up the quarrel."
They held a short consultation, and then, asking Costa to go with
them, they went to fetch her.
In half an hour they returned in triumph, and Costa was quite
proud of the part he had taken in the reconciliation. I then
distributed the sweets, taking care to give the two best packets
to the fair Mary.
A noble polenta was placed upon the board, flanked by two large
dishes of pork chops. But Momolo, who knew my tastes, and whom I
had made rich in the person of his daughters, added to the feast
some delicate dishes and some excellent wine. Mariuccia was
simply dressed, but her elegance and beauty and the modesty of her
demeanour completely seduced me.
We could only express our mutual flames by squeezing each other's
hands; and she did this so feelingly that I could not doubt her
love. As we were going out I took care to go downstairs beside
her and asked if I could not meet her by herself, to which she
replied by making an appointment with me far the next day at eight
o'clock at the Trinity of Monti.
Mariuccia was tall and shapely, a perfect picture, as fair as a
white rose, and calculated to inspire voluptuous desires. She had
beautiful light brown hair, dark blue eyes, and exquisitely arched
eyelids. Her mouth, the vermilion of her lips, and her ivory
teeth were all perfect. Her well-shaped forehead gave her an air
approaching the majestic. Kindness and gaiety sparkled in her
eyes; while her plump white hands, her rounded finger-tips, her
pink nails, her breast, which the corset seemed scarcely able to
restrain, her dainty feet, and her prominent hips, made her worthy
of the chisel of Praxiteles. She was just on her eighteenth year,
and so far had escaped the connoisseurs. By a lucky chance I came
across her in a poor and wretched street, and I was fortunate
enough to insure her happiness.
It may easily be believed that I did not fail to keep the
appointment, and when she was sure I had seen her she went out of
the church. I followed her at a considerable distance: she
entered a ruined building, and I after her. She climbed a flight
of steps which seemed to be built in air, and when she had reached
the top she turned.
"No one will come and look for me here," said she, "so we can talk
I sat beside her on a stone, and I then declared my passionate
love for her.
"Tell me," I added, "what I can do to make you happy; for I wish
to possess you, but first to shew my deserts."
"Make me happy, and I will yield to your desires, for I love you."
"Tell me what I can do."
"You can draw me out of the poverty and misery which overwhelm me.
I live with my mother, who is a good woman, but devout to the
point of superstition; she will damn my soul in her efforts to
save it. She finds fault with my keeping myself clean, because
I have to touch myself when I wash, and that might give rise to
"If you had given me the money you made me win in the lottery as a
simple alms she would have made me refuse it, because you might
have had intentions. She allows me to go by myself to mass
because our confessor told her she might do so; but I dare not
stay away a minute beyond the time, except on feast days, when I
am allowed to pray in the church for two or three hours. We can
only meet here, but if you wish to soften my lot in life you can
do so as follows:
"A fine young man, who is a hairdresser, and bears an excellent
character, saw me at Momolo's a fortnight ago, and met me at the
church door next day and gave me a letter. He declared himself my
lover, and said that if I could bring him a dowry of four hundred
crowns, he could open a shop, furnish it, and marry me.
"'I am poor,' I answered, 'and I have only a hundred crowns in
charity tickets, which my confessor keeps for me.' Now I have two
hundred crowns, for if I marry, my mother will willingly give me
her share of the money you made us gain. You can therefore make
me happy by getting me tickets to the amount of two hundred crowns
more. Take the tickets to my confessor, who is a very good man
and fond of me; he will not say anything to my mother about it."
"I needn't go about seeking for charity tickets, my angel. I will
take two hundred piastres to your confessor to-morrow, and you
must manage the rest yourself. Tell me his name, and to-morrow I
will tell you what I have done, but not here, as the wind and the
cold would be the death of me. You can leave me to find out a
room where we shall be at our ease, and without any danger of
people. suspecting that we have spent an hour together. I will
meet you at the church to-morrow at the same hour and when you see
me follow me."
Mariuccia told me her confessor's name, and allowed me all the.
caresses possible in our uncomfortable position. The kisses she
gave me in return for mine left no doubt in my mind, as to her
love for me. As nine o'clock struck I left her, perishing with
cold, but burning with desire; my only thought being where to find
a room in which I might possess myself of the treasure the next
On leaving the ruined palace, instead of returning to the Piazza
di Spagna I turned to the left and passed along a narrow and dirty
street only inhabited by people of the lowest sort. As I slowly
walked along, a woman came out of her house and asked me politely
if I were looking for anybody.
"I am looking for a room to let."
"There are none here, sir, but, you will find a hundred in the
"I know it, but I want the room to be here, not for the sake of
the expense, but that I may be sure of being able to spend an hour
or so of a morning with a person in whom I am interested. I am
ready to pay anything."
"I understand what you mean, and you should have a room in my
house if I had one to spare, but a neighbour of mine has one on
the ground floor, and if you will wait a moment I will go and
speak to her."
"You will oblige me very much."
"Kindly step in here."
I entered a poor room, where all seemed wretchedness, and I saw
two children doing their lessons. Soon after, the good woman came
back and asked me to follow her. I took several pieces of money
from my pocket, and put them down on the only table which this
poor place contained. I must have seemed very generous, for the
poor mother came and kissed my hand with the utmost gratitude. So
pleasant is it to do good, that now when I have nothing left the
remembrance of the happiness I have given to others at small cost
is almost the only pleasure I enjoy.
I went to a neighbouring house where a woman received me in an
empty room, which she told me she would let cheaply if I would pay
three months in advance, and bring in my own furniture.
"What do you ask for the three months' rent?"
"Three Roman crowns."
"If you will see to the furnishing of the room this very day I
will give you twelve crowns."
"Twelve crowns! What furniture do you want?"
"A good clean bed, a small table covered with a clean cloth, four
good chairs, and a large brazier with plenty of fire in it, for I
am nearly perishing of cold here. I shall only come occasionally
in the morning, and I shall leave by noon at the latest."
"Come at three o'clock, then, to-day, and you will find everything
to your satisfaction."
From there I went to the confessor. He was a French monk, about
sixty, a fine and benevolent-looking man, who won one's respect
"Reverend father," I began, "I saw at the house of Abbe Momolo,
'scoptore santissimo', a young girl named Mary, whose confessor
you are. I fell in love with her, and offered her money to try
and seduce her. She replied that instead of trying to lead her
into sin I would do better to get her some charity tickets that
she might be able to marry a young man who loved her, and would
make her happy. I was touched by what she said, but my passion
still remained. I spoke to her again, and said that I would give
her two hundred crowns for nothing, and that her mother should
"'That would be my ruin,' said she; 'my mother would think the
money was the price of sin, and would not accept it. If you are
really going to be so generous, take the money to my confessor,
and ask him to do what he can for my marriage.'"
"Here, then, reverend father, is the sum of money for the good
girl; be kind enough to take charge of it, and I will trouble her
no more. I am going to Naples the day after to-morrow, and I hope
when I come back she will be married."
The good confessor took the hundred sequins and gave me a receipt,
telling me that in interesting myself on behalf of Mariuccia I was
making happy a most pure and innocent dove, whom he had confessed
since she was five years old, and that he had often told her that
she might communicate without making her confession because he
knew she was incapable of mortal sin.
"Her mother," he added, "is a sainted woman, and as soon as I have
enquired into the character of the future husband I will soon
bring the marriage about. No one shall ever know from whom this
generous gift comes."
After putting this matter in order I dined with the Chevalier
Mengs, and I willingly consented to go with the whole family to
the Aliberti Theatre that evening. I did not forget, however, to
go and inspect the room I had taken. I found all my orders
executed, and I gave twelve crowns to the landlady and took the
key, telling her to light the fire at seven every morning.
So impatient did I feel for the next day to come that I thought
the opera detestable, and the night for me was a sleepless one.
Next morning I went to the church before the time, and when
Mariuccia came, feeling sure that she had seen me, I went out.
She followed me at a distance, and when I got to the door of the
lodging I turned for her to be sure that it was I, and then went
in and found the room well warmed. Soon after Mariuccia came in,
looking timid, confused, and as if she were doubtful of the path
she was treading. I clasped her to my arms, and reassured her by
my tender embraces; and her courage rose when I shewed her the
confessor's receipt, and told her that the worthy man had promised
to care for her marriage. She kissed my hand in a transport of
delight, assuring me that she would never forget my kindness.
Then, as I urged her to make me a happy man, she said,--
"We have three hours before us, as I told my mother I was going to
give thanks to God for having made me a winner in the lottery."
This reassured me, and I took my time, undressing her by degrees,
and unveiling her charms one by one, to my delight, without the
slightest attempt at resistance on her part. All the time she
kept her eyes fixed on mine, as if to soothe her modesty; but when
I beheld and felt all her charms I was in an ecstasy. What a
body; what beauties! Nowhere was there the slightest
imperfection. She was like Venus rising from the foam of the sea.
I carried her gently to the bed, and while she strove to hide her
alabaster breasts and the soft hair which marked the entrance to
the sanctuary, I undressed in haste, and consummated the sweetest
of sacrifices, without there being the slightest doubt in my mind
of the purity of the victim. In the first sacrifice no doubt the
young priestess felt some pain, but she assured me out of delicacy
that she had not been hurt, and at the second assault she shewed
that she shared my flames. I was going to immolate the victim for
the third time when the clock struck ten. She began to be
restless, and hurriedly put on our clothes. I had to go to
Naples, but I assured her that the desire of embracing her once
more before her marriage would hasten my return to Rome. I
promised to take another hundred crowns to her confessor, advising
her to spend the money she had won in the lottery on her
"I shall be at Monolo's to-night, dearest, and you must come, too;
but we must appear indifferent to each other, though our hearts be
full of joy, lest those malicious girls suspect our mutual
"It is all the more necessary to be cautious," she replied, "as I
have noticed that they suspect that we love each other."
Before we parted she thanked me for what I had done for her, and
begged me to believe that, her poverty notwithstanding, she had
given herself for love alone.
I was the last to leave the house, and I told my landlady that I
should be away for ten or twelve days. I then went to the
confessor to give him the hundred crowns I had promised my
mistress. When the good old Frenchman heard that I had made this
fresh sacrifice that Mariuccia might be able to spend her lottery
winnings on her clothes, he told me that he would call on the
mother that very day and urge her to consent to her daughter's
marriage, and also learn where the young man lived. On my return
from Naples I heard that he had faithfully carried out his
I was sitting at table with Mengs when a chamberlain of the Holy
Father called. When he came in he asked M. Mengs if I lived
there, and on that gentleman pointing me out, he gave me, from his
holy master, the Cross of the Order of the Golden Spur with the
diploma, and a patent under the pontifical seal, which, in my
quality as doctor of laws, made me a prothonotary-apostolic 'extra
I felt that I had been highly honoured, and told the bearer that I
would go and thank my new sovereign and ask his blessing the next
day. The Chevalier Mengs embraced me as a brother, but I had the
advantage over him in not being obliged to pay anything, whereas
the great artist had to disburse twenty-five Roman crowns to have
his diploma made out. There is a saying at Rome, 'Sine efusione
sanguinis non fit remissio', which may be interpreted, Nothing
without money; and as a matter of fact, one can do anything with
money in the Holy City.
Feeling highly flattered at the favour the Holy Father had shewn
me, I put on the cross which depended from a broad red ribbon-red
being the colour worn by the Knights of St. John of the Lateran,
the companions of the palace, 'comites palatini', or count-
palatins. About the same time poor Cahusac, author of the opera
of Zoroaster, went mad for joy on the receipt of the same order.
I was not so bad as that, but I confess, to my shame, that I was
so proud of my decoration that I asked Winckelmann whether I
should be allowed to have the cross set with diamonds and rubies.
He said I could if I liked, and if I wanted such a cross he could
get me one cheap. I was delighted, and bought it to make a show
at Naples, but I had not the face to wear it in Rome. When I went
to thank the Pope I wore the cross in my button-hole out of
modesty. Five years afterwards when I was at Warsaw, Czartoryski,
a Russian prince-palatine, made me leave it off by saying,--
"What are you doing with that wretched bauble? It's a drug in the
market, and no one but an impostor would wear it now."
The Popes knew this quite well, but they continued to give the
cross to ambassadors while they also gave it to their 'valets de
chambre'. One has to wink at a good many things in Rome.
In the evening Momolo gave me a supper by way of celebrating my
new dignity. I recouped him for the expense by holding a bank at
faro, at which I was dexterous enough to lose forty crowns to the
family, without having the slightest partiality to Mariuccia who
won like the rest. She found the opportunity to tell me that her
confessor had called on her, that she had told him where her
future husband lived, and that the worthy monk had obtained her
mother's consent to the hundred crowns being spent on her
I noticed that Momolo's second daughter had taken a fancy to
Costa, and I told Momolo that I was going to Naples, but that I
would leave my man in Rome, and that if I found a marriage had
been arranged on my return I would gladly pay the expenses of the
Costa liked the girl, but he did not marry her then for fear of my
claiming the first-fruits. He was a fool of a peculiar kind,
though fools of all sorts are common enough. He married her a
year later after robbing me, but I shall speak of that again.
Next day, after I had breakfasted and duly embraced my brother, I
set out in a nice carriage with the Abbe Alfani, Le Duc preceding
me on horseback, and I reached Naples at a time when everybody was
in a state of excitement because an eruption of Vesuvius seemed
imminent. At the last stage the inn-keeper made me read the will
of his father who had died during the eruption of 1754. He said
that in the year 1761 God would overwhelm the sinful town of
Naples, and the worthy host consequently advised me to return to
Rome. Alfani took the thing seriously, and said that we should do
well to be warned by so evident an indication of the will of God.
The event was predicted, therefore it had to happen. Thus a good
many people reason, but as I was not of the number I proceeded on
My Short But Happy Stay at Naples--The Duke de Matalone My
Daughter--Donna Lucrezia--My Departure
I shall not, dear reader, attempt the impossible, however much I
should like to describe the joy, the happiness, I may say the
ecstasy, which I experienced in returning to Naples, of which I
had such pleasant memories, and where, eighteen years ago, I had
made my first fortune in returning from Mataro. As I had come
there for the second time to keep a promise I had made to the Duke
de Matalone to come and see him at Naples, I ought to have visited
this nobleman at once; but foreseeing that from the time I did so
I should have little liberty left me, I began by enquiring after
all my old friends.
I walked out early in the morning and called on Belloni's agent.
He cashed my letter of credit and gave me as many bank-notes as I
liked, promising that nobody should know that we did business
together. From the bankers I went to see Antonio Casanova, but
they told me he lived near Salerno, on an estate he had bought
which gave him the title of marquis. I was vexed, but I had no
right to expect to find Naples in the statu quo I left it. Polo
was dead, and his son lived at St. Lucia with his wife and
children; he was a boy when I saw him last, and though I should
have much liked to see him again I had no time to do so.
It may be imagined that I did not forget the advocate, Castelli,
husband of my dear Lucrezia, whom I had loved so well at Rome and
Tivoli. I longed to see her face once more, and I thought of the
joy with which we should recall old times that I could never
forget. But Castelli had been dead for some years, and his widow
lived at a distance of twenty miles from Naples. I resolved not
to return to Rome without embracing her. As to Lelio Caraffa, he
was still alive and residing at the Matalone Palace.
I returned, feeling tired with my researches, dressed with care,
and drove to the Matalone Palace, where they told me that the duke
was at table. I did not care for that but had my name sent in,
and the duke came out and did me the honour of embracing me and
thouing me, and then presented me to his wife, a daughter of the
Duke de Bovino, and to the numerous company at table. I told him
I had only come to Naples in fulfillment of the promise I had made
him at Paris.
"Then," said he, "you must stay with me;" and, without waiting for
my answer, ordered my luggage to be brought from the inn, and my
carriage to be placed in his coach-house. I accepted his
One of the guests, a fine-looking man, on hearing my name
announced, said gaily,--
"If you bear my name, you must be one of my father's bastards."
"No," said I, directly, "one of your mother's."
This repartee made everybody laugh, and the gentleman who had
addressed me came and embraced me, not in the least offended. The
joke was explained to me. His name was Casalnovo, not Casanova,
and he was duke and lord of the fief of that name.
"Did you know," said the Duke de Matalone, "that I had a son?"
"I was told so, but did not believe it, but now I must do penance
for my incredulity, for I see before me an angel capable of
working this miracle."
The duchess blushed, but did not reward my compliment with so much
as a glance; but all the company applauded what I had said, as it
was notorious that the duke had been impotent before his marriage.
The duke sent for his son, I admired him, and told the father that
the likeness was perfect. A merry monk, who sat at the right hand
of the duchess, said, more truthfully, that there was no likeness
at all. He had scarcely uttered the words when the duchess coolly
gave him a box on the ear, which the monk received with the best
I talked away to the best of my ability, and in half an hour's
time I had won everybody's good graces, with the exception of the
duchess, who remained inflexible. I tried to make her talk for
two days without success; so as I did not care much about her I
left her to her pride.
As the duke was taking me to my room he noticed my Spaniard, and
asked where my secretary was, and when he saw that it was the Abbe
Alfani, who had taken the title so as to escape the notice of the
Neapolitans, he said,--
"The abbe is very wise, for he has deceived so many people with
his false antiques that he might have got into trouble."
He took me to his stables where he had some superb horses, Arabs,
English, and Andalusians; and then to his gallery, a very fine
one; to his large and choice library; and at last to his study,
where he had a fine collection of prohibited books.
I was reading titles and turning over leaves, when the duke said,--
"Promise to keep the most absolute secrecy on what I am going to
I promised, without making any difficulty, but I expected a
surprise of some sort. He then shewed me a satire which I could
not understand, but which was meant to turn the whole Court into
ridicule. Never was there a secret so easily kept.
"You must come to the St. Charles Theatre," said he, "and I will
present you to the handsomest ladies in Naples, and afterwards you
can go when you like, as my box is always open to my friends. I
will also introduce you to my mistress, and she, I am sure, will
always be glad to see you."
"What! you have a mistress, have you?"
"Yes, but only for form's sake, as I am very fond of my wife. All
the same, I am supposed to be deeply in love with her, and even
jealous, as I never introduce anyone to her, and do not allow her
to receive any visitors."
"But does not your young and handsome duchess object to your
keeping a mistress?"
"My wife could not possibly be jealous, as she knows that I am
impotent--except, of course, with her."
"I see, but it sems strange; can one be said to have a mistress
whom one does not love?"
"I did not say I loved her not; on the contrary, I am very fond of
her; she has a keen and pleasant wit, but she interests my head
rather than my heart."
"I see; but I suppose she is ugly?"
"Ugly? You shall see her to-night, and you can tell me what you
think of her afterwards. She is a handsome and well-educated girl
"Can she speak French?"
"As well as a Frenchwoman."
"I am longing to see her."
When we got to the theatre I was introduced to several ladies, but
none of them pleased me. The king, a mere boy, sat in his box in
the middle of the theatre, surrounded by his courtiers, richly but
tastefully dressed. The pit was full and the boxes also. The
latter were ornamented with mirrors, and on that occasion were all
illuminated for some reason or other. It was a magnificent scene,
but all this glitter and light put the stage into the background.
After we had gazed for some time at the scene, which is almost
peculiar to Naples, the duke took me to his private box and
introduced me to his friends, who consisted of all the wits in the
I have often laughed on hearing philosophers declare that the
intelligence of a nation is not so much the result of the climate
as of education. Such sages should be sent to Naples and then to
St. Petersburg, and be told to reflect, or simply to look before
them. If the great Boerhaave had lived at Naples he would have
learnt more about the nature of sulphur by observing its effects
on vegetables, and still more on animals. In Naples, and Naples
alone, water, and nothing but water, will cure diseases which are
fatal elsewhere, despite the doctors' efforts.
The duke, who had left me to the wits for a short time, returned
and took me to the box of his mistress, who was accompanied by an
old lady of respectable appearance. As he went in he said,
"'Leonilda mia, ti presento il cavalier Don Giacomo Casanova,
Veneziano, amico mio'."
She received me kindly and modestly, and stopped listening to the
music to talk to me.
When a woman is pretty, one recognizes her charms instantaneously;
if one has to examine her closely, her beauty is doubtful.
Leonilda was strikingly beautiful. I smiled and looked at the
duke, who had told me that he loved her like a daughter, and that
he only kept her for form's sake. He understood the glance, and
"You may believe me."
"It's credible," I replied.
Leonilda no doubt understood what we meant, and said, with a shy
"Whatever is possible is credible."
"Quite so," said I, "but one may believe, or not believe,
according to the various degrees of possibility."
"I think it's easier to believe than to disbelieve. You came to
Naples yesterday; that's true and yet incredible."
"Would any man suppose that a stranger would come to Naples at a
time when the inhabitants are wishing themselves away?"
"Indeed, I have felt afraid till this moment, but now I feel quite
at my ease, since, you being here, St. Januarius will surely
"Because I am sure he loves you; but you are laughing at me."
"It is such a funny idea. I am afraid that if I had a lover like
St. Januarius I should not grant him many favours."
"Is he very ugly, then?"
"If his portrait is a good likeness, you can see for yourself by
examining his statue."
Gaiety leads to freedom, and freedom to friendship. Mental graces
are superior to bodily charms.
Leonilda's frankness inspired my confidence, and I led the
conversation to love, on which she talked like a past mistress.
"Love," said she, "unless it leads to the possession of the
beloved object, is a mere torment; if bounds are placed to
passion, love must die."
"You are right; and the enjoyment of a beautiful object is not a
true pleasure unless it be preceded by love."
"No doubt if love precedes it accompanies, but I do not think it
necessarily follows, enjoyment."
"True, it often makes love to cease."
"She is a selfish daughter, then, to kill her father; and if after
enjoyment love still continue in the heart of one, it is worse
than murder, for the party in which love still survives must needs
"You are right; and from your strictly logical arguments I
conjecture that you would have the senses kept in subjection: that
is too hard!"
"I would have nothing to do with that Platonic affection devoid of
love, but I leave you to guess what my maxim would be."
"To love and enjoy; to enjoy and love. Turn and turn about."
"You have hit the mark."
With this Leonilda burst out laughing, and the duke kissed her
hand. Her governess, not understanding French, was attending to
the opera, but I was in flames.
Leonilda was only seventeen, and was as pretty a girl as the heart
The duke repeated a lively epigram of Lafontaine's on "Enjoyment,"
which is only found in the first edition of his works. It begins
"La jouissance et les desirs
Sont ce que l'homme a de plus rare;
Mais ce ne sons pas vrais plaisirs
Des le moment qu'on les separe."
I have translated this epigram into Italian and Latin; in the
latter language I was almost able to render Lafontaine line for
line; but I had to use twenty lines of Italian to translate the
first ten lines of the French. Of course this argues nothing as
to the superiority of the one language over the other.
In the best society at Naples one addresses a newcomer in the
second person singular as a peculiar mark of distinction. This
puts both parties at their ease without diminishing their mutual
respect for one another.
Leonilda had already turned my first feeling of admiration into
something much warmer, and the opera, which lasted for five hours,
seemed over in a moment.
After the two ladies had gone the duke said, "Now we must part,
unless you are fond of games of chance."
"I don't object to them when I am to play with good hands."
"Then follow me; ten or twelve of my friends will play faro, and
then sit down to a cold collation, but I warn you it is a secret,
as gaming is forbidden. I will answer for you keeping your own
"You may do so."
He took me to the Duke de Monte Leone's. We went up to the third
floor, passed through a dozen rooms, and at last reached the
gamester's chamber. A polite-looking banker, with a bank of about
four hundred sequins, had the cards in his hands. The duke
introduced me as his friend, and made me sit beside him. I was
going to draw out my purse, but I was told that debts were not
paid for twenty-four hours after they were due. The banker gave
me a pack of cards, with a little basket containing a thousand
counters. I told the company that I should consider each counter
as a Naples ducat. In less than two hours my basket was empty. I
stopped playing and proceeded to enjoy my supper. It was arranged
in the Neapolitan style, and consisted of an enormous dish of
macaroni and ten or twelve different kinds of shellfish which are
plentiful on the Neapolitan coasts. When we left I took care not
to give the duke. time to condole with me on my loss, but began
to talk to him about his delicious Leonilda.
Early next day he sent a page to my room to tell me that if I
wanted to come with him and kiss the king's hand I must put on my
gala dress. I put on a suit of rose-coloured velvet, with gold
spangles, and I had the great honour of kissing a small hand,
covered with chilblains, belonging to a boy of nine. The Prince
de St. Nicander brought up the young king to the best of his
ability, but he was naturally a kindly, just, and generous
monarch; if he had had more dignity he would have been an ideal
king; but he was too unceremonious, and that, I think, is a defect
in one destined to rule others.
I had the honour of sitting next the duchess at dinner, and she
deigned to say that she had never seen a finer dress. "That's my
way," I said, "of distracting attention from my face and figure."
She smiled, and her politeness to me during my stay were almost
limited to these few words.
When we left the table the duke took me to the apartment occupied
by his uncle, Don Lelio, who recognized me directly. I kissed the
venerable old man's hand, and begged him to pardon me for the
freaks of my youth. "It's eighteen years ago," said he, "since I
chose M. Casanova as the companion of your studies" I delighted
him by giving him a brief account of my adventures in Rome with
Cardinal Acquaviva. As we went out, he begged me to come and see
Towards the evening the duke said,--
"If you go to the Opera Buffa you will please Leonilda."
He gave me the number of her box, and added,--
"I will come for you towards the close, and we will sup together
I had no need to order my horses to be put in, as there was always
a carriage ready for me in the courtyard.
When I got to the theatre the opera had begun. I presented myself
to Leonilda, who received me with the pleasant words, "Caro Don
Giacomo, I am so pleased to see you again."
No doubt she did not like to thou me, but the expression of her
eyes and the tone of her voice were much better than the to which
is often used lavishly at Naples.
The seductive features of this charming girl were not altogether
unknown to me, but I could not recollect of what woman she
reminded me. Leonilda was certainly a beauty, and something
superior to a beauty, if possible. She had splendid light
chestnut hair, and her black and brilliant eyes, shaded by thick
lashes, seemed to hear and speak at the same time. But what
ravished me still more was her expression, and the exquisite
appropriateness of the gestures with which she accompanied what
she was saying. It seemed as if her tongue could not give speech
to the thoughts which crowded her brain. She was naturally quick-
witted, and her intellect had been developed by an excellent
The conversation turned upon Lafontaine's epigram, of which I had
only recited the first ten verses, as the rest is too licentious;
and she said,--
"But I suppose it is only a poet's fancy, at which one could but
"Possibly, but I did not care to wound your ears."
"You are very good," said she, using the pleasant tu, "but all the
same, I am not so thin-skinned, as I have a closet which the duke
has had painted over with couples in various amorous attitudes.
We go there sometimes, and I assure you that I do not experience
the slightest sensation."
"That may be through a defect of temperament, for whenever I see
well-painted voluptuous pictures I feel myself on fire. I wonder
that while you and the duke look at them, you do not try to put
some of them into practice."
"We have only friendship for one another."
"Let him believe it who will."
"I am sure he is a man, but I am unable to say whether he is able
to give a woman any real proofs of his love."
"Yet he has a son."
"Yes, he has a child who calls him father; but he himself
confesses that he is only able to shew his manly powers with his
"That's all nonsense, for you are made to give birth to amorous
desires, and a man who could live with you without being able to
possess you ought to cease to live."
"Do you really think so?"
"Dear Leonilda, if I were in the duke's place I would shew you
what a man who really loves can do."
"Caro Don Giacomo, I am delighted to hear you love me, but you
will soon forget me, as you are leaving Naples."
"Cursed be the gaming-table, for without it we might spend some
delightful hour together."
"The duke told me that you lost a thousand ducats yesterday
evening like a perfect gentleman. You must be very unlucky."
"Not always, but when I play on a day in which I have fallen in
love I am sure to lose."
"You will win back your money this evening."
"This is the declaration day; I shall lose again."
"Then don't play."
"People would say I was afraid, or that all my money was gone."
"I hope at all events that you will win sometimes, and that you
will tell me of your good luck. Come and see me to-morrow with
The duke came in at that moment, and asked me if I had liked the
opera. Leonilda answered for me,
"We have been talking about love all the time, so we don't know
what has been going on the stage."
"You have done well."
"I trust you will bring M. Casanova to see me tomorrow morning,
as I hope he will bring me news that he has won."
"It's my turn to deal this evening, dearest, but whether he wins
or loses you shall see him to-morrow. You must give us some
"I shall be delighted."
We kissed her hand, and went to the same place as the night
before. The company was waiting for the duke. There were twelve
members of the club, and they all held the bank in turn. They
said that this made the chances more equal; but I laughed at this
opinion, as there is nothing more difficult to establish than
equality between players.
The Duke de Matalone sat down, drew out his purse and his pocket-
book, and put two thousand ducats in the bank, begging pardon of
the others for doubling the usual sum in favour of the stranger.
The bank never exceeded a thousand ducats.
"Then," said I, "I will hazard two thousand ducats also and not
more, for they say at Venice that a prudent player never risks
more than he can win. Each of my counters will be equivalent to
two ducats." So saying, I took ten notes of a hundred ducats each
from my pocket, and gave them to the last evening's banker who had
won them from me.
Play began; and though I was prudent, and only risked my money on
a single card, in less than three hours my counters were all gone.
I stopped playing, though I had still twenty-five thousand ducats;
but I had said that I would not risk more than two thousand, and I
was ashamed to go back from my word.
Though I have always felt losing my money, no one has ever seen me
put out, my natural gaiety was heightened by art on such
occasions, and seemed to be more brilliant than ever. I have
always found it a great advantage to be able to lose pleasantly.
I made an excellent supper, and my high spirits furnished me with
such a fund of amusing conversation that all the table was in a
roar. I even succeeded in dissipating the melancholy of the Duke
de Matalone, who was in despair at having won such a sum from his
friend and guest. He was afraid he had half ruined me, and also
that people might say he had only welcomed me for the sake of my
As we returned to the palace the conversation was affectionate on
his side and jovial on mine, but I could see he was in some
trouble, and guessed what was the matter. He wanted to say that I
could pay the money I owed him whenever I liked, but was afraid of
wounding my feelings; but as soon as he got in he wrote me a
friendly note to the effect that if I wanted money his banker
would let me have as much as I required. I replied directly that
I felt the generosity of his offer, and if I was in need of funds
I would avail myself of it.
Early next morning I went to his room, and after an affectionate
embrace I told him not to forget that we were going to breakfast
with his fair mistress. We both put on great coats and went to
Leonilda's pretty house.
We found her sitting up in bed, negligently but decently dressed,
with a dimity corset tied with red ribbons. She looked beautiful,
and her graceful posture added to her charms. She was reading
Crebillon's Sopha. The duke sat down at the bottom of the bed,
and I stood staring at her in speechless admiration, endeavouring
to recall to my memory where I had seen such another face as hers.
It seemed to me that I had loved a woman like her. This was the
first time I had seen her without the deceitful glitter of
candles. She laughed at my absent-mindedness, and told me to sit
down on a chair by her bedside.
The duke told her that I was quite pleased at having lost two
thousand ducats to his bank, as the loss made me sure she loved
"Caro mio Don Giacomo, I am sorry to hear that! You would have
done better not to play, for I should have loved you all the same,
and you would have been two thousand ducats better off."
"And I two thousand ducats worse off," said the duke, laughing.
"Never mind, dear Leonilda, I shall win this evening if you grant
me some favour to-day. If you do not do so, I shall lose heart,
and you will mourn at my grave before long."
"Think, Leonilda, what you can do for my friend."
"I don't see that I can do anything."
The duke told her to dress, that we might go and breakfast in the
painted closet. She began at once, and preserved a just mean in
what she let us see and what she concealed, and thus set me in
flames, though I was already captivated by her face, her wit, and
her charming manners. I cast an indiscreet glance towards her
beautiful breast, and thus added fuel to the fire. I confess that
I only obtained this satisfaction by a species of larceny, but I
could not have succeeded if she had not been well disposed towards
me. I pretended to have seen nothing.
While dressing she maintained with much ingenuity that a wise girl
will be much more chary of her favours towards a man she loves
than towards a man she does not love, because she would be afraid
to lose the first, whereas she does not care about the second.
"It will not be so with me, charming Leonilda," said I.
"You make a mistake, I am sure."
The pictures with which the closet where we breakfasted was
adorned were admirable more from the colouring and the design than
from the amorous combats they represented.
"They don't make any impression on me," said the duke, and he
shewed us that it was so.
Leonilda looked away, and I felt shocked, but concealed my
"I am in the same state as you," said I, "but I will not take the
trouble of convincing you."
"That can't be," said he; and passing his hand rapidly over me he
assured himself that it was so. "It's astonishing," he cried;
"you must be as impotent as I am."
"If I wanted to controvert that assertion one glance into
Leonilda's eyes would be enough."
"Look at him, dearest Leonilda, that I may be convinced."
Leonilda looked tenderly at me, and her glance produced the result
I had expected.
"Give me your hand," said I, to the poor duke, and he did so.
"I was in the wrong," he exclaimed, but when he endeavoured to
bring the surprising object to light I resisted. He persisted in
his endeavours, and I determined to play on him a trick. I took
Leonilda's hand and pressed my lips to it, and just as the duke
thought he had triumphed I besprinkled him, and went off into a
roar of laughter. He laughed too, and went to get a napkin.
The girl could see nothing of all this, as it went on under the
table; and while my burning lips rested on her hand, my eyes were
fixed on hers and our breath mingled. This close contact had
enabled me to baptise the duke, but when she took in the joke we
made a group worthy of the pen of Aretin.
It was a delightful breakfast, though we passed certain bounds
which decency ought to have proscribed to us, but Leonilda was
wonderfully innocent considering her position. We ended the scene
by mutual embraces, and when I took my burning lips from
Leonilda's I felt consumed with a fire which I could not conceal.
When we left I told the duke that I would see his mistress no
more, unless he would give her up to me, declaring that I would
marry her and give her a dower of five thousand ducats.
"Speak to her, and if she consents I will not oppose it. She
herself will tell you what property she has."
I then went to dress for dinner. I found the duchess in the midst
of a large circle, and she told me kindly that she was very sorry
to hear of my losses.
"Fortune is the most fickle of beings, but I don't complain of my
loss--nay, when you speak thus I love it, and I even think that
you will make me win this evening."
"I hope so, but I am afraid not; you will have to contend against
Monte Leone, who is usually very lucky."
In considering the matter after dinner, I determined for the
future to play with ready money and not on my word of honour, lest
I should at any time be carried away by the excitement of play and
induced to stake more than I possessed. I thought, too, that the
banker might have his doubts after the two heavy losses I had
sustained, and I confess that I was also actuated by the gambler's
superstition that by making a change of any kind one changes the
I spent four hours at the theatre in Leonilda's box, where I found
her more gay and charming than I had seen her before.
"Dear Leonilda," I said, "the love I feel for you will suffer no
delay and no rivals, not even the slightest inconstancy. I have
told the duke that I am ready to marry you, and that I will give
you a dower of five thousand ducats."
"What did he say?"
"That I must ask you, and that he would offer no opposition."
"Then we should leave Naples together."
"Directly, dearest, and thenceforth death alone would part us."
"We will talk of it to-morrow, dear Don Giacomo, and if I can make
you happy I am sure you will do the same by me."
As she spoke these delightful words the duke came in.
"Don Giacomo and I are talking of marrying," said she.
"Marriage, mia carissima," he replied, "ought to be well
"Yes, when one has time; but my dear Giacomo cannot wait, and we
shall have plenty of time to think it over afterwards."
"As you are going to marry," said the duke, "you can put off your
departure, or return after the wedding."
"I can neither put it off nor return, my dear duke. We have made
up our minds, and if we repent we have plenty of time before us."
He laughed and said we would talk it over next day. I gave my
future bride a kiss which she returned with ardour, and the duke
and I went to the club, where we found the Duke de Monte Leone
"My lord," said I, "I am unlucky playing on my word of honour, so
I hope you will allow me to stake money."
"Just as you please; it comes to the same thing, but don't trouble
yourself. I have made a bank of four thousand ducats that you may
be able to recoup yourself for your losses."
"Thanks, I promise to break it or to lose as much."
I drew out six thousand ducats, gave two thousand ducats to the
Duke de Matalone, and began to punt at a hundred ducats. After a
short time the duke left the table, and I finally succeeded in
breaking the bank. I went back to the place by myself, and when I
told the duke of my victory the next day, he embraced me with
tears of joy, and advised me to stake money for the future.
As the Princess de Vale was giving a great supper, there was no
play that evening. This was some respite. We called on Leonilda,
and putting off talking of our marriage till the day after we
spent the time in viewing the wonders of nature around Naples. In
the evening I was introduced by a friend at the princess's supper,
and saw all the highest nobility of the place.
Next morning the duke told me that he had some business to do, and
that I had better go and see Leonilda, and that he would call for
me later on. I went to Leonilda, but as the duke did not put in
an appearance we could not settle anything about our marriage. I
spent several hours with her, but I was obliged to obey her
commands, and could only shew myself amorous in words. Before
leaving I repeated that it only rested with her to unite our lives
by indissoluble ties, and to leave Naples almost immediately.
When I saw the duke he said,--
"Well, Don Giacomo, you have spent all the morning with my
mistress; do you still wish to marry her?"
"More than ever; what do you mean?"
"Nothing; and as you have passed this trial to which I purposely
subjected you, we will discuss your union tomorrow, and I hope you
will make this charming woman happy, for she will be an excellent
"I agree with you."
When we went to Monte Leone's in the evening, we saw a banker with
a good deal of gold before him. The duke told me he was Don Marco
Ottoboni. He was a fine-looking man, but he held the cards so
closely together in his left hand that I could not see them. This
did not inspire me with confidence, so I only punted a ducat at a
time. I was persistently unlucky, but I only lost a score of
ducats. After five or six deals the banker, asked me politely why
I staked such small sums against him.
"Because I can't see half the pack," I replied, "and I am afraid
Some of the company laughed at my answer.
Next night I broke the bank held by the Prince the Cassaro, a
pleasant and rich nobleman, who asked me to give him revenge, and
invited me to supper at his pretty house at Posilipo, where he
lived with a virtuosa of whom he had become amorous at Palermo.
He also invited the Duke de Matalone and three or four other
gentlemen. This was the only occasion on which I held the bank
while I was at Naples, and I staked six thousand ducats after
warning the prince that as it was the eve of my departure I should
only play for ready money.
He lost ten thousand ducats, and only rose from the table because
he had no more money. Everybody left the room, and I should have
done the same if the prince's mistress had not owed me a hundred
ducats. I continued to deal in the hope that she would get her
money back, but seeing that she still lost I put down the cards,
and told her that she must pay me at Rome. She was a handsome and
agreeable woman, but she did not inspire me with any passions, no
doubt because my mind was occupied with another, otherwise I
should have drawn a bill on sight, and paid myself without
meddling with her purse. It was two o'clock in the morning when I
got to bed.
Both Leonilda and myself wished to see Caserta before leaving
Naples, and the duke sent us there in a carriage drawn by six
mules, which went faster than most horses. Leonilda's governess
The day after, we settled the particulars of our marriage in a
conversation which lasted for two hours.
"Leonilda," began the duke, "has a mother, who lives at a short
distance from here, on an income of six hundred ducats, which I
have given her for life, in return for an estate belonging to her
husband; but Leonilda does not depend on her. She gave her up to
me seven years ago, and I have given her an annuity of five
hundred ducats, which she will bring to you, with all her diamonds
and an extensive trousseau. Her mother gave her up to me
entirely, and I gave my word of honour to get her a good husband.
I have taken peculiar care of her education, and as her mind has
developed I have put her on her guard against all prejudices, with
the exception of that which bids a woman keep herself intact for
her future husband. You may rest assured that you are the first
man whom Leonilda (who is a daughter to me) has pressed to her
I begged the duke to get the contract ready, and to add to her
dower the sum of five thousand ducats, which I would give him when
the deed was signed.
"I will mortgage them," said he, "on a house which is worth
Then turning to Leonilda, who was shedding happy tears, he said,--
"I am going to send for your mother, who will be delighted to sign
the settlement, and to make the acquaintance of your future
The mother lived at the Marquis Galiani's, a day's journey from
Naples. The duke said he would send a carriage for her the next
day, and that we could all sup together the day after.
"The law business will be all done by then, and we shall be able
to go to the little church at Portici, and the priest will marry
you. Then we will take your mother to St. Agatha and dine with
her, and you can go your way with her maternal blessing."
This conclusion gave me an involuntary shudder, and Leonilda fell
fainting in the duke's arms. He called her dear child, cared for
her tenderly, and brought her to herself.
We all had to wipe our eyes, as we were all equally affected.
I considered myself as a married man and under obligation to alter
my way of living, and I stopped playing. I had won more than
fifteen thousand ducats, and this sum added to what I had before
and Leonilda's dowry should have sufficed for an honest
Next day, as I was at supper with the duke and Leonilda, she
"What will my mother say to-morrow evening, when she sees you?"
"She will say that you are silly to marry a stranger whom you have
only known for a week. Have you told her my name, my nation, my
condition, and my age?"
"I wrote to her as follows:
"'Dear mamma, come directly and sign my marriage contract with a
gentleman introduced to me by the duke, with whom I shall be
leaving for Rome on Monday next.'"
"My letter ran thus," said the duke,
"'Come without delay, and sign your daughter's marriage contract,
and give her your blessing. She has wisely chosen a husband old
enough to be her father; he is a friend of mine.'"
"That's not true," cried Leonilda, rushing to my arms, "she will
think you are really old, and I am sorry."
"Is your mother an elderly woman?"
"She's a charming Woman," said the duke, "full of wit, and not
"What has she got to do with Galiani?"
"She is an intimate friend of the marchioness's, and she lives
with the family but pays for her board."
Next morning, having some business with my banker to attend to, I
told the duke that I should not be able to see Leonilda till
supper-time. I went there at eight o'clock and I found the three
sitting in front of the fire.
"Here he is!" cried the duke.
As soon as the mother saw me she screamed and fell nearly fainting
on a chair. I looked at her fixedly for a minute, and exclaimed,--
"Donna Lucrezia! I am fortunate indeed!"
"Let us take breath, my dear friend. Come and sit by me. So you
are going to marry my daughter, are you?"
I took a chair and guessed it all. My hair stood on end, and I
relapsed into a gloomy silence.
The stupefied astonishment of Leonilda and the duke cannot be
described. They could see that Donna Lucrezia and I knew each
other, but they could not get any farther. As for myself, as I
pondered gloomily and compared Leonilda's age with the period at
which I had been intimate with Lucrezia Castelli, I could see that
it was quite possible that she might be my daughter; but I told
myself that the mother could not be certain of the fact, as at the
time she lived with her husband, who was very fond of her and not
fifty years of age. I could bear the suspense no longer, so,
taking a light and begging Leonilda and the duke to excuse me, I
asked Lucrezia to come into the next room with me.
As soon as she was seated, she drew me to her and said,--
"Must I grieve my dear one when I have loved so well? Leonilda is
your daughter, I am certain of it. I always looked upon her as
your daughter, and my husband knew it, but far from being angry,
he used to adore her. I will shew you the register of her birth,
and you can calculate for yourself. My husband was at Rome, and
did not see me once, and my daughter did not come before her time.
You must remember a letter which my mother should have given you,
in which I told you I was with child. That was in January, 1744,
and in six months my daughter will be seventeen. My late husband
gave her the names of Leonilda Giacomina at the baptismal font,
and when he played with her he always called her by the latter
name. This idea of your marrying her horrifies me, but I cannot
oppose it, as I am ashamed to tell the reason. What do you think?
Have you still the courage to marry her? You seem to hesitate.
Have you taken any earnest of the marriage-bed?"
"No, dear Lucrezia, your daughter is as pure as a lily."
"I breathe again."
"Ah, yes! but my heart is torn asunder."
"I am grieved to see you thus."
"She has no likeness to me."
"That proves nothing; she has taken after me. You are weeping,
dearest, you will break my heart."
"Who would not weep in my place? I will send the duke to you; he
must know all."
I left Lucrezia, and I begged the duke to go and speak to her.
The affectionate Leonilda came and sat on my knee, and asked me
what the dreadful mystery was. I was too much affected to be able
to answer her; she kissed me, and we began to weep. We remained
thus sad and silent till the return of the duke and Donna
Lucrezia, who was the only one to keep her head cool.
"Dear Leonilda, said she, "you must be let into the secret of this
disagreeable mystery, and your mother is the proper person to
enlighten you. Do you remember what name my late husband used to
call you when he petted you?"
"He used to call me his charming Giacomina."
"That is M. Casanova's name; it is the name of your father. Go
and kiss him; his blood flows in your veins; and if he has been
your lover, repent of the crime which was happily quite
The scene was a pathetic one, and we were all deeply moved.
Leonilda clung to her mother's knees, and in a voice that
struggled with sobs exclaimed,--
"I have only felt what an affectionate daughter might feel for a
At this point silence fell on us, a silence that was only broken
by the sobs of the two women, who held each other tightly
embraced; while the duke and I sat as motionless as two posts, our
heads bent and our hands crossed, without as much as looking at
Supper was served, and we sat at table for three hours, talking
sadly over this dramatic recognition, which had brought more grief
than joy; and we departed at midnight full of melancholy, and
hoping that we should be calmer on the morrow, and able to take
the only step that now remained to us.
As we were going away the duke made several observations on what
moral philosophers call prejudices. There is no philosopher who
would maintain or even advance the thesis that the union of a
father and daughter is horrible naturally, for it is entirely a
social prejudice; but it is so widespread, and education has
graven it so deeply in our hearts, that only a man whose heart is
utterly depraved could despise it. It is the result of a respect
for the laws, it keeps the social scheme together; in fact, it is
no longer a prejudice, it is a principle.
I went to bed, but as usual, after the violent emotion I had
undergone, I could not sleep. The rapid transition from carnal to
paternal love cast my physical and mental faculties into such a
state of excitement that I could scarcely withstand the fierce
struggle that was taking place in my heart.
Towards morning I fell asleep for a short time, and woke up
feeling as exhausted as two lovers who have been spending a long
and voluptuous winter's night.
When I got up I told the duke that I intended to set out from
Naples the next day; and he observed that as everybody knew I was
on the eve of my departure, this haste would make people talk.
"Come and have some broth with me," said he; "and from henceforth
look upon this marriage project as one of the many pranks in which
you have engaged. We will spend the three or four days pleasantly
together, and perhaps when we have thought over all this for some
time we shall end by thinking it matter for mirth and not sadness.
Believe me the mother's as good as the daughter; recollection is
often better than hope; console yourself with Lucrezia. I don't
think you can see any difference between her present appearance
and that of eighteen years ago, for I don't see how she can ever
have been handsomer than she is now."
This remonstrance brought me to my senses. I felt that the best
thing I could do would be to forget the illusion which had amused
me for four or five days, and as my self-esteem was not wounded it
ought not to be a difficult task; but yet I was in love and unable
to satisfy my love.
Love is not like merchandise, where one can substitute one thing
for another when one cannot have what one wants. Love is a
sentiment, only the object who has kindled the flame can soothe
the heat thereof.
We went to call on my daughter, the duke in his usual mood, but I
looking pale, depressed, weary, and like a boy going to receive
the rod. I was extremely surprised when I came into the room to
find the mother and daughter quite gay, but this helped on my
cure. Leonilda threw her arms round my neck, calling me dear
papa, and kissing me with all a daughter's freedom. Donna
Lucrezia stretched out her hand, addressing me as her dear friend.
I regarded her attentively, and I was forced to confess that the
eighteen years that had passed away had done little ill to her
charms. There was the same sparkling glance, that fresh
complexion, those perfect shapes, those beautiful lips--in fine,
all that had charmed my youthful eyes.
We mutely caressed each other. Leonilda gave and received the
tenderest kisses without seeming to notice what desires she might
cause to arise; no doubt she knew that as her father I should have
strength to resist, and she was right. One gets used to
everything, and I was ashamed to be sad any longer.
I told Donna Lucrezia of the curious welcome her sister had given
me in Rome, and she went off into peals of laughter. We reminded
each other of the night at Tivoli, and these recollections
softened our hearts. From these softened feelings to love is but
a short way; but neither place nor time were convenient, so we
pretended not to be thinking of it.
After a few moments of silence I told her that if she cared to
come to Rome with me to pay a visit to her sister Angelique, I
would take her back to Naples at the beginning of Lent. She
promised to let me know whether she could come on the following
I sat between her and Leonilda at dinner; and as I could no longer
think of the daughter, it was natural that my old flame for
Lucrezia should rekindle; and whether from the effect of her
gaiety and beauty, or from my need of someone to love, or from the
excellence of the wine, I found myself in love with her by the
dessert, and asked her to take the place which her daughter was to
"I will marry you," said I, "and we will all of us go to Rome on
Monday, for since Leonilda is my daughter I do not like to leave
her at Naples."
At this the three guests looked at each other and said nothing. I
did not repeat my proposal, but led the conversation to some other
After dinner I felt sleepy and lay down on a bed, and did not wake
till eight o'clock, when to my surprise I found that my only
companion was Lucrezia, who was writing. She heard me stir, and
came up to me and said affectionately,--
"My dear friend, you have slept for five hours; and as I did not
like to leave you alone I would not go with the duke and our
daughter to the opera."
The memory of former loves awakens when one is near the once
beloved object, and desires rapidly become irresistible if the
beauty still remain. The lovers feel as if they were once more in
possession of a blessing which belongs to them, and of which they
have been long deprived by unfortunate incidents. These were our
feelings, and without delay, without idle discussion, and above
all, without false modesty, we abandoned ourselves to love, the
only true source of nature.
In the first interval, I was the first to break the silence; and
if a man is anything of a wit, is he the less so at that delicious
moment of repose which follows on an amorous victory?
"Once again, then," said I, "I am in this charming land which I
entered for the first time to the noise of the drum and the rattle
of musket shots."
This remark made her laugh, and recalled past events to her
memory. We recollected with delight all the pleasures we had
enjoyed at Testaccio, Frascati, and Tivoli. We reminded each
other of these events, only to make each other laugh; but with two
lovers, what is laughter but a pretext for renewing the sweet
sacrifice of the goddess of Cythera?
At the end of the second act, full of the enthusiasm of the
fortunate lover, I said,--
"Let us be united for life; we are of the same age, we love each
other, our means are sufficient for us, we may hope to live a
happy life, and to die at the same moment."
"Tis the darling wish of my heart," Lucrezia replied, "but let us
stay at Naples and leave Leonilda to the duke. We will see
company, find her a worthy husband, and our happiness will be
"I cannot live at Naples, dearest, and you know that your daughter
intended to leave with me."
"My daughter! Say our daughter. I see that you are still in love
with her, and do not wish to be considered her father."
"Alas, yes! But I am sure that if I live with you my passion for
her will be stilled, but otherwise I cannot answer for myself. I
shall fly, but flight will not bring me happiness. Leonilda
charms me still more by her intelligence than by her beauty. I
was sure that she loved me so well that I did not attempt to
seduce her, lest thereby I should weaken my hold on her
affections; and as I wanted to make her happy I wished to deserve
her esteem. I longed to possess her, but in a lawful manner, so
that our rights should have been equal. We have created an angel,
Lucrezia, and I cannot imagine how the duke . . ."
"The duke is completely impotent. Do you see now how I was able
to trust my daughter to his care?"
"Impotent? I always thought so myself, but he has a son"
"His wife might possibly be able to explain that mystery to you,
but you may take it for granted that the poor duke will die a
virgin in spite of himself; and he knows that as well as anybody."
"Do not let us say any more about it, but allow me to treat you as