Florence to Trieste, Casanova, v29
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by David Widger
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
SPANISH PASSIONS, Volume 6d--FLORENCE TO TRIESTE
THE MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA DE SEINGALT
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR MACHEN TO
WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
FLORENCE to TRIESTE
Madame Denis--Dedini--Zanovitch--Zen--I Am Obliged to Leave--I Arrive at
Without speaking at any length I asked the young grand duke to give me an
asylum in his dominions for as long as I might care to stay. I
anticipated any questions he might have asked by telling him the reasons
which had made me an exile from my native land.
"As to my necessities," I added, "I shall ask for help of no one; I have
sufficient funds to ensure my independence. I think of devoting the
whole of my time to study."
"So long as your conduct is good," he replied, "the laws guarantee your
freedom; but I am glad you have applied to me. Whom do you know in
"Ten years ago, my lord, I had some distinuished acquaintances here; but
now I propose to live in retirement, and do not intend renewing any old
Such was my conversation with the young sovereign, and after his
assurances I concluded that no one would molest me.
My adventures in Tuscany the years before were in all probability
forgotten, or almost forgotten, as the new Government had nothing in
common with the old.
After my interview with the grand duke I went to a bookseller's shop and
ordered some books. A gentleman in the shop, hearing me making enquiries
about Greek works, accosted me, and we got on well together. I told him
I was working at a translation of the "Iliad," and in return he informed
me that he was making a collection of Greek epigrams, which he wished to
publish in Greek and Italian. I told him I should like to see this work,
whereupon he asked me where I lived. I told him, learnt his name and
address, and called on him the next day. He returned the visit, and we
became fast friends, though we never either walked or ate together.
This worthy Florentine was named (or is named, if he be still alive)
Everard de Medici.
I was very comfortable with Allegranti; I had the quiet so necessary to
literary labours, but nevertheless I made up my mind to change my
lodging. Magdalena, my landlord's niece, was so clever and charming,
though but a child, that she continually disturbed my studies. She came
into my room, wished me good day, asked me what kind of a night I had
spent, if I wanted anything, and the sight of her grace and beauty and
the sound of her voice so ravished me, that I determined to seek safety
A few years later Magdalena became a famous musician.
After leaving Allegranti I took rooms in a tradesman's house; his wife
was ugly, and he had no pretty daughters or seductive nieces. There I
lived for three weeks like Lafontaine's rat, very discreetly.
About the same time, Count Stratico arrived at Florence with his pupil,
the Chevalier Morosini, who was then eighteen. I could not avoid calling
on Stratico. He had broken his leg some time before and was still unable
to go out with his pupil, who had all the vices and none of the virtues
of youth. Consequently, Stratico was always afraid of something
happening to him, and he begged me to make myself his companion, and even
to share his pleasures, so that he might not go into bad company and
dangerous houses alone and undefended.
Thus my days of calm study vanished away. I had to partake in the
debauchery of a young rake, and all out of pure sensibility.
The Chevalier Morosini was a thorough-paced profligate. He hated
literature, good society, and the company of sensible people. His daily
pleasures were furious riding, hard drinking, and hard dissipation with
prostitutes, whom he sometimes almost killed.
This young nobleman paid a man for the sole service of getting him a
woman or a girl every day.
During the two months which he passed in Florence I saved his life a
score of times. I got very tired of my duty, but I felt bound to
He was liberal to the verge of recklessness, and would never allow me to
pay for anything. Even here, however, disputes often arose between us;
as he paid, he wanted me to eat, drink, and dissipate in the same
measures as himself. However, I had my own way on most occasions, only
giving in when it suited me to do so.
We went to see the opera at Lucca, and drought two of the dancers home to
supper. As the chevalier was drunk as usual, he treated the woman he had
chosen--a superb creature--very indifferently. The other was pretty
enough, but I had done nothing serious with her, so I proceeded to avenge
the beauty. She took me for the chevalier's father, and advised me to
give him a better education.
After the chevalier was gone I betook myself to my studies again, but I
supped every night with Madame Denis, who had formerly been a dancer in
the King of Prussia's service, and had retired to Florence.
She was about my age, and therefore not young, but still she had
sufficient remains of her beauty to inspire a tender passion; she did not
look more than thirty. She was as fresh as a young girl, had excellent
manners, and was extremely intelligent. Besides all these advantages,
she had a comfortable apartment on the first floor of one of the largest
cafes in Florence. In front of her room was a balcony where it was
delicious to sit and enjoy the cool of the evening.
The reader may remember how I had become her friend at Berlin in 1764,
and when we met again at Florence our old flames were rekindled.
The chief boarder in the house where she lived was Madame Brigonzi, whom
I had met at Memel. This lady, who pretended that she had been my
mistress twenty-five years before, often came into Madame Denis's rooms
with an old lover of hers named Marquis Capponi.
He was an agreeable and well-educated man; and noticing that he seemed to
enjoy my conversation I called on him, and he called on me, leaving his
card as I was not at home.
I returned the visit, and he introduced me to his family and invited me
to dinner. For the first time since I had come to Florence I dressed
myself with elegance and wore my jewels.
At the Marquis Capponi's I made the acquaintance of Corilla's lover, the
Marquis Gennori, who took me to a house where I met my fate. I fell in
love with Madame a young widow, who had been spending a few months in
Paris. This visit had added to her other attractions the charm of a good
manner, which always counts for so much.
This unhappy love made the three months longer which I spent in Florence
painful to me.
It was at the beginning of October, and about that time Count Medini
arrived at Florence without a penny in his pocket, and without being able
to pay his vetturino, who had arrested him.
The wretched man, who seemed to follow me wherever I went, had taken up
his abode in the house of a poor Irishman.
I do not know how Medini found out that I was at Florence, but he wrote
me a letter begging me to come and deliver him from the police, who
besieged his room and talked of taking him to prison. He said he only
wanted me to go bail for him, and protested that I should not run any
risk, as he was sure of being able to pay in a few days.
My readers will be aware that I had good reason for not liking Medini,
but in spite of our quarrel I could not despise his entreaty. I even
felt inclined to become his surety, if he could prove his capability of
paying the sum for which he had been arrested. I imagined that the sum
must be a small one, and could not understand why the landlord did not
answer for him. My surprise ceased, however, when I entered his room.
As soon as I appeared he ran to embrace me, begging me to forget the
past, and to extract him from the painful position in which he found
I cast a rapid glance over the room, and saw three trunks almost empty,
their contents being scattered about the floor. There was his mistress,
whom I knew, and who had her reasons for not liking me; her young sister,
who wept; and her mother, who swore, and called Medini a rogue, saying
that she would complain of him to the magistrate, and that she was not
going to allow her dresses and her daughter's dresses to be seized for
I asked the landlord why he did not go bail, as he had these persons and
their effects as security.
"The whole lot," he answered, "won't pay the vetturino, and the sooner
they are out of my house the better I shall be pleased."
I was astonished, and could not understand how the bill could amount to
more than the value of all the clothes I saw on the floor, so I asked the
vetturino to tell me the extent of the debt.
He gave me a paper with Medini's signature; the amount was two hundred
and forty crowns.
"How in the world," I exclaimed, "could he contract this enormous debt?"
I wondered no longer when the vetturino told me that he had served them
for the last six weeks, having conducted the count and the three women
from Rome to Leghorn, and from Leghorn to Pisa, and from Pisa to
Florence, paying for their board all the way.
"The vetturino will never take me as bail for such an amount," I said to
Medini, "and even if he would I should never be so foolish as to contract
such a debt."
"Let me have a word with you in the next room," said he; "I will put the
matter clearly before you."
Two of the police would have prevented his going into the next room, on
the plea that he might escape through the window, but I said I would be
answerable for him.
Just then the poor vetturino came in and kissed my hand, saying that if I
would go bail for the count he would let me have three months wherein to
find the money.
As it happened it was the same man who had taken me to Rome with the
Englishwoman who had been seduced by the actor l'Etoile. I told him to
wait a moment.
Medini who was a great talker and a dreadful liar thought to persuade me
by shewing me a number of open letters, commending him in pompous terms
to the best houses in Florence. I read the letters, but I found no
mention of money in them, and I told him as much.
"I know," said he, "but there is play going on in these houses, and I am
sure of gaining immense sums."
"You may be aware that I have no confidence in your good luck."
"Then I have another resource."
"What is that?"
He shewed me a bundle of manuscript, which I found to be an excellent
translation of Voltaire's "Henriade" into Italian verse. Tasso himself
could not have done it better. He said he hoped to finish the poem at
Florence, and to present it to the grand duke, who would be sure to make
him a magnificent present, and to constitute him his favourite.
I would not undeceive him, but I laughed to myself, knowing that the
grand duke only made a pretence of loving literature. A certain Abbe
Fontaine, a clever man, amused him with a little natural history, the
only science in which he took any interest. He preferred the worst prose
to the best verse, not having sufficient intellect to enjoy the subtle
charms of poetry. In reality he had only two passions--women and money.
After spending two wearisome hours with Medini, whose wit was great and
his judgment small, after heartily repenting of having yielded to my
curiosity and having paid him a visit, I said shortly that I could do
nothing for him. Despair drives men crazy; as I was making for the door,
he seized me by the collar.
He did not reflect in his dire extremity that he had no arms, that I was
stronger than he, that I had twice drawn his blood, and that the police,
the landlord, the vetturirco, and the servants, were in the next room. I
was not coward enough to call for help; I caught hold of his neck with
both hands and squeezed him till he was nearly choked. He had to let go
at last, and then I took hold of his collar and asked him if he had gone
I sent him against the wall, and opened the door and the police came in.
I told the vetturino that I would on no account be Medini's surety, or be
answerable for him in any way.
Just as I was going out, he leapt forward crying that I must not abandon
I had opened the door, and the police, fearing he would escape, ran
forward to get hold of him. Then began an interesting battle. Medini,
who had no arms, and was only in his dressing-gown, proceeded to
distribute kicks, cuffs, and blows amongst the four cowards, who had
their swords at their sides, whilst I held the door to prevent the
Irishman going out and calling for assistance.
Medini, whose nose was bleeding and his dress all torn, persisted in
fighting till the four policemen let him alone. I liked his courage, and
There was a moment's silence, and I asked his two liveried servants who
were standing by me why they had not helped their master. One said he
owed him six months' wages, and the other said he wanted to arrest him on
his own account.
As Medini was endeavouring to staunch the blood in a basin of water, the
vetturino told him that as I refused to be his surety he must go to
I was moved by the scene that I had witnessed, and said to the vetturino,
"Give him a fortnight's respite, and if he escapes before the expiration
of that term I will pay you."
He thought it over for a few moments, and then said,--
"Very good, sir, but I am not going to pay any legal expenses."
I enquired how much the costs amounted to, and paid them, laughing at the
policemen's claim of damages for blows they had received.
Then the two rascally servants said that if I would not be surety in the
same manner on their account, they would have Medini arrested. However,
Medini called out to me to pay no attention to them whatever.
When I had given the vetturino his acknowledgment and paid the four or
five crowns charged by the police, Medini told me that he had more to say
to me; but I turned my back on him, and went home to dinner.
Two hours later one of his servants came to me and promised if I would
give him six sequins to warn me if his master made any preparations for
I told him drily that his zeal was useless to me, as I was quite sure
that the count would pay all his debts within the term; and the next
morning I wrote to Medini informing him of the step his servant had
taken. He replied with a long letter full of thanks, in which he exerted
all his eloquence to persuade me to repair his fortunes. I did not
However, his good genius, who still protected him, brought a person to
Florence who drew him out of the difficulty. This person was Premislas
Zanovitch, who afterwards became as famous as his brother who cheated
the Amsterdam merchants, and adopted the style of Prince Scanderbeck. I
shall speak of him later on. Both these finished cheats came to a bad
Premislas Zanovitch was then at the happy age of twenty-five; he was the
son of a gentleman of Budua, a town on the borders of Albania and
Dalmatia, formerly subject to the Venetian Republic and now to the Grand
Turk. In classic times it was known as Epirus.
Premislas was a young man of great intelligence, and after having studied
at Venice, and contracted a Venetian taste for pleasures and enjoyments
of all sorts, he could not make up his mind to return to Budua, where his
only associates would be dull Sclavs--uneducated, unintellectual, coarse,
and brutish. Consequently, when Premislas and his still more talented
brother Stephen were ordered by the Council of Ten to enjoy the vast sums
they had gained at play in their own country, they resolved to become
adventurers. One took the north and the other the south of Europe, and
both cheated and duped whenever the opportunity for doing so presented
I had seen Premislas when he was a child, and had already heard reports
of a notable achievement of his. At Naples he had cheated the Chevalier
de Morosini by persuading him to become his surety to the extent of six
thousand ducats, and now he arrived in Florence in a handsome carriage,
bringing his mistress with him, and having two tall lackeys and a valet
in his service.
He took good apartments, hired a carriage, rented a box at the opera, had
a skilled cook, and gave his mistress a lady-in-waiting. He then shewed
himself at the best club, richly dressed, and covered with jewellery. He
introduced himself under the name of Count Premislas Zanovitch.
There is a club in Florence devoted to the use of the nobility. Any
stranger can go there without being introduced, but so much the worse for
him if his appearance fails to indicate his right to be present. The
Florentines are ice towards him, leave him alone, and behave in such a
manner that the visit is seldom repeated. The club is at once decent and
licentious, the papers are to be read there, games of all kinds are
played, food and drink may be had, and even love is available, for ladies
frequent the club.
Zanovitch did not wait to be spoken to, but made himself agreeable to
everyone, and congratulated himself on mixing in such distinguished
company, talked about Naples which he had just left, brought in his own
name with great adroitness, played high, lost merrily, paid after
pretending to forget all about his debts, and in short pleased everyone.
I heard all this the next day from the Marquis Capponi, who said that
someone had asked him if he knew me, whereat he answered that when I left
Venice he was at college, but that he had often heard his father speak of
me in very high terms. He knew both the Chevalier Morosini and Count
Medini, and had a good deal to say in praise of the latter. The marquis
asked me if I knew him, and I replied in the affirmative, without feeling
it my duty to disclose certain circumstances which might not have been
advantageous to him; and as Madame Denis seemed curious to make his
acquaintance the Chevalier Puzzi promised to bring him to see her, which
he did in the course of a few days.
I happened to be with Madame Denis when Puzzi presented Zanovitch, and I
saw before me a fine-looking young men, who seemed by his confident
manner to be sure of success in all his undertakings. He was not exactly
handsome, but he had a perfect manner and an air of gaiety which seemed
infectious, with a thorough knowledge of the laws of good society. He
was by no means an egotist, and seemed never at a loss for something to
talk about. I led the conversation to the subject of his country, and he
gave me an amusing description of it, talking of his fief-part of which
was within the domains of the sultan-as a place where gaiety was unknown,
and where the most determined misanthrope would die of melancholy.
As soon as he heard my name he began speaking to me in a tone of the most
delicate flattery. I saw the makings of a great adventurer in him, but I
thought his luxury would prove the weak point in his cuirass. I thought
him something like what I had been fifteen years ago, but as it seemed
unlikely that he had my resources I could not help pitying him.
Zanovitch paid me a visit, and told me that Medini's position had excited
his pity, and that he had therefore paid his debts.
I applauded his generosity, but I formed the conclusion that they had
laid some plot between them, and that I should soon hear of the results
of this new alliance.
I returned Zanovitch's call the next day. He was at table with his
mistress, whom I should not have recognized if she had not pronounced my
name directly she saw me.
As she had addressed me as Don Giacomo, I called her Donna Ippolita, but
in a voice which indicated that I was not certain of her identity. She
told me I was quite right.
I had supped with her at Naples in company with Lord Baltimore, and she
was very pretty then.
Zanovitch asked me to dine with him the following day, and I should have
thanked him and begged to be excused if Donna Ippolita had not pressed me
to come. She assured me that I should find good company there, and that
the cook would excel himself.
I felt rather curious to see the company, and with the idea of shewing
Zanovitch that I was not likely to become a charge on his purse, I
dressed myself magnificently once more.
As I had expected, I found Medini and his mistress there, with two
foreign ladies and their attendant cavaliers, and a fine-looking and
well-dressed Venetian, between thirty-five and forty, whom I would not
have recognized if Zanovitch had not told me his name, Alois Zen.
"Zen was a patrician name, and I felt obliged to ask what titles I ought
to give him.
"Such titles as one old friend gives another, though it is very possible
you do not recollect me, as I was only ten years old when we saw each
Zen then told me he was the son of the captain I had known when I was
under arrest at St. Andrews.
"That's twenty-eight years ago; but I remember you, though you had not
had the small-pox in those days."
I saw that he was annoyed by this remark, but it was his fault, as he had
no business to say where he had known me, or who his father was.
He was the son of a noble Venetian--a good-for-nothing in every sense of
When I met him at Florence he had just come from Madrid, where he had
made a lot of money by holding a bank at faro in the house of the
Venetian ambassador, Marco Zen.
I was glad to meet him, but I found out before the dinner was over that
he was completely devoid of education and the manners of a gentleman; but
he was well content with the one talent he possessed, namely, that of
correcting the freaks of fortune at games of chance. I did not wait to
see the onslaught of the cheats on the dupes, but took my leave while the
table was being made ready.
Such was my life during the seven months which I spent at Florence.
After this dinner I never saw Zen, or Medini, or Zanovitch, except by
chance in the public places.
Here I must recount some incidents which took place towards the middle of
Lord Lincoln, a young man of eighteen, fell in love with a Venetian
dancer named Lamberti, who was a universal favourite. On every night
when the opera was given the young Englishman might be seen going to her
camerino, and everyone wondered why he did not visit her at her own
house, where he would be certain of a good welcome, for he was English,
and therefore rich, young, and handsome. I believe he was the only son
of the Duke of Newcastle.
Zanovitch marked him down, and in a short time had become an intimate
friend of the fair Lamberti. He then made up to Lord Lincoln, and took
him to the lady's house, as a polite man takes a friend to see his
Madame Lamberti, who was in collusion with the rascal, was not niggardly
of her favours with the young Englishman. She received him every night
to supper with Zanovitch and Zen, who had been presented by the Sclav,
either because of his capital, or because Zanovitch was not so
accomplished a cheat.
For the first few nights they took care to let the young nobleman win.
As they played after supper, and Lord Lincoln followed the noble English
custom of drinking till he did not know his right hand from his left, he
was quite astonished on waking the next morning to find that luck had
been as kind to him as love. The trap was baited, the young lord
nibbled, and, as may be expected, was finally caught.
Zen won twelve thousand pounds of him, and Zanovitch lent him the money
by installments of three and four hundred louis at a time, as the
Englishman had promised his tutor not to play, on his word of honour.
Zanovitch won from Zen what Zen won from the lord, and so the game was
kept up till the young pigeon had lost the enormous sum of twelve
Lord Lincoln promised to pay three thousand guineas the next day, and
signed three bills of exchange for three thousand guineas each, payable
in six months, and drawn on his London banker.
I heard all about this from Lord Lincoln himself when we met at Bologna
three months later.
The next morning the little gaming party was the talk of Florence. Sasso
Sassi, the banker, had already paid Zanovitch six thousand sequins by my
Medini came to see me, furious at not having been asked to join the
party, while I congratulated myself on my absence. My surprise may be
imagined, when, a few days after, a person came up to my room, and
ordered me to leave Florence in three days and Tuscany in a week.
I was petrified, and called to my landlord to witness the unrighteous
order I had received.
It was December 28th. On the same date, three years before, I had
received orders to leave Barcelona in three days.
I dressed hastily and went to the magistrate to enquire the reason for my
exile, and on entering the room I found it was the same man who had
ordered me to leave Florence eleven years before.
I asked him to give me his reasons, and he replied coldly that such was
the will of his highness.
"But as his highness must have his reasons, it seems to me that I am
within my rights in enquiring what they are."
"If you think so yqu had better betake yourself to the prince; I know
nothing about it. He left yesterday for Pisa, where he will stay three
days; you can go there."
"Will he pay for my journey?"
"I should doubt it, but you can see for yourself."
"I shall not go to Pisa, but I will write to his highness if you will
promise to send on the letter."
"I will do so immediately, for it is my duty."
"Very good; you shall have the letter before noon tomorrow, and before
day-break I shall be in the States of the Church."
"There's no need for you to hurry yourself."
"There is a very great hurry. I cannot breathe the air of a country
where liberty is unknown and the sovereign breaks his word; that is what
I am going to write to your master."
As I was going out I met Medini, who had come on the same business as
I laughed, and informed him of the results of my interview, and how I had
been told to go to Pisa.
"What! have you been expelled, too?"
"What have you done?"
"Nor I. Let us go to Pisa."
"You can go if you like, but I shall leave Florence tonight."
When I got home I told my landlord to get me a carriage and to order four
post-horses for nightfall, and I then wrote the following letter to the
"My Lord; The thunder which Jove has placed in your hands is only for the
guilty; in launching it at me you have done wrong. Seven months ago you
promised that I should remain unmolested so long as I obeyed the laws.
I have done so scrupulously, and your lordship has therefore broken your
word. I am merely writing to you to let you know that I forgive you, and
that I shall never give utterance to a word of complaint. Indeed I would
willingly forget the injury you have done me, if it were not necessary
that I should remember never to set foot in your realms again. The
magistrate tells me that I can go and see you at Pisa, but I fear such a
step would seem a hardy one to a prince, who should hear what a man has
to say before he condemns him, and not afterwards.
"I am, etc."
When I had finished the letter I sent it to the magistrate, and then I
began my packing.
I was sitting down to dinner when Medini came in cursing Zen and
Zanovitch, whom he accused of being the authors of his misfortune, and of
refusing to give him a hundred sequins, without which he could not
"We are all going to Pisa," said he, "and cannot imagine why you do not
"Very good," I said, laughingly, "but please to leave me now as I have to
do my packing."
As I expected, he wanted me to lend him some money, but on my giving him
a direct refusal he went away.
After dinner I took leave of M. Medici and Madame Dennis, the latter of
whom had heard the story already. She cursed the grand duke, saying she
could not imagine how he could confound the innocent with the guilty.
She informed me that Madame Lamberti had received orders to quit, as also
a hunchbacked Venetian priest, who used to go and see the dancer but had
never supped with her. In fact, there was a clean sweep of all the
Venetians in Florence.
As I was returning home I met Lord Lincoln's governor; whom I had known
at Lausanne eleven years before. I told him of what had happened to me
through his hopeful pupil getting himself fleeced. He laughed, and told
me that the grand duke had advised Lord Lincoln not to pay the money he
had lost, to which the young man replied that if he were not to pay he
should be dishonoured since the money he had lost had been lent to him.
In leaving Florence I was cured of an unhappy love which would doubtless
have had fatal consequences if I had stayed on. I have spared my readers
the painful story because I cannot recall it to my mind even now without
being cut to the heart. The widow whom I loved, and to whom I was so
weak as to disclose my feelings, only attached me to her triumphal car to
humiliate me, for she disdained my love and myself. I persisted in my
courtship, and nothing but my enforced absence would have cured me.
As yet I have not learnt the truth of the maxim that old age, especially
when devoid of fortune, is not likely to prove attractive to youth.
I left Florence poorer by a hundred sequins than when I came there. I
had lived with the most careful economy throughout the whole of my stay.
I stopped at the first stage within the Pope's dominions, and by the last
day but one of the year I was settled at Bologna, at "St. Mark's Hotel."
My first visit was paid to Count Marulli, the Florentine charge
d'affaires. I begged him to write and tell his master, that, out of
gratitude for my banishment, I should never cease to sing his praises.
As the count had received a letter containing an account of the whole
affair, he could not quite believe that I meant what I said.
"You may think what you like," I observed, "but if you knew all you would
see that his highness has done me a very great service though quite
He promised to let his master know how I spoke of him.
On January 1st, 1772, I presented myself to Cardinal Braneaforte, the
Pope's legate, whom I had known twenty years before at Paris, when he had
been sent by Benedict XVI. with the holy swaddling clothes for the newly-
born Duke of Burgundy. We had met at the Lodge of Freemasons, for the
members of the sacred college were by no means afraid of their own
anathemas. We had also some very pleasant little suppers with pretty
sinners in company with Don Francesco Sensate and Count Ranucci. In
short, the cardinal was a man of wit, and what is called a bon vivant.
"Oh, here you are!" cried he, when he saw me; "I was expecting you"
"How could you, my lord? Why should I have come to Bologna rather than
to any other place?"
"For two reasons. In the first place because Bologna is better than many
other places, and besides I flatter myself you thought of me. But you
needn't say anything here about the life we led together when we were
"It has always been a pleasant recollection to me."
"No doubt. Count Marulli told me yesterday that you spoke very highly of
the grand duke, and you are quite right. You can talk to me in
confidence; the walls of this room have no ears. How much did you get of
the twelve thousand guineas?"
I told him the whole story, and shewed him a copy of the letter which I
had written to the grand duke. He laughed, and said he was sorry I had
been punished for nothing.
When he heard I thought of staying some months at Bologna he told me that
I might reckon on perfect freedom, and that as soon as the matter ceased
to become common talk he would give me open proof of his friendship.
After seeing the cardinal I resolved to continue at Bologna the kind of
life that I had been leading at Florence. Bologna is the freest town in
all Italy; commodities are cheap and good, and all the pleasures of life
may be had there at a low price. The town is a fine one, and the streets
are lined with arcades--a great comfort in so hot a place.
As to society, I did not trouble myself about it. I knew the Bolognese;
the nobles are proud, rude, and violent; the lowest orders, known as the
birichini, are worse than the lazzaroni of Naples, while the tradesmen
and the middle classes are generally speaking worthy and respectable
people. At Bologna, as at Naples, the two extremes of society are
corrupt, while the middle classes are respectable, and the depository of
virtue, talents, and learning.
However, my intention was to leave society alone, to pass my time in
study, and to make the acquaintance of a few men of letters, who are
easily accessible everywhere.
At Florence ignorance is the rule and learning the exception, while at
Bologna the tincture of letters is almost universal. The university has
thrice the usual number of professors; but they are all ill paid, and
have to get their living out of the students, who are numerous. Printing
is cheaper at Bologna than anywhere else, and though the Inquisition is
established there the press is almost entirely free.
All the exiles from Florence reached Bologna four or five days after
myself. Madame Lamberti only passed through on her way to Venice.
Zanovitch and Zen stayed five or six days; but they were no longer in
partnership, having quarreled over the sharing of the booty.
Zanovitch had refused to make one of Lord Lincoln's bills of exchange
payable to Zen, because he did not wish to make himself liable in case
the Englishman refused to pay. He wanted to go to England, and told Zen
he was at liberty to do the same.
They went to Milan without having patched up their quarrel, but the
Milanese Government ordered them to leave Lombardy, and I never heard
what arrangements they finally came to. Later on I was informed that the
Englishman's bills had all been settled to the uttermost farthing.
Medini, penniless as usual, had taken up his abode in the hotel where I
was staying, bringing with him his mistress, her sister, and her mother,
but with only one servant. He informed me that the grand duke had
refused to listen to any of them at Pisa, where he had received a second
order to leave Tuscany, and so had been obliged to sell everything. Of
course he wanted me to help him, but I turned a deaf ear to his
I have never seen this adventurer without his being in a desperate state
of impecuniosity, but he would never learn to abate his luxurious habits,
and always managed to find some way or other out of his difficulties. He
was lucky enough to fall in with a Franciscan monk named De Dominis at
Bologna, the said monk being on his way to Rome to solicit a brief of
'laicisation' from the Pope. He fell in love with Medini's mistress, who
naturally made him pay dearly for her charms.
Medini left at the end of three weeks. He went to Germany, where he
printed his version of the "Henriade," having discovered a Maecenas in
the person of the Elector Palatin. After that he wandered about Europe
for twelve years, and died in a London prison in 1788.
I had always warned him to give England a wide berth, as I felt certain
that if he once went there he would not escape English bolts and bars,
and that if he got on the wrong side of the prison doors he would never
come out alive. He despised my advice, and if he did so with the idea of
proving me a liar, he made a mistake, for he proved me to be a prophet.
Medini had the advantage of high birth, a good education, and
intelligence; but as he was a poor man with luxurious tastes he either
corrected fortune at play or went into debt, and was consequently obliged
to be always on the wing to avoid imprisonment.
He lived in this way for seventy years, and he might possibly be alive
now if he had followed my advice.
Eight years ago Count Torio told me that he had seen Medini in a London
prison, and that the silly fellow confessed he had only come to London
with the hope of proving me to be a liar.
Medini's fate shall never prevent me from giving good advice to a poor
wretch on the brink of the precipice. Twenty years ago I told Cagliostro
(who called himself Count Pellegrini in those days) not to set his foot
in Rome, and if he had followed this counsel he would not have died
miserably in a Roman prison.
Thirty years ago a wise man advised me to beware visiting Spain. I went,
but, as the reader knows, I had no reason to congratulate myself on my
A week after my arrival at Bologna, happening to be in the shop of
Tartuffi, the bookseller, I made the acquaintance of a cross-eyed priest,
who struck me, after a quarter of an hour's talk as a man of learning and
talent. He presented me with two works which had recently been issued by
two of the young professors at the university He told me that I should
find them amusing reading, and he was right.
The first treatise contended that women's faults should be forgiven them,
since they were really the work of the matrix, which influenced them in
spite of themselves. The second treatise was a criticism of the first.
The author allowed that the uterus was an animal, but he denied the
alleged influence, as no anatomist had succeeded in discovering any
communication between it and the brain.
I determined to write a reply to the two pamphlets, and I did so in the
course of three days. When my reply was finished I sent it to M.
Dandolo, instructing him to have five hundred copies printed. When they
arrived I gave a bookseller the agency, and in a fortnight I had made a
The first pamphlet was called "Lutero Pensante," the second was in French
and bore the title "La Force Vitale," while I called my reply "Lana
Caprina." I treated the matter in an easy vein, not without some hints
of deep learning, and made fun of the lucubrations of the two physicians.
My preface was in French, but full of Parisian idioms which rendered it
unintelligible to all who had not visited the gay capital, and this
circumstance gained me a good many friends amongst the younger
The squinting priest, whose name was Zacchierdi, introduced me to the
Abbe Severini, who became my intimate friend in the course of ten or
This abbe made me leave the inn, and got me two pleasant rooms in the
house of a retired artiste, the widow of the tenor Carlani. He also made
arrangements with a pastrycook to send me my dinner and supper. All
this, plus a servant, only cost me ten sequins a month.
Severini was the agreeable cause of my losing temporarily my taste for
study. I put by my "Iliad," feeling sure that I should be able to finish
Severini introduced me to his family, and before long I became very
intimate with him. I also became the favourite of his sister, a lady
rather plain than pretty, thirty years old, but full of intelligence.
In the course of Lent the abbe introduced me to all the best dancers and
operatic singers in Bologna, which is the nursery of the heroines of the
stage. They may be had cheaply enough on their native soil.
Every week the good abbe introduced me to a fresh one, and like a true
friend he watched carefully over my finances. He was a poor man himself,
and could not afford to contribute anything towards the expenses of our
little parties; but as they would have cost me double without his help,
the arrangement was a convenient one for both of us.
About this time there was a good deal of talk about a Bolognese nobleman,
Marquis Albergati Capacelli. He had made a present of his private
theatre to the public, and was himself an excellent actor. He had made
himself notorious by obtaining a divorce from his wife, whom he did not
like, so as to enable him to marry a dancer, by whom he had two children.
The amusing point in this divorce was that he obtained it on the plea
that he was impotent, and sustained his plea by submitting to an
examination, which was conducted as follows:
Four skilled and impartial judges had the marquis stripped before them,
and did all in their power to produce an erection; but somehow or other
he succeeded in maintaining his composure, and the marriage was
pronounced null and void on the ground of relative impotence, for it was
well known that he had had children by another woman.
If reason and not prejudice had been consulted, the procedure would have
been very different; for if relative impotence was considered a
sufficient ground for divorce, of what use was the examination?
The marquis should have sworn that he could do nothing with his wife, and
if the lady had traversed this statement the marquis might have
challenged her to put him into the required condition.
But the destruction of old customs and old prejudices is often the work
of long ages.
I felt curious to know this character, and wrote to M. Dandolo to get me
a letter of introduction to the marquis.
In a week my good old friend sent me the desired letter. It was written
by another Venetian, M. de Zaguri, an intimate friend of the marquis.
The letter was not sealed, so I read it. I was delighted; no one could
have commended a person unknown to himself but the friend of a friend in
a more delicate manner.
I thought myself bound to write a letter of thanks to M. Zaguri. I said
that I desired to obtain my pardon more than ever after reading his
letter, which made me long to go to Venice, and make the acquaintance of
such a worthy nobleman.
I did not expect an answer, but I got one. M. Zaguri said that my desire
was such a flattering one to himself, that he meant to do his best to
obtain my recall.
The reader will see that he was successful, but not till after two years
of continuous effort.
Albergati was away from Bologna at the time, but when he returned
Severini let me know, and I called at the palace. The porter told me
that his excellence (all the nobles are excellences at Bologna) had gone
to his country house, where he meant to pass the whole of the spring.
In two or three days I drove out to his villa. I arrived at a charming
mansion, and finding no one at the door I went upstairs, and entered a
large room where a gentleman and an exceedingly pretty woman were just
sitting down to dinner. The dishes had been brought in, and there were
only two places laid.
I made a polite bow, and asked the gentleman if I had the honour of
addressing the Marquis Albergati. He replied in the affirmative,
whereupon I gave him my letter of introduction. He took it, read the
superscription, and put it in his pocket, telling me I was very kind to
have taken so much trouble, and that he would be sure to read it.
"It has been no trouble at all," I replied, "but I hope you will read the
letter. It is written by M. de Zaguri, whom I asked to do me this
service, as I have long desired to make your lordship's acquaintance."
His lordship smiled and said very pleasantly that he would read it after
dinner, and would see what he could do for his friend Zaguri.
Our dialogue was over in a few seconds. Thinking him extremely rude I
turned my back and went downstairs, arriving just in time to prevent the
postillion taking out the horses. I promised him a double gratuity if he
would take me to some village at hand, where he could bait his horses
while I breakfasted.
Just as the postillion had got on horseback a servant came running up.
He told me very politely that his excellence begged me to step upstairs.
I put my hand in my pocket and gave the man my card with my name and
address, and telling him that that was what his master wanted, I ordered
the postillion to drive off at a full gallop.
When we had gone half a league we stopped at a good inn, and then
proceeded on our way back to Bologna.
The same day I wrote to M. de Zaguri, and described the welcome I had
received at the hands of the marquis. I enclosed the letter in another
to M. Dandolo, begging him to read it, and to send it on. I begged the
noble Venetian to write to the marquis that having offended me grievously
he must prepare to give me due satisfaction.
I laughed with all my heart next day when my landlady gave me a visiting
card with the inscription, General the Marquis of Albeygati. She told me
the marquis had called on me himself, and on hearing I was out had left
I began to look upon the whole of his proceedings as pure gasconnade,
only lacking the wit of the true Gascon. I determined to await M.
Zaguri's reply before making up my mind as to the kind of satisfaction I
While I was inspecting the card, and wondering what right the marquis had
to the title of general, Severini came in, and informed me that the
marquis had been made a Knight of the Order of St. Stanislas by the King
of Poland, who had also given him the style of royal chamberlain.
"Is he a general in the Polish service as well?" I asked.
"I really don't know."
"I understand it all," I said to myself. "In Poland a chamberlain has
the rank of adjutant-general, and the marquis calls himself general. But
general what? The adjective without a substantive is a mere cheat."
I saw my opportunity, and wrote a comic dialogue, which I had printed the
next day. I made a present of the work to a bookseller, and in three or
four days he sold out the whole edition at a bajocco apiece.
Farinello and the Electress Dowager of Saxony--Madame Slopitz--Nina--
The Midwife--Madame Soavi--Abbe Bolini--Madame Viscioletta--
The Seamstress--The Sorry Pleasure of Revenge--Severini Goes to Naples
--My Departure--Marquis Mosca
Anyone who attacks a proud person in a comic vein is almost sure of
success; the laugh is generally on his side.
I asked in my dialogue whether it was lawful for a provost-marshal to
call himself simply marshal, and whether a lieutenant-colonel had a right
to the title of colonel. I also asked whether the man who preferred
titles of honour, for which he had paid in hard cash, to his ancient and
legitimate rank, could pass for a sage.
Of course the marquis had to laugh at my dialogue, but he was called the
general ever after. He had placed the royal arms of Poland over the gate
of his palace, much to the amusement of Count Mischinski, the Polish
ambassador to Berlin, who happened to be passing through Bologna at that
I told the Pole of my dispute with the mad marquis, and persuaded him to
pay Albergati a visit, leaving his card. The ambassador did so, and the
call was returned, but Albergati's cards no longer bore the title of
The Dowager Electress of Saxony having come to Bologna, I hastened to pay
my respects to her. She had only come to see the famous catstrato
Farinello, who had left Madrid, and now lived at Bologna in great
comfort. He placed a magnificent collation before the Electress, and
sang a song of his own composition, accompanying himself on the piano.
The Electress, who was an enthusiastic musician, embraced Farinello,
"Now I can die happy."
Farinello, who was also known as the Chevalier Borschi had reigned, as it
were, in Spain till the Parmese wife of Philip V. had laid plots which
obliged him to leave the Court after the disgrace of Enunada. The
Electress noticed a portrait of the queen, and spoke very highly of her,
mentioning some circumstances which must have taken place in the reign of
The famous musician burst into tears, and said that Queen Barbara was as
good as Elizabeth of Parma was wicked.
Borschi might have been seventy when I saw him at Bologna. He was very
rich and in the enjoyment of good health, and yet he was unhappy,
continually shedding tears at the thought of Spain.
Ambition is a more powerful passion than avarice. Besides, Farinello had
another reason for unhappiness.
He had a nephew who was the heir to all his wealth, whom he married to a
noble Tuscan lady, hoping to found a titled family, though in an indirect
kind of way. But this marriage was a torment to him, for in his impotent
old age he was so unfortunate as to fall in love with his niece, and to
become jealous of his nephew. Worse than all the lady grew to hate him,
and Farinello had sent his nephew abroad, while he never allowed the wife
to go out of his sight.
Lord Lincoln arrived in Bologna with an introduction for the cardinal
legate, who asked him to dinner, and did me the honour of giving me an
invitation to meet him. The cardinal was thus convinced that Lord
Lincoln and I had never met, and that the grand duke of Tuscany had
committed a great injustice in banishing me. It was on that occasion
that the young nobleman told me how they had spread the snare, though he
denied that he had been cheated; he was far too proud to acknowledge such
a thing. He died of debauchery in London three or four years after.
I also saw at Bologna the Englishman Aston with Madame Slopitz, sister of
the Charming Cailimena. Madame Slopitz was much handsomer than her
sister. She had presented Aston with two babes as beautiful as Raphael's
I spoke of her sister to her, and from the way in which I sang her
praises she guessed that I had loved her. She told me she would be in
Florence during the Carnival of 1773, but I did not see her again till
the year 1776, when I was at Venice.
The dreadful Nina Bergonci, who had made a madman of Count Ricla, and was
the source of all my woes at Barcelona, had come to Bologna at the
beginning of Lent, occupying a pleasant house which she had taken. She
had carte blanche with a banker, and kept up a great state, affirming
herself to be with child by the Viceroy of Catalonia, and demanding the
honours which would be given to a queen who had graciously chosen Bologna
as the place of her confinement. She had a special recommendation to the
legate, who often visited her, but in the greatest secrecy.
The time of her confinement approached, and the insane Ricla sent over a
confidential man, Don Martino, who was empowered to have the child
baptized, and to recognize it as Ricla's natural offspring.
Nina made a show of her condition, appearing at the theatre and in the
public places with an enormous belly. The greatest noble of Bologna paid
court to her, and Nina told them that they might do so, but that she
could not guarantee their safety from the jealous dagger of Ricla. She
was impudent enough to tell them what happened to me at Barcelona, not
knowing that I was at Bologna.
She was extremely surprised to hear from Count Zini, who knew me, that I
inhabited the same town as herself.
When the count met me he asked me if the Barcelona story was true. I did
not care to take him into my confidence, so I replied that I did not know
Nina, and that the story had doubtless been made up by her to see whether
he would encounter danger for her sake.
When I met the cardinal I told him the whole story, and his eminence was
astonished when I gave him some insight into Nina's character, and
informed him that she was the daughter of her sister and her grandfather.
"I could stake my life," said I, "that Nina is no more with child than
"Oh, come!" said he, laughing, "that is really too strong; why shouldn't
she have a child? It is a very simple matter, it seems to me. Possibly
it may not be Ricla's child but there can be no doubt that she is with
somebody's child. What object could she have for feigning pregnancy?"
"To make herself famous by defiling the Count de Ricla, who was a model
of justice and virtue before knowing this Messalina. If your eminence
knew the hideous character of Nina you would not wonder at anything she
"Well, we shall see."
About a week later I heard a great noise in the street, and on putting my
head out of the window I saw a woman stripped to the waist, and mounted
on an ass, being scourged by the hangman, and hooted by a mob of all the
biricchini in Bologna. Severini came up at the same moment and informed
me that the woman was the chief midwife in Bologna, and that her
punishment had been ordered by the cardinal archbishop.
"It must be for some great crime," I observed.
"No doubt. It is the woman who was with Nina the day before yesterday."
"What! has Nina been brought to bed?"
"Yes; but of a still-born child."
"I see it all."
Next day the story was all over the town.
A poor woman had come before the archbishop, and had complained bitterly
that the midwife Teresa had seduced her, promising to give her twenty
sequins if she would give her a fine boy to whom she had given birth a
fortnight ago. She was not given the sum agreed upon, and in her despair
at hearing of the death of her child she begged for justice, declaring
herself able to prove that the dead child said to be Nina's was in
reality her own.
The archbishop ordered his chancellor to enquire into the affair with the
utmost secrecy, and then proceed to instant and summary execution.
A week after this scandal Don Martino returned to Barcelona; but Nina
remained as impudent as ever, doubled the size of the red cockades which
she made her servants wear, and swore that Spain would avenge her on the
insolent archbishop. She remained at Bologna six weeks longer,
pretending to be still suffering from the effects of her confinement.
The cardinal legate, who was ashamed of having had anything to do with
such an abandoned prostitute, did his best to have her ordered to leave.
Count Ricla, a dupe to the last, gave her a considerable yearly income on
the condition that she should never come to Barcelona again; but in a
year the count died.
Nina did not survive him for more than a year, and died miserably from
her fearful debauchery. I met her mother and sister at Venice, and she
told me the story of the last two years of her daughter's life; but it is
so sad and so disgusting a tale that I feel obliged to omit it.
As for the infamous midwife, she found powerful friends.
A pamphlet appeared in which the anonymous author declared that the
archbishop had committed a great wrong in punishing a citizen in so
shameful a manner without any of the proper formalities of justice. The
writer maintained that even if she were guilty she had been unjustly
punished, and should appeal to Rome.
The prelate, feeling the force of these animadversions, circulated a
pamphlet in which it appeared that the midwife had made three prior
appearances before the judge, and that she would have been sent to the
gallows long ago if the archbishop had not hesitated to shame three of
the noblest families in Bologna, whose names appeared in documents in the
custody of his chancellor.
Her crimes were procuring abortion and killing erring mothers,
substituting the living for the dead, and in one case a boy for a girl,
thus giving him the enjoyment of property which did not belong to him.
This pamphlet of the prelate reduced the patrons of the infamous midwife
to silence, for several young noblemen whose mothers had been attended by
her did not relish the idea of their family secrets being brought to
At Bologna I saw Madame Marucci, who had been expelled from Spain for the
same reason as Madame Pelliccia. The latter had retired to Rome, while
Madame Marucci was on her way to Lucca, her native country.
Madame Soavi, a Bolognese dancer whom I had known at Parma and Paris,
came to Bologna with her daughter by M. de Marigni. The girl, whose name
was Adelaide, was very beautiful, and her natural abilities had been
fostered by a careful education.
When Madame Soavi got to Bologna she met her husband whom she had not
seen for fifteen years.
"Here is a treasure for you," said she, shewing him her daughter.
"She's certainly very pretty, but what am I to do with her? She does not
belong to me."
"Yes she does, as I have given her to you. You must know that she has
six thousand francs a year, and that I shall be her cashier till I get
her married to a good dancer. I want her to learn character dancing, and
to make her appearance on the boards. You must take her out on
"What shall I say if people ask me who she is?"
"Say she is your daughter, and that you are certain, because your wife
gave her to you."
"I can't see that."
"Ah, you have always stayed at home, and consequently your wits are
I heard this curious dialogue which made me laugh then, and makes me
laugh now as I write it. I offered to help in Adelaide's education, but
Madame Soavi laughed, and said,--
"Fox, you have deceived so many tender pullets, that I don't like to
trust you with this one, for fear of your making her too precocious."
"I did not think of that, but you are right."
Adelaide became the wonder of Bologna.
A year after I left the Comte du Barri, brother-in-law of the famous
mistress of Louis XV., visited Bologna, and became so amorous of Adelaide
that her mother sent her away, fearing he would carry her off.
Du Barri offered her a hundred thousand francs for the girl, but she
refused the offer.
I saw Adelaide five years later on the boards of a Venetian theatre.
When I went to congratulate her, she said,--
"My mother brought me into the world, and I think she will send me out of
it; this dancing is killing me."
In point of fact this delicate flower faded and died after seven years of
the severe life to which her mother had exposed her.
Madame Soavi who had not taken the precaution to settle the six thousand
francs on herself, lost all in losing Adelaide, and died miserably after
having rolled in riches. But, alas! I am not the man to reproach anyone
on the score of imprudence.
At Bologna I met the famous Afflisio, who had been discharged from the
imperial service and had turned manager. He went from bad to worse, and
five or six years later committed forgery, was sent to the galleys, and
I was also impressed by the example of a man of a good family, who had
once been rich. This was Count Filomarino. He was living in great
misery, deprived of the use of all his limbs by a succession of venereal
complaints. I often went to see him to give him a few pieces of money,
and to listen to his malevolent talk, for his tongue was the only member
that continued active. He was a scoundrel and a slanderer, and writhed
under the thought that he could not go to Naples and torment his
relations, who were in reality respectable people, but monsters according
to his shewing.
Madame Sabatini, the dancer, had returned to Bologna, having made enough
money to rest upon her laurels. She married a professor of anatomy, and
brought all her wealth to him as a dower. She had with her her sister,
who was not rich and had no talents, but was at the same time very
At the house I met an abbe, a fine young man of modest appearance. The
sister seemed to be deeply in love with him, while he appeared to be
grateful and nothing more.
I made some remark to the modest Adonis, and he gave me a very sensible
answer. We walked away together, and after telling each other what
brought us to Bologna we parted, agreeing to meet again.
The abbe, who was twenty-four or twenty-five years old, was not in
orders, and was the only son of a noble family of Novara, which was
unfortunately poor as well as noble.
He had a very scanty revenue, and was able to live more cheaply at
Bologna than Novara, where everything is dear. Besides, he did not care
for his relations; he had no friends, and everybody there was more or
The Abbe de Bolini, as he was called, was a man of tranquil mind, living
a peaceful and quiet life above all things. He liked lettered men more
than letters, and did not trouble to gain the reputation of a wit. He
knew he was not a fool, and when he mixed with learned men he was quite
clever enough to be a good listener.
Both temperament and his purse made him temperate in all things, and he
had received a sound Christian education. He never talked about
religion, but nothing scandalized him. He seldom praised and never
He was almost entirely indifferent to women, flying from ugly women and
blue stockings, and gratifying the passion of pretty ones more out of
kindliness than love, for in his heart he considered women as more likely
to make a man miserable than happy. I was especially interested in this
We had been friends for three weeks when I took the liberty of asking him
how he reconciled his theories with his attachment to Brigida Sabatini.
He supped with her every evening, and she breakfasted with him every
morning. When I went to see him, she was either there already or came in
before my call was over. She breathed forth love in every glance, while
the abbe was kind, but, in spite of his politeness, evidently bored.
Brigida looked well enough, but she was at least ten years older than the
abbe. She was very polite to me and did her best to convince me that the
abbe was happy in the possession of her heart, and that they both enjoyed
the delights of mutual love.
But when I asked him over a bottle of good wine about his affection for
Brigida, he sighed, smiled, blushed, looked down, and finally confessed
that this connection was the misfortune of his life.
"Misfortune? Does she make you sigh in vain? If so you should leave
her, and thus regain your happiness."
"How can I sigh? I am not in love with her. She is in love with me, and
tries to make me her slave."
"How do you mean?"
"She wants me to marry her, and I promised to do so, partly from
weakness, and partly from pity; and now she is in a hurry."
"I daresay; all these elderly girls are in a hurry."
"Every evening she treats me to tears, supplications, and despair. She
summons me to keep my promise, and accuses me of deceiving her, so you
may imagine that my situation is an unhappy one."
"Have you any obligations towards her?"
"None whatever. She has violated me, so to speak, for all the advances
came from her. She has only what her sister gives her from day to day,
and if she got married she would not get that."
"Have you got her with child?"
"I have taken good care not to do so, and that's what has irritated her;
she calls all my little stratagems detestable treason."
"Nevertheless, you have made up your mind to marry her sooner or later?"
"I'd as soon hang myself. If I got married to her I should be four times
as poor as I am now, and all my relations at Novara would laugh at me for
bringing home a wife of her age. Besides, she is neither rich nor well
born, and at Novara they demand the one or the other."
"Then as a man of honour and as a man of sense, you ought to break with
her, and the sooner the better."
"I know, but lacking normal strength what am I to do? If I did not go
and sup with her to-night, she would infallibly come after me to see what
had happened. I can't lock my door in her face, and I can't tell her to
"No, but neither can go on in this miserable way.
"You must make up your mind, and cut the Gordian knot, like Alexander."
"I haven't his sword."
"I will lend it you."
"What do you mean?"
"Listen to me. You must go and live in another town. She will hardly go
after you there, I suppose."
"That is a very good plan, but flight is a difficult matter."
"Difficult? Not at all. Do you promise to do what I tell you, and I
will arrange everything quite comfortably. Your mistress will not know
anything about it till she misses you at supper."
"I will do whatever you tell me, and I shall never forget your kindness;
but Brigida will go mad with grief."
"Well my first order to you is not to give her grief a single thought.
You have only to leave everything to me. Would you like to start to-
"Yes. Have you any debts?"
"Do you want any money?"
"I have sufficient. But the idea of leaving tomorrow has taken my breath
away. I must have three days delay."
"I expect some letters the day after to-morrow, and I must write to my
relations to tell them where I am going."
"I will take charge of your letters and send them on to you."
"Where shall I be?"
"I will tell you at the moment of your departure; trust in me. I will
send you at once where you will be comfortable. All you have to do is to
leave your trunk in the hands of your landlord, with orders not to give
it up to anyone but myself."
"Very good. I am to go without my trunk, then."
"Yes. You must dine with me every day till you go, and mind not to tell
anyone whatsoever that you intend leaving Bologna."
"I will take care not to do so."
The worthy young fellow looked quite radiant. I embraced him and thanked
him for putting so much trust in me.
I felt proud at the good work I was about to perform, and smiled at the
thought of Brigida's anger when she found that her lover had escaped.
I wrote to my good friend Dandolo that in five or six days a young abbe
would present himself before him bearing a letter from myself. I begged
Dandolo to get him a comfortable and cheap lodging, as my friend was so
unfortunate as to be indifferently provided with money, though an
excellent man. I then wrote the letter of which the abbe was to be the
Next day Bolini told me that Brigida was far from suspecting his flight,
as owing to his gaiety at the thought of freedom he had contented her so
well during the night she had passed with him that she thought him as
much in love as she was.
"She has all my linen," he added, "but I hope to get a good part of it
back under one pretext or another, and she is welcome to the rest."
On the day appointed he called on me as we had arranged the night before,
carrying a huge carpet bag containing necessaries. I took him to Modena
in a post chaise, and there we dined; afterward I gave him a letter for
M. Dandolo, promising to send on his trunk the next day.
He was delighted to hear that Venice was his destination, as he had long
wished to go there, and I promised him that M. Dandolo should see that he
lived as comfortably and cheaply as he had done at Bologna.
I saw him off, and returned to Bologna. The trunk I dispatched after him
the following day.
As I had expected, the poor victim appeared before me all in tears the
next day. I felt it my duty to pity her; it would have been cruel to
pretend I did not know the reason for her despair. I gave her a long but
kindly sermon, endeavouring to persuade her that I had acted for the best
in preventing the abbe marrying her, as such a step would have plunged
them both into misery.
The poor woman threw herself weeping at my feet, begging me to bring her
abbe back, and swearing by all the saints that she would never mention
the word "marriage" again. By way of calming her, I said I would do my
best to win him over.
She asked where he was, and I said at Venice; but of course she did not
believe me. There are circumstances when a clever man deceives by
telling the truth, and such a lie as this must be approved by the most
Twenty-seven months later I met Bolini at Venice. I shall describe the
meeting in its proper place.
A few days after he had gone, I made the acquaintance of the fair
Viscioletta, and fell so ardently in love with her that I had to make up
my mind to buy her with hard cash. The time when I could make women fall
in love with me was no more, and I had to make up my mind either to do
without them or to buy them.
I cannot help laughing when people ask me for advice, as I feel so
certain that my advice will not be taken. Man is an animal that has to
learn his lesson by hard experience in battling with the storms of life.
Thus the world is always in disorder and always ignorant, for those who
know are always in an infinitesimal proportion to the whole.
Madame Viscioletta, whom I went to see every day, treated me as the
Florentine widow had done, though the widow required forms and ceremonies
which I could dispense with in the presence of the fair Viscioletta, who
was nothing else than a professional courtezan, though she called herself
I had besieged her for three weeks without any success, and when I made
any attempts she repulsed me laughingly.
Monsignor Buoncompagni, the vice-legate, was her lover in secret, though
all the town knew it, but this sort of conventional secrecy is common
enough in Italy. As as ecclesiastic he could not court her openly, but
the hussy made no mystery whatever of his visits.
Being in need of money, and preferring to get rid of my carriage than of
anything else, I announced it for sale at the price of three hundred and
fifty Roman crowns. It was a comfortable and handsome carriage, and was
well worth the price. I was told that the vice-legate offered three
hundred crowns, and I felt a real pleasure in contradicting my favoured
rival's desires. I told the man that I had stated my price and meant to
adhere to it, as I was not accustomed to bargaining.
I went to see my carriage at noon one day to make sure that it was in
good condition, and met the vice-legate who knew me from meeting me at
the legate's, and must have been aware that I was poaching on his
preserves. He told me rudely that the carriage was not worth more than
three hundred crowns, and that I ought to be glad of the opportunity of
getting rid of it, as it was much too good for me.
I had the strength of mind to despise his violence, and telling him dryly
that I did not chaffer I turned my back on him and went my way.
Next day the fair Viscioletta wrote me a note to the effect that she
would be very much obliged if I would let the vice-legate have the
carriage at his own price, as she felt sure he would give it to her. I
replied that I would call on her in the afternoon, and that my answer
would depend on my welcome, I went in due course, and after a lively
discussion, she gave way, and I signified my willingness to sell the
carriage for the sum offered by the vice-legate.
The next day she had her carriage, and I had my three hundred crowns, and
I let the proud prelate understand that I had avenged myself for his
About this time Severini succeeded in obtaining a position as tutor in an
illustrious Neapolitan family, and as soon as he received his journey-
money he left Bologna. I also had thoughts of leaving the town.
I had kept up an interesting correspondence with M. Zaguri, who had made
up his mind to obtain my recall in concert with Dandolo, who desired
nothing better. Zaguri told me that if I wanted to obtain my pardon I
must come and live as near as possible to the Venetian borders, so that
the State Inquisitors might satisfy themselves of my good conduct.
M. Zuliani, brother to the Duchess of Fiano, gave me the same advice, and
promised to use all his interest in my behalf.
With the idea of following this counsel I decided to set up my abode at
Trieste, where M. Zaguri told me he had an intimate friend to whom he
would give me a letter of introduction. As I could not go by land
without passing through the States of Venice I resolved to go to Ancona,
whence boats sail to Trieste every day. As I should pass through Pesaro
I asked my patron to give me a letter for the Marquis Mosca, a
distinguished man of letters whom I had long wished to know. Just then
he was a good deal talked about on account of a treatise on alms which he
had recently published, and which the Roman curia had placed on the
The marquis was a devotee as well as a man of learning, and was imbued
with the doctrine of St. Augustine, which becomes Jansenism if pushed to
an extreme point.
I was sorry to leave Bologna, for I had spent eight pleasant months
there. In two days I arrived at Pesaro in perfect health and well
provided for in every way.
I left my letter with the marquis, and he came to see me the same day.
He said his house would always be open to me, and that he would leave me
in his wife's hands to be introduced to everybody and everything in the
place. He ended by asking me to dine with him the following day, adding
that if I cared to examine his library he could give me an excellent cup
I went, and saw an enormours collection of comments on the Latin poets
from Ennius to the poets of the twelfth century of our era. He had had
them all printed at his own expense and at his private press, in four
tall folios, very accurately printed but without elegance. I told him my
opinion, and he agreed that I was right.
The want of elegance which had spared him an outlay of a hundred thousand
francs had deprived him of a profit of three hundred thousand.
He presented me with a copy, which he sent to my inn, with an immense
folio volume entitled "Marmora Pisaurentia," which I had no time to
I was much pleased with the marchioness, who had three daughters and two
sons, all good-looking and well bred.
The marchioness was a woman of the world, while her husband's interests
were confined to his books. This difference in disposition sometimes
gave rise to a slight element of discord, but a stranger would never have
noticed it if he had not been told.
Fifty years ago a wise man said to me: "Every family is troubled by some
small tragedy, which should be kept private with the greatest care. In
fine, people should learn to wash their dirty linen in private."
The marchioness paid me great attention during the five days I spent at
Pesaro. In the day she drove me from one country house to another, and
at night she introduced me to all the nobility of the town.
The marquis might have been fifty then. He was cold by temperament, had
no other passion but that of study, and his morals were pure. He had
founded an academy of which he was the president. Its design was a fly,
in allusion to his name Mosca, with the words 'de me ce', that is to say,
take away 'c' from 'musca' and you have 'musa'.
His only failing was that which the monks regard as his finest quality,
he was religious to excess, and this excess of religion went beyond the
bounds where 'nequit consistere rectum'.
But which is the better, to go beyond these bounds, or not to come up to
them? I cannot venture to decide the question. Horace says,--
"Nulla est mihi religio!"
and it is the beginning of an ode in which he condemns philosophy for
estranging him from religion.
Excess of every kind is bad.
I left Pesaro delighted with the good company I had met, and only sorry I
had not seen the marquis's brother who was praised by everyone.
A Jew Named Mardocheus Becomes My Travelling Companion--He Persuades Me
to Lodge in His House--I Fall in Love With His Daughter Leah--
After a Stay of Six Weeks I Go to Trieste
Some time elapsed before I had time to examine the Marquis of Mosca's
collection of Latin poets, amongst which the 'Priapeia' found no place.
No doubt this work bore witness to his love for literature but not to his
learning, for there was nothing of his own in it. All he had done was to
classify each fragment in chronological order. I should have liked to
see notes, comments, explanations, and such like; but there was nothing
of the kind. Besides, the type was not elegant, the margins were poor,
the paper common, and misprints not infrequent. All these are bad
faults, especially in a work which should have become a classic.
Consequently, the book was not a profitable one; and as the marquis was
not a rich man he was occasionally reproached by his wife for the money
he had expended.
I read his treatise on almsgiving and his apology for it, and understood
a good deal of the marquis's way of thinking. I could easily imagine
that his writings must have given great offence at Rome, and that with
sounder judgment he would have avoided this danger. Of course the
marquis was really in the right, but in theology one is only in the right
when Rome says yes.
The marquis was a rigorist, and though he had a tincture of Jansenism he
often differed from St. Augustine.
He denied, for instance, that almsgiving could annul the penalty attached
to sin, and according to him the only sort of almsgiving which had any
merit was that prescribed in the Gospel: "Let not thy right hand know
what thy left hand doeth."
He even maintained that he who gave alms sinned unless it was done with
the greatest secrecy, for alms given in public are sure to be accompanied
It might have been objected that the merit of alms lies in the intention
with which they are given. It is quite possible for a good man to slip a
piece of money into the palm of some miserable being standing in a public
place, and yet this may be done solely with the idea of relieving
distress without a thought of the onlookers.
As I wanted to go to Trieste, I might have crossed the gulf by a small
boat from Pesaro; a good wind was blowing, and I should have got to
Trieste in twelve hours. This was my proper way, for I had nothing to do
at Ancona, and it was a hundred miles longer; but I had said I would go
by Ancona, and I felt obliged to do so.
I had always a strong tincture of superstition, which has exercised
considerable influence on my strange career.
Like Socrates I, too, had a demon to whom I referred my doubtful
counsels, doing his will, and obeying blindly when I felt a voice within
me telling me to forbear.
A hundred times have I thus followed my genius, and occasionally I have
felt inclined to complain that it did not impel me to act against my
reason more frequently. Whenever I did so I found that impulse was right
and reason wrong, and for all that I have still continued reasoning.
When I arrived at Senegallia, at three stages from Ancona, my vetturino
asked me, just as I was going to bed, whether I would allow him to
accommodate a Jew who was going to Ancona in the chaise.
My first impulse made me answer sharply that I wanted no one in my
chaise, much less a Jew.
The vetturino went out, but a voice said within me, "You must take this'
poor Israelite;" and in spite of my repugnance I called back the man and
signified my assent.
"Then you must make up your mind to start at an earlier hour, for it is
Friday to-morrow, and you know the Jews are not allowed to travel after
"I shall not start a moment earlier than I intended, but you can make
your horses travel as quickly as you like."
He gave me no answer, and went out. The next morning I found my Jew, an
honest-looking fellow, in the carriage. The first thing he asked me was
why I did not like Jews.
"Because your religion teaches you to hate men of all other religions,
especially Christians, and you think you have done a meritorious action
when you have deceived us. You do not look upon us as brothers. You are
usurious, unmerciful, our enemies, and so I do not like you."
"You are mistaken, sir. Come with me to our synagogue this evening, and
you will hear us pray for all Christians, beginning with our Lord the
I could not help bursting into a roar of laughter.
"True," I replied, "but the prayer comes from the mouth only, and not
from the heart. If you do not immediately confess that the Jews would
not pray for the Christians if they were the masters, I will fling you
out of the chaise."
Of course I did not carry out this threat, but I completed his confusion
by quoting in Hebrew the passages in the Old Testament, where the Jews
are bidden to do all possible harm to the Gentiles, whom they were to
curse every day.
After this the poor man said no more. When we were going to take our
dinner I asked him to sit beside me, but he said his religion would not
allow him to do so, and that he would only eat eggs, fruit, and some
foiegras sausage he had in his pocket. He only drank water because he
was not sure that the wine was unadulterated.
"You stupid fellow," I exclaimed, "how can you ever be certain of the
purity of wine unless you have made it yourself?"
When we were on our way again he said that if I liked to come and stay
with him, and to content myself with such dishes as God had not
forbidden, he would make me more comfortable than if I went to the inn,
and at a cheaper rate.
"Then you let lodgings to Christians?"
"I don't let lodgings to anybody, but I will make an exception in your
case to disabuse you of some of your mistaken notions. I will only ask
you six pauls a day, and give you two good meals without wine."
"Then you must give me fish and wine, I paying for them as extras."
"Certainly; I have a Christian cook, and my wife pays a good deal of
attention to the cooking."
"You can give me the foie gras every day, if you will eat it with me."
"I know what you think, but you shall be satisfied."
I got down at the Jew's house, wondering at myself as I did so. However,
I knew that if I did not like my accommodation I could leave the next
His wife and children were waiting for him, and gave him a joyful welcome
in honour of the Sabbath. All servile work was forbidden on this day
holy to the Lord; and all over the house, and in the face of all the
family, I observed a kind of festal air.
I was welcomed like a brother, and I replied as best I could; but a word
from Mardocheus (so he was called) changed their politeness of feeling
into a politeness of interest.
Mardocheus shewed me two rooms for me to choose the one which suited me,
but liking them both I said I would take the two for another paul a day,
with which arrangement he was well enough pleased.
Mardocheus told his wife what we had settled, and she instructed the
Christian servant to cook my supper for me.
I had my effects taken upstairs, and then went with Mardocheus to the
During the short service the Jews paid no attention to me or to several
other Christians who were present. The Jews go to the synagogue to pray,
and in this respect I think their conduct worthy of imitation by the
On leaving the synagogue I went by myself to the Exchange, thinking over
the happy time which would never return.
It was in Ancona that I had begun to enjoy life; and when I thought it
over, it was quite a shock to find that this was thirty years ago, for
thirty years is a long period in a man's life. And yet I felt quite
happy, in spite of the tenth lustrum so near at hand for me.
What a difference I found between my youth and my middle age! I could
scarcely recognize myself. I was then happy, but now unhappy; then all
the world was before me, and the future seemed a gorgeous dream, and now
I was obliged to confess that my life had been all in vain. I might live
twenty years more, but I felt that the happy time was passed away, and
the future seemed all dreary.
I reckoned up my forty-seven years, and saw fortune fly away. This in
itself was enough to sadden me, for without the favours of the fickle
goddess life was not worth living, for me at all events.
My object, then, was to return to my country; it was as if I struggled to
undo all that I had done. All I could hope for was to soften the
hardships of the slow but certain passage to the grave.
These are the thoughts of declining years and not of youth. The young
man looks only to the present, believes that the sky will always smile
upon him, and laughs at philosophy as it vainly preaches of old age,
misery, repentance, and, worst of all, abhorred death.
Such were my thoughts twenty-six years ago; what must they be now, when I
am all alone, poor, despised, and impotent. They would kill me if I did
not resolutely subdue them, for whether for good or ill my heart is still
young. Of what use are desires when one can no longer satisfy them? I
write to kill ennui, and I take a pleasure in writing. Whether I write
sense or nonsense, what matters? I am amused, and that is enough.
'Malo scriptor delirus, inersque videri,
Dum mea delectent mala me vel denique fallunt,
When I came back I found Mardocheus at supper with his numerous family,
composed of eleven or twelve individuals, and including his mother--an
old woman of ninety, who looked very well. I noticed another Jew of
middle age; he was the husband of his eldest daughter, who did not strike
me as pretty; but the younger daughter, who was destined for a Jew of
Pesaro, whom she had never seen, engaged all my attention. I remarked to
her that if she had not seen her future husband she could not be in love
with him, whereupon she replied in a serious voice that it was not
necessary to be in love before one married. The old woman praised the
girl for this sentiment, and said she had not been in love with her
husband till the first child was born.
I shall call the pretty Jewess Leah, as I have good reasons for not using
her real name.
While they were enjoying their meal I sat down beside her and tried to
make myself as agreeable as possible, but she would not even look at me.
My supper was excellent, and my bed very comfortable.
The next day my landlord told me that I could give my linen to the maid,
and that Leah could get it up for me.
I told him I had relished my supper, but that I should like the foie gras
every day as I had a dispensation.
"You shall have some to-morrow, but Leah is the only one of us who eats
"Then Leah must take it with me, and you can tell her that I shall give
her some Cyprus wine which is perfectly pure."
I had no wine, but I went for it the same morning to the Venetian consul,
giving him M. Dandolo's letter.
The consul was a Venetian of the old leaven. He had heard my name, and
seemed delighted to make my acquaintance. He was a kind of clown without
the paint, fond of a joke, a regular gourmand, and a man of great
experience. He sold me some Scopolo and old Cyprus Muscat, but he began
to exclaim when he heard where I was lodging, and how I had come there.
"He is rich," he said, "but he is also a great usurer, and if you borrow
money of him he will make you repent it."
After informing the consul that I should not leave till the end of the
month, I went home to dinner, which proved excellent.
The next day I gave out my linen to the maid, and Leah came to ask me how
I liked my lace got up.
If Leah had examined me more closely she would have seen that the sight
of her magnificent breast, unprotected by any kerchief, had had a
remarkable effect on me.
I told her that I left it all to her, and that she could do what she
liked with the linen.
"Then it will all come under my hands if you are in no hurry to go."
"You can make me stay as long as you like," said I; but she seemed not to
hear this declaration.
"Everything is quite right," I continued, "except the chocolate; I like
it well frothed."
"Then I will make it for you myself."
"Then I will give out a double quantity, and we will take it together."
"I don't like chocolate."
"I am sorry to hear that; but you like foie gras?"
"Yes, I do; and from what father tells me I am going to take some with
"I shall be delighted."
"I suppose you are afraid of being poisoned?"
"Not at all; I only wish we could die together."
She pretended not to understand, and left me burning with desire. I felt
that I must either obtain possession of her or tell her father not to
send her into my room any more.
The Turin Jewess had given me some valuable hints as to the conduct of
amours with Jewish girls.
My theory was that Leah would be more easily won than she, for at Ancona
there was much more liberty than at Turin.
This was a rake's reasoning, but even rakes are mistaken sometimes.
The dinner that was served to me was very good, though cooked in the
Jewish style, and Leah brought in the foie gras and sat down opposite to
me with a muslin kerchief over her breast.
The foie gras was excellent, and we washed it down with copious libations
of Scopolo, which Leah found very much to her taste.
When the foie gras was finished she got up, but I stopped her, for the
dinner was only half over.
"I will stay then," said she, "but I am afraid my father will object."
"Very good. Call your master," I said to the maid who came in at that
moment, "I have a word to speak to him."
"My dear Mardocheus," I said when he came, "your daughter's appetite
doubles mine, and I shall be much obliged if you will allow her to keep
me company whenever we have foie gras."
"It isn't to my profit to double your appetite, but if you like to pay
double I shall have no objection."
"Very good, that arrangement will suit me."
In evidence of my satisfaction I gave him a bottle of Scopolo, which Leah
We dined together, and seeing that the wine was making her mirthful I
told her that her eyes were inflaming me and that she must let me kiss
"My duty obliges me to say nay. No kissing and no touching; we have only
got to eat and drink together, and I shall like it as much as you."
"You are cruel."
"I am wholly dependent on my father."
"Shall I ask your father to give you leave to be kind?"
"I don't think that would be proper, and my father might be offended and
not allow me to see you any more."
"And supposing he told you not to be scrupulous about trifles?"
"Then I should despise him and continue to do my duty."
So clear a declaration shewed me that if I persevered in this intrigue I
might go on for ever without success. I also bethought me that I ran a
risk of neglecting my chief business, which would not allow me to stay
long in Ancona.
I said nothing more to Leah just then, and when the dessert came in I
gave her some Cyprus wine, which she declared was the most delicious
nectar she had ever tasted.
I saw that the wine was heating her, and it seemed incredible to me that
Bacchus should reign without Venus; but she had a hard head, her blood
was hot and her brain cool.
However, I tried to seize her hand and kiss it, but she drew it away,
"It's too much for honour and too little for love."
This witty remark amused me, and it also let me know that she was not
exactly a neophyte.
I determined to postpone matters till the next day, and told her not to
get me any supper as I was supping with the Venetian consul.
The consul had told me that he did not dine, but that he would always be
delighted to see me at supper.
It was midnight when I came home, and everyone was asleep except the maid
who let me in. I gave her such a gratuity that she must have wished me
to keep late hours for the rest of my stay.
I proceeded to sound her about Leah, but she told me nothing but good.
If she was to be believed, Leah was a good girl, always at work, loved by
all, and fancy free. The maid could not have praised her better if she
had been paid to do so.
In the morning Leah brought the chocolate and sat down on my bed, saying
that we should have some fine foie gras, and that she should have all the
better appetite for dinner as she had not taken any supper.
"Why didn't you take any supper?"
"I suppose it was because of your excellent Cyprus wine, to which my
father has taken a great liking."
"Ah! he like it? We will give him some."
Leah was in a state of undress as before, and the sight of her half-
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