Florence to Trieste, Casanova, v29
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 2 out of 3
covered spheres drove me to distraction.
"Are you not aware that you have a beautiful breast?" said I.
"I thought all young girls were just the same."
"Have you no suspicion that the sight is a very pleasant one for me?"
"If that be so, I am very glad, for I have nothing to be ashamed of, for
a girl has no call to hide her throat any more than her face, unless she
is in grand company."
As she was speaking, Leah looked at a golden heart transfixed with an
arrow and set with small diamonds which served me as a shirt stud.
"Do you like the little heart?" said I.
"Very much. Is it pure gold?"
"Certainly, and that being so I think I may offer it to you."
So saying I took it off, but she thanked me politely, and said that a
girl who gave nothing must take nothing.
"Take it; I will never ask any favour of you."
"But I should be indebted to you, and that's the reason why I never take
I saw that there was nothing to be done, or rather that it would be
necessary to do too much to do anything, and that in any case the best
plan would be to give her up.
I put aside all thoughts of violence, which would only anger her or make
her laugh at me. I should either have been degraded, or rendered more
amorous, and all for nothing. If she had taken offense she would not
have come to see me any more, and I should have had nought to complain
of. In fine I made up my mind to restrain myself, and indulge no more in
We dined very pleasantly together. The servant brought in some shell-
fish, which are forbidden by the Mosaic Law. While the maid was in the
room I asked Leah to take some, and she refused indignantly; but directly
the girl was gone she took some of her own accord and ate them eagerly,
assuring me that it was the first time she had had the pleasure of
"This girl," I said to myself, "who breaks the law of her religion with
such levity, who likes pleasure and does not conceal it, this is the girl
who wants to make me believe that she is insensible to the pleasures of
love; that's impossible, though she may not love me. She must have some
secret means of satisfying her passions, which in my opinion are very
violent. We will see what can be done this evening with the help of a
bottle of good Muscat."
However, when the evening came, she said she could not drink or eat
anything, as a meal always prevented her sleeping.
The next day she brought me my chocolate, but her beautiful breast was
covered with a white kerchief. She sat down on the bed as usual, and I
observed in a melancholy manner that she had only covered her breast
because I had said I took a pleasure in seeing it.
She replied that she had not thought of anything, and had only put on her
kerchief because she had had no time to fasten her stays.
"You are whole right," I said, smilingly, "for if I were to see the whole
breast I might not think it beautiful."
She gave no answer, and I finished my chocolate.
I recollected my collection of obscene pictures, and I begged Leah to
give me the box, telling her that I would shew her some of the most
beautiful breasts in the world.
"I shan't care to see them," said she; but she gave me the box, and sat
down on my bed as before.
I took out a picture of a naked woman lying on her back and abusing
herself, and covering up the lower part of it I shewed it to Leah.
"But her breast is like any other," said Leah.
"Take away your handkerchief."
"Take it back; it's disgusting. It's well enough done," she added, with
a burst of laughter, "but it's no novelty for me."
"No novelty for you?"
"Of course not; every girl does like that before she gets married."
"Then you do it, too?"
"Whenever I want to."
"Do it now."
"A well-bred girl always does it in private."
"And what do you do after?"
"If I am in bed I go to sleep."
"My dear Leah, your sincerity is too much for me. Either be kind or
visit me no more."
"You are very weak, I think."
"Yes, because I am strong."
"Then henceforth we shall only meet at dinner. But chew me some more
"I have some pictures which you will not like."
"Let me see them."
I gave her Arentin's figures, and was astonished to see how coolly she
examined them, passing from one to the other in the most commonplace way.
"Do you think them interesting?" I said.
"Yes, very; they are so natural. But a good girl should not look at such
pictures; anyone must be aware that these voluptuous attitudes excite
"I believe you, Leah, and I feel it as much as you. Look here!"
She smiled and took the book away to the window, turning her back towards
me without taking any notice of my appeal.
I had to cool down and dress myself, and when the hairdresser arrived
Leah went away, saying she would return me my book at dinner.
I was delighted, thinking I was sure of victory either that day or the
next, but I was out of my reckoning.
We dined well and drank better. At dessert Leah took the book out of her
pocket and set me all on fire by asking me to explain some of the
pictures but forbidding all practical demonstration.
I went out impatiently, determined to wait till next morning.
When the cruel Jewess came in the morning she told me that she wanted
explanations, but that I must use the pictures and nothing more as a
demonstration of my remarks.
"Certainly," I replied, "but you must answer all my questions as to your
"I promise to do so, if they arise naturally from the pictures."
The lesson lasted two hours, and a hundred times did I curse Aretin and
my folly in shewing her his designs, for whenever I made the slightest
attempt the pitiless woman threatened to leave me. But the information
she gave me about her own sex was a perfect torment to me. She told me
the most lascivious details, and explained with the utmost minuteness the
different external and internal movements which would be developed in the
copulations pictured by Aretin. I thought it quite impossible that she
could be reasoning from theory alone. She was not troubled by the
slightest tincture of modesty, but philosophized on coition as coolly and
much more learnedly than Hedvig. I would willingly have given her all I
possessed to crown her science by the performance of the great work. She
swore it was all pure theory with her, and I thought she must be speaking
the truth when she said she wanted to get married to see if her notions
were right or wrong. She looked pensive when I told her that the husband
destined for her might be unable to discharge his connubial duties more
than once a week.
"Do you mean to say," said she, "that one man is not as good as another?"
"How do you mean?"
"Are not all men able to make love every day, and every hour, just as
they eat, drink and sleep every day?"
"No, dear Leah, they that can make love every day are very scarce."
In my state of chronic irritation I felt much annoyed that there was no
decent place at Ancona where a man might appease his passions for his
money. I trembled to think that I was in danger of falling really in
love with Leah, and I told the consul every day that I was in no hurry to
go. I was as foolish as a boy in his calf-love. I pictured Leah as the
purest of women, for with strong passions she refused to gratify them.
I saw in her a model of virtue; she was all self-restraint and purity,
resisting temptation in spite of the fire that consumed her.
Before long the reader will discover how very virtuous Leah was.
After nine or ten days I had recourse to violence, not in deeds but in
words. She confessed I was in the right, and said my best plan would be
to forbid her to come and see me in the morning. At dinner, according to
her, there would be no risk.
I made up my mind to ask her to continue her visits, but to cover her
breast and avoid all amorous conversation.
"With all my heart," she replied, laughing; "but be sure I shall not be
the first to break the conditions."
I felt no inclination to break them either, for three days later I felt
weary of the situation, and told the consul I would start on the first
opportunity. My passion for Leah was spoiling my appetite, and I thus
saw myself deprived of my secondary pleasure without any prospect of
gaining my primary enjoyment.
After what I had said to the consul I felt I should be bound to go, and I
went to bed calmly enough. But about two o'clock in the morning I had,
contrary to my usual habit, to get up and offer sacrifice to Cloacina. I
left my room without any candle, as I knew my way well enough about the
The temple of the goddess was on the ground floor, but as I had put on my
soft slippers, and walked very softly, my footsteps did not make the
On my way upstairs I saw a light shining through a chink in the door of a
room which I knew to be unoccupied. I crept softly up, not dreaming for
a moment that Leah could be there at such an hour. But on putting my eye
to the chink I found I could see a bed, and on it were Leah and a young
man, both stark naked, and occupied in working out Aretin's postures to
the best of their ability. They were whispering to one another, and
every four or five minutes I had the pleasure of seeing a new posture.
These changes of position gave me a view of all the beauties of Leah, and
this pleasure was something to set against my rage in having taken such a
profligate creature for a virtuous woman.
Every time they approached the completion of the great work they stopped
short, and completed what they were doing with their hands.
When they were doing the Straight Tree, to my mind the most lascivious of
them all, Leah behaved like a true Lesbian; for while the young man
excited her amorous fury she got hold of his instrument and took it
between her lips till the work was complete. I could not doubt that she
had swallowed the vital fluid of my fortunate rival.
The Adonis then shewed her the feeble instrument, and Leah seemed to
regret what she had done. Before long she began to excite him again; but
the fellow looked at his watch, pushed her away, and began to put on his
Leah seemed angry, and I could see that she reproached him for some time
before she began to dress.
When they were nearly clothed I softly returned to my room and looked out
of a window commanding the house-door. I had not to wait long before I
saw the fortunate lover going out.
I went to bed indignant with Leah; I felt myself degraded. She was no
longer virtuous, but a villainous prostitute in my eyes; and I fell to
sleep with the firm resolve of driving her from my room the next morning,
after shaming her with the story of the scene I had witnessed. But,
alas, hasty and angry resolves can seldom withstand a few hours' sleep.
As soon as I saw Leah coming in with my chocolate, smiling and gay as
usual, I told her quite coolly all the exploits I had seen her executing,
laying particular stress on the Straight Tree, and the curious liquid she
had swallowed. I ended by saying that I hoped she would give me the next
night, both to crown my love and insure my secrecy.
She answered with perfect calm that I had nothing to expect from her as
she did not love me, and as for keeping the secret she defied me to
"I am sure you would not be guilty of such a disgraceful action," said
With these words she turned her back on me and went out.
I could not help confessing to myself that she was in the right; I could
not bring myself to commit such a baseness. She had made me reasonable
in a few words:
"I don't love you." There was no reply to this, and I felt I had no
claim on her.
Rather it was she who might complain of me; what right had I to spy over
her? I could not accuse her of deceiving me; she was free to do what she
liked with herself. My best course was clearly to be silent.
I dressed myself hastily, and went to the Exchange, where I heard that a
vessel was sailing for Fiume the same day.
Fiume is just opposite Ancona on the other side of the gulf. From Fiume
to Trieste the distance is forty miles, and I decided to go by that
I went aboard the ship and took the best place, said good-bye to the
consul, paid Mardocheus, and packed my trunks.
Leah heard that I was going the same day, and came and told me that she
could not give me back my lace and my silk stockings that day, but that I
could have them by the next day.
"Your father," I replied coolly, "will hand them all over to the Venetian
consul, who will send them to me at Trieste."
Just as I was sitting down to dinner, the captain of the boat came for my
luggage with a sailor. I told him he could have my trunk, and that I
would bring the rest aboard whenever he liked to go.
"I intend setting out an hour before dusk."
"I shall be ready."
When Mardocheus heard where I was going he begged me to take charge of a
small box and a letter he wanted to send to a friend.
"I shall be delighted to do you this small service."
At dinner Leah sat down with me and chattered as usual, without troubling
herself about my monosyllabic answers.
I supposed she wished me to credit her with calm confidence and
philosophy, while I looked upon it all as brazen impudence.
I hated and despised her. She had inflamed my passions, told me to my
face she did not love me, and seemed to claim my respect through it all.
Possibly she expected me to be grateful for her remark that she believed
me incapable of betraying her to her father.
As she drank my Scopolo she said there were several bottles left, as well
as some Muscat.
"I make you a present of it all," I replied, "it will prime you up for
your nocturnal orgies."
She smiled and said I had had a gratuitous sight of a spectacle which was
worth money, and that if I were not going so suddenly she would gladly
have given me another opportunity.
This piece of impudence made me want to break the wine bottle on her
head. She must have known what I was going to do from the way I took it
up, but she did not waver for a moment. This coolness of hers prevented
my committing a crime.
I contented myself with saying that she was the most impudent slut I had
ever met, and I poured the wine into my glass with a shaking hand, as if
that were the purpose for which I had taken up the bottle.
After this scene I got up and went into the next room; nevertheless, in
half an hour she came to take coffee with me.
This persistence of hers disgusted me, but I calmed myself by the
reflection that her conduct must be dictated by vengeance.
"I should like to help you to pack," said she.
"And I should like to be left alone," I replied; and taking her by the
arm I led her out of the room and locked the door after her.
We were both of us in the right. Leah had deceived and humiliated me,
and I had reason to detest her, while I had discovered her for a monster
of hypocrisy and immodesty, and this was good cause for her to dislike
Towards evening two sailors came after the rest of the luggage, and
thanking my hostess I told Leah to put up my linen, and to give it to her
father, who had taken the box of which I was to be the bearer down to the
We set sail with a fair wind, and I thought never to set face on Leah
again. But fate had ordered otherwise.
We had gone twenty miles with a good wind in our quarter, by which we
were borne gently from wave to wave, when all of a sudden there fell a
These rapid changes are common enough in the Adriatic, especially in the
part we were in.
The calm lasted but a short time, and a stiff wind from the west-north-
west began to blow, with the result that the sea became very rough, and I
was very ill.
At midnight the storm had become dangerous. The captain told me that if
we persisted in going in the wind's eye we should be wrecked, and that
the only thing to be done was to return to Ancona.
In less than three hours we made the harbour, and the officer of the
guard having recognized me kindly allowed me to land.
While I was talking to the officer the sailors took my trunks, and
carried them to my old lodgings without waiting to ask my leave.
I was vexed. I wanted to avoid Leah, and I had intended to sleep at the
nearest inn. However, there was no help for it. When I arrived the Jew
got up, and said he was delighted to see me again.
It was past three o'clock in the morning, and I felt very ill, so I said
I would not get up till late, and that I would dine in my bed without any
foie gras. I slept ten hours, and when I awoke I felt hungry and rang my
The maid answered and said that she would have the honour of waiting on
me, as Leah had a violent headache.
I made no answer, thanking Providence for delivering me from this
impudent and dangerous woman.
Having found my dinner rather spare I told the cook to get me a good
The weather was dreadful. The Venetian consul had heard of my return,
and not having seen me concluded I was ill, and paid me a two hours'
visit. He assured me the storm would last for a week at least. I was
very sorry to hear it; in the first place, because I did not want to see
any more of Leah, and in the second, because I had not got any money.
Luckily I had got valuable effects, so this second consideration did not
trouble me much.
As I did not see Leah at supper-time I imagined that she was feigning
illness to avoid meeting me, and I felt very much obliged to her on this
account. As it appeared, however, I was entirely mistaken in my
The next day she came to ask for chocolate in her usual way, but she no
longer bore upon her features her old tranquillity of expression.
"I will take coffee, mademoiselle," I observed; "and as I do not want
foie gras any longer, I will take dinner by myself. Consequently, you
may tell your father that I shall only pay seven pauls a day. In future
I shall only drink Orvieto wine."
"You have still four bottles of Scopolo and Cyprus"
"I never take back a present; the wine belongs to you. I shall be
obliged by your leaving me alone as much as possible, as your conduct is
enough to irritate Socrates, and I am not Socrates. Besides, the very
sight of you is disagreeable to me. Your body may be beautiful, but
knowing that the soul within is a monster it charms me no longer. You
may be very sure that the sailors brought my luggage here without my
orders, or else you would never have seen me here again, where I dread
being poisoned every day."
Leah went out without giving me any answer, and I felt certain that after
my plain-spoken discourse she would take care not to trouble me again.
Experience had taught me that girls like Leah are not uncommon. I had
known specimens at Spa, Genoa, London, and at Venice, but this Jewess was
the worst I had ever met.
It was Saturday. When Mardocheus came back from the synagogue he asked
me gaily why I had mortified his daughter, as she had declared she had
done nothing to offend me.
"I have not mortified her, my dear Mardocheus, or at all events, such was
not my intention; but as I have put myself on diet, I shall be eating no
more foie gras, and consequently I shall dine by myself, and save three
pauls a day."
"Leah is quite ready to pay me out of her private purse, and she wants to
dine with you to assure you against being poisoned, as she informs me
that you have expressed that fear."
"That was only a jest; I am perfectly aware that I am in the house of an
honest man. I don't want your daughter to pay for herself, and to prove
that I am not actuated by feelings of economy, you shall dine with me
too. To offer to pay for me is an impertinence on her part. In fine, I
will either dine by myself and pay you seven pawls a day, or I will pay
you thirteen, and have both father and daughter to dine with me."
The worthy Mardocheus went away, saying that he really could not allow me
to dine by myself.
At dinner-time I talked only to Mardocheus, without glancing at Leah or
paying any attention to the witty sallies she uttered to attract me. I
only drank Orvieto.
At dessert Leah filled my glass with Scopolo, saying that if I did not
drink it neither would she.
I replied, without looking at her, that I advised her only to drink water
for the future, and that I wanted nothing at her hands.
Mardocheus, who liked wine, laughed and said I was right, and drank for
The weather continued bad, and I spent the rest of the day in writing,
and after supper I retired and went to sleep.
Suddenly I was aroused by a slight noise.
"Who is there?" said I.
I heard Leah's voice, whispering in reply,
"'Tis I; I have not come to disturb you, but to justify myself."
So saying she lay down on the bed, but on the outside of the coverlet.
I was pleased with this extraordinary visit, for my sole desire was for
vengeance, and I felt certain of being able to resist all her arts. I
therefore told her politely enough that I considered her as already
justified and that I should be obliged by her leaving me as I wanted to
go to sleep.
"Not before you have heard what I have to say."
"Go on; I am listening to you."
Thereupon she began a discourse which I did not interrupt, and which
lasted for a good hour.
She spoke very artfully, and after confessing she had done wrong she said
that at my age I should have been ready to overlook the follies of a
young and passionate girl. According to her it was all weakness, and
pardonable at such an age.
"I swear I love you," said she, "and I would have given you good proof
before now if I had not been so unfortunate as to love the young
Christian you saw with me, while he does not care for me in the least;
indeed I have to pay him.
"In spite of my passion," she continued, "I have never given him what a
girl can give but once. I had not seen him for six months, and it was
your fault that I sent for him, for you inflamed me with your pictures
and strong wines."
The end of it all was that I ought to forget everything, and treat her
kindly during the few days I was to remain there.
When she finished I did not allow myself to make any objection. I
pretended to be convinced, assuring her that I felt I had been in the
wrong in letting her see Aretin's figures, and that I would no longer
evince any resentment towards her.
As her explanation did not seem likely to end in the way she wished, she
went on talking about the weakness of the flesh, the strength of self-
love which often hushes the voice of passion, etc., etc.; her aim being
to persuade me that she loved me, and that her refusals had all been
given with the idea of making my love the stronger.
No doubt I might have given her a great many answers, but I said nothing.
I made up my mind to await the assault that I saw was impending, and then
by refusing all her advances I reckoned on abasing her to the uttermost.
Nevertheless, she made no motion; her hands were at rest, and she kept
her face at a due distance from mine.
At last, tired out with the struggle, she left me pretending to be
perfectly satisfied with what she had done.
As soon as she had gone, I congratulated myself on the fact that she had
confined herself to verbal persuasion; for if she had gone further she
would probably have achieved a complete victory, though we were in the
I must mention that before she left me I had to promise to allow her to
make my chocolate as usual.
Early the next morning she came for the stick of chocolate. She was in a
complete state of negligee, and came in on tiptoe, though if she chose to
look towards the bed she might have seen that I was wide awake.
I marked her artifices and her cunning, and resolved to be equal to all
her wiles. When she brought the chocolate I noticed that there were two
cups on the tray, and I said,--
"Then it is not true that you don't like chocolate?"
"I feel obliged to relieve you of all fear of being poisoned."
I noticed that she was now dressed with the utmost decency, while half an
hour before she had only her chemise and petticoat her neck being
perfectly bare. The more resolved she seemed to gain the victory, the
more firmly I was determined to humiliate her, as it appeared to me the
only other alternative would have been my shame and dishonour; and this
turned me to stone.
In spite of my resolves, Leah renewed the attack at dinner, for, contrary
to my orders, she served a magnificent foie gras, telling me that it was
for herself, and that if she were poisoned she would die of pleasure;
Mardocheus said he should like to die too, and began regaling himself on
it with evident relish.
I could not help laughing, and announced my wish to taste the deadly
food, and so we all of us were eating it.
"Your resolves are not strong enough to withstand seduction," said Leah.
This remark piqued me, and I answered that she was imprudent to disclose
her designs in such a manner, and that she would find my resolves strong
enough when the time came.
A faint smile played about her lips.
"Try if you like," I said, "to persuade me to drink some Scopolo or
Muscat. I meant to have taken some, but your taunt has turned me to
steel. I mean to prove that when I make up my mind I never alter it."
"The strong-minded man never gives way," said Leah, "but the good-hearted
man often lets himself be overpersuaded."
"Quite so, and the good-hearted girl refrains from taunting a man for his
weakness for her."
I called the maid and told her to go to the Venetian consul's and get me
some more Scopolo and Muscat. Leah piqued me once more by saying
"I am sure you are the most good-hearted of men as well as the firmest."
Mardocheus, who could not make out what we meant, ate, drank, and
laughed, and seemed pleased with everything.
In the afternoon I went out to a cafe in spite of the dreadful weather.
I thought over Leah and her designs, feeling certain that she would pay
me another nocturnal visit and renew the assault in force. I resolved to
weaken myself with some common woman, if I could find one at all
A Greek who had taken me to a disgusting place a few days before,
conducted me to another where he introduced me to a painted horror of a
woman from whose very sight I fled in terror.
I felt angry that in a town like Ancona a man of some delicacy could not
get his money's worth for his money, and went home, supped by myself, and
locked the door after me.
The precaution, however, was useless.
A few minutes after I had shut the door, Leah knocked on the pretext that
I had forgotten to give her the chocolate.
I opened the door and gave it her, and she begged me not to lock myself
in, as she wanted to have an important and final interview.
"You can tell me now what you want to say."
"No, it will take some time, and I should not like to come till everyone
is asleep. You have nothing to be afraid of; you are lord of yourself.
You can go to bed in peace."
"I have certainly nothing to be afraid of, and to prove it to you I will
leave the door open."
I felt more than ever certain of victory, and resolved not to blow out
the candles, as my doing so might be interpreted into a confession of
fear. Besides, the light would render my triumph and her humiliation
more complete. With these thoughts I went to bed.
At eleven o'clock a slight noise told me that my hour had come. I saw
Leah enter my room in her chemise and a light petticoat. She locked my
door softly, and when I cried, "Well; what do you want with me?" she let
her chemise and petticoat drop, and lay down beside me in a state of
I was too much astonished to repulse her.
Leah was sure of victory, and without a word she threw herself upon me,
pressing her lips to mine, and depriving me of all my faculties except
I utilised a short moment of reflection by concluding that I was a
presumtuous fool, and that Leah was a woman with a most extensive
knowledge of human nature.
In a second my caress became as ardent as hers, and after kissing her
spheres of rose and alabaster I penetrated to the sanctuary of love,
which, much to my astonishment, I found to be a virgin citadel.
There was a short silence, and then I said,--
"Dearest Leah, you oblige me to adore you; why did you first inspire me
with hate? Are you not come here merely to humiliate me, to obtain an
empty victory? If so, I forgive you; but you are in the wrong, for,
believe me, enjoyment is sweeter far than vengeance."
"Nay, I have not come to achieve a shameful victory, but to give myself
to you without reserve, to render you my conqueror and my king. Prove
your love by making me happy, break down the barrier which I kept intact,
despite its fragility and my ardour, and if this sacrifice does not
convince you of my affection you must be the worst of men."
I had never heard more energetic opinions, and I had never seen a more
voluptuous sight. I began the work, and while Leah aided me to the best
of her ability, I forced the gate, and on Leah's face I read the most
acute pain and pleasure mingled. In the first ecstasy of delight I felt
her tremble in every limb.
As for me, my enjoyment was quite new; I was twenty again, but I had the
self-restraint of my age, and treated Leah with delicacy, holding her in
my arms till three o'clock in the morning. When I left her she was
inundated and exhausted with pleasure, while I could do no more.
She left me full of gratitude, carrying the soaking linen away with her.
I slept on till twelve o'clock.
When I awoke and saw her standing by my bedside with the gentle love of
the day after the wedding, the idea of my approaching departure saddened
me. I told her so, and she begged me to stay on as long as I could. I
repeated that we would arrange everything when we met again at night.
We had a delicious dinner, for Mardocheus was bent on convincing me that
he was no miser.
I spent the afternoon with the consul, and arranged that I should go on a
Neapolitan man-of-war which was in quarantine at the time, and was to
sail for Trieste.
As I should be obliged to pass another month at Ancona, I blessed the
storm that had driven me back.
I gave the consul the gold snuff-box with which the Elector of Cologne
had presented me, keeping the portrait as a memento. Three days later he
handed me forty gold sequins, which was ample for my needs.
My stay in Ancona was costing me dear; but when I told Mardocheus that I
should not be going for another month he declared he would no longer feed
at my expense. Of course I did not insist. Leah still dined with me.
It has always been my opinion, though perhaps I may be mistaken, that the
Jew was perfectly well aware of my relations with his daughter. Jews are
usually very liberal on this article, possibly because they count on the
child being an Israelite.
I took care that my dear Leah should have no reason to repent of our
connection. How grateful and affectionate she was when I told her that I
meant to stay another month! How she blessed the bad weather which had
driven me back. We slept together every night, not excepting those
nights forbidden by the laws of Moses.
I gave her the little gold heart, which might be worth ten sequins, but
that would be no reward for the care she had taken of my linen. She also
made me accept some splendid Indian handkerchiefs. Six years later I met
her again at Pesaro.
I left Ancona on November 14th, and on the 15th I was at Trieste.
Pittoni--Zaguri--The Procurator Morosini--The Venetian Consul--Gorice--
The French Consul--Madame Leo--My Devotion to The State Inquisitors--
Strasoldo--Madame Cragnoline--General Burghausen
The landlord asked me my name, we made our agreement, and I found myself
very comfortably lodged. Next day I went to the post-office and found
several letters which had been awaiting me for the last month. I opened
one from M. Dandolo, and found an open enclosure from the patrician Marco
Dona, addressed to Baron Pittoni, Chief of Police. On reading it, I
found I was very warmly commended to the baron. I hastened to call on
him, and gave him the letter, which he took but did not read. He told me
that M. Donna had written to him about me, and that he would be delighted
to do anything in his power for me.
I then took Mardocheus's letter to his friend Moses Levi. I had not the
slightest idea that the letter had any reference to myself, so I gave it
to the first clerk that I saw in the office.
Levi was an honest and an agreeable man, and the next day he called on me
and offered me his services in the most cordial manner. He shewed me the
letter I had delivered, and I was delighted to find that it referred to
myself. The worthy Mardocheus begged him to give me a hundred sequins in
case I needed any money, adding that any politeness shewn to me would be
as if shewn to himself.
This behaviour on the part of Mardocheus filled me with gratitude, and
reconciled me, so to speak, with the whole Jewish nation. I wrote him a
letter of thanks, offering to serve him at Venice in any way I could.
I could not help comparing the cordiality of Levi's welcome with the
formal and ceremonious reception of Baron Pittoni. The baron was ten or
twelve years younger than I. He was a man of parts, and quite devoid of
prejudice. A sworn foe of 'meum and tuum', and wholly incapable of
economy, he left the whole care of his house to his valet, who robbed
him, but the baron knew it and made no objection. He was a determined
bachelor, a gallant, and the friend and patron of libertines. His chief
defect was his forgetfulness and absence of mind, which made him
mismanage important business.
He was reputed, though wrongly, to be a liar. A liar is a person who
tells falsehoods intentionally, while if Pittoni told lies it was because
he had forgotten the truth. We became good friends in the course of a
month, and we have remained friends to this day.
I wrote to my friends at Venice, announcing my arrival at Trieste, and
for the next ten days I kept my room, busied in putting together the
notes I had made on Polish events since the death of Elizabeth Petrovna.
I meant to write a history of the troubles of unhappy Poland up to its
dismemberment, which was taking place at the epoch in which I was
I had foreseen all this when the Polish Diet recognized the dying czarina
as Empress of all the Russians, and the Elector of Brandenburg as King of
Prussia, and I proceeded with my history; but only the first three
volumes were published, owing to the printers breaking the agreement.
The four last volumes will be found in manuscript after my death, and
anyone who likes may publish them. But I have become indifferent to all
this as to many other matters since I have seen Folly crowned king of the
To-day there is no such country as Poland, but it might still be in
existence if it had not been for the ambition of the Czartoryski family,
whose pride had been humiliated by Count Bruhl, the prime minister. To
gain vengeance Prince Augustus Czartoryski ruined his country. He was so
blinded by passion that he forgot that all actions have their inevitable
Czartoryski had determined not only to exclude the House of Saxony from
the succession, but to dethrone the member of that family who was
reigning. To do this the help of the Czarina and of the Elector of
Brandenburg was necessary, so he made the Polish Diet acknowledge the one
as Empress of all the Russians, and the other as King of Prussia. The
two sovereigns would not treat with the Polish Commonwealth till this
claim had been satisfied; but the Commonwealth should never have granted
these titles, for Poland itself possessed most of the Russias, and was
the true sovereign of Prussia, the Elector of Brandenburg being only Duke
of Prussia in reality.
Prince Czartoryski, blinded by the desire of vengeance, persuaded the
Diet that to give the two sovereigns these titles would be merely a form,
and that they would never become anything more than honorary. This might
be so, but if Poland had possessed far-seeing statesmen they would have
guessed that an honorary title would end in the usurpation of the whole
The Russian palatin had the pleasure of seeing his nephew Stanislas
Poniatowski on the throne.
I myself told him that these titles gave a right, and that the promise
not to make any use of them was a mere delusion. I added jokingly--for
I was obliged to adopt a humorous tone--that before long Europe would
take pity on Poland, which had to bear the heavy weight of all the
Russias and the kingdom of Prussia as well, and the Commonwealth would
find itself relieved of all these charges.
My prophecy has been fulfilled. The two princes whose titles were
allowed have torn Poland limb from limb; it is now absorbed in Russia and
The second great mistake made by Poland was in not remembering the
apologue of the man and the horse when the question of protection
The Republic of Rome became mistress of the world by protecting other
Thus Poland came to ruin through ambition, vengeance, and folly--but
folly most of all.
The same reason lay at the root of the French Revolution. Louis XVI.
paid the penalty of his folly with his life. If he had been a wise ruler
he would still be on the throne, and France would have escaped the fury
of the Revolutionists. France is sick; in any other country this
sickness might be remedied, but I would not wonder if it proved incurable
Certain emotional persons are moved to pity by the emigrant French
nobles, but for my part I think them only worthy of contempt. Instead of
parading their pride and their disgrace before the eyes of foreign
nations, they should have rallied round their king, and either have saved
the throne or died under its ruins. What will become of France? It was
hard to say; but it is certain that a body without a head cannot live
very long, for reason is situate in the head.
On December 1st Baron Pittoni begged me to call on him as some one had
come from Venice on purpose to see me.
I dressed myself hastily, and went to the baron's, where I saw a fine-
looking man of thirty-five or forty, elegantly dressed. He looked at me
with the liveliest interest.
"My heart tells me," I began, "that your excellence's name is Zaguri?"
"Exactly so, my dear Casanova. As soon as my friend Dandolo told me of
your arrival here, I determined to come and congratulate you on your
approaching recall, which will take place either this year or the next,
as I hope to see two friends of mine made Inquisitors. You may judge of
my friendship for you when I tell you that I am an 'avogador', and that
there is a law forbidding such to leave Venice. We will spend to-day and
I replied in a manner to convince him that I was sensible of the honour
he had done me; and I heard Baron Pittoni begging me to excuse him for
not having come to see me. He said he had forgotten all about it, and a
handsome old man begged his excellence to ask me to dine with him, though
he had not the pleasure of knowing me.
"What!" said Zaguri. "Casanova has been here for the last ten days, and
does not know the Venetian consul?"
I hastened to speak.
"It's my own fault," I observed, "I did not like calling on this
gentleman, for fear he might think me contraband."
The consul answered wittily that I was not contraband but in quarantine,
pending my return to my native land; and that in the meanwhile his house
would always be open to me, as had been the house of the Venetian consul
In this manner he let me know that he knew something about me, and I was
not at all sorry for it.
Marco Monti, such was the consul's name, was a man of parts and much
experience; a pleasant companion and a great conversationalist, fond of
telling amusing stories with a grave face--in fact, most excellent
I was something of a 'conteur' myself, and we soon became friendly rivals
in telling anecdotes. In spite of his thirty additional years I was a
tolerable match for him, and when we were in a room there was no question
of gaining to kill the time.
We became fast friends, and I benefited a good deal by his offices during
the two years I spent in Trieste, and I have always thought that he had a
considerable share in obtaining my recall. That was my great object in
those days; I was a victim to nostalgia, or home sickness.
With the Swiss and the Sclavs it is really a fatal disease, which carries
them off if they are not sent home immediately. Germans are subject to
this weakness also; whilst the French suffer very little, and Italians
not much more from the complaint.
No rule, however, lacks its exception, and I was one. I daresay I should
have got over my nostalgia if I had treated it with contempt, and then I
should not have wasted ten years of my life in the bosom of my cruel
I dined with M. Zaguri at the consul's, and I was invited to dine with
the governor, Count Auersperg, the next day.
The visit from a Venetian 'avogador' made me a person of great
consideration. I was no longer looked upon as an exile, but as one who
had successfully escaped from illegal confinement.
The day after I accompanied M. Zaguri to Gorice, where he stayed three
days to enjoy the hospitality of the nobility. I was included in all
their invitations, and I saw that a stranger could live very pleasantly
I met there a certain Count Cobenzl, who may be alive now--a man of
wisdom, generosity, and the vastest learning, and yet without any kind of
pretention. He gave a State dinner to M. Zaguri, and I had the pleasure
of meeting there three or four most charming ladies. I also met Count
Tomes, a Spaniard whose father was in in the Austrian service. He had
married at sixty, and had five children all as ugly as himself. His
daughter was a charming girl in spite of her plainness; she evidently got
her character from the mother's side. The eldest son, who was ugly and
squinted, was a kind of pleasant madman, but he was also a liar, a
profligate, a boaster, and totally devoid of discretion. In spite of
these defects he was much sought after in society as he told a good tale
and made people laugh. If he had been a student, he would have been a
distinguished scholar, as his memory was prodigious. He it was who
vainly guaranteed the agreement I made with Valerio Valeri for printing
my "History of Poland." I also met at Gorice a Count Coronini, who was
known in learned circles as the author of some Latin treatises on
diplomacy. Nobody read his books, but everybody agreed that he was a
very learned man.
I also met a young man named Morelli, who had written a history of the
place and was on the point of publishing the first volume. He gave me
his MS. begging me to make any corrections that struck me as desirable.
I succeeded in pleasing him, as I gave him back his work without a single
note or alteration of any kind, and thus he became my friend.
I became a great friend of Count Francis Charles Coronini, who was a man
of talents. He had married a Belgian lady, but not being able to agree
they had separated and he passed his time in trifling intrigues, hunting,
and reading the papers, literary and political. He laughed at those
sages who declared that there was not one really happy person in the
world, and he supported his denial by the unanswerable dictum:
"I myself am perfectly happy."
However, as he died of a tumor in the head at the age of thirty-five, he
probably acknowledged his mistake in the agonies of death.
There is no such thing as a perfectly happy or perfectly unhappy man in
the world. One has more happiness in his life and another more
unhappiness, and the same circumstance may produce widely different
effects on individuals of different temperaments.
It is not a fact that virtue ensures happiness for the exercise of some
virtues implies suffering, and suffering is incompatible with happiness.
My readers may be aware that I am not inclined to make mental pleasure
pre-eminent and all sufficing. It may be a fine thing to have a clear
conscience, but I cannot see that it would at all relieve the pangs of
Baron Pittoni and myself escorted Zaguri to the Venetian border, and we
then returned to Trieste together.
In three or four days Pittoni took me everywhere, including the club
where none but persons of distinction were admitted. This club was held
at the inn where I was staying.
Amongst the ladies, the most noteworthy was the wife of the merchant,
David Riguelin, who was a Swabian by birth.
Pittoni was in love with her and continued so till her death. His suit
lasted for twelve years, and like Petrarch, he still sighed, still hoped,
but never succeeded. Her name was Zanetta, and besides her beauty she
had the charm of being an exquisite singer and a polished hostess. Still
more noteworthy, however, was the unvarying sweetness and equability of
I did not want to know her long before recognizing that she was
absolutely impregnable. I told Pittoni so, but all in vain; he still fed
on empty hope.
Zanetta had very poor health, though no one would have judged so from her
appearance, but it was well known to be the case. She died at an early
A few days after M. Zaguri's departure, I had a note from the consul
informing me that the Procurator Morosini was stopping in my inn, and
advising me to call on him if I knew him.
I was infinitely obliged for this advice, for M. Morosini was a
personage of the greatest importance. He had known me from childhood,
and the reader may remember that he had presented me to Marshal
Richelieu, at Fontainebleau, in 1750.
I dressed myself as if I had been about to speak to a monarch, and sent
in a note to his room.
I had not long to wait; he came out and welcomed me most graciously,
telling me how delighted he was to see me again.
When he heard the reason of my being at Trieste, and how I desired to
return to my country, he assured me he would do all in his power to
obtain me my wish. He thanked me for the care I had taken of his nephew
at Florence, and kept me all the day while I told him my principal
He was glad to hear that M. Zaguri was working for me, and said that they
must concert the mater together. He commended me warmly to the consul,
who was delighted to be able to inform the Tribunal of the consideration
with which M. Morosini treated me.
After the procurator had gone I began to enjoy life at Trieste, but in
strict moderation and with due regard for economy, for I had only fifteen
sequins a month. I abjured play altogether.
Every day I dined with one of the circle of my friends, who were the
Venetian consul, the French consul (an eccentric but worthy man who kept
a good cook), Pittoni, who kept an excellent table, thanks to his man who
knew what was to his own interests, and several others.
As for the pleasures of love I enjoyed them in moderation, taking care of
my purse and of my health.
Towards the end of the carnival I went to a masked ball at the theatre,
and in the course of the evening a harlequin came up and presented his
columbine to me. They both began to play tricks on me. I was pleased
with the columbine, and felt a strong desire to be acquainted with her.
After some vain researches the French consul, M. de St. Sauveur, told me
that the harlequin was a young lady of rank, and that the columbine was a
handsome young man.
"If you like," he added, "I will introduce you to the harlequin's family,
and I am sure you will appreciate her charms when you see her as a girl."
As they persisted in their jokes I was able, without wounding decency
overmuch, to convince myself that the consul was right on the question of
sex; and when the ball was over I said I should be obliged by his
introducing me as he had promised. He promised to do so the day after
Thus I made the acquaintance of Madame Leo, who was still pretty and
agreeable, though she had lived very freely in her younger days. There
was her husband, a son, and six daughters, all handsome, but especially
the harlequin with whom I was much taken. Naturally I fell in love with
her, but as I was her senior by thirty years, and had begun my addresses
in a tone of fatherly affection, a feeling of shame prevented my
disclosing to her the real state of my heart. Four years later she told
me herself that she had guessed my real feelings, and had been amused by
my foolish restraint.
A young girl learns deeper lessons from nature than we men can acquire
with all our experience.
At the Easter of 1773 Count Auersperg, the Governor of Trieste, was
recalled to Vienna, and Count Wagensberg took his place. His eldest
daughter, the Countess Lantieri, who was a great beauty, inspired me with
a passion which would have made me unhappy if I had not succeeded in
hiding it under a veil of the profoundest respect.
I celebrated the accession of the new governor by some verses which I had
printed, and in which, while lauding the father, I paid conspicuous
homage to the charms of the daughter.
My tribute pleased them, and I became an intimate friend of the count's.
He placed confidence in me with the idea of my using it to my own
advantage, for though he did not say so openly I divined his intention.
The Venetian consul had told me that he had been vainly endeavouring for
the last four years to get the Government of Trieste to arrange for the
weekly diligence from Trieste to Mestre to pass by Udine, the capital of
the Venetian Friuli.
"This alteration," he had said, "would greatly benefit the commerce of
the two states; but the Municipal Council of Trieste opposes it for a
plausible but ridiculous reason."
These councillors, in the depth of their wisdom, said that if the
Venetian Republic desired the alteration it would evidently be to their
advantage, and consequently to the disadvantage of Trieste.
The consul assured me that if I could in any way obtain the concession it
would weigh strongly in my favour with the State Inquisitors, and even in
the event of my non-success he would represent my exertions in the most
I promised I would think the matter over.
Finding myself high in the governor's favour, I took the opportunity of
addressing myself to him on the subject. He had heard about the matter,
and thought the objection of the Town Council absurd and even monstrous;
but he professed his inability to do anything himself.
"Councillor Rizzi," said he, "is the most obstinate of them all, and has
led astray the rest with his sophisms. But do you send me in a
memorandum shewing that the alteration will have a much better effect on
the large commerce of Trieste than on the comparatively trifling trade of
Udine. I shall send it into the Council without disclosing the
authorship, but backing it with my authority, and challenging the
opposition to refute your arguments. Finally, if they do not decide
reasonably I shall proclaim before them all my intention to send the
memoir to Vienna with my opinion on it."
I felt confident of success, and wrote out a memoir full of
incontrovertible reasons in favour of the proposed change.
My arguments gained the victory; the Council were persuaded, and Count
Wagensberg handed me the decree, which I immediately laid before the
Venetian consul. Following his advice, I wrote to the secretary of the
Tribunal to the effect that I was happy to have given the Government a
proof of my zeal, and an earnest of my desire to be useful to my country
and to be worthy of being recalled.
Out of regard for me the count delayed the promulgation of the decree for
a week, so that the people of Udine heard the news from Venice before it
had reached Trieste, and everybody thought that the Venetian Government
had achieved its ends by bribery. The secretary of the Tribunal did not
answer my letter, but he wrote to the consul ordering him to give me a
hundred ducats, and to inform me that this present was to encourage me to
serve the Republic. He added that I might hope great things from the
mercy of the Inquisitors if I succeeded in negotiating the Armenian
The consul gave me the requisite information, and my impression was that
my efforts would be in vain; however, I resolved to make the attempt.
Four Armenian monks had left the Convent of St. Lazarus at Venice, having
found the abbot's tyranny unbearable. They had wealthy relations at
Constantinople, and laughed the excommunication of their late tyrant to
scorn. They sought asylum at Vienna, promising to make themselves useful
to the State by establishing an Armenian press to furnish all the
Armenian convents with books. They engaged to sink a capital of a
million florins if they were allowed to settle in Austria, to found their
press, and to buy or build a convent, where they proposed to live in
community but without any abbot.
As might be expected the Austrian Government did not hesitate to grant
their request; it did more, it gave them special privileges.
The effect of this arrangement would be to deprive Venice of a lucrative
trade, and to place it in the emperor's dominions. Consequently the
Viennese Court sent them to Trieste with a strong recommendation to the
governor, and they had been there for the past six months.
The Venetian Government, of course, wished to entice them back to Venice.
They had vainly induced their late abbot to make handsome offers to them,
and they then proceeded by indirect means, endeavoring to stir up
obstacles in their way, and to disgust them with Trieste.
The consul told me plainly that he had not touched the matter, thinking
success to be out of the question; and he predicted that if I attempted
it I should find myself in the dilemma of having to solve the insoluble.
I felt the force of the consul's remark when I reflected that I could not
rely on the governor's assistance, or even speak to him on the subject.
I saw that I must not let him suspect my design, for besides his duty to
his Government he was a devoted friend to the interests of Trieste, and
for this reason a great patron of the monks.
In spite of these obstacles my nostalgia made me make acquaintance with
these monks under pretence of inspecting their Armenian types, which they
were already casting. In a week or ten days I became quite intimate with
them. One day I said that they were bound in honour to return to the
obedience of their abbot, if only to annul his sentence of
The most obstinate of them told me that the abbot had behaved more like a
despot than a father, and had thus absolved them from their obedience.
"Besides," he said, "no rascally priest has any right to cut off good
Christians from communion with the Saviour, and we are sure that our
patriarch will give us absolution and send us some more monks."
I could make no objection to these arguments; however, I asked on another
occasion on what conditions they would return to Venice.
The most sensible of them said that in the first place the abbot must
withdraw the four hundred thousand ducats which he had entrusted to the
Marquis Serpos at four per cent.
This sum was the capital from which the income of the Convent of St.
Lazarus was derived. The abbot had no right whatever to dispose of it,
even with the consent of a majority among the monks. If the marquis
became bankrupt the convent would be utterly destitute. The marquis was
an Armenian diamond merchant, and a great friend of the abbot's.
I then asked the monks what were the other conditions, and they replied
that these were some matters of discipline which might easily be settled;
they would give me a written statement of their grievances as soon as I
could assure them that the Marquis Serpos was no longer in possession of
I embodied my negotiations in writing, and sent the document to the
Inquisitors by the consul. In six weeks I received an answer to the
effect that the abbot saw his way to arranging the money difficulty, but
that he must see a statement of the reforms demanded before doing so.
This decided me to have nothing to do with the affair, but a few words
from Count Wagensberg made me throw it up without further delay. He gave
me to understand that he knew of my attempts to reconcile the four monks
with their abbot, and he told me that he had been sorry to hear the
report, as my success would do harm to a country where I lived and where
I was treated as a friend.
I immediately told him the whole story, assuring him that I would never
have begun the negotiation if I had not been certain of failure, for I
heard on undoubted authority that Serpos could not possibly restore the
four hundred thousand ducats.
This explanation thoroughly dissipated any cloud that might have arisen
The Armenians bought Councillor Rizzi's house for thirty thousand
florins. Here they established themselves, and I visited them from time
to time without saying anything more about Venice.
Count Wagensberg gave me another proof of his friendship. Unhappily for
me he died during the autumn of the same year, at the age of fifty.
One morning he summoned me, and I found him perusing a document he had
just received from Vienna. He told me he was sorry I did not read
German, but that he would tell me the contents of the paper.
"Here," he continued, "you will be able to serve your country without in
any way injuring Austria.
"I am going to confide in you a State secret (it being understood of
course that my name is never to be mentioned) which ought to be greatly
to your advantage, whether you succeed or fail; at all hazards your
patriotism, your prompt action, and your cleverness in obtaining such
information will be made manifest. Remember you must never divulge your
sources of information; only tell your Government that you are perfectly
sure of the authenticity of the statement you make.
"You must know," he continued, "that all the commodities we export to
Lombardy pass through Venice where they have to pay duty. Such has long
been the custom, and it may still be so if the Venetian Government will
consent to reduce the duty of four per cent to two per cent.
"A plan has been brought before the notice of the Austrian Court, and it
has been eagerly accepted. I have received certain orders on the matter,
which I shall put into execution without giving any warning to the
"In future all goods for Lombardy will be embarked here and disembarked
at Mezzola without troubling the Republic. Mezzola is in the territories
of the Duke of Modem; a ship can cross the gulf in the night, and our
goods will be placed in storehouses, which will be erected.
"In this way we shall shorten the journey and decrease the freights, and
the Modenese Government will be satisfied with a trifling sum, barely
equivalent to a fourth of what we pay to Venice.
"In spite of all this, I feel sure that if the Venetian Government wrote
to the Austrian Council of Commerce expressing their willingness to take
two per cent henceforth, the proposal would be accepted, for we Austrians
"I shall not lay the matter before the Town Council for four or five
days, as there is no hurry for us; but you had better make haste, that
you may be the first to inform your Government of the matter.
"If everything goes as I should wish I hope to receive an order from
Vienna suspending the decree just as I am about to make it public."
Next morning the governor was delighted to hear that everything had been
finished before midnight. He assured me that the consul should not have
official information before Saturday. In the meanwhile the consul's
uneasy state of mind was quite a trouble to me, for I could not do
anything to set his mind at ease.
Saturday came and Councillor Rizzi told me the news at the club. He
seemed in high spirits over it, and said that the loss of Venice was the
gain of Trieste. The consul came in just then, and said that the loss
would be a mere trifle for Venice, while the first-shipwreck would cost
more to Trieste than ten years' duty. The consul seemed to enjoy the
whole thing, but that was the part he had to play. In all small trading
towns like Trieste, people make a great account of trifles.
I went to dine with the consul, who privately confessed his doubts and
fears on the matter.
I asked him how the Venetians would parry the blow, and he replied,--
"They will have a number of very learned consultations, and then they
will do nothing at all, and the Austrians will send their goods wherever
"But the Government is such a wise one."
"Or rather has the reputation of wisdom."
"Then you think it lives on its reputation?"
"Yes; like all your mouldy institutions, they continue to be simply
because they have been. Old Governments are like those ancient dykes
which are rotten at the base, and only stay in position by their weight
The consul was in the right. He wrote to his chief the same day, and in
the course of the next week he heard that their excellencies had received
information of the matter some time ago by extraordinary channels.
For the present his duties would be confined to sending in any additional
information on the same subject.
"I told you so," said the consul; "now, what do you think of the wisdom
of our sages?"
"I think Bedlam of Charenton were their best lodging."
In three weeks the consul received orders to give me another grant of a
hundred ducats, and to allow me ten sequins a month, to encourage me to
deserve well of the State.
From that time I felt sure I should be allowed to return in the course of
the year, but I was mistaken, for I had to wait till the year following.
This new present, and the monthly payment of ten sequins put me at my
ease, for I had expensive tastes of which I could not cure myself. I
felt pleased at the thought that I was now in the pay of the Tribunal
which had punished me, and which I had defied. It seemed to me a
triumph, and I determined to do all in my power for the Republic.
Here I must relate an amusing incident, which delighted everyone in
It was in the beginning of summer. I had been eating sardines by the
sea-shore, and when I came home at ten o'clock at night I was astonished
to be greeted by a girl whom I recognized as Count Strasoldo's maid.
The count was a handsome young man, but poor like most of that name; he
was fond of expensive pleasures, and was consequently heavily in debt.
He had a small appointment which brought him in an income of six hundred
florins, and he had not the slightest difficulty in spending a year's pay
in three months. He had agreeable manners and a generous disposition,
and I had supped with him in company with Baron Pittoni several times.
He had a girl in his service who was exquisitely pretty, but none of the
count's friends attempted her as he was very jealous. Like the rest, I
had seen and admired her, I had congratulated the count on the possession
of such a treasure in her presence, but I had never addressed a word to
Strasoldo had just been summoned to Vienna by Count Auersperg who liked
him, and had promised to do what he could for him. He had got an
employment in Poland, his furniture had been sold, he had taken leave of
everyone, and nobody doubted that he would take his pretty maid with him.
I thought so too, for I had been to wish him a pleasant journey that
morning, and my astonishment at finding the girl in my room may be
"What do you want, my dear?" I asked.
"Forgive me, sir, but I don't want to go with Strasoldo, and I thought
you would protect me. Nobody will be able to guess where I am, and
Strasoldo will be obliged to go by himself. You will not be so cruel as
to drive me away?"
"I promise you I will go away to-morrow, for Strasoldo is going to leave
"My lovely Leuzica (this was her name), no one would refuse you an
asylum, I least of all. You are safe here, and nobody shall come in
without your leave. I am only too happy that you came to me, but if it
is true that the count is your lover you may be sure he will not go so
easily. He will stay the whole of to-morrow at least, in the hope of
finding you again."
"No doubt he will look for me everywhere but here. Will you promise not
to make me go with him even if be guesses that I am with you?"
"I swear I will not."
"Then I am satisfied."
"But you will have to share my bed."
"If I shall not inconvenience you, I agree with all my heart."
"You shall see whether you inconvenience me or not. Undress, quick! But
where are your things?"
"All that I have is in a small trunk behind the count's carriage, but I
don't trouble myself about it."
"The poor count must be raging at this very moment."
"No, for he will not come home till midnight. He is supping with Madame
Bissolotti, who is in love with him."
In the meantime Leuzica had undressed and got into bed. In a moment I
was beside her, and after the severe regimen of the last eight months I
spent a delicious night in her arms, for of late my pleasures had been
Leuzica was a perfect beauty, and worthy to be a king's mistress; and if
I had been rich I would have set up a household that I might retain her
in my service.
We did not awake till seven o'clock. She got up, and on looking out of
the window saw Strasoldo's carriage waiting at the door.
I confronted her by saying that as long as she liked to stay with me no
one could force her away.
I was vexed that I had no closet in my room, as I could not hide her from
the waiter who would bring us coffee. We accordingly dispensed with
breakfast, but I had to find out some way of feeding her. I thought I
had plenty of time before me, but I was wrong.
At ten o'clock I saw Strasoldo and his friend Pittoni coming into the
inn. They spoke to the landlord, and seemed to be searching the whole
place, passing from one room to another.
I laughed, and told Leuzica that they were looking for her, and that our
turn would doubtless come before long.
"Remember your promise," said she.
"You may be sure of that."
The tone in which this remark was delivered comforted her, and she
"Well; well, let them come; they will get nothing by it."
I heard footsteps approaching, and went out, closing the door behind me,
and begging them to excuse my not asking them in, as there was a
contraband commodity in my room.
"Only tell me that it is not my maid," said Strasoldo, in a pitiable
voice. "We are sure she is here, as the sentinel at the gate saw her
come in at ten o'clock."
"You are right, the fair Leuzica is at this moment in my room. I have
given her my word of honour that no violence shall be used, and you may
be sure I shall keep my word."
"I shall certainly not attempt any violence, but I am sure she would come
of her own free will if I could speak to her."
"I will ask her if she wishes to see you. Wait a moment."
Leuzica had been listening to our conversation, and when I opened the
door she told me that I could let them in.
As soon as Strasoldo appeared she asked him proudly if she was under any
obligations to him, if she had stolen anything from him, and if she was
not perfectly free to leave him when she liked.
The poor count replied mildly that on the contrary it was he who owed her
a year's wages and had her box in his possession, but that she should not
have left him without giving any reason.
"The only reason is that I don't want to go to Vienna," she replied.
"I told you so a week ago. If you are an honest man you will leave me my
trunk, and as to my wages you can send them to me at my aunt's at Laibach
if you haven't got any money now."
I pitied Strasoldo from the bottom of my heart; he prayed and entreated,
and finally wept like a child. However, Pittoni roused my choler by
saying that I ought to drive the slut out of my room.
"You are not the man to tell me what I ought and what I ought not to do,"
I replied, "and after I have received her in my apartments you ought to
moderate your expressions."
Seeing that I stood on my dignity he laughed, and asked me if I had
fallen in love with her in so short a time.
Strasoldo here broke in by saying he was sure she had not slept with me.
"That's where you are mistaken," said she, "for there's only one bed, and
I did not sleep on the floor."
They found prayers and reproaches alike useless and left us at noon.
Leuzica was profuse in her expressions of gratitude to me.
There was no longer any mystery, so I boldly ordered dinner for two, and
promised that she should remain with me till the count had left Trieste.
At three o'clock the Venetian consul came, saying that Count Strasoldo
had begged him to use his good offices with me to persuade me to deliver
up the fair Leuzica.
"You must speak to the girl herself," I replied; "she came here and stays
here of her own free will."
When the worthy man had heard the girl's story he went away, saying that
we had the right on our side.
In the evening a porter brought her trunk, and at this she seemed touched
but not repentant.
Leuzica supped with me and again shared my couch. The count left Trieste
As soon as I was sure that he was gone, I took a carriage and escorted
the fair Leuzica two stages on her way to Laibach. We dined together,
and I left her in the care of a friend of hers.
Everybody said I had acted properly, and even Pittoni confessed that in
my place he would have done the same.
Poor Strasoldo came to a bad end. He got into debt, committed
peculation, and had to escape into Turkey and embrace Islam to avoid the
penalty of death.
About this time the Venetian general, Palmanova, accompanied by the
procurator Erizzo, came to Trieste to visit the governor, Count
Wagensberg. In the afternoon the count presented me to the patricians
who seemed astonished to see me at Trieste.
The procurator asked me if I amused myself as well as I had done at Paris
sixteen years ago, and I told him that sixteen years more, and a hundred
thousand francs less, forced me to live in a different fashion.
While we were talking, the consul came in to announce that the felucca
was ready. Madame de Lantieri as well as her father pressed me to join
I gave a bow, which might mean either no or yes, and asked the consul
what the party was. He told me that they were going to see a Venetian
man-of-war at anchor in the harbor; his excellence there being the
captain I immediately turned to the countess and smilingly professed my
regret that I was unable to set foot on Venetian soil.
Everybody exclaimed at me,--
"You have nothing to fear. You are with honest people. Your suspicion
is quite offensive."
"That is all very fine, ladies and gentlemen, and I will come with all my
heart, if your excellences will assure me that my joining this little
party will not be known to the State Inquisitors possibly by to-morrow."
This was enough. Everybody looked at me in silence, and no objections
could be found to my argument.
The captain of the vessel, who did not know me, spoke a few whispered
words to the others, and then they left.
The next day the consul told me that the captain had praised my prudence
in declining to go on board, as if anyone had chanced to tell him my name
and my case whilst I was on his ship, it would have been his duty to
When I told the governor of this remark he replied gravely that he should
not have allowed the ship to leave the harbour.
I saw the procurator Erizzo the same evening, and he congratulated me on
my discretion, telling me he would take care to let the Tribunal know how
I respected its decisions.
About this time I had the pleasure of seeing a beautiful Venetian, who
visited Trieste with several of her admirers. She was of the noble
family of Bon, and had married Count Romili de Bergamo, who left her free
to do whatever she liked. She drew behind her triumphal chariot an old
general, Count Bourghausen, a famous rake who had deserted Mars for the
past ten years in order to devote his remaining days to the service of
Venus. He was a delightful man, and we became friends. Ten years later
he was of service to me, as my readers will find in the next volume,
which may perhaps be the last.
Some Adventures at Trieste--I Am of Service to the Venetian Government--
My Expedition to Gorice and My Return to Trieste--I Find Irene as an
Actress and Expert Gamester
Some of the ladies of Trieste thought they would like to act a French
play, and I was made stage manager. I had not only to choose the pieces,
but to distribute the parts, the latter being a duty of infinite
All the actresses were new to the boards, and I had immense trouble in
hearing them repeat their parts, which they seemed unable to learn by
heart. It is a well-known fact that the revolution which is really
wanted in Italy is in female education. The very best families with few
exceptions are satisfied with shutting up their daughters in a convent
for several years till the time comes for them to marry some man whom
they never see till the eve or the day of their marriage. As a
consequence we have the 'cicisbeo', and in Italy as in France the idea
that our nobles are the sons of their nominal fathers is a purely
What do girls learn in convents, especially in Italian convents? A few
mechanical acts of devotion and outward forms, very little real religion,
a good deal of deceit, often profligate habits, a little reading and
writing, many useless accomplishments, small music and less drawing, no
history, no geography or mythology, hardly any mathematics, and nothing
to make a girl a good wife and a good mother.
As for foreign languages, they are unheard of; our own Italian is so soft
that any other tongue is hard to acquire, and the 'dolce far niente'
habit is an obstacle to all assiduous study.
I write down these truths in spite of my patriotism. I know that if any
of my fellow-countrywomen come to read me they will be very angry; but I
shall be beyond the reach of all anger.
To return to our theatricals. As I could not make my actresses get their
parts letter perfect, I became their prompter, and found out by
experience all the ungratefulness of the position.
The actors never acknowledged their debt to the prompter, and put down
to his account all the mistakes they make.
A Spanish doctor is almost as badly off; if his patient recovers, the
cure is set down to the credit of one saint or another; but if he dies,
the physician is blamed for his unskilful treatment.
A handsome negress, who served the prettiest of my actresses to whom I
shewed great attentions, said to me one day,--
"I can't make out how you can be so much in love with my mistress, who
is as white as the devil."
"Have you never loved a white man?" I asked.
"Yes," said she, "but only because I had no negro, to whom I should
certainly have given the preference."
Soon after the negress became mine, and I found out the falsity of the
axiom, 'Sublata lucerna nullum discrimen inter feminas', for even in the
darkness a man would know a black woman from a white one.
I feel quite sure myself that the negroes are a distinct species from
ourselves. There is one essential difference, leaving the colour out of
account--namely, that an African woman can either conceive or not, and
can conceive a boy or a girl. No doubt my readers will disbelieve this
assertion, but their incredulity would cease if I instructed them in the
mysterious science of the negresses.
Count Rosenberg, grand chamberlain of the emperor, came on a visit to
Trieste in company with an Abbe Casti, whose acquaintance I wished to
make on account of some extremely blasphemous poems he had written.
However, I was disappointed; and instead of a man of parts, I found the
abbe to be an impudent worthless fellow, whose only merit was a knack of
Count Rosenberg took the abbe with him, because he was useful in the
capacities of a fool and a pimp-occupations well suited to his morals,
though by no means agreeable to his ecclesiastical status. In those
days syphilis had not completely destroyed his uvula.
I heard that this shameless profligate, this paltry poetaster, had been
named poet to the emperor. What a dishonour to the memory of the great
Metastasio, a man free from all vices, adorned with all virtues, and of
the most singular ability.
Casti had neither a fine style, nor a knowledge of dramatic
requirements, as appears from two or three comic operas composed by him,
in which the reader will find nothing but foolish buffooneries badly put
together. In one of these comic operas he makes use of slander against
King Theodore and the Venetian Republic, which he turns into ridicule by
means of pitiful lies.
In another piece called The Cave of Trophonius, Casti made himself the
laughing-stock of the literary world by making a display of useless
learning which contributes nothing towards the plot.
Among the persons of quality who came to Gorice, I met a certain Count
Torriano, who persuaded me to spend the autumn with him at a country
house of his six miles from Gorice.
If I had listened to the voice of my good genius I should certainly
never have gone.
The count was under thirty, and was not married. He could not exactly
be called ugly in spite of his hangdog countenance, in which I saw the
outward signs of cruelty, disloyalty, treason, pride, brutal sensuality,
hatred, and jealousy. The mixture of bad qualities was such an
appalling one that I thought his physiognomy was at fault, and the goods
better than the sign. He asked me to come and see him so graciously
that I concluded that the man gave the lie to his face.
I asked about him before accepting the invitation, and I heard nothing
but good. People certainly said he was fond of the fair sex, and was a
fierce avenger of any wrong done to him, but not thinking either of
these characteristics unworthy of a gentleman I accepted his invitation.
He told me that he would expect me to meet him at Gorice on the first
day of September, and that the next day we would leave for his estate.
In consequence of Torriano's invitation I took leave of everybody,
especially of Count Wagensberg, who had a serious attack of that malady
which yields so easily to mercury when it is administered by a skilled
hand, but which kills the unfortunate who falls amongst quacks. Such
was the fate of the poor count; he died a month after I had left
I left Trieste in the morning, dined at Proseco, and reached Gorice in
good time. I called at Count Louis Torriano's mansion, but was told he
was out. However, they allowed me to deposit what little luggage I had
when I informed them that the count had invited me. I then went to see
Count Torres, and stayed with him till supper-time.
When I got back to the count's I was told he was in the country, and
would not be back till the next day, and that in the meantime my trunks
had been taken to the inn where a room and supper had been ordered.
I was extremely astonished, and went to the inn, where I was served with
a bad supper in an uncomfortable room; however, I supposed that the
count had been unable to accommodate me in his house, and I excused him
though I wished he had forewarned me. I could not understand how a
gentleman who has a house and invites a friend can be without a room
wherein to lodge him.
Next morning Count Torriano came to see me, thanked me for my
punctuality, congratulated himself on the pleasure he expected to derive
from my society, and told me he was very sorry we could not start for
two days, as a suit was to be heard the next day between himself and a
rascally old farmer who was trying to cheat him.
"Well, well," said I, "I will go and hear the pleadings; it will be an
amusement for me."
Soon after he took his leave, without asking me where I intended dining,
or apologizing for not having accommodated me himself.
I could not make him out; I thought he might have taken offence at my
descending at his doors without having given him any warning.
"Come, come, Casanova," I said to myself, "you may be all abroad.
Knowledge of character is an unfathomable gulf. We thought we had
studied it deeply, but there is still more to learn; we shall see. He
may have said nothing out of delicacy. I should be sorry to be found
wanting in politeness, though indeed I am puzzled to know what I have
I dined by myself, made calls in the afternoon, and supped with Count
Tomes. I told him that I promised myself the pleasure of hearing the
eloquence of the bar of Gorice the next day.
"I shall be there, too," said he, "as I am curious to see what sort of a
face Torriano will put on it, if the countryman wins. I know something
about the case," he continued, "and Torriano is sure of victory, unless
the documents attesting the farmer's indebtedness happen to be
forgeries. On the other hand, the farmer ought to win unless it can be
shewn that the receipts signed by Torriano are forgeries. The farmer
has lost in the first court and in the second court, but he has paid the
costs and appealed from both, though he is a poor man. If he loses to-
morrow he will not only be a ruined man, but be sentenced to penal
servitude, while if he wins, Torriano should be sent to the galleys,
together with his counsel, who has deserved this fate many times
I knew Count Tomes passed for somewhat of a scandal-monger, so his
remarks made little impression on me beyond whetting my curiosity. The
next day I was one of the first to appear in the court, where I found
the bench, plaintiff and defendant, and the barristers, already
assembled. The farmer's counsel was an old man who looked honest, while
the count's had all the impudence of a practised knave. The count sat
beside him, smiling disdainfully, as if he was lowering himself to
strive with a miserable peasant whom he had already twice vanquished.
The farmer sat by his wife, his son, and two daughters, and had that air
of modest assurance which indicates resignation and a good conscience.
I wondered how such honest people could have lost in two courts; I was
sure their cause must be a just one.
They were all poorly clad, and from their downcast eyes and their humble
looks I guessed them to be the victims of oppression.
Each barrister could speak for two hours.
The farmer's advocate spoke for thirty minutes, which he occupied by
putting in the various receipts bearing the count's signature up to the
time when he had dismissed the farmer, because he would not prostitute
his daughters to him. He then continued, speaking with calm precision,
to point out the anachronisms and contradictions in the count's books
(which made his client a debtor), and stated that his client was in a
position to prosecute the two forgers who had been employed to compass
the ruin of an honest family, whose only crime was poverty. He ended
his speech by an appeal for costs in all the suits, and for compensation
for loss of time and defamation of character.
The harangue of the count's advocate would have lasted more than two
hours if the court had not silenced him. He indulged in a torrent of
abuse against the other barrister, the experts in hand-writing, and the
peasant, whom he threatened with a speedy consignment to the galleys.
The pleadings would have wearied me if I had been a blind man, but as it
was I amused myself by a scrutiny of the various physiognomies before
me. My host's face remained smiling and impudent through it all.
The pleadings over, the court was cleared, and we awaited the sentence
in the adjoining room.
The peasant and his family sat in a corner apart, sad, sorry, and
comfortless, with no friend to speak a consoling word, while the count
was surrounded by a courtly throng, who assured him that with such a
case he could not possibly lose; but that if the judges did deliver
judgment against him he should pay the peasant, and force him to prove
the alleged forgery.
I listened in profound silence, sympathising with the countryman rather
than my host, whom I believed to be a thorough-paced scoundrel, though I
took care not to say so.
Count Torres, who was a deadly foe to all prudence and discretion, asked
me my opinion of the case, and I whispered that I thought the count
should lose, even if he were in the right, on account of the infamous
apostrophes of his counsel, who deserved to have his ears cut off or to
stand in the pillory for six months.
"And the client too," said Tomes aloud; but nobody had heard what I had
After we had waited for an hour the clerk of the court came in with two
papers, one of which he gave to the peasant's counsel and the other to
Torriano's. Torriano read it to himself, burst into a loud laugh, and
then read it aloud.
The court condemned the count to recognize the peasant as his creditor,
to pay all costs, and to give him a year's wages as damages; the
peasant's right to appeal ad minimum on account of any other complaints
he might have being reserved.
The advocate looked downcast, but Torriano consoled him by a fee of six
sequins, and everybody went away.
I remained with the defendant, and asked him if he meant to appeal to
"I shall appeal in another sort," said he; but I did not ask him what he
We left Gorice the next morning.
My landlord gave me the bill, and told me he had received instructions
not to insist on my paying it if I made any difficulty, as in that case
the count would pay himself.
This struck me as somewhat eccentric, but I only laughed. However, the
specimens I had seen of his character made me imagine that I was going
to spend six weeks with a dangerous original.
In two hours we were at Spessa, and alighted at a large house, with
nothing distinguished about it from an architectural point of view. We
went up to the count's room, which was tolerably furnished, and after
shewing me over the house he took me to my own room. It was on the
ground floor, stuffy, dark, and ill furnished.
"Ah!" said he, "this is the room my poor old father used to love to sit
in; like you, he was very fond of study. You may be sure of enjoying
perfect liberty here, for you will see no one."
We dined late, and consequently no supper was served. The eating and
the wine were tolerable, and so was the company of a priest, who held
the position of the count's steward; but I was disgusted at hearing the
count, who ate ravenously, reproach me with eating too slowly.
When we rose from table he told me he had a lot to do, and that we
should see each other the next day.
I went to my room to put things in order, and to get out my papers. I
was then working at the second volume of the Polish troubles.
In the evening I asked for a light as it was growing dark, and presently
a servant came with one candle. I was indignant; they ought to have
given me wax lights or a lamp at least. However, I made no complaint,
merely asking one of the servants if I was to rely on the services of
any amongst them.
"Our master has given us no instructions on the subject, but of course
we will wait on you whenever you call us."
This would have been a troublesome task, as there was no bell, and I
should have been obliged to wander all over the house, to search the
courtyard, and perhaps the road, whenever I wanted a servant.
"And who will do my room?" I asked.
"Then she has a key of her own?"
"There is no need for a key, as your door has no lock, but you can bolt
yourself in at night."
I could only laugh, whether from ill humour or amusement I really cannot
say. However, I made no remark to the man.
I began my task, but in half an hour I was so unfortunate as to put out
the candle whilst snuffing it. I could not roam about the house in the
dark searching for a light, as I did not know my way, so I went to bed
in the dark more inclined to swear than to laugh.
Fortunately the bed was a good one, and as I had expected it to be
uncomfortable I went to sleep in a more tranquil humour.
In the morning nobody came to attend on me, so I got up, and after
putting away my papers I went to say good morning to my host in
dressing-gown and nightcap. I found him under the hand of one of his
men who served him as a valet. I told him I had slept well, and had
come to breakfast with him; but he said he never took breakfast, and
asked me, politely enough, not to trouble to come and see him in the
morning as he was always engaged with his tenants, who were a pack of
thieves. He then added that as I took breakfast he would give orders to
the cook to send me up coffee whenever I liked.
"You will also be kind enough to tell your man to give me a touch with
his comb after he has done with you."
"I wonder you did not bring a servant."
"If I had guessed that I should be troubling you, I should certainly
have brought one."
"It will not trouble me but you, for you will be kept waiting."
"Not at all. Another thing I want is a lock to my door, for I have
important papers for which I am responsible, and I cannot lock them up
in my trunk whenever I leave my room."
"Everything is safe in my house."
"Of course, but you see how absurd it would be for you to be answerable
in case any of my papers were missing. I might be in the greatest
distress, and yet I should never tell you of it."
He remained silent for some time, and then ordered his man to tell the
priest to put a lock on my door and give me the key.
While he was thinking, I noticed a taper and a book on the table beside
his bed. I went up to it, and asked politely if I might see what kind
of reading had beguiled him to sleep. He replied as politely,
requesting me not to touch it. I withdrew immediately, telling him with
a smile that I felt sure that it was a book of prayers, but that I would
never reveal his secret.
"You have guessed what it is," he said, laughing.
I left him with a courteous bow, begging him to send me his man and a
cup of coffee, chocolate, or broth, it mattered not which.
I went back to my room meditating seriously on his strange behaviour,
and especially on the wretched tallow candle which was given me, while
he had a wax taper. My first idea was to leave the house immediately,
for though I had only fifty ducats in my possession my spirit was as
high as when I was a rich man; but on second thoughts I determined not
to put myself in the wrong by affronting him in such a signal manner.
The tallow candle was the most grievous wrong, so I resolved to ask the
man whether he had not been told to give me wax lights. This was
important, as it might be only a piece of knavery or stupidity on the
part of the servant.
The man came in an hour with a cup of coffee, sugared according to his
taste or that of the cook. This disgusted me, so I let it stay on the
table, telling him, with a burst of laughter (if I had not laughed I
must have thrown the coffee in his face), that that was not the way to
serve breakfast. I then got ready to have my hair done.
I asked him why he had brought me a wretched tallow candle instead of
two wax lights.
"Sir," the worthy man replied, humbly, "I could only give you what the
priest gave me; I received a wax taper for my master and a candle for
I was sorry to have vexed the poor fellow, and said no more, thinking
the priest might have taken a fancy to economise for the count's profit
or his own. I determined to question him on the subject.
As soon as I was dressed I went out to walk off my bad humour. I met
the priest-steward, who had been to the locksmith. He told me that the
man had no ready-made locks, but he was going to fit my door with a
padlock, of which I should have the key.
"Provided I can lock my door," I said, "I care not how it's done."
I returned to the house to see the padlock fitted, and while the
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