Spain, Casanova, v26
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 2 out of 3
"The money you lent me so kindly at Konigsberg."
"This is neither the time nor the place to return it. I will only take
it at my own house, so please do not insist."
I put the money back into my pocket, she gave me her address, and I left
her. I felt too sad to visit her alone.
Two days later, as I was at table with my brother, my sister-in-law, and
some young Russians whom he was teaching to paint, I was told that a
Chevalier of St. Louis wanted to speak to me in the antechamber. I went
out, and he handed me a paper without making any preface. I opened the
document, and found it was signed "Louis." The great king ordered me to
leave Paris in twenty-four hours and his realm of France within three
weeks, and the reason assigned was: "It is our good pleasure."
My Departure From Paris--My Journey to Madrid--The Count of Aranda
--The Prince de la Catolica--The Duke of Lossada--Mengs--A Ball--Madame
"Well, chevalier," I said, "I have read the little note, and I will try
and oblige his majesty as soon as possible. However, if I have not time
to get away in twenty-four hours, his majesty must work his dread will on
"My dear sir, the twenty-four hours are a mere formality. Subscribe the
order and give me a receipt for the lettre de cachet, and you can go at
your convenience. All I ask of you is that you give me your word of
honour not to go to the theatres or public places of amusement on foot."
"I give you my word with pleasure."
I took the chevalier to my room and gave him the necessary
acknowledgment, and with the observation that he would be glad to see my
brother, whom he knew already, I led him into the dining-room, and
explained with a cheerful face the purport of his visit.
My brother laughed and said,--
"But, M. Buhot, this news is like March in Lent, it was quite
unnecessary; my brother was going in the course of a week."
"All the better. If the minister had been aware of that he would not
have troubled himself about it."
"Is the reason known?"
"I have heard something about a proposal to kick a gentleman, who though
young, is too exalted a person to be spoken to in such a manner."
"Why, chevalier," said I, "the phrase is a mere formality like the
twenty-four hours for if the impudent young rascal had come out he would
have met me, and his sword should have been sufficient to ward off any
I then told the whole story, and Buhot agreed that I was in the right
throughout; adding that the police were also in the right to prevent any
encounter between us. He advised me to go next morning and tell the tale
to M. de Sartine, who knew me, and would be glad to have the account from
my own lips. I said nothing, as I knew the famous superintendent of
police to be a dreadful sermoniser.
The lettre de cachet was dated November 6th, and I did not leave Paris
till the 20th.
I informed all my friends of the great honour his majesty had done me,
and I would not hear of Madame du Rumain appealing to the king on my
behalf, though she said she felt certain she could get the order revoked.
The Duc de Choiseul gave me a posting passport dated November 19th, which
I still preserve.
I left Paris without any servant, still grieving, though quietly, over
Charlotte's fate. I had a hundred Louis in cash, and a bill of exchange
on Bordeaux for eight thousand francs. I enjoyed perfect health, and
almost felt as if I had been rejuvenated. I had need of the utmost
prudence and discretion for the future. The deaths of M. de Bragadin
and Madame d'Urfe had left me alone in the world, and I was slowly but
steadily approaching what is called a certain age, when women begin to
look on a man with coldness.
I only called on Madame Valville on the eve of my departure: and found
her in a richly-furnished house, and her casket well filled with
diamonds. When I proposed to return her the fifty louis, she asked me if
I had got a thousand; and on learning that I had only five hundred she
refused the money absolutely and offered me her purse, which I in my turn
refused. I have not seen the excellent creature since then, but before I
left I gave her some excellent advice as to the necessity of saving her
gains for the time of her old age, when her charms would be no more. I
hope she has profited by my counsel. I bade farewell to my brother and
my sister-in-law at six o'clock in the evening, and got into my chaise in
the moonlight, intending to travel all night so as to dine next day at
Orleans, where I wanted to see an old friend. In half an hour I was at
Bourg-la-Reine, and there I began to fall asleep. At seven in the
morning I reached Orleans.
Fair and beloved France, that went so well in those days, despite lettres
de cachet, despite corvees, despite the people's misery and the king's
"good pleasure," dear France, where art thou now? Thy sovereign is the
people now, the most brutal and tyrannical sovereign in the world. You
have no longer to bear the "good pleasure" of the sovereign, but you have
to endure the whims of the mob and the fancies of the Republic--the ruin
of all good Government. A republic presupposes self-denial and a
virtuous people; it cannot endure long in our selfish and luxurious days.
I went to see Bodin, a dancer, who had married Madame Joffroy, one of my
thousand mistresses whom I had loved twenty-two years ago, and had seen
later at Turin, Paris, and Vienna. These meetings with old friends and
sweethearts were always a weak or rather a strong point with me. For a
moment I seemed to be young again, and I fed once more on the delights of
long ago. Repentance was no part of my composition.
Bodin and his wife (who was rather ugly than old-looking, and had become
pious to suit her husband's tastes, thus giving to God the devil's
leavings), Bodin, I say, lived on a small estate he had purchased, and
attributed all the agricultural misfortunes he met with in the course of
the year to the wrath of an avenging Deity.
I had a fasting dinner with them, for it was Friday, and they strictly
observed all the rules of the Church. I told them of my adventures of
the past years, and when I had finished they proceeded to make
reflections on the faults and failings of men who have not God for a
guide. They told me what I knew already: that I had an immortal soul,
that there was a God that judgeth righteously, and that it was high time
for me to take example by them, and to renounce all the pomps and
vanities of the world.
"And turn Capuchin, I suppose?"
"You might do much worse."
"Very good; but I shall wait till my beard grows the necessary length in
a single night."
In spite of their silliness, I was not sorry to have spent six hours with
these good creatures who seemed sincerely repentant and happy in their
way, and after an affectionate embrace I took leave of them and travelled
all night. I stopped at Chanteloup to see the monument of the taste and
magnificence of the Duc de Choiseul, and spent twenty-four hours there.
A gentlemanly and polished individual, who did not know me, and for whom
I had no introduction, lodged me in a fine suite of rooms, gave me
supper, and would only sit down to table with me after I had used all my
powers of persuasion. The next day he treated me in the same way, gave
me an excellent dinner, shewed me everything, and behaved as if I were
some prince, though he did not even ask my name. His attentions even
extended to seeing that none of his servants were at hand when I got into
my carriage and drove off. This was to prevent my giving money to any of
The castle on which the Duc de Choiseul had spent such immense sums had
in reality cost him nothing. It was all owing, but he did not trouble
himself about that in the slightest degree, as he was a sworn foe to the
principle of meum and tuum. He never paid his creditors, and never
disturbed his debtors. He was a generous man; a lover of art and
artists, to whom he liked to be of service, and what they did for him he
looked upon as a grateful offering. He was intellectual, but a hater of
all detail and minute research, being of a naturally indolent and
procrastinating disposition. His favourite saying was,
"There's time enough for that."
When I got to Poitiers, I wanted to push on to Vivonne; it was seven
o'clock in the evening, and two girls endeavoured to dissuade me from
"It's very cold," said they, "and the road is none of the best. You are
no courier, sup here, we will give you a good bed, and you shall start
again in the morning."
"I have made up my mind to go on, but if you will keep me company at
supper I will stay."
"That would cost you too dearly."
"Never too dear. Quick I make up your minds."
"Well, we will sup with you."
"Then lay the table for three; I must go on in an hour."
"In an hour! You mean three, sir; papa will take two hours to get you a
"Then I will not go on, but you must keep me company all night."
"We will do so, if papa does not object. We will have your chaise put
into the coach-house."
These two minxes gave me an excellent supper, and were a match for me in
drinking as well as eating. The wine was delicious, and we stayed at
table till midnight, laughing and joking together, though without
overstepping the bounds of propriety.
About midnight, the father came in jovially, and asked me how I had
enjoyed my supper.
"Very much," I answered, "but I have enjoyed still more the company of
your charming daughters."
"I am delighted to hear it. Whenever you come this way they shall keep
you company, but now it is past midnight, and time for them to go to
I nodded my head, for Charlotte's death was still too fresh in my memory
to admit of my indulging in any voluptuous pleasures. I wished the girls
a pleasant sleep, and I do not think I should even have kissed them if
the father had not urged me to do this honour to their charms. However,
my vanity made me put some fire into the embrace, and I have no doubt
they thought me a prey to vain desires.
When I was alone I reflected that if I did not forget Charlotte I was a
lost man. I slept till nine o'clock, and I told the servant that came to
light my fire to get coffee for three, and to have my horses put in.
The two pretty girls came to breakfast with me, and I thanked them for
having made me stay the night. I asked for the bill, and the eldest said
it was in round figures a Louis apiece. I shewed no sign of anger at
this outrageous fleecing, but gave them three Louis with the best grace
imaginable and went on my way. When I reached Angouleme, where I
expected to find Noel, the King of Prussia's cook, I only found his
father, whose talents in the matter of pates was something prodigious.
His eloquence was as fervent as his ovens. He said he would send his
pates all over Europe to any address I liked to give him.
"What! To Venice, London, Warsaw, St. Petersburg?"
"To Constantinople, if you like. You need only give me your address, and
you need not pay me till you get the pates."
I sent his pates to my friends in Venice, Warsaw, and Turin, and
everybody thanked me for the delicious dish.
Noel had made quite a fortune. He assured me he had sent large
consignments to America, and with the exception of some losses by
shipwreck all the pates had arrived in excellent condition. They were
chiefly made of turkeys, partridges, and hare, seasoned with truffles,
but he also made pates de foie gras of larks and of thrushes, according
to the season.
In two days I arrived at Bordeaux, a beautiful town coming only second to
Paris, with respect to Lyons be it said. I spent a week there, eating
and drinking of the best, for the living there is the choicest in the
I transferred my bill of exchange for eight thousand francs to a Madrid
house, and crossed the Landes, passing by Mont de Marsan, Bayonne, and
St. Jean de Luz, where I sold my post-chaise. From St. Jean de Luz I
went to Pampeluna by way of the Pyrenees, which I crossed on mule-back,
my baggage being carried by another mule. The mountains struck me as
higher than the Alps. In this I may possibly be wrong, but I am certain
that the Pyrenees are the most picturesque, fertile, and agreeable of the
At Pampeluna a man named Andrea Capello took charge of me and my luggage,
and we set out for Madrid. For the first twenty leagues the travelling
was easy enough, and the roads as good as any in France. These roads did
honour to the memory of M. de Gages, who had administered Navarre after
the Italian war, and had, as I was assured, made the road at his own
expense. Twenty years earlier I had been arrested by this famous
general; but he had established a claim on posterity greater than any of
his victories. These laurels were dyed in blood, but the maker of a good
road is a solid benefactor of all posterity.
In time this road came to an end, and thenceforth it would be incorrect
to say that the roads were bad, for, to tell the truth, there were no
roads at all. There were steep ascents and violent descents, but no
traces of carriage wheels, and so it is throughout the whole of Old
Castile. There are no good inns, only miserable dens scarce good enough
for the muleteers, who make their beds beside their animals. Signor or
rather Senor Andrea tried to choose the least wretched inns for me, and
after having provided for the mules he would go round the entire village
to get something for me to eat. The landlord would not stir; he shewed
me a room where I could sleep if I liked, containing a fire-place, in
which I could light a fire if I thought fit, but as to procuring firewood
or provisions, he left that all to me. Wretched Spain!
The sum asked for a night's accommodation was less than a farmer would
ask in France or Germany for leave to sleep in his barn; but there was
always an extra charge of a 'pizetta por el ruido'. The pizetta is worth
four reals; about twenty-one French sous.
The landlord smoked his paper cigarette nonchalantly enough, blowing
clouds of smoke into the air with immense dignity. To him poverty was as
good as riches; his wants were small, and his means sufficed for them.
In no country in Europe do the lower orders live so contentedly on a very
little as in Spain. Two ounces of white bread, a handful of roast
chestnuts or acorns (called bellotas in Spanish) suffice to keep a
Spaniard for a day. It is his glory to say when a stranger is departing
from his abode,--
"I have not given myself any trouble in waiting on him."
This proceeds in part from idleness and in part from Castilian pride. A
Castilian should not lower himself, they say, by attending on a Gavacho,
by which name the Spaniards know the French, and, indeed, all foreigners.
It is not so offensive as the Turkish appellation of dog, or the damned
foreigner of the English. Of course, persons who have travelled or have
had a liberal education do not speak in this way, and a respectable
foreigner will find reasonable Spaniards as he will find reasonable Turks
On the second night of my journey I slept at Agreda, a small and ugly
town, or rather village. There Sister Marie d'Agreda became so crazy as
to write a life of the Virgin, which she affirmed to have been dictated
to her by the Mother of the Lord. The State Inquisitors had given me
this work to read when I was under the Leads, and it had nearly driven me
We did ten Spanish leagues a day, and long and weary leagues they seemed
to me. One morning I thought I saw a dozen Capuchins walking slowly in
front of us, but when we caught them up I found they were women of all
"Are they mad?" I said to Senior Andrea.
"Not at all. They wear the Capuchin habit out of devotion, and you would
not find a chemise on one of them."
There was nothing surprising in their not having chemises, for the
chemise is a scarce article in Spain, but the idea of pleasing God by
wearing a Capuchin's habit struck me as extremely odd. I will here
relate an amusing adventure which befell me on my way.
At the gate of a town not far from Madrid I was asked for my passport. I
handed it over, and got down to amuse myself. I found the chief of the
customs' house engaged in an argument with a foreign priest who was on
his way to Madrid, and had no passport for the capital. He skewed one he
had had for Bilbao, but the official was not satisfied. The priest was a
Sicilian, and I asked him why he had exposed himself to being placed in
this disagreeable predicament. He said he thought it was unnecessary to
have a passport in Spain when one had once journeyed in the country.
"I want to go to Madrid," said he to me, "and hope to obtain a chaplaincy
in the house of a grandee. I have a letter for him."
"Shew it; they will let you pass then."
"You are right."
The poor priest drew out the letter and skewed it to the official, who
opened it, looked at the signature, and absolutely shrieked when he saw
the name Squillace.
"What, senor abbe! you are going to Madrid with a letter from Squillace,
and you dare to skew it?"
The clerks, constables, and hangers-on, hearing that the hated Squillace,
who would have been stoned to death if it had not been for the king's
protection, was the poor abbe's only patron, began to beat him violently,
much to the poor Sicilian's astonishment.
I interposed, however, and after some trouble I succeeded in rescuing the
priest, who was then allowed to pass, as I believe, as a set-off against
the blows he had received.
Squillace was sent to Venice as Spanish ambassador, and in Venice he died
at an advanced age. He was a man designed to be an object of intense
hatred to the people; he was simply ruthless in his taxation.
The door of my room had a lock on the outside but none on the inside.
For the first and second night I let it pass, but on the third I told
Senor Andrea that I must have it altered.
"Senor Don Jacob, you must bear with it in Spain, for the Holy
Inquisition must always be at liberty to inspect the rooms of
"But what in the devil's name does your cursed Inquisition want....?"
"For the love of God, Senor Jacob, speak not thus! if you were overheard
we should both be undone."
"Well, what can the Holy Inquisition want to know?"
"Everything. It wants to know whether you eat meat on fast days, whether
persons of opposite sexes sleep together, if so, whether they are
married, and if not married it will cause both parties to be imprisoned;
in fine, Senor Don Jaimo, the Holy inquisition is continually watching
over our souls in this country."
When we met a priest bearing the viaticum to some sick man, Senor Andrea
would tell me imperatively to get out of my carriage, and then there was
no choice but to kneel in the mud or dust as the case might be. The
chief subject of dispute at that time was the fashion of wearing
breeches. Those who wore 'braguettes' were imprisoned, and all tailors
making breeches with 'braguettes' were severely punished. Nevertheless,
people persisted in wearing them, and the priests and monks preached in
vain against the indecency of such a habit. A revolution seemed
imminent, but the matter was happily settled without effusion of blood.
An edict was published and affixed to the doors of all the churches, in
which it was declared that breeches with braguettes were only to be worn
by the public hangmen. Then the fashion passed away; for no one cared to
pass for the public executioner.
By little and little I got an insight into the manners of the Spanish
nation as I passed through Guadalaxara and Alcala, and at length arrived
Guadalaxara, or Guadalajara, is pronounced by the Spaniards with a strong
aspirate, the x and j having the same force. The vowel d, the queen of
letters, reigns supreme in Spain; it is a relic of the old Moorish
language. Everyone knows that the Arabic abounds in d's, and perhaps the
philologists are right in calling it the most ancient of languages, since
the a is the most natural and easy to pronounce of all the letters. It
seems to me very mistaken to call such words as Achald, Ayanda, Almanda,
Acard, Agracaramba, Alcantara, etc., barbarous, for the sonorous ring
with which they are pronounced renders the Castilian the richest of all
modern languages. Spanish is undoubtedly one of the finest, most
energetic, and most majestic languages in the world. When it is
pronounced 'ore rotundo' it is susceptible of the most poetic harmony.
It would be superior to the Italian, if it were not for the three
guttural letters, in spite of what the Spaniards say to the contrary. It
is no good remonstrating with them.
'Quisquis amat ranam, ranam purat esse Dianam'.
As I was entering the Gate of Alcala, my luggage was searched, and the
clerks paid the greatest attention to my books, and they were very
disappointed only to find the "Iliad" in Greek, and a Latin Horace. They
were taken away, but three days after, they were returned to me at my
lodging in the Rue de la Croix where I had gone in spite of Senor Andrea,
who had wanted to take me elsewhere. A worthy man whom I had met in
Bordeaux had given me the address. One of the ceremonies I had to
undergo at the Gate of Alcala displeased me in the highest degree. A
clerk asked me for a pinch of snuff, so I took out my snuff-box and gave
it him, but instead of taking a pinch he snatched it out of my hands and
"Senor, this snuff will not pass in Spain" (it was French rappee); and
after turning it out on the ground he gave me back the box.
The authorities are most rigorous on the matter of this innocent powder,
and in consequence an immense contraband trade is carried on. The spies
employed by the Spanish snuff-makers are always on the look-out after
foreign snuff, and if they detect anyone carrying it they make him pay
dearly for the luxury. The ambassadors of foreign powers are the only
persons exempted from the prohibitions. The king who stuffs into his
enormous nose one enormous pinch as he rises in the morning wills that
all his subjects buy their snuff of the Spanish manufacturers. When
Spanish snuff is pure it is very good, but at the time I was in Spain the
genuine article could hardly be bought for its weight in gold. By reason
of the natural inclination towards forbidden fruit, the Spaniards are
extremely fond of foreign snuff, and care little for their own; thus
snuff is smuggled to an enormous extent.
My lodging was comfortable enough, but I felt the want of a fire as the
cold was more trying than that of Paris, in spite of the southern
latitude. The cause of this cold is that Madrid is the highest town in
Europe. From whatever part of the coast one starts, one has to mount to
reach the capital. The town is also surrounded by mountains and hills,
so that the slightest touch of wind from the north makes the cold
intense. The air of Madrid is not healthy for strangers, especially for
those of a full habit of body; the Spaniards it suits well enough, for
they are dry and thin, and wear a cloak even in the dog days.
The men of Spain dwell mentally in a limited horizon, bounded by
prejudice on every side; but the women, though ignorant, are usually
intelligent; while both sexes are the prey of desires, as lively as their
native air, as burning as the sun that shines on them. Every Spaniard
hates a foreigner, simply because he is a foreigner, but the women avenge
us by loving us, though with great precautions, for your Spaniard is
intensely jealous. They watch most jealously over the honour of their
wives and daughters. As a rule the men are ugly, though there are
numerous exceptions; while the women are pretty, and beauties are not
uncommon. The southern blood in their veins inclines them to love, and
they are always ready to enter into an intrigue and to deceive the spies
by whom they are surrounded. The lover who runs the greatest dangers is
always the favourite. In the public walks, the churches, the theatres,
the Spanish women are always speaking the language of the eyes. If the
person to whom it is addressed knows how to seize the instant, he may be
sure of success, but if not, the opportunity will never be offered him
I required some kind of heat in my room, and could not bear a charcoal
brazier, so I incited an ingenious tin-smith to make me a stove with a
pipe going out of the window. However, he was so proud of his success
that he made me pay dearly.
Before the stove was ready I was told where I might go and warm myself an
hour before noon, and stay till dinner-time. It is called La Pueyta del
Sol, "The Gate of the Sun." It is not a gate, but it takes its name from
the manner in which the source of all heat lavishes his treasures there,
and warms all who come and bask in his rays. I found a numerous company
promenading there, walking and talking, but it was not much to my taste.
I wanted a servant who could speak French, and I had the greatest
difficulty in getting one, and had to pay dearly, for in Madrid the kind
of man I wanted was called a page. I could not compel him to mount
behind my carriage, nor to carry a package, nor to light me by night with
a torch or lantern.
My page was a man of thirty, and terribly ugly; but this was a
recommendation, as his ugliness secured him from the jealous suspicions
of husbands. A woman of rank will not drive out without one of these
pages seated in the forepart of her carriage. They are said to be more
difficult to seduce than the strictest of duennas.
I was obliged to take one of these rascally tribe into my service, and I
wish he had broken his leg on his way to my house.
I delivered all my introductions, beginning with the letter from Princess
Lubomirska to the Count of Aranda. The count had covered himself with
glory by driving the Jesuits out of Spain. He was more powerful than the
king himself, and never went out without a number of the royal guardsmen
about him, whom he made to sit down at his table. Of course all the
Spaniards hated him, but he did not seem to care much for that. A
profound politician, and absolutely resolute and firm, he privately
indulged in every luxury that he forbade to others, and did not care
whether people talked of it or not.
He was a rather ugly man, with a disagreeable squint. His reception of
me was far from cordial.
"What do you want in Spain?" he began.
"To add fresh treasures to my store of experience, by observing the
manners and the customs of the country, and if possible to serve the
Government with such feeble, talents as I may possess."
"Well, you have no need of my protection. If you do not infringe the
laws, no one will disturb you. As to your obtaining employment, you had
better go to the representative of your country; he will introduce you at
Court, and make you known."
"My lord, the Venetian ambassador will do nothing for me; I am in
disgrace with the Government. He will not even receive me at the
"Then I would advise you to give up all hopes of employment, for the king
would begin by asking your ambassador about you, and his answer would be
fatal. You will do well to be satisfied with amusing yourself."
After this I called on the Neapolitan ambassador, who talked in much the
same way. Even the Marquis of Moras, one of the most pleasant men in
Spain, did not hold out any hopes. The Duke of Lossada, the high steward
and favourite of his Catholic majesty, was sorry to be disabled from
doing me any service, in spite of his good will, and advised me, in some
way or other, to get the Venetian ambassador to give me a good word, in
spite of my disgrace. I determined to follow his advice, and wrote to M.
Dandolo, begging him to get the ambassador to favour me at the Spanish
Court in spite of my quarrel with the Venetian Government. I worded my
letter in such a way that it might be read by the Inquisitors themselves,
and calculated on its producing a good impression.
After I had written this letter I went to the lodging of the Venetian
ambassador, and presented myself to the secretary, Gaspar Soderini, a
worthy and intelligent man. Nevertheless, he dared to tell me that he
was astonished at my hardihood in presenting myself at the embassy.
"I have presented myself, sir, that my enemies may never reproach me for
not having done so; I am not aware that I have ever done anything which
makes me too infamous to call on my ambassador. I should have credited
myself with much greater hardihood if I had left without fulfilling this
duty; but I shall be sorry if the ambassador views my proceedings in the
same light as yourself, and puts down to temerity what was meant for a
mark of respect. I shall be none the less astonished if his excellency
refuses to receive me on account of a private quarrel between myself and
the State Inquisitors, of which he knows no more than I do, and I know
nothing. You will excuse my saying that he is not the ambassador of the
State Inquisitors, but of the Republic of which I am a subject; for I
defy him and I defy the Inquisitors to tell me what crime I have
committed that I am to be deprived of my rights as a Venetian citizen. I
think that, while it is my duty to reverence my prince in the person of
my ambassador, it is his duty to afford me his protection."
This speech had made Soderini blush, and he replied,--
"Why don't you write a letter to the ambassador, with the arguments you
have just used to me?"
"I could not write to him before I know whether he will receive me or
not. But now, as I have reason to suppose that his opinions are much the
same as your own, I will certainly write to him."
"I do not know whether his excellency thinks as I do or not, and, in
spite of what I said to you, it is just possible that you do not know my
own opinions on the question; but write to him, and he may possibly give
you an audience."
"I shall follow your advice, for which I am much obliged."
When I got home I wrote to his excellency all I had said to the
secretary, and the next day I had a visit from Count Manucci. The count
proved to be a fine-looking young man of an agreeable presence. He said
that he lived in the embassy, that his excellency had read my letter, and
though he grieved not to receive me publicly he should be delighted to
see me in private, for he both knew and esteemed me.
Young Manucci told me that he was a Venetian, and that he knew me by
name, as he often heard his father and mother lamenting my fortune.
Before long it dawned upon me that this Count Manucci was the son of that
Jean Baptiste Manucci who had served as the spy of the State Inquisitors
and had so adroitly managed to get possession of my books of magic, which
were in all probability the chief corpus delicti.
I did not say anything to him, but I was certain that my guess was
correct. His mother was the daughter of a valet de chambre, and his
father was a poor mechanic. I asked the young man if he were called
count at the embassy, and he said he bore the title in virtue of a
warrant from the elector-palatine. My question skewed him that I knew
his origin, and he began to speak openly to me; and knowing that I was
acquainted with the peculiar tastes of M. de Mocenigo, the ambassador, he
informed me laughingly that he was his pathic.
"I will do my best for you," he added; and I was glad to hear him say so,
for an Alexis should be able to obtain almost anything from his Corydon.
We embraced, and he told me as we parted that he would expect me at the
embassy in the afternoon, to take coffee in his room; the ambassador, he
said, would certainly come in as soon as he heard of my presence.
I went to the embassy, and had a very kind reception from the ambassador,
who said he was deeply grieved not to be able to receive me publicly. He
admitted that he might present me at Court without compromising himself,
but he was afraid of making enemies.
"I hope soon to receive a letter from a friend of mine, which will
authorise your excellency producing me."
"I shall be delighted, in that case, to present you to all the Spanish
This Mocenigo was the same that acquired such a reputation at Paris by
his leanings to pederasty, a vice or taste which the French hold in
horror. Later on, Mocenigo was condemned by the Council of Ten to ten
years' imprisonment for having started on an embassy to Vienna without
formal permission. Maria Theresa had intimated to the Venetian
Government that she would not receive such a character, as his habits
would be the scandal of her capital. The Venetian Government had some
trouble with Mocenigo, and as he attempted to set out for Vienna they
exiled him and chose another ambassador, whose morals were as bad, save
that the new ambassador indulged himself with Hebe and not Ganymede,
which threw a veil of decency over his proceedings.
In spite of his reputation for pederasty, Mocenigo was much liked at
Madrid. On one occasion I was at a ball, and a Spaniard noticing me with
Manucci, came up to me, and told me with an air of mystery that that
young man was the ambassador's wife. He did not know that the ambassador
was Manucci's wife; in fact, he did not understand the arrangement at
all. "Where ignorance is bliss!" etc. However, in spite of the
revolting nature of this vice, it has been a favourite one with several
great men. It was well-known to the Ancients, and those who indulged in
it were called Hermaphrodites, which symbolises not a man of two sexes
but a man with the passions of the two sexes.
I had called two or three times on the painter Mengs, who had been
painter in ordinary to his Catholic majesty for six years, and had an
excellent salary. He gave me some good dinners. His wife and family
were at Rome, while he basked in the royal favours at Madrid, enjoying
the unusual privilege of being able to speak to the king whenever he
would. At Mengs's house I trade the acquaintance of the architect
Sabatini, an extremely able man whom the king had summoned from Naples to
cleanse Madrid, which was formerly the dirtiest and most stinking town in
Europe, or, for the matter of that, in the world. Sabatini had become a
rich man by constructing drains, sewers, and closets for a city of
fourteen thousand houses. He had married by proxy the daughter of
Vanvitelli, who was also an architect at Naples, but he had never seen
her. She came to Madrid about the same time as myself. She was a beauty
of eighteen, and no sooner did she see her husband than she declared she
would never be his wife. Sabatini was neither a young man nor a handsome
one, but he was kind-hearted and distinguished; and when he told his
young wife that she would have to choose between him and a nunnery, she
determined to make the best of what she thought a bad bargain. However,
she had no reason to repent of her choice; her husband was rich,
affectionate, and easygoing, and gave her everything she wanted. I
sighed and burned for her in silence, not daring to declare my love, for
while the wound of the death of Charlotte was still bleeding I also began
to find that women were beginning to give me the cold shoulder.
By way of amusing myself I began to go to the theatre, and the masked
balls to which the Count of Aranda had established. They were held in a
room built for the purpose, and named 'Los Scannos del Peral'. A Spanish
play is full of absurdities, but I rather relished the representations.
The 'Autos Sacramentales' were still represented; they were afterwards
prohibited. I could not help remarking the strange way in which the
boxes are constructed by order of the wretched police. Instead of being
boarded in front they are perfectly open, being kept up by small pillars.
A devotee once said to me at the theatre that this was a very wise
regulation, and he was surprised that it was not carried into force in
"Because lovers, who feel sure that no one in the pit can see them, may
I only answered with a shrug of the shoulders.
In a large box opposite to the stage sat 'los padres' of the Holy
Inquisition to watch over the morals of actors and audience. I was
gazing on them when of a sudden the sentinel at the door of the pit
called out "Dios!" and at this cry all the actors and all the audience,
men and women, fell down on their knees, and remained kneeling till the
sound of a bell in the street ceased to be heard. This bell betokened
that a priest was passing by carrying the viaticum to some sick man. I
felt very much inclined to laugh, but I had seen enough of Spanish
manners to refrain. All the religion of the Spaniard is in outward show
and ceremony. A profligate woman before yielding to the desires of her
lover covers the picture of Christ, or the Virgin, with a veil. If the
lover laughed at this absurdity he would run a risk of being denounced as
an Atheist, and most probably by the wretched woman who had sold him her
In Madrid, and possibly all over Spain, a gentleman who takes a lady to a
private room in an inn must expect to have a servant in the room the
whole of the time, that he may be able to swear that the couple took no
indecent liberties with each other. In spite of all, profligacy is
rampant at Madrid, and also the most dreadful hypocrisy, which is more
offensive to true piety than open sin. Men and women seemed to have come
to an agreement to set the whole system of surveillance utterly at
nought. However, commerce with women is not without its dangers; whether
it be endemic or a result of dirty habits, one has often good reason to
repent the favours one has obtained.
The masked ball quite captivated me. The first time I went to see what
it was like and it only cost me a doubloon (about eleven francs), but
ever after it cost me four doubloons, for the following reason:
An elderly gentleman, who sat next me at supper, guessed I was a
foreigner by my difficulty in making myself understood by the waiter, and
asked me where, I had left my lady friend.
"I have not got one; I came by myself to enjoy this delightful and
"Yes, but you ought to come with a companion; then you could dance. At
present you cannot do so, as every lady has her partner, who will not
allow her to dance with anyone else."
"Then I must be content not to dance, for, being a stranger, I do not
know any lady whom I can ask to come with me."
"As a stranger you would have much less difficulty in securing a partner
than a citizen of Madrid. Under the new fashion, introduced by the Count
of Aranda, the masked ball has become the rage of all the women in the
capital. You see there are about two hundred of them on the floor to-
night; well, I think there are at least four thousand girls in Madrid who
are sighing for someone to take them to the ball, for, as you may know,
no woman is allowed to come by herself. You would only have to go to any
respectable people, give your name and address, and ask to have the
pleasure of taking their daughter to the ball. You would have to send
her a domino, mask, and gloves; and you would take her and bring her back
in your carriage."
"And if the father and mother refused?"
"Then you would make your bow and go, leaving them to repent of their
folly, for the girl would sigh, and weep, and moan, bewail parental
tyranny, call Heaven to witness the innocency of going to a ball, and
finally go into convulsions."
This oration, which was uttered in the most persuasive style, made me
quite gay, for I scented an intrigue from afar. I thanked the masked
(who spoke Italian very well) and promised to follow his advice and to
let him know the results.
"I shall be delighted to hear of your success, and you will find me in
the box, where I shall be glad if you will follow me now, to be
introduced to the lady who is my constant companion."
I was astonished at so much politeness, and told him my name and followed
him. He took me into a box where there were two ladies and an elderly
man. They were talking about the ball, so I put in a remark or two on
the same topic, which seemed to meet with approval. One of the two
ladies, who retained some traces of her former beauty, asked me, in
excellent French, what circles I moved in.
"I have only been a short time in Madrid, and not having been presented
at Court I really know no one."
"Really! I quite pity you. Come and see me, you will be welcome. My
name is Pichona, and anybody will tell you where I live."
"I shall be delighted to pay my respects to you, madam."
What I liked best about the spectacle was a wonderful and fantastic dance
which was struck up at midnight. It was the famous fandango, of which I
had often heard, but of which I had absolutely no idea.
I had seen it danced on the stage in France and Italy, but the actors
were careful not to use those voluptuous gestures which make it the most
seductive in the world. It cannot be described. Each couple only dances
three steps, but the gestures and the attitudes are the most lascivious
imaginable. Everything is represented, from the sigh of desire to the
final ecstasy; it is a very history of love. I could not conceive a
woman refusing her partner anything after this dance, for it seemed made
to stir up the senses. I was so excited at this Bacchanalian spectacle
that I burst out into cries of delight. The masker who had taken me to
his box told me that I should see the fandango danced by the Gitanas with
"But," I remarked, "does not the Inquisition object to this dance?"
Madame Pichona told me that it was absolutely forbidden, and would not be
danced unless the Count of Aranda had given permission.
I heard afterwards that, on the count forbidding the fandango, the ball-
room was deserted with bitter complaints, and on the prohibition being
withdrawn everyone was loud in his praise.
The next day I told my infamous page to get me a Spaniard who would teach
me the fandango. He brought me an actor, who also gave me Spanish
lessons, for he pronounced the language admirably. In the course of
three days the young actor taught me all the steps so well that, by the
confession of the Spaniards themselves, I danced it to perfection.
For the next ball I determined to carry the masker's advice into effect,
but I did not want to take a courtesan or a married woman with me, and I
could not reasonably expect that any young lady of family would accompany
It was St. Anthony's Day, and passing the Church of the Soledad I went
in, with the double motive of hearing mass and of procuring a partner for
the next day's ball.
I noticed a fine-looking girl coming out of the confessional, with
contrite face and lowered eyes, and I noted where she went. She knelt
down in the middle of the church, and I was so attracted by her
appearance that I registered a mental vow to the effect that she should
be my first partner. She did not look like a person of condition, nor,
so far as I could see, was she rich, and nothing about her indicated the
courtesan, though women of that class go to confession in Madrid like
everybody else. When mass was ended, the priest distributed the
Eucharist, and I saw her rise and approach humbly to the holy table, and
there receive the communion. She then returned to the church to finish
her devotions, and I was patient enough to wait till they were over.
At last she left, in company with another girl, and I followed her at a
distance. At the end of a street her companion left her to go into her
house, and she, retracing her steps, turned into another street and
entered a small house, one story high. I noted the house and the street
(Calle des Desinjano) and then walked up and down for half an hour, that
I might not be suspected of following her. At last I took courage and
walked in, and, on my ringing a bell, I heard a voice,
"Who is there?"
"Honest folk," I answered, according to the custom of the country; and
the door was opened. I found myself in the presence of a man, a woman,
the young devotee I had followed, and another girl, somewhat ugly.
My Spanish was bad, but still it was good enough to express my meaning,
and, hat in hand, I informed the father that, being a stranger, and
having no partner to take to the ball, I had come to ask him to give me
his daughter for my partner, supposing he had a daughter. I assured him
that I was a man of honour, and that the girl should be returned to him
after the ball in the same condition as when she started.
"Senor," said he, "there is my daughter, but I don't know you, and I
don't know whether she wants to go."
"I should like to go, if my parents will allow me."
"Then you know this gentleman?"
"I have never seen him, and I suppose he has never seen me."
"You speak the truth, senora."
The father asked me my name and address, and promised I should have a
decisive answer by dinner-time, if I dined at home. I begged him to
excuse the liberty I had taken, and to let me know his answer without
fail, so that I might have time to get another partner if it were
unfavourable to me.
Just as I was beginning to dine my man appeared. I asked him to sit
down, and he informed me that his daughter would accept my offer, but
that her mother would accompany her and sleep in the carriage. I said
that she might do so if she liked, but I should be sorry for her on
account of the cold. "She shall have a good cloak," said he; and he
proceeded to inform me that he was a cordwainer.
"Then I hope you will take my measure for a pair of shoes."
"I daren't do that; I'm an hidalgo, and if I were to take anyone's
measure I should have to touch his foot, and that would be a degradation.
I am a cobbler, and that is not inconsistent with my nobility."
"Then, will you mend me these boots?"
"I will make them like new; but I see they want a lot of work; it will
cost you a pezzo duro, about five francs."
I told him that I thought his terms very reasonable, and he went out with
a profound bow, refusing absolutely to dine with me.
Here was a cobbler who despised bootmakers because they had to touch the
foot, and they, no doubt, despised him because he touched old leather.
Unhappy pride how many forms it assumes, and who is without his own
peculiar form of it?
The next day I sent to the gentleman-cobbler's a tradesman with dominos,
masks, and gloves; but I took care not to go myself nor to send my page,
for whom I had an aversion which almost amounted to a presentiment. I
hired a carriage to seat four, and at nightfall I drove to the house of
my pious partner, who was quite ready for me. The happy flush on her
face was a sufficient index to me of the feelings of her heart. We got
into the carriage with the mother, who was wrapped up in a vast cloak,
and at the door of the dancing-room we descended, leaving the mother in
the carriage. As soon as we were alone my fair partner told me that her
name was Donna Ignazia.
My Amours With Donna Ignazia--My Imprisonment At Buen Retiro--My Triumph
--I Am Commended to the Venetian Ambassador by One of the State
We entered the ball-room and walked round several times. Donna Ignazia
was in such a state of ecstasy that I felt her trembling, and augured
well for my amorous projects. Though liberty, nay, license, seemed to
reign supreme, there was a guard of soldiers ready to arrest the first
person who created any disturbance. We danced several minuets and square
dances, and at ten o'clock we went into the supper-room, our conversation
being very limited all the while, she not speaking for fear of
encouraging me too much, and I on account of my poor knowledge of the
Spanish language. I left her alone for a moment after supper, and went
to the box, where I expected to find Madame Pichona, but it was occupied
by maskers, who were unknown to me, so I rejoined my partner, and we went
on dancing the minuets and quadrilles till the fandango was announced. I
took my place with my partner, who danced it admirably, and seemed
astonished to find herself so well supported by a foreigner. This dance
had excited both of us, so, after taking her to the buffet and giving her
the best wines and liqueurs procurable, I asked her if she were content
with me. I added that I was so deeply in love with her that unless she
found some means of making me happy I should undoubtedly die of love. I
assured her that I was ready to face all hazards.
"By making you happy," she replied, "I shall make myself happy, too. I
will write to you to-morrow, and you will find the letter sewn into the
hood of my domino."
"You will find me ready to do anything, fair Ignazia, if you will give me
At last the ball was over, and we went out and got into the carriage.
The mother woke up, and the coachman drove off, and I, taking the girl's
hands, would have kissed them. However, she seemed to suspect that I had
other intentions, and held my hands clasped so tightly that I believe I
should have found it a hard task to pull them away. In this position
Donna Ignazia proceeded to tell her mother all about the ball, and the
delight it had given her. She did not let go my hands till we got to the
corner of their street, when the mother called out to the coachman to
stop, not wishing to give her neighbours occasion for slander by stopping
in front of their own house.
The next day I sent for the domino, and in it I found a letter from Donna
Ignazia, in which she told me that a Don Francisco de Ramos would call on
me, that he was her lover, and that he would inform me how to render her
and myself happy.
Don Francisco wasted no time, for the next morning at eight o'clock my
page sent in his name. He told me that Donna Ignazia, with whom he spoke
every night, she being at her window and he in the street, had informed
him that she and I had been at the ball together. She had also told him
that she felt sure I had conceived a fatherly affection for her, and she
had consequently prevailed upon him to call on me, being certain that I
would treat him as my own son. She had encouraged him to ask me to lend
him a hundred doubloons which would enable them to get married before the
end of the carnival.
"I am employed at the Mint," he added, "but my present salary is a very
small one. I hope I shall get an increase before long, and then I shall
be in a position to make Ignazia happy. All my relations live at Toledo,
and I have no friends at Madrid, so when we set up our only friends will
be the father and mother of my wife and yourself, for I am sure you love
her like a daughter."
"You have probed my heart to its core," I replied, "but just now I am
awaiting remittances, and have very little money about me. You may count
on my discretion, and I shall be delighted to see you whenever you care
to call on me."
The gallant made me a bow, and took his departure in no good humour. Don
Francisco was a young man of twenty-two, ugly and ill-made. I resolved
to nip the intrigue in the bud, for my inclination for Donna Ignazia was
of the lightest description; and I went to call on Madame Pichona, who
had given me such a polite invitation to come and see her. I had made
enquiries about her, and had found out that she was an actress and had
been made rich by the Duke of Medina-Celi. The duke had paid her a visit
in very cold weather, and finding her without a fire, as she was too poor
to buy coals, had sent her the next day a silver stove, which he had
filled with a hundred thousand pezzos duros in gold, amounting to three
hundred thousand francs in French money. Since then Madame Pichona lived
at her ease and received good company.
She gave me a warm reception when I called on her, but her looks were
sad. I began by saying that as I had not found her in her box on the
last ball night I had ventured to come to enquire after her health.
"I did not go," said she, "for on that day died my only friend the Duke
of Medina-Celi. He was ill for three days."
"I sympathise with you. Was the duke an old man?"
"Hardly sixty. You have seen him; he did not look his age."
"Where have I seen him?"
"Did he not bring you to my box?"
"You don't say so! He did not tell me his name and I never saw him
I was grieved to hear of his death; it was in all probability a
misfortune for me as well as Madame Pichona. All the duke's estate
passed to a son of miserly disposition, who in his turn had a son who was
beginning to evince the utmost extravagance.
I was told that the family of Medina-Celi enjoys thirty titles of
One day a young man called on me to offer me, as a foreigner, his
services in a country which he knew thoroughly.
"I am Count Marazzini de Plaisance," he began, "I am not rich and I have
come to Madrid to try and make my fortune. I hope to enter the bodyguard
of his Catholic majesty. I have been indulging in the amusements of the
town ever since I came. I saw you at the ball with an unknown beauty. I
don't ask you to tell me her name, but if you are fond of novelty I can
introduce you to all the handsomest girls in Madrid."
If my experience had taught me such wholesome lessons as I might have
expected, I should have shown the impudent rascal the door. Alas!
I began to be weary of my experience and the fruits of it; I began to
feel the horrors of a great void; I had need of some slight passion to
wile away the dreary hours. I therefore made this Mercury welcome, and
told him I should be obliged by his presenting me to some beauties,
neither too easy nor too difficult to access.
"Come with me to the ball," he rejoined, "and I will shew you some women
worthy of your attention."
The ball was to take place the same evening, and I agreed; he asked me to
give him some dinner, and I agreed to that also. After dinner he told me
he had no money, and I was foolish enough to give him a doubloon. The
fellow, who was ugly, blind of one eye, and full of impudence, shewed me
a score of pretty women, whose histories he told me, and seeing me to be
interested in one of them he promised to bring her to a procuress. He
kept his word, but he cost me dear; for the girl only served for an
Towards the end of the carnival the noble Don Diego, the father of Donna
Ignazia, brought me my boots, and the thanks of his wife and himself for
the pleasure I had given her at the ball.
"She is as good as she is beautiful," said I, "she deserves to prosper,
and if I have not called on her it is only that I am anxious to do
nothing which could injure her reputation."
"Her reputation, Senor Caballero, is above all reproach, and I shall be
delighted to see you whenever you honour me with a call."
"The carnival draws near to its end," I replied, "and if Donna Ignazia
would like to go to another ball I shall be happy to take her again."
"You must come and ask her yourself."
"I will not fail to do so."
I was anxious to see how the pious girl, who had tried to make me pay a
hundred doubloons for the chance of having her after her marriage, would
greet me, so I called the same day. I found her with her mother, rosary
in hand, while her noble father was botching old boots. I laughed
inwardly at being obliged to give the title of don to a cobbler who would
not make boots because he was an hidalgo. Hidalgo, meaning noble, is
derived from 'higo de albo', son of somebody, and the people, whom the
nobles call 'higos de nade', sons of nobody, often revenge themselves by
calling the nobles hideputas, that is to say, sons of harlots.
Donna Ignazia rose politely from the floor, where she was sitting cross-
legged, after the Moorish fashion. I have seen exalted ladies in this
position at Madrid, and it is very common in the antechambers of the
Court and the palace of the Princess of the Asturias. The Spanish women
sit in church in the same way, and the rapidity with which they can
change this posture to a kneeling or a standing one is something amazing.
Donna Ignazia thanked me for honouring her with a visit, adding that she
would never have gone to the ball if it had not been for me, and that she
never hoped to go to it again, as I had doubtless found someone else more
worthy of my attentions.
"I have not found anyone worthy to be preferred before you," I replied,
"and if you would like to go to the ball again I should be most happy to
The father and mother were delighted with the pleasure I was about to
give to their beloved daughter. As the ball was to take place the same
evening, I gave the mother a doubloon to get a mask and domino. She went
on her errand, and, as Don Diego also went out on some business, I found
myself alone with the girl. I took the opportunity of telling her that
if she willed I would be hers, as I adored her, but that I could not sigh
"What can you ask, and what can I offer, since I must keep myself pure
for my husband?"
"You should abandon yourself to me without reserve, and you may be sure
that I should respect your innocence."
I then proceeded to deliver a gentle attack, which she repulsed, with a
serious face. I stopped directly, telling her that she would find me
polite and respectful, but not in the least affectionate, for the rest of
Her face had blushed a vivid scarlet, and she replied that her sense of
duty obliged her to repulse me in spite of herself.
I liked this metaphysical line of argument. I saw that I had only to
destroy the idea of duty in her and all the rest would follow. What I
had to do was to enter into an argument, and to bear away the prize
directly I saw her at a loss for an answer.
"If your duty," I began, "forces you to repulse me in spite of yourself,
your duty is a burden on you. If it is a burden on you, it is your
enemy, and if it is your enemy why do you suffer it thus lightly to gain
the victory? If you were your own friend, you would at once expel this
insolent enemy from your coasts."
"That may not be."
"Yes, it may. Only shut your eyes."
I immediately laid hands on a tender place; she repulsed me, but more
gently and not so seriously as before.
"You may, of course, seduce me," she said, "but if you really love me you
will spare me the shame."
"Dearest Ignazia, there is no shame in a girl giving herself up to the
man she loves. Love justifies all things. If you do not love me I ask
nothing of you."
"But how shall I convince you that I am actuated by love and not by
"Leave me to do what I like, and my self-esteem will help me to believe
"But as I cannot be certain that you will believe me, my duty plainly
points to a refusal."
"Very good, but you will make me sad and cold."
"Then I shall be sad, too."
At these encouraging words I embraced her, and obtained some solid
favours with one hardy hand. She made no opposition, and I was well
pleased with what I had got; and for a first attempt I could not well
At this juncture the mother came in with the dominos and gloves. I
refused to accept the change, and went away to return in my carriage, as
Thus the first step had been taken, and Donna Ignazia felt it would be
ridiculous not to join in with my conversation at the ball which all
tended to procuring the pleasure of spending our nights together. She
found me affectionate all the evening, and at supper I did my best to get
her everything she liked. I made her see that the part she had at last
taken was worthy of praise, and not blame. I filled her pockets with
sweets, and put into my own pockets two bottles of ratafia, which I
handed over to the mother, who was asleep in the carriage. Donna Ignazia
gratefully refused the quadruple I wished to give her, saying that if it
were in my power to make such presents, I might give the money to her
lover whenever he called on me.
"Certainly," I answered, "but what shall I say to prevent his taking
"Tell him that it is on account of what he asked you. He is poor, and I
am sure he is in despair at not seeing me in the window to-night. I
shall tell him I only went to the ball with you to please my father."
Donna Ignazia, a mixture of voluptuousness and piety, like most Spanish
women, danced the fandango with so much fire that no words could have
expressed so well the Joys that were in store for me. What a dance it
is! Her bosom was heaving and her blood all aflame, and yet I was told
that for the greater part of the company the dance was wholly innocent,
and devoid of any intention. I pretended to believe it, but I certainly
did not. Ignazia begged me to come to mass at the Church of the Soledad
the next day at eight o'clock. I had not yet told her that it was there
I had seen her first. She also asked me to come and see her in the
evening, and said she would send me a letter if we were not left alone
I slept till noon, and was awoke by Marazzini, who came to ask me to give
him some dinner. He told me he had seen me with my fair companion the
night before, and that he had vainly endeavoured to find out who she was.
I bore with this singularly misplaced curiosity, but when it came to his
saying that he would have followed us if he had had any money, I spoke to
him in a manner that made him turn pale. He begged pardon, and promised
to bridle his curiosity for the future. He proposed a party of pleasure
with the famous courtezan Spiletta, whose favours were dear, but I
declined, for my mind was taken up with the fair Ignazia, whom I
considered a worthy successor to Charlotte.
I went to the church, and she saw me when she came in, followed by the
same companion as before.
She knelt down at two or three paces from me, but did not once look in my
direction. Her friend, on the other hand, inspected me closely; she
seemed about the same age as Ignazia, but she was ugly. I also noticed
Don Francisco, and as I was going out of the church my rival followed me,
and congratulated me somewhat bitterly on my good fortune in having taken
his mistress a second time to the ball. He confessed that he had been on
our track the whole evening, and that he should have gone away well
enough pleased if it had not been for the way in which we dance the
fandango. I felt this was an occasion for a little gentle management,
and I answered good-humouredly that the love he thought he noticed was
wholly imaginary, and that he was wrong to entertain any suspicions as to
so virtuous a girl as Donna Ignazia. At the same time I placed an ounce
in his hand, begging him to take it on account. He did so with an
astonished stare, and, calling me his father and guardian angel, swore an
In the evening I called on Don Diego, where I was regaled with the
excellent ratafia I had given the mother, and the whole family began to
speak of the obligations Spain owed to the Count of Aranda.
"No exercise is more healthful than dancing," said Antonia, the mother,
"and before his time balls were strictly forbidden. In spite of that he
is hated for having expelled 'los padres de la compagnia de Jesus', and
for his sumptuary regulations. But the poor bless his name, for all the
money produced by the balls goes to them."
"And thus," said the father, "to go to the ball is to do a pious work."
"I have two cousins," said Ignazia, "who are perfect angels of goodness.
I told them that you had taken me to the ball; but they are so poor that
they have no hope of going. If you like you can make them quite happy by
taking them on the last day of the carnival. The ball closes at
midnight, so as not to profane Ash Wednesday."
"I shall be happy to oblige you, all the more as your lady mother will
not be obliged to wait for us in the carriage."
"You are very kind; but I shall have to introduce you to my aunt; she is
so particular. When she knows you, I am sure she will consent, for you
have all the air of discretion. Go and see her to-day; she lives in the
next street, and over her door you will see a notice that lace is washed
within. Tell her that my mother gave you the address. To-morrow
morning, after mass, I will see to everything else, and you must come
here at noon to agree as to our meeting on the last day of the carnival."
I did all this, and the next day I heard that it was settled.
"I will have the dominos ready at my house," I said, "and you must come
in at the back door. We will dine in my room, mask, and go to the ball.
The eldest of your cousins must be disguised as a man."
"I won't tell her anything about that, for fear she might think it a sin,
but once in your house you will have no difficulty in managing her."
The younger of the two cousins was ugly, but looked like a woman, where
as the elder looked like an ugly dressed man in woman's clothes. She
made an amusing contrast with Donna Ignazia, who looked most seductive
when she laid aside her air of piety.
I took care that everything requisite for our disguises should be at hand
in a neighbouring closet, unbeknown to my rascally page. I gave him a
piece of money in the morning, and told him to spend the last day of the
carnival according to his own taste, as I should not require his services
till noon the day after.
I ordered a good dinner, and a waiter to serve it, at the tavern, and got
rid of Marazzini by giving him a doubloon. I took great pains over the
entertainment I was to give the two cousins and the fair Ignazia, whom I
hoped that day to make my mistress. It was all quite a novelty for me; I
had to do with three devotees, two hideous and the third ravishingly
beautiful, who had already had a foretaste of the joys in store for her.
They came at noon, and for an hour I discoursed to them in a moral and
unctuous manner. I had taken care to provide myself with some excellent
wine, which did not fail to take effect on the three girls, who were not
accustomed to a dinner that lasted two hours. They were not exactly
inebriated, but their spirits were worked up to a pitch they had never
I told the elder cousin, who might be twenty-five years old, that I was
going to disguise her as a man; consternation appeared on her features,
but I had expected as much, and Donna Ignazia told her she was only too
lucky, and her sister observed that she did not think it could be a sin.
"If it were a sin," said I, "do you suppose that I should have suggested
it to your virtuous sister."
Donna Ignazia, who knew the Legendarium by heart, corroborated my
assertion by saying that the blessed St. Marina had passed her whole life
in man's clothes; and this settled the matter.
I then burst into a very high-flown eulogium of her intellectual
capacity, so as to enlist her vanity in the good cause.
"Come with me," said I, "and do you ladies wait here; I want to enjoy
your surprise when you see her in man's clothes."
The ugly cousin made a supreme effort and followed me, and when she had
duly inspected her disguise I told her to take off her boots and to put
on white stockings and shoes, of which I had provided several pairs. I
sat down before her, and told her that if she suspected me of any
dishonourable intentions she would commit a mortal sin, as I was old
enough to be her father. She replied that she was a good Christian, but
not a fool. I fastened her garters for her, saying that I should never
have supposed she had so well-shapen and so white a leg, which compliment
made her smile in a satisfied manner.
Although I had a fine view of her thighs, I observed no traces of a blush
on her face. I then gave her a pair, of my breeches, which fitted her
admirably, though I was five inches taller than she, but this difference
was compensated by the posterior proportions, with which, like most
women, she was bountifully endowed. I turned away to let her put them on
in freedom, and, having given her a linen shirt, she told me she had
finished before she had buttoned it at the neck. There may possibly have
been a little coquetry in this, as I buttoned the shirt for her, and was
thus gratified with a sight of her splendid breast. I need not say
whether she was pleased or not at my refraining from complimenting her
upon her fine proportions. When her toilette was finished I surveyed her
from head to foot, and pronounced her to be a perfect man, with the
exception of one blemish.
"I am sorry for that."
"Will you allow me to arrange your shirt so as to obviate it?"
"I shall be much obliged, as I have never dressed in man's clothes
I then sat down in front of her, and, after unbuttoning the fly, arranged
the shirt in a proper manner. In doing so I allowed myself some small
liberties, but I toyed with such a serious air that she seemed to take it
all as a matter of course.
When I had put on her domino and mask I led her forth, and her sister and
Donna Ignazia congratulated her on her disguise, saying that anybody
would take her for a man.
"Now it's your turn," I said to the younger one.
"Go with him," said the elder, "Don Jaime is as honest a man as you will
find in Spain."
There was really not much to be done to the younger sister, her disguise
being simply a mask and domino, but as I wanted to keep Ignazia a long
time I made her put on white stockings, change her kerchief, and a dozen
other trifles. When she was ready I brought her forth, and Donna Ignazia
noticing that she had changed her stockings and kerchief, asked her
whether I were as expert at dressing a lady as at turning a lady into a
"I don't know," she replied, "I did everything for myself."
Next came the turn of Don Diego's daughter, and as soon as I had her in
the closet I did my pleasure on her, she submitting with an air that
seemed to say, "I only give in because I can't resist." Wishing to save
her honour I withdrew in time, but in the second combat I held her for
half an hour to my arms. However, she was naturally of a passionate
disposition, and nature had endowed her with a temperament able to resist
the most vigorous attacks. When decency made us leave the closet, she
remarked to her cousins,
"I thought I should never have done; I had to alter the whole fit of the
I admired her presence of mind.
At nightfall we went to the ball, at which the fandango might be danced
ad libitum by a special privilege, but the crowd was so great that
dancing was out of the question. At ten we had supper, and then walked
up and down, till all at once the two orchestras became silent. We heard
the church clocks striking midnight the carnival was over, and Lent had
This rapid transition from wantonness to devotion, from paganism to
Christianity, has something startling and unnatural about it. At fifty-
nine minutes past eleven the senses are all aglow; midnight sounds, and
in a minute they are supposed to be brought low, and the heart to be full
of humble repentance; it is an absurdity, an impossibility.
I took the three girls to my house to take off their dominos, and we then
escorted the two cousins home. When we had left them for a few minutes
Donna Ignazia told me that she would like a little coffee. I understood
her, and took her to my house, feeling sure of two hours of mutual
I took her to my room, and was just going out to order the coffee when I
met Don Francisco, who asked me plainly to let him come up, as he had
seen Donna Ignazia go in with me. I had sufficient strength of mind to
conceal my rage and disappointment, and told him to come in, adding that
his mistress would be delighted at this unexpected visit. I went
upstairs, and he followed me, and I shewed him into the room,
congratulating the lady on the pleasant surprise.
I expected that she would play her part as well as I had played mine, but
I was wrong. In her rage she told him that she would never have asked me
to give her a cup of coffee if she had foreseen this piece of
importunity, adding that if he had been a gentleman he would have known
better than to intrude himself at such an hour.
In spite of my own anger I felt that I must take the poor devil's part;
he looked like a dog with a tin kettle tied to his tail. I tried to calm
Donna Ignazia, telling her that Don Francisco had seen us by a mere
accident, and that it was I who had asked him to come upstairs, in the
hope of pleasing her.
Donna Ignazia feigned to be persuaded and asked her lover to sit down,
but she did not speak another word to him, confining her remarks to me,
saying how much she had enjoyed the ball, and how kind I had been to take
After he had taken a cup of coffee, Don Francisco bade us a good night.
I told him I hoped he would come and see me before Lent was over, but
Donna Ignazia only vouchsafed him a slight nod. When he had gone she
said, sadly enough, that she was sorry he had deprived us both of our
pleasure, and that she was sure Don Francisco was still hanging about the
place, and that she dared not expose herself to his vengeance. "So take
me home, but if you love me come and see me again. The trick the stupid
fellow has played me shall cost him dear. Are you sure I don't love
"Quite certain, for you love me too well to love anybody else."
Donna Ignazia gave me a hasty proof of her affection, and I escorted her
home, assuring her that she would be the sole object of my thoughts as
long as I stayed at Madrid.
The next day I dined with Mengs, and the day after that I was accosted in
the street by an ill-looking fellow, who bade me follow him to a
cloister, as he had something of importance to communicate to me.
As soon as he saw that we were unobserved, he told me that the Alcalde
Messa was going to pay me a visit that same night with a band of police,
"of whom," he added, "I am one. He knows you have concealed weapons in
your room. He knows, or thinks he knows, certain other things which
authorize him to seize your person and to take you to the prison where
persons destined for the galleys are kept. I give you all this warning
because I believe you to be a man of honour. Despise not my advice, but
look to yourself, and get into some place of security."
I credited what he told me, as the circumstance of my having arms was
perfectly true, so I gave the man a doubloon, and, instead of calling on
Donna Ignazia, as I intended, I went back to my lodging, and after
putting the weapons under my cloak I went to Mengs's, leaving word at the
cafe to send me my page as soon as he came back. In Mengs's house I was
safe, as it belonged to the king.
The painter was an honest fellow, but proud and suspicious in excess. He
did not refuse me an asylum for the night, but he told me that I must
look out for some other refuge, as the alcalde must have some other
accusation against me, and that knowing nothing of the merits or demerits
of the case he could not take any part in it. He gave me a room and we
supped together, discussing the matter all the time, I persisting that
the possession of arms was my only offence, and he replying that if it
were so I should have awaited the alcalde fearlessly, as it stood to
reason that a man had a right to keep defensive weapons in his own room.
To this I answered that I had only come to him to avoid passing the night
in prison, as I was certain that the man had told me the truth.
"To-morrow I shall look out for another lodging."
I confessed, however, that it would have been wiser of me to leave my
pistols and musket in my room.
"Yes, and you might have remained there yourself. I did not think you
were so easily frightened."
As we were arguing it over my landlord came and said that the alcalde
with thirty constables had been to my apartment and had broken open the
door. He had searched everything, but unsuccessfully, and had gone away
after sealing the room and its contents. He had arrested and imprisoned
my page on the charge of having warned me, "for otherwise," he said, "the
Venetian gentleman would never have gone to the house of Chevalier Mengs,
where he is out of my power."
At this Mengs agreed that I had been right in believing my informant's
tale, and he added that the first thing in the morning I should go and
protest my innocence before the Count of Aranda, but he especially urged
on me the duty of defending the poor page. My landlord went his way, and
we continued the discussion, Mengs insisting on the page's innocence,
till at last I lost all patience, and said,--
"My page must be a thorough-paced scoundrel; the magistrate's arresting
him for warning me is an absolute proof that he knew of my approaching
arrest. What is a servant who does not warn his master under such
circumstances but a rascal? Indeed I am absolutely certain that he was
the informer, for he was the only person who knew where the arms were
Mengs could find no answer to this, and left to go to bed. I did the
same and had an excellent night.
Early the next morning the great Mengs sent me linen and all the
requisites of the toilette. His maid brought me a cup of chocolate, and
his cook came to ask if I had permission to eat flesh-meat. In such ways
a prince welcomes a guest, and bids him stay, but such behaviour in a
private person is equivalent to a hint to go. I expressed my gratitude,
and only accepted a cup of chocolate and one handkerchief.
My carriage was at the door, and I was just taking leave of Mengs when an
officer appeared on the scene, and asked the painter if the Chevalier de
Casanova was in his house.
"I am the Chevalier de Casanova," said I.
"Then I hope you will follow me of your own free will to the prison of
Buen Retiro. I cannot use force here, for this house is the king's, but
I warn you that in less than an hour the Chevalier Mengs will have orders
to turn you out, and then you will be dragged to prison, which would be
unpleasant for you. I therefore advise you to follow me quietly, and to
give up such weapons as you may possess."
"The Chevalier Mengs will give you the weapons in question. I have
carried them with me for eleven years; they are meant to protect me on
the highways. I am ready to follow you, but first allow me to write four
notes; I shall not be half an hour."
"I can neither allow you to wait nor to write, but you will be at liberty
to do so after you have reached the prison."
"Very good; then I am ready to follow you, for I have no choice. I shall
remember Spanish justice!"
I embraced Mengs, had the weapons put into my carriage, and got in with
the officer, who seemed a perfect gentleman.
He took me to the Castle of Buen Retiro, formerly a royal palace, and now
a prison. When my conductor had consigned me to the officer of the watch
I was handed over to a corporal, who led me into a vast hall on the
ground floor of the building. The stench was dreadful, and the prisoners
were about thirty, ten of them being soldiers. There were ten or twelve
large beds, some benches, no tables, and no chairs.
I asked a guard to get me some pens, ink, and paper, and gave him a duro
for the purpose. He took the coin smilingly, and went away, but he did
not return. When I asked his brethren what had become of him they
laughed in my face. But what surprised me the most was the sight of my
page and Marazzini, who told me in Italian that he had been there for
three days, and that he had not written to me as he had a presentiment
that we should soon meet. He added that in a fortnight's time we should
be sent off under a heavy escort to work in some fortress, though we
might send our pleas to the Government, and might possibly be let out
after three or four years' imprisonment.
"I hope," he said, "not to be condemned before I am heard. The alcalde
will come and interrogate you tomorrow, and your answers will be taken
down; that's all. You may then be sent to hard labour in Africa."
"Has your case been heard yet?"
"They were at me about it for three hours yesterday."
"What kind of questions did they ask you?"
"They wished to know what banker furnished me with money for my expenses.
I told them I had not got a banker, and that I lived by borrowing from my
friends, in the expectation of becoming one of the king's body-guard.
They then asked me how it was that the Parmese ambassador knew nothing
about me, and I replied that I had never been presented to him.
"'Without the favour of your ambassador,' they objected, 'you could never
join the royal guard, and you must be aware of that, but the king's
majesty shall give you employment where you will stand in need of no
commendation;' and so the alcalde left me. If the Venetian ambassador
does not interpose in your behalf you will be treated in the same way."
I concealed my rage, and sat down on a bed, which I left after three
hours, as I found myself covered with the disgusting vermin which seem
endemic in Spain. The very sight of them made me sick. I stood upright,
motionless, and silent, devouring the bile which consumed me.
There was no good in talking; I must write; but where was I to find
writing materials? However, I resolved to wait in silence; my time must
come, sooner or later.
At noon Marazzini told me that he knew a soldier for whose
trustworthiness he would answer, and who would get me my dinner if I gave
him the money.
"I have no appetite," I replied, "and I am not going to give a farthing
to anyone till the stolen crown is restored to me."
He made an uproar over this piece of cheating, but the soldiers only
laughed at him. My page then asked him to intercede with me, as he was
hungry, and had no money wherewith to buy food.
"I will not give him a farthing; he is no longer in my service, and would
to God I had never seen him!"
My companions in misery proceeded to dine on bad garlic soup and wretched
bread, washed down by plain water, two priests and an individual who was
styled corregidor excepted, and they seemed to fare very well.
At four o'clock one of Mengs's servants brought me a dinner which would
have sufficed for four. He wanted to leave me the dinner and come for
the plates in the evening; but not caring to share the meal with the vile
mob around me I made him wait till I had done and come again at the same
time the next day, as I did not require any supper. The servant obeyed.
Marazzini said rudely that I might at least have kept the bottle of wine;
but I gave him no answer.
At five o'clock Manucci appeared, accompanied by a Spanish officer.
After the usual compliments had passed between us I asked the officer if
I might write to my friends, who would not allow me to stay much longer
in prison if they were advised of my arrest.
"We are no tyrants," he replied; "you can write what letters you like."
"Then," said I, "as this is a free country, is it allowable for a soldier
who has received certain moneys to buy certain articles to pocket the
money and appropriate it to his own use?"
"What is his name?"
The guard had been relieved, and no one seemed to know who or where he
"I promise you, sir," said the officer, "that the soldier shall be
punished and your money restored to you; and in the meanwhile you shall
have pens, ink, paper, a table, and a candle, immediately."
"And I," added Manucci, "promise you that one of the ambassador's
servants shall wait on you at eight o'clock to deliver any letters you
I took three crowns from my pocket, and told my fellow-prisoners that the
first to name the soldier who had deceived me should have the money;
Marazzini was the first to do so. The officer made a note of the man's
name with a smile; he was beginning to know me; I had spent three crowns
to get back one, and could not be very avaricious.
Manucci whispered to me that the ambassador would do his best in a
confidential way to get my release, and that he had no doubt of his
When my visitors were gone I sat down to write, but I had need of all my
patience. The rascally prisoners crowded round me to read what I was
writing, and when they could not understand it they were impudent enough
to ask me to explain it to them. Under the pretext of snuffing the
candle, they put it out. However, I bore with it all. One of the
soldiers said he would keep them quiet for a crown, but I gave him no
answer. In spite of the hell around me, I finished my letters and sealed
them up. They were no studied or rhetorical epistles, but merely the
expression of the fury with which I was consumed.
I told Mocenigo that it was his duty to defend a subject of his prince,
who had been arrested and imprisoned by a foreign power on an idle
pretext. I shewed him that he must give me his protection unless I was
guilty, and that I had committed no offence against the law of the land.
I reminded him that I was a Venetian, in spite of my persecution at the
hands of the State Inquisitors, and that being a Venetian I had a right
to count on his protection.
To Don Emmanuel de Roda, a learned scholar, and the minister of justice,
I wrote that I did not ask any favour but only simple justice.
"Serve God and your master," said I. "Let his Catholic majesty save me
from the hands of the infamous alcalde who has arrested me, an honest and
a law-abiding man, who came to Spain trusting in his own innocence and
the protection of the laws. The person who writes to you, my lord, has a
purse full of doubloons in his pocket; he has already been robbed, and
fears assassination in the filthy den in which he has been imprisoned."
I wrote to the Duke of Lossada, requesting him to inform the king that
his servants had subjected to vile treatment a man whose only fault was
that he had a little money. I begged him to use his influence with his
Catholic majesty to put a stop to these infamous proceedings.
But the most vigorous letter of all was the one I addressed to the Count
of Aranda. I told him plainly that if this infamous action went on I
should be forced to believe that it was by his orders, since I had stated
in vain that I came to Madrid with an introduction to him from a
"I have committed no crime," I said; "what compensation am I to have when
I am released from this filthy and abominable place? Set me at liberty
at once, or tell your hangmen to finish their work, for I warn you that
no one shall take me to the galleys alive."
According to my custom I took copies of all the letters, and I sent them
off by the servant whom the all-powerful Manucci despatched to the
prison. I passed such a night as Dante might have imagined in his Vision
of Hell. All the beds were full, and even if there had been a spare
place I would not have occupied it. I asked in vain for a mattress, but
even if they had brought me one, it would have been of no use, for the
whole floor was inundated. There were only two or three chamber utensils
for all the prisoners, and everyone discharged his occasions on the
I spent the night on a narrow bench without a back, resting my head on my
At seven o'clock the next morning Manucci came to see me; I looked upon
him as my Providence. I begged him to take me down to the guard-room,
and give me some refreshment, for I felt quite exhausted. My request was
granted, and as I told my sufferings I had my hair done by a barber.
Manucci told me that my letters would be delivered in the course of the
day, and observed, smilingly, that my epistle to the ambassador was
rather severe. I shewed him copies of the three others I had written,
and the inexperienced young man told me that gentleness was the best way
to obtain favours. He did not know that there are circumstances in which
a man's pen must be dipped in gall. He told me confidentially that the
ambassador dined with Aranda that day, and would speak in my favour as a
private individual, adding that he was afraid my letter would prejudice
the proud Spaniard against me.
"All I ask of you," said I, "is not to tell the ambassador that you have
seen the letter I wrote to the Count of Aranda."
He promised he would keep the secret.
An hour after his departure I saw Donna Ignazia and her father coming in,
accompanied by the officer who had treated me with such consideration.
Their visit cut me to the quick; nevertheless, I felt grateful, for it
shewed me the 'goodness of Don Diego's heart and the love of the fair
I gave them to understand, in my bad Spanish, that I was grateful for the
honour they had done me in visiting me in this dreadful situation. Donna
Ignazia did not speak, she only wept in silence; but Don Diego gave me
clearly to understand that he would never have come to see me unless he
had felt certain that my accusation was a mistake or an infamous calumny.
He told me he was sure I should be set free, and that proper satisfaction
would be given me.
"I hope so," I replied, "for I am perfectly innocent of any offence."
I was greatly touched when the worthy man slipped into my hands a
rouleau, telling me it contained twelve quadruples, which I could repay
at my convenience.
It was more than a thousand francs, and my hair stood on end. I pressed
his hand warmly, and whispered to him that I had fifty in my pocket,
which I was afraid to shew him, for fear the rascals around might rob me.
He put back his rouleau, and bade me farewell in tears, and I promised to
come and see him as soon as I should be set at liberty.
He had not sent in his name, and as he was very well dressed he was taken
for a man of importance. Such characters are not altogether exceptional
in heroic Spain; it is a land of extremes.
At noon Mengs's servant came with a dinner that was choicer than before,
but not so plentiful. This was just what I liked. He waited for me to
finish, and went away with the plates, carrying my heartiest thanks to
At one o'clock an individual came up to me and bade me follow him.
He took me to a small room, where I saw my carbine and pistols. In front
of me was the Alcalde Messa, seated at a table covered with documents,
and a policeman stood on each side of him. The alcalde told me to sit
down, and to answer truly such questions as might be put to me, warning
me that my replies would be taken down.
"I do not understand Spanish well, and I shall only give written answers
to any questions that may be asked of me, in Italian, French, or Latin."
This reply, which I uttered in a firm and determined voice, seemed to
astonish him. He spoke to me for an hour, and I understood him very
well, but he only got one reply:
"I don't understand what you say. Get a judge who understands one of the
languages I have named, and I will write down my answers."
The alcalde was enraged, but I did not let his ill-humour or his threats
Finally he gave me a pen, and told me to write my name, profession, and
business in Spain in Italian. I could not refuse him this pleasure, so I
wrote as follows:
"My name is Jacques Casanova; I am a subject of the Republic of Venice,
by profession a man of letters, and in rank a Knight of the Golden Spur.
I have sufficient means, and I travel for my pleasure. I am known to the
Venetian ambassador, the Count of Aranda, the Prince de la Catolica, the
Marquis of Moras, and the Duke of Lossada. I have offended in no manner
against the laws of his Catholic majesty, but in spite of my innocence I
have been cast into a den of thieves and assassins by magistrates who
deserve a ten times greater punishment. Since I have not infringed the
laws, his Catholic majesty must know that he has only one right over me,
and that is to order me to leave his realms, which order I am ready to
obey. My arms, which I see before me, have travelled with me for the
last eleven years; I carry them to defend myself against highwaymen.
They were seen when my effects were examined at the Gate of Alcala, and
were not confiscated; which makes it plain that they have served merely
as a pretext for the infamous treatment to which I have been subjected."
After I had written out this document I gave it to the alcalde, who
called for an interpreter. When he had had it read to him he rose
angrily and said to me,--
"Valga me Dios! You shall suffer for your insolence."
With this threat he went away, ordering that I should be taken back to
At eight o'clock Manucci called and told me that the Count of Aranda had
been making enquiries about me of the Venetian ambassador, who had spoken
very highly in my favour, and expressed his regret that he could not take
my part officially on account of my being in disgrace with the State
"He has certainly been shamefully used," said the count, "but an
intelligent man should not lose his head. I should have known nothing
about it, but for a furious letter he has written me; and Don
Emmanuel de Roda and the Duke of Lossada have received epistles in the
same style. Casanova is in the right, but that is not the way to address
"If he really said I was in the right, that is sufficient."
"He said it, sure enough."
"Then he must do me justice, and as to my style everyone has a style of
their own. I am furious, and I wrote furiously. Look at this place; I
have no bed, the floor is covered with filth, and I am obliged to sleep
on a narrow bench. Don't you think it is natural that I should desire to
eat the hearts of the scoundrels who have placed me here? If I do not
leave this hell by tomorrow, I shall kill myself, or go mad."
Manucci understood the horrors of my situation. He promised to come
again early the next day, and advised me to see what money would do
towards procuring a bed, but I would not listen to him, for I was
suffering from injustice, and was therefore obstinate. Besides, the
thought of the vermin frightened me, and I was afraid for my purse and
the jewels I had about me.
I spent a second night worse than the first, going to sleep from sheer
exhaustion, only to awake and find myself slipping off the bench.
Manucci came before eight o'clock, and my aspect shocked him. He had
come in his carriage, bringing with him some excellent chocolate, which
in some way restored my spirits. As I was finishing it, an officer of
high rank, accompanied by two other officers, came in and called out,--
"M. de Casanova!"
I stepped forward and presented myself.
"Chevalier," he began, "the Count of Aranda is at the gate of the prison;
he is much grieved at the treatment you have received. He only heard
about it through the letter you wrote him yesterday, and if you had
written sooner your pains would have been shorter."
"Such was my intention, colonel, but a soldier . . . ."
I proceeded to tell him the story of the swindling soldier, and on
hearing his name the colonel called the captain of the guard, reprimanded
him severely, and ordered him to give me back the crown himself. I took
the money laughingly, and the colonel then ordered the captain to fetch
the offending soldier, and to give him a flogging before me.
This officer, the emissary of the all-powerful Aranda, was Count Royas,
commanding the garrison of Buen Retiro. I told him all the circumstances
of my arrest, and of my imprisonment in that filthy place. I told him
that if I did not get back that day my arms, my liberty, and my honour, I
should either go mad or kill myself.
"Here," I said, "I can neither rest nor sleep, and a man needs sleep
every night. If you had come a little earlier you would have seen the
disgusting filth with which the floor was covered."
The worthy man was taken aback with the energy with which I spoke. I saw
his feelings, and hastened to say,--
"You must remember, colonel, that I am suffering from injustice, and am
in a furious rage. I am a man of honour, like yourself, and you can
imagine the effect of such treatment on me."
Manucci told him, in Spanish, that in my normal state I was a good fellow
enough. The colonel expressed his pity for me, and assured me that my
arms should be restored to me, and my liberty too, in the course of the
"Afterwards," said he, "you must go and thank his excellency the Count of
Aranda, who came here expressly for your sake. He bade me tell you that
your release would be delayed till the afternoon, that you may have full
satisfaction for the affront you have received, if it is an affront, for
the penalties of the law only dishonour the guilty. In this instance the
Alcalde Messa has been deceived by the rascal who was in your service."
"There he is," said I. "Be good enough to have him removed, or else, in
my indignation, I might kill him."
"He shall be taken away this moment," he replied.
The colonel went out, and two minutes later two soldiers came in and took
the rogue away between them. I never saw him again, and never troubled
myself to enquire what had become of him.
The colonel begged me to accompany him to the guard-room, to see the
thieving soldier flogged. Manucci was at my side, and at some little
distance stood the Count of Aranda, surrounded by officers, and
accompanied by a royal guard.
The business kept us there for a couple of hours. Before leaving me the
colonel begged me to meet Mengs at dinner at his house.
When I returned to my filthy prison I found a clean arm-chair, which I
was informed had been brought in for me. I sat down in it immediately,
and Manucci left me, after embracing me again and again. He was my
sincere friend, and I can never forgive myself the stupidity which made
me offend him grievously. He never forgave me, at which I am not
surprised, but I believe my readers will agree with me in thinking that
he carried his vengeance too far.
After the scene which had taken place, the vile crowd of prisoners stood
gazing at me in stupid silence, and Marazzini came up to me and begged me
to use my offices for him.
Dinner was brought me as usual, and at three o'clock the Alcalde Messa
appeared and begged me to follow him, as he had received orders to take
me back to my lodging, where he hoped I should find everything in perfect
order. At the same time he shewed me my arms, which one of his men was
going to bring to my house. The officer of the guard returned me my
sword, the alcalde, who was in his black cloak, put himself on my left
hand, and thus I was escorted home with a guard of thirty constables.
The seals were removed from my apartment, and after a brief inspection I
pronounced that everything was in perfect order.
"If you had not a rascal and a traitor (who shall end his days in the
galleys) in your service, Senor Caballero, you would never have written
down the servants of his Catholic majesty as scoundrels."
"Senor Alcalde, my indignation made me write the same sentence to four of
his majesty's ministers. Then I believed what I wrote, but I do so no
longer. Let us forget and forgive; but you must confess that if I had
not known how to write a letter you would have sent me to the galleys."
"Alas! it is very likely."
I need not say that I hastened to remove all traces of the vile prison
where I had suffered so much. When I was ready to go out my first
grateful visit was paid to the noble cobbler. The worthy man was proud
of the fulfilment of his prophecy, and glad to see me again. Donna
Ignazia was wild with delight--perhaps she had not been so sure of my
release--and when Don Diego heard of the satisfaction that had been given
me he said that a grandee of Spain could not have asked for more. I
begged the worthy people to come and dine with me, telling them that I
would name the day another time, and they accepted gladly.
I felt that my love for Donna Ignazia had increased immensely since our
Afterwards I called on Mengs, who with his knowledge of Spanish law
expected nothing less than to see me. When he heard of my triumphant
release he overwhelmed me with congratulations. He was in his Court
dress--an unusual thing with him, and on my asking him the reason he told
me that he had been to Don Emmanuel de Roda's to speak on my behalf, but
had not succeeded in obtaining an audience. He gave me a Venetian letter
which had just arrived for me. I opened it, and found it was from M.
Dandolo, and contained an enclosure for M. de Mocenigo. M. Dandolo said
that on reading the enclosed letter the ambassador would have no more
scruples about introducing me, as it contained a recommendation from one
of the Inquisitors on behalf of the three.
When I told Mengs of this he said it was now in my power to make my
fortune in Spain, and that now was the time when all the ministers would
be only too anxious to do something for me to make me forget the wrongs I
"I advise you," he said, "to take the letter to the ambassador
immediately. Take my carriage; after what you have undergone for the
last few days you cannot be in a walking humour."
I had need of rest, and told Mengs that I would not sup with him that
night, but would dine with him the next day. The ambassador was out, so
I left the letter with Manucci, and then drove home and slept profoundly
for twelve hours.
Manucci came to see me the next day in high spirits, and told me that M.
Girolamo Zulian had written to the ambassador on behalf of M. du Mula,
informing him that he need not hesitate to countenance me, as any
articles the Tribunal might have against me were in no degree prejudicial
to my honour.
"The ambassador," he continued, "proposes to introduce you at Court next
week, and he wants you to dine with him to-day; there will be a numerous
company at dinner."
"I am engaged to Mengs."
"No matter, he shall be asked as well; you must come. Consider the
effect of your presence at the ambassador's the day after your triumph."
"You are right. Go and ask Mengs, and tell the ambassador that I have
much pleasure in accepting his invitation."
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