The Complete Memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 68 out of 70
continually shedding tears at the thought of Spain.
Ambition is a more powerful passion than avarice. Besides, Farinello had
another reason for unhappiness.
He had a nephew who was the heir to all his wealth, whom he married to a
noble Tuscan lady, hoping to found a titled family, though in an indirect
kind of way. But this marriage was a torment to him, for in his impotent
old age he was so unfortunate as to fall in love with his niece, and to
become jealous of his nephew. Worse than all the lady grew to hate him,
and Farinello had sent his nephew abroad, while he never allowed the wife
to go out of his sight.
Lord Lincoln arrived in Bologna with an introduction for the cardinal
legate, who asked him to dinner, and did me the honour of giving me an
invitation to meet him. The cardinal was thus convinced that Lord
Lincoln and I had never met, and that the grand duke of Tuscany had
committed a great injustice in banishing me. It was on that occasion
that the young nobleman told me how they had spread the snare, though he
denied that he had been cheated; he was far too proud to acknowledge such
a thing. He died of debauchery in London three or four years after.
I also saw at Bologna the Englishman Aston with Madame Slopitz, sister of
the Charming Cailimena. Madame Slopitz was much handsomer than her
sister. She had presented Aston with two babes as beautiful as Raphael's
I spoke of her sister to her, and from the way in which I sang her
praises she guessed that I had loved her. She told me she would be in
Florence during the Carnival of 1773, but I did not see her again till
the year 1776, when I was at Venice.
The dreadful Nina Bergonci, who had made a madman of Count Ricla, and was
the source of all my woes at Barcelona, had come to Bologna at the
beginning of Lent, occupying a pleasant house which she had taken. She
had carte blanche with a banker, and kept up a great state, affirming
herself to be with child by the Viceroy of Catalonia, and demanding the
honours which would be given to a queen who had graciously chosen Bologna
as the place of her confinement. She had a special recommendation to the
legate, who often visited her, but in the greatest secrecy.
The time of her confinement approached, and the insane Ricla sent over a
confidential man, Don Martino, who was empowered to have the child
baptized, and to recognize it as Ricla's natural offspring.
Nina made a show of her condition, appearing at the theatre and in the
public places with an enormous belly. The greatest noble of Bologna paid
court to her, and Nina told them that they might do so, but that she
could not guarantee their safety from the jealous dagger of Ricla. She
was impudent enough to tell them what happened to me at Barcelona, not
knowing that I was at Bologna.
She was extremely surprised to hear from Count Zini, who knew me, that I
inhabited the same town as herself.
When the count met me he asked me if the Barcelona story was true. I did
not care to take him into my confidence, so I replied that I did not know
Nina, and that the story had doubtless been made up by her to see whether
he would encounter danger for her sake.
When I met the cardinal I told him the whole story, and his eminence was
astonished when I gave him some insight into Nina's character, and
informed him that she was the daughter of her sister and her grandfather.
"I could stake my life," said I, "that Nina is no more with child than
"Oh, come!" said he, laughing, "that is really too strong; why shouldn't
she have a child? It is a very simple matter, it seems to me. Possibly
it may not be Ricla's child but there can be no doubt that she is with
somebody's child. What object could she have for feigning pregnancy?"
"To make herself famous by defiling the Count de Ricla, who was a model
of justice and virtue before knowing this Messalina. If your eminence
knew the hideous character of Nina you would not wonder at anything she
"Well, we shall see."
About a week later I heard a great noise in the street, and on putting my
head out of the window I saw a woman stripped to the waist, and mounted
on an ass, being scourged by the hangman, and hooted by a mob of all the
biricchini in Bologna. Severini came up at the same moment and informed
me that the woman was the chief midwife in Bologna, and that her
punishment had been ordered by the cardinal archbishop.
"It must be for some great crime," I observed.
"No doubt. It is the woman who was with Nina the day before yesterday."
"What! has Nina been brought to bed?"
"Yes; but of a still-born child."
"I see it all."
Next day the story was all over the town.
A poor woman had come before the archbishop, and had complained bitterly
that the midwife Teresa had seduced her, promising to give her twenty
sequins if she would give her a fine boy to whom she had given birth a
fortnight ago. She was not given the sum agreed upon, and in her despair
at hearing of the death of her child she begged for justice, declaring
herself able to prove that the dead child said to be Nina's was in
reality her own.
The archbishop ordered his chancellor to enquire into the affair with the
utmost secrecy, and then proceed to instant and summary execution.
A week after this scandal Don Martino returned to Barcelona; but Nina
remained as impudent as ever, doubled the size of the red cockades which
she made her servants wear, and swore that Spain would avenge her on the
insolent archbishop. She remained at Bologna six weeks longer,
pretending to be still suffering from the effects of her confinement.
The cardinal legate, who was ashamed of having had anything to do with
such an abandoned prostitute, did his best to have her ordered to leave.
Count Ricla, a dupe to the last, gave her a considerable yearly income on
the condition that she should never come to Barcelona again; but in a
year the count died.
Nina did not survive him for more than a year, and died miserably from
her fearful debauchery. I met her mother and sister at Venice, and she
told me the story of the last two years of her daughter's life; but it is
so sad and so disgusting a tale that I feel obliged to omit it.
As for the infamous midwife, she found powerful friends.
A pamphlet appeared in which the anonymous author declared that the
archbishop had committed a great wrong in punishing a citizen in so
shameful a manner without any of the proper formalities of justice. The
writer maintained that even if she were guilty she had been unjustly
punished, and should appeal to Rome.
The prelate, feeling the force of these animadversions, circulated a
pamphlet in which it appeared that the midwife had made three prior
appearances before the judge, and that she would have been sent to the
gallows long ago if the archbishop had not hesitated to shame three of
the noblest families in Bologna, whose names appeared in documents in the
custody of his chancellor.
Her crimes were procuring abortion and killing erring mothers,
substituting the living for the dead, and in one case a boy for a girl,
thus giving him the enjoyment of property which did not belong to him.
This pamphlet of the prelate reduced the patrons of the infamous midwife
to silence, for several young noblemen whose mothers had been attended by
her did not relish the idea of their family secrets being brought to
At Bologna I saw Madame Marucci, who had been expelled from Spain for the
same reason as Madame Pelliccia. The latter had retired to Rome, while
Madame Marucci was on her way to Lucca, her native country.
Madame Soavi, a Bolognese dancer whom I had known at Parma and Paris,
came to Bologna with her daughter by M. de Marigni. The girl, whose name
was Adelaide, was very beautiful, and her natural abilities had been
fostered by a careful education.
When Madame Soavi got to Bologna she met her husband whom she had not
seen for fifteen years.
"Here is a treasure for you," said she, shewing him her daughter.
"She's certainly very pretty, but what am I to do with her? She does not
belong to me."
"Yes she does, as I have given her to you. You must know that she has
six thousand francs a year, and that I shall be her cashier till I get
her married to a good dancer. I want her to learn character dancing, and
to make her appearance on the boards. You must take her out on
"What shall I say if people ask me who she is?"
"Say she is your daughter, and that you are certain, because your wife
gave her to you."
"I can't see that."
"Ah, you have always stayed at home, and consequently your wits are
I heard this curious dialogue which made me laugh then, and makes me
laugh now as I write it. I offered to help in Adelaide's education, but
Madame Soavi laughed, and said,--
"Fox, you have deceived so many tender pullets, that I don't like to
trust you with this one, for fear of your making her too precocious."
"I did not think of that, but you are right."
Adelaide became the wonder of Bologna.
A year after I left the Comte du Barri, brother-in-law of the famous
mistress of Louis XV., visited Bologna, and became so amorous of Adelaide
that her mother sent her away, fearing he would carry her off.
Du Barri offered her a hundred thousand francs for the girl, but she
refused the offer.
I saw Adelaide five years later on the boards of a Venetian theatre.
When I went to congratulate her, she said,--
"My mother brought me into the world, and I think she will send me out of
it; this dancing is killing me."
In point of fact this delicate flower faded and died after seven years of
the severe life to which her mother had exposed her.
Madame Soavi who had not taken the precaution to settle the six thousand
francs on herself, lost all in losing Adelaide, and died miserably after
having rolled in riches. But, alas! I am not the man to reproach anyone
on the score of imprudence.
At Bologna I met the famous Afflisio, who had been discharged from the
imperial service and had turned manager. He went from bad to worse, and
five or six years later committed forgery, was sent to the galleys, and
I was also impressed by the example of a man of a good family, who had
once been rich. This was Count Filomarino. He was living in great
misery, deprived of the use of all his limbs by a succession of venereal
complaints. I often went to see him to give him a few pieces of money,
and to listen to his malevolent talk, for his tongue was the only member
that continued active. He was a scoundrel and a slanderer, and writhed
under the thought that he could not go to Naples and torment his
relations, who were in reality respectable people, but monsters according
to his shewing.
Madame Sabatini, the dancer, had returned to Bologna, having made enough
money to rest upon her laurels. She married a professor of anatomy, and
brought all her wealth to him as a dower. She had with her her sister,
who was not rich and had no talents, but was at the same time very
At the house I met an abbe, a fine young man of modest appearance. The
sister seemed to be deeply in love with him, while he appeared to be
grateful and nothing more.
I made some remark to the modest Adonis, and he gave me a very sensible
answer. We walked away together, and after telling each other what
brought us to Bologna we parted, agreeing to meet again.
The abbe, who was twenty-four or twenty-five years old, was not in
orders, and was the only son of a noble family of Novara, which was
unfortunately poor as well as noble.
He had a very scanty revenue, and was able to live more cheaply at
Bologna than Novara, where everything is dear. Besides, he did not care
for his relations; he had no friends, and everybody there was more or
The Abbe de Bolini, as he was called, was a man of tranquil mind, living
a peaceful and quiet life above all things. He liked lettered men more
than letters, and did not trouble to gain the reputation of a wit. He
knew he was not a fool, and when he mixed with learned men he was quite
clever enough to be a good listener.
Both temperament and his purse made him temperate in all things, and he
had received a sound Christian education. He never talked about
religion, but nothing scandalized him. He seldom praised and never
He was almost entirely indifferent to women, flying from ugly women and
blue stockings, and gratifying the passion of pretty ones more out of
kindliness than love, for in his heart he considered women as more likely
to make a man miserable than happy. I was especially interested in this
We had been friends for three weeks when I took the liberty of asking him
how he reconciled his theories with his attachment to Brigida Sabatini.
He supped with her every evening, and she breakfasted with him every
morning. When I went to see him, she was either there already or came in
before my call was over. She breathed forth love in every glance, while
the abbe was kind, but, in spite of his politeness, evidently bored.
Brigida looked well enough, but she was at least ten years older than the
abbe. She was very polite to me and did her best to convince me that the
abbe was happy in the possession of her heart, and that they both enjoyed
the delights of mutual love.
But when I asked him over a bottle of good wine about his affection for
Brigida, he sighed, smiled, blushed, looked down, and finally confessed
that this connection was the misfortune of his life.
"Misfortune? Does she make you sigh in vain? If so you should leave
her, and thus regain your happiness."
"How can I sigh? I am not in love with her. She is in love with me, and
tries to make me her slave."
"How do you mean?"
"She wants me to marry her, and I promised to do so, partly from
weakness, and partly from pity; and now she is in a hurry."
"I daresay; all these elderly girls are in a hurry."
"Every evening she treats me to tears, supplications, and despair. She
summons me to keep my promise, and accuses me of deceiving her, so you
may imagine that my situation is an unhappy one."
"Have you any obligations towards her?"
"None whatever. She has violated me, so to speak, for all the advances
came from her. She has only what her sister gives her from day to day,
and if she got married she would not get that."
"Have you got her with child?"
"I have taken good care not to do so, and that's what has irritated her;
she calls all my little stratagems detestable treason."
"Nevertheless, you have made up your mind to marry her sooner or later?"
"I'd as soon hang myself. If I got married to her I should be four times
as poor as I am now, and all my relations at Novara would laugh at me for
bringing home a wife of her age. Besides, she is neither rich nor well
born, and at Novara they demand the one or the other."
"Then as a man of honour and as a man of sense, you ought to break with
her, and the sooner the better."
"I know, but lacking normal strength what am I to do? If I did not go
and sup with her to-night, she would infallibly come after me to see what
had happened. I can't lock my door in her face, and I can't tell her to
"No, but neither can go on in this miserable way.
"You must make up your mind, and cut the Gordian knot, like Alexander."
"I haven't his sword."
"I will lend it you."
"What do you mean?"
"Listen to me. You must go and live in another town. She will hardly go
after you there, I suppose."
"That is a very good plan, but flight is a difficult matter."
"Difficult? Not at all. Do you promise to do what I tell you, and I
will arrange everything quite comfortably. Your mistress will not know
anything about it till she misses you at supper."
"I will do whatever you tell me, and I shall never forget your kindness;
but Brigida will go mad with grief."
"Well my first order to you is not to give her grief a single thought.
You have only to leave everything to me. Would you like to start to-
"Yes. Have you any debts?"
"Do you want any money?"
"I have sufficient. But the idea of leaving tomorrow has taken my breath
away. I must have three days delay."
"I expect some letters the day after to-morrow, and I must write to my
relations to tell them where I am going."
"I will take charge of your letters and send them on to you."
"Where shall I be?"
"I will tell you at the moment of your departure; trust in me. I will
send you at once where you will be comfortable. All you have to do is to
leave your trunk in the hands of your landlord, with orders not to give
it up to anyone but myself."
"Very good. I am to go without my trunk, then."
"Yes. You must dine with me every day till you go, and mind not to tell
anyone whatsoever that you intend leaving Bologna."
"I will take care not to do so."
The worthy young fellow looked quite radiant. I embraced him and thanked
him for putting so much trust in me.
I felt proud at the good work I was about to perform, and smiled at the
thought of Brigida's anger when she found that her lover had escaped.
I wrote to my good friend Dandolo that in five or six days a young abbe
would present himself before him bearing a letter from myself. I begged
Dandolo to get him a comfortable and cheap lodging, as my friend was so
unfortunate as to be indifferently provided with money, though an
excellent man. I then wrote the letter of which the abbe was to be the
Next day Bolini told me that Brigida was far from suspecting his flight,
as owing to his gaiety at the thought of freedom he had contented her so
well during the night she had passed with him that she thought him as
much in love as she was.
"She has all my linen," he added, "but I hope to get a good part of it
back under one pretext or another, and she is welcome to the rest."
On the day appointed he called on me as we had arranged the night before,
carrying a huge carpet bag containing necessaries. I took him to Modena
in a post chaise, and there we dined; afterward I gave him a letter for
M. Dandolo, promising to send on his trunk the next day.
He was delighted to hear that Venice was his destination, as he had long
wished to go there, and I promised him that M. Dandolo should see that he
lived as comfortably and cheaply as he had done at Bologna.
I saw him off, and returned to Bologna. The trunk I dispatched after him
the following day.
As I had expected, the poor victim appeared before me all in tears the
next day. I felt it my duty to pity her; it would have been cruel to
pretend I did not know the reason for her despair. I gave her a long but
kindly sermon, endeavouring to persuade her that I had acted for the best
in preventing the abbe marrying her, as such a step would have plunged
them both into misery.
The poor woman threw herself weeping at my feet, begging me to bring her
abbe back, and swearing by all the saints that she would never mention
the word "marriage" again. By way of calming her, I said I would do my
best to win him over.
She asked where he was, and I said at Venice; but of course she did not
believe me. There are circumstances when a clever man deceives by
telling the truth, and such a lie as this must be approved by the most
Twenty-seven months later I met Bolini at Venice. I shall describe the
meeting in its proper place.
A few days after he had gone, I made the acquaintance of the fair
Viscioletta, and fell so ardently in love with her that I had to make up
my mind to buy her with hard cash. The time when I could make women fall
in love with me was no more, and I had to make up my mind either to do
without them or to buy them.
I cannot help laughing when people ask me for advice, as I feel so
certain that my advice will not be taken. Man is an animal that has to
learn his lesson by hard experience in battling with the storms of life.
Thus the world is always in disorder and always ignorant, for those who
know are always in an infinitesimal proportion to the whole.
Madame Viscioletta, whom I went to see every day, treated me as the
Florentine widow had done, though the widow required forms and ceremonies
which I could dispense with in the presence of the fair Viscioletta, who
was nothing else than a professional courtezan, though she called herself
I had besieged her for three weeks without any success, and when I made
any attempts she repulsed me laughingly.
Monsignor Buoncompagni, the vice-legate, was her lover in secret, though
all the town knew it, but this sort of conventional secrecy is common
enough in Italy. As as ecclesiastic he could not court her openly, but
the hussy made no mystery whatever of his visits.
Being in need of money, and preferring to get rid of my carriage than of
anything else, I announced it for sale at the price of three hundred and
fifty Roman crowns. It was a comfortable and handsome carriage, and was
well worth the price. I was told that the vice-legate offered three
hundred crowns, and I felt a real pleasure in contradicting my favoured
rival's desires. I told the man that I had stated my price and meant to
adhere to it, as I was not accustomed to bargaining.
I went to see my carriage at noon one day to make sure that it was in
good condition, and met the vice-legate who knew me from meeting me at
the legate's, and must have been aware that I was poaching on his
preserves. He told me rudely that the carriage was not worth more than
three hundred crowns, and that I ought to be glad of the opportunity of
getting rid of it, as it was much too good for me.
I had the strength of mind to despise his violence, and telling him dryly
that I did not chaffer I turned my back on him and went my way.
Next day the fair Viscioletta wrote me a note to the effect that she
would be very much obliged if I would let the vice-legate have the
carriage at his own price, as she felt sure he would give it to her. I
replied that I would call on her in the afternoon, and that my answer
would depend on my welcome, I went in due course, and after a lively
discussion, she gave way, and I signified my willingness to sell the
carriage for the sum offered by the vice-legate.
The next day she had her carriage, and I had my three hundred crowns, and
I let the proud prelate understand that I had avenged myself for his
About this time Severini succeeded in obtaining a position as tutor in an
illustrious Neapolitan family, and as soon as he received his journey-
money he left Bologna. I also had thoughts of leaving the town.
I had kept up an interesting correspondence with M. Zaguri, who had made
up his mind to obtain my recall in concert with Dandolo, who desired
nothing better. Zaguri told me that if I wanted to obtain my pardon I
must come and live as near as possible to the Venetian borders, so that
the State Inquisitors might satisfy themselves of my good conduct.
M. Zuliani, brother to the Duchess of Fiano, gave me the same advice, and
promised to use all his interest in my behalf.
With the idea of following this counsel I decided to set up my abode at
Trieste, where M. Zaguri told me he had an intimate friend to whom he
would give me a letter of introduction. As I could not go by land
without passing through the States of Venice I resolved to go to Ancona,
whence boats sail to Trieste every day. As I should pass through Pesaro
I asked my patron to give me a letter for the Marquis Mosca, a
distinguished man of letters whom I had long wished to know. Just then
he was a good deal talked about on account of a treatise on alms which he
had recently published, and which the Roman curia had placed on the
The marquis was a devotee as well as a man of learning, and was imbued
with the doctrine of St. Augustine, which becomes Jansenism if pushed to
an extreme point.
I was sorry to leave Bologna, for I had spent eight pleasant months
there. In two days I arrived at Pesaro in perfect health and well
provided for in every way.
I left my letter with the marquis, and he came to see me the same day.
He said his house would always be open to me, and that he would leave me
in his wife's hands to be introduced to everybody and everything in the
place. He ended by asking me to dine with him the following day, adding
that if I cared to examine his library he could give me an excellent cup
I went, and saw an enormours collection of comments on the Latin poets
from Ennius to the poets of the twelfth century of our era. He had had
them all printed at his own expense and at his private press, in four
tall folios, very accurately printed but without elegance. I told him my
opinion, and he agreed that I was right.
The want of elegance which had spared him an outlay of a hundred thousand
francs had deprived him of a profit of three hundred thousand.
He presented me with a copy, which he sent to my inn, with an immense
folio volume entitled "Marmora Pisaurentia," which I had no time to
I was much pleased with the marchioness, who had three daughters and two
sons, all good-looking and well bred.
The marchioness was a woman of the world, while her husband's interests
were confined to his books. This difference in disposition sometimes
gave rise to a slight element of discord, but a stranger would never have
noticed it if he had not been told.
Fifty years ago a wise man said to me: "Every family is troubled by some
small tragedy, which should be kept private with the greatest care. In
fine, people should learn to wash their dirty linen in private."
The marchioness paid me great attention during the five days I spent at
Pesaro. In the day she drove me from one country house to another, and
at night she introduced me to all the nobility of the town.
The marquis might have been fifty then. He was cold by temperament, had
no other passion but that of study, and his morals were pure. He had
founded an academy of which he was the president. Its design was a fly,
in allusion to his name Mosca, with the words 'de me ce', that is to say,
take away 'c' from 'musca' and you have 'musa'.
His only failing was that which the monks regard as his finest quality,
he was religious to excess, and this excess of religion went beyond the
bounds where 'nequit consistere rectum'.
But which is the better, to go beyond these bounds, or not to come up to
them? I cannot venture to decide the question. Horace says,--
"Nulla est mihi religio!"
and it is the beginning of an ode in which he condemns philosophy for
estranging him from religion.
Excess of every kind is bad.
I left Pesaro delighted with the good company I had met, and only sorry I
had not seen the marquis's brother who was praised by everyone.
A Jew Named Mardocheus Becomes My Travelling Companion--He Persuades Me
to Lodge in His House--I Fall in Love With His Daughter Leah--
After a Stay of Six Weeks I Go to Trieste
Some time elapsed before I had time to examine the Marquis of Mosca's
collection of Latin poets, amongst which the 'Priapeia' found no place.
No doubt this work bore witness to his love for literature but not to his
learning, for there was nothing of his own in it. All he had done was to
classify each fragment in chronological order. I should have liked to
see notes, comments, explanations, and such like; but there was nothing
of the kind. Besides, the type was not elegant, the margins were poor,
the paper common, and misprints not infrequent. All these are bad
faults, especially in a work which should have become a classic.
Consequently, the book was not a profitable one; and as the marquis was
not a rich man he was occasionally reproached by his wife for the money
he had expended.
I read his treatise on almsgiving and his apology for it, and understood
a good deal of the marquis's way of thinking. I could easily imagine
that his writings must have given great offence at Rome, and that with
sounder judgment he would have avoided this danger. Of course the
marquis was really in the right, but in theology one is only in the right
when Rome says yes.
The marquis was a rigorist, and though he had a tincture of Jansenism he
often differed from St. Augustine.
He denied, for instance, that almsgiving could annul the penalty attached
to sin, and according to him the only sort of almsgiving which had any
merit was that prescribed in the Gospel: "Let not thy right hand know
what thy left hand doeth."
He even maintained that he who gave alms sinned unless it was done with
the greatest secrecy, for alms given in public are sure to be accompanied
It might have been objected that the merit of alms lies in the intention
with which they are given. It is quite possible for a good man to slip a
piece of money into the palm of some miserable being standing in a public
place, and yet this may be done solely with the idea of relieving
distress without a thought of the onlookers.
As I wanted to go to Trieste, I might have crossed the gulf by a small
boat from Pesaro; a good wind was blowing, and I should have got to
Trieste in twelve hours. This was my proper way, for I had nothing to do
at Ancona, and it was a hundred miles longer; but I had said I would go
by Ancona, and I felt obliged to do so.
I had always a strong tincture of superstition, which has exercised
considerable influence on my strange career.
Like Socrates I, too, had a demon to whom I referred my doubtful
counsels, doing his will, and obeying blindly when I felt a voice within
me telling me to forbear.
A hundred times have I thus followed my genius, and occasionally I have
felt inclined to complain that it did not impel me to act against my
reason more frequently. Whenever I did so I found that impulse was right
and reason wrong, and for all that I have still continued reasoning.
When I arrived at Senegallia, at three stages from Ancona, my vetturino
asked me, just as I was going to bed, whether I would allow him to
accommodate a Jew who was going to Ancona in the chaise.
My first impulse made me answer sharply that I wanted no one in my
chaise, much less a Jew.
The vetturino went out, but a voice said within me, "You must take this'
poor Israelite;" and in spite of my repugnance I called back the man and
signified my assent.
"Then you must make up your mind to start at an earlier hour, for it is
Friday to-morrow, and you know the Jews are not allowed to travel after
"I shall not start a moment earlier than I intended, but you can make
your horses travel as quickly as you like."
He gave me no answer, and went out. The next morning I found my Jew, an
honest-looking fellow, in the carriage. The first thing he asked me was
why I did not like Jews.
"Because your religion teaches you to hate men of all other religions,
especially Christians, and you think you have done a meritorious action
when you have deceived us. You do not look upon us as brothers. You are
usurious, unmerciful, our enemies, and so I do not like you."
"You are mistaken, sir. Come with me to our synagogue this evening, and
you will hear us pray for all Christians, beginning with our Lord the
I could not help bursting into a roar of laughter.
"True," I replied, "but the prayer comes from the mouth only, and not
from the heart. If you do not immediately confess that the Jews would
not pray for the Christians if they were the masters, I will fling you
out of the chaise."
Of course I did not carry out this threat, but I completed his confusion
by quoting in Hebrew the passages in the Old Testament, where the Jews
are bidden to do all possible harm to the Gentiles, whom they were to
curse every day.
After this the poor man said no more. When we were going to take our
dinner I asked him to sit beside me, but he said his religion would not
allow him to do so, and that he would only eat eggs, fruit, and some
foiegras sausage he had in his pocket. He only drank water because he
was not sure that the wine was unadulterated.
"You stupid fellow," I exclaimed, "how can you ever be certain of the
purity of wine unless you have made it yourself?"
When we were on our way again he said that if I liked to come and stay
with him, and to content myself with such dishes as God had not
forbidden, he would make me more comfortable than if I went to the inn,
and at a cheaper rate.
"Then you let lodgings to Christians?"
"I don't let lodgings to anybody, but I will make an exception in your
case to disabuse you of some of your mistaken notions. I will only ask
you six pauls a day, and give you two good meals without wine."
"Then you must give me fish and wine, I paying for them as extras."
"Certainly; I have a Christian cook, and my wife pays a good deal of
attention to the cooking."
"You can give me the foie gras every day, if you will eat it with me."
"I know what you think, but you shall be satisfied."
I got down at the Jew's house, wondering at myself as I did so. However,
I knew that if I did not like my accommodation I could leave the next
His wife and children were waiting for him, and gave him a joyful welcome
in honour of the Sabbath. All servile work was forbidden on this day
holy to the Lord; and all over the house, and in the face of all the
family, I observed a kind of festal air.
I was welcomed like a brother, and I replied as best I could; but a word
from Mardocheus (so he was called) changed their politeness of feeling
into a politeness of interest.
Mardocheus shewed me two rooms for me to choose the one which suited me,
but liking them both I said I would take the two for another paul a day,
with which arrangement he was well enough pleased.
Mardocheus told his wife what we had settled, and she instructed the
Christian servant to cook my supper for me.
I had my effects taken upstairs, and then went with Mardocheus to the
During the short service the Jews paid no attention to me or to several
other Christians who were present. The Jews go to the synagogue to pray,
and in this respect I think their conduct worthy of imitation by the
On leaving the synagogue I went by myself to the Exchange, thinking over
the happy time which would never return.
It was in Ancona that I had begun to enjoy life; and when I thought it
over, it was quite a shock to find that this was thirty years ago, for
thirty years is a long period in a man's life. And yet I felt quite
happy, in spite of the tenth lustrum so near at hand for me.
What a difference I found between my youth and my middle age! I could
scarcely recognize myself. I was then happy, but now unhappy; then all
the world was before me, and the future seemed a gorgeous dream, and now
I was obliged to confess that my life had been all in vain. I might live
twenty years more, but I felt that the happy time was passed away, and
the future seemed all dreary.
I reckoned up my forty-seven years, and saw fortune fly away. This in
itself was enough to sadden me, for without the favours of the fickle
goddess life was not worth living, for me at all events.
My object, then, was to return to my country; it was as if I struggled to
undo all that I had done. All I could hope for was to soften the
hardships of the slow but certain passage to the grave.
These are the thoughts of declining years and not of youth. The young
man looks only to the present, believes that the sky will always smile
upon him, and laughs at philosophy as it vainly preaches of old age,
misery, repentance, and, worst of all, abhorred death.
Such were my thoughts twenty-six years ago; what must they be now, when I
am all alone, poor, despised, and impotent. They would kill me if I did
not resolutely subdue them, for whether for good or ill my heart is still
young. Of what use are desires when one can no longer satisfy them? I
write to kill ennui, and I take a pleasure in writing. Whether I write
sense or nonsense, what matters? I am amused, and that is enough.
'Malo scriptor delirus, inersque videri,
Dum mea delectent mala me vel denique fallunt,
When I came back I found Mardocheus at supper with his numerous family,
composed of eleven or twelve individuals, and including his mother--an
old woman of ninety, who looked very well. I noticed another Jew of
middle age; he was the husband of his eldest daughter, who did not strike
me as pretty; but the younger daughter, who was destined for a Jew of
Pesaro, whom she had never seen, engaged all my attention. I remarked to
her that if she had not seen her future husband she could not be in love
with him, whereupon she replied in a serious voice that it was not
necessary to be in love before one married. The old woman praised the
girl for this sentiment, and said she had not been in love with her
husband till the first child was born.
I shall call the pretty Jewess Leah, as I have good reasons for not using
her real name.
While they were enjoying their meal I sat down beside her and tried to
make myself as agreeable as possible, but she would not even look at me.
My supper was excellent, and my bed very comfortable.
The next day my landlord told me that I could give my linen to the maid,
and that Leah could get it up for me.
I told him I had relished my supper, but that I should like the foie gras
every day as I had a dispensation.
"You shall have some to-morrow, but Leah is the only one of us who eats
"Then Leah must take it with me, and you can tell her that I shall give
her some Cyprus wine which is perfectly pure."
I had no wine, but I went for it the same morning to the Venetian consul,
giving him M. Dandolo's letter.
The consul was a Venetian of the old leaven. He had heard my name, and
seemed delighted to make my acquaintance. He was a kind of clown without
the paint, fond of a joke, a regular gourmand, and a man of great
experience. He sold me some Scopolo and old Cyprus Muscat, but he began
to exclaim when he heard where I was lodging, and how I had come there.
"He is rich," he said, "but he is also a great usurer, and if you borrow
money of him he will make you repent it."
After informing the consul that I should not leave till the end of the
month, I went home to dinner, which proved excellent.
The next day I gave out my linen to the maid, and Leah came to ask me how
I liked my lace got up.
If Leah had examined me more closely she would have seen that the sight
of her magnificent breast, unprotected by any kerchief, had had a
remarkable effect on me.
I told her that I left it all to her, and that she could do what she
liked with the linen.
"Then it will all come under my hands if you are in no hurry to go."
"You can make me stay as long as you like," said I; but she seemed not to
hear this declaration.
"Everything is quite right," I continued, "except the chocolate; I like
it well frothed."
"Then I will make it for you myself."
"Then I will give out a double quantity, and we will take it together."
"I don't like chocolate."
"I am sorry to hear that; but you like foie gras?"
"Yes, I do; and from what father tells me I am going to take some with
"I shall be delighted."
"I suppose you are afraid of being poisoned?"
"Not at all; I only wish we could die together."
She pretended not to understand, and left me burning with desire. I felt
that I must either obtain possession of her or tell her father not to
send her into my room any more.
The Turin Jewess had given me some valuable hints as to the conduct of
amours with Jewish girls.
My theory was that Leah would be more easily won than she, for at Ancona
there was much more liberty than at Turin.
This was a rake's reasoning, but even rakes are mistaken sometimes.
The dinner that was served to me was very good, though cooked in the
Jewish style, and Leah brought in the foie gras and sat down opposite to
me with a muslin kerchief over her breast.
The foie gras was excellent, and we washed it down with copious libations
of Scopolo, which Leah found very much to her taste.
When the foie gras was finished she got up, but I stopped her, for the
dinner was only half over.
"I will stay then," said she, "but I am afraid my father will object."
"Very good. Call your master," I said to the maid who came in at that
moment, "I have a word to speak to him."
"My dear Mardocheus," I said when he came, "your daughter's appetite
doubles mine, and I shall be much obliged if you will allow her to keep
me company whenever we have foie gras."
"It isn't to my profit to double your appetite, but if you like to pay
double I shall have no objection."
"Very good, that arrangement will suit me."
In evidence of my satisfaction I gave him a bottle of Scopolo, which Leah
We dined together, and seeing that the wine was making her mirthful I
told her that her eyes were inflaming me and that she must let me kiss
"My duty obliges me to say nay. No kissing and no touching; we have only
got to eat and drink together, and I shall like it as much as you."
"You are cruel."
"I am wholly dependent on my father."
"Shall I ask your father to give you leave to be kind?"
"I don't think that would be proper, and my father might be offended and
not allow me to see you any more."
"And supposing he told you not to be scrupulous about trifles?"
"Then I should despise him and continue to do my duty."
So clear a declaration shewed me that if I persevered in this intrigue I
might go on for ever without success. I also bethought me that I ran a
risk of neglecting my chief business, which would not allow me to stay
long in Ancona.
I said nothing more to Leah just then, and when the dessert came in I
gave her some Cyprus wine, which she declared was the most delicious
nectar she had ever tasted.
I saw that the wine was heating her, and it seemed incredible to me that
Bacchus should reign without Venus; but she had a hard head, her blood
was hot and her brain cool.
However, I tried to seize her hand and kiss it, but she drew it away,
"It's too much for honour and too little for love."
This witty remark amused me, and it also let me know that she was not
exactly a neophyte.
I determined to postpone matters till the next day, and told her not to
get me any supper as I was supping with the Venetian consul.
The consul had told me that he did not dine, but that he would always be
delighted to see me at supper.
It was midnight when I came home, and everyone was asleep except the maid
who let me in. I gave her such a gratuity that she must have wished me
to keep late hours for the rest of my stay.
I proceeded to sound her about Leah, but she told me nothing but good.
If she was to be believed, Leah was a good girl, always at work, loved by
all, and fancy free. The maid could not have praised her better if she
had been paid to do so.
In the morning Leah brought the chocolate and sat down on my bed, saying
that we should have some fine foie gras, and that she should have all the
better appetite for dinner as she had not taken any supper.
"Why didn't you take any supper?"
"I suppose it was because of your excellent Cyprus wine, to which my
father has taken a great liking."
"Ah! he like it? We will give him some."
Leah was in a state of undress as before, and the sight of her half-
covered spheres drove me to distraction.
"Are you not aware that you have a beautiful breast?" said I.
"I thought all young girls were just the same."
"Have you no suspicion that the sight is a very pleasant one for me?"
"If that be so, I am very glad, for I have nothing to be ashamed of, for
a girl has no call to hide her throat any more than her face, unless she
is in grand company."
As she was speaking, Leah looked at a golden heart transfixed with an
arrow and set with small diamonds which served me as a shirt stud.
"Do you like the little heart?" said I.
"Very much. Is it pure gold?"
"Certainly, and that being so I think I may offer it to you."
So saying I took it off, but she thanked me politely, and said that a
girl who gave nothing must take nothing.
"Take it; I will never ask any favour of you."
"But I should be indebted to you, and that's the reason why I never take
I saw that there was nothing to be done, or rather that it would be
necessary to do too much to do anything, and that in any case the best
plan would be to give her up.
I put aside all thoughts of violence, which would only anger her or make
her laugh at me. I should either have been degraded, or rendered more
amorous, and all for nothing. If she had taken offense she would not
have come to see me any more, and I should have had nought to complain
of. In fine I made up my mind to restrain myself, and indulge no more in
We dined very pleasantly together. The servant brought in some shell-
fish, which are forbidden by the Mosaic Law. While the maid was in the
room I asked Leah to take some, and she refused indignantly; but directly
the girl was gone she took some of her own accord and ate them eagerly,
assuring me that it was the first time she had had the pleasure of
"This girl," I said to myself, "who breaks the law of her religion with
such levity, who likes pleasure and does not conceal it, this is the girl
who wants to make me believe that she is insensible to the pleasures of
love; that's impossible, though she may not love me. She must have some
secret means of satisfying her passions, which in my opinion are very
violent. We will see what can be done this evening with the help of a
bottle of good Muscat."
However, when the evening came, she said she could not drink or eat
anything, as a meal always prevented her sleeping.
The next day she brought me my chocolate, but her beautiful breast was
covered with a white kerchief. She sat down on the bed as usual, and I
observed in a melancholy manner that she had only covered her breast
because I had said I took a pleasure in seeing it.
She replied that she had not thought of anything, and had only put on her
kerchief because she had had no time to fasten her stays.
"You are whole right," I said, smilingly, "for if I were to see the whole
breast I might not think it beautiful."
She gave no answer, and I finished my chocolate.
I recollected my collection of obscene pictures, and I begged Leah to
give me the box, telling her that I would shew her some of the most
beautiful breasts in the world.
"I shan't care to see them," said she; but she gave me the box, and sat
down on my bed as before.
I took out a picture of a naked woman lying on her back and abusing
herself, and covering up the lower part of it I shewed it to Leah.
"But her breast is like any other," said Leah.
"Take away your handkerchief."
"Take it back; it's disgusting. It's well enough done," she added, with
a burst of laughter, "but it's no novelty for me."
"No novelty for you?"
"Of course not; every girl does like that before she gets married."
"Then you do it, too?"
"Whenever I want to."
"Do it now."
"A well-bred girl always does it in private."
"And what do you do after?"
"If I am in bed I go to sleep."
"My dear Leah, your sincerity is too much for me. Either be kind or
visit me no more."
"You are very weak, I think."
"Yes, because I am strong."
"Then henceforth we shall only meet at dinner. But chew me some more
"I have some pictures which you will not like."
"Let me see them."
I gave her Arentin's figures, and was astonished to see how coolly she
examined them, passing from one to the other in the most commonplace way.
"Do you think them interesting?" I said.
"Yes, very; they are so natural. But a good girl should not look at such
pictures; anyone must be aware that these voluptuous attitudes excite
"I believe you, Leah, and I feel it as much as you. Look here!"
She smiled and took the book away to the window, turning her back towards
me without taking any notice of my appeal.
I had to cool down and dress myself, and when the hairdresser arrived
Leah went away, saying she would return me my book at dinner.
I was delighted, thinking I was sure of victory either that day or the
next, but I was out of my reckoning.
We dined well and drank better. At dessert Leah took the book out of her
pocket and set me all on fire by asking me to explain some of the
pictures but forbidding all practical demonstration.
I went out impatiently, determined to wait till next morning.
When the cruel Jewess came in the morning she told me that she wanted
explanations, but that I must use the pictures and nothing more as a
demonstration of my remarks.
"Certainly," I replied, "but you must answer all my questions as to your
"I promise to do so, if they arise naturally from the pictures."
The lesson lasted two hours, and a hundred times did I curse Aretin and
my folly in shewing her his designs, for whenever I made the slightest
attempt the pitiless woman threatened to leave me. But the information
she gave me about her own sex was a perfect torment to me. She told me
the most lascivious details, and explained with the utmost minuteness the
different external and internal movements which would be developed in the
copulations pictured by Aretin. I thought it quite impossible that she
could be reasoning from theory alone. She was not troubled by the
slightest tincture of modesty, but philosophized on coition as coolly and
much more learnedly than Hedvig. I would willingly have given her all I
possessed to crown her science by the performance of the great work. She
swore it was all pure theory with her, and I thought she must be speaking
the truth when she said she wanted to get married to see if her notions
were right or wrong. She looked pensive when I told her that the husband
destined for her might be unable to discharge his connubial duties more
than once a week.
"Do you mean to say," said she, "that one man is not as good as another?"
"How do you mean?"
"Are not all men able to make love every day, and every hour, just as
they eat, drink and sleep every day?"
"No, dear Leah, they that can make love every day are very scarce."
In my state of chronic irritation I felt much annoyed that there was no
decent place at Ancona where a man might appease his passions for his
money. I trembled to think that I was in danger of falling really in
love with Leah, and I told the consul every day that I was in no hurry to
go. I was as foolish as a boy in his calf-love. I pictured Leah as the
purest of women, for with strong passions she refused to gratify them.
I saw in her a model of virtue; she was all self-restraint and purity,
resisting temptation in spite of the fire that consumed her.
Before long the reader will discover how very virtuous Leah was.
After nine or ten days I had recourse to violence, not in deeds but in
words. She confessed I was in the right, and said my best plan would be
to forbid her to come and see me in the morning. At dinner, according to
her, there would be no risk.
I made up my mind to ask her to continue her visits, but to cover her
breast and avoid all amorous conversation.
"With all my heart," she replied, laughing; "but be sure I shall not be
the first to break the conditions."
I felt no inclination to break them either, for three days later I felt
weary of the situation, and told the consul I would start on the first
opportunity. My passion for Leah was spoiling my appetite, and I thus
saw myself deprived of my secondary pleasure without any prospect of
gaining my primary enjoyment.
After what I had said to the consul I felt I should be bound to go, and I
went to bed calmly enough. But about two o'clock in the morning I had,
contrary to my usual habit, to get up and offer sacrifice to Cloacina. I
left my room without any candle, as I knew my way well enough about the
The temple of the goddess was on the ground floor, but as I had put on my
soft slippers, and walked very softly, my footsteps did not make the
On my way upstairs I saw a light shining through a chink in the door of a
room which I knew to be unoccupied. I crept softly up, not dreaming for
a moment that Leah could be there at such an hour. But on putting my eye
to the chink I found I could see a bed, and on it were Leah and a young
man, both stark naked, and occupied in working out Aretin's postures to
the best of their ability. They were whispering to one another, and
every four or five minutes I had the pleasure of seeing a new posture.
These changes of position gave me a view of all the beauties of Leah, and
this pleasure was something to set against my rage in having taken such a
profligate creature for a virtuous woman.
Every time they approached the completion of the great work they stopped
short, and completed what they were doing with their hands.
When they were doing the Straight Tree, to my mind the most lascivious of
them all, Leah behaved like a true Lesbian; for while the young man
excited her amorous fury she got hold of his instrument and took it
between her lips till the work was complete. I could not doubt that she
had swallowed the vital fluid of my fortunate rival.
The Adonis then shewed her the feeble instrument, and Leah seemed to
regret what she had done. Before long she began to excite him again; but
the fellow looked at his watch, pushed her away, and began to put on his
Leah seemed angry, and I could see that she reproached him for some time
before she began to dress.
When they were nearly clothed I softly returned to my room and looked out
of a window commanding the house-door. I had not to wait long before I
saw the fortunate lover going out.
I went to bed indignant with Leah; I felt myself degraded. She was no
longer virtuous, but a villainous prostitute in my eyes; and I fell to
sleep with the firm resolve of driving her from my room the next morning,
after shaming her with the story of the scene I had witnessed. But,
alas, hasty and angry resolves can seldom withstand a few hours' sleep.
As soon as I saw Leah coming in with my chocolate, smiling and gay as
usual, I told her quite coolly all the exploits I had seen her executing,
laying particular stress on the Straight Tree, and the curious liquid she
had swallowed. I ended by saying that I hoped she would give me the next
night, both to crown my love and insure my secrecy.
She answered with perfect calm that I had nothing to expect from her as
she did not love me, and as for keeping the secret she defied me to
"I am sure you would not be guilty of such a disgraceful action," said
With these words she turned her back on me and went out.
I could not help confessing to myself that she was in the right; I could
not bring myself to commit such a baseness. She had made me reasonable
in a few words:
"I don't love you." There was no reply to this, and I felt I had no
claim on her.
Rather it was she who might complain of me; what right had I to spy over
her? I could not accuse her of deceiving me; she was free to do what she
liked with herself. My best course was clearly to be silent.
I dressed myself hastily, and went to the Exchange, where I heard that a
vessel was sailing for Fiume the same day.
Fiume is just opposite Ancona on the other side of the gulf. From Fiume
to Trieste the distance is forty miles, and I decided to go by that
I went aboard the ship and took the best place, said good-bye to the
consul, paid Mardocheus, and packed my trunks.
Leah heard that I was going the same day, and came and told me that she
could not give me back my lace and my silk stockings that day, but that I
could have them by the next day.
"Your father," I replied coolly, "will hand them all over to the Venetian
consul, who will send them to me at Trieste."
Just as I was sitting down to dinner, the captain of the boat came for my
luggage with a sailor. I told him he could have my trunk, and that I
would bring the rest aboard whenever he liked to go.
"I intend setting out an hour before dusk."
"I shall be ready."
When Mardocheus heard where I was going he begged me to take charge of a
small box and a letter he wanted to send to a friend.
"I shall be delighted to do you this small service."
At dinner Leah sat down with me and chattered as usual, without troubling
herself about my monosyllabic answers.
I supposed she wished me to credit her with calm confidence and
philosophy, while I looked upon it all as brazen impudence.
I hated and despised her. She had inflamed my passions, told me to my
face she did not love me, and seemed to claim my respect through it all.
Possibly she expected me to be grateful for her remark that she believed
me incapable of betraying her to her father.
As she drank my Scopolo she said there were several bottles left, as well
as some Muscat.
"I make you a present of it all," I replied, "it will prime you up for
your nocturnal orgies."
She smiled and said I had had a gratuitous sight of a spectacle which was
worth money, and that if I were not going so suddenly she would gladly
have given me another opportunity.
This piece of impudence made me want to break the wine bottle on her
head. She must have known what I was going to do from the way I took it
up, but she did not waver for a moment. This coolness of hers prevented
my committing a crime.
I contented myself with saying that she was the most impudent slut I had
ever met, and I poured the wine into my glass with a shaking hand, as if
that were the purpose for which I had taken up the bottle.
After this scene I got up and went into the next room; nevertheless, in
half an hour she came to take coffee with me.
This persistence of hers disgusted me, but I calmed myself by the
reflection that her conduct must be dictated by vengeance.
"I should like to help you to pack," said she.
"And I should like to be left alone," I replied; and taking her by the
arm I led her out of the room and locked the door after her.
We were both of us in the right. Leah had deceived and humiliated me,
and I had reason to detest her, while I had discovered her for a monster
of hypocrisy and immodesty, and this was good cause for her to dislike
Towards evening two sailors came after the rest of the luggage, and
thanking my hostess I told Leah to put up my linen, and to give it to her
father, who had taken the box of which I was to be the bearer down to the
We set sail with a fair wind, and I thought never to set face on Leah
again. But fate had ordered otherwise.
We had gone twenty miles with a good wind in our quarter, by which we
were borne gently from wave to wave, when all of a sudden there fell a
These rapid changes are common enough in the Adriatic, especially in the
part we were in.
The calm lasted but a short time, and a stiff wind from the west-north-
west began to blow, with the result that the sea became very rough, and I
was very ill.
At midnight the storm had become dangerous. The captain told me that if
we persisted in going in the wind's eye we should be wrecked, and that
the only thing to be done was to return to Ancona.
In less than three hours we made the harbour, and the officer of the
guard having recognized me kindly allowed me to land.
While I was talking to the officer the sailors took my trunks, and
carried them to my old lodgings without waiting to ask my leave.
I was vexed. I wanted to avoid Leah, and I had intended to sleep at the
nearest inn. However, there was no help for it. When I arrived the Jew
got up, and said he was delighted to see me again.
It was past three o'clock in the morning, and I felt very ill, so I said
I would not get up till late, and that I would dine in my bed without any
foie gras. I slept ten hours, and when I awoke I felt hungry and rang my
The maid answered and said that she would have the honour of waiting on
me, as Leah had a violent headache.
I made no answer, thanking Providence for delivering me from this
impudent and dangerous woman.
Having found my dinner rather spare I told the cook to get me a good
The weather was dreadful. The Venetian consul had heard of my return,
and not having seen me concluded I was ill, and paid me a two hours'
visit. He assured me the storm would last for a week at least. I was
very sorry to hear it; in the first place, because I did not want to see
any more of Leah, and in the second, because I had not got any money.
Luckily I had got valuable effects, so this second consideration did not
trouble me much.
As I did not see Leah at supper-time I imagined that she was feigning
illness to avoid meeting me, and I felt very much obliged to her on this
account. As it appeared, however, I was entirely mistaken in my
The next day she came to ask for chocolate in her usual way, but she no
longer bore upon her features her old tranquillity of expression.
"I will take coffee, mademoiselle," I observed; "and as I do not want
foie gras any longer, I will take dinner by myself. Consequently, you
may tell your father that I shall only pay seven pauls a day. In future
I shall only drink Orvieto wine."
"You have still four bottles of Scopolo and Cyprus"
"I never take back a present; the wine belongs to you. I shall be
obliged by your leaving me alone as much as possible, as your conduct is
enough to irritate Socrates, and I am not Socrates. Besides, the very
sight of you is disagreeable to me. Your body may be beautiful, but
knowing that the soul within is a monster it charms me no longer. You
may be very sure that the sailors brought my luggage here without my
orders, or else you would never have seen me here again, where I dread
being poisoned every day."
Leah went out without giving me any answer, and I felt certain that after
my plain-spoken discourse she would take care not to trouble me again.
Experience had taught me that girls like Leah are not uncommon. I had
known specimens at Spa, Genoa, London, and at Venice, but this Jewess was
the worst I had ever met.
It was Saturday. When Mardocheus came back from the synagogue he asked
me gaily why I had mortified his daughter, as she had declared she had
done nothing to offend me.
"I have not mortified her, my dear Mardocheus, or at all events, such was
not my intention; but as I have put myself on diet, I shall be eating no
more foie gras, and consequently I shall dine by myself, and save three
pauls a day."
"Leah is quite ready to pay me out of her private purse, and she wants to
dine with you to assure you against being poisoned, as she informs me
that you have expressed that fear."
"That was only a jest; I am perfectly aware that I am in the house of an
honest man. I don't want your daughter to pay for herself, and to prove
that I am not actuated by feelings of economy, you shall dine with me
too. To offer to pay for me is an impertinence on her part. In fine, I
will either dine by myself and pay you seven pawls a day, or I will pay
you thirteen, and have both father and daughter to dine with me."
The worthy Mardocheus went away, saying that he really could not allow me
to dine by myself.
At dinner-time I talked only to Mardocheus, without glancing at Leah or
paying any attention to the witty sallies she uttered to attract me. I
only drank Orvieto.
At dessert Leah filled my glass with Scopolo, saying that if I did not
drink it neither would she.
I replied, without looking at her, that I advised her only to drink water
for the future, and that I wanted nothing at her hands.
Mardocheus, who liked wine, laughed and said I was right, and drank for
The weather continued bad, and I spent the rest of the day in writing,
and after supper I retired and went to sleep.
Suddenly I was aroused by a slight noise.
"Who is there?" said I.
I heard Leah's voice, whispering in reply,
"'Tis I; I have not come to disturb you, but to justify myself."
So saying she lay down on the bed, but on the outside of the coverlet.
I was pleased with this extraordinary visit, for my sole desire was for
vengeance, and I felt certain of being able to resist all her arts. I
therefore told her politely enough that I considered her as already
justified and that I should be obliged by her leaving me as I wanted to
go to sleep.
"Not before you have heard what I have to say."
"Go on; I am listening to you."
Thereupon she began a discourse which I did not interrupt, and which
lasted for a good hour.
She spoke very artfully, and after confessing she had done wrong she said
that at my age I should have been ready to overlook the follies of a
young and passionate girl. According to her it was all weakness, and
pardonable at such an age.
"I swear I love you," said she, "and I would have given you good proof
before now if I had not been so unfortunate as to love the young
Christian you saw with me, while he does not care for me in the least;
indeed I have to pay him.
"In spite of my passion," she continued, "I have never given him what a
girl can give but once. I had not seen him for six months, and it was
your fault that I sent for him, for you inflamed me with your pictures
and strong wines."
The end of it all was that I ought to forget everything, and treat her
kindly during the few days I was to remain there.
When she finished I did not allow myself to make any objection. I
pretended to be convinced, assuring her that I felt I had been in the
wrong in letting her see Aretin's figures, and that I would no longer
evince any resentment towards her.
As her explanation did not seem likely to end in the way she wished, she
went on talking about the weakness of the flesh, the strength of self-
love which often hushes the voice of passion, etc., etc.; her aim being
to persuade me that she loved me, and that her refusals had all been
given with the idea of making my love the stronger.
No doubt I might have given her a great many answers, but I said nothing.
I made up my mind to await the assault that I saw was impending, and then
by refusing all her advances I reckoned on abasing her to the uttermost.
Nevertheless, she made no motion; her hands were at rest, and she kept
her face at a due distance from mine.
At last, tired out with the struggle, she left me pretending to be
perfectly satisfied with what she had done.
As soon as she had gone, I congratulated myself on the fact that she had
confined herself to verbal persuasion; for if she had gone further she
would probably have achieved a complete victory, though we were in the
I must mention that before she left me I had to promise to allow her to
make my chocolate as usual.
Early the next morning she came for the stick of chocolate. She was in a
complete state of negligee, and came in on tiptoe, though if she chose to
look towards the bed she might have seen that I was wide awake.
I marked her artifices and her cunning, and resolved to be equal to all
her wiles. When she brought the chocolate I noticed that there were two
cups on the tray, and I said,--
"Then it is not true that you don't like chocolate?"
"I feel obliged to relieve you of all fear of being poisoned."
I noticed that she was now dressed with the utmost decency, while half an
hour before she had only her chemise and petticoat her neck being
perfectly bare. The more resolved she seemed to gain the victory, the
more firmly I was determined to humiliate her, as it appeared to me the
only other alternative would have been my shame and dishonour; and this
turned me to stone.
In spite of my resolves, Leah renewed the attack at dinner, for, contrary
to my orders, she served a magnificent foie gras, telling me that it was
for herself, and that if she were poisoned she would die of pleasure;
Mardocheus said he should like to die too, and began regaling himself on
it with evident relish.
I could not help laughing, and announced my wish to taste the deadly
food, and so we all of us were eating it.
"Your resolves are not strong enough to withstand seduction," said Leah.
This remark piqued me, and I answered that she was imprudent to disclose
her designs in such a manner, and that she would find my resolves strong
enough when the time came.
A faint smile played about her lips.
"Try if you like," I said, "to persuade me to drink some Scopolo or
Muscat. I meant to have taken some, but your taunt has turned me to
steel. I mean to prove that when I make up my mind I never alter it."
"The strong-minded man never gives way," said Leah, "but the good-hearted
man often lets himself be overpersuaded."
"Quite so, and the good-hearted girl refrains from taunting a man for his
weakness for her."
I called the maid and told her to go to the Venetian consul's and get me
some more Scopolo and Muscat. Leah piqued me once more by saying
"I am sure you are the most good-hearted of men as well as the firmest."
Mardocheus, who could not make out what we meant, ate, drank, and
laughed, and seemed pleased with everything.
In the afternoon I went out to a cafe in spite of the dreadful weather.
I thought over Leah and her designs, feeling certain that she would pay
me another nocturnal visit and renew the assault in force. I resolved to
weaken myself with some common woman, if I could find one at all
A Greek who had taken me to a disgusting place a few days before,
conducted me to another where he introduced me to a painted horror of a
woman from whose very sight I fled in terror.
I felt angry that in a town like Ancona a man of some delicacy could not
get his money's worth for his money, and went home, supped by myself, and
locked the door after me.
The precaution, however, was useless.
A few minutes after I had shut the door, Leah knocked on the pretext that
I had forgotten to give her the chocolate.
I opened the door and gave it her, and she begged me not to lock myself
in, as she wanted to have an important and final interview.
"You can tell me now what you want to say."
"No, it will take some time, and I should not like to come till everyone
is asleep. You have nothing to be afraid of; you are lord of yourself.
You can go to bed in peace."
"I have certainly nothing to be afraid of, and to prove it to you I will
leave the door open."
I felt more than ever certain of victory, and resolved not to blow out
the candles, as my doing so might be interpreted into a confession of
fear. Besides, the light would render my triumph and her humiliation
more complete. With these thoughts I went to bed.
At eleven o'clock a slight noise told me that my hour had come. I saw
Leah enter my room in her chemise and a light petticoat. She locked my
door softly, and when I cried, "Well; what do you want with me?" she let
her chemise and petticoat drop, and lay down beside me in a state of
I was too much astonished to repulse her.
Leah was sure of victory, and without a word she threw herself upon me,
pressing her lips to mine, and depriving me of all my faculties except
I utilised a short moment of reflection by concluding that I was a
presumtuous fool, and that Leah was a woman with a most extensive
knowledge of human nature.
In a second my caress became as ardent as hers, and after kissing her
spheres of rose and alabaster I penetrated to the sanctuary of love,
which, much to my astonishment, I found to be a virgin citadel.
There was a short silence, and then I said,--
"Dearest Leah, you oblige me to adore you; why did you first inspire me
with hate? Are you not come here merely to humiliate me, to obtain an
empty victory? If so, I forgive you; but you are in the wrong, for,
believe me, enjoyment is sweeter far than vengeance."
"Nay, I have not come to achieve a shameful victory, but to give myself
to you without reserve, to render you my conqueror and my king. Prove
your love by making me happy, break down the barrier which I kept intact,
despite its fragility and my ardour, and if this sacrifice does not
convince you of my affection you must be the worst of men."
I had never heard more energetic opinions, and I had never seen a more
voluptuous sight. I began the work, and while Leah aided me to the best
of her ability, I forced the gate, and on Leah's face I read the most
acute pain and pleasure mingled. In the first ecstasy of delight I felt
her tremble in every limb.
As for me, my enjoyment was quite new; I was twenty again, but I had the
self-restraint of my age, and treated Leah with delicacy, holding her in
my arms till three o'clock in the morning. When I left her she was
inundated and exhausted with pleasure, while I could do no more.
She left me full of gratitude, carrying the soaking linen away with her.
I slept on till twelve o'clock.
When I awoke and saw her standing by my bedside with the gentle love of
the day after the wedding, the idea of my approaching departure saddened
me. I told her so, and she begged me to stay on as long as I could. I
repeated that we would arrange everything when we met again at night.
We had a delicious dinner, for Mardocheus was bent on convincing me that
he was no miser.
I spent the afternoon with the consul, and arranged that I should go on a
Neapolitan man-of-war which was in quarantine at the time, and was to
sail for Trieste.
As I should be obliged to pass another month at Ancona, I blessed the
storm that had driven me back.
I gave the consul the gold snuff-box with which the Elector of Cologne
had presented me, keeping the portrait as a memento. Three days later he
handed me forty gold sequins, which was ample for my needs.
My stay in Ancona was costing me dear; but when I told Mardocheus that I
should not be going for another month he declared he would no longer feed
at my expense. Of course I did not insist. Leah still dined with me.
It has always been my opinion, though perhaps I may be mistaken, that the
Jew was perfectly well aware of my relations with his daughter. Jews are
usually very liberal on this article, possibly because they count on the
child being an Israelite.
I took care that my dear Leah should have no reason to repent of our
connection. How grateful and affectionate she was when I told her that I
meant to stay another month! How she blessed the bad weather which had
driven me back. We slept together every night, not excepting those
nights forbidden by the laws of Moses.
I gave her the little gold heart, which might be worth ten sequins, but
that would be no reward for the care she had taken of my linen. She also
made me accept some splendid Indian handkerchiefs. Six years later I met
her again at Pesaro.
I left Ancona on November 14th, and on the 15th I was at Trieste.
Pittoni--Zaguri--The Procurator Morosini--The Venetian Consul--Gorice--
The French Consul--Madame Leo--My Devotion to The State Inquisitors--
Strasoldo--Madame Cragnoline--General Burghausen
The landlord asked me my name, we made our agreement, and I found myself
very comfortably lodged. Next day I went to the post-office and found
several letters which had been awaiting me for the last month. I opened
one from M. Dandolo, and found an open enclosure from the patrician Marco
Dona, addressed to Baron Pittoni, Chief of Police. On reading it, I
found I was very warmly commended to the baron. I hastened to call on
him, and gave him the letter, which he took but did not read. He told me
that M. Donna had written to him about me, and that he would be delighted
to do anything in his power for me.
I then took Mardocheus's letter to his friend Moses Levi. I had not the
slightest idea that the letter had any reference to myself, so I gave it
to the first clerk that I saw in the office.
Levi was an honest and an agreeable man, and the next day he called on me
and offered me his services in the most cordial manner. He shewed me the
letter I had delivered, and I was delighted to find that it referred to
myself. The worthy Mardocheus begged him to give me a hundred sequins in
case I needed any money, adding that any politeness shewn to me would be
as if shewn to himself.
This behaviour on the part of Mardocheus filled me with gratitude, and
reconciled me, so to speak, with the whole Jewish nation. I wrote him a
letter of thanks, offering to serve him at Venice in any way I could.
I could not help comparing the cordiality of Levi's welcome with the
formal and ceremonious reception of Baron Pittoni. The baron was ten or
twelve years younger than I. He was a man of parts, and quite devoid of
prejudice. A sworn foe of 'meum and tuum', and wholly incapable of
economy, he left the whole care of his house to his valet, who robbed
him, but the baron knew it and made no objection. He was a determined
bachelor, a gallant, and the friend and patron of libertines. His chief
defect was his forgetfulness and absence of mind, which made him
mismanage important business.
He was reputed, though wrongly, to be a liar. A liar is a person who
tells falsehoods intentionally, while if Pittoni told lies it was because
he had forgotten the truth. We became good friends in the course of a
month, and we have remained friends to this day.
I wrote to my friends at Venice, announcing my arrival at Trieste, and
for the next ten days I kept my room, busied in putting together the
notes I had made on Polish events since the death of Elizabeth Petrovna.
I meant to write a history of the troubles of unhappy Poland up to its
dismemberment, which was taking place at the epoch in which I was
I had foreseen all this when the Polish Diet recognized the dying czarina
as Empress of all the Russians, and the Elector of Brandenburg as King of
Prussia, and I proceeded with my history; but only the first three
volumes were published, owing to the printers breaking the agreement.
The four last volumes will be found in manuscript after my death, and
anyone who likes may publish them. But I have become indifferent to all
this as to many other matters since I have seen Folly crowned king of the
To-day there is no such country as Poland, but it might still be in
existence if it had not been for the ambition of the Czartoryski family,
whose pride had been humiliated by Count Bruhl, the prime minister. To
gain vengeance Prince Augustus Czartoryski ruined his country. He was so
blinded by passion that he forgot that all actions have their inevitable
Czartoryski had determined not only to exclude the House of Saxony from
the succession, but to dethrone the member of that family who was
reigning. To do this the help of the Czarina and of the Elector of
Brandenburg was necessary, so he made the Polish Diet acknowledge the one
as Empress of all the Russians, and the other as King of Prussia. The
two sovereigns would not treat with the Polish Commonwealth till this
claim had been satisfied; but the Commonwealth should never have granted
these titles, for Poland itself possessed most of the Russias, and was
the true sovereign of Prussia, the Elector of Brandenburg being only Duke
of Prussia in reality.
Prince Czartoryski, blinded by the desire of vengeance, persuaded the
Diet that to give the two sovereigns these titles would be merely a form,
and that they would never become anything more than honorary. This might
be so, but if Poland had possessed far-seeing statesmen they would have
guessed that an honorary title would end in the usurpation of the whole
The Russian palatin had the pleasure of seeing his nephew Stanislas
Poniatowski on the throne.
I myself told him that these titles gave a right, and that the promise
not to make any use of them was a mere delusion. I added jokingly--for
I was obliged to adopt a humorous tone--that before long Europe would
take pity on Poland, which had to bear the heavy weight of all the
Russias and the kingdom of Prussia as well, and the Commonwealth would
find itself relieved of all these charges.
My prophecy has been fulfilled. The two princes whose titles were
allowed have torn Poland limb from limb; it is now absorbed in Russia and
The second great mistake made by Poland was in not remembering the
apologue of the man and the horse when the question of protection
The Republic of Rome became mistress of the world by protecting other
Thus Poland came to ruin through ambition, vengeance, and folly--but
folly most of all.
The same reason lay at the root of the French Revolution. Louis XVI.
paid the penalty of his folly with his life. If he had been a wise ruler
he would still be on the throne, and France would have escaped the fury
of the Revolutionists. France is sick; in any other country this
sickness might be remedied, but I would not wonder if it proved incurable
Certain emotional persons are moved to pity by the emigrant French
nobles, but for my part I think them only worthy of contempt. Instead of
parading their pride and their disgrace before the eyes of foreign
nations, they should have rallied round their king, and either have saved
the throne or died under its ruins. What will become of France? It was
hard to say; but it is certain that a body without a head cannot live
very long, for reason is situate in the head.
On December 1st Baron Pittoni begged me to call on him as some one had
come from Venice on purpose to see me.
I dressed myself hastily, and went to the baron's, where I saw a fine-
looking man of thirty-five or forty, elegantly dressed. He looked at me
with the liveliest interest.
"My heart tells me," I began, "that your excellence's name is Zaguri?"
"Exactly so, my dear Casanova. As soon as my friend Dandolo told me of
your arrival here, I determined to come and congratulate you on your
approaching recall, which will take place either this year or the next,
as I hope to see two friends of mine made Inquisitors. You may judge of
my friendship for you when I tell you that I am an 'avogador', and that
there is a law forbidding such to leave Venice. We will spend to-day and
I replied in a manner to convince him that I was sensible of the honour
he had done me; and I heard Baron Pittoni begging me to excuse him for
not having come to see me. He said he had forgotten all about it, and a
handsome old man begged his excellence to ask me to dine with him, though
he had not the pleasure of knowing me.
"What!" said Zaguri. "Casanova has been here for the last ten days, and
does not know the Venetian consul?"
I hastened to speak.
"It's my own fault," I observed, "I did not like calling on this
gentleman, for fear he might think me contraband."
The consul answered wittily that I was not contraband but in quarantine,
pending my return to my native land; and that in the meanwhile his house
would always be open to me, as had been the house of the Venetian consul
In this manner he let me know that he knew something about me, and I was
not at all sorry for it.
Marco Monti, such was the consul's name, was a man of parts and much
experience; a pleasant companion and a great conversationalist, fond of
telling amusing stories with a grave face--in fact, most excellent
I was something of a 'conteur' myself, and we soon became friendly rivals
in telling anecdotes. In spite of his thirty additional years I was a
tolerable match for him, and when we were in a room there was no question
of gaining to kill the time.
We became fast friends, and I benefited a good deal by his offices during
the two years I spent in Trieste, and I have always thought that he had a
considerable share in obtaining my recall. That was my great object in
those days; I was a victim to nostalgia, or home sickness.
With the Swiss and the Sclavs it is really a fatal disease, which carries
them off if they are not sent home immediately. Germans are subject to
this weakness also; whilst the French suffer very little, and Italians
not much more from the complaint.
No rule, however, lacks its exception, and I was one. I daresay I should
have got over my nostalgia if I had treated it with contempt, and then I
should not have wasted ten years of my life in the bosom of my cruel
I dined with M. Zaguri at the consul's, and I was invited to dine with
the governor, Count Auersperg, the next day.
The visit from a Venetian 'avogador' made me a person of great
consideration. I was no longer looked upon as an exile, but as one who
had successfully escaped from illegal confinement.
The day after I accompanied M. Zaguri to Gorice, where he stayed three
days to enjoy the hospitality of the nobility. I was included in all
their invitations, and I saw that a stranger could live very pleasantly
I met there a certain Count Cobenzl, who may be alive now--a man of
wisdom, generosity, and the vastest learning, and yet without any kind of
pretention. He gave a State dinner to M. Zaguri, and I had the pleasure
of meeting there three or four most charming ladies. I also met Count
Tomes, a Spaniard whose father was in in the Austrian service. He had
married at sixty, and had five children all as ugly as himself. His
daughter was a charming girl in spite of her plainness; she evidently got
her character from the mother's side. The eldest son, who was ugly and
squinted, was a kind of pleasant madman, but he was also a liar, a
profligate, a boaster, and totally devoid of discretion. In spite of
these defects he was much sought after in society as he told a good tale
and made people laugh. If he had been a student, he would have been a
distinguished scholar, as his memory was prodigious. He it was who
vainly guaranteed the agreement I made with Valerio Valeri for printing
my "History of Poland." I also met at Gorice a Count Coronini, who was
known in learned circles as the author of some Latin treatises on
diplomacy. Nobody read his books, but everybody agreed that he was a
very learned man.
I also met a young man named Morelli, who had written a history of the
place and was on the point of publishing the first volume. He gave me
his MS. begging me to make any corrections that struck me as desirable.
I succeeded in pleasing him, as I gave him back his work without a single
note or alteration of any kind, and thus he became my friend.
I became a great friend of Count Francis Charles Coronini, who was a man
of talents. He had married a Belgian lady, but not being able to agree
they had separated and he passed his time in trifling intrigues, hunting,
and reading the papers, literary and political. He laughed at those
sages who declared that there was not one really happy person in the
world, and he supported his denial by the unanswerable dictum:
"I myself am perfectly happy."
However, as he died of a tumor in the head at the age of thirty-five, he
probably acknowledged his mistake in the agonies of death.
There is no such thing as a perfectly happy or perfectly unhappy man in
the world. One has more happiness in his life and another more
unhappiness, and the same circumstance may produce widely different
effects on individuals of different temperaments.
It is not a fact that virtue ensures happiness for the exercise of some
virtues implies suffering, and suffering is incompatible with happiness.
My readers may be aware that I am not inclined to make mental pleasure
pre-eminent and all sufficing. It may be a fine thing to have a clear
conscience, but I cannot see that it would at all relieve the pangs of
Baron Pittoni and myself escorted Zaguri to the Venetian border, and we
then returned to Trieste together.
In three or four days Pittoni took me everywhere, including the club
where none but persons of distinction were admitted. This club was held
at the inn where I was staying.
Amongst the ladies, the most noteworthy was the wife of the merchant,
David Riguelin, who was a Swabian by birth.
Pittoni was in love with her and continued so till her death. His suit
lasted for twelve years, and like Petrarch, he still sighed, still hoped,
but never succeeded. Her name was Zanetta, and besides her beauty she
had the charm of being an exquisite singer and a polished hostess. Still
more noteworthy, however, was the unvarying sweetness and equability of
I did not want to know her long before recognizing that she was
absolutely impregnable. I told Pittoni so, but all in vain; he still fed
on empty hope.
Zanetta had very poor health, though no one would have judged so from her
appearance, but it was well known to be the case. She died at an early
A few days after M. Zaguri's departure, I had a note from the consul
informing me that the Procurator Morosini was stopping in my inn, and
advising me to call on him if I knew him.
I was infinitely obliged for this advice, for M. Morosini was a
personage of the greatest importance. He had known me from childhood,
and the reader may remember that he had presented me to Marshal
Richelieu, at Fontainebleau, in 1750.
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