The Complete Memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 9 out of 70
I left the palace and went to the esplanade in order to wait for him.
The moment I saw him, I ran to meet him, and I beat him so violently
with my cane that one blow alone ought to have killed him. He drew
back, and found himself brought to a stand between two walls, where,
to avoid being beaten to death, his only resource was to draw his
sword, but the cowardly scoundrel did not even think of his weapon,
and I left him, on the ground, covered with blood. The crowd formed
a line for me to pass, and I went to the coffee-house, where I drank
a glass of lemonade, without sugar to precipitate the bitter saliva
which rage had brought up from my stomach. In a few minutes, I found
myself surrounded by all the young officers of the garrison, who
joined in the general opinion that I ought to have killed him, and
they at last annoyed me, for it was not my fault if I had not done
so, and I would certainly have taken his life if he had drawn his
I had been in the coffee-house for half an hour when the general's
adjutant came to tell me that his excellency ordered me to put myself
under arrest on board the bastarda, a galley on which the prisoners
had their legs in irons like galley slaves. The dose was rather too
strong to be swallowed, and I did not feel disposed to submit to it.
"Very good, adjutant," I replied, "it shall be done." He went away,
and I left the coffee-house a moment after him, but when I reached
the end of the street, instead of going towards the esplanade, I
proceeded quickly towards the sea. I walked along the beach for a
quarter of an hour, and finding a boat empty, but with a pair of
oars, I got in her, and unfastening her, I rowed as hard as I could
towards a large caicco, sailing against the wind with six oars. As
soon as I had come up to her, I went on board and asked the
carabouchiri to sail before the wind and to take me to a large wherry
which could be seen at some distance, going towards Vido Rock. I
abandoned the row-boat, and, after paying the master of the caicco
generously, I got into the wherry, made a bargain with the skipper
who unfurled three sails, and in less than two hours we were fifteen
miles away from Corfu. The wind having died away, I made the men row
against the current, but towards midnight they told me that they
could not row any longer, they were worn out with fatigue. They
advised me to sleep until day-break, but I refused to do so, and for
a trifle I got them to put me on shore, without asking where I was,
in order not to raise their suspicions. It was enough for me to know
that I was at a distance of twenty miles from Corfu, and in a place
where nobody could imagine me to be. The moon was shining, and I saw
a church with a house adjoining, a long barn opened on both sides, a
plain of about one hundred yards confined by hills, and nothing more.
I found some straw in the barn, and laying myself down, I slept until
day-break in spite of the cold. It was the 1st of December, and
although the climate is very mild in Corfu I felt benumbed when I
awoke, as I had no cloak over my thin uniform.
The bells begin to toll, and I proceed towards the church. The long-
bearded papa, surprised at my sudden apparition, enquires whether I
am Romeo (a Greek); I tell him that I am Fragico (Italian), but he
turns his back upon me and goes into his house, the door of which he
shuts without condescending to listen to me.
I then turned towards the sea, and saw a boat leaving a tartan lying
at anchor within one hundred yards of the island; the boat had four
oars and landed her passengers. I come up to them and meet a good-
looking Greek, a woman and a young boy ten or twelve years old.
Addressing myself to the Greek, I ask him whether he has had a
pleasant passage, and where he comes from. He answers in Italian
that he has sailed from Cephalonia with his wife and his son, and
that he is bound for Venice; he had landed to hear mass at the Church
of Our Lady of Casopo, in order to ascertain whether his father-in-
law was still alive, and whether he would pay the amount he had
promised him for the dowry of his wife.
"But how can you find it out?"
"The Papa Deldimopulo will tell me; he will communicate faithfully
the oracle of the Holy Virgin." I say nothing and follow him into the
church; he speaks to the priest, and gives him some money. The papa
says the mass, enters the sanctum sanctorum, comes out again in a
quarter of an hour, ascends the steps of the altar, turns towards his
audience, and, after meditating for a minute and stroking his long
beard, he delivers his oracle in a dozen words. The Greek of
Cephalonia, who certainly could not boast of being as wise as
Ulysses, appears very well pleased, and gives more money to the
impostor. We leave the church, and I ask him whether he feels
satisfied with the oracle.
"Oh! quite satisfied. I know now that my father-in-law is alive,
and that he will pay me the dowry, if I consent to leave my child
with him. I am aware that it is his fancy and I will give him the
"Does the papa know you?"
"No; he is not even acquainted with my name."
"Have you any fine goods on board your tartan?"
"Yes; come and breakfast with me; you can see all I have."
Delighted at hearing that oracles were not yet defunct, and satisfied
that they will endure as long as there are in this world simple-
minded men and deceitful, cunning priests, I follow the good man, who
took me to his tartan and treated me to an excellent breakfast. His
cargo consisted of cotton, linen, currants, oil, and excellent wines.
He had also a stock of night-caps, stockings, cloaks in the Eastern
fashion, umbrellas, and sea biscuits, of which I was very fond; in
those days I had thirty teeth, and it would have been difficult to
find a finer set. Alas! I have but two left now, the other twenty-
eight are gone with other tools quite as precious; but 'dum vita
super est, bene est.' I bought a small stock of everything he had
except cotton, for which I had no use, and without discussing his
price I paid him the thirty-five or forty sequins he demanded, and
seeing my generosity he made me a present of six beautiful botargoes.
I happened during our conversation to praise the wine of Xante, which
he called generoydes, and he told me that if I would accompany him to
Venice he would give me a bottle of that wine every day including the
quarantine. Always superstitious, I was on the point of accepting,
and that for the most foolish reason-namely, that there would be no
premeditation in that strange resolution, and it might be the impulse
of fate. Such was my nature in those days; alas; it is very
different now. They say that it is because wisdom comes with old
age, but I cannot reconcile myself to cherish the effect of a most
Just as I was going to accept his offer he proposes to sell me a very
fine gun for ten sequins, saying that in Corfu anyone would be glad
of it for twelve. The word Corfu upsets all my ideas on the spot! I
fancy I hear the voice of my genius telling me to go back to that
city. I purchase the gun for the ten sequins, and my honest
Cephalonian, admiring my fair dealing, gives me, over and above our
bargain, a beautiful Turkish pouch well filled with powder and shot.
Carrying my gun, with a good warm cloak over my uniform and with a
large bag containing all my purchases, I take leave of the worthy
Greek, and am landed on the shore, determined on obtaining a lodging
from the cheating papa, by fair means or foul. The good wine of my
friend the Cephalonian had excited me just enough to make me carry my
determination into immediate execution. I had in my pockets four or
five hundred copper gazzette, which were very heavy, but which I had
procured from the Greek, foreseeing that I might want them during my
stay on the island.
I store my bag away in the barn and I proceed, gun in hand, towards
the house of the priest; the church was closed.
I must give my readers some idea of the state I was in at that
moment. I was quietly hopeless. The three or four hundred sequins I
had with me did not prevent me from thinking that I was not in very
great security on the island; I could not remain long, I would soon
be found out, and, being guilty of desertion, I should be treated
accordingly. I did not know what to do, and that is always an
unpleasant predicament. It would be absurd for me to return to Corfu
of my own accord; my flight would then be useless, and I should be
thought a fool, for my return would be a proof of cowardice or
stupidity; yet I did not feel the courage to desert altogether. The
chief cause of my decision was not that I had a thousand sequins in
the hands of the faro banker, or my well-stocked wardrobe, or the
fear of not getting a living somewhere else, but the unpleasant
recollection that I should leave behind me a woman whom I loved to
adoration, and from whom I had not yet obtained any favour, not even
that of kissing her hand. In such distress of mind I could not do
anything else but abandon myself to chance, whatever the result might
be, and the most essential thing for the present was to secure a
lodging and my daily food.
I knock at the door of the priest's dwelling. He looks out of a
window and shuts it without listening to me, I knock again, I swear,
I call out loudly, all in vain, Giving way to my rage, I take aim at
a poor sheep grazing with several others at a short distance, and
kill it. The herdsman begins to scream, the papa shows himself at
the window, calling out, "Thieves! Murder!" and orders the alarm-
bell to be rung. Three bells are immediately set in motion, I
foresee a general gathering: what is going to happen? I do not know,
but happen what will, I load my gun and await coming events.
In less than eight or ten minutes, I see a crowd of peasants coming
down the hills, armed with guns, pitchforks, or cudgels: I withdraw
inside of the barn, but without the slightest fear, for I cannot
suppose that, seeing me alone, these men will murder me without
listening to me.
The first ten or twelve peasants come forward, gun in hand and ready
to fire: I stop them by throwing down my gazzette, which they lose no
time in picking up from the ground, and I keep on throwing money down
as the men come forward, until I had no more left. The clowns were
looking at each other in great astonishment, not knowing what to make
out of a well-dressed young man, looking very peaceful, and throwing
his money to them with such generosity. I could not speak to them
until the deafening noise of the bells should cease. I quietly sit
down on my large bag, and keep still, but as soon as I can be heard I
begin to address the men. The priest, however, assisted by his
beadle and by the herdsman, interrupts me, and all the more easily
that I was speaking Italian. My three enemies, who talked all at
once, were trying to excite the crowd against me.
One of the peasants, an elderly and reasonable-looking man, comes up
to me and asks me in Italian why I have killed the sheep.
"To eat it, my good fellow, but not before I have paid for it."
"But his holiness, the papa, might choose to charge one sequin for
"Here is one sequin."
The priest takes the money and goes away: war is over. The peasant
tells me that he has served in the campaign of 1716, and that he was
at the defence of Corfu. I compliment him, and ask him to find me a
lodging and a man able to prepare my meals. He answers that he will
procure me a whole house, that he will be my cook himself, but I must
go up the hill. No matter! He calls two stout fellows, one takes my
bag, the other shoulders my sheep, and forward! As we are walking
along, I tell him,--
"My good man, I would like to have in my service twenty-four fellows
like these under military discipline. I would give each man twenty
gazzette a day, and you would have forty as my lieutenant."
"I will," says the old soldier, "raise for you this very day a body-
guard of which you will be proud."
We reach a very convenient house, containing on the ground floor
three rooms and a stable, which I immediately turned into a guard-
My lieutenant went to get what I wanted, and particularly a
needlewoman to make me some shirts. In the course of the day I had
furniture, bedding, kitchen utensils, a good dinner, twenty-four
well-equipped soldiers, a super-annuated sempstress and several young
girls to make my shirts. After supper, I found my position highly
pleasant, being surrounded with some thirty persons who looked upon
me as their sovereign, although they could not make out what had
brought me to their island. The only thing which struck me as
disagreeable was that the young girls could not speak Italian, and I
did not know Greek enough to enable me to make love to them.
The next morning my lieutenant had the guard relieved, and I could
not help bursting into a merry laugh. They were like a flock of
sheep: all fine men, well-made and strong; but without uniform and
without discipline the finest band is but a herd. However, they
quickly learned how to present arms and to obey the orders of their
officer. I caused three sentinels to be placed, one before the
guardroom, one at my door, and the third where he could have a good
view of the sea. This sentinel was to give me warning of the
approach of any armed boat or vessel. For the first two or three
days I considered all this as mere amusement, but, thinking that I
might really want the men to repel force by force, I had some idea of
making my army take an oath of allegiance. I did not do so, however,
although my lieutenant assured me that I had only to express my
wishes, for my generosity had captivated the love of all the
My sempstress, who had procured some young needlewomen to sew my
shirts, had expected that I would fall in love with one and not with
all, but my amorous zeal overstepped her hopes, and all the pretty
ones had their turn; they were all well satisfied with me, and the
sempstress was rewarded for her good offices. I was leading a
delightful life, for my table was supplied with excellent dishes,
juicy mutton, and snipe so delicious that I have never tasted their
like except in St. Petersburg. I drank scopolo wine or the best
muscatel of the Archipelago. My lieutenant was my only table
companion. I never took a walk without him and two of my body-guard,
in order to defend myself against the attacks of a few young men who
had a spite against me because they fancied, not without some reason,
that my needlewomen, their mistresses, had left them on my account.
I often thought while I was rambling about the island, that without
money I should have been unhappy, and that I was indebted to my gold
for all the happiness I was enjoying; but it was right to suppose at
the same time that, if I had not felt my purse pretty heavy, I would
not have been likely to leave Corfu.
I had thus been playing the petty king with success for a week or ten
days, when, towards ten o'clock at night I heard the sentinel's
challenge. My lieutenant went out, and returned announcing that an
honest-looking man, who spoke Italian, wished to see me on important
business. I had him brought in, and, in the presence of my
lieutenant, he told me in Italian:
"Next Sunday, the Papa Deldimopulo will fulminate against you the
'cataramonachia'. If you do not prevent him, a slow fever will send
you into the next world in six weeks."
"I have never heard of such a drug."
"It is not a drug. It is a curse pronounced by a priest with the
Host in his hands, and it is sure to be fulfilled."
"What reason can that priest have to murder me?"
"You disturb the peace and discipline of his parish. You have
seduced several young girls, and now their lovers refuse to marry
I made him drink, and thanking him heartily, wished him good night.
His warning struck me as deserving my attention, for, if I had no
fear of the 'cataramonachia', in which I had not the slightest faith,
I feared certain poisons which might be by far more efficient. I
passed a very quiet night, but at day-break I got up, and without
saying anything to my lieutenant, I went straight to the church where
I found the priest, and addressed him in the following words, uttered
in a tone likely to enforce conviction:
"On the first symptom of fever, I will shoot you like a dog. Throw
over me a curse which will kill me instantly, or make your will.
Having thus warned him, I returned to my royal palace. Early on the
following Monday, the papa called on me. I had a slight headache; he
enquired after my health, and when I told him that my head felt
rather heavy, he made me laugh by the air of anxiety with which he
assured me that it could be caused by nothing else than the heavy
atmosphere of the island of Casopo.
Three days after his visit, the advanced sentinel gave the war-cry.
The lieutenant went out to reconnoitre, and after a short absence he
gave me notice that the long boat of an armed vessel had just landed
an officer. Danger was at hand.
I go out myself, I call my men to arms, and, advancing a few steps, I
see an officer, accompanied by a guide, who was walking towards my
dwelling. As he was alone, I had nothing to fear. I return to my
room, giving orders to my lieutenant to receive him with all military
honours and to introduce him. Then, girding my sword, I wait for my
In a few minutes, Adjutant Minolto, the same who had brought me the
order to put myself under arrest, makes his appearance.
"You are alone," I say to him, "and therefore you come as a friend.
Let us embrace."
"I must come as a friend, for, as an enemy, I should not have enough
men. But what I see seems a dream."
"Take a seat, and dine with me. I will treat you splendidly."
"Most willingly, and after dinner we will leave the island together."
"You may go alone, if you like; but I will not leave this place until
I have the certainty, not only that I shall not be sent to the
'bastarda', but also that I shall have every satisfaction from the
knave whom the general ought to send to the galleys."
"Be reasonable, and come with me of your own accord. My orders are
to take you by force, but as I have not enough men to do so, I shall
make my report, and the general will, of course, send a force
sufficient to arrest you."
"Never; I will not be taken alive."
"You must be mad; believe me, you are in the wrong. You have
disobeyed the order I brought you to go to the 'bastarda; in that you
have acted wrongly, and in that alone, for in every other respect you
were perfectly right, the general himself says so."
"Then I ought to have put myself under arrest?"
"Certainly; obedience is necessary in our profession."
"Would you have obeyed, if you had been in my place ?"
"I cannot and will not tell you what I would have done, but I know
that if I had disobeyed orders I should have been guilty of a crime:"
"But if I surrendered now I should be treated like a criminal, and
much more severely than if I had obeyed that unjust order."
"I think not. Come with me, and you will know everything."
"What! Go without knowing what fate may be in store for me? Do not
expect it. Let us have dinner. If I am guilty of such a dreadful
crime that violence must be used against me, I will surrender only to
irresistible force. I cannot be worse off, but there may be blood
"You are mistaken, such conduct would only make you more guilty. But
I say like you, let us have dinner. A good meal will very likely
render you more disposed to listen to reason."
Our dinner was nearly over, when we heard some noise outside. The
lieutenant came in, and informed me that the peasants were gathering
in the neighbourhood of my house to defend me, because a rumour had
spread through the island that the felucca had been sent with orders
to arrest me and take me to Corfu. I told him to undeceive the good
fellows, and to send them away, but to give them first a barrel of
The peasants went away satisfied, but, to shew their devotion to me,
they all fired their guns.
"It is all very amusing," said the adjutant, "but it will turn out
very serious if you let me go away alone, for my duty compels me to
give an exact account of all I have witnessed."
"I will follow you, if you will give me your word of honour to land
me free in Corfu."
"I have orders to deliver your person to M. Foscari, on board the
"Well, you shall not execute your orders this time."
"If you do not obey the commands of the general, his honour will
compel him to use violence against you, and of course he can do it.
But tell me, what would you do if the general should leave you in
this island for the sake of the joke? There is no fear of that,
however, and, after the report which I must give, the general will
certainly make up his mind to stop the affair without shedding
"Without a fight it will be difficult to arrest me, for with five
hundred peasants in such a place as this I would not be afraid of
three thousand men."
"One man will prove enough; you will be treated as a leader of
rebels. All these peasants may be devoted to you, but they cannot
protect you against one man who will shoot you for the sake of
earning a few pieces of gold. I can tell you more than that: amongst
all those men who surround you there is not one who would not murder
you for twenty sequins. Believe me, go with me. Come to enjoy the
triumph which is awaiting you in Corfu. You will be courted and
applauded. You will narrate yourself all your mad frolics, people
will laugh, and at the same time will admire you for having listened
to reason the moment I came here. Everybody feels esteem for you,
and M. D---- R----- thinks a great deal of you. He praises very
highly the command you have shewn over your passion in refraining
from thrusting your sword through that insolent fool, in order not to
forget the respect you owed to his house. The general himself must
esteem you, for he cannot forget what you told him of that knave."
"What has become of him?"
"Four days ago Major Sardina's frigate arrived with dispatches, in
which the general must have found all the proof of the imposture, for
he has caused the false duke or prince to disappear very suddenly.
Nobody knows where he has been sent to, and nobody ventures to
mention the fellow before the general, for he made the most egregious
blunder respecting him."
"But was the man received in society after the thrashing I gave him?"
"God forbid! Do you not recollect that he wore a sword? From that
moment no one would receive him. His arm was broken and his jaw
shattered to pieces.
But in spite of the state he was in, in spite of what he must have
suffered, his excellency had him removed a week after you had treated
him so severely. But your flight is what everyone has been wondering
over. It was thought for three days that M. D---- R----- had
concealed you in his house, and he was openly blamed for doing so.
He had to declare loudly at the general's table that he was in the
most complete ignorance of your whereabouts. His excellency even
expressed his anxiety about your escape, and it was only yesterday
that your place of refuge was made known by a letter addressed by the
priest of this island to the Proto-Papa Bulgari, in which he
complained that an Italian officer had invaded the island of Casopo a
week before, and had committed unheard-of violence. He accused you
of seducing all the girls, and of threatening to shoot him if he
dared to pronounce 'cataramonachia' against you. This letter, which
was read publicly at the evening reception, made the general laugh,
but he ordered me to arrest you all the same."
"Madame Sagredo is the cause of it all."
"True, but she is well punished for it. You ought to call upon her
with me to-morrow."
"To-morrow? Are you then certain that I shall not be placed under
"Yes, for I know that the general is a man of honour."
"I am of the same opinion. Well, let us go on board your felucca.
We will embark together after midnight."
"Why not now?"
"Because I will not run the risk of spending the night on board M.
Foscari's bastarda. I want to reach Corfu by daylight, so as to make
your victory more brilliant."
"But what shall we do for the next eight hours?"
"We will pay a visit to some beauties of a species unknown in Corfu,
and have a good supper."
I ordered my lieutenant to send plenty to eat and to drink to the men
on board the felucca, to prepare a splendid supper, and to spare
nothing, as I should leave the island at midnight. I made him a
present of all my provisions, except such as I wanted to take with
me; these I sent on board. My janissaries, to whom I gave a week's
pay, insisted upon escorting me, fully equipped, as far as the boat,
which made the adjutant laugh all the way.
We reached Corfu by eight o'clock in the morning, and we went
alongside the 'bastarda. The adjutant consigned me to M. Foscari,
assuring me that he would immediately give notice of my arrival to
M. D---- R-----, send my luggage to his house, and report the success
of his expedition to the general.
M. Foscari, the commander of the bastarda, treated me very badly. If
he had been blessed with any delicacy of feeling, he would not have
been in such a hurry to have me put in irons. He might have talked
to me, and have thus delayed for a quarter of an hour that operation
which greatly vexed me. But, without uttering a single word, he sent
me to the 'capo di scalo' who made me sit down, and told me to put my
foot forward to receive the irons, which, however, do not dishonour
anyone in that country, not even the galley slaves, for they are
better treated than soldiers.
My right leg was already in irons, and the left one was in the hands
of the man for the completion of that unpleasant ceremony, when the
adjutant of his excellency came to tell the executioner to set me at
liberty and to return me my sword. I wanted to present my
compliments to the noble M. Foscari, but the adjutant, rather
ashamed, assured me that his excellency did not expect me to do so.
The first thing I did was to pay my respects to the general, without
saying one word to him, but he told me with a serious countenance to
be more prudent for the future, and to learn that a soldier's first
duty was to obey, and above all to be modest and discreet. I
understood perfectly the meaning of the two last words, and acted
When I made my appearance at M. D---- R-----'s, I could see pleasure
on everybody's face. Those moments have always been so dear to me
that I have never forgotten them, they have afforded me consolation
in the time of adversity. If you would relish pleasure you must
endure pain, and delights are in proportion to the privations we have
suffered. M. D---- R----- was so glad to see me that he came up to
me and warmly embraced me. He presented me with a beautiful ring
which he took from his own finger, and told me that I had acted quite
rightly in not letting anyone, and particularly himself, know where I
had taken refuge.
"You can't think," he added, frankly, "how interested Madame F----
was in your fate. She would be really delighted if you called on her
How delightful to receive such advice from his own lips! But the
word "immediately" annoyed me, because, having passed the night on
board the felucca, I was afraid that the disorder of my toilet might
injure me in her eyes. Yet I could neither refuse M. D---- R-----,
nor tell him the reason of my refusal, and I bethought myself that I
could make a merit of it in the eyes of Madame F----
I therefore went at once to her house; the goddess was not yet
visible, but her attendant told me to come in, assuring me that her
mistress's bell would soon be heard, and that she would be very sorry
if I did not wait to see her. I spent half an hour with that young
and indiscreet person, who was a very charming girl, and learned from
her many things which caused me great pleasure, and particularly all
that had been said respecting my escape. I found that throughout the
affair my conduct had met with general approbation.
As soon as Madame F---- had seen her maid, she desired me to be shewn
in. The curtains were drawn aside, and I thought I saw Aurora
surrounded with the roses and the pearls of morning. I told her
that, if it had not been for the order I received from M. D---- R----
I would not have presumed to present myself before her in my
travelling costume; and in the most friendly tone she answered that
M. D---- R-----, knowing all the interest she felt in me, had been
quite right to tell me to come, and she assured me that M. D----
R----- had the greatest esteem for me.
"I do not know, madam, how I have deserved such great happiness, for
all I dared aim at was toleration."
"We all admired the control you kept over your feelings when you
refrained from killing that insolent madman on the spot; he would
have been thrown out of the window if he had not beat a hurried
"I should certainly have killed him, madam, if you had not been
"A very pretty compliment, but I can hardly believe that you thought
of me in such a moment."
I did not answer, but cast my eyes down, and gave a deep sigh. She
observed my new ring, and in order to change the subject of
conversation she praised M. D---- R----- very highly, as soon as I
had told her how he had offered it to me. She desired me to give her
an account of my life on the island, and I did so, but allowed my
pretty needlewomen to remain under a veil, for I had already learnt
that in this world the truth must often remain untold.
All my adventures amused her much, and she greatly admired my
"Would you have the courage," she said, "to repeat all you have just
told me, and exactly in the same terms, before the proveditore-
"Most certainly, madam, provided he asked me himself."
"Well, then, prepare to redeem your promise. I want our excellent
general to love you and to become your warmest protector, so as to
shield you against every injustice and to promote your advancement.
Leave it all to me."
Her reception fairly overwhelmed me with happiness, and on leaving
her house I went to Major Maroli to find out the state of my
finances. I was glad to hear that after my escape he had no longer
considered me a partner in the faro bank. I took four hundred
sequins from the cashier, reserving the right to become again a
partner, should circumstances prove at any time favourable.
In the evening I made a careful toilet, and called for the Adjutant
Minolto in order to pay with him a visit to Madame Sagredo, the
general's favourite. With the exception of Madame F---- she was the
greatest beauty of Corfu. My visit surprised her, because, as she
had been the cause of all that had happened, she was very far from
expecting it. She imagined that I had a spite against her. I
undeceived her, speaking to her very candidly, and she treated me
most kindly, inviting me to come now and then to spend the evening at
But I neither accepted nor refused her amiable invitation, knowing
that Madame F---- disliked her; and how could I be a frequent guest
at her house with such a knowledge! Besides, Madame Sagredo was very
fond of gambling, and, to please her, it was necessary either to lose
or make her win, but to accept such conditions one must be in love
with the lady or wish to make her conquest, and I had not the
slightest idea of either. The Adjutant Minolto never played, but he
had captivated the lady's good graces by his services in the
character of Mercury.
When I returned to the palace I found Madame F---- alone, M. D----
R----- being engaged with his correspondence. She asked me to sit
near her, and to tell her all my adventures in Constantinople. I did
so, and I had no occasion to repent it. My meeting with Yusuf's wife
pleased her extremely, but the bathing scene by moonlight made her
blush with excitement. I veiled as much as I could the too brilliant
colours of my picture, but, if she did not find me clear, she would
oblige me to be more explicit, and if I made myself better understood
by giving to my recital a touch of voluptuousness which I borrowed
from her looks more than from my recollection, she would scold me and
tell me that I might have disguised a little more. I felt that the
way she was talking would give her a liking for me, and I was
satisfied that the man who can give birth to amorous desires is
easily called upon to gratify them it was the reward I was ardently
longing for, and I dared to hope it would be mine, although I could
see it only looming in the distance.
It happened that, on that day, M. D---- R----- had invited a large
company to supper. I had, as a matter of course, to engross all
conversation, and to give the fullest particulars of all that had
taken place from the moment I received the order to place myself
under arrest up to the time of my release from the 'bastarda'.
M. Foscari was seated next to me, and the last part of my narrative
was not, I suppose, particularly agreeable to him.
The account I gave of my adventures pleased everybody, and it was
decided that the proveditore-generale must have the pleasure of
hearing my tale from my own lips. I mentioned that hay was very
plentiful in Casopo, and as that article was very scarce in Corfu,
M. D---- R----- told me that I ought to seize the opportunity of
making myself agreeable to the general by informing him of that
circumstance without delay. I followed his advice the very next day,
and was very well received, for his excellency immediately ordered a
squad of men to go to the island and bring large quantities of hay to
A few days later the Adjutant Minolto came to me in the coffee-house,
and told me that the general wished to see me: this time I promptly
obeyed his commands.
Progress of My Amour--My Journey to Otranto--I Enter the Service of
Madame F.--A Fortunate Excoriation
The room I entered was full of people. His excellency, seeing me,
smiled and drew upon me the attention of all his guests by saying
aloud, "Here comes the young man who is a good judge of princes."
"My lord, I have become a judge of nobility by frequenting the
society of men like you."
"The ladies are curious to know all you have done from the time of
your escape from Corfu up to your return."
"Then you sentence me, monsignor, to make a public confession?"
"Exactly; but, as it is to be a confession, be careful not to omit
the most insignificant circumstance, and suppose that I am not in the
"On the contrary, I wish to receive absolution only from your
excellency. But my history will be a long one."
"If such is the case, your confessor gives you permission to be
I gave all the particulars of my adventures, with the exception of my
dalliance with the nymphs of the island.
"Your story is a very instructive one," observed the general.
"Yes, my lord, for the adventures shew that a young man is never so
near his utter ruin than when, excited by some great passion, he
finds himself able to minister to it, thanks to the gold in his
I was preparing to take my leave, when the majordomo came to inform
me that his excellency desired me to remain to supper. I had
therefore the honour of a seat at his table, but not the pleasure of
eating, for I was obliged to answer the questions addressed to me
from all quarters, and I could not contrive to swallow a single
mouthful. I was seated next to the Proto-Papa Bulgari, and I
entreated his pardon for having ridiculed Deldimopulo's oracle. "It
is nothing else but regular cheating," he said, "but it is very
difficult to put a stop to it; it is an old custom."
A short time afterwards, Madame F---- whispered a few words to the
general, who turned to me and said that he would be glad to hear me
relate what had occurred to me in Constantinople with the wife of the
Turk Yusuf, and at another friend's house, where I had seen bathing
by moonlight. I was rather surprised at such an invitation, and told
him that such frolics were not worth listening to, and the general
not pressing me no more was said about it. But I was astonished at
Madame F----'s indiscretion; she had no business to make my
confidences public. I wanted her to be jealous of her own dignity,
which I loved even more than her person.
Two or three days later, she said to me,
"Why did you refuse to tell your adventures in Constantinople before
"Because I do not wish everybody to know that you allow me to tell
you such things. What I may dare, madam, to say to you when we are
alone, I would certainly not say to you in public."
"And why not? It seems to me, on the contrary, that if you are
silent in public out of respect for me, you ought to be all the more
silent when we are alone."
"I wanted to amuse you, and have exposed myself to the danger of
displeasing you, but I can assure you, madam, that I will not run
such a risk again."
"I have no wish to pry into your intentions, but it strikes me that
if your wish was to please me, you ought not to have run the risk of
obtaining the opposite result. We take supper with the general this
evening, and M. D---- R----- has been asked to bring you. I feel
certain that the general will ask you again for your adventures in
Constantinople, and this time you cannot refuse him."
M. D---- R----- came in and we went to the general's. I thought as
we were driving along that, although Madame F---- seemed to have
intended to humiliate me, I ought to accept it all as a favour of
fortune, because, by compelling me to explain my refusal to the
general; Madame F---- had, at the same time, compelled me to a
declaration of my feelings, which was not without importance.
The 'proveditore-generale' gave me a friendly welcome, and kindly
handed me a letter which had come with the official dispatches from
Constantinople. I bowed my thanks, and put the letter in my pocket:
but he told me that he was himself a great lover of news, and that I
could read my letter. I opened it; it was from Yusuf, who announced
the death of Count de Bonneval. Hearing the name of the worthy
Yusuf, the general asked me to tell him my adventure with his wife.
I could not now refuse, and I began a story which amused and
interested the general and his friends for an hour or so, but which
was from beginning to end the work of my imagination.
Thus I continued to respect the privacy of Yusuf, to avoid
implicating the good fame of Madame F----, and to shew myself in a
light which was tolerably advantageous to me. My story, which was
full of sentiment, did me a great deal of honour, and I felt very
happy when I saw from the expression of Madame F----'s face that she
was pleased with me, although somewhat surprised.
When we found ourselves again in her house she told me, in the
presence of M. D---- R-----, that the story I had related to the
general was certainly very pretty, although purely imaginary, that
she was not angry with me, because I had amused her, but that she
could not help remarking my obstinacy in refusing compliance with her
wishes. Then, turning to M. D---- R-----, she said,
"M. Casanova pretends that if he had given an account of his meeting
with Yusuf's wife without changing anything everybody would think
that I allowed him to entertain me with indecent stories. I want you
to give your opinion about it. Will you," she added, speaking to me,
"be so good as to relate immediately the adventure in the same words
which you have used when you told me of it?"
"Yes, madam, if you wish me to do so."
Stung to the quick by an indiscretion which, as I did not yet know
women thoroughly, seemed to me without example, I cast all fears of
displeasing to the winds, related the adventure with all the warmth
of an impassioned poet, and without disguising or attenuating in the
least the desires which the charms of the Greek beauty had inspired
"Do you think," said M. D---- R----- to Madame F-----, "that he ought
to have related that adventure before all our friends as he has just
related it to us?"
"If it be wrong for him to tell it in public, it is also wrong to
tell it to me in private."
"You are the only judge of that: yes, if he has displeased you; no,
if he has amused you. As for my own opinion, here it is: He has just
now amused me very much, but he would have greatly displeased me if
he had related the same adventure in public."
"Then," exclaimed Madame F----, "I must request you never to tell me
in private anything that you cannot repeat in public."
"I promise, madam, to act always according to your wishes."
"It being understood," added M. D---- R-----, smiling, "that madam
reserves all rights of repealing that order whenever she may think
I was vexed, but I contrived not to show it. A few minutes more, and
we took leave of Madame F----
I was beginning to understand that charming woman, and to dread the
ordeal to which she would subject me. But love was stronger than
fear, and, fortified with hope, I had the courage to endure the
thorns, so as to gather the rose at the end of my sufferings. I was
particularly pleased to find that M. D---- R----- was not jealous of
me, even when she seemed to dare him to it. This was a point of the
A few days afterwards, as I was entertaining her on various subjects,
she remarked how unfortunate it had been for me to enter the
lazzaretto at Ancona without any money.
"In spite of my distress," I said, "I fell in love with a young and
beautiful Greek slave, who very nearly contrived to make me break
through all the sanitary laws."
"You are alone, madam, and I have not forgotten your orders."
"Is it a very improper story?"
"No: yet I would not relate it to you in public."
"Well," she said, laughing, "I repeal my order, as M. D---- R-----
said I would. Tell me all about it."
I told my story, and, seeing that she was pensive, I exaggerated the
misery I had felt at not being able to complete my conquest.
"What do you mean by your misery? I think that the poor girl was
more to be pitied than you. You have never seen her since?"
"I beg your pardon, madam; I met her again, but I dare not tell you
when or how."
"Now you must go on; it is all nonsense for you to stop. Tell me
all; I expect you have been guilty of some black deed."
"Very far from it, madam, for it was a very sweet, although
"Go on! But do not call things exactly by their names. It is not
necessary to go into details."
Emboldened by the renewal of her order, I told her, without looking
her in the face, of my meeting with the Greek slave in the presence
of Bellino, and of the act which was cut short by the appearance of
her master. When I had finished my story, Madame F---- remained
silent, and I turned the conversation into a different channel, for
though I felt myself on an excellent footing with her, I knew
likewise that I had to proceed with great prudence. She was too
young to have lowered herself before, and she would certainly look
upon a connection with me as a lowering of her dignity.
Fortune which had always smiled upon me in the most hopeless cases,
did not intend to ill-treat me on this occasion, and procured me, on
that very same day, a favour of a very peculiar nature. My charming
ladylove having pricked her finger rather severely, screamed loudly,
and stretched her hand towards me, entreating me to suck the blood
flowing from the wound. You may judge, dear reader, whether I was
long in seizing that beautiful hand, and if you are, or if you have
ever been in love, you will easily guess the manner in which I
performed my delightful work. What is a kiss? Is it not an ardent
desire to inhale a portion of the being we love? Was not the blood I
was sucking from that charming wound a portion of the woman I
worshipped? When I had completed my work, she thanked me
affectionately, and told me to spit out the blood I had sucked.
"It is here," I said, placing my hand on my heart, "and God alone
knows what happiness it has given me."
"You have drunk my blood with happiness! Are you then a cannibal?"
"I believe not, madam; but it would have been sacrilege in my eyes if
I had suffered one single drop of your blood to be lost."
One evening, there was an unusually large attendance at M. D----
R-----'s assembly, and we were talking of the carnival which was near
at hand. Everybody was regretting the lack of actors, and the
impossibility of enjoying the pleasures of the theatre. I
immediately offered to procure a good company at my expense, if the
boxes were at once subscribed for, and the monopoly of the faro bank
granted to me. No time was to be lost, for the carnival was
approaching, and I had to go to Otranto to engage a troop. My
proposal was accepted with great joy, and the proveditore-generale
placed a felucca at my disposal. The boxes were all taken in three
days, and a Jew took the pit, two nights a week excepted, which I
reserved for my own profit.
The carnival being very long that year, I had every chance of
success. It is said generally that the profession of theatrical
manager is difficult, but, if that is the case, I have not found it
so by experience, and am bound to affirm the contrary.
I left Corfu in the evening, and having a good breeze in my favour, I
reached Otranto by day-break the following morning, without the
oarsmen having had to row a stroke. The distance from Corfu to
Otranto is only about fifteen leagues.
I had no idea of landing, owing to the quarantine which is always
enforced for any ship or boat coming to Italy from the east. I only
went to the parlour of the lazaretto, where, placed behind a grating,
you can speak to any person who calls, and who must stand behind
another grating placed opposite, at a distance of six feet.
As soon as I announced that I had come for the purpose of engaging a
troupe of actors to perform in Corfu, the managers of the two
companies then in Otranto came to the parlour to speak to me. I told
them at once that I wished to see all the performers, one company at
The two rival managers gave me then a very comic scene, each manager
wanting the other to bring his troupe first. The harbour-master told
me that the only way to settle the matter was to say myself which of
the two companies I would see first: one was from Naples, the other
from Sicily. Not knowing either I gave the preference to the first.
Don Fastidio, the manager, was very vexed, while Battipaglia, the
director of the second, was delighted because he hoped that, after
seeing the Neapolitan troupe, I would engage his own.
An hour afterwards, Fastidio returned with all his performers, and my
surprise may be imagined when amongst them I recognized Petronio and
his sister Marina, who, the moment she saw me, screamed for joy,
jumped over the grating, and threw herself in my arms. A terrible
hubbub followed, and high words passed between Fastidio and the
harbour-master. Marina being in the service of Fastidio, the captain
compelled him to confine her to the lazaretto, where she would have
to perform quarantine at his expense. The poor girl cried bitterly,
but I could not remedy her imprudence.
I put a stop to the quarrel by telling Fastidio to shew me all his
people, one after the other. Petronio belonged to his company, and
performed the lovers. He told me that he had a letter for me from
Therese. I was also glad to see a Venetian of my acquaintance who
played the pantaloon in the pantomime, three tolerably pretty
actresses, a pulcinella, and a scaramouch. Altogether, the troupe
was a decent one.
I told Fastidio to name the lowest salary he wanted for all his
company, assuring him that I would give the preference to his rival,
if he should ask me too much.
"Sir," he answered, "we are twenty, and shall require six rooms with
ten beds, one sitting-room for all of us, and thirty Neapolitan
ducats a day, all travelling expenses paid. Here is my stock of
plays, and we will perform those that you may choose."
Thinking of poor Marina who would have to remain in the lazaretto
before she could reappear on the stage at Otranto, I told Fastidio to
get the contract ready, as I wanted to go away immediately.
I had scarcely pronounced these words than war broke out again
between the manager-elect and his unfortunate competitor.
Battipaglia, in his rage, called Marina a harlot, and said that she
had arranged beforehand with Fastidio to violate the rules of the
lazaretto in order to compel me to choose their troupe. Petronio,
taking his sister's part, joined Fastidio, and the unlucky
Battipaglia was dragged outside and treated to a generous dose of
blows and fisticuffs, which was not exactly the thing to console him
for a lost engagement.
Soon afterwards, Petronio brought me Therese's letter. She was
ruining the duke, getting rich accordingly, and waiting for me in
Everything being ready towards evening, I left Otranto with twenty
actors, and six large trunks containing their complete wardrobes. A
light breeze which was blowing from the south might have carried us
to Corfu in ten hours, but when we had sailed about one hour my
cayabouchiri informed me that he could see by the moonlight a ship
which might prove to be a corsair, and get hold of us. I was
unwilling to risk anything, so I ordered them to lower the sails and
return to Otranto. At day-break we sailed again with a good westerly
wind, which would also have taken us to Corfu; but after we had gone
two or three hours, the captain pointed out to me a brigantine,
evidently a pirate, for she was shaping her course so as to get to
windward of us. I told him to change the course, and to go by
starboard, to see if the brigantine would follow us, but she
immediately imitated our manoeuvre. I could not go back to Otranto,
and I had no wish to go to Africa, so I ordered the men to shape our
course, so as to land on the coast of Calabria, by hard rowing and at
the nearest point. The sailors, who were frightened to death,
communicated their fears to my comedians, and soon I heard nothing
but weeping and sobbing. Every one of them was calling earnestly
upon some saint, but not one single prayer to God did I hear. The
bewailings of scaramouch, the dull and spiritless despair of
Fastidio, offered a picture which would have made me laugh heartily
if the danger had been imaginary and not real. Marina alone was
cheerful and happy, because she did not realize the danger we were
running, and she laughed at the terror of the crew and of her
A strong breeze sprang up towards evening, so I ordered them to clap
on all sail and scud before the wind, even if it should get stronger.
In order to escape the pirate, I had made up my mind to cross the
gulf. We took the wind through the night, and in the morning we were
eighty miles from Corfu, which I determined to reach by rowing. We
were in the middle of the gulf, and the sailors were worn out with
fatigue, but I had no longer any fear. A gale began to blow from the
north, and in less than an hour it was blowing so hard that we were
compelled to sail close to the wind in a fearful manner. The felucca
looked every moment as if it must capsize. Every one looked
terrified but kept complete silence, for I had enjoined it on penalty
of death. In spite of our dangerous position, I could not help
laughing when I heard the sobs of the cowardly scaramouch. The
helmsman was a man of great nerve, and the gale being steady I felt
we would reach Corfu without mishap. At day-break we sighted the
town, and at nine in the morning we landed at Mandrachia. Everybody
was surprised to see us arrive that way.
As soon as my company was landed, the young officers naturally came
to inspect the actresses, but they did not find them very desirable,
with the exception of Marina, who received uncomplainingly the news
that I could not renew my acquaintance with her. I felt certain that
she would not lack admirers. But my actresses, who had appeared ugly
at the landing, produced a very different effect on the stage, and
particularly the pantaloon's wife. M. Duodo, commander of a man-of-
war, called upon her, and, finding master pantaloon intolerant on the
subject of his better-half, gave him a few blows with his cane.
Fastidio informed me the next day that the pantaloon and his wife
refused to perform any more, but I made them alter their mind by
giving them a benefit night.
The pantaloon's wife was much applauded, but she felt insulted
because, in the midst of the applause, the pit called out, "Bravo,
Duodo!" She presented herself to the general in his own box, in
which I was generally, and complained of the manner in which she was
treated. The general promised her, in my name, another benefit night
for the close of the carnival, and I was of course compelled to
ratify his promise. The fact is, that, to satisfy the greedy actors,
I abandoned to my comedians, one by one, the seventeen nights I had
reserved for myself. The benefit I gave to Marina was at the special
request of Madame F----, who had taken her into great favour since
she had had the honour of breakfasting alone with M. D---- R---- in a
villa outside of the city.
My generosity cost me four hundred sequins, but the faro bank brought
me a thousand and more, although I never held the cards, my
management of the theatre taking up all my time. My manner with the
actresses gained me great kindness; it was clearly seen that I
carried on no intrigue with any of them, although I had every
facility for doing so. Madame F---- complimented me, saying that she
had not entertained such a good opinion of my discretion. I was too
busy through the carnival to think of love, even of the passion which
filled my heart. It was only at the beginning of Lent, and after the
departure of the comedians, that I could give rein to my feelings.
One morning Madame F---- sent, a messenger who, summoned me to her
presence. It was eleven o'clock; I immediately went to her, and
enquired what I could do for her service.
"I wanted to see you," she said, "to return the two hundred sequins
which you lent me so nobly. Here they are; be good enough to give me
back my note of hand."
"Your note of hand, madam, is no longer in my possession. I have
deposited it in a sealed envelope with the notary who, according to
this receipt of his, can return it only to you."
"Why did you not keep it yourself?"
"Because I was afraid of losing it, or of having it stolen. And in
the event of my death I did not want such a document to fall into any
other hands but yours."
"A great proof of your extreme delicacy, certainly, but I think you
ought to have reserved the right of taking it out of the notary's
"I did not forsee the possibility of calling for it myself."
"Yet it was a very likely thing. Then I can send word to the notary
to transmit it to me?"
"Certainly, madam; you alone can claim it."
She sent to the notary, who brought the himself.
She tore the envelope open, and found only a piece of paper besmeared
with ink, quite illegible, except her own name, which had not been
"You have acted," she said, "most nobly; but you must agree with me
that I cannot be certain that this piece of paper is really my note
of hand, although I see my name on it."
"True, madam; and if you are not certain of it, I confess myself in
"I must be certain of it, and I am so; but you must grant that I
could not swear to it."
During the following days it struck me that her manner towards me was
singularly altered. She never received me in her dishabille, and I
had to wait with great patience until her maid had entirely dressed
her before being admitted into her presence.
If I related any story, any adventure, she pretened not to
understand, and affected not to see the point of an anecdote or a
jest; very often she would purposely not look at me, and then I was
sure to relate badly. If M. D---- R----- laughed at something I had
just said, she would ask what he was laughing for, and when he had
told her, she would say it was insipid or dull. If one of her
bracelets became unfastened, I offered to fasten it again, but either
she would not give me so much trouble, or I did not understand the
fastening, and the maid was called to do it. I could not help
shewing my vexation, but she did not seem to take the slightest
notice of it. If M. D---- R----- excited me to say something amusing
or witty, and I did not speak immediately, she would say that my
budget was empty, laughing, and adding that the wit of poor
M. Casanova was worn out. Full of rage, I would plead guilty by my
silence to her taunting accusation, but I was thoroughly miserable,
for I did not see any cause for that extraordinary change in her
feelings, being conscious that I had not given her any motive for it.
I wanted to shew her openly my indifference and contempt, but
whenever an opportunity offered, my courage would forsake me, and I
would let it escape.
One evening M. D---- R----- asking me whether I had often been in
love, I answered,
"Three times, my lord."
"And always happily, of course."
"Always unhappily. The first time, perhaps, because, being an
ecclesiastic, I durst not speak openly of my love. The second,
because a cruel, unexpected event compelled me to leave the woman I
loved at the very moment in which my happiness would have been
complete. The third time, because the feeling of pity, with which I
inspired the beloved object, induced her to cure me of my passion,
instead of crowning my felicity."
"But what specific remedies did she use to effect your cure?"
"She has ceased to be kind."
"I understand she has treated you cruelly, and you call that pity, do
you? You are mistaken."
"Certainly," said Madame F----, "a woman may pity the man she loves,
but she would not think of ill-treating him to cure him of his
passion. That woman has never felt any love for you."
"I cannot, I will not believe it, madam."
"But are you cured?"
"Oh! thoroughly; for when I happen to think of her, I feel nothing
but indifference and coldness. But my recovery was long."
"Your convalescence lasted, I suppose, until you fell in love with
"With another, madam? I thought I had just told you that the third
time I loved was the last."
A few days after that conversation, M. D---- R----- told me that
Madame F---- was not well, that he could not keep her company, and
that I ought to go to her, as he was sure she would be glad to see
me. I obeyed, and told Madame F---- what M. D---- R----- had said.
She was lying on a sofa. Without looking at me, she told me she was
feverish, and would not ask me to remain with her, because I would
"I could not experience any weariness in your society, madam; at all
events, I can leave you only by your express command, and, in that
case, I must spend the next four hours in your ante-room, for M. D---
R----- has told me to wait for him here."
"If so, you may take a seat."
Her cold and distant manner repelled me, but I loved her, and I had
never seen her so beautiful, a slight fever animating her complexion
which was then truly dazzling in its beauty. I kept where I was,
dumb and as motionless as a statue, for a quarter of an hour. Then
she rang for her maid, and asked me to leave her alone for a moment.
I was called back soon after, and she said to me,
"What has become of your cheerfulness?"
"If it has disappeared, madam, it can only be by your will. Call it
back, and you will see it return in full force."
"What must I do to obtain that result?"
"Only be towards me as you were when I returned from Casopo. I have
been disagreeable to you for the last four months, and as I do not
know why, I feel deeply grieved."
"I am always the same: in what do you find me changed?"
"Good heavens! In everything, except in beauty. But I have taken my
"And what is it?"
"To suffer in silence, without allowing any circumstance to alter the
feelings with which you have inspired me; to wish ardently to
convince you of my perfect obedience to your commands; to be ever
ready to give you fresh proofs of my devotion."
"I thank you, but I cannot imagine what you can have to suffer in
silence on my account. I take an interest in you, and I always
listen with pleasure to your adventures. As a proof of it, I am
extremely curious to hear the history of your three loves."
I invented on the spot three purely imaginary stories, making a great
display of tender sentiments and of ardent love, but without alluding
to amorous enjoyment, particularly when she seemed to expect me to do
so. Sometimes delicacy, sometimes respect or duty, interfered to
prevent the crowning pleasure, and I took care to observe, at such
moments of disappointment, that a true lover does not require that
all important item to feel perfectly happy. I could easily see that
her imagination was travelling farther than my narrative, and that my
reserve was agreeable to her. I believed I knew her nature well
enough to be certain that I was taking the best road to induce her to
follow me where I wished to lead her. She expressed a sentiment
which moved me deeply, but I was careful not to shew it. We were
talking of my third love, of the woman who, out of pity, had
undertaken to cure me, and she remarked,
"If she truly loved you, she may have wished not to cure you, but to
On the day following this partial reconciliation, M. F----, her
husband, begged my commanding officer, D---- R-----, to let me go
with him to Butintro for an excursion of three days, his own adjutant
being seriously ill.
Butintro is seven miles from Corfu, almost opposite to that city; it
is the nearest point to the island from the mainland. It is not a
fortress, but only a small village of Epirus, or Albania, as it is
now called, and belonging to the Venetians. Acting on the political
axiom that "neglected right is lost right," the Republic sends every
year four galleys to Butintro with a gang of galley slaves to fell
trees, cut them, and load them on the galleys, while the military
keep a sharp look-out to prevent them from escaping to Turkey and
becoming Mussulmans. One of the four galleys was commanded by M.
F---- who, wanting an adjutant for the occasion, chose me.
I went with him, and on the fourth day we came back to Corfu with a
large provision of wood. I found M. D---- R---- alone on the terrace
of his palace. It was Good Friday. He seemed thoughtful, and, after
a silence of a few minutes, he spoke the following words, which I can
"M. F-----, whose adjutant died yesterday, has just been entreating
me to give you to him until he can find another officer. I have told
him that I had no right to dispose of your person, and that he, ought
to apply to you, assuring him that, if you asked me leave to go with
him, I would not raise any objection, although I require two
adjutants. Has he not mentioned the matter to you?"
"No, monsignor, he has only tendered me his thanks for having
accompanied him to Butintro, nothing else."
"He is sure to speak to you about it. What do you intend to say?"
"Simply that I will never leave the service of your excellency
without your express command to do so."
"I never will give you such an order."
As M. D---- R---- was saying the last word, M. and Madame F---- came
in. Knowing that the conversation would most likely turn upon the
subject which had just been broached, I hurried out of the room. In
less than a quarter of an hour I was sent for, and M. F---- said to
"Well, M. Casanova, would you not be willing to live with me as my
"Does his excellency dismiss me from his service?"
"Not at all," observed M. D---- R----, "but I leave you the choice."
"My lord, I could not be guilty of ingratitude."
And I remained there standing, uneasy, keeping my eyes on the ground,
not even striving to conceal my mortification, which was, after all,
very natural in such a position. I dreaded looking at Madame F----,
for I knew that she could easily guess all my feelings. An instant
after, her foolish husband coldly remarked that I should certainly
have a more fatiguing service with him than with M. D---- R----, and
that, of course, it was more honourable to serve the general governor
of the galeazze than a simple sopra-committo. I was on the point of
answering, when Madame F---- said, in a graceful and easy manner,
"M. Casanova is right," and she changed the subject. I left the
room, revolving in my mind all that had just taken place.
My conclusion was that M. F---- had asked M. D---- R---- to let me go
with him at the suggestion of his wife, or, at least with her
consent, and it was highly flattering to my love and to my vanity.
But I was bound in honour not to accept the post, unless I had a
perfect assurance that it would not be disagreeable to my present
patron. "I will accept," I said to myself, "if M. D---- R----- tells
me positively that I shall please him by doing so. It is for M. F to
make him say it."
On the same night I had the honour of offering my arm to Madame F---
during the procession which takes place in commemoration of the death
of our Lord and Saviour, which was then attended on foot by all the
nobility. I expected she would mention the matter, but she did not.
My love was in despair, and through the night I could not close my
eyes. I feared she had been offended by my refusal, and was
overwhelmed with grief. I passed the whole of the next day without
breaking my fast, and did not utter a single word during the evening
reception. I felt very unwell, and I had an attack of fever which
kept me in bed on Easter Sunday. I was very weak on the Monday, and
intended to remain in my room, when a messenger from Madame F----
came to inform me that she wished to see me. I told the messenger
not to say that he had found me in bed, and dressing myself rapidly I
hurried to her house. I entered her room, pale, looking very ill:
yet she did not enquire after my health, and kept silent a minute or
two, as if she had been trying to recollect what she had to say to
"Ah! yes, you are aware that our adjutant is dead, and that we want
to replace him. My husband, who has a great esteem for you, and
feels that M. D---- R----- leaves you perfectly free to make your
choice, has taken the singular fancy that you will come, if I ask you
myself to do us that pleasure. Is he mistaken? If you would come to
us, you would have that room."
She was pointing to a room adjoining the chamber in which she slept,
and so situated that, to see her in every part of her room, I should
not even require to place myself at the window.
"M. D---- R----- ," she continued, "will not love you less, and as he
will see you here every, day, he will not be likely to forget his
interest in your welfare. Now, tell me, will you come or not?"
"I wish I could, madam, but indeed I cannot."
"You cannot? That is singular. Take a seat, and tell me what there
is to prevent you, when, in accepting my offer, you are sure to
please M. D---- R----- as well as us."
"If I were certain of it, I would accept immediately; but all I have
heard from his lips was that he left me free to make a choice."
"Then you are afraid to grieve him, if you come to us ?"
"It might be, and for nothing on earth...."
"I am certain of the contrary."
"Will you be so good as to obtain that he says so to me himself?"
"And then you will come?"
"Oh, madam! that very minute!"
But the warmth of my exclamation might mean a great deal, and I
turned my head round so as not to embarrass her. She asked me to
give her her mantle to go to church, and we went out. As we were
going down the stairs, she placed her ungloved hand upon mine. It
was the first time that she had granted me such a favour, and it
seemed to me a good omen. She took off her hand, asking me whether I
was feverish. "Your hand," she said, "is burning."
When we left the church, M. D---- R-----'s carriage happened to pass,
and I assisted her to get in, and as soon as she had gone, hurried to
my room in order to breathe freely and to enjoy all the felicity
which filled my soul; for I no longer doubted her love for me, and I
knew that, in this case, M. D---- R----- was not likely to refuse her
What is love? I have read plenty of ancient verbiage on that
subject, I have read likewise most of what has been said by modern
writers, but neither all that has been said, nor what I have thought
about it, when I was young and now that I am no longer so, nothing,
in fact, can make me agree that love is a trifling vanity. It is a
sort of madness, I grant that, but a madness over which philosophy is
entirely powerless; it is a disease to which man is exposed at all
times, no matter at what age, and which cannot be cured, if he is
attacked by it in his old age. Love being sentiment which cannot be
explained! God of all nature!--bitter and sweet feeling! Love!--
charming monster which cannot be fathomed! God who, in the midst of
all the thorns with which thou plaguest us, strewest so many roses on
our path that, without thee, existence and death would be united and
Two days afterwards, M. D---- R-----, told me to go and take orders
from M. F---- on board his galley, which was ready for a five or six
days' voyage. I quickly packed a few things, and called for my new
patron who received me with great joy. We took our departure without
seeing madam, who was not yet visible. We returned on the sixth day,
and I went to establish myself in my new home, for, as I was
preparing to go to M. D---- R-----, to take his orders, after our
landing, he came himself, and after asking M. F---- and me whether we
were pleased with each other, he said to me,
"Casanova, as you suit each other so well, you may be certain that
you will greatly please me by remaining in the service of M. F."
I obeyed respectfully, and in less than one hour I had taken
possession of my new quarters. Madame F---- told me how delighted
she was to see that great affair ended according to her wishes, and I
answered with a deep reverence.
I found myself like the salamander, in the very heart of the fire for
which I had been longing so ardently.
Almost constantly in the presence of Madame F----, dining often alone
with her, accompanying her in her walks, even when M. D---- R-----
was not with us, seeing her from my room, or conversing with her in
her chamber, always reserved and attentive without pretension, the
first night passed by without any change being brought about by that
constant intercourse. Yet I was full of hope, and to keep up my
courage I imagined that love was not yet powerful enough to conquer
her pride. I expected everything from some lucky chance, which I
promised myself to improve as soon as it should present itself, for I
was persuaded that a lover is lost if he does not catch fortune by
But there was one circumstance which annoyed me. In public, she
seized every opportunity of treating me with distinction, while, when
we were alone, it was exactly the reverse. In the eyes of the world
I had all the appearance of a happy lover, but I would rather have
had less of the appearance of happiness and more of the reality. My
love for her was disinterested; vanity had no share in my feelings.
One day, being alone with me, she said,
"You have enemies, but I silenced them last night."
"They are envious, madam, and they would pity me if they could read
the secret pages of my heart. You could easily deliver me from those
"How can you be an object of pity for them, and how could I deliver
you from them?"
"They believe me happy, and I am miserable; you would deliver me from
them by ill-treating me in their presence."
"Then you would feel my bad treatment less than the envy of the
"Yes, madam, provided your bad treatment in public were compensated
by your kindness when we are alone, for there is no vanity in the
happiness I feel in belonging to you. Let others pity me, I will be
happy on condition that others are mistaken."
"That's a part that I can never play."
I would often be indiscreet enough to remain behind the curtain of
the window in my room, looking at her when she thought herself
perfectly certain that nobody saw her; but the liberty I was thus
guilty of never proved of great advantage to me. Whether it was
because she doubted my discretion or from habitual reserve, she was
so particular that, even when I saw her in bed, my longing eyes never
could obtain a sight of anything but her head.
One day, being present in her room while her maid was cutting off the
points of her long and beautiful hair, I amused myself in picking up
all those pretty bits, and put them all, one after the other, on her
toilettable, with the exception of one small lock which I slipped
into my pocket, thinking that she had not taken any notice of my
keeping it; but the moment we were alone she told me quietly, but
rather too seriously, to take out of my pocket the hair I had picked
up from the floor. Thinking she was going too far, and such rigour
appearing to me as cruel as it was unjust and absurd, I obeyed, but
threw the hair on the toilet-table with an air of supreme contempt.
"Sir, you forget yourself."
"No, madam, I do not, for you might have feigned not to have observed
such an innocent theft."
"Feigning is tiresome."
"Was such petty larceny a very great crime?"
"No crime, but it was an indication of feelings which you have no
right to entertain for me."
"Feelings which you are at liberty not to return, madam, but which
hatred or pride can alone forbid my heart to experience. If you had
a heart you would not be the victim of either of those two fearful
passions, but you have only head, and it must be a very wicked head,
judging by the care it takes to heap humiliation upon me. You have
surprised my secret, madam, you may use it as you think proper, but
in the meantime I have learned to know you thoroughly. That
knowledge will prove more useful than your discovery, for perhaps it
will help me to become wiser."
After this violent tirade I left her, and as she did not call me back
retired to my room. In the hope that sleep would bring calm, I
undressed and went to bed. In such moments a lover hates the object
of his love, and his heart distils only contempt and hatred. I could
not go to sleep, and when I was sent for at supper-time I answered
that I was ill. The night passed off without my eyes being visited
by sleep, and feeling weak and low I thought I would wait to see what
ailed me, and refused to have my dinner, sending word that I was
still very unwell. Towards evening I felt my heart leap for joy when
I heard my beautiful lady-love enter my room. Anxiety, want of food
and sleep, gave me truly the appearance of being ill, and I was
delighted that it should be so. I sent her away very soon, by
telling her with perfect indifference that it was nothing but a bad
headache, to which I was subject, and that repose and diet would
effect a speedy cure.
But at eleven o'clock she came back with her friend, M. D---- R-----,
and coming to my bed she said, affectionately,
"What ails you, my poor Casanova?"
"A very bad headache, madam, which will be cured to-morrow."
"Why should you wait until to-morrow? You must get better at once.
I have ordered a basin of broth and two new-laid eggs for you."
"Nothing, madam; complete abstinence can alone cure me."
"He is right," said M. D---- R-----, "I know those attacks."
I shook my head slightly. M. D---- R----- having just then turned
round to examine an engraving, she took my hand, saying that she
would like me to drink some broth, and I felt that she was giving me
a small parcel. She went to look at the engraving with M. D----
I opened the parcel, but feeling that it contained hair, I hurriedly
concealed it under the bed-clothes: at the same moment the blood
rushed to my head with such violence that it actually frightened me.
I begged for some water, she came to me, with M. D---- R-----, and
then were both frightened to see me so red, when they had seen me
pale and weak only one minute before.
Madame F---- gave me a glass of water in which she put some Eau des
carmes which instantly acted as a violent emetic. Two or three
minutes after I felt better, and asked for something to eat. Madame
F---- smiled. The servant came in with the broth and the eggs, and
while I was eating I told the history of Pandolfin. M. D---- R-----
thought it was all a miracle, and I could read, on the countenance of
the charming woman, love, affection, and repentance. If M. D----
R----- had not been present, it would have been the moment of my
happiness, but I felt certain that I should not have long to wait.
M. D---- R----- told Madame F---- that, if he had not seen me so
sick, he would have believed my illness to be all sham, for he did
not think it possible for anyone to rally so rapidly.
"It is all owing to my Eau des carmes," said Madame F-----, looking
at me, "and I will leave you my bottle."
"No, madam, be kind enough to take it with you, for the water would
have no virtue without your presence."
"I am sure of that," said M. D---- R-----, "so I will leave you here
with your patient."
"No, no, he must go to sleep now."
I slept all night, but in my happy dreams I was with her, and the
reality itself would hardly have procured me greater enjoyment than I
had during my happy slumbers. I saw I had taken a very long stride
forward, for twenty-four hours of abstinence gave me the right to
speak to her openly of my love, and the gift of her hair was an
irrefutable confession of her own feelings.
On the following day, after presenting myself before M. F----, I went
to have a little chat with the maid, to wait until her mistress was
visible, which was not long, and I had the pleasure of hearing her
laugh when the maid told her I was there. As soon as I went in,
without giving me time to say a single word, she told me how
delighted she was to see me looking so well, and advised me to call
upon M. D---- R-----.
It is not only in the eyes of a lover, but also in those of every man
of taste, that a woman is a thousand times more lovely at the moment
she comes out of the arms of Morpheus than when she has completed her
toilet. Around Madame F---- more brilliant beams were blazing than
around the sun when he leaves the embrace of Aurora. Yet the most
beautiful woman thinks as much of her toilet as the one who cannot do
without it--very likely because more human creatures possess the
more they want.
In the order given to me by Madame F---- to call on M. D---- R-----,
I saw another reason to be certain of approaching happiness, for I
thought that, by dismissing me so quickly, she had only tried to
postpone the consummation which I might have pressed upon her, and
which she could not have refused.
Rich in the possession of her hair, I held a consultation with my
love to decide what I ought to do with it, for Madame F----, very
likely in her wish to atone for the miserly sentiment which had
refused me a small bit, had given me a splendid lock, full a yard and
a half long. Having thought it over, I called upon a Jewish
confectioner whose daughter was a skilful embroiderer, and I made her
embroider before me, on a bracelet of green satin, the four initial
letters of our names, and make a very thin chain with the remainder.
I had a piece of black ribbon added to one end of the chain, in the
shape of a sliding noose, with which I could easily strangle myself
if ever love should reduce me to despair, and I passed it round my
neck. As I did not want to lose even the smallest particle of so
precious a treasure, I cut with a pair of scissors all the small bits
which were left, and devoutly gathered them together. Then I reduced
them into a fine powder, and ordered the Jewish confectioner to mix
the powder in my presence with a paste made of amber, sugar, vanilla,
angelica, alkermes and storax, and I waited until the comfits
prepared with that mixture were ready. I had some more made with the
same composition, but without any hair; I put the first in a
beautiful sweetmeat box of fine crystal, and the second in a
From the day when, by giving me her hair, Madame F---- had betrayed
the secret feelings of her heart, I no longer lost my time in
relating stories or adventures; I only spoke to her of my cove, of
my ardent desires; I told her that she must either banish me from her
presence, or crown my happiness, but the cruel, charming woman would
not accept that alternative. She answered that happiness could not
be obtained by offending every moral law, and by swerving from our
duties. If I threw myself at her feet to obtain by anticipation her
forgiveness for the loving violence I intended to use against her,
she would repulse me more powerfully than if she had had the strength
of a female Hercules, for she would say, in a voice full of sweetness
"My friend, I do not entreat you to respect my weakness, but be
generous enough to spare me for the sake of all the love I feel for
"What! you love me, and you refuse to make me happy! It is
impossible! it is unnatural. You compel me to believe that you do
not love me. Only allow me to press my lips one moment upon your
lips, and I ask no more."
"No, dearest, no; it would only excite the ardour of your desires,
shake my resolution, and we should then find ourselves more miserable
than we are now."
Thus did she every day plunge me in despair, and yet she complained
that my wit was no longer brilliant in society, that I had lost that
elasticity of spirits which had pleased her so much after my arrival
from Constantinople. M. D---- R-----, who often jestingly waged war
against me, used to say that I was getting thinner and thinner every
day. Madame F---- told me one day that my sickly looks were very
disagreeable to her, because wicked tongues would not fail to say
that she treated me with cruelty. Strange, almost unnatural thought!
On it I composed an idyll which I cannot read, even now, without
feeling tears in my eyes.
"What!" I answered, "you acknowledge your cruelty towards me? You
are afraid of the world guessing all your heartless rigour, and yet
you continue to enjoy it! You condemn me unmercifully to the
torments of Tantalus! You would be delighted to see me gay,
cheerful, happy, even at the expense of a judgment by which the world
would find you guilty of a supposed but false kindness towards me,
and yet you refuse me even the slightest favours!"
"I do not mind people believing anything, provided it is not true."
"What a contrast! Would it be possible for me not to love you, for
you to feel nothing for me? Such contradictions strike me as
unnatural. But you are growing thinner yourself, and I am dying. It
must be so; we shall both die before long, you of consumption, I of
exhausting decline; for I am now reduced to enjoying your shadow
during the day, during the night, always, everywhere, except when I
am in your presence."
At that passionate declaration, delivered with all the ardour of an
excited lover, she was surprised, deeply moved, and I thought that
the happy hour had struck. I folded her in my arms, and was already
tasting the first fruits of enjoyment.... The sentinel knocked
twice!... Oh! fatal mischance! I recovered my composure and stood
in front of her.... M. D---- R----- made his appearance, and this
time he found me in so cheerful a mood that he remained with us until
one o'clock in the morning.
My comfits were beginning to be the talk of our society. M. D----
R-----, Madame F----, and I were the only ones who had a box full of
them. I was stingy with them, and no one durst beg any from me,
because I had said that they were very expensive, and that in all
Corfu there was no confectioner who could make or physician who could
analyse them. I never gave one out of my crystal box, and Madame F.
remarked it. I certainly did not believe them to be amorous philtre,
and I was very far from supposing that the addition of the hair made
them taste more delicious; but a superstition, the offspring of my
love, caused me to cherish them, and it made me happy to think that a
small portion of the woman I worshipped was thus becoming a part of
Influenced perhaps by some secret sympathy, Madame F. was exceedingly
fond of the comfits. She asserted before all her friends that they
were the universal panacea, and knowing herself perfect mistress of
the inventor, she did not enquire after the secret of the
composition. But having observed that I gave away only the comfits
which I kept in my tortoise-shell box, and that I never eat any but
those from the crystal box, she one day asked me what reason I had
for that. Without taking time to think, I told her that in those I
kept for myself there was a certain ingredient which made the
partaker love her.
"I do not believe it," she answered; "but are they different from
those I eat myself?"
"They are exactly the same, with the exception of the ingredient I
have just mentioned, which has been put only in mine."
"Tell me what the ingredient is."
"It is a secret which I cannot reveal to you."
"Then I will never eat any of your comfits."
Saying which, she rose, emptied her box, and filled it again with
chocolate drops; and for the next few days she was angry with me, and
avoided my company. I felt grieved, I became low-spirited, but I
could not make up my mind to tell her that I was eating her hair!
She enquired why I looked so sad.
"Because you refuse to take my comfits."
"You are master of your secret, and I am mistress of my diet."
"That is my reward for having taken you into my confidence."
And I opened my box, emptied its contents in my hand, and swallowed
the whole of them, saying, "Two more doses like this, and I shall die
mad with love for you. Then you will be revenged for my reserve.
She called me back, made me take a seat near her, and told me not to
commit follies which would make her unhappy; that I knew how much she
loved me, and that it was not owing to the effect of any drug. "To
prove to you," she added, "that you do not require anything of the
sort to be loved, here is a token of my affection." And she offered
me her lovely lips, and upon them mine remained pressed until I was
compelled to draw a breath. I threw myself at her feet, with tears
of love and gratitude blinding my eyes, and told her that I would
confess my crime, if she would promise to forgive me.
"Your crime! You frighten me. Yes, I forgive you, but speak
quickly, and tell me all."
"Yes, everything. My comfits contain your hair reduced to a powder.
Here on my arm, see this bracelet on which our names are written with
your hair, and round my neck this chain of the same material, which
will help me to destroy my own life when your love fails me. Such is
my crime, but I would not have been guilty of it, if I had not loved
She smiled, and, bidding me rise from my kneeling position, she told
me that I was indeed the most criminal of men, and she wiped away my
tears, assuring me that I should never have any reason to strangle
myself with the chain.
After that conversation, in which I had enjoyed the sweet nectar of
my divinity's first kiss, I had the courage to behave in a very
different manner. She could see the ardour which consumed me;
perhaps the same fire burned in her veins, but I abstained from any
"What gives you," she said one day, "the strength to control
"After the kiss which you granted to me of your own accord, I felt
that I ought not to wish any favour unless your heart gave it as
freely. You cannot imagine the happiness that kiss has given me."
"I not imagine it, you ungrateful man! Which of us has given that
"Neither you nor I, angel of my soul! That kiss so tender, so sweet,
was the child of love!"
"Yes, dearest, of love, the treasures of which are inexhaustible."
The words were scarcely spoken, when our lips were engaged in happy
concert. She held me so tight against her bosom that I could not use
my hands to secure other pleasures, but I felt myself perfectly
happy. After that delightful skirmish, I asked her whether we were
never to go any further.
"Never, dearest friend, never. Love is a child which must be amused
with trifles; too substantial food would kill it."
"I know love better than you; it requires that substantial food, and
unless it can obtain it, love dies of exhaustion. Do not refuse me
the consolation of hope."
"Hope as much as you please, if it makes you happy."
"What should I do, if I had no hope? I hope, because I know you have
"Ah! yes. Do you recollect the day, when, in your anger, you told
me that I had only a head, but no heart, thinking you were insulting
"Oh! yes, I recollect it."
"How heartily I laughed, when I had time to think! Yes, dearest, I
have a heart, or I should not feel as happy as I feel now. Let us
keep our happiness, and be satisfied with it, as it is, without
wishing for anything more."
Obedient to her wishes, but every day more deeply enamoured, I was in
hope that nature at last would prove stronger than prejudice, and
would cause a fortunate crisis. But, besides nature, fortune was my
friend, and I owed my happiness to an accident.
Madame F. was walking one day in the garden, leaning on M. D----
R-----'s arm, and was caught by a large rose-bush, and the prickly
thorns left a deep cut on her leg. M. D---- R----- bandaged the
wound with his handkerchief, so as to stop the blood which was
flowing abundantly, and she had to be carried home in a palanquin.
In Corfu, wounds on the legs are dangerous when they are not well
attended to, and very often the wounded are compelled to leave the
city to be cured.
Madame F----- was confined to her bed, and my lucky position in the
house condemned me to remain constantly at her orders. I saw her
every minute; but, during the first three days, visitors succeeded
each other without intermission, and I never was alone with her. In
the evening, after everybody had gone, and her husband had retired to
his own apartment, M. D---- R----- remained another hour, and for the
sake of propriety I had to take my leave at the same time that he
did. I had much more liberty before the accident, and I told her so
half seriously, half jestingly. The next day, to make up for my
disappointment, she contrived a moment of happiness for me.
An elderly surgeon came every morning to dress her wound, during
which operation her maid only was present, but I used to go, in my
morning dishabille, to the girl's room, and to wait there, so as to
be the first to hear how my dear one was.
That morning, the girl came to tell me to go in as the surgeon was
dressing the wound.
"See, whether my leg is less inflamed."
"To give an opinion, madam, I ought to have seen it yesterday."
"True. I feel great pain, and I am afraid of erysipelas."
"Do not be afraid, madam," said the surgeon, "keep your bed, and I
answer for your complete recovery."
The surgeon being busy preparing a poultice at the other end of the
room, and the maid out, I enquired whether she felt any hardness in
the calf of the leg, and whether the inflammation went up the limb;
and naturally, my eyes and my hands kept pace with my questions....
I saw no inflammation, I felt no hardness, but.... and the lovely
patient hurriedly let the curtain fall, smiling, and allowing me to
take a sweet kiss, the perfume of which I had not enjoyed for many
days. It was a sweet moment; a delicious ecstacy. From her mouth my
lips descended to her wound, and satisfied in that moment that my
kisses were the best of medicines, I would have kept my lips there,
if the noise made by the maid coming back had not compelled me to
give up my delightful occupation.
When we were left alone, burning with intense desires, I entreated
her to grant happiness at least to my eyes.
"I feel humiliated," I said to her, "by the thought that the felicity
I have just enjoyed was only a theft."
"But supposing you were mistaken?"
The next day I was again present at the dressing of the wound, and as
soon as the surgeon had left, she asked me to arrange her pillows,
which I did at once. As if to make that pleasant office easier, she
raised the bedclothes to support herself, and she thus gave me a
sight of beauties which intoxicated my eyes, and I protracted the
easy operation without her complaining of my being too slow.
When I had done I was in a fearful state, and I threw myself in an
arm-chair opposite her bed, half dead, in a sort of trance. I was
looking at that lovely being who, almost artless, was continually
granting me greater and still greater favours, and yet never allowed
me to reach the goal for which I was so ardently longing.
"What are you thinking of?" she said.
"Of the supreme felicity I have just been enjoying."
"You are a cruel man."
"No, I am not cruel, for, if you love me, you must not blush for your
indulgence. You must know, too, that, loving you passionately, I
must not suppose that it is to be a surprise that I am indebted for
my happiness in the enjoyment of the most ravishing sights, for if I
owed it only to mere chance I should be compelled to believe that any
other man in my position might have had the same happiness, and such
an idea would be misery to me. Let me be indebted to you for having
proved to me this morning how much enjoyment I can derive from one of
my senses. Can you be angry with my eyes?"
"They belong to you; tear them out."
The next day, the moment the doctor had gone, she sent her maid out
to make some purchases.
"Ah!" she said a few minutes after, "my maid has forgotten to change
"Allow me to take her place."
"Very well, but recollect that I give permission only to your eyes to
take a share in the proceedings."
She unlaced herself, took off her stays and her chemise, and told me
to be quick and put on the clean one, but I was not speedy enough,
being too much engaged by all I could see.
"Give me my chemise," she exclaimed; "it is there on that small
"There, near the bed. Well, I will take it myself."
She leaned over towards the table, and exposed almost everything I
was longing for, and, turning slowly round, she handed me the chemise
which I could hardly hold, trembling all over with fearful
excitement. She took pity on me, my hands shared the happiness of my
eyes; I fell in her arms, our lips fastened together, and, in a
voluptuous, ardent pressure, we enjoyed an amorous exhaustion not
sufficient to allay our desires, but delightful enough to deceive
them for the moment.
With greater control over herself than women have generally under
similar circumstances, she took care to let me reach only the porch
of the temple, without granting me yet a free entrance to the
by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
VENETIAN YEARS, Volume 1d--RETURN TO VENICE
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED
BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
RETURN TO VENICE
A Fearful Misfortune Befalls Me--Love Cools Down--Leave Corfu and
Return to Venice--Give Up the Army and Become a Fiddler
The wound was rapidly healing up, and I saw near at hand the moment
when Madame F---- would leave her bed, and resume her usual
The governor of the galeasses having issued orders for a general
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