The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt is a web novel made by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt.
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After leaving Venice, Casanova apparently took an opportunity to pay his last disrespects to the Tribunal. At least, in May 1783, M. Schlick, French Secretary at Venice, wrote to Count Vergennes: “Last week there reached the State Inquisitors an anonymous letter stating that, on the 25th of this month, an earthquake, more terrible than that of Messina, would raze Venice to the ground. This letter has caused a panic here.
Many patricians have left the capital and others will follow their example. The author of the anonymous letter … is a certain Casanova, who wrote from Vienna and found means to slip it into the Amba.s.sador’s own mails.”
In about four months, Casanova was again on the way to Italy. He paused for a week at Udine and arrived at Venice on the 16th June. Without leaving his barge, he paused at his house just long enough to salute Francesca. He left Mestre on Tuesday the 24th June and on the same day dined at the house of F. Zanuzzi at Ba.s.sano. On the 25th he left Ba.s.sano by post and arrived in the evening at Borgo di Valsugano.
On the 29th, he wrote to Francesca from the Augsbourg. He had stopped at Innsbruck to attend the theater and was in perfect health. He had reached Frankfort in forty-eight hours, traveling eighteen posts without stopping.
From Aix-la-Chapelle, on the 16th July, he wrote Francesca that he had met, in that city, Cattina, the wife of Pocchini. Pocchini was sick and in deep misery. Casanova, recalling all the abominable tricks this rogue had played on him refused Cattina the a.s.sistance she begged for in tears, laughed in her face, and said: “Farewell, I wish you a pleasant death.”
At Mayence, Casanova embarked on the Rhine in company with the Marquis Durazzo, former Austrian Amba.s.sador at Venice. The voyage was excellent and in two days he arrived at Cologne, in rugged health, sleeping well and eating like a wolf.
On the 30th July he wrote to Francesca from Spa and in this letter enclosed a good coin. Everything was dear at Spa; his room cost eight lires a day with everything else in proportion.
On the 6th September he wrote from Antwerp to one of his good friends, the Abbe Eusebio della Lena, telling him that at Spa an English woman who had a pa.s.sion for speaking Latin wished to submit him to trials which he judged it unnecessary to state precisely. He refused all her proposals, saying, however, that he would not reveal them to anyone; but that he did not feel he should refuse also “an order on her banker for twenty-five guineas.”
On the 9th he wrote to Francesca from Brussels, and on the 12th he sent her a bill of exchange on the banker Corrado for one hundred and fifty lires. He said he had been intoxicated “because his reputation had required it.” “This greatly astonishes me,” Francesca responded, “for I have never seen you intoxicated nor even illuminated … . I am very happy that the wine drove away the inflammation in your teeth.”
Practically all information of Casanova’s movements in 1783 and 1784 is obtained from Francesca’s letters which were in the library at Dux.
In her letters of the 27th June and 11th July, Francesca wrote Casanova that she had directed the Jew Abraham to sell Casanova’s satin habit and velvet breeches, but could not hope for more than fifty lires because they were patched. Abraham had observed that at one time the habit had been placed in pledge with him by Casanova for three sequins.
On the 6th September, she wrote:
“With great pleasure, I reply to the three dear letters which you wrote me from Spa: the first of the 6th August, from which I learned that your departure had been delayed for some days to wait for someone who was to arrive in that city. I was happy that your appet.i.te had returned, because good cheer is your greatest pleasure … .
“In your second letter which you wrote me from Spa on the 16th August, I noted with sorrow that your affairs were not going as you wished. But console yourself, dear friend, for happiness will come after trouble; at least, I wish it so, also, for you yourself can imagine in what need I find myself, I and all my family … . I have no work, because I have not the courage to ask it of anyone. My mother has not earned even enough to pay for the gold thread with the little cross which you know I love. Necessity made me sell it.
“I received your last letter of the 20th August from Spa with another letter for S. E. the Procurator Morosini. You directed me to take it to him myself, and on Sunday the last day of August, I did not fail to go there exactly at three o’clock. At once on my arrival, I spoke to a servant who admitted me without delay; but, my dear friend, I regret having to send you an unpleasant message. As soon as I handed him the letter, and before he even opened it, he said to me, ‘I always know Casanova’s affairs which trouble me.’ After having read hardly more than a page, he said: ‘I know not what to do!’ I told him that, on the 6th of this month, I was to write you at Paris and that, if he would do me the honor of giving me his reply, I would put it in my letter. Imagine what answer he gave me! I was much surprised! He told me that I should wish you happiness but that he would not write to you again. He said no more.
I kissed his hands and left. He did not give me even a sou. That is all he said to me … .
“S. E. Pietro Zaguri sent to me to ask if I knew where you were, because he had written two letters to Spa and had received no reply … .”
II — PARIS
On the night of the 18th or 19th September 1783, Casanova arrived at Paris.
On the 30th he wrote Francesca that he had been well received by his sister-in-law and by his brother, Francesco Casanova, the painter.
Nearly all his friends had departed for the other world, and he would now have to make new ones, which would be difficult as he was no longer pleasing to the women.
On the 14th October he wrote again, saying that he was in good health and that Paris was a paradise which made him feel twenty years old. Four letters followed; in the first, dated from Paris on S. Martin’s Day, he told Francesco not to reply for he did not know whether he would prolong his visit nor where he might go. Finding no fortune in Paris, he said he would go and search elsewhere. On the 23rd, he sent one hundred and fifty lires; “a true blessing,” to the poor girl who was always short of money.
Between times, Casanova pa.s.sed eight days at Fontainebleau, where he met “a charming young man of twenty-five,” the son of “the young and lovely O’Morphi” who indirectly owed to him her position, in 1752, as the mistress of Louis XV. “I wrote my name on his tablets and begged him to present my compliments to his mother.”
He also met, in the same place, his own son by Mme. Dubois, his former housekeeper at Soleure who had married the good M. Lebel. “We shall hear of the young gentleman in twenty-one years at Fontainebleau.”
“When I paid my third visit to Paris, with the intention of ending my days in that capital, I reckoned on the friendship of M. d’Alembert, but he died, like, Fontenelle, a fortnight after my arrival, toward the end of 1783.”
It is interesting to know that, at this time, Casanova met his famous contemporary, Benjamin Franklin. “A few days after the death of the ill.u.s.trious d’Alembert,” Casanova a.s.sisted, at the old Louvre, in a session of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. “Seated beside the learned Franklin, I was a little surprised to hear Condorcet ask him if he believed that one could give various directions to an air balloon. This was the response: ‘The matter is still in its infancy, so we must wait.’ I was surprised. It is not believable that the great philosopher could ignore the fact that it would be impossible to give the machine any other direction than that governed by the air which fills it, but these people ‘nil tam verentur, quam ne dubitare aliqua de re videantur.”
On the 13th November, Casanova left Paris in company with his brother, Francesco, whose wife did not accompany him. “His new wife drove him away from Paris.”
“Now [1797 or 1798] I feel that I have seen Paris and France for the last time. That popular effervescence [the French Revolution] has disgusted me and I am too old to hope to see the end of it.”
III — VIENNA
On the 29th November, Casanova wrote from Frankfort that a drunken postilion had upset him and in the fall he had dislocated his left shoulder, but that a good bone-setter had restored it to place. On the 1st December he wrote that he was healed, having taken medicine and having been blooded. He promised to send Francesca eight sequins to pay her rent. He reached Vienna about the 7th of December and on the 15th sent Francesco a bill of exchange for eight sequins and two lires.
On the last day of 1783, Francesca wrote to him at Vienna:
“I see by your good letter that you will go to Dresden and then to Berlin and that you will return to Vienna the 10th January … . I am astonished, my dear friend, at the great journeys you make in this cold weather, but, still, you are a great man, big-hearted, full of spirit and courage; you travel in this terrible cold as though it were nothing … . “
On the 9th January, Casanova wrote from Dessau to his brother Giovanni, proposing to make peace with him, but without results. On the 27th, he was at Prague. By the 16th February, he was again in Vienna, after a trip lasting sixty-two days. His health was perfect, and he had gained flesh due, as he wrote Francesca, to his contented mind which was no longer tormented.
In February, he entered the service of M. Foscarini, Venetian Amba.s.sador, “to write dispatches.”
On the 10th March, Francesca wrote:
“Dearest of Friends, I reply at once to your good letter of the 28th February which I received Sunday … . I thank you for your kindness which makes you say that you love me and that when you have money you will send me some … but that at the moment you are dry as a salamander. I do not know what sort of animal that is. But as for me I am certainly dry of money and I am consumed with the hope of having some … . I see that you were amused at the Carnival and that you were four times at the masked ball, where there were two hundred women, and that you danced minuets and quadrilles to the great astonishment of the amba.s.sador Foscarini who told everyone that you were sixty years old, although in reality you have not yet reached your sixtieth year. You might well laugh at that and say that he must be blind to have such an idea.
“I see that you a.s.sisted, with your brother, at a grand dinner at the Amba.s.sador’s … .
“You say that you have read my letters to your brother and that he salutes me. Make him my best compliments and thank him. You ask me to advise you whether, if he should happen to return to Venice with you, he could lodge with you in your house. Tell him yes, because the chickens are always in the loft and make no dirt; and, as for the dogs, one watches to see that they do not make dirt. The furniture of the apartment is already in place; it lacks only a wardrobe and the little bed which you bought for your nephew and the mirror; as for the rest, everything is as you left it… .”
It is possible that, at the “grand dinner,” Casanova was presented to Count Waldstein, without whose kindness to Casanova the Memoirs probably would never have been written. The Lord of Dux, Joseph Charles Emmanuel Waldstein-Wartenberg, Chamberlain to Her Imperial Majesty, descendant of the great Wallenstein, was the elder of the eleven children of Emmanuel Philibert, Count Waldstein, and Maria Theresa, Princess Liechtenstein.
Very egotistic and willful in his youth, careless of his affairs, and an imprudent gambler, at thirty years of age he had not yet settled down.
His mother was disconsolated that her son could not separate himself from occupations “so little suited to his spirit and his birth:”
On the 13th March 1784, Count Lamberg wrote Casanova: “I know M. le C. de Waldstein through having heard him praised by judges worthy of appreciating the transcendent qualities of more than one kind peculiar to the Count. I congratulate you on having such a Maecenas, and I congratulate him in his turn on having chosen such a man as yourself.”
Which last remark certainly foreshadows the library at Dux.
Later, on the lath March, 1785, Zaguri wrote: “In two months at the latest, all will be settled. I am very happy.” Referring further, it is conjectured, to Casanova’s hopes of placing himself with the Count.
IV — LETTERS FROM FRANCESCA
20th March 1784. “I see that you will print one of your books; you say that you will send me two hundred copies which I can sell at thirty sous each; that you will tell Zaguri and that he will advise those who wish copies to apply to me …”
This book was the Lettre historico-critique sur un fait connu dependant d’une cause peu connue, adressee au duc de * * *, 1784.
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