The memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt, by Giacomo Casanova

The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova De Seingalt

Containing an Outline of Casanova’s career from the year 1774, when his own Memoirs abruptly end, until his death in 1798

Part the First

Venice 1774-1782


Casanova’s Return to Venice

Thus Casanova ended his Memoirs, concluding his narrative with his sojourn at Trieste, in January 1774, where he had remained, except for a few excursions, since the 15th November 1772. He was forty-nine years of age. Since his unfortunate experiences in England, the loss of his fortune and the failure of his efforts to obtain congenial and remunerative employment in Germany or Russia, he had come to concentrate his efforts on a return to his native city.

Of his faithful friends, the nobles Bragadin, Barbaro and Dandolo, the first had died in 1767, having gone into debt “that I might have enough,” sending Casanova, from his death-bed, a last gift of a thousand crowns. Barbaro who had died also, in 1771, left Casanova a life-income of six sequins a month. The survivor, Dandolo, was poor, but until his death, he also gave Casanova a monthly provision of six sequins. However, Casanova was not without influential friends who might not only obtain a pardon from the State Inquisitors but also assist him to employment; and, in fact, it was through such influence as that wielded by the Avogador Zaguri and the Procurator Morosini, that Casanova received his pardon, and later, a position as “Confidant,” or Secret Agent, to the Inquisitors at Venice.

Casanova re-entered Venice the 14th September 1774 and, presenting himself, on the 18th, to Marc-Antoine Businello, Secretary of the Tribunal of the Inquisitors of State, was advised that mercy had been accorded him by reason of his refutation of the History of the Venetian Government by Amelot de la Houssaie which he had written during his forty-two day imprisonment at Barcelona in 1768. The three Inquisitors, Francesco Grimani, Francesco Sagredo and Paolo Bembo, invited him to dinner to hear his story of his escape from The Leads.

In 1772, Bandiera, the Republic’s resident at Ancona, drew this portrait of Casanova:

“One sees everywhere this unhappy rebel against the justice of the August Council, presenting himself boldly, his head carried high, and well equipped. He is received in many houses and announces his intention of going to Trieste and, from there, of returning to Germany. He is a man of forty years or more,” [in reality, forty-seven] “of high stature and excellent appearance, vigorous, of a very brown color, the eye bright, the wig short and chestnut-brown. He is said to be haughty and disdainful; he speaks at length, with spirit and erudition.” [Letter of information to the Very Illustrious Giovanni Zon, Secretary of the August Council of Ten at Venice. 2 October 1772.]

Returning to Venice after an absence of eighteen years, Casanova renewed his acquaintance with many old friends, among whom were:

The Christine of the Memoirs. Charles, who married Christine, the marriage being arranged by Casanova while in Venice in 1747, was of financial assistance to Casanova, who “found him a true friend.” Charles died “a few months before my last departure from Venice,” in 1783.

Mlle. X—— C—— V— — really Giustina de Wynne, widow of the Count Rosenberg, Austrian Ambassador at Venice. “Fifteen years afterwards, I saw her again and she was a widow, happy enough, apparently, and enjoying a great reputation on account of her rank, wit and social qualities, but our connection was never renewed.”

Callimena, who was kind to him “for love’s sake alone” at Sorrento in 1770.

Marcoline, the girl he took away from his younger brother, the Abby Casanova, at Geneva in 1763.

Father Balbi, the companion of his flight from The Leads.

Doctor Gozzi, his former teacher at Padua, now become Arch-Priest of St. George of the Valley, and his sister Betting. “When I went to pay him a visit . . . she breathed her last in my arms, in 1776, twenty-four hours after my arrival. I will speak of her death in due time.”

Angela Toselli, his first passion. In 1758 this girl married the advocate Francesco Barnaba Rizzotti, and in the following year she gave birth to a daughter, Maria Rizzotti (later married to a M. Kaiser) who lived at Vienna and whose letters to Casanova were preserved at Dux.

C—— C— — the young girl whose love affair with Casanova became involved with that of the nun M—— M—— Casanova found her in Venice “a widow and poorly off.”

The dancing girl Binetti, who assisted Casanova in his flight from Stuttgart in 1760, whom he met again in London in 1763, and who was the cause of his duel with Count Branicki at Warsaw in 1766. She danced frequently at Venice between 1769 and 1780.

The good and indulgent Mme. Manzoni, “of whom I shall have to speak very often.”

The patricians Andrea Memmo and his brother Bernardo who, with P. Zaguri were personages of considerable standing in the Republic and who remained his constant friends. Andrea Memmo was the cause of the embarrassment in which Mlle. X—— C—— V—— found herself in Paris and which Casanova vainly endeavored to remove by applications of his astonishing specific, the ‘aroph of Paracelsus’.

It was at the house of these friends that Casanova became acquainted with the poet, Lorenzo Da Ponte. “I made his acquaintance,” says the latter, in his own Memoirs, “at the house of Zaguri and the house of Memmo, who both sought after his always interesting conversation, accepting from this man all he had of good, and closing their eyes, on account of his genius, upon the perverse parts of his nature.”

Lorenzo Da Ponte, known above all as Mozart’s librettist, and whose youth much resembled that of Casanova, was accused of having eaten ham on Friday and was obliged to flee from Venice in 1777, to escape the punishment of the Tribunal of Blasphemies. In his Memoirs, he speaks unsparingly of his compatriot and yet, as M. Rava notes, in the numerous letters he wrote Casanova, and which were preserved at Dux, he proclaims his friendship and admiration.

Irene Rinaldi, whom he met again at Padua in 1777, with her daughter who “had become a charming girl; and our acquaintance was renewed in the tenderest manner.”

The ballet-girl Adelaide, daughter of Mme. Soavi, who was also a dancer, and of a M. de Marigny.

Barbara, who attracted Casanova’s attention at Trieste, in 1773, while he was frequenting a family named Leo, but toward whom he had maintained an attitude of respect. This girl, on meeting him again in 1777, declared that “she had guessed my real feelings and had been amused by my foolish restraint.”

At Pesaro, the Jewess Leah, with whom he had the most singular experiences at Ancona in 1772.


Relations with the Inquisitors

Soon after reaching Venice, Casanova learned that the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, following the example of other German princes, wished a Venetian correspondent for his private affairs. Through some influence he believed he might obtain this small employment; but before applying for the position he applied to the Secretary of the Tribunal for permission. Apparently nothing came of this, and Casanova obtained no definite employment until 1776.

Early in 1776, Casanova entered the service of the Tribunal of Inquisitors as an “occasional Confidant,” under the fictitious name of Antonio Pratiloni, giving his address as “at the Casino of S. E. Marco Dandolo.”

In October 1780, his appointment was more definitely established and he was given a salary of fifteen ducats a month. This, with the six sequins of life-income left by Barbaro and the six given by Dandolo, gave him a monthly income of three hundred and eighty-four lires — about seventy-four U. S. dollars — from 1780 until his break with the Tribunal at the end of 1781.

In the Archives of Venice are preserved forty-eight letters from Casanova, including the Reports he wrote as a “Confidant,” all in the same handwriting as the manuscript of the Memoirs. The Reports may be divided into two classes: those referring to commercial or industrial matters, and those referring to the public morals.

Among those of the first class, we find:

A Report relating to Casanova’s success in having a change made in the route of the weekly diligence running from Trieste to Mestre, for which service, rendered during Casanova’s residence at Trieste in 1773, he received encouragement and the sum of one hundred ducats from the Tribunal.

A Report, the 8th September 1776, with information concerning the rumored project of the future Emperor of Austria to invade Dalmatia after the death of Maria Theresa. Casanova stated he had received this information from a Frenchman, M. Salz de Chalabre, whom he had known in Paris twenty years before. This M. Chalabre [printed Calabre] was the pretended nephew of Mme. Amelin. “This young man was as like her as two drops of water, but she did not find that a sufficient reason for avowing herself his mother.” The boy was, in fact, the son of Mme. Amelin and of M. de Chalabre, who had lived together for a long time.

A Report, the 12th of December 1776, of a secret mission to Trieste, in regard to a project of the court of Vienna for making Fiume a French port; the object being to facilitate communications between this port and the interior of Hungary. For this inquiry, Casanova received sixteen hundred lires, his expenditures amounting to seven hundred and sixty-six lires.

A Report, May-July 1779, of an excursion in the market of Ancona for information concerning the commercial relations of the Pontifical States with the Republic of Venice. At Forli, in the course of this excursion, Casanova visited the dancing-girl Binetti. For this mission Casanova received forty-eight sequins.

A Report, January 1780, remarking a clandestine recruiting carried out by a certain Marrazzani for the [Prussian] regiment of Zarembal.

A Report, the 11th October 1781, regarding a so-called Baldassare Rossetti, a Venetian subject living at Trieste, whose activities and projects were of a nature to prejudice the commerce and industry of the Republic.

Among the Reports relating to public morals may be noted:

December 1776. A Report on the seditious character of a ballet called “Coriolanus.” The back of this report is inscribed: “The impressario of S. Benedetto, Mickel de l’Agata, shall be summoned immediately; it has been ordered that he cease, under penalty of his life, from giving the ballet Coriolanus at the theater. Further, he is to collect and deposit all the printed programmes of this ballet.”

December 1780. A Report calling to the attention of the Tribunal the scandalous disorders produced in the theaters when the lights were extinguished.

3rd May 1781. A Report remarking that the Abbe Carlo Grimani believed himself exempt, in his position as a priest, from the interdiction laid on patricians against frequenting foreign ministers and their suites. On the back of this Report is written: “Ser Jean Carlo, Abbe Grimani, to be gently reminded, by the Secretary, of the injunction to abstain from all commerce with foreign ministers and their adherents”

Venetian nobles were forbidden under penalty of death from holding any communication with foreign ambassadors or their households. This was intended as a precaution to preserve the secrets of the Senate.

26th November 1781. A Report concerning a painting academy where nude studies were made, from models of both sexes, while scholars only twelve or thirteen years of age were admitted, and where dilettantes who were neither painters nor designers, attended the sessions.

22nd December 1781. By order, Casanova reported to the Tribunal a list of the principal licentious or antireligious books to be found in the libraries and private collections at Venice: la Pucelle; la Philosophie de l’Histoire; L’Esprit d’Helvetius; la Sainte Chandelle d’Arras; les Bijoux indiscrets; le Portier des Chartreux; les Posies de Baffo; Ode a Priape; de Piron; etc., etc.

In considering this Report, which has been the subject of violent criticism, we should bear in mind three points:

first — the Inquisitors required this information; second — no one in their employ could have been in a better position to give it than Casanova; third — Casanova was morally and economically bound, as an employee of the Tribunal, to furnish the information ordered, whatever his personal distaste for the undertaking may have been. We may even assume that he permitted himself to express his feelings in some indiscreet way, and his break with the Tribunal followed, for, at the end of 1781, his commission was withdrawn. Certainly, Casanova’s almost absolute dependence on his salary, influenced the letter he wrote the Inquisitors at this time.

“To the Illustrious and Most Excellent Lords, the Inquisitors of State:

“Filled with confusion, overwhelmed with sorrow and repentance, recognizing myself absolutely unworthy of addressing my vile letter to Your Excellencies confessing that I have failed in my duty in the opportunities which presented themselves, I, Jacques Casanova, invoke, on my knees, the mercy of the Prince; I beg that, in compassion and grace, there may be accorded me that which, in all justice and on reflection, may be refused me.

“I ask the Sovereign Munificence to come to my aid, so that, with the means of subsistence, I may apply myself vigorously, in the future, to the service to which I have been privileged.

“After this respectful supplication, the wisdom of Your Excellencies may judge the disposition of my spirit and of my intentions.”

The Inquisitors decided to award Casanova one month’s pay, but specified that thereafter he would receive salary only when he rendered important services.

In 1782 Casanova made a few more Reports to the Tribunal, for one of which, regarding the failure of an insurance and commercial house at Trieste, he received six sequins. But the part of a guardian of the public morals, even through necessity, was undoubtedly unpleasant to him; and, in spite of the financial loss, it may be that his release was a relief.


Francesca Buschini

Intimately connected with Casanova’s life at this period was a girl named Francesca Buschini. This name does not appear in any of the literary, artistic or theatrical records of the period, and, of the girl, nothing is known other than that which she herself tells us in her letters to Casanova. From these very human letters, however, we may obtain, not only certain facts, but also, a very excellent idea of her character. Thirty-two of her letters, dated between July 1779 and October 1787, written in the Venetian dialect, were preserved in the library at Dux.

She was a seamstress, although often without work, and had a brother, a younger sister and also a mother living with her. The probabilities are that she was a girl of the most usual sort, but greatly attached to Casanova who, even in his poverty, must have dazzled her as a being from another world. She was his last Venetian love, and remained a faithful correspondent until 1787; and it is chiefly from her letters, in which she comments on news contained in Casanova’s letters to her, that light is thrown on the Vienna-Paris period, particularly, of Casanova’s life. For this, Francesca has placed us greatly in her debt.

With this girl, at least between 1779 and 1782, Casanova rented a small house at Barbaria delle Tole, near S. Giustina, from the noble Pesaro at S. Stae. Casanova, always in demand for his wit and learning, often took dinner in the city. He knew that a place always awaited him at the house of Memmo and at that of Zaguri and that, at the table of these patricians, who were distinguished by their intellectual superiority, he would meet men notable in science and letters. Being so long and so closely connected with theatrical circles, he was often seen at the theater, with Francesca. Thus, the 9th August 1786, the poor girl, in an excess of chagrin writes: “Where are all the pleasures which formerly you procured me? Where are the theatres, the comedies which we once saw together?”

On the 28th July 1779, Francesca wrote:

“Dearest and best beloved,

“ . . . In the way of novelties, I find nothing except that S. E. Pietro Zaguri has arrived at Venice; his servant has been twice to ask for you, and I have said you were still at the Baths of Abano . . . ”

The Casanova-Buschini establishment kept up relations, more or less frequent and intimate, with a few persons, most of whom are mentioned in Francesca’s letters; the Signora Anzoletta Rizzotti; the Signora Elisabeth Catrolli, an ancient comedienne; the Signora Bepa Pezzana; the Signora Zenobia de Monti, possibly the mother of that Carlo de Monti, Venetian Consul at Trieste, who was a friend to Casanova and certainly contributed toward obtaining his pardon from the Inquisitors; a M. Lunel, master of languages, and his wife.



Casanova’s principal writings during this period were:

His translation of the Iliad, the first volume of which was issued in 1775, the second in 1777 and the third in 1778.

During his stay at Abano in 1778, he wrote the Scrutinio del libro, eulogies of M. de Voltaire “by various hands.” In the dedication of this book, to the Doge Renier, he wrote, “This little book has recently come from my inexperienced pen, in the hours of leisure which are frequent at Abano for those who do not come only for the baths.”

From January until July 1780, he published, anonymously, a series of miscellaneous small works, seven pamphlets of about one hundred pages each, distributed at irregular intervals to subscribers.

From the 7th October to the end of December, 1780, on the occasions of the representations given by a troupe of French comedians at the San Angelo theater, Casanova wrote a little paper called The Messenger of Thalia. In one of the numbers, he wrote:

“French is not my tongue; I make no pretentions and, wrong or astray, I place on the paper what heaven sends from my pen. I give birth to phrases turned to Italian, either to see what they look like or to produce a style, and often, also, to draw, into a purist’s snare, some critical doctor who does not know my humor or how my offense amuses me.”

The “little romance” referred to in the following letter to “Mlle. X—— C—— V— — ” appeared in 1782, with the title; ‘Di anecdoti vinizani militari a amorosi del secolo decimo quarto sotto i dogati di Giovanni Gradenigoe di Giovanni Dolfin’. Venezia, 1782.


Mlle. X—— C—— V——

In 1782, a letter written by this lady, Giustina de Wynne, referring to a visit to Venice of Paul I, Grand Duke, afterward Emperor of Russia, and his wife, was published under the title of Du sejour des Comptes du Nord a Venise en janvier mdcclxxxii. If he had not previously done so, Casanova took this occasion to recall himself to the memory of this lady to whom he had once been of such great service. And two very polite letters were exchanged:


“The fine epistle which V. E. has allowed to be printed upon the sojourn of C. and of the C. du Nord in this city, exposes you, in the position of an author, to endure the compliments of all those who trouble themselves to write. But I flatter myself, Madam, that V. E. will not disdain mine.

“The little romance, Madam, a translation from my dull and rigid pen, is not a gift but a very paltry offering which I dare make to the superiority of your merit.

“I have found, Madam, in your letter, the simple, flowing style of gentility, the one which alone a woman of condition who writes to her friend may use with dignity. Your digressions and your thoughts are flowers which . . . (forgive an author who pilfers from you the delicious nonchalance of an amiable writer) or . . . a will-o’-the-wisp which, from time to time, issues from the work, in spite of the author, and burns the paper.

“I aspire, Madam, to render myself favorable to the deity to which reason advises me to make homage. Accept then the offering and render happy he who makes it with your indulgence.

“I have the honor to sign myself, if you will kindly permit me, with very profound respect.

“Giacomo Casanova.”


“I am very sensible, Monsieur, of the distinction which comes to me from your approbation of my little pamphlet. The interest of the moment, its references and the exaltation of spirits have gained for it the tolerance and favorable welcome of the good Venetians. It is to your politeness in particular, Monsieur, that I believe is due the marked success which my work has had with you. I thank you for the book which you sent me and I will risk thanking you in advance for the pleasure it will give me. Be persuaded of my esteem for yourself and for your talents. And I have the honor to be, Monsieur.

“Your very humble servant de Wynne de Rosemberg.”

Among Casanova’s papers at Dux was a page headed “Souvenir,” dated the 2nd September 1791, and beginning: “While descending the staircase, the Prince de Rosemberg told me that Madame de Rosemberg was dead. . . . This Prince de Rosemberg was the nephew of Giustina.”

Giustina died, after a long illness, at Padua, the 21st August 1791, at the age of fifty-four years and seven months.


Last Days at Venice

Toward the end of 1782, doubtless convinced that he could expect nothing more from the Tribunal, Casanova entered the service of the Marquis Spinola as a secretary. Some years before, a certain Carletti, an officer in the service of the court of Turin, had won from the Marquis a wager of two hundred and fifty sequins. The existence of this debt seemed to have completely disappeared from the memory of the loser. By means of the firm promise of a pecuniary recompense, Casanova intervened to obtain from his patron a written acknowledgment of the debt owing to Carletti. His effort was successful; but instead of clinking cash, Carletti contented himself with remitting to the negotiator an assignment on the amount of the credit. Casanova’s anger caused a violent dispute, in the course of which Carlo Grimani, at whose house the scene took place, placed him in the wrong and imposed silence.

The irascible Giacomo conceived a quick resentment. To discharge his bile, he found nothing less than to publish in the course of the month of August, under the title of: ‘Ne amori ne donne ovvero la Stalla d’Angia repulita’, a libel in which Jean Carlo Grimani, Carletti, and other notable persons were outraged under transparent mythological pseudonyms.

This writing embroiled the author with the entire body of the Venetian nobility.

To allow the indignation against him to quiet down, Casanova went to pass some days at Trieste, then returned to Venice to put his affairs in order. The idea of recommencing his wandering life alarmed him. “I have lived fifty-eight years,” he wrote, “I could not go on foot with winter at hand, and when I think of starting on the road to resume my adventurous life, I laugh at myself in the mirror.”

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52