The memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt, by Giacomo Casanova

Part the Second


Travels in 1783

Casanova left Venice in January 1783, and went to Vienna.

On the 16th April Elisabeth Catrolli wrote to him at Vienna:

“Dearest of friends,

“Your letter has given me great pleasure. Be assured, I infinitely regret your departure. I have but two sincere friends, yourself and Camerani. I do not hope for more. I could be happy if I could have at least one of you near me to whom 1 could confide my cruel anxieties.

“To-day, I received from Camerani a letter informing me that, in a former one, he had sent me a bill of exchange: I did not receive it, and I fear it has been lost.

“Dear friend, when you reach Paris, clasp him to your heart for me..In regard to Chechina [Francesca Buschini] I would say that I have not seen her since the day I took her your letter. Her mother is the ruin of that poor girl; let that suffice; I will say no more . . . ”

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 Ambassador’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 Bassano. On the 25th he left Bassano 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 assistance 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 Ambassador 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 3oth 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 passion 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 appetite 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. . . . ”



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 passed 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 illustrious d’Alembert,” Casanova assisted, 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.”



On the 29th November, Casanova wrote from Frankfort that a drunken postillon 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 Francescd 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 Ambassador, “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 ambassador 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 assisted, with your brother, at a grand dinner at the Ambassador’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.


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.

3rd April 1784. “I see with pleasure that you have gone to amuse yourself in company with two ladies and that you have traveled five posts to see the Emperor [Joseph II] . . . You say that your fortune consists of one sequin . . . I hope that you obtained permission to print your book, that you will send me the two hundred copies, and that I may be able to sell them . . . ”

14th April 1784. “You say that a man without money is the image of death, that he is a very wretched animal. I learn with regret that I am unlikely to see you at the approaching Festival of the Ascension . . . that you hope to see me once more before dying. . . . You make me laugh, telling me that at Vienna a balloon was made which arose in the air with six persons and that it might be that you would go up also.”

28th April 1784. “I see, to my lively regret, that you have been in bed with your usual ailment [hemorrhoids]. But I am pleased to know that you are better. You certainly should go to the baths. . . . I have been discouraged in seeing that you have not come to Venice because you have no money. . . . P. S. Just at this moment I have received a good letter, enclosing a bill of exchange, which I will go and have paid. . . . ”

5th May 1784. “I went to the house of M. Francesco Manenti, at S. Polo di Campo, with my bill of exchange, and he gave me at once eighteen pieces of ten lires each. . . . I figure that you made fun of me saying seriously that you will go up in a balloon and that, if the wind is favorable, you will go in the air to Trieste and then from Trieste to Venice.”

19th May 1784. “I see, to my great regret, that you are in poor health and still short of money. . . . You say that you need twenty sequins and that you have only twenty trari. . . . I hope that your book is printed. . . . ”

29th May 1784. “I note with pleasure that you are going to take the baths; but I regret that this treatment enfeebles and depresses you. It reassures me that you do not fail in your appetite nor your sleep. . . . I hope I will not hear you say again that you are disgusted with everything, and no longer in love with life. . . . I see that for you, at this moment, fortune sleeps. . . . I am not surprised that everything is so dear in the city where you are, for at Venice also one pays dearly and everything is priced beyond reach.”

Zaguri wrote Casanova the 12th May, that he had met Francesca in the Mongolfieri casino. And on the 2nd June Casanova, doubtless feeling his helplessness in the matter of money, and the insufficiency of his occasional remittances, and suspicious of Francesca’s loyalty, wrote her a letter of renunciation. Then came her news of the sale of his books; and eighteen months passed before he wrote to her again.

On the 12th June 1784, Francesca replied: “I could not expect to convey to you, nor could you figure, the sorrow that tries me in seeing that you will not occupy yourself any more with me. . . . I hid from you that I had been with that woman who lived with us, with her companion, the cashier of the Academie des Mongolfceristes. Although I went to this Academy with prudence and dignity, I did not want to write you for fear you would scold me. That is the only reason, and hereafter you may be certain of my sincerity and frankness. . . . I beg you to forgive me this time, if I write you something I have never written for fear that you would be angry with me because I had not told you. Know then that four months ago, your books which were on the mezzanine were sold to a library for the sum of fifty lires, when we were in urgent need. It was my mother who did it. . . . ”

26th June 1784. “ . . . Mme. Zenobia [de Monti] has asked me if I would enjoy her company. Certain that you would consent I have allowed her to come and live with me. She has sympathy for me and has always loved me.”

7th July 1784. “Your silence greatly disturbs me! To receive no more of your letters! By good post I have sent you three letters, with this one, and you have not replied to any of them. Certainly, you have reason for being offended at me, because I hid from you something which you learned from another. . . . But you might have seen, from my last letter, that I have written you all the truth about my fault and that I have asked your pardon for not writing it before. . . . Without you and your help, God knows what will become of us. . . . For the rent of your chamber Mme. Zenobia will give us eight lires a month and five lires for preparing her meals. But what can one do with thirteen lires! . . . I am afflicted and mortified. . . . Do not abandon me.”


Last Days at Vienna

In 1785, at Vienna, Casanova ran across Costa, his former secretary who, in 1761, had fled from him taking “diamonds, watches, snuffbox, linen, rich suits and a hundred louis.” “In 1785, I found this runagate at Vienna. He was then Count Erdich’s man, and when we come to that period, the reader shall hear what I did.”

Casanova did not reach this period, in writing his Memoirs, but an account of this meeting is given by Da Ponte, who was present at it, in his Memoirs. Costa had met with many misfortunes, as he told Casanova, and had himself been defrauded. Casanova threatened to have him hanged, but according to Da Ponte, was dissuaded from this by counter accusations made by Costa.

Da Ponte’s narration of the incident is brilliant and amusing, in spite of our feeling that it is maliciously exaggerated: “Strolling one morning in the Graben with Casanova, I suddenly saw him knit his brows, squawk, grind his teeth, twist himself, raise his hands skyward, and, snatching himself away from me, throw himself on a man whom I seemed to know, shouting with a very loud voice: ‘Murderer, I have caught thee.’ A crowd having gathered as a result of this strange act and yell, I approached them with some disgust; nevertheless, I caught Casanova’s hand and almost by force I separated him from the fray. He then told me the story, with desperate motions and gestures, and said that his antagonist was Gioachino Costa, by whom he had been betrayed. This Gioachino Costa, although he had been forced to become a servant by his vices and bad practices, and was at that very time servant to a Viennese gentleman, was more or less of a poet. He was, in fact, one of those who had honored me with their satire, when the Emperor Joseph selected me as poet of his theater. Costa entered a cafe, and while I continued to walk with Casanova, wrote and send him by a messenger, the following verses:

“‘Casanova, make no outcry;

You stole, indeed, as well as I;

You were the one who first taught me;

Your art I mastered thoroughly.

Silence your wisest course will be.’

“These verses had the desired effect. After a brief silence, Casanova laughed and then said softly in my ear: ‘The rogue is right.’ He went into the cafe and motioned to Costa to come out; they began to walk together calmly, as if nothing had happened, and they parted shaking hands repeatedly and seemingly calm and friendly. Casanova returned to me with a cameo on his little finger, which by a strange coincidence, represented Mercury, the god-protector of thieves. This was his greatest valuable, and it was all that was left of the immense booty, but represented the character of the two restored friends, perfectly.”

Da Ponte precedes this account with a libellous narrative of Casanova’s relations with the Marquise d’Urfe, even stating that Casanova stole from her the jewels stolen in turn by Costa, but, as M. Maynial remarks, we may attribute this perverted account “solely to the rancour and antipathy of the narrator.” It is more likely that Casanova frightened Costa almost out of his wits, was grimly amused at his misfortunes, and let him go, since there was no remedy to Casanova’s benefit, for his former rascality. Casanova’s own brief, anticipatory account is given in his Memoirs.

In 1797, correcting and revising his Memoirs, Casanova wrote: “Twelve years ago, if it had not been for my guardian angel, I would have foolishly married, at Vienna, a young, thoughtless girl, with whom I had fallen in love.” In which connection, his remark is interesting: “I have loved women even to madness, but I have always loved liberty better; and whenever I have been in danger of losing it, fate has come to my rescue.”

While an identification of the “young, thoughtless girl” has been impossible, M. Rava believes her to be “C. M.,” the subject of a poem found at Dux, written in duplicate, in Italian and French, and headed “Giacomo Casanova, in love, to C. M.”

“When, Catton, to your sight is shown the love

Which all my tenderest caresses prove,

Feeling all pleasure’s sharpest joys and fears,

Burning one moment, shivering the next,

Caressing you while showering you with tears,

Giving each charm a thousand eager kisses,

Wishing to touch at once a thousand blisses

And, at the ones beyond my power, vexed,

Abandoned in a furious desire,

Leaving these charms for other charms that fire,

Possessing all and yet desiring

Until, destroyed by excesses of pleasure,

Finding no words of love nor anything

To express my fires overflowing measure

Than deepening sighs and obscure murmuring:

Ah! Then you think to read my inmost heart

To find the love that can these signs impart

. . . Be not deceived. These transports, amorous cries,

These kisses, tears, desires and heavy sighs,

Of all the fire which devours me

Could less than even the lightest tokens be.”

Evidently this same girl is the authoress of the two following letters written by “Caton M——” to Casanova in 1786.

12th April 1786. “You will infinitely oblige me if you will tell me to whom you wrote such pretty things about me; apparently it is the Abbe Da Ponte; but I would go to his house and, either he would prove that you had written it or I would have the honor of telling him that he is the most infamous traducer in the world. I think that the lovely picture which you make of my future has not as much excuse as you may think, and, in spite of your science, you deceive yourself. . . . But just now I will inform you of all my wooers and you can judge for yourself by this whether I deserve all the reproaches you made me in your last letter. It is two years since I came to know the Count de K——; I could have loved him but I was too honest to be willing to satisfy his desires . . . Some months afterward, I came to know the Count de M——; he was not so handsome as K—— but he possessed every possible art for seducing a girl; I did everything for him, but I never loved him as much as his friend. In fine, to tell you all my giddinesses in a few words, I set everything right again with K. . . . and got myself into a quarrel with M. . . ., then I left K. . . . and returned to M. . . ., but at the house of the latter there was always an officer who pleased me more than both the two others and who sometimes conducted me to the house; then we found ourselves at the house of a friend, and it is of this same officer that I am ill. So, my dear friend, that is all. I do not seek to justify my past conduct; on the contrary, I know well that I have acted badly. . . . I am much afflicted at being the cause of your remaining away from Venice during the Carnival. . . . I hope to see you soon again and am, with much love,

“Monsieur, your sincere “Caton M——”

16th July 1786. “I have spoken with the Abbe Da Ponte. He invited me to come to his house because, he said, he had something to tell me for you. I went there, but was received so coldly that I am resolved not to go there again. Also, Mlle. Nanette affected an air of reserve and took at on herself to read me lessons on what she was pleased to call my libertinism. . . . I beg that you will write nothing more about me to these two very dangerous personages. . . . Just now I will tell you of a little trick which I played on you, which without doubt deserves some punishment. The young, little Kasper, whom you formerly loved, came to ask me for the address of her dear Monsieur de Casanova, so that she could write a very tender letter full of recollections. I had too much politeness to wish to refuse a pretty girl, who was once the favorite of my lover, so just a request, so I gave her the address she wished; but I addressed the letter to a city far from you. Is it not, my dear friend, that you would like well to know the name of the city, so that you could secure the letter by posts. But you can depend on my word that you will not know it until you have written me a very long letter begging me very humbly to indicate the place where the divine letter of the adorable object of your vows has gone. You might well make this sacrifice for a girl in whom the Emperor [Joseph II] interests himself, for it is known that, since your departure from Vienna, it is he who is teaching her French and music; and apparently he takes the trouble of instructing her himself, for she often goes to his house to thank him for his kindnesses to her, but I know not in what way she expresses herself.

“Farewell, my dear friend. Think sometimes of me and believe that I am your sincere friend.”

On the 23rd April 1785, the ambassador Foscarini died, depriving Casanova of a protector, probably leaving him without much money, and not in the best of health. He applied for the position of secretary to Count Fabris, his former friend, whose name had been changed from Tognolo, but without success. Casanova then determined to go to Berlin in the hope of a place in the Academy. On the 30th July he arrived at Bruen in Moravia, where his friend Maximilian-Joseph, Count Lamberg gave him, among other letters of recommendation, a letter addressed to Jean-Ferdinand Opiz, Inspector of Finances and Banks at Czaslau, in which he wrote:

“A celebrated man, M. Casanova, will deliver to you, my dear friend, the visiting card with which he is charged for Mme. Opiz and yourself. Knowing this amiable and remarkable man, will mark an epoch in your life, be polite and friendly to him, ‘quod ipsi facies in mei memoriam faciatis’. Keep yourself well, write to me, and if you can direct him to some honest man at Carlsbad, fail not to do so. . . . ”

On the 15th August 1785, M. Opiz wrote Count Lamberg about Casanova’s visit:

“Your letter of the 30th, including your cards for my wife and myself, was delivered the first of this month by M. Casanova. He was very anxious to meet the Princess Lubomirski again at Carlsbad. But as something about his carriage was broken, he was obliged to stop in Czaslau for two hours which he passed in my company. He has left Czaslau with the promise of giving me a day on his return. I am already delighted. Even in the short space of time in which I enjoyed his company, I found in him a man worthy of our highest consideration and of our love, a benevolent philosopher whose homeland is the great expanse of our planet (and not Venice alone) and who values only the men in the kings. . . . I know absolutely no one at Carlsbad, so I sincerely regret being unable to recommend him to anyone there, according to your desire. He did not wish, on account of his haste, to pause even at Prague and, consequently, to deliver, at this time, your letter to Prince Furstemberg.”

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