It is uncertain how long Casanova remained at Carlsbad. While there, however, he met again the Polish nobleman Zawoiski, with whom he had gambled in Venice in 1746. “As to Zawoiski, I did not tell him the story until I met him in Carlsbad old and deaf, forty years later.” He did not return to Czaslau, but in September 1785 he was at Teplitz where he found Count Waldstein whom he accompanied to his castle at Dux.
From this time onward he remained almost constantly at the castle where he was placed in charge of the Count’s library and given a pension of one thousand florins annually.
Describing his visit to the castle in 1899, Arthur Symons writes: “I had the sensation of an enormous building: all Bohemian castles are big, but this one was like a royal palace. Set there in the midst of the town, after the Bohemian fashion, it opens at the back upon great gardens, as if it were in the midst of the country. I walked through room after room, corridor after corridor; everywhere there were pictures, everywhere portraits of Wallenstein, and battle scenes in which he led on his troops. The library, which was formed, or at least arranged, by Casanova, and which remains as he left it, contains some twenty-five thousand volumes, some of them of considerable value. . . . The library forms part of the Museum, which occupies a ground-floor wing of the castle. The first room is an armoury, in which all kinds of arms are arranged, in a decorative way, covering the ceiling and the walls with strange patterns. The second room contains pottery, collected by Casanova’s Waldstein on his Eastern travels. The third room is full of curious mechanical toys, and cabinets, and carvings in ivory. Finally, we come to the library, contained in the two innermost rooms. The book shelves are painted white and reach to the low vaulted ceilings, which are whitewashed. At the end of a bookcase, in the corner of one of the windows, hangs a fine engraved portrait of Casanova.”
In this elaborate setting, Casanova found the refuge he so sadly needed for his last years. The evil days of Venice and Vienna, and the problems and makeshifts of mere existence, were left behind. And for this refuge he paid the world with his Memoirs.
In 1786, Casanova renewed his correspondence with Francesca, who wrote:
1st July 1786.
“After a silence of a year and a half, I received from you yesterday a good letter which has consoled me in informing me that you are in perfect health. But, on the other hand, I was much pained to see that in your letter you did not call me Friend, but Madame. . . . You have reason to chide me and to reproach me for having rented a house without surety or means of paying the rent. As to the advice you give me that if some honest person would pay me my rent, or at least a part of it, I should have no scruples about taking it because a little more, or a little less, would be of little importance. . . . I declare to you that I have been disconsolated at receiving from you such a reproach which is absolutely unjustified. . . . You tell me that you have near you a young girl who merits all your solicitations and your love, she and her family of six persons who adore you and give you every attention; that she costs you all you have, so that you cannot send me even a sou. . . . I am pained to hear you say that you will never return to Venice, and yet I hope to see you again. . . . ”
The “young girl” referred to in Francesca’s letter was Anna-Dorothea Kleer, daughter of the porter of the castle. This young girl became pregnant in 1786 and Casanova was accused of seducing her. The guilty one, however, was a painter named Schottner who married the unfortunate girl in January 1787.
9th August 1786.
“My only true friend,
“It is two days since I received your dear letter; I was very happy to see your writing. . . . You have reason to mortify me and reproach me in recalling all the troubles I caused you, and especially that which you call treachery, the sale of your books, of which in part I was not guilty. . . . Forgive me, my dear friend, me and my foolish mother who, despite all my objections, absolutely insisted on selling them. Regarding that which you write me that you know that my mother, last year, told about that you had been my ruin, this may unhappily be true, since you already know the evil thoughts of my mother, who even says that you are still at Venice. . . . When have I not been always sincere with you, and when have I not at least listened to your good advices and offers? I am in a desperate situation, abandoned by all, almost in the streets, almost about to be homeless. . . . Where are all the pleasures which formerly you procured me? Where are the theatres, the comedies which we once saw together? . . . ”
5th January 1787.
“The first of the year I received your dear letter with the bill of exchange for one hundred and twenty-five lires which you sent me so generously. . . . You say you have forgiven me for all the troubles I have caused you. Forget all, then, and do not accuse me any more of things which are but too true and of which the remembrance alone cuts me to the heart. . . . You write me that you have been forgotten by a person of whom you were very fond, that she is married and that you have not seen her for more than a month.”
The “person” referred to was Anna Kleer.
5th October 1787.
.. “Until the other day, I had been waiting for your arrival, hoping that you would come to assist at the entry of the Procurator Memmo. . . . I see by your good letter that you were not able to get away, since your presence is nearly always necessary in the great castle. . . . I learn of the visit you have received from the Emperor who wished to see your library of forty-thousand volumes! . . . You say that you detest the chase and that you are unhappy when politeness obliges you to go. . . . I am pleased to know that you are in good health, that you are stout and that you have a good appetite and sleep well. . . . I hope that the printing of your book [Histoire de ma fuite] is going according to your wishes. If you go to Dresden for the marriage of your niece, enjoy yourself for me. . . . Forget not to write to me; this gives me such pleasure! Remember me. Full of confidence in your friendship, I am, and always will be, your true and sincere friend,
In 1787, a book was published under the title of ‘Dreissig Brief uber Galizien by Traunpaur’, which included this passage: “The most famous adventurers of two sorts (there are two, in fact: honest adventurers and adventurers of doubtful reputation) have appeared on the scene of the kingdom of Poland. The best known on the shores of the Vistula are: the miraculous Cagliostro: Boisson de Quency, grand charlatan, soldier of fortune, decorated with many orders, member of numerous Academies: the Venetian Casanova of Saint-Gall, a true savant, who fought a duel with Count Branicki: the Baron de Poellnitz . . . the lucky Count Tomatis, who knew so well how to correct fortune, and many others.”
In June 1789, Casanova received a letter from Teresa Boisson de Quency, the wife of the adventurer above referred to:
“Much honored Monsieur Giacomo:
“For a long time I have felt a very particular desire to evidence to you the estimation due your spirit and your eminent qualities: the superb sonnet augmented my wish. But the inconveniences of childbirth and the cares required by a little girl whom I adore, made me defer this pleasure. During my husband’s absence, your last and much honored letter came to my hands. Your amiable compliments to me, engage me to take the pen to give you renewed assurance that you have in me a sincere admirer of your great talent. . . . When I wish to point out a person who writes and thinks with excellence, I name Monsieur Casanova. . . . ”
In 1793, Teresa de Quency wished to return to Venice at which time Zaguri wrote Casanova: “The Bassani has received letters from her husband which tell her nothing more than that he is alive.”
Casanova passed the months of May, June and July 1788 at Prague, supervising the printing of the Histoire de ma fuite.
“I remember laughing very heartily at Prague, six years ago, on learning that some thin-skinned ladies, on reading my flight from The Leads, which was published at that date, took great offense at the above account, which they thought I should have done well to leave out.”
In May he was troubled with an attack of the grippe. In October, he was in Dresden, apparently with his brother. Around this time “The Magdalene,” a painting by Correggio, was stolen from the Museum of the Elector.
On the 30th October 1788, Casanova wrote to the Prince Belozelski, Russian Minister to the Court of Dresden: “Tuesday morning, after having embraced my dear brother, I got into a carriage to return here. At the barrier on the outskirts of Dresden, I was obliged to descend, and six men carried the two chests of my carriage, my two night-bags and my capelire into a little chamber on the ground level, demanded my keys, and examined everything. . . . The youngest of these infamous executors of such an order told me they were searching for ‘The Magdalene! . . . The oldest had the impudence to put his hands on my waistcoat. . . . At last they let me go.
“This, my prince, delayed me so that I could not reach Petervalden by daylight. I stopped at an evil tavern where, dying of famine and rage, I ate everything I saw; and, wishing to drink and not liking beer, I gulped down some beverage which my host told me was good and which did not seem unpleasant. He told me that it was Pilnitz Moste. This beverage aroused a rebellion in my guts. I passed the night tormented by a continual diarrhoea. I arrived here the day before yesterday (the 28th), where I found an unpleasant duty awaiting me. Two months ago, I brought a woman here to cook, needing her while the Count is away; as soon as she arrived, I gave her a room and I went to Leipzig. On returning here, I found three servants in the hands of surgeons and all three blame my cook for putting them in such a state. The Count’s courier had already told me, at Leipzig, that she had crippled him. Yesterday the Count arrived and would do nothing but laugh, but I have sent her back and exhorted her to imitate the Magdalene. The amusing part is that she is old, ugly and ill-smelling.”
In 1789, 1791 and 1792, Casanova received three letters from Maddalena Allegranti, the niece of J. B. Allegranti the innkeeper with whom Casanova lodged at Florence in 1771. “This young person, still a child, was so pretty, so gracious, with such spirit and such charms, that she incessantly distracted me. Sometimes she would come into my chamber to wish me good-morning. . . . Her appearance, her grace, the sound of her voice . . . were more than I could resist; and, fearing the seduction would excuse mine, I could find no other expedient than to take flight. . . . Some years later, Maddalena became a celebrated musician.”
At this period of Casanova’s life, we hear again of the hussy who so upset Casanova during his visit to London that he was actually on the point of committing suicide through sheer desperation. On the 20th September 1789, he wrote to the Princess Clari, sister of the Prince de Ligne: “I am struck by a woman at first sight, she completely ravishes me, and I am perhaps lost, for she may be a Charpillon.”
There were, among the papers at Dux, two letters from Marianne Charpillon, and a manuscript outlining the story of Casanova’s relations with her and her family, as detailed in the Memoirs: With the story in mind, the letters from this girl, “the mistress, now of one, now of another,” are of interest:
“I know not, Monsieur, whether you forgot the engagement Saturday last; as for me, I remember that you consented to give us the pleasure of having you at dinner to-day, Monday, the 12th of the month. I would greatly like to know whether your ill-humor has left you; this would please me. Farewell, in awaiting the honor of seeing you.
“Marianne de Charpillon.”
“As I have a part in all which concerns you, I am greatly put out to know of the new illness which incommodes you; I hope that this will be so trifling that we will have the pleasure of seeing you well and at our house, to-day or to-morrow.
“And, in truth, the gift which you sent me is so pretty that I know not how to express to you the pleasure it has given me and how much I value it; and I cannot see why you must always provoke me by telling me that it is my fault that you are filled with bile, while I am as innocent as a new-born babe and would wish you so gentle and patient that your blood would become a true clarified syrup; this will come to you if you follow my advice. I am, Monsieur,
“Your very humble servant,
“Wednesday at six o’clock”
On the 8th April, 1790, Zaguri wrote in reference to vertigo of which Casanova complained: “Have you tried riding horseback? Do you not think that is an excellent preservative? I tried it this last summer and I find myself very well”
In 1790, Casanova had a conversation with the Emperor Joseph II at Luxemburg, on the subject of purchased nobility, which he reports in the Memoirs.
This same year, attending the coronation of Leopold at Prague, Casanova met his grandson (and, probably, as he himself believed, his own son), the son of Leonilda, who was the daughter of Casanova and Donna Lucrezia, and who was married to the Marquis C. . . . In 1792, Leonilda wrote, inviting Casanova to “spend the remainder of my days with her.”
In February 1791, Casanova wrote to Countess Lamberg: “I have in my capitularies more than four hundred sentences which pass for aphorisms and which include all the tricks which place one word for another. One can read in Livy that Hannibal overcame the Alps by means of vinegar. No elephant ever uttered such a stupidity. Livy? Not at all. Livy was not a beast; it is you who are, foolish instructor of credulous youth! Livy did not say aceto which means vinegar, but aceta which means axe”
In April 1791, Casanova wrote to Carlo Grimani at Venice, stating that he felt he had committed a great fault in publishing his libel, ‘Ne amori ne donne’, and very humbly begging his pardon. Also that his Memoirs would be composed of six volumes in octavo with a seventh supplementary volume containing codicils.
In June, Casanova composed for the theater of Princess Clari, at Teplitz, a piece entitled: ‘Le Polemoscope ou la Calomnie demasquee par la presence d’esprit, tragicomedie en trois actes’. The manuscript was preserved at Dux, together with another form of the same, having the sub- title of ‘La Lorgnette Menteuse ou la Calomnie demasquee’. It may be assumed that the staging of this piece was an occasion of pleasant activity for Casanova.
In January 1792, during Count Waldstein’s absence in London or Paris, Casanova was embroiled with M. Faulkircher, maitre d’hotel, over the unpleasant matter indicated in two of Casanova’s letters to this functionary:
“Your rascally Vidierol . . . tore my portrait out of one of my books, scrawled my name on it, with the epithet which you taught him and then stuck it on the door of the privy. . . .
“Determined to make sure of the punishment of your infamous valet, and wishing at the same time to give proof of my respect for Count Waldstein, not forgetting that, as a last resort, I have the right to invade his jurisdiction, I took an advocate, wrote my complaint and had it translated into German. . . . Having heard of this at Teplitz, and having known that I would not save your name, you came to my chamber to beg me to write whatever I wished but not to name you because it would place you wrong before the War Council and expose you to the loss of your pension. . . . I have torn up my first complaint and have written a second in Latin, which an advocate of Bilin has translated for me and which I have deposited at the office of the judiciary at Dux. . . . ”
Following this matter, Casanova attended the Carnival at Oberleutensdorf, and left at Dux a manuscript headed ‘Passe temps de Jacques Casanova de Seingalt pour le carnaval de l’an 1792 dans le bourg d’Oberleutensdorf’. While in that city, meditating on the Faulkircher incident, he wrote also ‘Les quinze pardons, monologue nocturne du bibliothecaire’, also preserved in manuscript at Dux, in which we read:
“Gerron, having served twenty years as a simple soldier, acquired a great knowledge of military discipline. This man was not yet seventy years old. He had come to believe, partly from practice, partly from theory, that twenty blows with a baton on the rump are not dishonoring. When the honest soldier was unfortunate enough to deserve them, he accepted them with resignation. The pain was sharp, but not lasting; it did not deprive him of either appetite nor honor. . . . Gerron, becoming a corporal, had obtained no idea of any kind of sorrow other than that coming from the blows of a baton on the rump. . . . On this idea, he thought that the soul of an honest man was no different than a soldier’s breech. If Gerron caused trouble to the spirit of a man of honor, he thought that this spirit, like his own, had only a rump, and that any trouble he caused would pass likewise. He deceived himself. The breech of the spirit of an honest man is different than the breech of the spirit of a Gerron who rendered compatible the rank of a military officer with the vile employments of a domestic and the stable-master of some particular lord. Since Gerron deceived himself, we must pardon him all his faults . . . ” etc.
Casanova complained of the Faulkircher incident to the mother of Count Waldstein, who wrote: “I pity you, Monsieur, for being obliged to live among such people and in such evil company, but my son will not forget that which he owes to himself and I am sure he will give you all the satisfaction you wish.” Also to his friend Zaguri, who wrote, the 16th March: “I hope that the gout in your hand will not torment you any more . . . You have told me the story I asked about and which begins: ‘Two months have passed since an officer, who is at Vienna, insulted me!’ I cannot understand whether he who wrote you an insulting letter is at Vienna or whether he is at Dux. When will the Count return?. . . . You should await his return because you would have, among other reasons to present to him, that of not wishing to have recourse to other jurisdiction than his. . . . You say your letters have been intercepted? Someone has put your portrait in the privy? The devil! It is a miracle that you have not killed someone. Positively, I am curious to know the results and I hope that you make no mistakes in this affair which appears to me very delicate.”
In August 1792, or thereabouts, Da Ponte on his way to Dresden, visited Casanova at Dux, in the hope of collecting an old debt, but gave up this hope on realizing Casanova’s limited resources. In the winter of 1792-3 Da Ponte found himself in great distress in Holland. “Casanova was the only man to whom I could apply,” he writes in his Memoirs. “To better dispose him, I thought to write him in verse, depicting my troubles and begging him to send me some money on account of that which he still owed me. Far from considering my request, he contented himself with replying, in vulgar prose, by a laconic billet which I transcribe: ‘When Cicero wrote to his friends, he avoided telling them of his affairs.’”
In May 1793, Da Ponte wrote from London: “Count Waldstein has lived a very obscure life in London, badly lodged, badly dressed, badly served, always in cabarets, cafes, with porters, with rascals, with . . . we will leave out the rest. He has the heart of an angel and an excellent character, but not so good a head as ours.”
Toward the end of 1792, Cssanova wrote a letter to Robespierre, which, as he advises M. Opiz, the 13th January 1793, occupied one hundred and twenty folio pages. This letter was not to be found at Dux and it may possibly have been sent, or may have been destroyed by Casanova on the advice of Abbe O’Kelly. Casanova’s feelings were very bitter over the trial of Louis XVI., and in his letters to M. Opiz he complained bitterly of the Jacobins and predicted the ruin of France. Certainly, to Casanova, the French Revolution represented the complete overthrow of many of his cherished illusions.
On the 1st August 1793, Wilhelmina Rietz, Countess Lichtenau (called the Pompadour of Frederic-William II., King of Prussia) wrote to the librarian at Dux:
“It seems impossible to know where Count Valstaine [Waldstein] is staying, whether he is in Europe, Africa, America, or possibly the Megamiques. If he is there, you are the only one who could insure his receiving the enclosed letter.
“For my part, I have not yet had time to read their history, but the first reading I do will assuredly be that.
“Mademoiselle Chappuis has the honor of recalling herself to your memory, and I have that of being your very humble servant,
The allusions to a “history” and to the ‘Megamiques’ in this letter refer to Casanova’s romance, ‘Icosameron’.
About this time, Count Waldstein returned to Dux after having been, at Paris, according to Da Ponte, concerned in planning the flight of Louis XVI., and in attempting to save the Princess Lamballe. On the 17th August, Casanova replied to the above letter:
“I handed the Count your letter two minutes after having received it, finding him easily. I told him that he should respond at once, for the post was ready to go; but, as he begged to wait for the following ordinary, I did not insist. The day before yesterday, he begged me to wait again, but he did not find me so complaisant. I respond to you, Madame, for his carelessness in replying to letters is extreme; he is so shameful that he is in despair when he is obliged to it. Although he may not respond, be sure of seeing him at your house at Berlin after the Leipzig Fair, with a hundred bad excuses which you will laugh at and pretend to believe good ones. . . . This last month, my wish to see Berlin again has become immeasurable, and I will do my best to have Count Waldstein take me there in the month of October or at least to permit me to go. . . . You have given me an idea of Berlin far different than that the city left with me when I passed four months there twenty-nine years ago. . . . If my ‘Icosameron’ interests you, I offer you its Spirit. I wrote it here two years ago and I would not have published it if I had not dared hope that the Theological Censor would permit it. At Berlin no one raised the least difficulty. . . . If circumstances do not permit me to pay you my respects at Berlin, I hope for the happiness of seeing you here next year. . . . ”
Sometime after this and following his quarrel with M. Opiz, Casanova evidently passed through a period of depression, as indicated by a manuscript at Dux, headed “Short reflection of a philosopher who finds himself thinking of procuring his own death,” and dated “the 13th December 1793, the day dedicated to S. Lucie, remarkable in my too long life.”
“Life is a burden to me. What is the metaphysical being who prevents me from slaying myself? It is Nature. What is the other being who enjoins me to lighten the burdens of that life which brings me only feeble pleasures and heavy pains? It is Reason. Nature is a coward which, demanding only conservation, orders me to sacrifice all to its existence. Reason is a being which gives me resemblance to God, which treads instinct under foot and which teaches me to choose the best way after having well considered the reasons. It demonstrates to me that I am a man in imposing silence on the Nature which opposes that action which alone could remedy all my ills.
“Reason convinces me that the power I have of slaying myself is a privilege given me by God, by which I perceive that I am superior to all animals created in the world; for there is no animal who can slay itself nor think of slaying itself, except the scorpion, which poisons itself, but only when the fire which surrounds it convinces it that it cannot save itself from being burned. This animal slays itself because it fears fire more than death. Reason tells me imperiously that I have the right to slay myself, with the divine oracle of Cen: ‘Qui non potest vivere bene non vivat male.’ These eight words have such power that it is impossible that a man to whom life is a burden could do other than slay himself on first hearing them.”
Certainly, however, Casanova did not deceive himself with these sophisms, and Nature, who for many years had unquestionably lavished her gifts on him, had her way.
Over the end of the year, the two mathematicians, Casanova and Opiz, at the request of Count Waldstein, made a scientific examination of the reform of the calendar as decreed the 5th October 1793 by the National Convention.
In January 1795, Casanova wrote to the Princess Lobkowitz to thank her for her gift of a little dog. On the 16th the Princess wrote from Vienna:
“I am enchanted at the charming reception you accorded the dog which I sent you when I learned of the death of your well-loved greyhound, knowing that she would nowhere be better cared for than with you, Monsieur. I hope with all my heart that she has all the qualities which may, in some fashion, help you to forget the deceased. . . . ”
In the autumn of 1795, Casanova left Dux. The Prince de Ligne writes in his Memoirs: “God directed him to leave Dux. Scarcely believing in more than his death, which he no longer doubted, he pretended that each thing he had done was by the direction of God and this was his guide. God directed him to ask me for letters of recommendation to the Duke of Weimar, who was my good friend, to the Duchess of Gotha, who did not know me, and to the Jews of Berlin. And he departed secretly, leaving for Count Waldstein a letter at once tender, proud, honest and irritating. Waldstein laughed and said he would return. Casanova waited in ante- chambers; no one would place him either as governor, librarian or chamberlain. He said everywhere that the Germans were thorough beasts. The excellent and very amiable Duke of Weimer welcomed him wonderfully; but in an instant he became jealous of Goethe and Wieland, who were under the Duke’s protection. He declaimed against them and against the literature of the country which he did not, and could not, know. At Berlin, he declaimed against the ignorance, the superstition and the knavery of the Hebrews to whom I had addressed him, drawing meanwhile, for the money they claimed of him, bills of exchange on the Count who laughed, paid, and embraced him when he returned. Casanova laughed, wept, and told him that God had ordered him to make this trip of six weeks, to leave without speaking of it, and to return to his chamber at Dux. Enchanted at seeing us again, he agreeably related to us all the misfortunes which had tried him and to which his susceptibility gave the name of humiliations. ‘I am proud,’ he said, ‘because I am nothing’. . . . Eight days after his return, what new troubles! Everyone had been served strawberries before him, and none remained for him.”
The Prince de Ligne, although he was Casanova’s sincere friend and admirer, gives a rather somber picture of Casanova’s life at Dux: “It must not be imagined that he was satisfied to live quietly in the refuge provided him through the kindness of Waldstein. That was not within his nature. Not a day passed without trouble; something was certain to be wrong with the coffee, the milk, the dish of macaroni, which he required each day. There were always quarrels in the house. The cook had ruined his polenta; the coachman had given him a bad driver to bring him to see me; the dogs had barked all night; there had been more guests than usual and he had found it necessary to eat at a side table. Some hunting-horn had tormented his ear with its blasts; the priest had been trying to convert him; Count Waldstein had not anticipated his morning greeting; the servant had delayed with his wine; he had not been introduced to some distinguished personage who had come to see the lance which had pierced the side of the great Wallenstein; the Count had lent a book without telling him; a groom had not touched his hat to him; his German speech had been misunderstood; he had become angry and people had laughed at him.”
Like Count Waldstein, however, the Prince de Ligne made the widest allowances, understanding the chafing of Casanova’s restless spirit. “Casanova has a mind without an equal, from which each word is extraordinary and each thought a book.”
On the 16th December, he wrote Casanova: “One is never old with your heart, your genius and your stomach.”
Casanova’s own comment on his trip away from Dux will be found in the Memoirs. “Two years ago, I set out for Hamburg, but my good genius made me return to Dux. What had I to do at Hamburg?”
On the 10th December, Casanova’s brother Giovanni [Jean] died. He was the Director of the Academy of Painting at Dresden. Apparently the two brothers could not remain friends.
Giovanni left two daughters, Teresa and Augusta, and two sons, Carlo and Lorenzo. While he was unable to remain friendly with his brother, Casanova apparently wished to be of assistance to his nieces, who were not in the best of circumstances, and he exchanged a number of letters with Teresa after her father’s death.
On the occasion of Teresa Casanova’s visit to Vienna in 1792, Princess Clari, oldest sister of the Prince de Ligne, wrote of her: “She is charming in every way, pretty as love, always amiable; she has had great success. Prince Kaunitz loves her to the point of madness.”
In a letter of the 25th April 1796, Teresa assured her “very amiable and very dear uncle” that the cautions, which occupied three-fourths of his letter, were unnecessary; and compared him with his brother Francois, to the injury of the latter. On the 5th May, Teresa wrote:
“Before thanking you for your charming letter, my very kind uncle, I should announce the issue of our pension of one hundred and sixty crowns a year, which is to say, eighty crowns apiece; I am well satisfied for I did not hope to receive so much.” In the same letter, Teresa spoke of seeing much of a “charming man,” Don Antonio, who was no other than the rascally adventurer Don Antonio della Croce with whom Casanova had been acquainted since 1753, who assisted Casanova in losing a thousand sequins at Milan in 1763; who in 1767, at Spa, following financial reverses, abandoned his pregnant mistress to the charge of Casanova; and who in August 1795, wrote to Casanova: “Your letter gave me great pleasure as the sweet souvenir of our old friendship, unique and faithful over a period of fifty years.”
It is probable that, at this time, Casanova visited Dresden and Berlin also. In his letter “To Leonard Snetlage,” he writes: “‘That which proves that revolution should arrive,’ a profound thinker said to me in Berlin, last year, ‘is that it has arrived.’”
On the 1st March, 1798, Carlo Angiolini, the son of Maria Maddalena, Casanova’s sister, wrote to Casanova: “This evening, Teresa will marry M. le Chambellan de Veisnicht [Von Wessenig] whom you know well.” This desirable marriage received the approval of Francesco also. Teresa, as the Baroness Wessenig, occupied a prominent social position at Dresden. She died in 1842.
Between the 13th February and the 6th December 1796, Casanova engaged in a correspondence with Mlle. Henriette de Schuckmann who was visiting at Bayreuth. This Henriette (unfortunately not the Henriette of the Memoirs whose “forty letters” to Casanova apparently have not been located), had visited the library at Dux in the summer of 1786. “I was with the Chamberlain Freiberg, and I was greatly moved, as much by your conversation as by your kindness which provided me with a beautiful edition of Metastasio, elegantly bound in red morocco.” Finding herself at Bayreuth in an enforced idleness and wishing a stimulant, wishing also to borrow some books, she wrote Casanova, under the auspices of Count Koenig, a mutual friend, the 13th February 1796, recalling herself to his memory. Casanova responded to her overtures and five of her letters were preserved at Dux. On the 28th May Henriette wrote:
“But certainly, my good friend, your letters have given me the greatest pleasure, and it is with a rising satisfaction that I pore over all you say to me. I love, I esteem, I cherish, your frankness. . . . I understand you perfectly and I love to distraction the lively and energetic manner with which you express yourself.”
On the 30th September, she wrote: “You will read to-day, if you please, a weary letter; for your silence, Monsieur, has given me humors. A promise is a debt, and in your last letter you promised to write me at least a dozen pages. I have every right to call you a bad debtor; I could summon you before a court of justice; but all these acts of vengeance would not repair the loss which I have endured through my hope and my fruitless waiting. . . . It is your punishment to read this trivial page; but although my head is empty, my heart is not so, and it holds for you a very living friendship.”
In March 1797, this Henriette went to Lausanne and in May from there to her father’s home at Mecklenburg.
On the 27th July 1792, Casanova wrote M. Opiz that he had finished the twelfth volume of his Memoirs, with his age at forty-seven years . “Our late friend, the worthy Count Max Josef Lamberg,” he added, “could not bear the idea of my burning my Memoirs, and expecting to survive me, had persuaded me to send him the first four volumes. But now there is no longer any questions that his good soul has left his organs. Three weeks ago I wept for his death, all the more so as he would still be living if he had listened to me. I am, perhaps, the only one who knows the truth. He who slew him was the surgeon Feuchter at Cremsir, who applied thirty- six mercurial plasters on a gland in his left groin which was swollen but not by the pox, as I am sure by the description he gave me of the cause of the swelling. The mercury mounted to his esophagus and, being able to swallow neither solids nor fluids, he died the 23rd June of positive famine. . . . The interest of the bungling surgeon is to say that he died of the pox. This is not true, I beg, you to give the lie to anyone you hear saying it. I have before my eyes four hundred and sixty of his letters over which I weep and which I will burn. I have asked Count Leopold to burn mine, which he had saved, and I hope that he will please me by doing it. I have survived all my true friends. ‘Tempus abire mihi est’ Horace says to me.
“Returning to my Memoirs . . . I am a detestable man; but I do not care about having it known, and I do not aspire to the honor of the detestation of posterity. My work is full of excellent moral instructions. But to what good, if the charming descriptions of my offences excite the readers more to action than to repentance? Furthermore, knowing readers would divine the names of all the women and of the men which I have masked, whose transgressions are unknown to the world, my indiscretion would injure them, they would cry out against my perfidy, even though every word of my history were true . . . . Tell me yourself whether or not I should burn my work? I am curious to have your advice.”
On the 6th May 1793, Casanova wrote Opiz: “The letter of recommendation you ask of me to the professor my brother for your younger son, honors me; and there is no doubt that, having for you all the estimation your qualities merit, I should send it to you immediately. But this cannot be. And here is the reason. My brother is my enemy; he has given me sure indications of it and it appears that his hate will not cease until I no longer exist. I hope that he may long survive me and be happy. This desire is my only apology.”
“The epigraph of the little work which I would give to the public,” Casanova wrote the 23rd August 1793, “is ‘In pondere et mensura’. It is concerned with gravity and measure. I would demonstrate not only that the course of the stars is irregular but also that it is susceptible only to approximate measures and that consequently we must join physical and moral calculations in establishing celestial movements. For I prove that all fixed axes must have a necessarily irregular movement of oscillation, from which comes a variation in all the necessary curves of the planets which compose their eccentricities and their orbits. I demonstrate that light has neither body nor spirit; I demonstrate that it comes in an instant from its respective star; I demonstrate the impossibility of many parallaxes and the uselessness of many others. I criticize not only Tiko-Brahi, but also Kepler and Newton. . . .
“I wish to send you my manuscript and give you the trouble of publishing it with my name at Prague or elsewhere. . . . I will sell it to the printer or to yourself for fifty florins and twenty-five copies on fine paper when it is printed.”
But Opiz replied:
“As the father of a family, I do not feel myself authorized to dispose of my revenues on the impulse of my fancy or as my heart suggests. . . . and no offer of yours could make me a book-seller.”
This shows plainly enough that Opiz, for all his interest in Casanova, had not the qualities of true friendship.
On the 6th September 1793, Casanova wrote:
“I will have my Reveries printed at Dresden, and I will be pleased to send you a copy. I laughed a little at your fear that I would take offense because you did not want my manuscript by sending me the ridiculous sum I named to you. This refusal, my dear friend, did not offend me. On the contrary it was useful as an aid in knowing character. Add to this that in making the offer I thought to make you a gift. Fear nothing from the event. Your system of economy will never interfere with either my proceedings or my doctrines; and I am in no need of begging you, for I think that your action followed only your inclination and consequently your greatest pleasure.”
On the insistence of Opiz, Casanova continued his correspondence, but he passed over nothing more, neither in exact quotations from Latin authors, nor solecisms, nor lame reasonings. He even reproached him for his poor writing and did not cease joking at the philanthropic and amiable sentiments Opiz loved to parade while at the same time keeping his purse- strings tight. A number of quarreling letters followed, after which the correspondence came to an end. One of Casanova’s last letters, that of the 2nd February 1794, concludes: “One day M. de Bragadin said to me: ‘Jacques, be careful never to convince a quibbler, for he will become your enemy.’ After this wise advice I avoided syllogism, which tended toward conviction. But in spite of this you have become my enemy. . . . ”
Among the Casanova manuscripts at Dux was one giving his final comment on his relations with Opiz. Accusing Opiz of bringing about a quarrel, Casanova nevertheless admits that he himself may not be blameless, but lays this to his carelessness. “I have a bad habit,” he writes, “of not reading over my letters. If, in re-reading those I wrote to M. Opiz, I had found them bitter, I would have burned them.” Probably Casanova struck the root of the matter in his remark, “Perfect accord is the first charm of a reciprocal friendship.” The two men were primarily of so different a temperament, that they apparently could not long agree even on subjects on which they were most in accord.
The complete correspondence is of very considerable interest.
In 1786, Casanova published ‘Le soliloque d’un penseur’, in which he speaks of Saint-Germain and of Cagliostro. On the 23rd December 1792, Zaguri wrote Casanova that Cagliostro was in prison at San Leo. “Twenty years ago, I told Cagliostro not to set his foot in Rome, and if he had followed this advice he would not have died miserably in a Roman prison.”
In January 1788, appeared ‘Icosameron’ a romance in five volumes, dedicated to Count Waldstein, which he describes as “translated from the English.” This fanciful romance, which included philosophic and theological discussions, was the original work of Casanova and not a translation. It was criticized in 1789 by a literary journal at Jena. Preserved at Dux were several manuscripts with variants of ‘Icosameron’ and also an unpublished reply to the criticism.
In 1788 Casanova published the history of his famous flight from The Leads. An article on this book appeared in the German ‘Litteratur- Zeitung’, 29th June 1789: “As soon as the history was published and while it was exciting much interest among us and among our neighbors, it was seen that other attempts at flight from prisons would make their appearance. The subject in itself is captivating; all prisoners awake our compassion, particularly when they are enclosed in a severe prison and are possibly innocent. . . . The history with which we are concerned has all the appearances of truth; many Venetians have testified to it, and the principal character, M. Casanova, brother of the celebrated painter, actually lives at Dux in Bohemia where the Count Waldstein has established him as guardian of his important library.”
In July 1789 there was discovered, among the papers of the Bastille, the letter which Casanova wrote from Augsburg in May 1767 to Prince Charles of Courlande on the subject of fabricating gold. Carrel published this letter at once in the third volume of his ‘Memoirs authentiques et historiques sur la Bastille’. Casanova kept a copy of this letter and includes it in the Memoirs.
In October 1789, Casanova wrote M. Opiz that he was writing to a professor of mathematics [M. Lagrange] at Paris, a long letter in Italian, on the duplication of the cube, which he wished to publish. In August 1790, Casanova published his ‘Solution du Probleme Deliaque demontree and Deux corollaires a la duplication de hexadre’. On the subject of his pretended solution of this problem in speculative mathematics, Casanova engaged with M. Opiz in a heated technical discussion between the 16th September and 1st November 1790. Casanova sought vainly to convince Opiz of the correctness of his solution. Finally, M. Opiz, tired of the polemics, announced that he was leaving on a six-weeks tour of inspection and that he would not be able to occupy himself with the duplication of the cube for some time to come. On the 1st November, Casanova wished him a pleasant journey and advised him to guard against the cold because “health is the soul of life.”
In 1797, appeared the last book published during Casanova’s lifetime, a small work entitled: ‘A Leonard Snetlage, docteur en droit de l’Universite de Goettingue, Jacques Casanova, docteur en droit de l’Universite de Padoue’. This was a careful criticism of the neologisms introduced into French by the Revolution. In reference to Casanova’s title of “Doctor,” researches by M. Favoro at the University of Padua had failed to establish this claim, although, in the Memoirs Casanova had written:
“I remained at Padua long enough to prepare myself for the Doctor’s degree, which I intended to take the following year.” With this devil of a man, it is always prudent to look twice before peremptorily questioning the truth of his statement. And in fact, the record of Casanova’s matriculation was discovered by Signor Bruno Brunelli.
The 2nd November, 1797, Cecilia Roggendorff wrote to Casanova: “By the way, how do you call yourself, by your baptismal name? On what day and in what year were you born? You may laugh, if you wish, at my questions, but I command you to satisfy me . . . ” To this request, Casanova responded with:
“Summary of My Life:— my mother brought me into the world at Venice on the 2nd April, Easter day of the year 1725. She had, the night before, a strong desire for crawfish. I am very fond of them.
“At baptism, I was named Jacques-Jerome. I was an idiot until I was eight-and-a-half years old. After having had a hemorrhage for three months, I was taken to Padua, where, cured of my imbecility, I applied myself to study and, at the age of sixteen years I was made a doctor and given the habit of a priest so that I might go seek my fortune at Rome.
“At Rome, the daughter of my French instructor was the cause of my being dismissed by my patron, Cardinal Aquaviva.
“At the age of eighteen years, I entered the military service of my country, and I went to Constantinople. Two years afterward, having returned to Venice, I left the profession of honor and, taking the bit in my teeth, embraced the wretched profession of a violinist. I horrified my friends, but this did not last for very long.
“At the age of twenty-one years, one of the highest nobles of Venice adopted me as his son, and, having become rich, I went to see Italy, France, Germany and Vienna where I knew Count Roggendorff. I returned to Venice, where, two years later, the State Inquisitors of Venice, for just and wise reasons, imprisoned me under The Leads.
“This was the state prison, from which no one had ever escaped, but, with the aid of God, I took flight at the end of fifteen months and went to Paris. In two years, my affairs prospered so well that I became worth a million, but, all the same, I went bankrupt. I made money in Holland; suffered misfortune in Stuttgart; was received with honors in Switzerland; visited M. de Voltaire; adventured in Genoa, Marseilles, Florence and in Rome where the Pope Rezzonico, a Venetian, made me a Chevalier of Saint-Jean-Latran and an apostolic protonotary. This was in the year 1760.
“In the same year I found good fortune at Naples; at Florence I carried off a girl; and, the following year, I was to attend the Congress at Augsburg, charged with a commission from the King of Portugal. The Congress did not meet there and, after the publication of peace, I passed on into England, which great misfortunes caused me to leave in the following year, 1764. I avoided the gibbet which, however, should not have dishonored me as I should only have been hung. In the same year I searched in vain for fortune at Berlin and at Petersburg, but I found it at Warsaw in the following year. Nine months afterwards, I lost it through being embroiled in a pistol duel with General Branicki; I pierced his abdomen but in eight months he was well again and I was very much pleased. He was a brave man. Obliged to leave Poland, I returned to Paris in 1767, but a ‘lettre de cachet’ obliged me to leave and I went to Spain where I met with great misfortunes. I committed the crime of making nocturnal visits to the mistress of the ‘vice-roi’, who was a great scoundrel.
“At the frontiers of Spain, I escaped from assassins only to suffer, at Aix, in Provence, an illness which took me to the edge of the grave, after spitting blood for eighteen months.
“In the year 1769, I published my Defense of the Government of Venice, in three large volumes, written against Amelot de la Houssaie.
“In the following year the English Minister at the Court of Turin sent me, well recommended, to Leghorn. I wished to go to Constantinople with the Russian fleet, but as Admiral Orlof, would not meet my conditions, I retraced my steps and went to Rome under the pontificate of Ganganelli.
“A happy love affair made me leave Rome and go to Naples and, three months later, an unhappy love made me return to Rome. I had measured swords for the third time with Count Medini who died four years ago at London, in prison for his debts.
“Having considerable money, I went to Florence, where, during the Christmas Festival, the Archduke Leopold, the Emperor who died four or five years ago, ordered me to leave his dominions within three days. I had a mistress who, by my advice, became Marquise de —— at Bologna.
“Weary of running about Europe, I determined to solicit mercy from the Venetian State Inquisitors. For this purpose, I established myself at Trieste where, two years later, I obtained it. This was the 14th September 1774. My return to Venice after nineteen years was the most pleasant moment of my life.
“In 1782, I became embroiled with the entire body of the Venetian nobility. At the beginning of 1783, I voluntarily left the ungrateful country and went to Vienna. Six months later I went to Paris with the intention of establishing myself there, but my brother, who had lived there for twenty-six years, made me forget my interests in favor of his. I rescued him from the hands of his wife and took him to Vienna where Prince Kaunitz engaged him to establish himself. He is still there, older than I am by two years.
“I placed myself in the service of M. Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador, to write dispatches. Two years later, he died in my arms, killed by the gout which mounted into his chest. I then set out for Berlin in the hope of securing a position with the Academy, but, half way there, Count Waldstein stopped me at Teplitz and led me to Dux where I still am and where, according to all appearances, I shall die.
“This is the only summary of my life that I have written, and I permit any use of it which may be desired.
“‘Non erubesco evangelium’.
“This 17th November 1797.
In reference to Casanova’s ironic remark about his escape from England, see his conversation, on the subject of “dishonor,” with Sir Augustus Hervey at London in 1763, which is given in the Memoirs.
Scattered through the Memoirs are many of Casanova’s thoughts about his old age. Some were possibly incorporated in the original text, others possibly added when he revised the text in 1797. These vary from resignation to bitterness, doubtless depending on Casanova’s state of mind at the moment he wrote them:
“Now that I am seventy-two years old, I believe myself no longer susceptible of such follies. But alas! that is the very thing which causes me to be miserable.”
“I hate old age which offers only what I already know, unless I should take up a gazette.”
“Age has calmed my passions by rendering them powerless, but my heart has not grown old and my memory has kept all the freshness of youth.”
“No, I have not forgotten her [Henriette]; for even now, when my head is covered with white hair, the recollection of her is still a source of happiness for my heart.”
“A scene which, even now, excites my mirth.”
“Age, that cruel and unavoidable disease, compels me to be in good health, in spite of myself.”
“Now that I am but the shadow of the once brilliant Casanova, I love to chatter.”
“Now that age has whitened my hair and deadened the ardor of my senses, my imagination does not take such a high flight and I think differently.”
“What embitters my old age is that, having a heart as warm as ever, I have no longer the strength necessary to secure a single day as blissful as those which I owed to this charming girl.”
“When I recall these events, I grow young again and feel once more the delights of youth, despite the long years which separate me from that happy time.”
“Now that I am getting into my dotage, 1 look on the dark side of everything. I am invited to a wedding and see naught but gloom; and, witnessing the coronation of Leopold II, at Prague, I say to myself, ‘Nolo coronari’. Cursed old age, thou art only worthy of dwelling in hell.”
“The longer I live, the more interest I take in my papers. They are the treasure which attaches me to life and makes death more hateful still.”
And so on, through the Memoirs, Casanova supplies his own picture, knowing very well that the end, even of his cherished memories, is not far distant.
In 1797, Casanova relates an amusing, but irritating incident, which resulted in the loss of the first three chapters of the second volume of the Memoirs through the carelessness of a servant girl at Dux who took the papers “old, written upon, covered with scribbling and erasures,” for “her own purposes,” thus necessitating a re-writing, “which I must now abridge,” of these chapters. Thirty years before, Casanova would doubtless have made love to the girl and all would have been forgiven. But, alas for the “hateful old age” permitting no relief except irritation and impotent anger.
On the 1st August, 1797, Cecilia Roggendorff, the daughter of the Count Roggendorff [printed Roquendorf] whom Casanova had met at Vienna in 1753, wrote: “You tell me in one of your letters that, at your death, you will leave me, by your will, your Memoirs which occupy twelve volumes.”
At this time, Casanova was revising, or had completed his revision of, the twelve volumes. In July 1792, as mentioned above, Casanova wrote Opiz that he had arrived at the twelfth volume. In the Memoirs themselves we read, “ . . . the various adventures which, at the age of seventy-two years, impel me to write these Memoirs . . .,” written probably during a revision in 1797.
At the beginning of one of the two chapters of the last volume, which were missing until discovered by Arthur Symons at Dux in 1899, we read: “When I left Venice in the year 1783, God ought to have sent me to Rome, or to Naples, or to Sicily, or to Parma, where my old age, according to all appearances, might have been happy. My genius, who is always right, led me to Paris, so that I might see my brother Francois, who had run into debt and who was just then going to the Temple. I do not care whether or not he owes me his regeneration, but I am glad to have effected it. If he had been grateful to me, I should have felt myself paid; it seems to me much better that he should carry the burden of his debt on his shoulders, which from time to time he ought to find heavy. He does not deserve a worse punishment. To-day, in the seventy-third year of my life, my only desire is to live in peace and to be far from any person who might imagine that he has rights over my moral liberty, for it is impossible that any kind of tyranny should not coincide with this imagination.”
Early in February, 1798, Casanova was taken sick with a very grave bladder trouble of which he died after suffering for three-and-a-half months. On the 16th February Zaguri wrote: “I note with the greatest sorrow the blow which has afflicted you.” On the 31st March, after having consulted with a Prussian doctor, Zaguri sent a box of medicines and he wrote frequently until the end.
On the 20th April Elisa von der Recke, whom Casanova had met, some years before, at the chateau of the Prince de Ligne at Teplitz, having returned to Teplitz, wrote: “Your letter, my friend, has deeply affected me. Although myself ill, the first fair day which permits me to go out will find me at your side.” On the 27th, Elisa, still bedridden, wrote that the Count de Montboisier and his wife were looking forward to visiting Casanova. On the 6th May she wrote, regretting that she was unable to send some crawfish soup, but that the rivers were too high for the peasants to secure the crawfish. “The Montboisier family, Milady Clark, my children and myself have all made vows for your recovery.” On the 8th, she sent bouillon and madeira.
On the 4th June, 1798, Casanova died. His nephew, Carlo Angiolini was with him at the time. He was buried in the churchyard of Santa Barbara at Dux. The exact location of his grave is uncertain, but a tablet, placed against the outside wall of the church reads:
Venedig 1725 Dux 1798
This web edition published by:
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52