The disappearance of Steffani was the talk of Venice, but I did not inform
the charming countess of that circumstance. It was generally supposed that
his mother had refused to pay his debts, and that he had run away to avoid
his creditors. It was very possible. But, whether he returned or not, I
could not make up my mind to lose the precious treasure I had in my hands.
Yet I did not see in what manner, in what quality, I could enjoy that
treasure, and I found myself in a regular maze. Sometimes I had an idea of
consulting my kind father, but I would soon abandon it with fear, for I
had made a trial of his empiric treatment in the Rinaldi affair, and still
more in the case of l'Abbadie. His remedies frightened me to that extent
that I would rather remain ill than be cured by their means.
One morning I was foolish enough to enquire from the widow whether the
lady had asked her who I was. What an egregious blunder! I saw it when the
good woman, instead of answering me, said,
"Does she not know who you are?"
"Answer me, and do not ask questions," I said, in order to hide my
The worthy woman was right; through my stupidity she would now feel
curious; the tittle-tattle of the neighbourhood would of course take up
the affair and discuss it; and all through my thoughtlessness! It was an
unpardonable blunder. One ought never to be more careful than in
addressing questions to half-educated persons. During the fortnight that
she had passed under my protection, the countess had shewn me no curiosity
whatever to know anything about me, but it did not prove that she was not
curious on the subject. If I had been wise, I should have told her the
very first day who I was, but I made up for my mistake that evening better
than anybody else could have done it, and, after having told her all about
myself, I entreated her forgiveness for not having done so sooner.
Thanking me for my confidence, she confessed how curious she had been to
know me better, and she assured me that she would never have been
imprudent enough to ask any questions about me from her landlady. Women
have a more delicate, a surer tact than men, and her last words were a
home-thrust for me.
Our conversation having turned to the extraordinary absence of Steffani,
she said that her father must necessarily believe her to be hiding with
him somewhere. "He must have found out," she added, "that I was in the
habit of conversing with him every night from my window, and he must have
heard of my having embarked for Venice on board the Ferrara barge. I feel
certain that my father is now in Venice, making secretly every effort to
discover me. When he visits this city he always puts up at Boncousin; will
you ascertain whether he is there?"
She never pronounced Steffani's name without disgust and hatred, and she
said she would bury herself in a convent, far away from her native place,
where no one could be acquainted with her shameful history.
I intended to make some enquiries the next day, but it was not necessary
for me to do so, for in the evening, at supper-time, M. Barbaro said to
"A nobleman, a subject of the Pope, has been recommended to me, and wishes
me to assist him with my influence in a rather delicate and intricate
matter. One of our citizens has, it appears, carried off his daughter, and
has been hiding somewhere with her for the last fortnight, but nobody
knows where. The affair ought to be brought before the Council of Ten, but
the mother of the ravisher claims to be a relative of mine, and I do not
intend to interfere."
I pretended to take no interest in M. Barbaro's words, and early the next
morning I went to the young countess to tell her the interesting news. She
was still asleep; but, being in a hurry, I sent the widow to say that I
wanted to see her only for two minutes in order to communicate something
of great importance. She received me, covering herself up to the chin with
As soon as I had informed her of all I knew, she entreated me to enlist M.
Barbaro as a mediator between herself and her father, assuring me that she
would rather die than become the wife of the monster who had dishonoured
her. I undertook to do it, and she gave me the promise of marriage used by
the deceiver to seduce her, so that it could be shewn to her father.
In order to obtain M. Barbaro's mediation in favour of the young countess,
it would have been necessary to tell him that she was under my protection,
and I felt it would injure my protegee. I took no determination at first,
and most likely one of the reasons for my hesitation was that I saw myself
on the point of losing her, which was particularly repugnant to my
After dinner Count A—— S—— was announced as
wishing to see M. Barbaro. He came in with his son, the living portrait of
his sister. M. Barbaro took them to his study to talk the matter over, and
within an hour they had taken leave. As soon as they had gone, the
excellent M. Barbaro asked me, as I had expected, to consult my heavenly
spirit, and to ascertain whether he would be right in interfering in
favour of Count A—-S—-. He wrote the question himself, and I
gave the following answer with the utmost coolness:
"You ought to interfere, but only to advise the father to forgive his
daughter and to give up all idea of compelling her to marry her ravisher,
for Steffani has been sentenced to death by the will of God."
The answer seemed wonderful to the three friends, and I was myself
surprised at my boldness, but I had a foreboding that Steffani was to meet
his death at the hands of somebody; love might have given birth to that
presentiment. M. de Bragadin, who believed my oracle infallible, observed
that it had never given such a clear answer, and that Steffani was
certainly dead. He said to M. de Barbaro,
"You had better invite the count and his son to dinner hereto-morrow. You
must act slowly and prudently; it would be necessary to know where the
daughter is before you endeavour to make the father forgive her."
M. Barbaro very nearly made me drop my serious countenance by telling me
that if I would try my oracle I could let them know at once where the girl
was. I answered that I would certainly ask my spirit on the morrow, thus
gaining time in order to ascertain before hand the disposition of the
father and of his son. But I could not help laughing, for I had placed
myself under the necessity of sending Steffani to the next world, if the
reputation of my oracle was to be maintained.
I spent the evening with the young countess, who entertained no doubt
either of her father's indulgence or of the entire confidence she could
repose in me.
What delight the charming girl experienced when she heard that I would
dine the next day with her father and brother, and that I would tell her
every word that would be said about her! But what happiness it was for me
to see her convinced that she was right in loving me, and that, without
me, she would certainly have been lost in a town where the policy of the
government tolerates debauchery as a solitary species of individual
freedom. We congratulated each other upon our fortuitous meeting and upon
the conformity in our tastes, which we thought truly wonderful. We were
greatly pleased that her easy acceptance of my invitation, or my
promptness in persuading her to follow and to trust me, could not be
ascribed to the mutual attraction of our features, for I was masked, and
her hood was then as good as a mask. We entertained no doubt that
everything had been arranged by Heaven to get us acquainted, and to fire
us both, even unknown to ourselves, with love for each other.
"Confess," I said to her, in a moment of enthusiasm, and as I was covering
her hand with kisses, "confess that if you found me to be in love with you
you would fear me."
"Alas! my only fear is to lose you."
That confession, the truth of which was made evident by her voice and by
her looks, proved the electric spark which ignited the latent fire.
Folding her rapidly in my arms, pressing my mouth on her lips, reading in
her beautiful eyes neither a proud indignation nor the cold compliance
which might have been the result of a fear of losing me, I gave way
entirely to the sweet inclination of love, and swimming already in a sea
of delights I felt my enjoyment increased a hundredfold when I saw, on the
countenance of the beloved creature who shared it, the expression of
happiness, of love, of modesty, and of sensibility, which enhances the
charm of the greatest triumph.
She had scarcely recovered her composure when she cast her eyes down and
sighed deeply. Thinking that I knew the cause of it, I threw myself on my
knees before her, and speaking to her words of the warmest affection I
begged, I entreated her, to forgive me.
"What offence have I to forgive you for, dear friend? You have not rightly
interpreted my thoughts. Your love caused me to think of my happiness, and
in that moment a cruel recollection drew that sigh from me. Pray rise from
Midnight had struck already; I told her that her good fame made it
necessary for me to go away; I put my mask on and left the house. I was so
surprised, so amazed at having obtained a felicity of which I did not
think myself worthy, that my departure must have appeared rather abrupt to
her. I could not sleep. I passed one of those disturbed nights during
which the imagination of an amorous young man is unceasingly running after
the shadows of reality. I had tasted, but not savoured, that happy
reality, and all my being was longing for her who alone could make my
enjoyment complete. In that nocturnal drama love and imagination were the
two principal actors; hope, in the background, performed only a dumb part.
People may say what they please on that subject but hope is in fact
nothing but a deceitful flatterer accepted by reason only because it is
often in need of palliatives. Happy are those men who, to enjoy life to
the fullest extent, require neither hope nor foresight.
In the morning, recollecting the sentence of death which I had passed on
Steffani, I felt somewhat embarrassed about it. I wished I could have
recalled it, as well for the honour of my oracle, which was seriously
implicated by it, as for the sake of Steffani himself, whom I did not hate
half so much since I was indebted to him for the treasure in my
The count and his son came to dinner. The father was simple, artless, and
unceremonious. It was easy to read on his countenance the grief he felt at
the unpleasant adventure of his daughter, and his anxiety to settle the
affair honourably, but no anger could be traced on his features or in his
manners. The son, as handsome as the god of love, had wit and great
nobility of manner. His easy, unaffected carriage pleased me, and wishing
to win his friendship I shewed him every attention.
After the dessert, M. Barbaro contrived to persuade the count that we were
four persons with but one head and one heart, and the worthy nobleman
spoke to us without any reserve. He praised his daughter very highly. He
assured us that Steffani had never entered his house, and therefore he
could not conceive by what spell, speaking to his daughter only at night
and from the street under the window, he had succeeded in seducing her to
such an extent as to make her leave her home alone, on foot, two days
after he had left himself in his post-chaise.
"Then," observed M. Barbaro, "it is impossible to be certain that he
actually seduced her, or to prove that she went off with him."
"Very true, sir, but although it cannot be proved, there is no doubt of
it, and now that no one knows where Steffani is, he can be nowhere but
with her. I only want him to marry her."
"It strikes me that it would be better not to insist upon a compulsory
marriage which would seal your daughter's misery, for Steffani is, in
every respect, one of the most worthless young men we have amongst our
"Were I in your place," said M. de Bragadin, "I would let my daughter's
repentance disarm my anger, and I would forgive her."
"Where is she? I am ready to fold her in my arms, but how can I believe in
her repentance when it is evident that she is still with him."
"Is it quite certain that in leaving C—— she proceeded to this
"I have it from the master of the barge himself, and she landed within
twenty yards of the Roman gate. An individual wearing a mask was waiting
for her, joined her at once, and they both disappeared without leaving any
trace of their whereabouts."
"Very likely it was Steffani waiting there for her."
"No, for he is short, and the man with the mask was tall. Besides, I have
heard that Steffani had left Venice two days before the arrival of my
daughter. The man must have been some friend of Steffani, and he has taken
her to him."
"But, my dear count, all this is mere supposition."
"There are four persons who have seen the man with the mask, and pretend
to know him, only they do not agree. Here is a list of four names, and I
will accuse these four persons before the Council of Ten, if Steffani
should deny having my daughter in his possession."
The list, which he handed to M. Barbaro, gave not only the names of the
four accused persons, but likewise those of their accusers. The last name,
which M. Barbaro read, was mine. When I heard it, I shrugged my shoulders
in a manner which caused the three friends to laugh heartily.
M. de Bragadin, seeing the surprise of the count at such uncalled-for
mirth, said to him,
"This is Casanova my son, and I give you my word of honour that, if your
daughter is in his hands, she is perfectly safe, although he may not look
exactly the sort of man to whom young girls should be trusted."
The surprise, the amazement, and the perplexity of the count and his son
were an amusing picture. The loving father begged me to excuse him, with
tears in his eyes, telling me to place myself in his position. My only
answer was to embrace him most affectionately.
The man who had recognized me was a noted pimp whom I had thrashed some
time before for having deceived me. If I had not been there just in time
to take care of the young countess, she would not have escaped him, and he
would have ruined her for ever by taking her to some house of ill-fame.
The result of the meeting was that the count agreed to postpone his
application to the Council of Ten until Steffani's place of refuge should
"I have not seen Steffani for six months, sir," I said to the count, "but
I promise you to kill him in a duel as soon as he returns."
"You shall not do it," answered the young count, very coolly, "unless he
kills me first."
"Gentlemen," exclaimed M. de Bragadin, "I can assure you that you will
neither of you fight a duel with him, for Steffani is dead."
"Dead!" said the count.
"We must not," observed the prudent Barbaro, "take that word in its
literal sense, but the wretched man is dead to all honour and
After that truly dramatic scene, during which I could guess that the
denouement of the play was near at hand, I went to my charming countess,
taking care to change my gondola three times—a necessary precaution
to baffle spies.
I gave my anxious mistress an exact account of all the conversation. She
was very impatient for my coming, and wept tears of joy when I repeated
her father's words of forgiveness; but when I told her that nobody knew of
Steffani having entered her chamber, she fell on her knees and thanked
God. I then repeated her brother's words, imitating his coolness: "You
shall not kill him, unless he kills me first." She kissed me tenderly,
calling me her guardian angel, her saviour, and weeping in my arms. I
promised to bring her brother on the following day, or the day after that
at the latest. We had our supper, but we did not talk of Steffani, or of
revenge, and after that pleasant meal we devoted two hours to the worship
of the god of love.
I left her at midnight, promising to return early in the morning—my
reason for not remaining all night with her was that the landlady might,
if necessary, swear without scruple that I had never spent a night with
the young girl. It proved a very lucky inspiration of mine, for, when I
arrived home, I found the three friends waiting impatiently for me in
order to impart to me wonderful news which M. de Bragadin had heard at the
sitting of the senate.
"Steffani," said M. de Bragadin to me, "is dead, as our angel Paralis
revealed it to us; he is dead to the world, for he has become a Capuchin
friar. The senate, as a matter of course, has been informed of it. We
alone are aware that it is a punishment which God has visited upon him.
Let us worship the Author of all things, and the heavenly hierarchy which
renders us worthy of knowing what remains a mystery to all men. Now we
must achieve our undertaking, and console the poor father. We must enquire
from Paralis where the girl is. She cannot now be with Steffani. Of
course, God has not condemned her to become a Capuchin nun."
"I need not consult my angel, dearest father, for it is by his express
orders that I have been compelled until now to make a mystery of the
refuge found by the young countess."
I related the whole story, except what they had no business to know, for,
in the opinion of the worthy men, who had paid heavy tribute to Love, all
intrigues were fearful crimes. M. Dandolo and M. Barbaro expressed their
surprise when they heard that the young girl had been under my protection
for a fortnight, but M. de Bragadin said that he was not astonished, that
it was according to cabalistic science, and that he knew it.
"We must only," he added, "keep up the mystery of his daughter's place of
refuge for the count, until we know for a certainty that he will forgive
her, and that he will take her with him to C——, or to any
other place where he may wish to live hereafter."
"He cannot refuse to forgive her," I said, "when he finds that the amiable
girl would never have left C—— if her seducer had not given
her this promise of marriage in his own handwriting. She walked as far as
the barge, and she landed at the very moment I was passing the Roman gate.
An inspiration from above told me to accost her and to invite her to
follow me. She obeyed, as if she was fulfilling the decree of Heaven, I
took her to a refuge impossible to discover, and placed her under the care
of a God-fearing woman."
My three friends listened to me so attentively that they looked like three
statues. I advised them to invite the count to dinner for the day after
next, because I needed some time to consult 'Paralis de modo tenendi'. I
then told M. Barbaro to let the count know in what sense he was to
understand Steffani's death. He undertook to do it, and we retired to
I slept only four or five hours, and, dressing myself quickly, hurried to
my beloved mistress. I told the widow not to serve the coffee until we
called for it, because we wanted to remain quiet and undisturbed for some
hours, having several important letters to write.
I found the lovely countess in bed, but awake, and her eyes beaming with
happiness and contentment. For a fortnight I had only seen her sad,
melancholy, and thoughtful. Her pleased countenance, which I naturally
ascribed to my influence, filled me with joy. We commenced as all happy
lovers always do, and we were both unsparing of the mutual proofs of our
love, tenderness, and gratitude.
After our delightful amorous sport, I told her the news, but love had so
completely taken possession of her pure and sensitive soul, that what had
been important was now only an accessory. But the news of her seducer
having turned a Capuchin friar filled her with amazement, and, passing
very sensible remarks on the extraordinary event, she pitied Steffani.
When we can feel pity, we love no longer, but a feeling of pity succeeding
love is the characteristic only of a great and generous mind. She was much
pleased with me for having informed my three friends of her being under my
protection, and she left to my care all the necessary arrangements for
obtaining a reconciliation with her father.
Now and then we recollected that the time of our separation was near at
hand, our grief was bitter, but we contrived to forget it in the ecstacy
of our amorous enjoyment.
"Ah! why can we not belong for ever to each other?" the charming girl
would exclaim. "It is not my acquaintance with Steffani, it is your loss
which will seal my eternal misery."
But it was necessary to bring our delightful interview to a close, for the
hours were flying with fearful rapidity. I left her happy, her eyes wet
with tears of intense felicity.
At the dinner-table M. Barbaro told me that he had paid a visit to his
relative, Steffani's mother, and that she had not appeared sorry at the
decision taken by her son, although he was her only child.
"He had the choice," she said, "between killing himself and turning friar,
and he took the wiser course."
The woman spoke like a good Christian, and she professed to be one; but
she spoke like an unfeeling mother, and she was truly one, for she was
wealthy, and if she had not been cruelly avaricious her son would not have
been reduced to the fearful alternative of committing suicide or of
becoming a Capuchin friar.
The last and most serious motive which caused the despair of Steffani, who
is still alive, remained a mystery for everybody. My Memoirs will raise
the veil when no one will care anything about it.
The count and his son were, of course, greatly surprised, and the event
made them still more desirous of discovering the young lady. In order to
obtain a clue to her place of refuge, the count had resolved on summoning
before the Council of Ten all the parties, accused and accusing, whose
names he had on his list, with the exception of myself. His determination
made it necessary for us to inform him that his daughter was in my hands,
and M. de Bragadin undertook to let him know the truth.
We were all invited to supper by the count, and we went to his hostelry,
with the exception of M. de Bragadin, who had declined the invitation. I
was thus prevented from seeing my divinity that evening, but early the
next morning I made up for lost time, and as it had been decided that her
father would on that very day be informed of her being under my care, we
remained together until noon. We had no hope of contriving another
meeting, for I had promised to bring her brother in the afternoon.
The count and his son dined with us, and after dinner M. de Bragadin said,
"I have joyful news for you, count; your beloved daughter has been found!"
What an agreeable surprise for the father and son! M. de Bragadin handed
them the promise of marriage written by Steffani, and said,
"This, gentlemen, evidently brought your lovely young lady to the verge of
madness when she found that he had gone from C—— without her.
She left your house alone on foot, and as she landed in Venice Providence
threw her in the way of this young man, who induced her to follow him, and
has placed her under the care of an honest woman, whom she has not left
since, whom she will leave only to fall in your arms as soon as she is
certain of your forgiveness for the folly she has committed."
"Oh! let her have no doubt of my forgiving her," exclaimed the father, in
the ecstacy of joy, and turning to me, "Dear sir, I beg of you not to
delay the fortunate moment on which the whole happiness of my life
I embraced him warmly, saying that his daughter would be restored to him
on the following day, and that I would let his son see her that very
afternoon, so as to give him an opportunity of preparing her by degrees
for that happy reconciliation. M. Barbaro desired to accompany us, and the
young man, approving all my arrangements, embraced me, swearing
everlasting friendship and gratitude.
We went out all three together, and a gondola carried us in a few minutes
to the place where I was guarding a treasure more precious than the golden
apples of the Hesperides. But, alas! I was on the point of losing that
treasure, the remembrance of which causes me, even now, a delicious
I preceded my two companions in order to prepare my lovely young friend
for the visit, and when I told her that, according to my arrangements, her
father would not see her till on the following day:
"Ah!" she exclaimed with the accent of true happiness, "then we can spend
a few more hours together! Go, dearest, go and bring my brother."
I returned with my companions, but how can I paint that truly dramatic
situation? Oh! how inferior art must ever be to nature! The fraternal
love, the delight beaming upon those two beautiful faces, with a slight
shade of confusion on that of the sister, the pure joy shining in the
midst of their tender caresses, the most eloquent exclamations followed by
a still more eloquent silence, their loving looks which seem like flashes
of lightning in the midst of a dew of tears, a thought of politeness which
brings blushes on her countenance, when she recollects that she has
forgotten her duty towards a nobleman whom she sees for the first time,
and finally there was my part, not a speaking one, but yet the most
important of all. The whole formed a living picture to which the most
skilful painter could not have rendered full justice.
We sat down at last, the young countess between her brother and M.
Barbaro, on the sofa, I, opposite to her, on a low foot-stool.
"To whom, dear sister, are we indebted for the happiness of having found
"To my guardian angel," she answered, giving me her hand, "to this
generous man who was waiting for me, as if Heaven had sent him with the
special mission of watching over your sister; it is he who has saved me,
who has prevented me from falling into the gulf which yawned under my
feet, who has rescued me from the shame threatening me, of which I had
then no conception; it is to him I am indebted for all, to him who, as you
see, kisses my hand now for the first time."
And she pressed her handkerchief to her beautiful eyes to dry her tears,
but ours were flowing at the same time.
Such is true virtue, which never loses its nobleness, even when modesty
compels it to utter some innocent falsehood. But the charming girl had no
idea of being guilty of an untruth. It was a pure, virtuous soul which was
then speaking through her lips, and she allowed it to speak. Her virtue
seemed to whisper to her that, in spite of her errors, it had never
deserted her. A young girl who gives way to a real feeling of love cannot
be guilty of a crime, or be exposed to remorse.
Towards the end of our friendly visit, she said that she longed to throw
herself at her father's feet, but that she wished to see him only in the
evening, so as not to give any opportunity to the gossips of the place,
and it was agreed that the meeting, which was to be the last scene of the
drama, should take place the next day towards the evening.
We returned to the count's hostelry for supper, and the excellent man,
fully persuaded that he was indebted to me for his honour as well as for
his daughter's, looked at me with admiration, and spoke to me with
gratitude. Yet he was not sorry to have ascertained himself, and before I
had said so, that I had been the first man who had spoken to her after landing.
Before parting in the evening, M. Barbaro invited them to dinner for the
I went to my charming mistress very early the following morning, and,
although there was some danger in protracting our interview, we did not
give it a thought, or, if we did, it only caused us to make good use of
the short time that we could still devote to love.
After having enjoyed, until our strength was almost expiring, the most
delightful, the most intense voluptuousness in which mutual ardour can
enfold two young, vigorous, and passionate lovers, the young countess
dressed herself, and, kissing her slippers, said she would never part with
them as long as she lived. I asked her to give me a lock of her hair,
which she did at once. I meant to have it made into a chain like the one
woven with the hair of Madame F——, which I still wore round my
Towards dusk, the count and his son, M. Dandolo, M. Barbaro, and myself,
proceeded together to the abode of the young countess. The moment she saw
her father, she threw herself on her knees before him, but the count,
bursting into tears, took her in his arms, covered her with kisses, and
breathed over her words of forgiveness, of love and blessing. What a scene
for a man of sensibility! An hour later we escorted the family to the inn,
and, after wishing them a pleasant journey, I went back with my two
friends to M. de Bragadin, to whom I gave a faithful account of what had
We thought that they had left Venice, but the next morning they called at
the place in a peotta with six rowers. The count said that they could not
leave the city without seeing us once more; without thanking us again, and
me particularly, for all we had done for them. M. de Bragadin, who had not
seen the young countess before, was struck by her extraordinary likeness
to her brother.
They partook of some refreshments, and embarked in their peotta, which was
to carry them, in twenty-four hours, to Ponte di Lago Oscuro, on the River
Po, near the frontiers of the papal states. It was only with my eyes that
I could express to the lovely girl all the feelings which filled my heart,
but she understood the language, and I had no difficulty in interpreting
the meaning of her looks.
Never did an introduction occur in better season than that of the count to
M. Barbaro. It saved the honour of a respectable family; and it saved me
from the unpleasant consequences of an interrogatory in the presence of
the Council of Ten, during which I should have been convicted of having
taken the young girl with me, and compelled to say what I had done with
A few days afterwards we all proceeded to Padua to remain in that city
until the end of autumn. I was grieved not to find Doctor Gozzi in Padua;
he had been appointed to a benefice in the country, and he was living
there with Bettina; she had not been able to remain with the scoundrel who
had married her only for the sake of her small dowry, and had treated her
I did not like the quiet life of Padua, and to avoid dying from ennui I
fell in love with a celebrated Venetian courtesan. Her name was Ancilla;
sometime after, the well-known dancer, Campioni, married her and took her
to London, where she caused the death of a very worthy Englishman. I shall
have to mention her again in four years; now I have only to speak of a
certain circumstance which brought my love adventure with her to a close
after three or four weeks.
Count Medini, a young, thoughtless fellow like myself, and with
inclinations of much the same cast, had introduced me to Ancilla. The
count was a confirmed gambler and a thorough enemy of fortune. There was a
good deal of gambling going on at Ancilla's, whose favourite lover he was,
and the fellow had presented me to his mistress only to give her the
opportunity of making a dupe of me at the card-table.
And, to tell the truth, I was a dupe at first; not thinking of any foul
play, I accepted ill luck without complaining; but one day I caught them
cheating. I took a pistol out of my pocket, and, aiming at Medini's
breast, I threatened to kill him on the spot unless he refunded at once
all the gold they had won from me. Ancilla fainted away, and the count,
after refunding the money, challenged me to follow him out and measure
swords. I placed my pistols on the table, and we went out. Reaching a
convenient spot, we fought by the bright light of the moon, and I was
fortunate enough to give him a gash across the shoulder. He could not move
his arm, and he had to cry for mercy.
After that meeting, I went to bed and slept quietly, but in the morning I
related the whole affair to my father, and he advised me to leave Padua
immediately, which I did.
Count Medini remained my enemy through all his life. I shall have occasion
to speak of him again when I reach Naples.
The remainder of the year 1746 passed off quietly, without any events of
importance. Fortune was now favourable to me and now adverse.
Towards the end of January, 1747, I received a letter from the young
countess A—— S——, who had married the Marquis of——.
She entreated me not to appear to know her, if by chance I visited the
town in which she resided, for she had the happiness of having linked her
destiny to that of a man who had won her heart after he had obtained her
I had already heard from her brother that, after their return to C——,
her mother had taken her to the city from which her letter was written,
and there, in the house of a relative with whom she was residing, she had
made the acquaintance of the man who had taken upon himself the charge of
her future welfare and happiness. I saw her one year afterwards, and if it
had not been for her letter, I should certainly have solicited an
introduction to her husband. Yet, peace of mind has greater charms even
than love; but, when love is in the way, we do not think so.
For a fortnight I was the lover of a young Venetian girl, very handsome,
whom her father, a certain Ramon, exposed to public admiration as a dancer
at the theatre. I might have remained longer her captive, if marriage had
not forcibly broken my chains. Her protectress, Madame Cecilia Valmarano,
found her a very proper husband in the person of a French dancer, called
Binet, who had assumed the name of Binetti, and thus his young wife had
not to become a French woman; she soon won great fame in more ways than
one. She was strangely privileged; time with its heavy hand seemed to have
no power over her. She always appeared young, even in the eyes of the best
judges of faded, bygone female beauty. Men, as a general rule, do not ask
for anything more, and they are right in not racking their brain for the
sake of being convinced that they are the dupes of external appearance.
The last lover that the wonderful Binetti killed by excess of amorous
enjoyment was a certain Mosciuski, a Pole, whom fate brought to Venice
seven or eight years ago; she had then reached her sixty-third year!
My life in Venice would have been pleasant and happy, if I could have
abstained from punting at basset. The ridotti were only open to noblemen
who had to appear without masks, in their patrician robes, and wearing the
immense wig which had become indispensable since the beginning of the
century. I would play, and I was wrong, for I had neither prudence enough
to leave off when fortune was adverse, nor sufficient control over myself
to stop when I had won. I was then gambling through a feeling of avarice.
I was extravagant by taste, and I always regretted the money I had spent,
unless it had been won at the gaming-table, for it was only in that case
that the money had, in my opinion, cost me nothing.
At the end of January, finding myself under the necessity of procuring two
hundred sequins, Madame Manzoni contrived to obtain for me from another
woman the loan of a diamond ring worth five hundred. I made up my mind to
go to Treviso, fifteen miles distant from Venice, to pawn the ring at the
Mont-de-piete, which there lends money upon valuables at the rate of five
per cent. That useful establishment does not exist in Venice, where the
Jews have always managed to keep the monopoly in their hands.
I got up early one morning, and walked to the end of the canale regio,
intending to engage a gondola to take me as far as Mestra, where I could
take post horses, reach Treviso in less than two hours, pledge my diamond
ring, and return to Venice the same evening.
As I passed along St. Job's Quay, I saw in a two-oared gondola a country
girl beautifully dressed. I stopped to look at her; the gondoliers,
supposing that I wanted an opportunity of reaching Mestra at a cheap rate,
rowed back to the shore.
Observing the lovely face of the young girl, I do not hesitate, but jump
into the gondola, and pay double fare, on condition that no more
passengers are taken. An elderly priest was seated near the young girl, he
rises to let me take his place, but I politely insist upon his keeping it.