Complete Memoirs of Casanova HTML version

Old Age And Death
Whether the author died before the work was complete, whether the concluding volumes
were destroyed by himself or his literary executors, or whether the MS. fell into bad
hands, seems a matter of uncertainty, and the materials available towards a continuation
of the Memoirs are extremely fragmentary. We know, however, that Casanova at last
succeeded in obtaining his pardon from the authorities of the Republic, and he returned to
Venice, where he exercised the honourable office of secret agent of the State Inquisitors--
in plain language, he became a spy. It seems that the Knight of the Golden Spur made a
rather indifferent "agent;" not surely, as a French writer suggests, because the dirty work
was too dirty for his fingers, but probably because he was getting old and stupid and out-
of-date, and failed to keep in touch with new forms of turpitude. He left Venice again and
paid a visit to Vienna, saw beloved Paris once more, and there met Count Wallenstein, or
Waldstein. The conversation turned on magic and the occult sciences, in, which
Casanova was an adept, as the reader of the Memoirs will remember, and the count took a
fancy to the charlatan. In short Casanova became librarian at the count's Castle of Dux,
near Teplitz, and there he spent the fourteen remaining years of his life.
As the Prince de Ligne (from whose Memoirs we learn these particulars) remarks,
Casanova's life had been a stormy and adventurous one, and it might have been expected
that he would have found his patron's library a pleasant refuge after so many toils and
travels. But the man carried rough weather and storm in his own heart, and found daily
opportunities of mortification and resentment. The coffee was ill made, the maccaroni not
cooked in the true Italian style, the dogs had bayed during the night, he had been made to
dine at a small table, the parish priest had tried to convert him, the soup had been served
too hot on purpose to annoy him, he had not been introduced to a distinguished guest, the
count had lent a book without telling him, a groom had not taken off his hat; such were
his complaints. The fact is Casanova felt his dependent position and his utter poverty, and
was all the more determined to stand to his dignity as a man who had talked with all the
crowned heads of Europe, and had fought a duel with the Polish general. And he had
another reason for finding life bitter--he had lived beyond his time. Louis XV. was dead,
and Louis XVI. had been guillotined; the Revolution had come; and Casanova, his dress,
and his manners, appeared as odd and antique as some "blood of the Regency" would
appear to us of these days. Sixty years before, Marcel, the famous dancing-master, had
taught young Casanova how to enter a room with a lowly and ceremonious bow; and still,
though the eighteenth century is drawing to a close, old Casanova enters the rooms of
Dux with the same stately bow, but now everyone laughs. Old Casanova treads the grave
measures of the minuet; they applauded his dancing once, but now everyone laughs.
Young Casanova was always dressed in the height of the fashion; but the age of powder,
wigs, velvets, and silks has departed, and old Casanova's attempts at elegance ("Strass"
diamonds have replaced the genuine stones with him) are likewise greeted with laughter.
No wonder the old adventurer denounces the whole house of Jacobins and canaille; the