Complete Memoirs of Casanova HTML version
Under The Leads
Under The Leads--The Earthquake
What a strange and unexplained power certain words exercise upon the soul! I, who the
evening before so bravely fortified myself with my innocence and courage, by the word
tribunal was turned to a stone, with merely the faculty of passive obedience left to me.
My desk was open, and all my papers were on a table where I was accustomed to write.
"Take them," said I, to the agent of the dreadful Tribunal, pointing to the papers which
covered the table. He filled a bag with them, and gave it to one of the sbirri, and then told
me that I must also give up the bound manuscripts which I had in my possession. I
shewed him where they were, and this incident opened my eyes. I saw now, clearly
enough, that I had been betrayed by the wretch Manuzzi. The books were, "The Key of
Solomon the King," "The Zecorben," a "Picatrix," a book of "Instructions on the
Planetary Hours," and the necessary incantations for conversing with demons of all sorts.
Those who were aware that I possessed these books took me for an expert magician, and
I was not sorry to have such a reputation.
Messer-Grande took also the books on the table by my bed, such as Petrarch, Ariosto,
Horace. "The Military' Philosopher" (a manuscript which Mathilde had given me), "The
Porter of Chartreux," and "The Aretin," which Manuzzi had also denounced, for Messer-
Grande asked me for it by name. This spy, Manuzzi, had all the appearance of an honest
man--a very necessary qualification for his profession. His son made his fortune in
Poland by marrying a lady named Opeska, whom, as they say, he killed, though I have
never had any positive proof on the matter, and am willing to stretch Christian charity to
the extent of believing he was innocent, although he was quite capable of such a crime.
While Messer-Grande was thus rummaging among my manuscripts, books and letters, I
was dressing myself in an absent-minded manner, neither hurrying myself nor the
reverse. I made my toilette, shaved myself, and combed my hair; putting on mechanically
a laced shirt and my holiday suit without saying a word, and without Messer-Grande--
who did not let me escape his sight for an instant--complaining that I was dressing myself
as if I were going to a wedding.
As I went out I was surprised to see a band of forty men-at-arms in the ante-room. They
had done me the honour of thinking all these men necessary for my arrest, though,
according to the axiom 'Ne Hercules quidem contra duos', two would have been enough.
It is curious that in London, where everyone is brave, only one man is needed to arrest
another, whereas in my dear native land, where cowardice prevails, thirty are required.
The reason is, perhaps, that the coward on the offensive is more afraid than the coward on
the defensive, and thus a man usually cowardly is transformed for the moment into a man