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Title: Memoirs of Casanova — Volume 10: under the Leads
Author: Casanova, Giacomo, 1725-1798
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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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

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 of courage. It is
certain that at Venice one often sees a man defending himself against
twenty sbirri, and finally escaping after beating them soundly. I
remember once helping a friend of mine at Paris to escape from the hands
of forty bum-bailiffs, and we put the whole vile rout of them to flight.

Messer-Grande made me get into a gondola, and sat down near me with an
escort of four men. When we came to our destination he offered me coffee,
which I refused; and he then shut me up in a room. I passed these four
hours in sleep, waking up every quarter of an hour to pass water--an
extraordinary occurrence, as I was not at all subject to stranguary; the
heat was great, and I had not supped the evening before. I have noticed
at other times that surprise at a deed of oppression acts on me as a
powerful narcotic, but I found out at the time I speak of that great
surprise is also a diuretic. I make this discovery over to the doctors,
it is possible that some learned man may make use of it to solace the
ills of humanity. 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 offence at the
above account, which they thought I should have done well to leave out. I
should have left it out, perhaps, in speaking to a lady, but the public
is not a pretty woman whom I am intent on cajoling, my only aim is to be
instructive. Indeed, I see no impropriety in the circumstance I have
narrated, which is as common to men and women as eating and drinking; and
if there is anything in it to shock too sensitive nerves, it is that we
resemble in this respect the cows and pigs.

It is probable that just as my overwhelmed soul gave signs of its failing
strength by the loss of the thinking faculty, so my body distilled a
great part of those fluids which by their continual circulation set the
thinking faculty in motion. Thus a sudden shock might cause instantaneous
death, and send one to Paradise by a cut much too short.

In course of time the captain of the men-at-arms came to tell me that he
was under orders to take me under the Leads. Without a word I followed
him. We went by gondola, and after a thousand turnings among the small
canals we got into the Grand Canal, and landed at the prison quay. After
climbing several flights of stairs we crossed a closed bridge which forms
the communication between the prisons and the Doge's palace, crossing the
canal called Rio di Palazzo. On the other side of this bridge there is a
gallery which we traversed. We then crossed one room, and entered
another, where sat an individual in the dress of a noble, who, after
looking fixedly at me, said, "E quello, mettetelo in deposito:"

This man was the secretary of the Inquisitors, the prudent Dominic
Cavalli, who was apparently ashamed to speak Venetian in my presence as
he pronounced my doom in the Tuscan language.

Messer-Grande then made me over to the warden of The Leads, who stood by
with an enormous bunch of keys, and accompanied by two guards, made me
climb two short flights of stairs, at the top of which followed a passage
and then another gallery, at the end of which he opened a door, and I
found myself in a dirty garret, thirty-six feet long by twelve broad,
badly lighted by a window high up in the roof. I thought this garret was
my prison, but I was mistaken; for, taking an enormous key, the gaoler
opened a thick door lined with iron, three and a half feet high, with a
round hole in the middle, eight inches in diameter, just as I was looking
intently at an iron machine. This machine was like a horse shoe, an inch
thick and about five inches across from one end to the other. I was
thinking what could be the use to which this horrible instrument was put,
when the gaoler said, with a smile,

"I see, sir, that you wish to know what that is for, and as it happens I
can satisfy your curiosity. When their excellencies give orders that
anyone is to be strangled, he is made to sit down on a stool, the back
turned to this collar, and his head is so placed that the collar goes
round one half of the neck. A silk band, which goes round the other half,
passes through this hole, and the two ends are connected with the axle of
a wheel which is turned by someone until the prisoner gives up the ghost,
for the confessor, God be thanked! never leaves him till he is dead."

"All this sounds very ingenious, and I should think that it is you who
have the honour of turning the wheel."

He made no answer, and signing to me to enter, which I did by bending
double, he shut me up, and afterwards asked me through the grated hole
what I would like to eat.

"I haven't thought anything about it yet," I answered. And he went away,
locking all the doors carefully behind him.

Stunned with grief, I leant my elbows on the top of the grating. It was
crossed, by six iron bars an inch thick, which formed sixteen square
holes. This opening would have lighted my cell, if a square beam
supporting the roof which joined the wall below the window had not
intercepted what little light came into that horrid garret. After making
the tour of my sad abode, my head lowered, as the cell was not more than
five and a half feet high, I found by groping along that it formed
three-quarters of a square of twelve feet. The fourth quarter was a kind
of recess, which would have held a bed; but there was neither bed, nor
table, nor chair, nor any furniture whatever, except a bucket--the use of
which may be guessed, and a bench fixed in the wall a foot wide and four
feet from the ground. On it I placed my cloak, my fine suit, and my hat
trimmed with Spanish paint and adorned with a beautiful white feather.
The heat was great, and my instinct made me go mechanically to the
grating, the only place where I could lean on my elbows. I could not see
the window, but I saw the light in the garret, and rats of a fearful
size, which walked unconcernedly about it; these horrible creatures
coming close under my grating without shewing the slightest fear. At the
sight of these I hastened to close up the round hole in the middle of the
door with an inside shutter, for a visit from one of the rats would have
frozen my blood. I passed eight hours in silence and without stirring, my
arms all the time crossed on the top of the grating.

At last the clock roused me from my reverie, and I began to feel restless
that no one came to give me anything to eat or to bring me a bed whereon
to sleep. I thought they might at least let me have a chair and some
bread and water. I had no appetite, certainly; but were my gaolers to
guess as much? And never in my life had I been so thirsty. I was quite
sure, however, that somebody would come before the close of the day; but
when I heard eight o'clock strike I became furious, knocking at the door,
stamping my feet, fretting and fuming, and accompanying this useless
hubbub with loud cries. After more than an hour of this wild exercise,
seeing no one, without the slightest reason to think I could be heard,
and shrouded in darkness, I shut the grating for fear of the rats, and
threw myself at full length upon the floor. So cruel a desertion seemed
to me unnatural, and I came to the conclusion that the Inquisitors had
sworn my death. My investigation as to what I had done to deserve such a
fate was not a long one, for in the most scrupulous examination of my
conduct I could find no crimes. I was, it is true, a profligate, a
gambler, a bold talker, a man who thought of little besides enjoying this
present life, but in all that there was no offence against the state.
Nevertheless, finding myself treated as a criminal, rage and despair made
me express myself against the horrible despotism which oppressed me in a
manner which I will leave my readers to guess, but which I will not
repeat here. But notwithstanding my brief and anxiety, the hunger which
began to make itself felt, and the thirst which tormented me, and the
hardness of the boards on which I lay, did not prevent exhausted nature
from reasserting her rights; I fell asleep.

My strong constitution was in need of sleep; and in a young and healthy
subject this imperious necessity silences all others, and in this way
above all is sleep rightly termed the benefactor of man.

The clock striking midnight awoke me. How sad is the awaking when it
makes one regret one's empty dreams. I could scarcely believe that I had
spent three painless hours. As I lay on my left side, I stretched out my
right hand to get my handkerchief, which I remembered putting on that
side. I felt about for it, when--heavens! what was my surprise to feel
another hand as cold as ice. The fright sent an electric shock through
me, and my hair began to stand on end.

Never had I been so alarmed, nor should I have previously thought myself
capable of experiencing such terror. I passed three or four minutes in a
kind of swoon, not only motionless but incapable of thinking. As I got
back my senses by degrees, I tried to make myself believe that the hand I
fancied I had touched was a mere creature of my disordered imagination;
and with this idea I stretched out my hand again, and again with the same
result. Benumbed with fright, I uttered a piercing cry, and, dropping the
hand I held, I drew back my arm, trembling all over:

Soon, as I got a little calmer and more capable of reasoning, I concluded
that a corpse had been placed beside me whilst I slept, for I was certain
it was not there when I lay down.

"This," said I, "is the body of some strangled wretch, and they would
thus warn me of the fate which is in store for me."

The thought maddened me; and my fear giving place to rage, for the third
time I stretched my arm towards the icy hand, seizing it to make certain
of the fact in all its atrocity, and wishing to get up, I rose upon my
left elbow, and found that I had got hold of my other hand. Deadened by
the weight of my body and the hardness of the boards, it had lost warmth,
motion, and all sensation.

In spite of the humorous features in this incident, it did not cheer me
up, but, on the contrary, inspired me with the darkest fancies. I saw
that I was in a place where, if the false appeared true, the truth might
appear false, where understanding was bereaved of half its prerogatives,
where the imagination becoming affected would either make the reason a
victim to empty hopes or to dark despair. I resolved to be on my guard;
and for the first time in my life, at the age of thirty, I called
philosophy to my assistance. I had within me all the seeds of philosophy,
but so far I had had no need for it.

I am convinced that most men die without ever having thought, in the
proper sense of the word, not so much for want of wit or of good sense,
but rather because the shock necessary to the reasoning faculty in its
inception has never occurred to them to lift them out of their daily

After what I had experienced, I could think of sleep no more, and to get
up would have been useless as I could not stand upright, so I took the
only sensible course and remained seated. I sat thus till four o'clock in
the morning, the sun would rise at five, and I longed to see the day, for
a presentiment which I held infallible told me that it would set me again
at liberty. I was consumed with a desire for revenge, nor did I conceal
it from myself. I saw myself at the head of the people, about to
exterminate the Government which had oppressed me; I massacred all the
aristocrats without pity; all must be shattered and brought to the dust.
I was delirious; I knew the authors of my misfortune, and in my fancy I
destroyed them. I restored the natural right common to all men of being
obedient only to the law, and of being tried only by their peers and by
laws to which they have agreed-in short, I built castles in Spain. Such
is man when he has become the prey of a devouring passion. He does not
suspect that the principle which moves him is not reason but wrath, its
greatest enemy.

I waited for a less time than I had expected, and thus I became a little
more quiet. At half-past four the deadly silence of the place--this hell
of the living--was broken by the shriek of bolts being shot back in the
passages leading to my cell.

"Have you had time yet to think about what you will take to eat?" said
the harsh voice of my gaoler from the wicket.

One is lucky when the insolence of a wretch like this only shews itself
in the guise of jesting. I answered that I should like some rice soup, a
piece of boiled beef, a roast, bread, wine, and water. I saw that the
lout was astonished not to hear the lamentations he expected. He went
away and came back again in a quarter of an hour to say that he was
astonished I did not require a bed and the necessary pieces of furniture,
"for," said he, "if you flatter yourself that you are only here for a
night, you are very much mistaken."

"Then bring me whatever you think necessary."

"Where shall I go for it? Here is a pencil and paper; write it down."

I skewed him by writing where to go for my shirts, stockings, and clothes
of all sorts, a bed, table, chair, the books which Messer-Grande had
confiscated, paper, pens, and so forth. On my reading out the list to him
(the lout did not know how to read) he cried, "Scratch out," said he,
"scratch out books, paper, pens, looking-glass and razors, for all that
is forbidden fruit here, and then give me some money to get your dinner."
I had three sequins so I gave him one, and he went off. He spent an hour
in the passages engaged, as I learnt afterwards, in attending on seven
other prisoners who were imprisoned in cells placed far apart from each
other to prevent all communication.

About noon the gaoler reappeared followed by five guards, whose duty it
was to serve the state prisoners. He opened: the cell door to bring in my
dinner and the furniture I had asked for. The bed was placed in the
recess; my dinner was laid out on a small table, and I had to eat with an
ivory spoon he had procured out of the money I had given him; all forks,
knives, and edged tools being forbidden.

"Tell me what you would like for to-morrow," said he, "for I can only
come here once a day at sunrise. The Lord High Secretary has told me to
inform you that he will send you some suitable books, but those you wish
for are forbidden."

"Thank him for his kindness in putting me by myself."

"I will do so, but you make a mistake in jesting thus."

"I don't jest at all, for I think truly that it is much better to be
alone than to mingle with the scoundrels who are doubtless here."

"What, sir! scoundrels? Not at all, not at all. They are only respectable
people here, who, for reasons known to their excellencies alone, have to
be sequestered from society. You have been put by yourself as an
additional punishment, and you want me to thank the secretary on that

"I was not aware of that."

The fool was right, and I soon found it out. I discovered that a man
imprisoned by himself can have no occupations. Alone in a gloomy cell
where he only sees the fellow who brings his food once a day, where he
cannot walk upright, he is the most wretched of men. He would like to be
in hell, if he believes in it, for the sake of the company. So strong a
feeling is this that I got to desire the company of a murderer, of one
stricken with the plague, or of a bear. The loneliness behind the prison
bars is terrible, but it must be learnt by experience to be understood,
and such an experience I would not wish even to my enemies. To a man of
letters in my situation, paper and ink would take away nine-tenths of the
torture, but the wretches who persecuted me did not dream of granting me
such an alleviation of my misery.

After the gaoler had gone, I set my table near the grating for the sake
of the light, and sat down to dinner, but I could only swallow a few
spoonfuls of soup. Having fasted for nearly forty-eight hours, it was not
surprising that I felt ill. I passed the day quietly enough seated on my
sofa, and proposing myself to read the "suitable books" which they had
been good enough to promise me. I did not shut my eyes the whole night,
kept awake by the hideous noise made by the rats, and by the deafening
chime of the clock of St. Mark's, which seemed to be striking in my room.
This double vexation was not my chief trouble, and I daresay many of my
readers will guess what I am going to speak of-namely, the myriads of
fleas which held high holiday over me. These small insects drank my blood
with unutterable voracity, their incessant bites gave me spasmodic
convulsions and poisoned my blood.

At day-break, Lawrence (such was the gaoler's name) came to my cell and
had my bed made, and the room swept and cleansed, and one of the guards
gave me water wherewith to wash myself. I wanted to take a walk in the
garret, but Lawrence told me that was forbidden. He gave me two thick
books which I forbore to open, not being quite sure of repressing the
wrath with which they might inspire me, and which the spy would have
infallibly reported to his masters. After leaving me my fodder and two
cut lemons he went away.

As soon as I was alone I ate my soup in a hurry, so as to take it hot,
and then I drew as near as I could to the light with one of the books,
and was delighted to find that I could see to read. I looked at the
title, and read, "The Mystical City of Sister Mary of Jesus, of Agrada."
I had never heard of it. The other book was by a Jesuit named Caravita.
This fellow, a hypocrite like the rest of them, had invented a new cult
of the "Adoration of the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ." This,
according to the author, was the part of our Divine Redeemer, which above
all others should be adored a curious idea of a besotted ignoramus, with
which I got disgusted at the first page, for to my thinking the heart is
no more worthy a part than the lungs, stomach; or any other of the
inwards. The "Mystical City" rather interested me.

I read in it the wild conceptions of a Spanish nun, devout to
superstition, melancholy, shut in by convent walls, and swayed by the
ignorance and bigotry of her confessors. All these grotesque, monstrous,
and fantastic visions of hers were dignified with the name of
revelations. The lover and bosom-friend of the Holy Virgin, she had
received instructions from God Himself to write the life of His divine
mother; the necessary information was furnished her by the Holy Ghost.

This life of Mary began, not with the day of her birth, but with her
immaculate conception in the womb of Anne, her mother. This Sister Mary
of Agrada was the head of a Franciscan convent founded by herself in her
own house. After telling in detail all the deeds of her divine heroine
whilst in her mother's womb, she informs us that at the age of three she
swept and cleansed the house with the assistance of nine hundred
servants, all of whom were angels whom God had placed at her disposal,
under the command of Michael, who came and went between God and herself
to conduct their mutual correspondence.

What strikes the judicious reader of the book is the evident belief of
the more than fanatical writer that nothing is due to her invention;
everything is told in good faith and with full belief. The work contains
the dreams of a visionary, who, without vanity but inebriated with the
idea of God, thinks to reveal only the inspirations of the Divine Spirit.

The book was published with the permission of the very holy and very
horrible Inquisition. I could not recover from my astonishment! Far from
its stirring up in my breast a holy and simple zeal of religion, it
inclined me to treat all the mystical dogmas of the Faith as fabulous.

Such works may have dangerous results; for example, a more susceptible
reader than myself, or one more inclined to believe in the marvellous,
runs the risk of becoming as great a visionary as the poor nun herself.

The need of doing something made me spend a week over this masterpiece of
madness, the product of a hyper-exalted brain. I took care to say nothing
to the gaoler about this fine work, but I began to feel the effects of
reading it. As soon as I went off to sleep I experienced the disease
which Sister Mary of Agrada had communicated to my mind weakened by
melancholy, want of proper nourishment and exercise, bad air, and the
horrible uncertainty of my fate. The wildness of my dreams made me laugh
when I recalled them in my waking moments. If I had possessed the
necessary materials I would have written my visions down, and I might
possibly have produced in my cell a still madder work than the one chosen
with such insight by Cavalli.

This set me thinking how mistaken is the opinion which makes human
intellect an absolute force; it is merely relative, and he who studies
himself carefully will find only weakness. I perceived that though men
rarely become mad, still such an event is well within the bounds of
possibility, for our reasoning faculties are like powder, which, though
it catches fire easily, will never catch fire at all without a spark. The
book of the Spanish nun has all the properties necessary to make a man
crack-brained; but for the poison to take effect he must be isolated, put
under the Leads, and deprived of all other employments.

In November, 1767, as I was going from Pampeluna to Madrid, my coachman,
Andrea Capello, stopped for us to dine in a town of Old Castille. So
dismal and dreary a place did I find it that I asked its name. How I
laughed when I was told that it was Agrada!

"Here, then," I said to myself, "did that saintly lunatic produce that
masterpiece which but for M. Cavalli I should never have known."

An old priest, who had the highest possible opinion of me the moment I
began to ask him about this truthful historian of the mother of Christ,
shewed me the very place where she had written it, and assured me that
the father, mother, sister, and in short all the kindred of the blessed
biographer, had been great saints in their generation. He told me, and
spoke truly, that the Spaniards had solicited her canonization at Rome,
with that of the venerable Palafox. This "Mystical City," perhaps, gave
Father Malagrida the idea of writing the life of St. Anne, written, also,
at the dictation of the Holy Ghost, but the poor devil of a Jesuit had to
suffer martyrdom for it--an additional reason for his canonization, if
the horrible society ever comes to life again, and attains the universal
power which is its secret aim.

At the end of eight or nine days I found myself moneyless. Lawrence asked
me for some, but I had not got it.

"Where can I get some?"


What displeased this ignorant and gossiping fellow about me was my
silence and my laconic manner of talking.

Next day he told me that the Tribunal had assigned me fifty sous per diem
of which he would have to take charge, but that he would give me an
account of his expenditure every month, and that he would spend the
surplus on what I liked.

"Get me the Leyden Gazette twice a week."

"I can't do that, because it is not allowed by the authorities."

Sixty-five livres a month was more than I wanted, since I could not eat
more than I did: the great heat and the want of proper nourishment had
weakened me. It was in the dog-days; the strength of the sun's rays upon
the lead of the roof made my cell like a stove, so that the streams of
perspiration which rolled off my poor body as I sat quite naked on my
sofa-chair wetted the floor to right and left of me.

I had been in this hell-on-earth for fifteen days without any secretion
from the bowels. At the end of this almost incredible time nature
re-asserted herself, and I thought my last hour was come. The
haemorrhoidal veins were swollen to such an extent that the pressure on
them gave me almost unbearable agony. To this fatal time I owe the
inception of that sad infirmity of which I have never been able to
completely cure myself. The recurrence of the same pains, though not so
acute, remind me of the cause, and do not make my remembrance of it any
the more agreeable. This disease got me compliments in Russia when I was
there ten years later, and I found it in such esteem that I did not dare
to complain. The same kind of thing happened to me at Constantinople,
when I was complaining of a cold in the head in the presence of a Turk,
who was thinking, I could see, that a dog of a Christian was not worthy
of such a blessing.

The same day I sickened with a high fever and kept my bed. I said nothing
to Lawrence about it, but the day after, on finding my dinner untouched,
he asked me how I was.

"Very well."

"That can't be, sir, as you have eaten nothing. You are ill, and you will
experience the generosity of the Tribunal who will provide you, without
fee or charge, with a physician, surgeon, and all necessary medicines."

He went out, returning after three hours without guards, holding a candle
in his hand, and followed by a grave-looking personage; this was the
doctor. I was in the height of the fever, which had not left me for three
days. He came up to me and began to ask me questions, but I told him that
with my confessor and my doctor I would only speak apart. The doctor told
Lawrence to leave the room, but on the refusal of that Argus to do so, he
went away saying that I was dangerously ill, possibly unto death. For
this I hoped, for my life as it had become was no longer my chiefest
good. I was somewhat glad also to think that my pitiless persecutors
might, on hearing of my condition, be forced to reflect on the cruelty of
the treatment to which they had subjected me.

Four hours afterwards I heard the noise of bolts once more, and the
doctor came in holding the candle himself. Lawrence remained outside. I
had become so weak that I experienced a grateful restfulness. Kindly
nature does not suffer a man seriously ill to feel weary. I was delighted
to hear that my infamous turnkey was outside, for since his explanation
of the iron collar I had looked an him with loathing.

In a quarter of an hour I had told the doctor all.

"If we want to get well," said he, "we must not be melancholy."

"Write me the prescription, and take it to the only apothecary who can
make it up. M. Cavalli is the bad doctor who exhibited 'The Heart of
Jesus,' and 'The Mystical City.'"

"Those two preparations are quite capable of having brought on the fever
and the haemorrhoids. I will not forsake you."

After making me a large jug of lemonade, and telling the to drink
frequently, he went away. I slept soundly, dreaming fantastic dreams.

In he morning the doctor came again with Lawrence and a surgeon, who bled
me. The doctor left me some medicine which he told me to take in the
evening, and a bottle of soap. "I have obtained leave," said he, "for you
to move into the garret where the heat is less, and the air better than

"I decline the favour, as I abominate the rats, which you know nothing
about, and which would certainly get into my bed."

"What a pity! I told M. Cavalli that he had almost killed you with his
books, and he has commissioned me to take them back, and to give you
Boethius; and here it is."

"I am much obliged to you. I like it better than Seneca, and I am sure it
will do me good."

"I am leaving you a very necessary instrument, and some barley water for
you to refresh yourself with."

He visited me four times, and pulled me through; my constitution did the
rest, and my appetite returned. At the beginning of September I found
myself, on the whole, very well, suffering from no actual ills except the
heat, the vermin, and weariness, for I could not be always reading

One day Lawrence told me that I might go out of my cell to wash myself
whilst the bed was being made and the room swept. I took advantage of the
favour to walk up and down for the ten minutes taken by these operations,
and as I walked hard the rats were alarmed and dared not shew themselves.
On the same day Lawrence gave me an account of my money, and brought
himself in as my debtor to the amount of thirty livres, which however, I
could not put into my pocket. I left the money in his hands, telling him
to lay it out on masses on my behalf, feeling sure that he would make
quite a different use of it, and he thanked me in a tone that persuaded
me he would be his own priest. I gave him the money every month, and I
never saw a priest's receipt. Lawrence was wise to celebrate the
sacrifice at the tavern; the money was useful to someone at all events.

I lived from day to day, persuading myself every night that the next day
I should be at liberty; but as I was each day deceived, I decided in my
poor brain that I should be set free without fail on the 1st of October,
on which day the new Inquisitors begin their term of office. According to
this theory, my imprisonment would last as long as the authority of the
present Inquisitors, and thus was explained the fact that I had seen
nothing of the secretary, who would otherwise have undoubtedly come to
interrogate, examine, and convict me of my crimes, and finally to
announce my doom. All this appeared to me unanswerable, because it seemed
natural, but it was fallacious under the Leads, where nothing is done
after the natural order. I imagined the Inquisitors must have discovered
my innocence and the wrong they had done me, and that they only kept me
in prison for form's sake, and to protect their repute from the stain of
committing injustice; hence I concluded that they would give me my
freedom when they laid down their tyrannical authority. My mind was so
composed and quiet that I felt as if I could forgive them, and forget the
wrong that they had done me. "How can they leave me here to the mercy of
their successors," I thought, "to whom they cannot leave any evidence
capable of condemning me?" I could not believe that my sentence had been
pronounced and confirmed, without my being told of it, or of the reasons
by which my judges had been actuated. I was so certain that I had right
on my side, that I reasoned accordingly; but this was not the attitude I
should have assumed towards a court which stands aloof from all the
courts in the world for its unbounded absolutism. To prove anyone guilty,
it is only necessary for the Inquisitors to proceed against him; so there
is no need to speak to him, and when he is condemned it would be useless
to announce to the prisoner his sentence, as his consent is not required,
and they prefer to leave the poor wretch the feeling of hope; and
certainly, if he were told the whole process, imprisonment would not be
shortened by an hour. The wise man tells no one of his business, and the
business of the Tribunal of Venice is only to judge and to doom. The
guilty party is not required to have any share in the matter; he is like
a nail, which to be driven into a wall needs only to be struck.

To a certain extent I was acquainted with the ways of the Colossus which
was crushing me under foot, but there are things on earth which one can
only truly understand by experience. If amongst my readers there are any
who think such laws unjust, I forgive them, as I know they have a strong
likeness to injustice; but let me tell them that they are also necessary,
as a tribunal like the Venetian could not subsist without them. Those who
maintain these laws in full vigour are senators, chosen from amongst the
fittest for that office, and with a reputation for honour and virtue.

The last day of September I passed a sleepless night, and was on thorns
to see the dawn appear, so sure was I that that day would make me free.
The reign of those villains who had made me a captive drew to a close;
but the dawn appeared, Lawrence came as usual, and told me nothing new.
For five or six days I hovered between rage and despair, and then I
imagined that for some reasons which to me were unfathomable they had
decided to keep me prisoner for the remainder of my days. This awful idea
only made me laugh, for I knew that it was in my power to remain a slave
for no long time, but only till I should take it into my own hands to
break my prison. I knew that I should escape or die: 'Deliberata morte

In the beginning of November I seriously formed the plan of forcibly
escaping from a place where I was forcibly kept. I began to rack my
brains to find a way of carrying the idea into execution, and I conceived
a hundred schemes, each one bolder than the other, but a new plan always
made me give up the one I was on the point of accepting.

While I was immersed in this toilsome sea of thought, an event happened
which brought home to me the sad state of mind I was in.

I was standing up in the garret looking towards the top, and my glance
fell on the great beam, not shaking but turning on its right side, and
then, by slow and interrupted movement in the opposite direction, turning
again and replacing itself in its original position. As I lost my balance
at the same time, I knew it was the shock of an earthquake. Lawrence and
the guards, who just then came out of my room, said that they too, had
felt the earth tremble. In such despair was I that this incident made me
feel a joy which I kept to myself, saying nothing. Four or five seconds
after the same movement occurred, and I could not refrain from saying,

"Another, O my God! but stronger."

The guards, terrified with what they thought the impious ravings of a
desperate madman, fled in horror.

After they were gone, as I was pondering the matter over, I found that I
looked upon the overthrow of the Doge's palace as one of the events which
might lead to liberty; the mighty pile, as it fell, might throw me safe
and sound, and consequently free, on St. Mark's Place, or at the worst it
could only crush me beneath its ruins. Situated as I was, liberty reckons
for all, and life for nothing, or rather for very little. Thus in the
depths of my soul I began to grow mad.

This earthquake shock was the result of those which at the same time
destroyed Lisbon.


Various Adventures--My Companions--I Prepare to Escape--Change of Cell

To make the reader understand how I managed to escape from a place like
the Leads, I must explain the nature of the locality.

The Leads, used for the confinement of state prisoners, are in fact the
lofts of the ducal palace, and take their name from the large plates of
lead with which the roof is covered. One can only reach them through the
gates of the palace, the prison buildings, or by the bridge of which I
have spoken called the Bridge of Sighs. It is impossible to reach the
cells without passing through the hall where the State Inquisitors hold
their meetings, and their secretary has the sole charge of the key, which
he only gives to the gaoler for a short time in the early morning whilst
he is attending to the prisoners. This is done at day-break, because
otherwise the guards as they came and went would be in the way of those
who have to do with the Council of Ten, as the Council meets every day in
a hall called The Bussola, which the guards have to cross every time they
go to the Leads.

The prisons are under the roof on two sides of the palace; three to the
west (mine being among the number) and four to the east. On the west the
roof looks into the court of the palace, and on the east straight on to
the canal called Rio di Palazzo. On this side the cells are well lighted,
and one can stand up straight, which is not the case in the prison where
I was, which was distinguished by the name of 'Trave', on account of the
enormous beam which deprived me of light. The floor of my cell was
directly over the ceiling of the Inquisitors' hall, where they commonly
met only at night after the sitting of the Council of Ten of which the
whole three are members.

As I knew my ground and the habits of the Inquisitors perfectly well, the
only way to escape--the only way at least which I deemed likely to
succeed--was to make a hole in the floor of my cell; but to do this tools
must be obtained--a difficult task in a place where all communication
with the outside world was forbidden, where neither letters nor visits
were allowed. To bribe a guard a good deal of money would be necessary,
and I had none. And supposing that the gaoler and his two guards allowed
themselves to be strangled--for my hands were my only weapons--there was
always a third guard on duty at the door of the passage, which he locked
and would not open till his fellow who wished to pass through gave him
the password. In spite of all these difficulties my only thought was how
to escape, and as Boethius gave me no hints on this point I read him no
more, and as I was certain that the difficulty was only to be solved by
stress of thinking I centered all my thoughts on this one object.

It has always been my opinion that when a man sets himself determinedly
to do something, and thinks of nought but his design, he must succeed
despite all difficulties in his path: such an one may make himself Pope
or Grand Vizier, he may overturn an ancient line of kings--provided that
he knows how to seize on his opportunity, and be a man of wit and
pertinacity. To succeed one must count on being fortunate and despise all
ill success, but it is a most difficult operation.

Towards the middle of November, Lawrence told me that Messer-Grande had a
prisoner in his hands whom the new secretary, Businello, had ordered to
be placed in the worst cell, and who consequently was going to share
mine. He told me that on the secretary's reminding him that I looked upon
it as a favour to be left alone, he answered that I had grown wiser in
the four months of my imprisonment. I was not sorry to hear the news or
that there was a new secretary. This M. Pierre Businello was a worthy man
whom I knew at Paris. He afterwards went to London as ambassador of the

In the afternoon I heard the noise of the bolts, and presently Lawrence
and two guards entered leading in a young man who was weeping bitterly;
and after taking off his handcuffs they shut him up with me, and went out
without saying a word. I was lying on my bed, and he could not see me. I
was amused at his astonishment. Being, fortunately for himself, seven or
eight inches shorter than I, he was able to stand upright, and he began
to inspect my arm-chair, which he doubtless thought was meant for his own
use. Glancing at the ledge above the grating he saw Boethius, took it up,
opened it, and put it down with a kind of passion, probably because being
in Latin it was of no use to him. Continuing his inspection of the cell
he went to the left, and groping about was much surprised to find
clothes. He approached the recess, and stretching out his hand he touched
me, and immediately begged my pardon in a respectful manner. I asked him
to sit down and we were friends.

"Who are you?" said I.

"I am Maggiorin, of Vicenza. My father, who was a coachman, kept me at
school till I was eleven, by which time I had learnt to read and write; I
was afterwards apprenticed to a barber, where I learnt my business
thoroughly. After that I became valet to the Count of X---. I had been in
the service of the nobleman for two years when his daughter came from the
convent. It was my duty to do her hair, and by degrees I fell in love
with her, and inspired her with a reciprocal passion. After having sworn
a thousand times to exist only for one another, we gave ourselves up to
the task of shewing each other marks of our affection, the result of
which was that the state of the young countess discovered all. An old and
devoted servant was the first to find out our connection and the
condition of my mistress, and she told her that she felt in duty bound to
tell her father, but my sweetheart succeeded in making her promise to be
silent, saying that in the course of the week she herself would tell him
through her confessor. She informed me of all this, and instead of going
to confession we prepared for flight. She had laid hands on a good sum of
money and some diamonds which had belonged to her mother, and we were to
set out for Milan to-night. But to-day the count called me after dinner,
and giving me a letter, he told me to start at once and to deliver it
with my own hand to the person to whom it was addressed at Venice. He
spoke to me so kindly and quietly that I had not the slightest suspicion
of the fate in store for me. I went to get my cloak, said good-bye to my
little wife, telling her that I should soon return. Seeing deeper below
the surface than I, and perchance having a presentiment of my misfortune,
she was sick at heart. I came here in hot haste, and took care to deliver
the fatal letter. They made me wait for an answer, and in the mean time I
went to an inn; but as I came out I was arrested and put in the
guard-room, where I was kept till they brought me here. I suppose, sir, I
might consider the young countess as my wife?"

"You make a mistake."

"But nature----"

"Nature, when a man listens to her and nothing else, takes him from one
folly to another, till she puts him under the Leads."

"I am under the Leads, then, am I?"

"As I am."

The poor young man shed some bitter tears. He was a well-made lad, open,
honest, and amorous beyond words. I secretly pardoned the countess, and
condemned the count for exposing his daughter to such temptation. A
shepherd who shuts up the wolf in the fold should not complain if his
flock be devoured. In all his tears and lamentations he thought not of
himself but always of his sweetheart. He thought that the gaoler would
return and bring him some food and a bed; but I undeceived him, and
offered him a share of what I had. His heart, however, was too full for
him to eat. In the evening I gave him my mattress, on which he passed the
night, for though he looked neat and clean enough I did not care to have
him to sleep with me, dreading the results of a lover's dreams. He
neither understood how wrongly he had acted, nor how the count was
constrained to punish him publicly as a cloak to the honour of his
daughter and his house. The next day he was given a mattress and a dinner
to the value of fifteen sous, which the Tribunal had assigned to him,
either as a favour or a charity, for the word justice would not be
appropriate in speaking of this terrible body. I told the gaoler that my
dinner would suffice for the two of us, and that he could employ the
young man's allowance in saying masses in his usual manner. He agreed
willingly, and having told him that he was lucky to be in my company, he
said that we could walk in the garret for half an hour. I found this walk
an excellent thing for my health and my plan of escape, which, however, I
could not carry out for eleven months afterwards. At the end of this
resort of rats, I saw a number of old pieces of furniture thrown on the
ground to the right and left of two great chests, and in front of a large
pile of papers sewn up into separate volumes. I helped myself to a dozen
of them for the sake of the reading, and I found them to be accounts of
trials, and very diverting; for I was allowed to read these papers, which
had once contained such secrets. I found some curious replies to the
judges' questions respecting the seduction of maidens, gallantries
carried a little too far by persons employed in girls' schools, facts
relating to confessors who had abused their penitents, schoolmasters
convicted of pederasty with their pupils, and guardians who had seduced
their wards. Some of the papers dating two or three centuries back, in
which the style and the manners illustrated gave me considerable
entertainment. Among the pieces of furniture on the floor I saw a
warming-pan, a kettle, a fire-shovel, a pair of tongs, some old
candle-sticks, some earthenware pots, and even a syringe. From this I
concluded that some prisoner of distinction had been allowed to make use
of these articles. But what interested me most was a straight iron bar as
thick as my thumb, and about a foot and a half long. However, I left
everything as it was, as my plans had not been sufficiently ripened by
time for me to appropriate any object in particular.

One day towards the end of the month my companion was taken away, and
Lawrence told me that he had been condemned to the prisons known as The
Fours, which are within the same walls as the ordinary prisons, but
belong to the State Inquisitors. Those confined in them have the
privilege of being able to call the gaoler when they like. The prisons
are gloomy, but there is an oil lamp in the midst which gives the
necessary light, and there is no fear of fire as everything is made of
marble. I heard, a long time after, that the unfortunate Maggiorin was
there for five years, and was afterwards sent to Cerigo for ten. I do not
know whether he ever came from there. He had kept me good company, and
this I discovered as soon as he was gone, for in a few days I became as
melancholy as before. Fortunately, I was still allowed my walk in the
garret, and I began to examine its contents with more minuteness. One of
the chests was full of fine paper, pieces of cardboard, uncut pens, and
clews of pack thread; the other was fastened down. A piece of polished
black marble, an inch thick, six inches long, and three broad, attracted
my attention, and I possessed myself of it without knowing what I was
going to do with it, and I secreted it in my cell, covering it up with my

A week after Maggiorin had gone, Lawrence told me that in all probability
I should soon get another companion. This fellow Lawrence, who at bottom
was a mere gabbling fool, began to get uneasy at my never asking him any
questions. This fondness for gossip was not altogether appropriate to his
office, but where is one to find beings absolutely vile? There are such
persons, but happily they are few and far between, and are not to be
sought for in the lower orders. Thus my gaoler found himself unable to
hold his tongue, and thought that the reason I asked no questions must be
that I thought him incapable of answering them; and feeling hurt at this,
and wishing to prove to me that I made a mistake, he began to gossip
without being solicited.

"I believe you will often have visitors," said he, "as the other six
cells have each two prisoners, who are not likely to be sent to the
Fours." I made him no reply, but he went on, in a few seconds, "They send
to the Fours all sorts of people after they have been sentenced, though
they know nothing of that. The prisoners whom I have charge of under the
Leads are like yourself, persons of note, and are only guilty of deeds of
which the inquisitive must know nothing. If you knew, sir, what sort of
people shared your fate, you would be astonished, It's true that you are
called a man of parts; but you will pardon me.... You know that all men
of parts are treated well here. You take me, I see. Fifty sous a day,
that's something. They give three livres to a citizen, four to a
gentleman, and eight to a foreign count. I ought to know, I think, as
everything goes through my hands."

He then commenced to sing his own praises, which consisted of negative

"I'm no thief, nor traitor, nor greedy, nor malicious, nor brutal, as all
my predecessors were, and when I have drunk a pint over and above I am
all the better for it. If my father had sent me to school I should have
learnt to read and write, and I might be Messer-Grande to-day, but that's
not my fault. M. Andre Diedo has a high opinion of me. My wife, who cooks
for you every day, and is only twenty-four, goes to see him when she
will, and he will have her come in without ceremony, even if he be in
bed, and that's more than he'll do for a senator. I promise you you will
be always having the new-comers in your cell, but never for any length of
time, for as soon as the secretary has got what he wants to know from
them, he sends them to their place--to the Fours, to some fort, or to the
Levant; and if they be foreigners they are sent across the frontier, for
our Government does not hold itself master of the subjects of other
princes, if they be not in its service. The clemency of the Court is
beyond compare; there's not another in the world that treats its
prisoners so well. They say it's cruel to disallow writing and visitors;
but that's foolish, for what are writing and company but waste of time?
You will tell me that you have nothing to do, but we can't say as much."

Such was, almost word for word, the first harangue with which the fellow
honoured me, and I must say I found it amusing. I saw that if the man had
been less of a fool he would most certainly have been more of a

The next day brought me a new messmate, who was treated as Maggiorin had
been, and I thus found it necessary to buy another ivory spoon, for as
the newcomers were given nothing on the first day of their imprisonment I
had to do all the honours of the cell.

My new mate made me a low bow, for my beard, now four inches long, was
still more imposing than my figure. Lawrence often lent me scissors to
cut my nails, but he was forbidden, under pain of very heavy punishment,
to let me touch my beard. I knew not the reason of this order, but I
ended by becoming used to my beard as one gets used to everything.

The new-comer was a man of about fifty, approaching my size, a little
bent, thin, with a large mouth, and very bad teeth. He had small grey
eyes hidden under thick eyebrows of a red colour, which made him look
like an owl; and this picture was set off by a small black wig, which
exhaled a disagreeable odour of oil, and by a dress of coarse grey cloth.
He accepted my offer of dinner, but was reserved, and said not a word the
whole day, and I was also silent, thinking he would soon recover the use
of his tongue, as he did the next day.

Early in the morning he was given a bed and a bag full of linen. The
gaoler asked him, as he had asked me, what he would have for dinner, and
for money to pay for it.

"I have no money."

"What! a moneyed man like you have no money?"

"I haven't a sou."

"Very good; in that case I will get you some army biscuit and water,
according to instructions."

He went out, and returned directly afterwards with a pound and a half of
biscuit, and a pitcher, which he set before the prisoner, and then went

Left alone with this phantom I heard a sigh, and my pity made me break
the silence.

"Don't sigh, sir, you shall share my dinner. But I think you have made a
great mistake in coming here without money."

"I have some, but it does not do to let those harpies know of it:"

"And so you condemn yourself to bread and water. Truly a wise proceeding!
Do you know the reason of your imprisonment?"

"Yes, sir, and I will endeavour in a few words to inform you of it."

"My name is Squaldo Nobili. My father was a countryman who had me taught
reading and writing, and at his death left me his cottage and the small
patch of ground belonging to it. I lived in Friuli, about a day's journey
from the Marshes of Udine. As a torrent called Corno often damaged my
little property, I determined to sell it and to set up in Venice, which I
did ten years ago. I brought with me eight thousand livres in fair
sequins, and knowing that in this happy commonwealth all men enjoyed the
blessings of liberty, I believed that by utilizing my capital I might
make a little income, and I began to lend money, on security. Relying on
my thrift, my judgment, and my knowledge of the world, I chose this
business in preference to all others. I rented a small house in the
neighbourhood of the Royal Canal, and having furnished it I lived there
in comfort by myself; and in the course of two years I found I had made a
profit of ten thousand livres, though I had expended two thousand on
household expenses as I wished to live in comfort. In this fashion I saw
myself in a fair way of making a respectable fortune in time; but one,
day, having lent a Jew two sequins upon some books, I found one amongst
them called 'La Sagesse,' by Charron. It was then I found out how good a
thing it is to be able to read, for this book, which you, sir, may not
have read, contains all that a man need know--purging him of all the
prejudices of his childhood. With Charron good-bye to hell and all the
empty terrors of a future life; one's eyes are opened, one knows the way
to bliss, one becomes wise indeed. Do you, sir, get this book, and pay no
heed to those foolish persons who would tell you this treasure is not to
be approached."

This curious discourse made me know my man. As to Charron, I had read the
book though I did not know it had been translated into Italian. The
author who was a great admirer of Montaigne thought to surpass his model,
but toiled in vain. He is not much read despite the prohibition to read
his works, which should have given them some popularity. He had the
impudence to give his book the title of one of Solomon's treatises--a
circumstance which does not say much for his modesty. My companion went
on as follows:

"Set free by Charron from any scruples I still might have, and from those
false ideas so hard to rid one's self of, I pushed my business in such
sort, that at the end of six years I could lay my hand on ten thousand
sequins. There is no need for you to be astonished at that, as in this
wealthy city gambling, debauchery, and idleness set all the world awry
and in continual need of money; so do the wise gather what the fool

"Three years ago a certain Count Seriman came and asked me to take from
him five hundred sequins, to put them in my business, and to give him
half profits. All he asked for was an obligation in which I promised to
return him the whole sum on demand. At the end of a year I sent him
seventy-five sequins, which made fifteen per cent. on his money; he gave
me a receipt for it, but was ill pleased. He was wrong, for I was in no
need of money, and had not used his for business purposes. At the end of
the second year, out of pure generosity, I sent him the same amount; but
we came to a quarrel and he demanded the return of the five hundred
sequins. 'Certainly,' I said, 'but I must deduct the hundred and fifty
you have already received.' Enraged at this he served me with a writ for
the payment of the whole sum. A clever lawyer undertook my defence and
was able to gain me two years. Three months ago I was spoken to as to an
agreement, and I refused to hear of it, but fearing violence I went to
the Abbe Justiniani, the Spanish ambassador's secretary, and for a small
sum he let me a house in the precincts of the Embassy, where one is safe
from surprises. I was quite willing to let Count Seriman have his money,
but I claimed a reduction of a hundred sequins on account of the costs of
the lawsuit. A week ago the lawyers on both sides came to me. I shewed
them a purse of two hundred and fifty sequins, and told them they might
take it, but not a penny more. They went away without saying a word, both
wearing an ill-pleased air, of which I took no notice. Three days ago the
Abbe Justiniani told me that the ambassador had thought fit to give
permission to the State Inquisitors to send their men at once to my house
to make search therein. I thought the thing impossible under the shelter
of a foreign ambassador, and instead of taking the usual precautions, I
waited the approach of the men-at-arms, only putting my money in a place
of safety. At daybreak Messer-Grande came to the house, and asked me for
three hundred and fifty sequins, and on my telling him that I hadn't a
farthing he seized me, and here I am."

I shuddered, less at having such an infamous companion than at his
evidently considering me as his equal, for if he had thought of me in any
other light he would certainly not have told me this long tale, doubtless
in the belief that I should take his part. In all the folly about Charron
with which he tormented me in the three days we were together, I found by
bitter experience the truth of the Italian proverb: 'Guardati da colui
che non ha letto che un libro solo'. By reading the work of the misguided
priest he had become an Atheist, and of this he made his boast all the
day long. In the afternoon Lawrence came to tell him to come and speak
with the secretary. He dressed himself hastily, and instead of his own
shoes he took mine without my seeing him. He came back in half an hour in
tears, and took out of his shoes two purses containing three hundred and
fifty sequins, and, the gaoler going before, he went to take them to the
secretary. A few moments afterwards he returned, and taking his cloak
went away. Lawrence told me that he had been set at liberty. I thought,
and with good reason, that, to make him acknowledge his debt and pay it,
the secretary had threatened him with the torture; and if it were only
used in similar cases, I, who detest the principle of torture, would be
the first to proclaim its utility.

On New Year's Day, 1733, I received my presents. Lawrence brought me a
dressing-gown lined with foxskin, a coverlet of wadded silk, and a
bear-skin bag for me to put my legs in, which I welcomed gladly, for the
coldness was unbearable as the heat in August. Lawrence told me that I
might spend to the amount of six sequins a month, that I might have what
books I liked, and take in the newspaper, and that this present came from
M. de Bragadin. I asked him for a pencil, and I wrote upon a scrap of
paper: "I am grateful for the kindness of the Tribunal and the goodness
of M. de Bragadin."

The man who would know what were my feelings at all this must have been
in a similar situation to my own. In the first gush of feeling I forgave
my oppressors, and was on the point of giving up the idea of escape; so
easily shall you move a man that you have brought low and overwhelmed
with misfortune. Lawrence told me that M. de Bragadin had come before the
three Inquisitors, and that on his knees, and with tears in his eyes, he
had entreated them to let him give me this mark of his affection if I
were still in the land of the living; the Inquisitors were moved, and
were not able to refuse his request.

I wrote down without delay the names of the books I wanted.

One fine morning, as I was walking in the garret, my eyes fell on the
iron bar I have mentioned, and I saw that it might very easily be made
into a defensive or offensive weapon. I took possession of it, and having
hidden it under my dressing-gown I conveyed it into my cell. As soon as I
was alone, I took the piece of black marble, and I found that I had to my
hand an excellent whetstone; for by rubbing the bar with the stone I
obtained a very good edge.

My interest roused in this work in which I was but an apprentice, and in
the fashion in which I seemed likely to become possessed of an instrument
totally prohibited under the Leads, impelled, perhaps, also by my vanity
to make a weapon without any of the necessary tools, and incited by my
very difficulties (for I worked away till dark without anything to hold
my whetstone except my left hand, and without a drop of oil to soften the
iron), I made up my mind to persevere in my difficult task. My saliva
served me in the stead of oil, and I toiled eight days to produce eight
edges terminating in a sharp point, the edges being an inch and a half in
length. My bar thus sharpened formed an eight-sided dagger, and would
have done justice to a first-rate cutler. No one can imagine the toil and
trouble I had to bear, nor the patience required to finish this difficult
task without any other tools than a loose piece of stone. I put myself,
in fact, to a kind of torture unknown to the tyrants of all ages. My
right arm had become so stiff that I could hardly move it; the palm of my
hand was covered with a large scar, the result of the numerous blisters
caused by the hardness and the length of the work. No one would guess the
sufferings I underwent to bring my work to completion.

Proud of what I had done, without thinking what use I could make of my
weapon, my first care was to hide it in such a manner as would defy a
minute search. After thinking over a thousand plans, to all of which
there was some objection, I cast my eyes on my arm-chair, and there I
contrived to hide it so as to be secure from all suspicion. Thus did
Providence aid me to contrive a wonderful and almost inconceivable plan
of escape. I confess to a feeling of vanity, not because I eventually
succeeded--for I owed something to good luck--but because I was brave
enough to undertake such a scheme in spite of the difficulties which
might have ruined my plans and prevented my ever attaining liberty.

After thinking for three or four days as to what I should do with the bar
I had made into an edged tool, as thick as a walking-stick and twenty
inches long, I determined that the best plan would be to make a hole in
the floor under my bed.

I was sure that the room below my cell was no other than the one in which
I had seen M. Cavalli. I knew that this room was opened every morning,
and I felt persuaded that, after I had made my hole, I could easily let
myself down with my sheets, which I would make into a rope and fasten to
my bed. Once there, I would hide under the table of the court, and in the
morning, when the door was opened, I could escape and get to a place of
safety before anyone could follow me. I thought it possible that a sentry
might be placed in the hall, but my short pike ought to soon rid me of
him. The floor might be of double or even of triple thickness, and this
thought puzzled me; for in that case how was I to prevent the guard
sweeping out the room throughout the two months my work might last. If I
forbade them to do so, I might rouse suspicion; all the more as, to free
myself of the fleas, I had requested them to sweep out the cell every
day, and in sweeping they would soon discover what I was about. I must
find some way out of this difficulty.

I began by forbidding them to sweep, without giving any reason. A week
after, Lawrence asked me why I did so. I told him because of the dust
which might make me cough violently and give me some fatal injury.

"I will make them water the floor," said he.

"That would be worse, Lawrence, for the damp might cause a plethora."

In this manner I obtained a week's respite, but at the end of that time
the lout gave orders that my cell should be swept. He had the bed carried
out into the garret, and on pretence of having the sweeping done with
greater care, he lighted a candle. This let me know that the rascal was
suspicious of something; but I was crafty enough to take no notice of
him, and so far from giving up my plea, I only thought how I could put it
on good train. Next morning I pricked my finger and covered my
handkerchief with the blood, and then awaited Lawrence in bed. As soon as
he came I told him that I had coughed so violently as to break a
blood-vessel, which had made me bring up all the blood he saw. "Get me a
doctor." The doctor came, ordered me to be bled, and wrote me a
prescription. I told him it was Lawrence's fault, as he had persisted in
having the room swept. The doctor blamed him for doing so, and just as if
I had asked him he told us of a young man who had died from the same
cause, and said that there was nothing more dangerous than breathing in
dust. Lawrence called all the gods to witness that he had only had the
room swept for my sake, and promised it should not happen again. I
laughed to myself, for the doctor could not have played his part better
if I had given him the word. The guards who were there were delighted,
and said they would take care only to sweep the cells of those prisoners
who had angered them.

When the doctor was gone, Lawrence begged my pardon, and assured me that
all the other prisoners were in good health although their cells were
swept out regularly.

"But what the doctor says is worth considering," said he, "and I shall
tell them all about it, for I look upon them as my children."

The blood-letting did me good, as it made me sleep, and relieved me of
the spasms with which I was sometimes troubled. I had regained my
appetite and was getting back my strength every day, but the time to set
about my work was not yet come; it was still too cold, and I could not
hold the bar for any length of time without my hand becoming stiff. My
scheme required much thought. I had to exercise boldness and foresight to
rid myself of troubles which chance might bring to pass or which I could
foresee. The situation of a man who had to act as I had, is an unhappy
one, but in risking all for all half its bitterness vanishes.

The long nights of winter distressed me, for I had to pass nineteen
mortal hours in darkness; and on the cloudy days, which are common enough
at Venice, the light I had was not sufficient for me to be able to read.
Without any distractions I fell back on the idea of my escape, and a man
who always thinks on one subject is in danger of becoming a monomaniac. A
wretched kitchen-lamp would have made me happy, but how am I to get such
a thing? O blessed prerogative of thought! how happy was I when I thought
I had found a way to possess myself of such a treasure! To make such a
lamp I required a vase, wicks, oil, a flint and steel, tinder, and
matches. A porringer would do for the vase, and I had one which was used
for cooking eggs in butter. Pretending that the common oil did not agree
with me, I got them to buy me Lucca oil for my salad, and my cotton
counterpane would furnish me with wicks. I then said I had the toothache,
and asked Lawrence to get me a pumice-stone, but as he did not know what
I meant I told him that a musket-flint would do as well if it were soaked
in vinegar for a day, and, then being applied to the tooth the pain would
be eased. Lawrence told me that the vinegar I had was excellent, and that
I could soak the stone myself, and he gave me three or four flints he had
in his pocket. All I had to do was to get some sulphur and tinder, and
the procuring of these two articles set all my wits to work. At last
fortune came to my assistance.

I had suffered from a kind of rash, which as it came off had left some
red spots on my arms, and occasionally caused me some irritation. I told
Lawrence to ask the doctor for a cure, and the next day he brought me a
piece of paper which the secretary had seen, and on which the doctor had
written, "Regulate the food for a day, and the skin will be cured by four
ounces of oil of sweet almonds or an ointment of flour of sulphur, but
this local application is hazardous."

"Never mind the danger," said I to Lawrence; "buy me the ointment, or
rather get me the sulphur, as I have some butter by me, and I can make it
up myself. Have you any matches? Give me a few."

He found some in his pockets, and he gave me them.

What a small thing brings comfort in distress! But in my place these
matches were no small thing, but rather a great treasure.

I had puzzled my head for several hours as to what substitute I could
find for tinder--the only thing I still lacked, and which I could not ask
for under any pretense whatsoever--when I remembered that I had told the
tailor to put some under the armpits of my coat to prevent the
perspiration spoiling the stuff. The coat, quite new, was before me, and
my heart began to beat, but supposing the tailor had not put it in! Thus
I hung between hope and fear. I had only to take a step to know all; but
such a step would have been decisive, and I dared not take it. At last I
drew nigh, and feeling myself unworthy of such mercies I fell on my knees
and fervently prayed of God that the tailor might not have forgotten the
tinder. After this heartfelt prayer I took my coat, unsewed it, and
found-the tinder! My joy knew no bounds. I naturally gave thanks to God,
since it was with confidence in Him that I took courage and searched my
coat, and I returned thanks to Him with all my heart.

I now had all the necessary materials, and I soon made myself a lamp. Let
the reader imagine my joy at having in a manner made light in the midst
of darkness, and it was no less sweet because against the orders of my
infamous oppressors. Now there was no more night for me, and also no more
salad, for though I was very fond of it the need of keeping the oil to
give light caused me to make this sacrifice without it costing me many
pangs. I fixed upon the first Monday in Lent to begin the difficult work
of breaking through the floor, for I suspected that in the tumult of the
carnival I might have some visitors, and I was in the right.

At noon, on Quinquagesima Sunday, I heard the noise of the bolts, and
presently Lawrence entered, followed by a thick-set man whom I recognized
as the Jew, Gabriel Schalon, known for lending money to young men.

We knew each other, so exchanged compliments. His company was by no means
agreeable to me, but my opinion was not asked. He began by congratulating
me on having the pleasure of his society; and by way of answer I offered
him to share my dinner, but he refused, saying he would only take a
little soup, and would keep his appetite for a better supper at his own


"This evening. You heard when I asked for my bed he told me that we would
talk about that to-morrow. That means plainly that I shall have no need
of it. And do you think it likely that a man like me would be left
without anything to eat?"

"That was my experience."

"Possibly, but between ourselves our cases are somewhat different; and
without going any farther into that question, the Inquisitors have made a
mistake in arresting me, and they will be in some trouble, I am certain,
as to how to atone for doing so."

"They will possibly give you a pension. A man of your importance has to
be conciliated."

"True, there's not a broker on the exchange more useful than myself, and
the five sages have often profited by the advice I have given them. My
detention is a curious incident, which, perchance, will be of service to

"Indeed. How, may I ask?"

"I will get you out of here in a month's time. I know to whom to speak
and what way to do it:"

"I reckon on you, then."

"You may do so."

This knave and fool together believed himself to be somebody. He
volunteered to inform me as to what was being said of me in the town, but
as he only related the idle tales of men as ignorant as himself, he
wearied me, and to escape listening to him I took up a book. The fellow
had the impudence to ask me not to read, as he was very fond of talking,
but henceforth he talked only to himself. I did not dare to light my lamp
before this creature, and as night drew on he decided on accepting some
bread and Cyprus wine, and he was afterwards obliged to do as best he
could with my mattress, which was now the common bed of all new-comers.

In the morning he had a bed and some food from his own house. I was
burdened with this wretched fellow for two months, for before condemning
him to the Fours the secretary had several interviews with him to bring
to light his knaveries, and to oblige him to cancel a goodly number of
illegal agreements. He confessed to me himself that he had bought of M.
Domenico Micheli the right to moneys which could not belong to the buyer
till after the father of the seller was dead. "It's true," said he, "that
he agreed to give me fifty per cent., but you must consider that if he
died before his father I should lose all." At last, seeing that my cursed
fellow did not go, I determined to light my lamp again after having made
him promise to observe secrecy. He only kept his promise while he was
with me, as Lawrence knew all about it, but luckily he attached no
importance to the fact.

This unwelcome guest was a true burden to me, as he not only prevented me
from working for my escape but also from reading. He was troublesome,
ignorant, superstitious, a braggart, cowardly, and sometimes like a
madman. He would have had me cry, since fear made him weep, and he said
over and over again that this imprisonment would ruin his reputation. On
this count I reassured him with a sarcasm he did not understand. I told
him that his reputation was too well known to suffer anything from this
little misfortune, and he took that for a compliment. He would not
confess to being a miser, but I made him admit that if the Inquisitors
would give him a hundred sequins for every day of his imprisonment he
would gladly pass the rest of his life under the Leads.

He was a Talmudist, like all modern Jews, and he tried to make me believe
that he was very devout; but I once extracted a smile of approbation from
him by telling him that he would forswear Moses if the Pope would make
him a cardinal. As the son of a rabbi he was learned in all the
ceremonies of his religion, but like most men he considered the essence
of a religion to lie in its discipline and outward forms.

This Jew, who was extremely fat, passed three-quarters of his life in
bed; and though he often dozed in the daytime, he was annoyed at not
being able to sleep at night--all the more as he saw that I slept
excellently. He once took it into his head to wake me up as I was
enjoying my sleep.

"What do you want?" said I; "waking me up with a start like this."

"My dear fellow, I can't sleep a wink. Have compassion on me and let us
have a little talk."

"You scoundrel! You act thus and you dare to call yourself my friend! I
know your lack of sleep torments you, but if you again deprive me of the
only blessing I enjoy I will arise and strangle you."

I uttered these words in a kind of transport.

"Forgive me, for mercy's sake! and be sure that I will not trouble you

It is possible that I should not have strangled him, but I was very much
tempted to do so. A prisoner who is happy enough to sleep soundly, all
the while he sleeps is no longer a captive, and feels no more the weight
of his chains. He ought to look upon the wretch who awakens him as a
guard who deprives him of his liberty, and makes him feel his misery once
more, since, awakening, he feels all his former woes. Furthermore, the
sleeping prisoner often dreams that he is free again, in like manner as
the wretch dying of hunger sees himself in dreams seated at a sumptuous

I congratulated myself on not having commenced my great work before he
came, especially as he required that the room should be swept out. The
first time he asked for it to be dote, the guards made me laugh by saying
that it would kill me. However, he insisted; and I had my revenge by
pretending to be ill, but from interested motives I made no further

On the Wednesday in Holy Week Lawrence told us that the secretary would
make us the customary visit in the afternoon, the object being to give
peace to them that would receive the sacrament at Easter, and also to
know if they had anything to say against the gaoler. "So, gentlemen,"
said Lawrence, "if you have any complaints to make of me make them. Dress
yourselves fully, as is customary." I told Lawrence to get me a confessor
for the day.

I put myself into full dress, and the Jew followed my example, taking
leave of me in advance, so sure was he that the secretary would set him
free on hearing what he had to say. "My presentiment," said he, "is of
the same kind as I have had before, and I have never been deceived."

"I congratulate you, but don't reckon without your host." He did not
understand what I meant.

In course of time the secretary came, and as soon as the cell-door was
opened the Jew ran out and threw himself at his feet on both knees, I
heard for five minutes nothing but his tears and complaints, for the
secretary said not one word. He came back, and Lawrence told me to go
out. With a beard of eight months' growth, and a dress made for
love-making in August, I must have presented a somewhat curious
appearance. Much to my disgust I shivered with cold, and was afraid that
the secretary would think I was trembling with fear. As I was obliged to
bend low to come out of my hole, my bow was ready made, and drawing
myself up, I looked at him calmly without affecting any unseasonable
hardihood, and waited for him to speak. The secretary also kept silence,
so that we stood facing each other like a pair of statues. At the end of
two minutes, the secretary, seeing that I said nothing, gave me a slight
bow, and went away. I re-entered my cell, and taking off my clothes in
haste, got into bed to get warm again. The Jew was astonished at my not
having spoken to the secretary, although my silence had cried more loudly
than his cowardly complaints. A prisoner of my kind has no business to
open his mouth before his judge, except to answer questions. On Maundy
Thursday a Jesuit came to confess me, and on Holy Saturday a priest of
St. Mark's came to administer to me the Holy Communion. My confession
appearing rather too laconic to the sweet son of Ignatius he thought good
to remonstrate with me before giving me his absolution.

"Do you pray to God?" he said.

"From the morning unto the evening, and from the evening unto the
morning, for, placed as I am, all that I feel--my anxiety, my grief, all
the wanderings of my mind--can be but a prayer in the eyes of the Divine
Wisdom which alone sees my heart."

The Jesuit smiled slightly and replied by a discourse rather metaphysical
than moral, which did not at all tally with my views. I should have
confuted him on every point if he had not astonished me by a prophecy he
made. "Since it is from us," said he, "that you learnt what you know of
religion, practise it in our fashion, pray like us, and know that you
will only come out of this place on the day of the saint whose name you
bear." So saying he gave me absolution, and left me. This man left the
strongest possible impression on my mind. I did my best, but I could not
rid myself of it. I proceeded to pass in review all the saints in the

The Jesuit was the director of M. Flaminio Corner, an old senator, and
then a State Inquisitor. This statesman was a famous man of letters, a
great politician, highly religious, and author of several pious and
ascetic works written in Latin. His reputation was spotless.

On being informed that I should be set free on the feast-day of my patron
saint, and thinking that my informant ought to know for certain what he
told me, I felt glad to have a patron-saint. "But which is it?" I asked
myself. "It cannot be St. James of Compostella, whose name I bear, for it
was on the feast-day of that saint that Messer-Grande burst open my
door." I took the almanac and looking for the saints' days nearest at
hand I found St. George--a saint of some note, but of whom I had never
thought. I then devoted myself to St. Mark, whose feast fell on the
twenty-fifth of the month, and whose protection as a Venetian I might
justly claim. To him, then, I addressed my vows, but all in vain, for his
feast came round and still I was in prison. Then I took myself to St.
James, the brother of Christ, who comes before St. Philip, but again in
the wrong. I tried St. Anthony, who, if the tale told at Padua be true,
worked thirteen miracles a day. He worked none for me. Thus I passed from
one to the other, and by degrees I got to hope in the protection of the
saints just as one hopes for anything one desires, but does not expect to
come to pass; and I finished up by hoping only in my Saint Bar, and in
the strength of my arms. Nevertheless the promise of the Jesuit came to
pass, since I escaped from The Leads on All Hallows Day; and it is
certain that if I had a patron-saint, he must be looked for in their
number since they are all honoured on that day.

A fortnight after Easter I was delivered from my troublesome Israelite,
and the poor devil instead of being sent back to his home had to spend
two years in The Fours, and on his gaining his freedom he went and set up
in Trieste, where he ended his days.

No sooner was I again alone than I set zealously about my work. I had to
make haste for fear of some new visitor, who, like the Jew, might insist
on the cell being swept. I began by drawing back my bed, and after
lighting my lamp I lay down on my belly, my pike in my hand, with a
napkin close by in which to gather the fragments of board as I scooped
them out. My task was to destroy the board by dint of driving into it the
point of my tool. At first the pieces I got away were not much larger
than grains of wheat, but they soon increased in size.

The board was made of deal, and was sixteen inches broad. I began to
pierce it at its juncture with another board, and as there were no nails
or clamps my work was simple. After six hours' toil I tied up the napkin,
and put it on one side to empty it the following day behind the pile of
papers in the garret. The fragments were four or five times larger in
bulk than the hole from whence they came. I put back my bed in its place,
and on emptying the napkin the next morning I took care so to dispose the
fragments that they should not be seen.

Having broken through the first board, which I found to be two inches
thick, I was stopped by a second which I judged to be as thick as the
first. Tormented by the fear of new visitors I redoubled my efforts, and
in three weeks I had pierced the three boards of which the floor was
composed; and then I thought that all was lost, for I found I had to
pierce a bed of small pieces of marble known at Venice as terrazzo
marmorin. This forms the usual floor of venetian houses of all kinds,
except the cottages, for even the high nobility prefer the terrazzo to
the finest boarded floor. I was thunderstruck to find that my bar made no
impression on this composition; but, nevertheless, I was not altogether
discouraged and cast down. I remembered Hannibal, who, according to Livy,
opened up a passage through the Alps by breaking the rocks with axes and
other instruments, having previously softened them with vinegar. I
thought that Hannibal had succeeded not by aceto, but aceta, which in the
Latin of Padua might well be the same as ascia; and who can guarantee the
text to be free from the blunders of the copyist? All the same, I poured
into the hole a bottle of strong vinegar I had by me, and in the morning,
either because of the vinegar or because I, refreshed and rested, put
more strength and patience into the work, I saw that I should overcome
this new difficulty; for I had not to break the pieces of marble, but
only to pulverize with the end of my bar the cement which kept them
together. I soon perceived that the greatest difficulty was on the
surface, and in four days the whole mosaic was destroyed without the
point of my pike being at all damaged.

Below the pavement I found another plank, but I had expected as much. I
concluded that this would be the last; that is the first to be put down
when the rooms below were being ceiled. I pierced it with some
difficulty, as, the hole being ten inches deep, it had become troublesome
to work the pike. A thousand times I commended myself to the mercy of
God. Those Free-thinkers who say that praying is no good do not know what
they are talking about; for I know by experience that, having prayed to
God, I always felt myself grow stronger, which fact amply proves the
usefulness of prayer, whether the renewal of strength come straight from
God, or whether it comes only from the trust one has in Him.

On the 25th of June, on which day the Republic celebrates the wonderful
appearance of St. Mark under the form of a winged lion in the ducal
church, about three o'clock in the afternoon, as I was labouring on my
belly at the hole, stark naked, covered with sweat, my lamp beside me. I
heard with mortal fear the shriek of a bolt and the noise of the door of
the first passage. It was a fearful moment! I blew out my lamp, and
leaving my bar in the hole I threw into it the napkin with the shavings
it contained, and as swift as lightning I replaced my bed as best I
could, and threw myself on it just as the door of my cell opened. If
Lawrence had come in two seconds sooner he would have caught me. He was
about to walk over me, but crying out dolefully I stopped him, and he
fell back, saying,

"Truly, sir, I pity you, for the air here is as hot as a furnace. Get up,
and thank God for giving you such good company."

"Come in, my lord, come in," said he to the poor wretch who followed him.
Then, without heeding my nakedness, the fellow made the noble gentleman
enter, and he seeing me to be naked, sought to avoid me while I vainly
tried to find my shirt.

The new-comer thought he was in hell, and cried out,

"Where am I? My God! where have I been put? What heat! What a stench!
With whom am I?"

Lawrence made him go out, and asked me to put on my shirt to go into the
garret for a moment. Addressing himself to the new prisoner, he said
that, having to get a bed and other necessaries, he would leave us in the
garret till he came back, and that, in the mean time, the cell would be
freed from the bad smell, which was only oil. What a start it gave me as
I heard him utter the word "oil." In my hurry I had forgotten to snuff
the wick after blowing it out. As Lawrence asked me no questions about
it, I concluded that he knew all, and the accursed Jew must have betrayed
me. I thought myself lucky that he was not able to tell him any more.

From that time the repulsion which I had felt for Lawrence disappeared.

After putting on my shirt and dressing-gown, I went out and found my new
companion engaged in writing a list of what he wanted the gaoler to get
him. As soon as he saw me, he exclaimed, "Ah! it's Casanova." I, too,
recognised him as the Abbe and Count Fenarolo, a man of fifty, amiable,
rich, and a favourite in society. He embraced me, and when I told him
that I should have expected to see anybody in that place rather than him,
he could not keep back his tears, which made me weep also.

When we were alone I told him that, as soon as his bed came, I should
offer him the recess, begging him at the same time not to accept it. I
asked him, also, not to ask to have the cell swept, saying that I would
tell him the reason another time. He promised to keep all secrecy in the
matter, and said he thought himself fortunate to be placed with me. He
said that as no one knew why I was imprisoned, everyone was guessing at
it. Some said that I was the heresiarch of a new sect; others that Madame
Memmo had persuaded the Inquisitors that I had made her sons Atheists,
and others that Antony Condulmer, the State Inquisitor, had me imprisoned
as a disturber of the peace, because I hissed Abbe Chiari's plays, and
had formed a design to go to Padua for the express purpose of killing

All these accusations had a certain foundation in fact which gave them an
air of truth, but in reality they were all wholly false. I cared too
little for religion to trouble myself to found a new one. The sons of
Madame Memmo were full of wit, and more likely to seduce than to be
seduced; and Master Condulmer would have had too much on his hands if he
had imprisoned all those who hissed the Abbe Chiari; and as for this
abbe, once a Jesuit, I had forgiven him, as the famous Father Origo,
himself formerly a Jesuit, had taught me to take my revenge by praising
him everywhere, which incited the malicious to vent their satire on the
abbe; and thus I was avenged without any trouble to myself.

In the evening they brought a good bed, fine linen, perfumes, an
excellent supper, and choice wines. The abbe ate nothing, but I supped
for two. When Lawrence had wished us good night and had shut us up till
the next day, I got out my lamp, which I found to be empty, the napkin
having sucked up all the oil. This made me laugh, for as the napkin might
very well have caught and set the room on fire, the idea of the confusion
which would have ensued excited my hilarity. I imparted the cause of my
mirth to my companion, who laughed himself, and then, lighting the lamp,
we spent the night in pleasant talk. The history of his imprisonment was
as follows:

"Yesterday, at three o'clock in the afternoon, Madame Alessandria, Count
Martinengo, and myself, got into a gondola. We went to Padua to see the
opera, intending to return to Venice afterwards. In the second act my
evil genius led me to the gaming-table, where I unfortunately saw Count
Rosenberg, the Austrian ambassador, without his mask, and about ten paces
from him was Madame Ruzzini, whose husband is going to Vienna to
represent the Republic. I greeted them both, and was just going away,
when the ambassador called out to me, so as to be heard by everyone, 'You
are very fortunate in being able to pay your court to so sweet a lady. At
present the personage I represent makes the fairest land in the world no
better for me than a galley. Tell the lady, I beseech you, that the laws
which now prevent me speaking to her will be without force at Venice,
where I shall go next year, and then I shall declare war against her.'
Madame Ruzzini, who saw that she was being spoken of, asked me what the
count had said, and I told her, word for word. 'Tell him,' said she,
'that I accept his declaration of war, and that we shall see who will
wage it best.' I did not think I had committed a crime in reporting her
reply, which was after all a mere compliment. After the opera we set out,
and got here at midnight. I was going to sleep when a messenger brought
me a note ordering me to go to the Bussola at one o'clock, Signor
Bussinello, Secretary of the Council of Ten, having something to say to
me. Astonished at such an order--always of bad omen, and vexed at being
obliged to obey, I went at the time appointed, and my lord secretary,
without giving me a word, ordered me to be taken here."

Certainly no fault could be less criminal than that which Count Fenarolo
had committed, but one can break certain laws in all innocence without
being any the less punishable. I congratulated him on knowing what his
crime had been, and told him that he would be set free in a week, and
would be requested to spend six months in the Bressian. "I can't think,"
said he, "that they will leave me here for a week." I determined to keep
him good company, and to soften the bitterness of his imprisonment, and
so well did I sympathize with his position that I forgot all about my

The next morning at day-break, Lawrence brought coffee and a basket
filled with all the requisites for a good dinner. The abbe was
astonished, for he could not conceive how anyone could eat at such an
early hour. They let us walk for an hour in the garret and then shut us
up again, and we saw no more of them throughout the day. The fleas which
tormented us made the abbe ask why I did not have the cell swept out. I
could not let him think that dirt and untidiness was agreeable to me, or
that my skin was any harder than his own, so I told him the whole story,
and shewed him what I had done. He was vexed at having as it were forced
me to make him my confidant, but he encouraged me to go on, and if
possible to finish what I was about that day, as he said he would help me
to descend and then would draw up the rope, not wishing to complicate his
own difficulties by an escape. I shewed him the model of a contrivance by
means of which I could certainly get possession of the sheets which were
to be my rope; it was a short stick attached by one end to a long piece
of thread. By this stick I intended to attach my rope to the bed, and as
the thread hung down to the floor of the room below, as soon as I got
there I should pull the thread and the rope would fall down. He tried it,
and congratulated me on my invention, as this was a necessary part of my
scheme, as otherwise the rope hanging down would have immediately
discovered me. My noble companion was convinced that I ought to stop my
work, for I might be surprised, having to do several days' work before
finishing the hole which would cost Lawrence his life. Should the thought
of gaining my liberty at the expense of a fellow-creature have made me
desist? I should have still persisted if my escape had meant death to the
whole body of Venetian guards, and even to the Inquisitors themselves.
Can the love of country, all holy though it be, prevail in the heart of
the man whose country is oppressing him?

My good humour did not prevent my companion having some bad quarters of
an hour. He was in love with Madame Alessandria, who had been a singer,
and was either the mistress or the wife of his friend Martinengo; and he
should have deemed himself happy, but the happier a lover is, so much the
more his unhappiness when he is snatched from the beloved object. He
sighed, wept, and declared that he loved a woman in whom all the noble
virtues were contained. I compassionated him, and took care not to
comfort him by saying that love is a mere trifle--a cold piece of comfort
given to lovers by fools, and, moreover, it is not true that love is a
mere trifle.

The week I had mentioned as the probable term of his imprisonment passed
quickly enough, and I lost my friend, but did not waste my time by
mourning for him; he was set free, and I was content. I did not beg him
to be discreet, for the least doubt on that score would have wounded his
noble spirit. During the week he was with me he only ate soup and fruit,
taking a little Canary wine. It was I who made good cheer in his stead
and greatly to his delight. Before he left we swore eternal friendship.

The next day Lawrence gave me an account of my money, and on finding that
I had a balance of four sequins I gave them to him, telling him it was a
present from me to his wife. I did not tell him that it was for the rent
of my lamp, but he was free to think so if he chose. Again betaking
myself to my work, and toiling without cessation, on the 23rd of August I
saw it finished. This delay was caused by an inevitable accident. As I
was hollowing out the last plank, I put my eye to a little hole, through
which I ought to have seen the hall of the Inquisitors-in fact, I did see
it, but I saw also at one side of the hole a surface about eight inches
thick. It was, as I had feared all the time it would be, one of the beams
which kept up the ceiling. I was thus compelled to enlarge my hole on the
other side, for the beam would have made it so narrow that a man of my
size could never have got through. I increased the hole, therefore, by a
fourth, working--between fear and hope, for it was possible that the
space between two of the beams would not be large enough. After I had
finished, a second little hole assured me that God had blessed my labour.
I then carefully stopped up the two small holes to prevent anything
falling down into the hall, and also lest a ray from my lamp should be
perceived, for this would have discovered all and ruined me.

I fixed my escape for the eve of St. Augustine's Day, because I knew that
the Grand Council assembled on that feast, and there would consequently
be nobody near the room through which I must pass in getting away. This
would have been on the twenty-seventh of the month, but a misfortune
happened to me on the twenty-fifth which makes me still shudder when I
think of it, notwithstanding the years which have passed since then.

Precisely at noon I heard the noise of bolts, and I thought I should die;
for a violent beating of the heart made me imagine my last hour was come.
I fell into my easy chair, and waited. Lawrence came into the garret and
put his head at the grating, and said, "I give you joy, sir, for the good
news I am bringing you." At first, not being able to think of any other
news which could be good to me, I fancied I had been set at liberty, and
I trembled, for I knew that the discovery of the hole I had made would
have caused my pardon to be recalled.

Lawrence came in and told me to follow him.

"Wait till I put on my clothes."

"It's of no consequence, as you only have to walk from this abominable
cell to another, well lighted and quite fresh, with two windows whence
you can see half Venice, and you can stand upright too."----I could bear
no more, I felt that I was fainting. "Give me the vinegar," said I, "and
go and tell the secretary that I thank the Court for this favour, and
entreat it to leave me where I am."

"You make me laugh, sir. Have you gone mad? They would take you from hell
to put you in heaven, and you would refuse to stir? Come, come, the Court
must be obeyed, pray rise, sir. I will give you my arm, and will have
your clothes and your books brought for you." Seeing that resistance was
of no avail, I got up, and was much comforted at hearing him give orders
for my arm-chair to be brought, for my pike was to follow me, and with it
hope. I should have much liked to have been able to take the hole--the
object of so much wasted trouble and hope--with me. I may say with truth
that, as I came forth from that horrible and doleful place, my spirit
remained there.

Leaning on Lawrence's shoulder, while he, thinking to cheer me up,
cracked his foolish jokes, I passed through two narrow passages, and
going down three steps I found myself in a well-lighted hall, at the end
of which, on the left-hand side, was a door leading into another passage
two feet broad by about twelve long, and in the corner was my new cell.
It had a barred window which was opposite to two windows, also barred,
which lighted the passage, and thus one had a fine view as far as Lido.
At that trying moment I did not care much for the view; but later on I
found that a sweet and pleasant wind came through the window when it was
opened, and tempered the insufferable heat; and this was a true blessing
for the poor wretch who had to breathe the sultry prison air, especially
in the hot season.

As soon as I got into my new cell Lawrence had my arm-chair brought in,
and went away, saying that he would have the remainder of my effects
brought to me. I sat on my arm-chair as motionless as a statue, waiting
for the storm, but not fearing it. What overwhelmed me was the
distressing idea that all my pains and contrivances were of no use,
nevertheless I felt neither sorry nor repentant for what I had done, and
I made myself abstain from thinking of what was going to happen, and thus
kept myself calm.

Lifting up my soul to God I could not help thinking that this misfortune
was a Divine punishment for neglecting to escape when all was ready.
Nevertheless, though I could have escaped three days sooner, I thought my
punishment too severe, all the more as I had put off my escape from
motives of prudence, which seemed to me worthy of reward, for if I had
only consulted my own impatience to be gone I should have risked
everything. To controvert the reasons which made me postpone my flight to
the 27th of August, a special revelation would have been requisite; and
though I had read "Mary of Agrada" I was not mad enough for that.


The Subterranean Prisons Known as the Wells--Lawrence's Vengeance--I
Enter into a Correspondence With Another Prisoner, Father Balbi: His
Character--I Plan With Him a Means of Escape--How I Contrived to Let Him
Have My Pike I Am Given a Scoundrelly Companion: His Portrait.

I was thus anxious and despairing when two of the guards brought me my
bed. They went back to fetch the rest of my belongings, and for two hours
I saw no one, although the door of my cell remained open. This unnatural
delay engendered many thoughts, but I could not fix exactly on the reason
of it. I only knew that I had everything to fear, and this knowledge made
me brace up my mind so that I should be able to meet calmly all possible

Besides The Leads and The Fours the State Inquisitors also possess
certain horrible subterranean cells beneath the ducal palace, where are
sent men whom they do not wish to put to death, though they be thought
worthy of it.

These subterranean prisons are precisely like tombs, but they call them
"wells," because they always contain two feet of water, which penetrates
from the sea by the same grating by which light is given, this grating
being only a square foot in size. If the unfortunates condemned to live
in these sewers do not wish to take a bath of filthy water, they have to
remain all day seated on a trestle, which serves them both for bed and
cupboard. In the morning they are given a pitcher of water, some thin
soup, and a ration of army bread which they have to eat immediately, or
it becomes the prey of the enormous water rats who swarm in those
dreadful abodes. Usually the wretches condemned to The Wells are
imprisoned there for life, and there have been prisoners who have
attained a great age. A villain who died whilst I was under the Leads had
passed thirty-seven years in The Wells, and he was forty-four when
sentenced. Knowing that he deserved death, it is possible that he took
his imprisonment as a favour, for there are men who fear nought save
death. His name was Beguelin. A Frenchman by birth, he had served in the
Venetian army during the last war against the Turks in 1716, under the
command of Field-Marshal the Count of Schulenbourg, who made the Grand
Vizier raise the siege of Corfu. This Beguelin was the marshal's spy. He
disguised himself as a Turk, and penetrated into the Mussulman quarters,
but at the same time he was also in the service of the Grand Vizier, and
being detected in this course he certainly had reason to be thankful for
being allowed to die in The Wells. The rest of his life must have been
divided between weariness and hunger, but no doubt he often said, 'Dum
vita superest, bene est'.

I have seen at Spiegelberg, in Moravia, prisons fearful in another way.
There mercy sends the prisoners under sentence of death, and not one of
them ever survives a year of imprisonment. What mercy!

During the two mortal hours of suspense, full of sombre thoughts and the
most melancholy ideas, I could not help fancying that I was going to be
plunged in one of these horrible dens, where the wretched inhabitants
feed on idle hopes or become the prey of panic fears. The Tribunal might
well send him to hell who had endeavoured to escape from purgatory.

At last I heard hurried steps, and I soon saw Lawrence standing before
me, transformed with rage, foaming at the mouth, and blaspheming God and
His saints. He began by ordering me to give him the hatchet and the tools
I had used to pierce the floor, and to tell him from which of the guards
I had got the tools. Without moving, and quite calmly, I told him that I
did not know what he was talking about. At this reply he gave orders that
I should be searched, but rising with a determined air I shook my fist at
the knaves, and having taken off my clothes I said to them, "Do your
duty, but let no one touch me."

They searched my mattress, turned my bed inside out, felt the cushions of
my arm-chair, and found nothing.

"You won't tell me, then, where are the instruments with which you made
the hole. It's of no matter, as we shall find a way to make you speak."

"If it be true that I have made a hole at all, I shall say that you gave
me the tools, and that I have returned them to you."

At this threat, which made his followers smile with glee, probably
because he had been abusing them, he stamped his feet, tore his hair, and
went out like one possessed. The guards returned and brought me all my
properties, the whetstone and lamp excepted. After locking up my cell he
shut the two windows which gave me a little air. I thus found myself
confined in a narrow space without the possibility of receiving the least
breath of air from any quarter. Nevertheless, my situation did not
disturb me to any great extent, as I must confess I thought I had got off
cheaply. In spite of his training, Lawrence had not thought of turning
the armchair over; and thus, finding myself still possessor of the iron
bar, I thanked Providence, and thought myself still at liberty to regard
the bar as means by which, sooner or later, I should make my escape.

I passed a sleepless night, as much from the heat as the change in my
prospects. At day-break Lawrence came and brought some insufferable wine,
and some water I should not have cared to drink. All the rest was of a
piece; dry salad, putrid meat, and bread harder than English biscuit. He
cleaned nothing, and when I asked him to open the windows he seemed not
to hear me; but a guard armed with an iron bar began to sound all over my
room, against the wall, on the floor, and above all under my bed. I
looked on with an unmoved expression, but it did not escape my notice
that the guard did not sound the ceiling. "That way," said I to myself,
"will lead me out of this place of torments." But for any such project to
succeed I should have to depend purely on chance, for all my operations
would leave visible traces. The cell was quite new, and the least scratch
would have attracted the notice of my keepers.

I passed a terrible day, for the heat was like that of a furnace, and I
was quite unable to make any use of the food with which I had been
provided. The perspiration and the lack of nourishment made me so weak
that I could neither walk nor read. Next day my dinner was the same; the
horrible smell of the veal the rascal brought me made me draw back from
it instantly. "Have you received orders," said I, "to kill me with hunger
and heat?"

He locked the door, and went out without a word. On the third day I was
treated in the same manner. I asked for a pencil and paper to write to
the secretary. Still no answer.

In despair, I eat my soup, and then soaking my bread in a little Cyprus
wine I resolved to get strength to avenge myself on Lawrence by plunging
my pike into his throat. My rage told me that I had no other course, but
I grew calmer in the night, and in the morning, when the scoundrel
appeared, I contented myself with saying that I would kill him as soon as
I was at liberty. He only laughed at my threat, and again went out
without opening his lips.

I began to think that he was acting under orders from the secretary, to
whom he must have told all. I knew not what to do. I strove between
patience and despair, and felt as if I were dying for want of food. At
last on the eighth day, with rage in my heart and in a voice of thunder,
I bade him, under the name of "hangman," and in the presence of the
archers, give me an account of my money. He answered drily that I should
have it the next day. Then as he was about to go I took my bucket, and
made as if I would go and empty it in the passage. Foreseeing my design,
he told a guard to take it, and during the disgusting operation opened a
window, which he shut as soon as the affair was done, so that in spite of
my remonstrances I was left in the plague-stricken atmosphere. I
determined to speak to him still worse the next day; but as soon as he
appeared my anger cooled, for before giving me the account of my money he
presented me with a basket of lemons which M. de Bragadin had sent me,
also a large bottle of water, which seemed drinkable, and a nice roasted
fowl; and, besides this, one of the guards opened the two windows. When
he gave me the account I only looked at the sum total, and I told him to
give the balance to his wife with the exception of a sequin, which I told
him to give the guards who were with him. I thus made friends with these
fellows, who thanked me heartily.

Lawrence, who remained alone with me on purpose, spoke as follows:

"You have already told me, sir, that I myself furnished you with the
tools to make that enormous hole, and I will ask no more about it; but
would you kindly tell me where you got the materials to make a lamp?"

"From you."

"Well, for the moment, sir, I'm dashed, for I did not think that wit
meant impudence."

"I am not telling you any lies. You it was who with your own hands gave
me all the requisites--oil, flint, and matches; the rest I had by me."

"You are right; but can you shew me as simply that I gave you the tools
to make that hole?"

"Certainly, for you are the only person who has given me anything."

"Lord have mercy upon me! what do I hear? Tell me, then, how I gave you a

"I will tell you the whole story and I will speak the truth, but only in
the presence of the secretary."

"I don't wish to know any more, and I believe everything you say. I only
ask you to say nothing about it, as I am a poor man with a family to
provide for." He went out with his head between his hands.

I congratulated myself heartily on having found a way to make the rascal
afraid of me; he thought that I knew enough to hang him. I saw that his
own interest would keep him from saying anything to his superiors about
the matter.

I had told Lawrence to bring me the works of Maffei, but the expense
displeased him though he did not dare to say so. He asked me what I could
want with books with so many to my hand.

"I have read them all," I said, "and want some fresh ones."

"I will get someone who is here to lend you his books, if you will lend
yours in return; thus you will save your money."

"Perhaps the books are romances, for which I do not care."

"They are scientific works; and if you think yours is the only long head
here, you are very much mistaken."

"Very good, we shall see. I will lend this book to the 'long head,' and
do you bring me one from him."

I had given him Petau's Rationarium, and in four minutes he brought me
the first volume of Wolff's works. Well pleased with it I told him, much
to his delight, that I would do without Maffei.

Less pleased with the learned reading than at the opportunity to begin a
correspondence with someone who might help me in my plan of escape (which
I had already sketched out in my head), I opened the book as soon as
Lawrence was gone, and was overjoyed to find on one of the leaves the
maxim of Seneca, 'Calamitosus est animus futuri anxius', paraphrased in
six elegant verses. I made another six on the spot, and this is the way
in which I contrived to write them, I had let the nail of my little
finger grow long to serve as an earpick; I out it to a point, and made a
pen of it. I had no ink, and I was going to prick myself and write in my
blood, when I bethought me that the juice of some mulberries I had by me
would be an excellent substitute for ink. Besides the six verses I wrote
out a list of my books, and put it in the back of the same book. It must
be understood that Italian books are generally bound in parchment, and in
such a way that when the book is opened the back becomes a kind of
pocket. On the title page I wrote, 'latet'. I was anxious to get an
answer, so the next day I told Lawrence that I had read the book and
wanted another; and in a few minutes the second volume was in my hands.

As soon as I was alone I opened the book, and found a loose leaf with the
following communication in Latin:

"Both of us are in the same prison, and to both of us it must be pleasant
to find how the ignorance of our gaoler procures us a privilege before
unknown to such a place. I, Marin Balbi, who write to you, am a Venetian
of high birth, and a regular cleric, and my companion is Count Andre
Asquin, of Udine, the capital of Friuli. He begs me to inform you that
all the books in his possession, of which you will find a list at the
back of this volume, are at your service; but we warn you that we must
use all possible care to prevent our correspondence being discovered by

In our position there was nothing wonderful in our both pitching on the
idea of sending each other the catalogues of our small libraries, or in
our choosing the same hiding-place--the back of the books; all this was
plain common sense; but the advice to be careful contained on the loose
leaf struck me with some astonishment. It seemed next to impossible that
Lawrence should leave the book unopened, but if he had opened it he would
have seen the leaf, and not knowing how to read he would have kept it in
his pocket till he could get someone to tell him the contents, and thus
all would have been strangled at its birth. This made me think that my
correspondent was an arrant block-head.

After reading through the list, I wrote who I was, how I had been
arrested, my ignorance as to what crime I had committed, and my hope of
soon becoming free. Balbi then wrote me a letter of sixteen pages, in
which he gave me the history of all his misfortunes. He had been four
years in prison, and the reason was that he had enjoyed the good graces
of three girls, of whom he had three children, all of whom he baptized
under his own name.

The first time his superior had let him off with an admonition, the
second time he was threatened with punishment, and on the third and last
occasion he was imprisoned. The father-superior of his convent brought
him his dinner every day. He told me in his letter that both the superior
and the Tribunal were tyrants, since they had no lawful authority over
his conscience: that being sure that the three children were his, he
thought himself constrained as a man of honour not to deprive them of the
advantage of bearing his name. He finished by telling me that he had
found himself obliged to recognize his children to prevent slander
attributing them to others, which would have injured the reputation of
the three honest girls who bore them; and besides he could not stifle the
voice of nature, which spoke so well on behalf of these little ones. His
last words were, "There is no danger of the superior falling into the
same fault, as he confines his attention to the boys."

This letter made me know my man. Eccentric, sensual, a bad logician,
vicious, a fool, indiscreet, and ungrateful, all this appeared in his
letter, for after telling me that he should be badly off without Count
Asquin who was seventy years old, and had books and money, he devoted two
pages to abusing him, telling me of his faults and follies. In society I
should have had nothing more to do with a man of his character, but under
the Leads I was obliged to put everything to some use. I found in the
back of the book a pencil, pens, and paper, and I was thus enabled to
write at my ease.

He told me also the history of the prisoners who were under the Leads,
and of those who had been there since his imprisonment. He said that the
guard who secretly brought him whatever he wanted was called Nicolas, he
also told me the names of the prisoners, and what he knew about them, and
to convince me he gave me the history of the hole I had made. It seems I
had been taken from my cell to make room for the patrician Priuli, and
that Lawrence had taken two hours to repair the damage I had done, and
that he had imparted the secret to the carpenter, the blacksmith, and all
the guards under pain of death if they revealed it. "In another day," the
guard had said, "Casanova would have escaped, and Lawrence would have
swung, for though he pretended great astonishment when he saw the hole,
there can be no doubt that he and no other provided the tools." "Nicolas
has told me," added my correspondent, "that M. de Bragadin has promised
him a thousand sequins if he will aid you to make your escape but that
Lawrence, who knows of it, hopes to get the money without risking his
neck, his plan being to obtain your liberty by means of the influence of
his wife with M. Diedo. None of the guards dare to speak of what happened
for fear Lawrence might get himself out of the difficulty, and take his
revenge by having them dismissed." He begged me to tell him all the
details, and how I got the tools, and to count upon his keeping the

I had no doubts as to his curiosity, but many as to his discretion, and
this very request shewed him to be the most indiscreet of men.
Nevertheless, I concluded that I must make use of him, for he seemed to
me the kind of man to assist me in my escape. I began to write an answer
to him, but a sudden suspicion made me keep back what I had written. I
fancied that the correspondence might be a mere artifice of Lawrence's to
find out who had given me the tools, and what I had done with them. To
satisfy him without compromising myself I told him that I had made the
hole with a strong knife in my possession, which I had placed on the
window-ledge in the passage. In less than three days this false
confidence of mine made me feel secure, as Lawrence did not go to the
window, as he would certainly have done if the letter had been
intercepted. Furthermore, Father Balbi told me that he could understand
how I might have a knife, as Lawrence had told him that I had not been
searched previous to my imprisonment. Lawrence himself had received no
orders to search me, and this circumstance might have stood him in good
stead if I had succeeded in escaping, as all prisoners handed over to him
by the captain of the guard were supposed to have been searched already.
On the other hand, Messer-Grande might have said that, having seen me get
out of my bed, he was sure that I had no weapons about me, and thus both
of them would have got out of trouble. The monk ended by begging me to
send him my knife by Nicolas, on whom I might rely.

The monk's thoughtlessness seemed to me almost incredible. I wrote and
told him that I was not at all inclined to put my trust in Nicolas, and
that my secret was one not to be imparted in writing. However, I was
amused by his letters. In one of them he told me why Count Asquin was
kept under the Leads, in spite of his helplessness, for he was enormously
fat, and as he had a broken leg which had been badly set he could hardly
put one foot before another. It seems that the count, not being a very
wealthy man, followed the profession of a barrister at Udine, and in that
capacity defended the country-folk against the nobility, who wished to
deprive the peasants of their vote in the assembly of the province. The
claims of the farmers disturbed the public peace, and by way of bringing
them to reason the nobles had recourse to the State Inquisitors, who
ordered the count-barrister to abandon his clients. The count replied
that the municipal law authorized him to defend the constitution, and
would not give in; whereon the Inquisitors arrested him, law or no law,
and for the last five years he had breathed the invigorating air of The
Leads. Like myself he had fifty sous a day, but he could do what he liked
with the money. The monk, who was always penniless, told me a good deal
to the disadvantage of the count, whom he represented as very miserly. He
informed me that in the cell on the other side of the hall there were two
gentlemen of the "Seven Townships," who were likewise imprisoned for
disobedience, but one of them had become mad, and was in chains; in
another cell, he said, there were two lawyers.

My suspicions quieted, I reasoned as follows:

I wish to regain my liberty at all hazards. My pike is an admirable
instrument, but I can make no use of it as my cell is sounded all over
(except the ceiling) every day. If I would escape, it is by the ceiling,
therefore, that way I must go, but to do that I must make a hole through
it, and that I cannot do from my side, for it would not be the work of a
day. I must have someone to help me; and not having much choice I had to
pick out the monk. He was thirty-eight, and though not rich in common
sense I judged that the love of liberty--the first need of man--would
give him sufficient courage to carry out any orders I might give. I must
begin by telling him my plan in its entirety, and then I shall have to
find a way to give him the bar. I had, then, two difficult problems
before me.

My first step was to ask him if he wished to be free, and if he were
disposed to hazard all in attempting his escape in my company. He replied
that his mate and he would do anything to break their chains, but, added
he, "it is of no use to break one's head against a stone wall." He filled
four pages with the impossibilities which presented themselves to his
feeble intellect, for the fellow saw no chance of success on any quarter.
I replied that I did not trouble myself with general difficulties, and
that in forming my plan I had only thought of special difficulties, which
I would find means to overcome, and I finished by giving him my word of
honour to set him free, if he would promise to carry out exactly whatever
orders I might give.

He gave me his promise to do so. I told him that I had a pike twenty
inches long, and with this tool he must pierce the ceiling of his cell
next the wall which separated us, and he would then be above my head; his
next step would be to make a hole in the ceiling of my cell and aid me to
escape by it. "Here your task will end and mine will begin, and I will
undertake to set both you and Count Asquin at liberty."

He answered that when I had got out of my cell I should be still in
prison, and our position would be the same as now, as we should only be
in the garrets which were secured by three strong doors.

"I know that, reverend father," I replied, "but we are not going to
escape by the doors. My plan is complete, and I will guarantee its
success. All I ask of you is to carry out my directions, and to make no
difficulties. Do you busy yourself to find out some way of getting my bar
without the knowledge of the gaoler. In the meanwhile, make him get you
about forty pictures of saints, large enough to cover all the walls of
your cell. Lawrence will suspect nothing, and they will do to conceal the
opening you are to make in the ceiling. To do this will be the work of
some days, and of mornings Lawrence will not see what you have done the
day before, as you will have covered it up with one of the pictures. If
you ask me why I do not undertake the work myself, I can only say that
the gaoler suspects me, and the objection will doubtless seem to you a
weighty one."

Although I had told him to think of a plan to get hold of the pike, I
thought of nothing else myself, and had a happy thought which I hastened
to put into execution. I told Lawrence to buy me a folio Bible, which had
been published recently; it was the Vulgate with the Septuagint. I hoped
to be able to put the pike in the back of the binding of this large
volume, and thus to convey it to the monk, but when I saw the book I
found the tool to be two inches longer.

My correspondent had written to tell me that his cell was covered with
pictures, and I had communicated him my idea about the Bible and the
difficulty presented by its want of length. Happy at being able to
display his genius, he rallied me on the poverty of my imagination,
telling me that I had only to send him the pike wrapped up in my fox-skin

"Lawrence," said he, "had often talked about your cloak, and Count Asquin
would arouse no suspicion by asking to see it in order to buy one of the
same kind. All you have to do is to send it folded up. Lawrence would
never dream of unfolding it."

I, on the other hand, was sure that he would. In the first place, because
a cloak folded up is more troublesome to carry than when it is unfolded.
However, not to rebuff him and at the same time to shew him that I was
the wiser, I wrote that he had only to send for the cloak. The next day
Lawrence asked me for it, and I gave it folded up, but without the bar,
and in a quarter of an hour he brought it back to me, saying that the
gentleman had admired it very much.

The monk wrote me a doleful letter, in which he confessed he had given me
a piece of bad advice, adding that I was wrong to follow it. According to
him the pike was lost, as Lawrence had brought in the cloak all unfolded.
After this, all hope was gone. I undeceived him, and begged him for the
future to be a little more sparing of his advice. It was necessary to
bring the matter to a head, and I determined to send him the bar under
cover of my Bible, taking measures to prevent the gaoler from seeing the
ends of the great volume. My scheme was as follows:

I told Lawrence that I wanted to celebrate St. Michael's Day with a
macaroni cheese; but wishing to shew my gratitude to the person who had
kindly lent me his books, I should like to make him a large dish of it,
and to prepare it with my own hands. Lawrence told me (as had been
arranged between the monk and myself) that the gentleman in question
wished to read the large book which cost three sequins.

"Very good," said I, "I will send it him with the macaroni; but get me
the largest dish you have, as I wish to do the thing on a grand scale."

He promised to do what I asked him. I wrapped up the pike in paper and
put it in the back of the Bible, taking care that it projected an equal
distance at each end. Now, if I placed on the Bible a great dish of
macaroni full of melted butter I was quite sure that Lawrence would not
examine the ends. All his gaze would be concentrated upon the plate, to
avoid spilling the grease on the book. I told Father Balbi of my plan,
charging him to take care how he took the dish, and above all to take
dish and Bible together, and not one by one. On the day appointed
Lawrence came earlier than usual, carrying a saucepan full of boiling
macaroni, and all the necessary ingredients for seasoning the dish. I
melted a quantity of butter, and after putting the macaroni into the dish
I poured the butter over it till it was full to the brim. The dish was a
huge one, and was much larger than the book on which I placed it. I did
all this at the door of my cell, Lawrence being outside.

When all was ready I carefully took up the Bible and dish, placing the
back of the book next to the bearer, and told Lawrence to stretch out his
arms and take it, to be careful not to spill the grease over the book,
and to carry the whole to its destination immediately. As I gave him this
weighty load I kept my eyes fixed on his, and I saw to my joy that he did
not take his gaze off the butter, which he was afraid of spilling. He
said it would be better to take the dish first, and then to come back for
the book; but I told him that this would spoil the present, and that both
must go together. He then complained that I had put in too much butter,
and said, jokingly, that if it were spilt he would not be responsible for
the loss. As soon as I saw the Bible in the lout's arms I was certain of
success, as he could not see the ends of the pike without twisting his
head, and I saw no reason why he should divert his gaze from the plate,
which he had enough to do to carry evenly. I followed him with my eyes
till he disappeared into the ante-chamber of the monk's cell, and he,
blowing his nose three times, gave me the pre-arranged signal that all
was right, which was confirmed by the appearance of Lawrence in a few
moments afterwards.

Father Balbi lost no time in setting about the work, and in eight days he
succeeded in making a large enough opening in the ceiling, which he
covered with a picture pasted to the ceiling with breadcrumbs. On the 8th
of October he wrote to say that he had passed the whole night in working
at the partition wall, and had only succeeded in loosening one brick. He
told me the difficulty of separating the bricks joined to one another by
a strong cement was enormous, but he promised to persevere, "though," he
said, "we shall only make our position worse than it is now." I told him
that I was certain of success; that he must believe in me and persevere.
Alas! I was certain of nothing, but I had to speak thus or to give up
all. I was fain to escape from this hell on earth, where I was imprisoned
by a most detestable tyranny, and I thought only of forwarding this end,
with the resolve to succeed, or at all events not to stop before I came
to a difficulty which was insurmountable. I had read in the great book of
experience that in important schemes action is the grand requisite, and
that the rest must be left to fortune. If I had entrusted Father Balbi
with these deep mysteries of moral philosophy he would have pronounced me
a madman. His work was only toilsome on the first night, for the more he
worked the easier it became, and when he had finished he found he had
taken out thirty-six bricks.

On the 16th of October, as I was engaged in translating an ode of Horace,
I heard a trampling noise above my head, and then three light blows were
struck. This was the signal agreed upon to assure us that our
calculations were correct. He worked till the evening, and the next day
he wrote that if the roof of my cell was only two boards thick his work
would be finished that day. He assured me that he was carefully making
the hole round as I had charged him, and that he would not pierce the
ceiling. This was a vital point, as the slightest mark would have led to
discovery. "The final touch," he said, "will only take a quarter of an
hour." I had fixed on the day after the next to escape from my cell at
night-time to enter no more, for with a mate I was quite sure that I
could make in two or three hours a hole in the roof of the ducal palace,
and once on the outside of the roof I would trust to chance for the means
of getting to the ground.

I had not yet got so far as this, for my bad luck had more than one
obstacle in store for me. On the same day (it was a Monday) at two
o'clock in the afternoon, whilst Father Balbi was at work, I heard the
door of the hall being opened. My blood ran cold, but I had sufficient
presence of mind to knock twice-the signal of alarm--at which it had been
agreed that Father Balbi was to make haste back to his cell and set all
in order. In less than a minute afterwards Lawrence opened the door, and
begged my pardon for giving me a very unpleasant companion. This was a
man between forty and fifty, short, thin, ugly, and badly dressed,
wearing a black wig; while I was looking at him he was unbound by two
guards. I had no reason to doubt that he was a knave, since Lawrence told
me so before his face without his displaying the slightest emotion. "The
Court," I said, "can do what seems good to it." After Lawrence had
brought him a bed he told him that the Court allowed him ten sous a day,
and then locked us up together.

Overwhelmed by this disaster, I glanced at the fellow, whom his every
feature proclaimed rogue. I was about to speak to him when he began by
thanking me for having got him a bed. Wishing to gain him over, I invited
him to take his meals with me. He kissed my hand, and asked me if he
would still be able to claim the ten sous which the Court had allowed
him. On my answering in the affirmative he fell on his knees, and drawing
an enormous rosary from his pocket he cast his gaze all round the cell.

"What do you want?"

"You will pardon me, sir, but I am looking for some statue of the Holy
Virgin, for I am a Christian; if there were even a small crucifix it
would be something, for I have never been in so much need of the
protection of St. Francis d'Assisi, whose name I bear, though all

I could scarcely help laughing, not at his Christian piety, since faith
and conscience are beyond control, but at the curious turn he gave his
remonstrance. I concluded he took me for a Jew; and to disabuse him of
this notion I made haste to give him the "Hours of the Holy Virgin,"
whose picture he kissed, and then gave me the book back, telling me in a
modest voice that his father--a galley officer--had neglected to have
him taught to read. "I am," said he, "a devotee of the Holy Rosary," and
he told me a host of miracles, to which I listened with the patience of
an angel. When he had come to an end I asked him if he had had his
dinner, and he replied that he was dying of hunger. I gave him everything
I had, which he devoured rather than ate; drinking all my wine, and then
becoming maudlin he began to weep, and finally to talk without rhyme or
reason. I asked him how he got into trouble, and he told me the following

"My aim and my only aim has always been the glory of God, and of the holy
Republic of Venice, and that its laws may be exactly obeyed. Always
lending an attentive ear to the plots of the wicked, whose end is to
deceive, to deprive their prince of his just dues, and to conspire
secretly, I have over and again unveiled their secret plans, and have not
failed to report to Messer-Grande all I know. It is true that I am always
paid, but the money has never given me so much pleasure as the thought
that I have been able to serve the blessed St. Mark. I have always
despised those who think there is something dishonourable in the business
of a spy. The word sounds ill only to the ill-affected; for a spy is a
lover of the state, the scourge of the guilty, and faithful subject of
his prince. When I have been put to the test, the feeling of friendship,
which might count for something with other men, has never had the
slightest influence over me, and still less the sentiment which is called
gratitude. I have often, in order to worm out a secret, sworn to be as
silent as the grave, and have never failed to reveal it. Indeed, I am
able to do so with full confidence, as my director who is a good Jesuit
has told me that I may lawfully reveal such secrets, not only because my
intention was to do so, but because, when the safety of the state is at
stake, there is no such thing as a binding oath. I must confess that in
my zeal I have betrayed my own father, and that in me the promptings of
our weak nature have been quite mortified. Three weeks ago I observed
that there was a kind of cabal between four or five notables of the town
of Isola, where I live. I knew them to be disaffected to the Government
on account of certain contraband articles which had been confiscated. The
first chaplain--a subject of Austria by birth--was in the plot. They
gathered together of evenings in an inn, in a room where there was a bed;
there they drank and talked, and afterwards went their ways. As I was
determined to discover the conspiracy, I was brave enough to hide under
the bed on a day on which I was sure I would not be seen. Towards the
evening my gentlemen came, and began to talk; amongst other things, they
said that the town of Isola was not within the jurisdiction of St. Mark,
but rather in the principality of Trieste, as it could not possibly be
considered to form part of the Venetian territory. The chaplain said to
the chief of the plot, a man named Pietro Paolo, that if he and the
others would sign a document to that effect, he himself would go to the
imperial ambassador, and that the Empress would not only take possession
of the island, but would reward them for what they had done. They all
professed themselves ready to go on, and the chaplain promised to bring
the document the next day, and afterwards to take it to the ambassadors.

"I determined to frustrate this detestable project, although one of the
conspirators was my gossip--a spiritual relationship which gave him a
greater claim on me than if he had been my own brother.

"After they were gone, I came out of my hiding-place and did not think it
necessary to expose myself to danger by hiding again as I had found out
sufficient for my purpose. I set out the same night in a boat, and
reached here the next day before noon. I had the names of the six rebels
written down, and I took the paper to the secretary of the Tribunal,
telling him all I had heard. He ordered me to appear, the day following,
at the palace, and an agent of the Government should go back with me to
Isola that I might point the chaplain out to him, as he had probably not
yet gone to the Austrian ambassador's. 'That done,' said the lord
secretary, 'you will no longer meddle in the matter.' I executed his
orders, and after having shewn the chaplain to the agent, I was at
leisure for my own affairs.

"After dinner my gossip called me in to shave him (for I am a barber by
profession), and after I had done so he gave me a capital glass of
refosco with some slices of sausages, and we ate together in all good
fellowship. My love for him had still possession of my soul, so I took
his hand, and, shedding some heartfelt tears, I advised him to have no
more to do with the canon, and above all, not to sign the document he
knew of. He protested that he was no particular friend of the chaplain's,
and swore he did not know what document I was talking about. I burst into
a laugh, telling him it was only my joke, and went forth very sorry at
having yielded to a sentiment of affection which had made me commit so
grievous a fault. The next day I saw neither the man nor the chaplain. A
week after, having paid a visit to the palace, I was promptly imprisoned,
and here I am with you, my dear sir. I thank St. Francis for having given
me the company of a good Christian, who is here for reasons of which I
desire to know nothing, for I am not curious. My name is Soradaci, and my
wife is a Legrenzi, daughter of a secretary to the Council of Ten, who,
in spite of all prejudice to the contrary, determined to marry me. She
will be in despair at not knowing what has become of me, but I hope to be
here only for a few days, since the only reason of my imprisonment is
that the secretary wishes to be able to examine me more conveniently."

I shuddered to think of the monster who was with me, but feeling that the
situation was a risky one, And that I should have to make use of him, I
compassionated him, praised his patriotism, and predicted that he would
be set at liberty in a few days. A few moments after he fell asleep, and
I took the opportunity of telling the whole story to Father Balbi,
shewing him that we should be obliged to put off our work to a more
convenient season. Next day I told Lawrence to buy me a wooden crucifix,
a statue of Our Lady, a portrait of St. Francis, and two bottles of holy
water. Soradaci asked for his ten sous, and Lawrence, with an air of
contempt, gave him twenty. I asked Lawrence to buy me four times the
usual amount of garlic, wine, and salt--a diet in which my hateful
companion delighted. After the gaoler was gone I deftly drew out the
letter Balbi had written me, and in which he drew a vivid picture of his
alarm. He thought all was lost, and over and over again thanked Heaven
that Lawrence had put Soradaci in my cell, "for," said he, "if he had
come into mine, he would not have found me there, and we should possibly
have shared a cell in The Wells as a reward for our endeavours."

Soradaci's tale had satisfied me that he was only imprisoned to be
examined, as it seemed plain that the secretary had arrested him on
suspicion of bearing false witness. I thereupon resolved to entrust him
with two letters which would do me neither good nor harm if they were
delivered at their addresses, but which would be beneficial to me if the
traitor gave them to the secretary as a proof of his loyalty, as I had
not the slightest doubt he would do.

I spent two hours in writing these two letters in pencil. Next day
Lawrence brought me the crucifix, the two pictures, and the holy water,
and having worked the rascal well up to the point, I said, "I reckon upon
your friendship and your courage. Here are two letters I want you to
deliver when you recover your liberty. My happiness depends on your
loyality, but you must hide the letters, as they were found upon you we
should both of us be undone. You must swear by the crucifix and these
holy pictures not to betray me."

"I am ready, dear master, to swear to anything you like, and I owe you
too much to betray you."

This speech was followed by much weeping and lamentation. He called
himself unhappy wretch at being suspected of treason towards a man for
whom he would have given his life. I knew my man, but I played out the
comedy. Having given him a shirt and a cap, I stood up bare-headed, and
then having sprinkled the cell with holy water, and plentifully bedewed
him with the same liquid, I made him swear a dreadful oath, stuffed with
senseless imprecations, which for that very reason were the better fitted
to strike terror to his soul. After his having sworn the oath to deliver
my letters to their addresses, I gave him them, and he himself proposed
to sew them up at the back of his waistcoat, between the stuff and the
lining, to which proceedings I assented.

I was morally sure that he would deliver my letters to the secretary in
the first opportunity, so I took the utmost care that my style of writing
should not discover the trick. They could only gain me the esteem of the
Court, and possibly its mercy. One of the letters was addressed to M. de
Bragadin and the other to the Abbe Grimani, and I told them not to be
anxious about me as I was in good hopes of soon being set at liberty,
that they would find when I came out that my imprisonment had done me
more good than harm, as there was no one in Venice who stood in need of
reform more than I.

I begged M. de Bragadin to be kind enough to send me a pair of fur boots
for the winter, as my cell was high enough for me to stand upright and to
walk up and down.

I took care that Soradaci should not suspect the innocent nature of these
letters, as he might then have been seized with the temptation to do an
honest thing for me, and have delivered them, which was not what I was
aiming at. You will see, dear reader, in the following chapter, the power
of oaths over the vile soul of my odious companion, and also if I have
not verified the saying 'In vino veritas', for in the story he told me
the wretch had shewn himself in his true colours.


Treason of Soradaci--How I Get the Best of Him--Father Balbi Ends His
Work--I Escape from My Cell--Unseasonable Observations of Count Asquin
The Critical Moment

Soradaci had had my letters for two or three days when Lawrence came one
afternoon to take him to the secretary. As he was several hours away, I
hoped to see his face no more; but to my great astonishment he was
brought back in the evening. As soon as Lawrence had gone, he told me
that the secretary suspected him of having warned the chaplain, since
that individual had never been near the ambassador's and no document of
any kind was found upon him. He added that after a long examination he
had been confined in a very small cell, and was then bound and brought
again before the secretary, who wanted him to confess that he told
someone at Isola that the priest would never return, but that he had not
done so as he had said no such thing. At last the secretary got tired,
called the guards, and had him brought back to my cell.

I was distressed to hear his account, as I saw that the wretch would
probably remain a long time in my company. Having to inform Father Balbi
of this fatal misadventure, I wrote to him during the night, and being
obliged to do so more than once, I got accustomed to write correctly
enough in the dark.

On the next day, to assure myself that my suspicions were well founded, I
told the spy to give me the letter I had written to M. de Bragadin as I
wanted to add something to it. "You can sew it up afterwards," said I.

"It would be dangerous," he replied, "as the gaoler might come in in the
mean time, and then we should be both ruined."

"No matter. Give me my letters:"

Thereupon the hound threw himself at my feet, and swore that on his
appearing for a second time before the dreaded secretary, he had been
seized with a severe trembling; and that he had felt in his back,
especially in the place where the letters were, so intolerable an
oppression, that the secretary had asked him the cause, and that he had
not been able to conceal the truth. Then the secretary rang his bell, and
Lawrence came in, unbound him, and took off his waist-coat and unsewed
the lining. The secretary then read the letters and put them in a drawer
of his bureau, telling him that if he had taken the letters he would have
been discovered and have lost his life.

I pretended to be overwhelmed, and covering my face with my hands I knelt
down at the bedside before the picture of the Virgin, and asked, her to
avenge me on the wretch who had broken the most sacred oaths. I
afterwards lay down on the bed, my face to the wall, and remained there
the whole day without moving, without speaking a word, and pretending not
to hear the tears, cries, and protestations of repentance uttered by the
villain. I played my part in the comedy I had sketched out to perfection.
In the night I wrote to Father Balbi to come at two o'clock in the
afternoon, not a minute sooner or later, to work for four hours, and not
a minute more. "On this precision," I wrote, "our liberty depends and if
you observe it all will be well."

It was the 25th of October, and the time for me to carry out my design or
to give it up for ever drew near. The State Inquisitors and their
secretary went every year to a village on the mainland, and passed there
the first three days of November. Lawrence, taking advantage of his
masters' absence, did not fail to get drunk every evening, and did not
appear at The Leads in the morning till a late hour.

Advised of these circumstances, I chose this time to make my escape, as I
was certain that my flight would not be noticed till late in the morning.
Another reason for my determination to hurry my escape, when I could no
longer doubt the villainy of my detestable companion, seems to me to be
worthy of record.

The greatest relief of a man in the midst of misfortune is the hope of
escaping from it. He sighs for the hour when his sorrows are to end; he
thinks he can hasten it by his prayers; he will do anything to know when
his torments shall cease. The sufferer, impatient and enfeebled, is
mostly inclined to superstition. "God," says he, "knows the time, and God
may reveal it to me, it matters not how." Whilst he is in this state he
is ready to trust in divination in any manner his fancy leads him, and is
more or less disposed to believe in the oracle of which he makes choice.

I then was in this state of mind; but not knowing how to make use of the
Bible to inform me of the moment in which I should recover my liberty, I
determined to consult the divine Orlando Furioso, which I had read a
hundred times, which I knew by heart, and which was my delight under the
Leads. I idolized the genius of Ariosto, and considered him a far better
fortune-teller than Virgil.

With this idea I wrote a question addressed to the supposed Intelligence,
in which I ask in what canto of Ariosto I should find the day of my
deliverance. I then made a reversed pyramid composed of the number formed
from the words of the question, and by subtracting the number nine I
obtained, finally, nine. This told me that I should find my fate in the
ninth canto. I followed the same method to find out the exact stanza and
verse, and got seven for the stanza and one for the verse.

I took up the poem, and my heart beating as if I trusted wholly in the
oracle, I opened it, turned down the leaf, and read;

'Fra il fin d'ottobre, a il capo di novembre'.

The precision of the line and its appropriateness to my circumstances
appeared so wonderful to me, that I will not confess that I placed my
faith entirely in it; but the reader will pardon me if I say that I did
all in my power to make the prediction a correct one. The most singular
circumstance is that between the end of October and the beginning of
November, there is only the instant midnight, and it was just as the
clock was striking midnight on the 31st of October that I escaped from my
cell, as the reader will soon see.

The following is the manner in which I passed the morning to strike awe
into the soul of that vicious brute, to confound his feeble intellect,
and to render him harmless to me.

As soon as Lawrence had left us I told Soradaci to come and take some
soup. The scoundrel was in bed, and he had told Lawrence that he was ill.
He would not have dared to approach me if I had not called him. However,
he rose from his bed, and threw himself flat upon the ground at my feet,
and said, weeping violently, that if I would not forgive him he would die
before the day was done, as he already felt the curse and the vengeance
of the Holy Virgin which I had denounced against him. He felt devouring
pains in his bowels, and his mouth was covered with sores. He shewed it
me, and I saw it was full of ulcers, but I cannot say whether it was thus
the night before. I did not much care to examine him to see if he were
telling me the truth. My cue was to pretend to believe him, and to make
him hope for mercy. I began by making him eat and drink. The traitor most
likely intended to deceive me, but as I was myself determined to deceive
him it remained to be seen which was the a cuter. I had planned an attack
against which it was improbable that he could defend himself.

Assuming an inspired air, I said, "Be seated and take this soup, and
afterwards I will tell you of your good fortune, for know that the Virgin
of the Rosary appeared to me at day-break, and bids me pardon you. Thou
shalt not die but live, and shalt come out of this place with me." In
great wonderment, and kneeling on the ground for want of a chair, he ate
the soup with me, and afterwards seated himself on the bed to hear what I
had to say. Thus I spoke to him:

"The grief I experienced at your dreadful treason made me pass a
sleepless night, as the letters might condemn me to spend here the
remnant of my days. My only consolation, I confess, was the certainty
that you would die here also before my eyes within three days. Full of
this thought not worthy of a Christian (for God bids us forgive our
enemies) my weariness made me sleep, and in my sleep I had a vision. I
saw that Holy Virgin, Mother of God, whose likeness you behold--I saw her
before me, and opening her lips she spoke thus:

"'Soradaci is a devotee of my Holy Rosary. I protect him, and I will that
you forgive him, and then the curse he has drawn on himself will cease.
In return for your generosity, I will order one of my angels to take the
form of man, to come down from heaven, to break open the roof of your
prison, and set you free within five or six days. The angel will begin
his task this day at two o'clock precisely, and he will work till half an
hour before sunset, since he must ascend again into heaven while the
daylight lasts. When you come out of this place, take Soradaci with you,
and have a care for him if he will renounce his business of spying. Tell
him all.'

"With these words the Holy Virgin vanished out of my sight, and I awoke."

I spoke all the while with a serious face and the air of one inspired,
and I saw that the traitor was petrified. I then took my Book of Hours,
sprinkled the cell with holy water, and pretended to pray, kissing from
time to time the picture of the Virgin. An hour afterwards the brute, who
so far had not opened his mouth, asked me bluntly at what time the angel
would come down from heaven, and if we should hear him breaking in the

"I am certain that he will begin at two o'clock, that we shall hear him
at his work, and that he will depart at the hour named by the Holy

"You may have dreamt it all."

"Nay, not so. Will you swear to me to spy no more?"

Instead of answering he went off to sleep, and did not awake for two
hours after, when he asked if he could put off taking the oath. I asked
of him,

"You can put off taking it," I said, "till the angel enters to set me
free; but if you do not then renounce by an oath the infamous trade which
has brought you here, and which will end by bringing you to the gallows,
I shall leave you in the cell, for so the Mother of God commands, and if
you do not obey you will lose her protection."

As I had expected, I saw an expression of satisfaction on his hideous
features, for he was quite certain that the angel would not come. He
looked at me with a pitying air. I longed to hear the hour strike. The
play amused me intensely, for I was persuaded that the approach of the
angel would set his miserable wits a-reeling. I was sure, also, that the
plan would succeed if Lawrence had not forgotten to give the monk the
books, and this was not likely.

An hour before the time appointed I was fain to dine. I only drank water,
and Soradaci drank all the wine and consumed all the garlic I had, and
thus made himself worse.

As soon as I heard the first stroke of two I fell on my knees, ordering
him, in an awful voice, to do the like. He obeyed, looking at me in a
dazed way. When I heard the first slight noise I examined, "Lo! the angel
cometh!" and fell down on my face, and with a hearty fisticuff forced him
into the same position. The noise of breaking was plainly heard, and for
a quarter of an hour I kept in that troublesome position, and if the
circumstances had been different I should have laughed to see how
motionless the creature was; but I restrained myself, remembering my
design of completely turning the fellow's head, or at least of obsessing
him for a time. As soon as I got up I knelt and allowed him to imitate
me, and I spent three hours in saying the rosary to him. From time to
time he dozed off, wearied rather by his position than by the monotony of
the prayer, but during the whole time he never interrupted me. Now and
again he dared to raise a furtive glance towards the ceiling. With a sort
of stupor on his face, he turned his head in the direction of the Virgin,
and the whole of his behaviour was for me the highest comedy. When I
heard the clock strike the hour for the work to cease, I said to him,

"Prostrate thyself, for the angel departeth."

Balbi returned to his cell, and we heard him no more. As I rose to my
feet, fixing my gaze on the wretched fellow, I read fright on every
feature, and was delighted. I addressed a few words to him that I might
see in what state of mind he was. He shed tears in abundance, and what he
said was mostly extravagant, his ideas having no sequence or connection.
He spoke of his sins, of his acts of devotion, of his zeal in the service
of St. Mark, and of the work he had done for the Commonwealth, and to
this attributed the special favours Mary had shewn him. I had to put up
with a long story about the miracles of the Rosary which his wife, whose
confessor was a young Dominican, had told him. He said that he did not
know what use I could make of an ignorant fellow like him.

"I will take you into my service, and you shall have all that you need
without being obliged to pursue the hazardous trade of a spy."

"Shall we not be able to remain at Venice?"

"Certainly not. The angel will take us to a land which does not belong to
St. Mark. Will you swear to me that you will spy no more? And if you
swear, will you become a perjurer a second time?"

"If I take the oath, I will surely keep it, of that there can be no
doubt; but you must confess that if I had not perjured myself you would
never have received such favour at the hands of the Virgin. My broken
faith is the cause of your bliss. You ought, therefore, to love me and to
be content with my treason."

"Dost love Judas who betrayed Jesus Christ?"


"You perceive, then, that one detests the traitor and at the same time
adores the Divine Providence, which knows how to bring good out of evil.
Up to the present time you have done wickedly. You have offended God and
the Virgin His Mother, and I will not receive your oath till you have
expiated your sins."

"What sin have I done?"

"You have sinned by pride, Soradaci, in thinking that I was under an
obligation to you for betraying me and giving my letters to the

"How shall I expiate this sin?"

"Thus. To-morrow, when Lawrence comes, you must lie on your bed, your
face towards the wall, and without the slightest motion or a single
glance at Lawrence. If he address you, you must answer, without looking
at him, that you could not sleep, and need rest. Do you promise me
entirely to do this thing?"

"I will do whatsoever you tell me."

"Quick, then, take your oath before this holy picture."

"I promise, Holy Mother of God, that when Lawrence comes I will not look
at him, nor stir from my bed."

"And I, Most Holy Virgin, swear by the bowels of your Divine Son that if
I see Soradici move in the least or look towards Lawrence, I will throw
myself straightway upon him and strangle him without mercy, to your
honour and glory."

I counted on my threat having at least as much effect upon him as his
oath. Nevertheless, as I was anxious to make sure, I asked him if he had
anything to say against the oath, and after thinking for a moment he
answered that he was quite content with it. Well pleased myself, I gave
him something to eat, and told him to go to bed as I needed sleep.

As soon as he was asleep I began to write, and wrote on for two hours. I
told Balbi all that had happened, and said that if the work was far
enough advanced he need only come above my cell to put the final stroke
to it and break through. I made him note that we should set out on the
night of the 31st of October, and that we should be four in all, counting
his companion and mine. It was now the twenty-eighth of the month.

In the morning the monk wrote me that the passage was made, and that he
should only require to work at the ceiling of my cell to break through
the last board and this would be done in four minutes. Soradaci observed
his oath, pretending to sleep, and Lawrence said nothing to him. I kept
my eyes upon him the whole time, and I verily believe I should have
strangled him if he had made the slightest motion towards Lawrence, for a
wink would have been enough to betray me.

The rest of the day was devoted to high discourses and exalted
expressions, which I uttered as solemnly as I could, and I enjoyed the
sight of seeing him become more and more fanatical. To heighten the
effect of my mystic exhortation I dosed him heavily with wine, and did
not let him go till he had fallen into a drunken sleep.

Though a stranger to all metaphysical speculations, and a man who had
never exercised his reasoning faculties except in devising some piece of
spy-craft, the fellow confused me for a moment by saying that he could
not conceive how an angel should have to take so much trouble to break
open our cell. But after lifting my eyes to heaven, or rather to the roof
of my dungeon-cell, I said,

"The ways of God are inscrutable; and since the messenger of Heaven works
not as an angel (for then a slight single blow would be enough), he works
like a man, whose form he has doubtless taken, as we are not worthy to
look upon his celestial body. And, furthermore," said I, like a true
Jesuit, who knows how to draw advantage from everything, "I foresee that
the angel, to punish us for your evil thought, which has offended the
Holy Virgin, will not come to-day. Wretch, your thoughts are not those of
an honest, pious, and religious man, but those of a sinner who thinks he
has to do with Messer-Grande and his myrmidons."

I wanted to drive him to despair, and I had succeeded. He began to weep
bitterly, and his sobs almost choked him, when two o'clock struck and not
sign of the angel was heard. Instead of calming him I endeavoured to
augment his misery by my complaints. The next morning he was obedient to
my orders, for when Lawrence asked him how he was, he replied without
moving his head. He behaved in the same manner on the day following, and
until I saw Lawrence for the last time on the morning of the 31st
October. I gave him the book for Barbi, and told the monk to come at noon
to break through the ceiling. I feared nothing, as Lawrence had told me
that the Inquisitors and the secretary had already set out for the
country. I had no reason to dread the arrival of a new companion, and all
I had to do was to manage my knave.

After Lawrence was gone I told Soradaci that the angel would come and
make an opening in the ceiling about noon.

"He will bring a pair of scissors with him," I said, "and you will have
to cut the angel's beard and mine."

"Has the angel a beard?"

"Yes, you shall see it for yourself. Afterwards we will get out of the
cell and proceed to break the roof of the palace, whence we shall descend
into St. Mark's Place and set out for Germany."

He answered nothing. He had to eat by himself, for my mind was too much
occupied to think about dinner--indeed, I had been unable to sleep.

The appointed hour struck--and the angel came, Soradaci was going to fall
down on his face, but I told him it was not necessary. In three minutes
the passage was completed, the piece of board fell at my feet, and Father
Balbi into my arms. "Your work is ended and mine begun," said I to him.
We embraced each other, and he gave me the pike and a pair of scissors. I
told Soradaci to cut our beards, but I could not help laughing to see the
creature--his mouth all agape-staring at the angel, who was more like a
devil. However, though quite beside himself, he cut our beards admirably.

Anxious to see how the land lay, I told the monk to stay with Soradaci,
as I did not care to leave him alone, and I went out. I found the hole in
the wall narrow, but I succeeded in getting through it. I was above the
count's cell, and I came in and greeted the worthy old man. The man
before me was not fitted to encounter such difficulties as would be
involved in an escape by a steep roof covered with plates of lead. He
asked me what my plan was, and told me that he thought I had acted rather
inconsiderately. "I only ask to go forward," said I, "till I find death
or freedom." "If you intend," he answered, "to pierce the roof and to
descend from thence, I see no prospect of success, unless you have wings;
and I at all events have not the courage to accompany you. I will remain
here, and pray to God on your behalf."

I went out again to look at the roof, getting as close as I could to the
sides of the loft. Touching the lower part of the roof, I took up a
position between the beams, and feeling the wood with the end of the bar
I luckily found them to be half rotten. At every blow of the bar they
fell to dust, so feeling certain of my ability to make a large enough
hole in less than a hour I returned to my cell, and for four hours
employed myself in cutting up sheets, coverlets, and bedding, to make
ropes. I took care to make the knots myself and to be assured of their
strength, for a single weak knot might cost us our lives. At last I had
ready a hundred fathoms of rope.

In great undertakings there are certain critical points which the leader
who deserves to succeed trusts to no one but himself. When the rope was
ready I made a parcel of my suit, my cloak, a few shirts, stockings, and
handkerchiefs, and the three of us went into the count's cell. The first
thing the count did was to congratulate Soradaci on having been placed in
the same cell as myself, and on being so soon about to regain his
liberty. His air of speechless confusion made me want to laugh. I took no
more trouble about him, for I had thrown off the mask of Tartuffe which I
had found terribly inconvenient all the time I had worn it for the
rascal's sake. He knew, I could see, that he had been deceived, but he
understood nothing else, as he could not make out how I could have
arranged with the supposed angel to come and go at certain fixed times.
He listened attentively to the count, who told us we were going to our
destruction, and like the coward that he was, he began to plan how to
escape from the dangerous journey. I told the monk to put his bundle
together while I was making the hole in the roof by the side of the loft.

At eight o'clock, without needing any help, my opening was made. I had
broken up the beams, and the space was twice the size required. I got the
plate of lead off in one piece. I could not do it by myself, because it
was riveted. The monk came to my aid, and by dint of driving the bar
between the gutter and the lead I succeeded in loosening it, and then,
heaving at it with our shoulders, we beat it up till the opening was wide
enough. On putting my head out through the hole I was distressed to see
the brilliant light of the crescent moon then entering in its first
quarter. This was a piece of bad luck which must be borne patiently, and
we should have to wait till midnight, when the moon would have gone to
light up the Antipodes. On such a fine night as this everybody would be
walking in St. Mark's Place, and I dared not shew myself on the roof as
the moonlight would have thrown a huge shadow of me on the place, and
have drawn towards me all eyes, especially those of Messer-Grande and his
myrmidons, and our fine scheme would have been brought to nothing by
their detestable activity. I immediately decided that we could not escape
till after the moon set; in the mean time I prayed for the help of God,
but did not ask Him to work any miracles for me. I was at the mercy of
Fortune, and I had to take care not to give her any advantages; and if my
scheme ended in failure I should be consoled by the thought that I had
not made a single mistake. The moon would set at eleven and sunrise was
at six, so we had seven hours of perfect darkness at our service; and
though we had a hard task, I considered that in seven hours it would be

I told Father Balbi that we could pass the three hours in talking to
Count Asquin. I requested him to go first and ask the count to lend me
thirty sequins, which would be as necessary to me as my pike had been
hitherto. He carried my message, and a few minutes after came and asked
me to go myself, as the count wished to talk to me alone. The poor old
man began by saying with great politeness that I really stood in no need
of money to escape, that he had none, that he had a large family, that if
I was killed the money would be lost, with a thousand other futilities of
the same kind to disguise his avarice, or the dislike he felt to parting
with his money. My reply lasted for half an hour, and contained some
excellent arguments, which never have had and never will have any force,
as the finest weapons of oratory are blunted when used against one of the
strongest of the passions. It was a matter of a 'nolenti baculus'; not
that I was cruel enough to use force towards an unhappy old man like the
count. I ended my speech by saying that if he would flee with us I would
carry him upon my back like AEneas carried Anchises; but if he was going
to stay in prison to offer up prayers for our success, his prayers would
be observed, as it would be a case of praying God to give success when he
himself had refused to contribute the most ordinary aid.

He replied by a flood of tears, which affected me. He then asked if two
sequins would be enough, and I answered in the affirmative. He then gave
them to me begging me to return them to him if after getting on the roof
I saw my wisest course would be to come back. I promised to do so,
feeling somewhat astonished that he should deem me capable of a retreat.
He little knew me, for I would have preferred death to an imprisonment
which would have been life-long.

I called my companions, and we set all our baggage near the hole. I
divided the hundred fathoms of rope into two packets, and we spent two
hours in talking over the chances of our undertaking. The first proof
which Father Balbi gave me of his fine character was to tell me, ten
times over, that I had broken my word with him, since I had assured him
that my scheme was complete and certain, while it was really nothing of
the kind. He went so far as to tell me that if he had known as much he
would not have taken me from my cell. The count also, with all the weight
of his seventy years, told me that I should do well to give up so
hazardous an undertaking, in which success was impossible and death
probable. As he was a barrister he made me a speech as follows, and I had
not much difficulty in guessing that he was inspired by the thought of
the two sequins which I should have had to give him back, if he had
succeeded in persuading me to stay where I was:

"The incline of the roof covered with lead plates," said he, "will render
it impossible for you to walk, indeed you will scarcely be able to stand
on your feet. It is true that the roof has seven or eight windows, but
they are all barred with iron, and you could not keep your footing near
them since they are far from the sides. Your ropes are useless, as you
will find nothing whereon to fasten them; and even if you did, a man
descending from such a height cannot reach the ground by himself. One of
you will therefore have to lower the two others one at a time as one
lowers a bucket or a bundle of wood, and he who does so will have to stay
behind and go back to his cell. Which of you three has a vocation for
this dangerous work of charity? And supposing that one of you is heroic
enough to do so, can you tell me on which side you are going to descend?
Not by the side towards the palace, for you would be seen; not by the
church, as you would find yourselves still shut up, and as to the court
side you surely would not think of it, for you would fall into the hands
of the 'arsenalotti' who are always going their rounds there. You have
only the canal side left, and where is your gondola to take you off? Not
having any such thing, you will be obliged to throw yourself in and
escape by swimming towards St. Appollonia, which you will reach in a
wretched condition, not knowing where to turn to next. You must remember
that the leads are slippery, and that if you were to fall into the canal,
considering the height of the fall and the shallowness of the water, you
would most certainly be killed if you could swim like sharks. You would
be crushed to death, for three or four feet of water are not sufficient
to counteract the effect of a fall from such a height. In short, the best
fate you can expect is to find yourselves on the ground with broken arms
and legs."

The effect of this discourse--a very unseasonable one, under the
circumstances--was to make my blood boil, but I listened with a patience
wholly foreign to my nature. The rough reproaches of the monk enraged me,
and inclined me to answer him in his own way; but I felt that my position
was a difficult one, and that unless I was careful I might ruin all, for
I had to do with a coward quite capable of saying that he was not going
to risk his life, and by myself I could not hope to succeed. I
constrained myself, therefore, and as politely as I could I told them
that I was sure of success, though I could not as yet communicate the
details of my plan. "I shall profit by your wise counsels," said I to
Count Asquin, "and be very prudent, but my trust in God and in my own
strength will carry me through all difficulties."

From time to time I stretched out my hand to assure myself that Soradaci
was there, for he did not speak a word. I laughed to myself to think what
he might be turning in his head now that he was convinced that I had
deceived him. At half-past ten I told him to go and see what was the
position of the moon. He obeyed and returned, saying that in an hour and
a-half it would have disappeared, and that there was a thick fog which
would make the leads very dangerous.

"All I ask," I said, "is that the fog be not made of oil. Put your cloak
in a packet with some of the rope which must be divided equally between

At this I was astonished to find him at my knees kissing my hands, and
entreating me not to kill him. "I should be sure," said he, "to fall over
into the canal, and I should not be of any use to you. Ah! leave me here,
and all the night I will pray to St. Francis for you. You can kill me or
save me alive; but of this I am determined, never to follow you."

The fool never thought how he had responded to my prayers.

"You are right," I said, "you may stop here on the condition that you
will pray to St. Francis; and that you go forthwith and fetch my books,
which I wish to leave to the count."

He did so without answering me, doubtless with much joy. My books were
worth at least a hundred crowns. The count told me that he would give
them back on my return.

"You may be sure," I said, "that you will never see me here again. The
books will cover your expenditure of two sequins. As to this rascal, I am
delighted, as he cannot muster sufficient courage to come with me. He
would be in the way, and the fellow is not worthy of sharing with Father
Balbi and myself the honours of so brave a flight."

"That's true," said the count, "provided that he does not congratulate
himself to-morrow."

I asked the count to give me pens, ink, and paper, which he possessed in
spite of the regulations to the contrary, for such prohibitions were
nothing to Lawrence, who would have sold St. Mark himself for a crown. I
then wrote the following letter, which I gave to Soradaci, not being able
to read it over, as I had written it in the dark. I began by a fine
heading, which I wrote in Latin, and which in English would run thus:

"'I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord.'"

"Our lords of state are bound to do all in their power to keep a prisoner
under the Leads, and on the other hand the prisoner, who is fortunately
not on parole, is bound also to make his escape. Their right to act thus
is founded on justice, while the prisoner follows the voice of nature;
and since they have not asked him whether he will be put in prison, so he
ought not to ask them leave to escape.

"Jacques Casanova, writing in the bitterness of his heart, knows that he
may have the ill luck to be recaptured before he succeeds in leaving the
Venetian territory and escaping to a friendly state; but if so, he
appeals to the humanity of the judges not to add to the misery of the
condition from which, yielding to the voice of nature, he is endeavouring
to escape. He begs them, if he be taken, to return him whatever may be in
his cell, but if he succeed he gives the whole to Francis Soradaci, who
is still a captive for want of courage to escape, not like me preferring
liberty to life. Casanova entreats their excellencies not to refuse the
poor wretch this gift. Dated an hour before midnight, in the cell of
Count Asquin, on October 31st, 1756."

I warned Soradaci not to give this letter to Lawrence, but to the
secretary in person, who, no doubt, would interrogate him if he did not
go himself to the cell, which was the more likely course. The count said
my letter was perfect, but that he would give me back all my books if I
returned. The fool said he wished to see me again to prove that he would
return everything gladly.

But our time was come. The moon had set. I hung the half of the ropes by
Father Balbi's neck on one side and his clothes on the other. I did the
same to myself, and with our hats on and our coats off we went to the

     E quindi uscimmo a rimirar le stelle.--DANTE.


The Escape I Nearly Lose My Life on the Roof I Get out of the Ducal
Palace, Take a Boat, and Reach the Mainland--Danger to Which I Am Exposed
by Father Balbi--My Scheme for Ridding Myself of Him

I got out the first, and Father Balbi followed me. Soradaci who had come
as far as the opening, had orders to put the plate of lead back in its
place, and then to go and pray to St. Francis for us. Keeping on my hands
and knees, and grasping my pike firmly I pushed it obliquely between the
joining of the plates of lead, and then holding the side of the plate
which I had lifted I succeeded in drawing myself up to the summit of the
roof. The monk had taken hold of my waistband to follow me, and thus I
was like a beast of burden who has to carry and draw along at the same
time; and this on a steep and slippery roof.

When we were half-way up the monk asked me to stop, as one of his packets
had slipped off, and he hoped it had not gone further than the gutter. My
first thought was to give him a kick and to send him after his packet,
but, praised be to God! I had sufficient self-control not to yield to it,
and indeed the punishment would have been too heavy for both of us, as I
should have had no chance of escaping by myself. I asked him if it were
the bundle of rope, and on his replying that it was a small packet of his
own containing manuscript he had found in one of the garrets under the
Leads, I told him he must bear it patiently, as a single step might be
our destruction. The poor monk gave a sigh, and he still clinging to my
waist we continued climbing.

After having surmounted with the greatest difficulty fifteen or sixteen
plates we got to the top, on which I sat astride, Father Balbi imitating
my example. Our backs were towards the little island of St. George the
Greater, and about two hundred paces in front of us were the numerous
cupolas of St. Mark's Church, which forms part of the ducal palace, for
St. Mark's is really the Doge's private chapel, and no monarch in the
world can boast of having a finer. My first step was to take off my
bundle, and I told my companion to do the same. He put the rope as best
he could upon his thighs, but wishing to take off his hat, which was in
his way, he took hold of it awkwardly, and it was soon dancing from plate
to plate to join the packet of linen in the gutter. My poor companion was
in despair.

"A bad omen," he exclaimed; "our task is but begun and here am I deprived
of shirt, hat, and a precious manuscript, containing a curious account of
the festivals of the palace."

I felt calmer now that I was no longer crawling on hands and knees, and I
told him quietly that the two accidents which had happened to him had
nothing extraordinary in them, and that not even a superstitious person
would call them omens, that I did not consider them in that light, and
that they were far from damping my spirits.

"They ought rather," said I, "to warn you to be prudent, and to remind
you that God is certainly watching over us, for if your hat had fallen to
the left instead of to the right, we should have been undone; as in that
case it would have fallen into the palace court, where it would have
caught the attention of the guards, and have let them know that there was
someone on the roof; and in a few minutes we should have been retaken."

After looking about me for some time I told the monk to stay still till I
came back, and I set out, my pike in my hand, sitting astride the roof
and moving along without any difficulty. For nearly an hour I went to
this side and that, keeping a sharp look-out, but in vain; for I could
see nothing to which the rope could be fastened, and I was in the
greatest perplexity as to what was to be done. It was of no use thinking
of getting down on the canal side or by the court of the palace, and the
church offered only precipices which led to nothing. To get to the other
side of the church towards the Canonica, I should have had to climb roofs
so steep that I saw no prospect of success. The situation called for
hardihood, but not the smallest piece of rashness.

It was necessary, however, either to escape, or to reenter the prison,
perhaps never again to leave it, or to throw myself into the canal. In
such a dilemma it was necessary to leave a good deal to chance, and to
make a start of some kind. My eye caught a window on the canal sides, and
two-thirds of the distance from the gutter to the summit of the roof. It
was a good distance from the spot I had set out from, so I concluded that
the garret lighted by it did not form part of the prison I had just
broken. It could only light a loft, inhabited or uninhabited, above some
rooms in the palace, the doors of which would probably be opened by
day-break. I was morally sure that if the palace servants saw us they
would help us to escape, and not deliver us over to the Inquisitors, even
if they recognized us as criminals of the deepest dye; so heartily was
the State Inquisition hated by everyone.

It was thus necessary for me to get in front of the window, and letting
myself slide softly down in a straight line I soon found myself astride
on top of the dormer-roof. Then grasping the sides I stretched my head
over, and succeeded in seeing and touching a small grating, behind which
was a window of square panes of glass joined with thin strips of lead. I
did not trouble myself about the window, but the grating, small as it
was, appeared an insurmountable difficulty, failing a file, and I had
only my pike.

I was thoroughly perplexed, and was beginning to lose courage, when an
incident of the simplest and most natural kind came to my aid and
fortified my resolution.

Philosophic reader, if you will place yourself for a moment in my
position, if you will share the sufferings which for fifteen months had
been my lot, if you think of my danger on the top of a roof, where the
slightest step in a wrong direction would have cost me my life, if you
consider the few hours at my disposal to overcome difficulties which
might spring up at any moment, the candid confession I am about to make
will not lower me in your esteem; at any rate, if you do not forget that
a man in an anxious and dangerous position is in reality only half

It was the clock of St. Mark's striking midnight, which, by a violent
shock, drew me out of the state of perplexity I had fallen into. The
clock reminded me that the day just beginning was All Saints' Day--the
day of my patron saint (at least if I had one)--and the prophecy of my
confessor came into my mind. But I confess that what chiefly strengthened
me, both bodily and mentally, was the profane oracle of my beloved
Ariosto: 'Fra il fin d'ottobre, a il capo di novembre'.

The chime seemed to me a speaking talisman, commanding me to be up and
doing,--and--promising me the victory. Lying on my belly I stretched my
head down towards the grating, and pushing my pike into the sash which
held it I resolved to take it out in a piece. In a quarter of an hour I
succeeded, and held the whole grate in my hands,--and putting it on one
side I easily broke the glass window, though wounding my left hand.

With the aid of my pike, using it as I had done before, I regained the
ridge of the roof, and went back to the spot where I had left Balbi. I
found him enraged and despairing, and he abused me heartily for having
left him for so long. He assured me that he was only waiting for it to
get light to return to the prison.

"What did you think had become of me?"

"I thought you must have fallen over."

"And you can find no better way than abuse to express the joy you ought
to feel at seeing me again?"

"What have you been doing all this time?"

"Follow me, and you shall see."

I took up my packets again and made my way towards the window. As soon as
were opposite to it I told Balbi what I had done, and asked him if he
could think of any way of getting into the loft. For one it was easy
enough, for the other could lower him by the rope; but I could not
discover how the second of us was to get down afterwards, as there was
nothing to which the rope could be fastened. If I let myself fall I might
break my arms and legs, for I did not know the distance between the
window and the floor of the room. To this chain of reasoning uttered in
the friendliest possible tone, the brute replied thus:

"You let me down, and when I have got to the bottom you will have plenty
of time to think how you are going to follow me."

I confess that my first indignant impulse was to drive my pike into his
throat. My good genius stayed my arm, and I uttered not a word in
reproach of his base selfishness. On the contrary, I straightway untied
my bundle of rope and bound him strongly under the elbows, and making him
lie flat down I lowered him feet foremost on to the roof of the
dormer-window. When he got there I told him to lower himself into the
window as far as his hips, supporting himself by holding his elbows
against the sides of the window. As soon as he had done so, I slid down
the roof as before, and lying down on the dormer-roof with a firm grasp
of the rope I told the monk not to be afraid but to let himself go. When
he reached the floor of the loft he untied himself, and on drawing the
rope back I found the fall was one of fifty feet-too dangerous a jump to
be risked. The monk who for two hours had been a prey to terror; seated
in a position which I confess was not a very reassuring one, was not
quite cool, and called out to me to throw him the ropes for him to take
care of--a piece of advice you may be sure I took care not to follow.

Not knowing what to do next, and waiting for some fortunate idea, I made
my way back to the ridge of the roof, and from there spied out a corner
near a cupola; which I had not visited. I went towards it and found a
flat roof, with a large window closed with two shutters. At hand was a
tubful of plaster, a trowel, and ladder which I thought long enough for
my purpose. This was enough, and tying my rope to the first round I
dragged this troublesome burden after me to the window. My next task was
to get the end of the ladder (which was twelve fathoms long) into the
opening, and the difficulties I encountered made me sorry that I had
deprived myself of the aid of the monk. [The unit of measure:'fathoms'
describing the ladder and earlier the 100 fathoms of rope, is likely a
translation error: Casanova might have manufactured 100 feet of rope and
might have dragged a 12 foot ladder up the steep roof, but not a longer.

I had set the ladder in such a way that one end touched the window, and
the other went below the gutter. I next slid down to the roof of the
window, and drawing the ladder towards me I fastened the end of my rope
to the eighth round, and then let it go again till it was parallel with
the window. I then strove to get it in, but I could not insert it farther
than the fifth round, for the end of the ladder being stopped by the
inside roof of the window no force on earth could have pushed it any
further without breaking either the ladder or the ceiling. There was
nothing to be done but to lift it by the other end; it would then slip
down by its own weight. I might, it is true, have placed the ladder
across the window, and have fastened the rope to it, in which manner I
might have let myself down into the loft without any risk; but the ladder
would have been left outside to shew Lawrence and the guards where to
look for us and possibly to find us in the morning.

I did not care to risk by a piece of imprudence the fruit of so much toil
and danger, and to destroy all traces of our whereabouts the ladder must
be drawn in. Having no one to give me a helping hand, I resolved to go
myself to the parapet to lift the ladder and attain the end I had in
view. I did so, but at such a hazard as had almost cost me my life. I
could let go the ladder while I slackened the rope without any fear of
its falling over, as it had caught to the parapet by the third rung.
Then, my pike in my hand, I slid down beside the ladder to the parapet,
which held up the points of my feet, as I was lying on my belly. In this
position I pushed the ladder forward, and was able to get it into the
window to the length of a foot, and that diminished by a good deal its
weight. I now only had to push it in another two feet, as I was sure that
I could get it in altogether by means of the rope from the roof of the
window. To impel the ladder to the extent required I got on my knees, but
the effort I had to use made me slip, and in an instant I was over the
parapet as far as my chest, sustained by my elbows.

I shudder still when I think of this awful moment, which cannot be
conceived in all its horror. My natural instinct made me almost
unconsciously strain every nerve to regain the parapet, and--I had nearly
said miraculously--I succeeded. Taking care not to let myself slip back
an inch I struggled upwards with my hands and arms, while my belly was
resting on the edge of the parapet. Fortunately the ladder was safe, for
with that unlucky effort which had nearly cost me so dearly I had pushed
it in more than three feet, and there it remained.

Finding myself resting on my groin on the parapet, I saw that I had only
to lift up my right leg and to put up first one knee and then the other
to be absolutely out of danger; but I had not yet got to the end of my
trouble. The effort I made gave me so severe a spasm that I became
cramped and unable to use my limbs. However, I did not lose my head, but
kept quiet till the pain had gone off, knowing by experience that keeping
still is the best cure for the false cramp. It was a dreadful moment! In
two minutes I made another effort, and had the good fortune to get my two
knees on to the parapet, and as soon as I had taken breath I cautiously
hoisted the ladder and pushed it half-way through the window. I then took
my pike, and crawling up as I had done before I reached the window, where
my knowledge of the laws of equilibrium and leverage aided me to insert
the ladder to its full length, my companion receiving the end of it. I
then threw into the loft the bundles and the fragments that I had broken
off the window, and I stepped down to the monk, who welcomed me heartily
and drew in the ladder. Arm in arm, we proceeded to inspect the gloomy
retreat in which we found ourselves, and judged it to be about thirty
paces long by twenty wide.

At one end were folding-doors barred with iron. This looked bad, but
putting my hand to the latch in the middle it yielded to the pressure,
and the door opened. The first thing we did was to make the tour of the
room, and crossing it we stumbled against a large table surrounded by
stools and armchairs. Returning to the part where we had seen windows, we
opened the shutters of one of them, and the light of the stars only
shewed us: the cupolas and the depths beneath them. I did not think for a
moment of lowering myself down, as I wished to know where I was going,
and I did not recognize our surroundings. I shut the window up, and we
returned to the place where we had left our packages. Quite exhausted I
let myself fall on the floor, and placing a bundle of rope under my head
a sweet sleep came to my relief. I abandoned myself to it without
resistance, and indeed, I believe if death were to have been the result,
I should have slept all the same, and I still remember how I enjoyed that

It lasted for three and a half hours, and I was awakened by the monk's
calling out and shaking me. He told me that it had just struck five. He
said it was inconceivable to him how I could sleep in the situation we
were in. But that which was inconceivable to him was not so to me. I had
not fallen asleep on purpose, but had only yielded to the demands of
exhausted nature, and, if I may say so, to the extremity of my need. In
my exhaustion there was nothing to wonder at, since I had neither eaten
nor slept for two days, and the efforts I had made--efforts almost beyond
the limits of mortal endurance--might well have exhausted any man. In my
sleep my activity had come back to me, and I was delighted to see the
darkness disappearing, so that we should be able to proceed with more
certainty and quickness.

Casting a rapid glance around, I said to myself, "This is not a prison,
there ought, therefore, be some easy exit from it." We addressed
ourselves to the end opposite to the folding-doors, and in a narrow
recess I thought I made out a doorway. I felt it over and touched a lock,
into which I thrust my pike, and opened it with three or four heaves. We
then found ourselves in a small room, and I discovered a key on a table,
which I tried on a door opposite to us, which, however, proved to be
unlocked. I told the monk to go for our bundles, and replacing the key we
passed out and came into a gallery containing presses full of papers.
They were the state archives. I came across a short flight of stone
stairs, which I descended, then another, which I descended also, and
found a glass door at the end, on opening which I entered a hall well
known to me: we were in the ducal chancery. I opened a window and could
have got down easily, but the result would have been that we should have
been trapped in the maze of little courts around St. Mark's Church. I saw
on a desk an iron instrument, of which I took possession; it had a
rounded point and a wooden handle, being used by the clerks of the
chancery to pierce parchments for the purpose of affixing the leaden
seals. On opening the desk I saw the copy of a letter advising the
Proveditore of Corfu of a grant of three thousand sequins for the
restoration of the old fortress. I searched for the sequins but they were
not there. God knows how gladly I would have taken them, and how I would
have laughed the monk to scorn if he had accused me of theft! I should
have received the money as a gift from Heaven, and should have regarded
myself as its master by conquest.

Going to the door of the chancery, I put my bar in the keyhole, but
finding immediately that I could not break it open, I resolved on making
a hole in the door. I took care to choose the side where the wood had
fewest knots, and working with all speed I struck as hard and as cleaving
strokes as I was able. The monk, who helped me as well as he could with
the punch I had taken from the desk, trembled at the echoing clamour of
my pike which must have been audible at some distance. I felt the danger
myself, but it had to be risked.

In half an hour the hole was large enough--a fortunate circumstance, for
I should have had much trouble in making it any larger without the aid of
a saw. I was afraid when I looked at the edges of the hole, for they
bristled with jagged pieces of wood which seemed made for tearing clothes
and flesh together. The hole was at a height of five feet from the
ground. We placed beneath it two stools, one beside the other, and when
we had stepped upon them the monk with arms crossed and head foremost
began to make his way through the hole, and taking him by the thighs, and
afterwards by the legs, I succeeded in pushing him through, and though it
was dark I felt quite secure, as I knew the surroundings. As soon as my
companion had reached the other side I threw him my belongings, with the
exception of the ropes, which I left behind, and placing a third stool on
the two others, I climbed up, and got through as far as my middle, though
with much difficulty, owing to the extreme narrowness of the hole. Then,
having nothing to grasp with my hands, nor anyone to push me as I had
pushed the monk, I asked him to take me, and draw me gently and by slow
degrees towards him. He did so, and I endured silently the fearful
torture I had to undergo, as my thighs and legs were torn by the
splinters of wood.

As soon as I got through I made haste to pick up my bundle of linen, and
going down two flights of stairs I opened without difficulty the door
leading into the passage whence opens the chief door to the grand
staircase, and in another the door of the closet of the 'Savio alla
scrittura'. The chief door was locked, and I saw at once that, failing a
catapult or a mine of gunpowder, I could not possibly get through. The
bar I still held seemed to say, "Hic fines posuit. My use is ended and
you can lay me down." It was dear to me as the instrument of freedom, and
was worthy of being hung as an 'ex voto' on the altar of liberty.

I sat down with the utmost tranquillity, and told the monk to do the

"My work is done," I said, "the rest must be left to God and fortune.

"Abbia chi regge il ciel cura del resto, O la fortuna se non tocca a lui.

"I do not know whether those who sweep out the palace will come here
to-day, which is All Saints' Day, or tomorrow, All Souls' Day. If anyone
comes, I shall run out as soon as the door opens, and do you follow after
me; but if nobody comes, I do not budge a step, and if I die of hunger so
much the worse for me."

At this speech of mine he became beside himself. He called me a madman,
seducer, deceiver, and a liar. I let him talk, and took no notice. It
struck six; only an hour had passed since I had my awakening in the loft.

My first task was to change my clothes. Father Balbi looked like a
peasant, but he was in better condition than I, his clothes were not torn
to shreds or covered with blood, his red flannel waistcoat and purple
breeches were intact, while my figure could only inspire pity or terror,
so bloodstained and tattered was I. I took off my stockings, and the
blood gushed out of two wounds I had given myself on the parapet, while
the splinters in the hole in the door had torn my waistcoat, shirt,
breeches, legs and thighs. I was dreadfully wounded all over my body. I
made bandages of handkerchiefs, and dressed my wounds as best I could,
and then put on my fine suit, which on a winter's day would look odd
enough. Having tied up my hair, I put on white stockings, a laced shirt,
failing any other, and two others over it, and then stowing away some
stockings and handkerchiefs in my pockets, I threw everything else into a
corner of the room. I flung my fine cloak over the monk, and the fellow
looked as if he had stolen it. I must have looked like a man who has been
to a dance and has spent the rest of the night in a disorderly house,
though the only foil to my reasonable elegance of attire was the bandages
round my knees.

In this guise, with my exquisite hat trimmed with Spanish lace and
adorned with a white feather on my head, I opened a window. I was
immediately remarked by some lounger in the palace court, who, not
understanding what anyone of my appearance was doing there at such an
early hour, went to tell the door-keeper of the circumstance. He,
thinking he must have locked somebody in the night before, went for his
keys and came towards us. I was sorry to have let myself be seen at the
window, not knowing that therein chance was working for our escape, and
was sitting down listening to the idle talk of the monk, when I heard the
jingling of keys. Much perturbed I got up and put my eye to a chink in
the door, and saw a man with a great bunch of keys in his hand mounting
leisurely up the stairs. I told the monk not to open his mouth, to keep
well behind me, and to follow my steps. I took my pike, and concealing it
in my right sleeve I got into a corner by the door, whence I could get
out as soon as it was opened and run down the stairs. I prayed that the
man might make no resistance, as if he did I should be obliged to fell
him to the earth, and I determined to do so.

The door opened; and the poor man as soon as he saw me seemed turned to a
stone. Without an instant's delay and in dead silence, I made haste to
descend the stairs, the monk following me. Avoiding the appearance of a
fugitive, but walking fast, I went by the giants' Stairs, taking no
notice of Father Balbi, who kept cabling: out "To the church! to the

The church door was only about twenty paces from the stairs, but the
churches were no longer sanctuaries in Venice; and no one ever took
refuge in them. The monk knew this, but fright had deprived him of his
faculties. He told me afterwards that the motive which impelled him to go
to the church was the voice of religion bidding him seek the horns of the

"Why didn't you go by yourself?" said I.

"I did not, like to abandon you," but he should rather have said, "I did
not like to lose the comfort of your company."

The safety I sought was beyond the borders of the Republic, and
thitherward I began to bend my steps. Already there in spirit, I must
needs be there in body also. I went straight towards the chief door of
the palace, and looking at no one that might be tempted to look at me I
got to the canal and entered the first gondola that I came across,
shouting to the boatman on the poop,

"I want to go to Fusina; be quick and, call another gondolier."

This was soon done, and while the gondola was being got off I sat down on
the seat in the middle, and Balbi at the side. The odd appearance of the
monk, without a hat and with a fine cloak on his shoulders, with my
unseasonable attire, was enough to make people take us for an astrologer
and his man.

As soon as we had passed the custom-house, the gondoliers began to row
with a will along the Giudecca Canal, by which we must pass to go to
Fusina or to Mestre, which latter place was really our destination. When
we had traversed half the length of the canal I put my head out, and said
to the waterman on the poop,

"When do you think we shall get to Mestre?"

"But you told me to go to Fusina."

"You must be mad; I said Mestre."

The other boatman said that I was mistaken, and the fool of a monk, in
his capacity of zealous Christian and friend of truth, took care to tell
me that I was wrong. I wanted to give him a hearty kick as a punishment
for his stupidity, but reflecting that common sense comes not by wishing
for it I burst into a peal of laughter, and agreed that I might have made
a mistake, but that my real intention was to go to Mestre. To that they
answered nothing, but a minute after the master boatman said he was ready
to take me to England if I liked.

"Bravely spoken," said I, "and now for Mestre, ho!"

"We shall be there in three quarters of an hour, as the wind and tide
are in our favour."

Well pleased I looked at the canal behind us, and thought it had never
seemed so fair, especially as there was not a single boat coming our way.
It was a glorious morning, the air was clear and glowing with the first
rays of the sun, and my two young watermen rowed easily and well; and as
I thought over the night of sorrow, the dangers I had escaped, the abode
where I had been fast bound the day before, all the chances which had
been in my favour, and the liberty of which I now began to taste the
sweets, I was so moved in my heart and grateful to my God that, well nigh
choked with emotion, I burst into tears.

My nice companion who had hitherto only spoken to back up the gondoliers,
thought himself bound to offer me his consolations. He did not understand
why I was weeping, and the tone he took made me pass from sweet
affliction to a strange mirthfulness which made him go astray once more,
as he thought I had got mad. The poor monk, as I have said, was a fool,
and whatever was bad about him was the result of his folly. I had been
under the sad necessity of turning him to account, but though without
intending to do so he had almost been my ruin. It was no use trying to
make him believe that I had told the gondoliers to go to Fusina whilst I
intended to go to Mestre; he said I could not have thought of that till I
got on to the Grand Canal.

In due course we reached Mestre. There were no horses to ride post, but I
found men with coaches who did as well, and I agreed with one of them to
take me to Trevisa in an hour and a quarter. The horses were put in in
three minutes, and with the idea that Father Balbi was behind me I turned
round to say "Get up," but he was not there. I told an ostler to go and
look for him, with the intention of reprimanding him sharply, even if he
had gone for a necessary occasion, for we had no time to waste, not even
thus. The man came back saying he could not find' him, to my great rage
and indignation. I was tempted to abandon him, but a feeling of humanity
restrained me. I made enquiries all round; everybody had seen him, but
not a soul knew where he was. I walked along the High Street, and some
instinct prompting me to put my head in at the window of a cafe. I saw
the wretched man standing at the bar drinking chocolate and making love
to the girl. Catching sight of me, he pointed to the girl and said--

"She's charming," and then invited me to take a cup of chocolate, saying
that I must pay, as he hadn't a penny. I kept back my wrath and answered,

"I don't want any, and do you make haste!" and caught hold of his arm in
such sort that he turned white with pain. I paid the money and we went
out. I trembled with anger. We got into our coach, but we had scarcely
gone ten paces before I recognised: an inhabitant, of Mestre named Balbi
Tommasi, a good sort of man; but reported to be one of the familiars of
the Holy Office. He knew me, too, and coming up called out,

"I am delighted to see you here. I suppose you have just escaped. How did
you do it?"

"I have not escaped, but have been set at liberty."

"No, no, that's not possible, as I was at M. Grimani's yesterday evening,
and I should have heard of it."

It will be easier for the reader to imagine my state of mind than for me
to describe it. I was discovered by a man whom I believed to be a hired
agent of the Government, who only had to give a glance to one of the
sbirri with whom Mestre swarmed to have me arrested. I told him to speak
softly, and getting down I asked him to come to one side. I took him
behind a house, and seeing that there was nobody in sight, a ditch in
front, beyond which the open country extended, I grasped my pike and took
him by the neck. At this: he gave a struggle, slipped out of my hands,
leapt over the ditch, and without turning round set off to run at, full
speed. As soon as he was some way off he slackened his course, turned
round and kissed his hand to me, in token of wishing me a prosperous
journey. And as soon; as he was out of my sight I gave thanks to God
that, this man by his quickness had preserved me from the commission of a
crime, for I would have killed him; and he, as it turned out, bore me no
ill will.

I was in a terrible position. In open war with all the powers of-the
Republic, everything had to give way to my safety, which made me neglect
no means of attaining my ends.

With the gloom of a man who has passed through a great peril, I gave a
glance of contempt towards the monk, who now saw to what danger he had
exposed us, and then got up again into the carriage. We reached Trevisa
without further adventure, and I told the posting-master to get me a
carriage and two horses ready by ten o'clock; though I had no intention
of continuing my journey along the highway, both because I lacked means;
and because I feared pursuit. The inn-keeper asked me, if I would take
any breakfast, of which I stood in great need, for I was dying with
hunger, but I did not dare to, accept his offer, as a quarter of an
hour's delay might, prove fatal. I was afraid of being retaken, and of
being ashamed of it for the rest of my life; for a man of sense ought to
be able to snap his fingers at four hundred thousand men in the open
country, and if he cannot escape capture he must be a fool.

I went out by St. Thomas's Gate as if I was going for a short walk, and
after walking for a mile on the highway I struck into the fields,
resolving not to leave them as long as I should be within the borders of
the Republic. The shortest way was by Bassano, but I took the longer
path, thinking I might possibly be expected on the more direct road,
while they would never think of my leaving the Venetian territory by way
of Feltre, which is the longest way of getting into the state subject to
the Bishop of Trent.

After walking for three hours I let myself drop to the ground, for I
could not move a step further. I must either take some food or die there,
so I told the monk to leave the cloak with me and go to a farm I saw,
there to buy something to eat. I gave him the money, and he set off,
telling me that he thought I had more courage. The miserable man did not
know what courage was, but he was more robust than myself, and he had,
doubtless, taken in provisions before leaving the prison. Besides he had
had some chocolate; he was thin and wiry, and a monk, and mental
anxieties were unknown to him.

Although the house was not an inn, the good farmer's wife sent me a
sufficient meal which only cost me thirty Venetian sous. After satisfying
my appetite, feeling that sleep was creeping on me, I set out again on
the tramp, well braced up. In four hours' time I stopped at a hamlet, and
found that I was twenty-four miles from Trevisa. I was done up, my ankles
were swollen, and my shoes were in holes. There was only another hour of
day-light before us. Stretching myself out beneath a grove of trees I
made Father Balbi sit by me, and discoursed to him in the manner

"We must make for Borgo di Valsugano, it is the first town beyond the
borders of the Republic. We shall be as safe there as if we were in
London, and we can take our ease for awhile; but to get there we must go
carefully to work, and the first thing we must do is to separate. You
must go by Mantello Woods, and I by the mountains; you by the easiest and
shortest way, and I by the longest and most difficult; you with money and
I without a penny. I will make you a present of my cloak, which you must
exchange for a great coat and a hat, and everybody will take you for a
countryman, as you are luckily rather like one in the face. Take these
seventeen livres, which is all that remains to me of the two sequins
Count Asquin gave me. You will reach Borgo by the day after to-morrow,
and I shall be twenty-four hours later. Wait for me in the first inn on
the left-hand side of the street, and be sure I shall come in due season.
I require a good night's rest in a good bed; and Providence will get me
one somewhere, but I must sleep without fear of being disturbed, and in
your company that would be out of the question. I am certain that we are
being sought for on all sides, and that our descriptions have been so
correctly given that if we went into any inn together we should be
certain to be arrested. You see the state I am in, and my urgent
necessity for a ten hours' rest. Farewell, then, do you go that way and I
will take this, and I will find somewhere near here a rest for the sole
of my foot."

"I have been expecting you to say as much," said Father Balbi, "and for
answer I will remind you of the promise you gave me when I let myself be
persuaded to break into your cell. You promised me that we should always
keep company; and so don't flatter yourself that I shall leave you, your
fate and mine are linked together. We shall be able to get a good refuge
for our money, we won't go to the inns, and no one will arrest us."

"You are determined, are you, not to follow the good advice I have given

"I am."

"We shall see about that."

I rose to my feet, though with some difficulty, and taking the measure of
his height I marked it out upon the ground, then drawing my pike from my
pocket, I proceeded with the utmost coolness to excavate the earth,
taking no notice of the questions the monk asked me. After working: for a
quarter of an hour I set myself to gaze sadly upon him, and I told him
that I felt obliged as a Christian to warn him to commend his soul to
God, "since I am about to bury you here, alive or dead; and if you prove
the stronger, you will bury me. You can escape if you wish to, as I shall
not pursue you."

He made no reply, and I betook myself to my work again, but I confess
that I began to be afraid of being rushed to extremities by this brute,
of whom I was determined to rid myself.

At last, whether convinced by my arguments or afraid Of my pike, he came
towards me. Not guessing. What he was about, I presented the point of my
pike towards him, but I had nothing to fear.

"I will do what you want," said he.

I straightway gave him all the money I had, and promising to rejoin him
at Borgo I bade him farewell. Although I had not a penny in my pocket and
had two rivers to cross over, I congratulated myself on having got rid of
a man of his character, for by myself I felt confident of being able to
cross the bounds of the Republic.


I Find a Lodging in the House of the Chief of the Sbirri--I Pass a Good
Night There and Recover My Strength--I Go to Mass--A Disagreeable Meeting
I Am Obliged to Take Six Sequins by Force--Out of Danger--Arrived at
Munich--Balbi I Set Out for Paris--My Arrival--Attempt on the Life of
Louis XV.

As soon as I saw Father Balbi far enough off I got up, and seeing at a
little distance a shepherd keeping his flock on the hill-side, I made my
way-towards him to obtain such information as I needed. "What is the name
of this village, my friend?" said I.

"Valde Piadene, signor," he answered, to my surprise, for I found I was
much farther on my way that I thought. I next asked him the owners of
five or six houses which I saw scattered around, and the persons he
mentioned chanced to be all known to me, but were not the kind of men I
should have cared to trouble with my presence. On my asking him the name
of a palace before me, he said it belonged to the Grimanis, the chief of
whom was a State Inquisitor, and then resident at the palace, so I had to
take care not to let him see me. Finally, an my enquiring the owner of a
red house in the distance, he told me, much to my surprise, that it
belonged to the chief of the sbirri. Bidding farewell to the kindly
shepherd I began to go down the hill mechanically, and I am still puzzled
to know what instinct directed my steps towards that house, which common
sense and fear also should have made me shun. I steered my course for it
in a straight line, and I can say with truth that I did so quite
unwittingly. If it be true that we have all of us an invisible
intelligence--a beneficent genius who guides our steps aright--as was the
case with Socrates, to that alone I should attribute the irresistible
attraction which drew me towards the house where I had most to dread.
However that may be, it was the boldest stroke I have played in my whole

I entered with an easy and unconstrained air, and asked a child who was
playing at top in the court-yard where his father was. Instead of
replying, the child went to call his mother, and directly afterwards
appeared a pretty woman in the family way, who politely asked me my
business with her husband, apologizing for his absence.

"I am sorry," I said, "to hear that my gossip is not in, though at the
same time I am delighted to make the acquaintance of his charming wife."

"Your gossip? You will be M. Vetturi, then? My husband told me that you
had kindly promised to be the god-father of our next child. I am
delighted to know you, but my husband will be very vexed to have been

"I hope he will soon return, as I wanted to ask him for a night's
lodging. I dare not go anywhere in the state you see me."

"You shall have the best bed in the house, and I will get you a good
supper. My husband when he comes back will thank your excellence for
doing us so much honour. He went away with all his people an hour ago,
and I don't expect him back for three or four days."

"Why is he away for such a long time, my dear madam?"

"You have not heard, then, that two prisoners have escaped from The
Leads? One is a noble and the other a private individual named Casanova.
My husband has received a letter from Messer-Grande ordering him to make
a search for them; if he find them he will take them back to Venice, and
if not he will return here, but he will be on the look-out for three days
at least."

"I am sorry for this accident, my dear madam, but I should not like to
put you out, and indeed I should be glad to lie down immediately."

"You shall do so, and my mother shall attend to your wants. But what is
the matter with your knees?"

"I fell down whilst hunting on the mountains, and gave myself some severe
wounds, and am much weakened by loss of blood."

"Oh! my poor gentleman, my poor gentleman! But my mother will cure you."

She called her mother, and having told her of my necessities she went
out. This pretty sbirress had not the wit of her profession, for the
story I had told her sounded like a fairy-tale. On horseback with white
silk stockings! Hunting in sarcenet, without cloak and without a man! Her
husband would make fine game of her when he came back; but God bless her
for her kind heart and benevolent stupidity. Her mother tended me with
all the politeness I should have met with in the best families. The
worthy woman treated me like a mother, and called me "son" as she
attended to my wounds. The name sounded pleasantly in my ears, and did no
little towards my cure by the sentiments it awoke in my breast. If I had
been less taken up with the position I was in I should have repaid her
care with some evident marks of the gratitude I felt, but the place I was
in and the part I was playing made the situation too serious a one for me
to think of anything else.

This kindly woman, after looking at my knees and my thighs, told me that
I must make my mind to suffer a little pain, but I might be sure of being
cured by the morning. All I had to do was to bear the application of
medicated linen to my wounds, and not to stir till the next day. I
promised to bear the pain patiently, and to do exactly as she told me.

I was given an excellent supper, and I ate and drank with good appetite.
I then gave myself up to treatment, and fell asleep whilst my nurse was
attending to me. I suppose she undressed me as she would a child, but I
remembered nothing about it when I woke up--I was, in fact, totally
unconscious. Though I had made a good supper I had only done so to
satisfy my craving for food and to regain my strength, and sleep came to
me with an irresistible force, as my physical exhaustion did not leave me
the power of arguing myself out of it. I took my supper at six o'clock in
the evening, and I heard six striking as I awoke. I seemed to have been
enchanted. Rousing myself up and gathering my wits together, I first took
off the linen bandages, and I was astonished to find my wounds healed and
quite free from pain. I did my hair, dressed myself in less than five
minutes, and finding the door of my room open I went downstairs, crossed
the court, and left the house behind me, without appearing to notice two
individuals who were standing outside, and must have been sbirri. I made
haste to lengthen the distance between me and the place where I had found
the kindliest hospitality, the utmost politeness, the most tender care,
and best of all, new health and strength, and as I walked I could not
help feeling terrified at the danger I had been in. I shuddered
involuntarily; and at the present moment, after so many years, I still
shudder when I think of the peril to which I had so heedlessly exposed
myself. I wondered how I managed to go in, and still more how I came out;
it seemed absurd that I should not be followed. For five hours I tramped
on, keeping to the woods and mountains, not meeting a soul besides a few
countryfolk, and turning neither to the right nor left.

It was not yet noon, when, as I went along my way, I stopped short at the
sound of a bell. I was on high ground, and looking in the direction from
which the sound came I saw, a little church in the valley, and many,
people going towards it to hear mass. My heart desired to express
thankfulness for the protection of Providence, and, though all nature was
a temple worthy of its Creator, custom drew me to the church. When men
are in trouble, every passing thought seems an inspiration. It was All
Souls' Day. I went down the hill, and came into the church, and saw, to
my astonishment, M. Marc Antoine Grimani, the nephew of the State
Inquisitor, with Madame Marie Visani, his wife. I made my bow; which was
returned, and after I had heard mass I left the church. M. Grimani
followed me by himself, and when he had got near me, called me by name,
saying, "What are you doing here, Casanova, and what has become of your

"I have given him what little money I had for him to escape by another
road, whilst I, without a penny in my pocket, am endeavouring to reach a
place of safety by this way. If your excellence would kindly give me some
help, it would speed my journey for me."

"I can't give you anything, but you will find recluses on your way who
won't let you die of hunger. But tell me how you contrived to pierce the
roof of The Leads."

"The story is an interesting one, but it would take up too much time, and
in the meanwhile the recluses might eat up the food which is to keep me
from dying of hunger."

With this sarcasm I made him a profound bow, and went upon my way. In
spite of my great want, his refusal pleased me, as it made me think
myself a better gentleman than the "excellence" who had referred me to
the charity of recluses. I heard at Paris afterwards that when his wife
heard of it she reproached him for his hard-hearted behaviour. There can
be no doubt that kindly and generous feelings are more often to be found
in the hearts of women than of men.

I continued my journey till sunset. Weary and faint with hunger I stopped
at a good-looking house, which stood by itself. I asked to speak to the
master, and the porter told me that he was not in as he had gone to a
wedding on the other side of the river, and would be away for two days,
but that he had bidden him to welcome all his friends while he was away.
Providence! luck! chance! whichever you like.

I went in and was treated to a good supper and a good bed. I found by the
addresses of some letters which were lying about that I was being
entertained in the house of M. Rombenchi--a consul, of what nation I know
not. I wrote a letter to him and sealed it to await his return. After
making an excellent supper and having had a good sleep, I rose, and
dressing myself carefully set out again without being able to leave the
porter any mark of my gratitude, and shortly afterwards crossed the
river, promising to pay when I came back. After walking for five hours I
dined in a monastery of Capuchins, who are very useful to people in my
position. I then set out again, feeling fresh and strong, and walked
along at a good pace till three o'clock. I halted at a house which I
found from a countryman belonged to a friend of mine. I walked in, asked
if the master was at home, and was shewn into a room where he was writing
by himself. I stepped forward to greet him, but as soon as he saw me he
seemed horrified and bid me be gone forthwith, giving me idle and
insulting reasons for his behaviour. I explained to him how I was
situated, and asked him to let me have sixty sequins on my note of hand,
drawn on M. de Bragadin. He replied that he could not so much as give me
a glass of water, since he dreaded the wrath of the Tribunal for my very
presence in his house. He was a stockbroker, about sixty years old, and
was under great obligations to me. His inhuman refusal produced quite a
different effect on me than that of M. Grimani. Whether from rage,
indignation, or nature, I took him by the collar, I shewed him my pike,
and raising my voice threatened to kill him. Trembling all over, he took
a key from his pocket and shewing me a bureau told me he kept money
there, and I had only to open it and take what I wanted; I told him to
open it himself. He did so, and on his opening a drawer containing gold,
I told him to count me out six sequins.

"You asked me for sixty."

"Yes, that was when I was asking a loan of you as a friend; but since I
owe the money to force, I require six only, and I will give you no note
of hand. You shall be repaid at Venice, where I shall write of the pass
to which you forced me, you cowardly wretch!"

"I beg your pardon! take the sixty sequins, I entreat you."

"No, no more. I am going on my way, and I advise you not to hinder me,
lest in my despair I come back and burn your house about your ears."

I went out and walked for two hours, until the approach of night and
weariness made me stop short at the house of a farmer, where I had a bad
supper and a bed of straw. In the morning, I bought an old overcoat, and
hired an ass to journey on, and near Feltre I bought a pair of boots. In
this guise I passed the hut called the Scala. There was a guard there
who, much to my delight, as the reader will guess, did not even honour me
by asking my name. I then took a two-horse carriage and got to Borgo de
Valsugano in good time, and found Father Balbi at the inn I had told him
of. If he had not greeted me first I should not have known him. A great
overcoat, a low hat over a thick cotton cap, disguised him to admiration.
He told me that a farmer had given him these articles in exchange for my
cloak, that he had arrived without difficulty, and was faring well. He
was kind enough to tell me that he did not expect to see me, as he did
not believe my promise to rejoin him was made in good faith. Possibly I
should have been wise not to undeceive him on this account.

I passed the following day in the inn, where, without getting out of my
bed, I wrote more than twenty letters to Venice, in many of which I
explained what I had been obliged to do to get the six sequins.

The monk wrote impudent letters to his superior, Father Barbarigo, and to
his brother nobles, and love-letters to the servant girls who had been
his ruin. I took the lace off my dress, and sold my hat, and thus got rid
of a gay appearance unsuitable to my position, as it made me too much an
object of notice.

The next day I went to Pergina and lay there, and was visited by a young
Count d'Alberg, who had discovered, in some way or another, that we had
escaped from the state-prisons of Venice. From Pergina I went to Trent
and from there to Bolzan, where, needing money for my dress, linen, and
the continuation of my journey, I introduced myself to an old banker
named Mensch, who gave me a man to send to Venice with a letter to M. de
Bragadin. In the mean time the old banker put me in a good inn where I
spent the six days the messenger was away in bed. He brought me the sum
of a hundred sequins, and my first care was to clothe my companion, and
afterwards myself. Every day I found the society of the wretched Balbi
more intolerable. "Without me you would never have escaped" was
continually in his mouth, and he kept reminding me that I had promised
him half of whatever money I got. He made love to all the servant girls,
and as he had neither the figure nor the manners to please them, his
attentions were returned with good hearty slaps, which he bore patiently,
but was as outrageous as ever in the course of twenty-four hours. I was
amused, but at the same time vexed to be coupled to a man of so low a

We travelled post, and in three days we got to Munich, where I went to
lodge at the sign of the "Stag." There I found two young Venetians of the
Cantarini family, who had been there some time in company with Count
Pompei, a Veronese; but not knowing them, and having no longer any need
of depending on recluses for my daily bread, I did not care to pay my
respects to them. It was otherwise with Countess Coronini, whom I knew at
St. Justine's Convent at Venice, and who stood very well with the
Bavarian Court.

This illustrious lady, then seventy years old, gave me a good reception
and promised to speak on my behalf to the Elector, with a view to his
granting me an asylum in his country. The next day, having fulfilled her
promise, she told me that his highness had nothing to say against me, but
as for Balbi there was no safety for him in Bavaria, for as a fugitive
monk he might be claimed by the monks at Munich, and his highness had no
wish to meddle with the monks. The countess advised me therefore to get
him out of the town as soon as possible, for him to fly to some other
quarter, and thus to avoid the bad turn which his beloved brethren the
monks were certain to do him.

Feeling in duty bound to look after the interests of the wretched fellow,
I went to the Elector's confessor to ask him to give Balbi letters of
introduction to some town in Swabia. The confessor, a Jesuit, did not
give the lie to the fine reputation of his brethren of the order; his
reception of me was as discourteous as it well could be. He told me in a
careless way that at Munich I was well known. I asked him without
flinching if I was to take this as a piece of good or bad news; but he
made no answer, and left me standing. Another priest told me that he had
gone out to verify the truth of a miracle of which the whole town was

"What miracle is that, reverend father?" I said.

"The empress, the widow of Charles VII, whose body is still exposed to
the public gaze, has warm feet, although she is dead."

"Perhaps something keeps them warm."

"You can assure yourself personally of the truth of this wonderful

To neglect such an opportunity would have been to lose the chance of
mirth or edification, and I was as desirous of the one as of the other.
Wishing to be able to boast that I had seen a miracle--and one, moreover,
of a peculiar interest for myself, who have always had the misfortune to
suffer from cold feet--I went to see the mighty dead. It was quite true
that her feet were warm, but the matter was capable of a simple
explanation, as the feet of her defunct majesty were turned towards a
burning lamp at a little distance off. A dancer of my acquaintance, whom
curiosity had brought there with the rest, came up to me, complimented me
upon my fortunate escape, and told me everybody was talking about it. His
news pleased me, as it is always a good thing to interest the public.
This son of Terpsichore asked me to dinner, and I was glad to accept his
invitation. His name was Michel de l'Agata, and his wife was the pretty
Gandela, whom I had known sixteen years ago at the old Malipiero's. The
Gandela was enchanted to see me, and to hear from my own lips the story
of my wondrous escape. She interested herself on behalf of the monk, and
offered me to give him a letter of introduction for Augsburg Canon Bassi,
of Bologna, who was Dean of St. Maurice's Chapter, and a friend of hers.
I took advantage of the offer, and she forthwith wrote me the letter,
telling me that I need not trouble myself any more about the monk, as she
was sure that the dean would take care of him, and even make it all right
at Venice.

Delighted at getting rid of him in so honourable a manner, I ran to the
inn, told him what I had done, gave him the letter, and promised not to
abandon him in the case of the dean's not giving him a warm welcome. I
got him a good carriage, and started him off the next day at daybreak.
Four days after, Balbi wrote that the dean had received him with great
kindness, that he had given him a room in the deanery, that he had
dressed him as an abbe, that he had introduced him to the Prince-Bishop
of Armstadt, and that he had received assurances of his safety from the
civil magistrates. Furthermore, the dean had promised to keep him till he
obtained his secularization from Rome, and with it freedom to return to
Venice, for as soon as he ceased to be a monk the Tribunal would have no
lien upon him. Father Balbi finished by asking me to send him a few
sequins for pocket-money, as he was too much of a gentleman to ask the
dean who, quoth the ungrateful fellow, "is not gentleman enough to offer
to give me anything." I gave him no answer.

As I was now alone in peace and quietness, I thought seriously of
regaining my health, for my sufferings had given me nervous spasms which
might become dangerous. I put myself on diet, and in three weeks I was
perfectly well. In the meanwhile Madame Riviere came from Dresden with
her son and two daughters. She was going to Paris to marry the elder. The
son had been diligent, and would have passed for a young man of culture.
The elder daughter, who was going to marry an actor, was extremely
beautiful, an accomplished dancer, and played on the clavichord like a
professional, and was altogether most charming and graceful. This
pleasant family was delighted to see me again, and I thought myself
fortunate when Madame Riviere, anticipating my wishes, intimated to me
that my company as far as Paris would give them great pleasure. I had
nothing to say respecting the expenses of the journey. I had to accept
their offer in its entirety. My design was to settle in Paris, and I took
this stroke of fortune as an omen of success in the only town where the
blind goddess freely dispenses her favours to those who leave themselves
to be guided by her, and know how to take advantage of her gifts. And, as
the reader will see by and by, I was not mistaken; but all the gifts of
fortune were of no avail, since I abused them all by my folly. Fifteen
months under the Leads should have made me aware of my weak points, but
in point of fact I needed a little longer stay to learn how to cure
myself of my failings.

Madame Riviere wished to take me with her, but she could not put off her
departure, and I required a week's delay to get money and letters from
Venice. She promised to wait a week in Strassburg, and we agreed that if
possible I would join her there. She left Munich on the 18th of December.

Two days afterwards I got from Venice the bill of exchange for which I
was waiting. I made haste to pay my debts, and immediately afterwards I
started for Augsburg, not so much for the sake of seeing Father Balbi, as
because I wanted to make the acquaintance of the kindly dean who had rid
me of him. I reached Augsburg in seven hours after leaving Munich, and I
went immediately to the house of the good ecclesiastic. He was not in,
but I found Balbi in an abbe's dress, with his hair covered with white
powder, which set off in a new but not a pleasing manner the beauties of
his complexion of about the same colour as a horse chestnut. Balbi was
under forty, but he was decidedly ugly, having one of those faces in
which baseness, cowardice, impudence, and malice are plainly expressed,
joining to this advantage a tone of voice and manners admirably
calculated to repulse anyone inclined to do him a service. I found him
comfortably housed, well looked after, and well clad; he had books and
all the requisites for writing. I complimented him upon his situation,
calling him a fortunate fellow, and applying the same epithet to myself
for having gained him all the advantages he enjoyed, and the hope of one
day becoming a secular priest. But the ungrateful hound, instead of
thanking me, reproached me for having craftily rid myself of him, and
added that, as I was going to Paris, I might as well take him with me, as
the dullness of Augsburg was almost killing him.

"What do you want at Paris?"

"What do you want yourself?"

"To put my talents to account."

"So do I."

"Well, then, you don't require me, and can fly on your own wings. The
people who are taking me to Paris would probably not care for me if I had
you for a companion."

"You promised not to abandon me."

"Can a man who leaves another well provided for and an assured future be
said to abandon him?"

"Well provided! I have not got a penny."

"What do you want with money? You have a good table, a good lodging,
clothes, linen, attendance, and so forth. And if you want pocket-money,
why don't you ask your brethren the monks?"

"Ask monks for money? They take it, but they don't give it."

"Ask your friends, then."

"I have no friends."

"You are to be pitied, but the reason probably is that you have never
been a friend to anyone. You ought to say masses, that is a good way of
getting money."

"I am unknown."

"You must wait, then, till you are known, and then you can make up for
lost time."

"Your suggestions are idle; you will surely give me a few sequins."

"I can't spare any."

"Wait for the dean. He will be back to-morrow. You can talk to him and
persuade him to lend me some money. You can tell him that I will pay it

"I cannot wait, for I am setting out on my journey directly, and were he
here this moment I should not have the face to tell him to lend you money
after all his generous treatment of you, and when he or anyone can see
that you have all you need."

After this sharp dialogue I left him, and travelling post I set out,
displeased with myself for having given such advantages to a man wholly
unworthy of them. In the March following I had a letter from the good
Dean Bassi, in which he told me how Balbi had run away, taking with him
one of his servant girls, a sum of money, a gold watch, and a dozen
silver spoons and forks. He did not know where he was gone.

Towards the end of the same year I learnt at Paris that the wretched man
had taken refuge at Coire, the capital of the Grisons, where he asked to
be made a member of the Calvinistic Church, and to be recognized as
lawful husband of the woman with him; but in a short time the community
discovered that the new convert was no good, and expelled him from the
bosom of the Church of Calvin. Our ne'er-do-well having no more money,
his wife left him, and he, not knowing what to do next, took the
desperate step of going to Bressa, a town within the Venetian territory,
where he sought the governor, telling him his name, the story of his
flight, and his repentance, begging the governor to take him under his
protection and to obtain his pardon.

The first effect of the podesta's protection was that the penitent was
imprisoned, and he then wrote to the Tribunal to know what to do with
him. The Tribunal told him to send Father Balbi in chains to Venice, and
on his arrival Messer-Grande gave him over to the Tribunal, which put him
once more under the Leads. He did not find Count Asquin there, as the
Tribunal, out of consideration for his great age, had moved him to The
Fours a couple of months after our escape.

Five or six years later, I heard that the Tribunal, after keeping the
unlucky monk for two years under the Leads, had sent him to his convent.
There, his superior fearing lest his flock should take contagion from
this scabby sheep, sent him to their original monastery near Feltre, a
lonely building on a height. However, Balbi did not stop there six
months. Having got the key of the fields, he went to Rome, and threw
himself at the feet of Pope Rezzonico, who absolved him of his sins, and
released him from his monastic vows. Balbi, now a secular priest,
returned to Venice, where he lived a dissolute and wretched life. In 1783
he died the death of Diogenes, minus the wit of the cynic.

At Strassburg I rejoined Madame Riviere and her delightful family, from
whom I received a sincere and hearty welcome. We were staying at the
"Hotel de l'Esprit," and we passed a few days there most pleasurably,
afterwards setting out in an excellent travelling carriage for Paris the
Only, Paris the Universal. During the journey I thought myself bound to
the expense of making it a pleasant one, as I had not to put my hand in
my pocket for other expenses. The charms of Mdlle. Riviere enchanted me,
but I should have esteemed myself wanting in gratitude and respect to
this worthy family if I had darted at her a single amorous glance, or if
I had let her suspect my feelings for her by a single word. In fact I
thought myself obliged to play the heavy father, though my age did not
fit me for the part, and I lavished on this agreeable family all the care
which can be given in return for pleasant society, a seat in a
comfortable travelling carriage, an excellent table, and a good bed.

We reached Paris on the 5th of January, 1757, and I went to the house of
my friend Baletti, who received me with open arms, and assured me that
though I had not written he had been expecting me, since he judged that I
would strive to put the greatest possible distance between myself and
Venice, and he could think of no other retreat for me than Paris. The
whole house kept holiday when my arrival became known, and I have never
met with more sincere regard than in that delightful family. I greeted
with enthusiasm the father and mother, whom I found exactly the same as
when I had seen them last in 1752, but I was struck with astonishment at
the daughter whom I had left a child, for she was now a tall and
well-shaped girl. Mdlle. Baletti was fifteen years old, and her mother
had brought her up with care, had given her the best masters, virtue,
grace, talents, a good manner, tact, a knowledge of society-in short, all
that a clever mother can give to a dear daughter.

After finding a pleasant lodging near the Baletti's, I took a coach and
went to the "Hotel de Bourbon" with the intention of calling on M. de
Bernis, who was then chief secretary for foreign affairs. I had good
reasons for relying on his assistance. He was out; he had gone to
Versailles. At Paris one must go sharply to work, and, as it is vulgarly
but forcibly said, "strike while the iron's hot." As I was impatient to
see what kind of a reception I should get from the liberal-minded lover
of my fair M---- M----, I went to the Pont-Royal, took a hackney coach,
and went to Versailles. Again bad luck!

Our coaches crossed each other on the way, and my humble equipage had not
caught his excellency's eye. M. de Bernis had returned to Paris with
Count de Castillana, the ambassador from Naples, and I determined to
return also; but when I got to the gate I saw a mob of people running
here and there in the greatest confusion, and from all sides I heard the
cry, "The king is assassinated! The king is assassinated!"

My frightened coachman only thought of getting on his way, but the coach
was stopped. I was made to get out and taken to the guard-room, where
there were several people already, and in less than three minutes there
were twenty of us, all under arrest, all astonished at the situation, and
all as much guilty as I was. We sat glum and silent, looking at each
other without daring to speak. I knew not what to think, and not
believing in enchantment I began to think I must be dreaming. Every face
expressed surprise, as everyone, though innocent, was more or less

We were not left in this disagreeable position for long, as in five
minutes an officer came in, and after some polite apologies told us we
were free.

"The king is wounded," he said, "and he has been taken to his room. The
assassin, whom nobody knows, is under arrest. M. de la Martiniere is
being looked for everywhere."

As soon as I had got back to my coach, and was thinking myself lucky for
being there, a gentlemanly-looking young man came up to me and besought
me to give him a seat in my coach, and he would gladly pay half the fare;
but in spite of the laws of politeness I refused his request. I may
possibly have been wrong. On any other occasion I should have been most
happy to give him a place, but there are times when prudence does not
allow one to be polite. I was about three hours on the way, and in this
short time I was overtaken every minute by at least two hundred couriers
riding at a breakneck pace. Every minute brought a new courier, and every
courier shouted his news to the winds. The first told me what I already
knew; then I heard that the king had been bled, that the wound was not
mortal, and finally, that the wound was trifling, and that his majesty
could go to the Trianon if he liked.

Fortified with this good news, I went to Silvia's and found the family at
table. I told them I had just come from Versailles.

"The king has been assassinated."

"Not at all; he is able to go to the Trianon, or the Parc-aux-cerfs, if
he likes. M. de la Martiniere has bled him, and found him to be in no
danger. The assassin has been arrested, and the wretched man will be
burnt, drawn with red-hot pincers, and quartered."

This news was soon spread abroad by Silvia's servants, and a crowd of the
neighbours came to hear what I had to say, and I had to repeat the same
thing ten times over. At this period the Parisians fancied that they
loved the king. They certainly acted the part of loyal subjects to
admiration. At the present day they are more enlightened, and would only
love the sovereign whose sole desire is the happiness of his people, and
such a king--the first citizens of a great nation--not Paris and its
suburbs, but all France, will be eager to love and obey. As for kings
like Louis XV., they have become totally impracticable; but if there are
any such, however much they may be supported by interested parties, in
the eyes of public opinion they will be dishonoured and disgraced before
their bodies are in a grave and their names are written in the book of


The Minister of Foreign Affairs M. de Boulogne, the Comptroller--M. le
Duc de Choiseul--M. Paris du Vernai--Establishment of the Lottery--My
Brother's Arrival at Paris; His Reception by the Academy

Once more, then, I was in Paris, which I ought to regard as my
fatherland, since I could return no more to that land which gave me
birth: an unworthy country, yet, in spite of all, ever dear to me,
possibly on account of early impressions and early prejudices, or
possibly because the beauties of Venice are really unmatched in the
world. But mighty Paris is a place of good luck or ill, as one takes it,
and it was my part to catch the favouring gale.

Paris was not wholly new to me, as my readers know I had spent two years
there, but I must confess that, having then no other aim than to pass the
time pleasantly, I had merely devoted myself to pleasure and enjoyment.
Fortune, to whom I had paid no court, had not opened to me her golden
doors; but I now felt that I must treat her more reverently, and attach
myself to the throng of her favoured sons whom she loads with her gifts.
I understood now that the nearer one draws to the sun the more one feels
the warmth of its rays. I saw that to attain my end I should have to
employ all my mental and physical talents, that I must make friends of
the great, and take cue from all whom I found it to be my interest to
please. To follow the plans suggested by these thoughts, I saw that I
must avoid what is called bad company, that I must give up my old habits
and pretensions, which would be sure to make me enemies, who would have
no scruple in representing me as a trifler, and not fit to be trusted
with affairs of any importance.

I think I thought wisely, and the reader, I hope, will be of the same
opinion. "I will be reserved," said I, "in what I say and what I do, and
thus I shall get a reputation for discretion which will bring its

I was in no anxiety on the score of present needs, as I could reckon on a
monthly allowance of a hundred crowns, which my adopted father, the good
and generous M. de Bragadin, sent me, and I found this sum sufficient in
the meanwhile, for with a little self-restraint one can live cheaply at
Paris, and cut a good figure at the same time. I was obliged to wear a
good suit of clothes, and to have a decent lodging; for in all large
towns the most important thing is outward show, by which at the beginning
one is always judged. My anxiety was only for the pressing needs of the
moment, for to speak the truth I had neither clothes nor linen--in a
word, nothing.

If my relations with the French ambassador are recalled, it will be found
natural that my first idea was to address myself to him, as I knew him
sufficiently well to reckon on his serving me.

Being perfectly certain that the porter would tell me that my lord was
engaged, I took care to have a letter, and in the morning I went to the
Palais Bourbon. The porter took my letter, and I gave him my address and
returned home.

Wherever I went I had to tell the story of my escape from The Leads. This
became a service almost as tiring as the flight itself had been, as it
took me two hours to tell my tale, without the slightest bit of
fancy-work; but I had to be polite to the curious enquirers, and to
pretend that I believed them moved by the most affectionate interest in
my welfare. In general, the best way to please is to take the benevolence
of all with whom one has relation for granted.

I supped at Silvia's, and as the evening was quieter than the night
before, I had time to congratulate myself on all the friendship they
shewed me. The girl was, as I had said, fifteen years old, and I was in
every way charmed with her. I complimented the mother on the good results
of her education, and I did not even think of guarding myself from
falling a victim to her charms. I had taken so lately such well-founded
and philosophical resolutions, and I was not yet sufficiently at my ease
to value the pain of being tempted. I left at an early hour, impatient to
see what kind of an answer the minister had sent me. I had not long to
wait, and I received a short letter appointing a meeting for two o'clock
in the afternoon. It may be guessed that I was punctual, and my reception
by his excellence was most flattering. M. de Bernis expressed his
pleasure at seeing me after my fortunate escape, and at being able to be
of service to me. He told me that M---- M---- had informed him of my
escape, and he had flattered himself that the first person I should go
and see in Paris would be himself. He shewed me the letters from
M---- M---- relating to my arrest and escape, but all the details in the
latter were purely imaginary and had no foundation in fact. M---- M---- was
not to blame, as she could only write what she had heard, and it was not
easy for anyone besides myself to know the real circumstances of my
escape. The charming nun said that, no longer buoyed up by the hope of
seeing either of the men who alone had made her in love with life, her
existence had become a burden to her, and she was unfortunate in not
being able to take any comfort in religion. "C---C---- often comes to see
me," she said, "but I grieve to say she is not happy with her husband."

I told M. de Bernis that the account of my flight from The Leads, as told
by our friend, was wholly inaccurate, and I would therefore take the
liberty of writing out the whole story with the minutest details. He
challenged me to keep my word, assuring me that he would send a copy to
M---- M----, and at the same time, with the utmost courtesy, he put a
packet of a hundred Louis in my hand, telling me that he would think what
he could do for me, and would advise me as soon as he had any
communication to make.

Thus furnished with ample funds, my first care was for my dress; and this
done I went to work, and in a week sent my generous protector the result,
giving him permission to have as many copies printed as he liked, and to
make any use he pleased of it to interest in my behalf such persons as
might be of service to me.

Three weeks after, the minister summoned me to say that he had spoken of
me to M. Erizzo, the Venetian ambassador, who had nothing to say against
me, but for fear of embroiling himself with the State Inquisitors
declined to receive me. Not wanting anything from him--his refusal did me
no harm. M. de Bernis then told me that he had given a copy of my history
to Madame la Marquise de Pompadour, and he promised to take the first
opportunity of presenting me to this all-powerful lady. "You can present
yourself, my dear Casanova," added his excellence, "to the Duc de
Choiseul, and M. de Boulogne, the comptroller. You will be well received,
and with a little wit you ought to be able to make good use of the
letter. He himself will give you the cue, and you will see that he who
listens obtains. Try to invent some useful plan for the royal exchequer;
don't let it be complicated or chimerical, and if you don't write it out
at too great length I will give you my opinion on it."

I left the minister in a pleased and grateful mood, but extremely puzzled
to find a way of increasing the royal revenue. I knew nothing of finance,
and after racking my brains all that I could think of was new methods of
taxation; but all my plans were either absurd or certain to be unpopular,
and I rejected them all on consideration.

As soon as I found out that M. de Choiseul was in Paris I called on him.
He received me in his dressing-room, where he was writing while his valet
did his hair. He stretched his politeness so far as to interrupt himself
several times to ask me questions, but as soon as I began to reply his
grace began to write again, and I suspect did not hear what I was saying;
and though now and again he seemed to be looking at me, it was plain that
his eyes and his thoughts were occupied on different objects. In spite of
this way of receiving visitors--or me, at all events, M. de Choiseul was
a man of wit.

When he had finished writing he said in Italian that M. de Bernis had
told him of some circumstances of my escape, and he added,

"Tell me how you succeeded."

"My lord, it would be too long a story; it would take me at least two
hours, and your grace seems busy."

"Tell me briefly about it."

"However much I speak to the point, I shall take two hours."

"You can keep the details for another time."

"The story is devoid of interest without the details."

"Well, well, you can tell me the whole story in brief, without losing
much of the interest."

"Very good; after that I can say no more. I must tell your lordship,
then, that, the State Inquisitors shut me up under the Leads; that after
fifteen months and five days of imprisonment I succeeded in piercing the
roof; that after many difficulties I reached the chancery by a window,
and broke open the door; afterwards I got to St. Mark's Place, whence,
taking a gondola which bore me to the mainland, I arrived at Paris, and
have had the honour to pay my duty to your lordship."

"But.... what are The Leads?"

"My lord, I should take a quarter of an hour, at least, to explain."

"How did you pierce the roof?"

"I could not tell your lordship in less than half an hour:"

"Why were you shut up?"

"It would be a long tale, my lord."

"I think you are right. The interest of the story lies chiefly in the

"I took the liberty of saying as much to your grace."

"Well, I must go to Versailles, but I shall be delighted if you will come
and see me sometimes. In the meanwhile, M. Casanova, think what I can do
for you."

I had been almost offended at the way in which M. de Choiseul had
received me, and I was inclined to resent it; but the end of our
conversation, and above all the kindly tone of his last words, quieted
me, and I left him, if not satisfied, at least without bitterness in my

From him I went to M. de Boulogne's, and found him a man of quite a
different stamp to the duke--in manners, dress, and appearance. He
received me with great politeness, and began by complimenting me on the
high place I enjoyed in the opinion of M. de Bernis, and on my skill in
matters of finance.

I felt that no compliment had been so ill deserved, and I could hardly
help bursting into laughter. My good angel, however, made me keep my

M. de Boulogne had an old man with him, every feature bore the imprint of
genius, and who inspired me with respect.

"Give me your views;" said the comptroller, "either on paper or 'viva
voce'. You will find me willing to learn and ready to grasp your ideas.
Here is M. Paris du Vernai, who wants twenty millions for his military
school; and he wishes to get this sum without a charge on the state or
emptying the treasury."

"It is God alone, sir, who has the creative power."

"I am not a god," said M. du Vernai, "but for all that I have now and
then created but the times have changed."

"Everything," I said, "is more difficult than it used to be; but in spite
of difficulties I have a plan which would give the king the interest of a
hundred millions."

"What expense would there be to the Crown?"

"Merely the cost of receiving."

"The nation, then, would furnish the sum in question?"

"Undoubtedly, but voluntarily."

"I know what you are thinking of."

"You astonish me, sir, as I have told nobody of my plan."

"If you have no other engagement, do me the honour of dining with me
to-morrow, and I will tell you what your project is. It is a good one,
but surrounded, I believe, with insuperable difficulties. Nevertheless,
we will talk it over and see what can be done. Will you come?"

"I will do myself that honour."

"Very good, I will expect you at Plaisance."

After he had gone, M. de Boulogne praised his talents and honesty. He was
the brother of M. de Montmartel, whom secret history makes the father of
Madame de Pompadour, for he was the lover of Madame Poisson at the same
time as M. le Normand.

I left the comptroller's and went to walk in the Tuileries, thinking over
the strange stroke of luck which had happened to me. I had been told that
twenty millions were wanted, and I had boasted of being able to get a
hundred, without the slightest idea of how it was to be done; and on that
a well-known man experienced in the public business had asked me to
dinner to convince me that he knew what my scheme was. There was
something odd and comic about the whole affair; but that corresponded
very well with my modes of thought and action. "If he thinks he is going
to pump me," said I, "he will find himself mistaken. When he tells me
what the plan is, it will rest with me to say he has guessed it or he is
wrong as the inspiration of the moment suggests. If the question lies
within my comprehension I may, perhaps, be able to suggest something new;
and if I understand nothing I will wrap myself up in a mysterious
silence, which sometimes produces a good effect. At all events, I will
not repulse Fortune when she appears to be favourable to me."

M. de Bernis had only told M. de Boulogne that I was a financier to get
me a hearing, as otherwise he might have declined to see me. I was sorry
not to be master, at least, of the jargon of the business, as in that way
men have got out of a similar difficulty, and by knowing the technical
terms, and nothing more, have made their mark. No matter, I was bound to
the engagement. I must put a good face on a bad game, and if necessary
pay with the currency of assurance. The next morning I took a carriage,
and in a pensive mood I told the coachman to take me to M. du Vernai's,
at Plaisance--a place a little beyond Vincennes.

I was set down at the door of the famous man who, forty years ago, had
rescued France on the brink of the precipice down which Law had almost
precipitated her. I went in and saw a great fire burning on the hearth,
which was surrounded by seven or eight persons, to whom I was introduced
as a friend of the minister for foreign affairs and of the comptroller;
afterwards he introduced these gentlemen to me, giving to each his proper
title, and I noted that four of them were treasury officials. After
making my bow to each, I gave myself over to the worship of Harpocrates,
and without too great an air of listening was all ears and eyes.

The conversation at first was of no special interest as they were talking
of the Seine being frozen over, the ice being a foot thick. Then came the
recent death of M. de Fontenelle, then the case of Damien, who would
confess nothing, and of the five millions his trial would cost the Crown.
Then coming to war they praised M. de Soubise, who had been chosen by the
king to command the army. Hence the transition was easy to the expenses
of the war, and how they were to be defrayed.

I listened and was weary, for all they said was so full of technicalities
that I could not follow the meaning; and if silence can ever be imposing,
my determined silence of an hour and a half's duration ought to have made
me seem a very important personage in the eyes of these gentlemen. At
last, just as I was beginning to yawn, dinner was announced, and I was
another hour and a half without opening my mouth, except to do honour to
an excellent repast. Directly the dessert had been served, M. du Vernai
asked me to follow him into a neighbouring apartment, and to leave the
other guests at the table. I followed him, and we crossed a hall where we
found a man of good aspect, about fifty years old, who followed us into a
closet and was introduced to me by M. du Vernai under the name of
Calsabigi. Directly after, two superintendents of the treasury came in,
and M. du Vernai smilingly gave me a folio book, saying,

"That, I think, M. Casanova, is your plan."

I took the book and read, Lottery consisting of ninety tickets, to be
drawn every month, only one in eighteen to be a winning number. I gave
him back the book and said, with the utmost calmness,

"I confess, sir, that is exactly my idea."

"You have been anticipated, then; the project is by M. de Calsabigi

"I am delighted, not at being anticipated, but to find that we think
alike; but may I ask you why you have not carried out the plan?"

"Several very plausible reasons have been given against it, which have
had no decisive answers."

"I can only conceive one reason against it," said I, coolly; "perhaps the
king would not allow his subjects to gamble."

"Never mind that, the king will let his subjects gamble as much as they
like: the question is, will they gamble?"

"I wonder how anyone can have any doubt on that score, as the winners are
certain of being paid."

"Let us grant, then, that they will gamble: how is the money to be

"How is the money to be found? The simplest thing in the world. All you
want is a decree in council authorizing you to draw on the treasury. All
I want is for the nation to believe that the king can afford to pay a
hundred millions."

"A hundred millions!"

"Yes, a hundred millions, sir. We must dazzle people."

"But if France is to believe that the Crown can afford to pay a hundred
millions, it must believe that the Crown can afford to lose a hundred
millions, and who is going to believe that? Do you?"

"To be sure I do, for the Crown, before it could lose a hundred millions,
would have received at least a hundred and fifty millions, and so there
need be no anxiety on that score."

"I am not the only person who has doubts on the subject. You must grant
the possibility of the Crown losing an enormous sum at the first

"Certainly, sir, but between possibility and reality is all the region of
the infinite. Indeed, I may say that it would be a great piece of good
fortune if the Crown were to lose largely on the first drawing."

"A piece of bad fortune, you mean, surely?"

"A bad fortune to be desired. You know that all the insurance companies
are rich. I will undertake to prove before all the mathematicians in
Europe that the king is bound to gain one in five in this lottery. That
is the secret. You will confess that the reason ought to yield to a
mathematical proof?"

"Yes, of course; but how is it that the Castelletto cannot guarantee the
Crown a certain gain?"

"Neither the Castelletto nor anybody in the world can guarantee
absolutely that the king shall always win. What guarantees us against any
suspicion of sharp practice is the drawing once a month, as then the
public is sure that the holder of the lottery may lose."

"Will you be good enough to express your sentiments on the subject before
the council?"

"I will do so with much pleasure."

"You will answer all objections?"

"I think I can promise as much."

"Will you give me your plan?"

"Not before it is accepted, and I am guaranteed a reasonable profit."

"But your plan may possibly be the same as the one before us."

"I think not. I see M. de Calsabigi for the first time, and as he has not
shewn me his scheme, and I have not communicated mine to him, it is
improbable, not to say impossible, that we should agree in all respects.
Besides, in my plan I clearly shew how much profit the Crown ought to get
per annum."

"It might, therefore, be formed by a company who would pay the Crown a
fixed sum?"

"I think not."


"For this reason. The only thing which would make the lottery pay, would
be an irresistible current of public opinion in its favour. I should not
care to have anything to do with it in the service of a company, who,
thinking to increase their profits, might extend their operations--a
course which would entail certain loss."

"I don't see how."

"In a thousand ways which I will explain to you another time, and which I
am sure you can guess for yourself. In short, if I am to have any voice
in the matter, it must be a Government lottery or nothing."

"M. de Calsabigi thinks so, too."

"I am delighted to hear it, but not at all surprised; for, thinking on
the same lines, we are bound to arrive at the same results."

"Have you anybody ready for the Castelletto?"

"I shall only want intelligent machines, of whom there are plenty in

I went out for a moment and found them in groups on my return, discussing
my project with great earnestness.

M. Calsabigi after asking me a few questions took my hand, which he shook
heartily, saying he should like to have some further conversation with
me; and returning the friendly pressure, I told him that I should esteem
it as an honour to be numbered amongst his friends. Thereupon I left my
address with M. du Vernai and took my leave, satisfied, by my inspection
of the faces before me, that they all had a high opinion of my talents.

Three days after, M. de Calsabigi called on me; and after receiving him
in my best style I said that if I had not called on him it was only
because I did not wish to be troublesome. He told me that my decisive way
of speaking had made a great impression, and he was certain that if I
cared to make interest with the comptroller we could set up the lottery
and make a large profit.

"I think so, too," said I, "but the financiers will make a much larger
profit, and yet they do not seem anxious about it. They have not
communicated with me, but it is their look-out, as I shall not make it my
chief aim."

"You will undoubtedly hear something about it today, for I know for a
fact that M. de Boulogne has spoken of you to M. de Courteuil."

"Very good, but I assure you I did not ask him to do so."

After some further conversation he asked me, in the most friendly manner
possible, to come and dine with him, and I accepted his invitation with a
great pleasure; and just as we were starting I received a note from M. de
Bernis, in which he said that if I could come to Versailles the next day
he would present me to Madame de Pompadour, and that I should have an
opportunity of seeing M. de Boulogne.

In high glee at this happy chance, less from vanity than policy I made M.
de Calsabigi read the letter, and I was pleased to see him opening his
eyes as he read it.

"You can force Du Vernai himself to accept the lottery," he said, "and
your fortune is made if you are not too rich already to care about such

"Nobody is ever rich enough to despise good fortune, especially when it
is not due to favour."

"Very true. We have been doing our utmost for two years to get the plan
accepted, and have met with nothing beyond foolish objections which you
have crushed to pieces. Nevertheless, our plans must be very similar.
Believe me it will be best for us to work in concert, for by yourself you
would find insuperable difficulties in the working, and you will find no
'intelligent machines' in Paris. My brother will do all the work, and you
will be able to reap the advantages at your ease."

"Are you, then, not the inventor of the scheme which has been shewn me?"

"No, it is the work of my brother."

"Shall I have the pleasure or seeing him?"

"Certainly. His body is feeble, but his mind is in all its vigour. We
shall see him directly."

The brother was not a man of a very pleasing appearance, as he was
covered with a kind of leprosy; but that did not prevent him having a
good appetite, writing, and enjoying all his bodily and intellectual
faculties; he talked well and amusingly. He never went into society, as,
besides his personal disfigurement, he was tormented with an irresistible
and frequent desire of scratching himself, now in one place, and now in
another; and as all scratching is accounted an abominable thing in Paris,
he preferred to be able to use his fingernails to the pleasures of
society. He was pleased to say that, believing in God and His works, he
was persuaded his nails had been given him to procure the only solace he
was capable of in the kind of fury with which he was tormented.

"You are a believer, then, in final causes? I think you are right, but
still I believe you would have scratched yourself if God had forgotten to
give you any nails."

My remarks made him laugh, and he then began to speak of our common
business, and I soon found him to be a man of intellect. He was the elder
of the two brothers, and a bachelor. He was expert in all kinds of
calculations, an accomplished financier, with a universal knowledge of
commerce, a good historian, a wit, a poet, and a man of gallantry. His
birthplace was Leghorn, he had been in a Government office at Naples, and
had come to Paris with M. de l'Hopital. His brother was also a man of
learning and talent, but in every respect his inferior.

He shewed me the pile of papers, on which he had worked out all the
problems referring to the lottery.

"If you think you can do without me," said he, "I must compliment you on
your abilities; but I think you will find yourself mistaken, for if you
have no practical knowledge of the matter and no business men to help
you, your theories will not carry you far. What will you do after you
have obtained the decree? When you speak before the council, if you take
my advice, you will fix a date after which you are not to be held
responsible--that is to say, after which you will have nothing more to do
with it. Unless you do so, you will be certain to encounter trifling and
procrastination which will defer your plan to the Greek Kalends. On the
other hand, I can assure you that M. du Vernai would be very glad to see
us join hands:"

Very much inclined to take these gentlemen into partnership, for the good
reason that I could not do without them, but taking care that they should
suspect nothing, I went down with the younger brother, who introduced me
to his wife before dinner. I found present an old lady well known at
Paris under the name of General La Mothe, famous for her former beauty
and her gout, another lady somewhat advanced in years, who was called
Baroness Blanche, and was still the mistress of M. de Vaux, another
styled the President's lady, and a fourth, fair as the dawn, Madame
Razzetti, from Piedmont, the wife of one of the violin players at the
opera, and said to be courted by M. de Fondpertuis, the superintendent of
the opera.

We sat down to dinner, but I was silent and absorbed, all my thoughts
being monopolized by the lottery. In the evening, at Silvia's, I was
pronounced absent and pensive, and so I was in spite of the sentiment
with which Mademoiselle Baletti inspired me--a sentiment which every day
grew in strength.

I set out for Versailles next morning two hours before day-break, and was
welcomed by M. de Bernis, who said he would bet that but for him I should
never have discovered my talent for finance.

"M. de Boulogne tells me you astonished M. du Vernai, who is generally
esteemed one of the acutest men in France. If you will take my advice,
Casanova, you will keep up that acquaintance and pay him assiduous court.
I may tell you that the lottery is certain to be established, that it
will be your doing, and that you ought to make something considerable out
of it. As soon as the king goes out to hunt, be at hand in the private
apartments, and I will seize a favourable moment for introducing you to
the famous marquise. Afterwards go to the Office for Foreign Affairs, and
introduce yourself in my name to the Abbe de la Ville. He is the chief
official there, and will give you a good reception."

M. de Boulogne told me that, as soon as the council of the military
school had given their consent, he would have the decree for the
establishment of the lottery published, and he urged me to communicate to
him any ideas which I might have on the subject of finance.

At noon Madame de Pompadour passed through the private apartments with
the Prince de Soubise, and my patron hastened to point me out to the
illustrious lady. She made me a graceful curtsy, and told me that she had
been much interested in the subject of my flight.

"Do you go," said she, "to see your ambassador?"

"I shew my respect to him, madam, by keeping away."

"I hope you mean to settle in France."

"It would be my dearest wish to do so, madam, but I stand in need of
patronage, and I know that in France patronage is only given to men of
talent, which is for me a discouraging circumstance."

"On the contrary, I think you have reason to be hopeful, as you have some
good friends. I myself shall be delighted if I can be of any assistance
to you."

As the fair marquise moved on, I could only stammer forth my gratitude.

I next went to the Abbe de la Ville, who received me with the utmost
courtesy, and told me that he would remember me at the earliest

Versailles was a beautiful spot, but I had only compliments and not
invitations to expect there, so after leaving M. de la Ville I went to an
inn to get some dinner. As I was sitting down, an abbe of excellent
appearance, just like dozens of other French abbes, accosted me politely,
and asked me if I objected to our dining together. I always thought the
company of a pleasant man a thing to be desired, so I granted his
request; and as soon as he sat down he complimented me on the
distinguished manner in which I had been treated by M. de la Ville. "I
was there writing a letter," said he, "and I could hear all the obliging
things the abbe said to you. May I ask, sir, how you obtained access to

"If you really wish to know, I may be able to tell you."

"It is pure curiosity on my part."

"Well, then, I will say nothing, from pure prudence."

"I beg your pardon."

"Certainly, with pleasure."

Having thus shut the mouth of the curious impertinent, he confined his
conversation to ordinary and more agreeable topics. After dinner, having
no further business at Versailles, I made preparations for leaving, on
which the abbe begged to be of my company. Although a man who frequents
the society of abbes is not thought much more of than one who frequents
the society of girls. I told him that as I was going to Paris in a public
conveyance--far from its being a question of permission--I should be only
too happy to have the pleasure of his company. On reaching Paris we
parted, after promising to call on each other, and I went to Silvia's and
took supper there. The agreeable mistress of the house complimented me on
my noble acquaintances, and made me promise to cultivate their society.

As soon as I got back to my own lodging, I found a note from M. du
Vernai, who requested me to come to the military school at eleven o'clock
on the next day, and later in the evening Calsabigi came to me from his
brother, with a large sheet of paper containing all the calculations
pertaining to the lottery.

Fortune seemed to be in my favour, for this tabular statement came to me
like a blessing from on high. Resolving, therefore, to follow the
instructions which I pretended to receive indifferently. I went to the
military school, and as soon as I arrived the conference began. M.
d'Alembert had been requested to be present as an expert in arithmetical
calculations. If M. du Vernai had been the only person to be consulted,
this step would not have been necessary; but the council contained some
obstinate heads who were unwilling to give in. The conference lasted
three hours.

After my speech, which only lasted half an hour, M. de Courteuil summed
up my arguments, and an hour was passed in stating objections which I
refuted with the greatest ease. I finally told them that no man of honour
and learning would volunteer to conduct the lottery on the understanding
that it was to win every time, and that if anyone had the impudence to
give such an undertaking they should turn him out of the room forthwith,
for it was impossible that such an agreement could be maintained except
by some roguery.

This had its effect, for nobody replied; and M. du Vernai remarked that
if the worst came to the worst the lottery could be suppressed. At this I
knew my business was done, and all present, after signing a document
which M. du Vernai gave them, took their leave, and I myself left
directly afterwards with a friendly leave-taking from M. du Vernal.

M. Calsabigi came to see me the next day, bringing the agreeable news
that the affair was settled, and that all that was wanting was the
publication of the decree.

"I am delighted to hear it," I said, "and I will go to M. de Boulogne's
every day, and get you appointed chief administrator as soon as I know
what I have got for myself."

I took care not to leave a stone unturned in this direction, as I knew
that, with the great, promising and keeping a promise are two different
things. The decree appeared a week after. Calsabigi was made
superintendent, with an allowance of three thousand francs for every
drawing, a yearly pension of four thousand francs for us both, and the
chief of the lottery. His share was a much larger one than mine, but I
was not jealous as I knew he had a greater claim than I. I sold five of
the six offices that had been allotted to me for two thousand francs
each, and opened the sixth with great style in the Rue St. Denis, putting
my valet there as a clerk. He was a bright young Italian, who had been
valet to the Prince de la Catolica, the ambassador from Naples.

The day for the first drawing was fixed, and notice was given that the
winning numbers would be paid in a week from the time of drawing at the
chief office.

With the idea of drawing custom to my office, I gave notice that all
winning tickets bearing my signature would be paid at my office in
twenty-four hours after the drawing. This drew crowds to my office and
considerably increased my profits, as I had six per cent. on the
receipts. A number of the clerks in the other offices were foolish enough
to complain to Calsabigi that I had spoilt their gains, but he sent them
about their business telling them that to get the better of me they had
only to do as I did--if they had the money.

My first taking amounted to forty thousand francs. An hour after the
drawing my clerk brought me the numbers, and shewed me that we had from
seventeen to eighteen thousand francs to pay, for which I gave him the
necessary funds.

Without my thinking of it I thus made the fortune of my clerk, for every
winner gave him something, and all this I let him keep for himself.

The total receipts amounted to two millions, and the administration made
a profit of six hundred thousand francs, of which Paris alone had
contributed a hundred thousand francs. This was well enough for a first

On the day after the drawing I dined with Calsabigi at M. du Vernai's,
and I had the pleasure of hearing him complain that he had made too much
money. Paris had eighteen or twenty ternes, and although they were small
they increased the reputation of the lottery, and it was easy to see that
the receipts at the next drawing would be doubled. The mock assaults that
were made upon me put me in a good humour, and Calsabigi said that my
idea had insured me an income of a hundred thousand francs a year, though
it would ruin the other receivers.

"I have played similar strokes myself," said M. du Vernai, "and have
mostly succeeded; and as for the other receivers they are at perfect
liberty to follow M. Casanova's example, and it all tends to increase the
repute of an institution which we owe to him and to you."

At the second drawing a terne of forty thousand francs obliged me to
borrow money. My receipts amounted to sixty thousand, but being obliged
to deliver over my chest on the evening before the drawing, I had to pay
out of my own funds, and was not repaid for a week.

In all the great houses I went to, and at the theatres, as soon as I was
seen, everybody gave me money, asking me to lay it out as I liked and to
send them the tickets, as, so far, the lottery was strange to most
people. I thus got into the way of carrying about me tickets of all
sorts, or rather of all prices, which I gave to people to choose from,
going home in the evening with my pockets full of gold. This was an
immense advantage to me, as kind of privilege which I enjoyed to the
exclusion of the other receivers who were not in society, and did not
drive a carriage like myself--no small point in one's favour, in a large
town where men are judged by the state they keep. I found I was thus able
to go into any society, and to get credit everywhere.

I had hardly been a month in Paris when my brother Francis, with whom I
had parted in 1752, arrived from Dresden with Madame Sylvestre. He had
been at Dresden for four years, taken up with the pursuit of his art,
having copied all the battle pieces in the Elector's Galley. We were both
of us glad to meet once more, but on my offering to see what my great
friends could do for him with the Academicians, he replied with all an
artist's pride that he was much obliged to me, but would rather not have
any other patrons than his talents. "The French," said he, "have rejected
me once, and I am far from bearing them ill-will on that account, for I
would reject myself now if I were what I was then; but with their love of
genius I reckon on a better reception this time."

His confidence pleased me, and I complimented him upon it, for I have
always been of the opinion that true merit begins by doing justice to

Francis painted a fine picture, which on being exhibited at the Louvre,
was received with applause. The Academy bought the picture for twelve
thousand francs, my brother became famous, and in twenty-six years he
made almost a million of money; but in spite of that, foolish
expenditure, his luxurious style of living, and two bad marriages, were
the ruin of him.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of Casanova — Volume 10: under the Leads" ***

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