And so to Paris

Casanova had managed to navigate his way through the Republic (see ‘Escaping from the Republic’ blog) but most of his journey still lay ahead and although he was now out of the jurisdiction of the Serenissima that did not mean he was home and dry.  He was broke and travelling any distance in the eighteenth century could always be a hazardous affair.  Moreover, there was always the danger that some agency abroad working on behalf of the Republic might send him back. Thus, before he carried on, he wanted as best he could to prepare the ground (and settle his score with his stockbroker friend):

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.
(Memoirs of Casanova, To Paris and Prison, Chapter XXXI)

These, amongst other things, would have been requests for money and letters of recommendation.  By contrast, Balbi ‘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’.

Taking his leave of Borgo, selling his hat and removing the lace from his clothes in order to look less conspicuous, he made his way with Balbi to Bolzano via Pergine and Trento.  There he met a banker called Mensch through whom he contacted Bragadin for funds.  After about a week in Bolzano they travelled post to Munich arriving in three days, where he discovered that his prison escape had made him the talk of the town.  There he reacquainted himself with a number of old friends including the seventy-year-old Countess Coronini whom he had known in Venice and who was well connected at the Bavarian court of Maximilian III.  Coronini attempted to get the Elector to grant him asylum and although Maximilian was reasonably disposed to Casanova he was less sympathetic to Balbi.  The Countess advised Casanova to get rid of Balbi.  Casanova, however, as much as he disliked him, felt a bond of loyalty.  Fortunately, another old Venetian acquaintance was able to use her contacts to organise a letter of introduction for Balbi for Canon Bassi of Augsburg and in that way get him out of Casanova’s hair.

Casanova remained in Munich for some time after Balbi’s departure.  One of the key reasons was his health which had taken something of a battering.  Another reason was that he was waiting for a bill of exchange from Bragadin that would enable him to pay his debts.  After three weeks of rest and a careful diet he felt himself to have pretty much fully recovered.  As soon as the funds arrived he made his way to Augsburg where once again, albeit briefly this time, he met Balbi who, although everything had turned out pretty well, was as ungrateful and self-pitying as ever.  But that was the last Casanova was to see of him.  Sometime later Casanova discovered that Balbi had resumed his dissolute ways and ended up back in ‘Il Piombi’ for another two-year spell.  He notes in his memoirs: ‘In 1783 he died the death of Diogenes, minus the wit of the cynic’.

From Augsburg Casanova travelled to Strasburg where he joined up with the family of Madame Riviere who were en route to Paris.  They had met in Munich and invited him to come along with them but at that time Casanova was still waiting for money and letters to arrive from Venice before he could take up the offer.

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 Mademoiselle 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.
(Memoirs of Casanova, To Paris and Prison, Chapter XXXI)

Casanova arrived in Paris with the Riviere family on 5th January 1757.  That same day, Robert Damiens attempted to assassinate Louis XV.

‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 3 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.

6 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.

#casanova #escape #balbi #republic #venice