Prince Czartoryski, blinded by the desire of vengeance, persuaded the Diet that to give the two sovereigns these titles would be merely a form, and that they would never become anything more than honorary. This might be so, but if Poland had possessed far-seeing statesmen they would have guessed that an honorary title would end in the usurpation of the whole country.
The Russian palatin had the pleasure of seeing his nephew Stanislas Poniatowski on the throne.
I myself told him that these titles gave a right, and that the promise not to make any use of them was a mere delusion. I added jokingly--for I was obliged to adopt a humorous tone--that before long Europe would take pity on Poland, which had to bear the heavy weight of all the Russias and the kingdom of Prussia as well, and the Commonwealth would find itself relieved of all these charges.
My prophecy has been fulfilled. The two princes whose titles were allowed have torn Poland limb from limb; it is now absorbed in Russia and Prussia.
The second great mistake made by Poland was in not remembering the apologue of the man and the horse when the question of protection presented itself.
The Republic of Rome became mistress of the world by protecting other nations.
Thus Poland came to ruin through ambition, vengeance, and folly--but folly most of all.
The same reason lay at the root of the French Revolution. Louis XVI. paid the penalty of his folly with his life. If he had been a wise ruler he would still be on the throne, and France would have escaped the fury of the Revolutionists. France is sick; in any other country this sickness might be remedied, but I would not wonder if it proved incurable in France.
Certain emotional persons are moved to pity by the emigrant French nobles, but for my part I think them only worthy of contempt. Instead of parading their pride and their disgrace before the eyes of foreign nations, they should have rallied round their king, and either have saved the throne or died under its ruins. What will become of France? It was hard to say; but it is certain that a body without a head cannot live very long, for reason is situate in the head.
On December 1st Baron Pittoni begged me to call on him as some one had come from Venice on purpose to see me.
I dressed myself hastily, and went to the baron's, where I saw a fine- looking man of thirty-five or forty, elegantly dressed. He looked at me with the liveliest interest.
"My heart tells me," I began, "that your excellence's name is Zaguri?"
"Exactly so, my dear Casanova. As soon as my friend Dandolo told me of your arrival here, I determined to come and congratulate you on your approaching recall, which will take place either this year or the next, as I hope to see two friends of mine made Inquisitors. You may judge of my friendship for you when I tell you that I am an 'avogador', and that there is a law forbidding such to leave Venice. We will spend to-day and to-morrow together."
I replied in a manner to convince him that I was sensible of the honour he had done me; and I heard Baron Pittoni begging me to excuse him for not having come to see me. He said he had forgotten all about it, and a handsome old man begged his excellence to ask me to dine with him, though he had not the pleasure of knowing me.
"What!" said Zaguri. "Casanova has been here for the last ten days, and does not know the Venetian consul?"
I hastened to speak.
"It's my own fault," I observed, "I did not like calling on this gentleman, for fear he might think me contraband."
The consul answered wittily that I was not contraband but in quarantine, pending my return to my native land; and that in the meanwhile his house would always be open to me, as had been the house of the Venetian consul at Ancona.
In this manner he let me know that he knew something about me, and I was not at all sorry for it.
Marco Monti, such was the consul's name, was a man of parts and much experience; a pleasant companion and a great conversationalist, fond of telling amusing stories with a grave face--in fact, most excellent company.