VII LAST DAYS AT DUX
Scattered through the Memoirs are many of Casanova's thoughts about his old age. Some were possibly incorporated in the original text, others possibly added when he revised the text in 1797. These vary from resignation to bitterness, doubtless depending on Casanova's state of mind at the moment he wrote them:
"Now that I am seventy-two years old, I believe myself no longer susceptible of such follies. But alas! that is the very thing which causes me to be miserable."
"I hate old age which offers only what I already know, unless I should take up a gazette."
"Age has calmed my passions by rendering them powerless, but my heart has not grown old and my memory has kept all the freshness of youth."
"No, I have not forgotten her [Henriette]; for even now, when my head is covered with white hair, the recollection of her is still a source of happiness for my heart."
"A scene which, even now, excites my mirth."
"Age, that cruel and unavoidable disease, compels me to be in good health, in spite of myself."
"Now that I am but the shadow of the once brilliant Casanova, I love to chatter."
"Now that age has whitened my hair and deadened the ardor of my senses, my imagination does not take such a high flight and I think differently."
"What embitters my old age is that, having a heart as warm as ever, I have no longer the strength necessary to secure a single day as blissful as those which I owed to this charming girl."
"When I recall these events, I grow young again and feel once more the delights of youth, despite the long years which separate me from that happy time."
"Now that I am getting into my dotage, 1 look on the dark side of everything. I am invited to a wedding and see naught but gloom; and, witnessing the coronation of Leopold II, at Prague, I say to myself, 'Nolo coronari'. Cursed old age, thou art only worthy of dwelling in hell."
"The longer I live, the more interest I take in my papers. They are the treasure which attaches me to life and makes death more hateful still."
And so on, through the Memoirs, Casanova supplies his own picture, knowing very well that the end, even of his cherished memories, is not far distant.
In 1797, Casanova relates an amusing, but irritating incident, which resulted in the loss of the first three chapters of the second volume of the Memoirs through the carelessness of a servant girl at Dux who took the papers "old, written upon, covered with scribbling and erasures," for "her own purposes," thus necessitating a re-writing, "which I must now abridge," of these chapters. Thirty years before, Casanova would doubtless have made love to the girl and all would have been forgiven. But, alas for the "hateful old age" permitting no relief except irritation and impotent anger.
On the 1st August, 1797, Cecilia Roggendorff, the daughter of the Count Roggendorff [printed Roquendorf] whom Casanova had met at Vienna in 1753, wrote: "You tell me in one of your letters that, at your death, you will leave me, by your will, your Memoirs which occupy twelve volumes."
At this time, Casanova was revising, or had completed his revision of, the twelve volumes. In July 1792, as mentioned above, Casanova wrote Opiz that he had arrived at the twelfth volume. In the Memoirs themselves we read, ". . . the various adventures which, at the age of seventy-two years, impel me to write these Memoirs . . .," written probably during a revision in 1797.
At the beginning of one of the two chapters of the last volume, which were missing until discovered by Arthur Symons at Dux in 1899, we read: "When I left Venice in the year 1783, God ought to have sent me to Rome, or to Naples, or to Sicily, or to Parma, where my old age, according to all appearances, might have been happy. My genius, who is always right, led me to Paris, so that I might see my brother Francois, who had run into debt and who was just then going to the Temple.