On this day in 1798 the Venetian adventurer and philanderer Giacomo Casanova died.
People who are so well known that their own name becomes a term to describe a certain behaviour, are usually successful and respected, even if not liked; Machiavelli for example or Houdini or Napoleon. In the case of Casanova it seems to have been the quantity of his conquests rather than the quality that was remarkable.
Apart from the bedroom, he seems to have excelled at very little and to have spent much of his life travelling round a number of European countries including England, trying to sell them the idea of a National Lottery which, at the time, none of them wanted. Casanova died aged seventy-three in Prague, still hoping to ingratiate himself into high society. His last words, were: ”I have lived as a philosopher and I die as a Christian”. Both statements are probably open to question. This poem by George Crabbe is called Late Wisdom:
We’ve trod the maze of error round,
Long wandering in the winding glade;
And now the torch of truth is found,
It only shows us where we strayed:
By long experience taught, we know—
Can rightly judge of friends and foes;
Can all the worth of these allow,
And all the faults discern in those.
Now, ’tis our boast that we can quell
The wildest passions in their rage,
Can their destructive force repel,
And their impetuous wrath assuage.—
Ah, Virtue! Dost thou arm when now?
This bold rebellious race are fled?
When all these tyrants rest, and thou
Art warring with the mighty dead?
Today I will try to be completely honest with myself.
‘If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself’. (Proverbs)