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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
First Love and Parting
By Carlo Goldoni (1707–1793)
 
From the ‘Memoirs of Carlo Goldoni’: Translation of John Black

I WAS intrusted some time afterwards with another commission, of a much more agreeable and amusing nature. This was to carry through an investigation, ten leagues from the town, into the circumstances of a dispute where firearms had been made use of and dangerous wounds received. As the country where this happened was flat, and the road lay through charming estates and country-houses, I engaged several of my friends to follow me; we were in all twelve, six males and six females, and four domestics. We all rode on horseback, and we employed twelve days in this delicious expedition….  1
  In this party there were two sisters, one married and the other single. The latter was very much to my liking, and I may say I made the party for her alone. She was as prudent and modest as her sister was headstrong and foolish; the singularity of our journey afforded us an opportunity of coming to an explanation, and we became lovers.  2
  My investigation was concluded in two hours; we selected another road for our return, to vary our pleasure…. The six gentlemen of our party proposed another species of entertainment. In the palace of the governor there was a theatre, which they wished to put to some use; and they did me the honor to tell me that they had conceived the project on my account, and they left me the power of choosing the pieces and distributing the characters. I thanked them, and accepted the proposition; and with the approbation of his Excellency and my chancellor, I put myself at the head of this new entertainment. I could have wished something comic, but I was not fond of buffoonery, and there were no good comedies; I therefore gave the preference to tragedy. As the operas of Metastasio were then represented everywhere, even without music, I put the airs into recitative; I endeavored as well as I could to approximate the style of that charming author; and I made choice of ‘Didone’ and ‘Siroe’ for our representation. I distributed the parts according to the characters of my actors, whom I knew, and I reserved the worst for myself. In this I acted wisely, for I was completely unsuited for tragedy. Fortunately, I had composed two small pieces in which I played two parts of character, and redeemed my reputation. The first of these pieces was ‘The Good Father,’ and the second ‘La Cantatrice.’ Both were approved of, and my acting was considered passable for an amateur. I saw the last of these pieces some time afterwards at Venice, where a young advocate thought proper to give it out as his own work, and to receive compliments on the subject; but having been imprudent enough to publish it with his name, he experienced the mortification of seeing his plagiarism unmasked.  3
  I did what I could to engage my beautiful Angelica to accept a part in our tragedies, but it was impossible; she was timid, and had she even been willing, her parents would not have given their permission. She visited us; but this pleasure cost her tears, for she was jealous, and suffered much from seeing me on such a familiar footing with my fair companions. The poor little girl loved me with tenderness and sincerity, and I loved her also with my whole soul; I may say she was the first person whom I ever loved. She aspired to become my wife, which she would have been if certain singular reflections, that however were well founded, had not turned me from the design. Her elder sister had been remarkably beautiful, and after her first child she became ugly. The youngest had the same skin and the same features; she was one of those delicate beauties whom the air injures, and whom the smallest fatigue or pain discomposes: of all of which I saw a convincing proof. The fatigue of our journey produced a visible change upon her: I was young, and if my wife were in a short time to have lost her bloom, I foresaw what would have been my despair. This was reasoning curiously for a lover; but whether from virtue, weakness, or inconstancy, I quitted Feltre without marrying her.  4
 
 
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