Gualdi, Signor
A Rosicrucian who, according to the book Hermippus Redivivus;
or The Sage’s Triumph over Old Age and the Grave (1744), by
J. H. Cohausen, lived for several hundred years.
Gualdi lived in Venice for several months and was called
‘‘the Sober Signor’’ among the common people because of the
regularity of his life, the composed simplicity of his manners,
and his simple dress. He always wore dark clothes of a plain,
unpretentious style.
Gualdi had a small collection of fine pictures, which he readily
showed to anyone who was interested. He was versed in all
arts and sciences and spoke with astonishing detail. It was observed
that he never sent or received mail. He never desired
any credit, paid for everything in ready money, and made no
use of bankers, currency, or letters of credit. He always seemed
to have enough, and he lived respectably, although with no attempt
at splendor or show.
Shortly after his arrival in Venice, Gualdi met—at a coffeehouse
he frequented—a Venetian nobleman who was fond of
art. This pair had many conversations concerning various objects
and pursuits of mutual interest. They became friends and
the nobleman, who was a widower, invited Gualdi to his home,
where he first met the nobleman’s daughter, a beautiful maiden
of 18, intelligent and accomplished. Constantly in his company
and fascinated by his narratives, the young lady gradually
fell in love with the mysterious stranger.
Gualdi was a well-educated gentleman, a thinker rather than
a man of action. At times his countenance seemed to glow during
conversation, and a strange aura surrounded him when he
became more than usually pleased and animated. Altogether
he seemed a puzzling person of rare gifts.
The Venetian nobleman was now sufficiently intimate with
Gualdi to say to him one evening that he understood that he
had a fine collection of pictures, and that if agreeable, he would
pay him a visit one day to see them. The nobleman’s daughter,
looking down at the table and thinking deeply of something
Gualdi had just said, raised her eyes eagerly at her father’s proposal
and showed her desire to go with him to see the pictures.
Gualdi was very polite and readily invited the nobleman to
his house. He also extended the invitation to his daughter.
On the day agreed upon, the father and daughter went to
Gualdi’s home. They were received warmly and Gualdi showed
them his rooms graciously. The nobleman viewed Gualdi’s pictures
with great attention and remarked that he had never seen
a finer collection, considering the number of pictures.
They were about to leave Gualdi’s own chamber, the last of
his set of rooms, when the nobleman by chance noticed over
the door a picture evidently of Gualdi himself. The Venetian
looked at it suspiciously, but after a while his face cleared, as
if with relief. The daughter’s gaze was also riveted upon the picture,
which was very like Gualdi, but she regarded it with a
blush. The Venetian looked from the picture to Gualdi, and
back again from Gualdi to the picture. It was some time before
he spoke.
‘‘That picture was intended for you, sir,’’ he said at last, hesitatingly,
to Gualdi. A slight cold change passed over the latter’s
eyes, but he only replied by a low bow. ‘‘You look a moderately
young man—to be candid with you, sir, I should say about
forty-five, or thereabouts—and yet I know, by certain means of
which I will not now further speak, that this picture is by the
hand of Titian who has been dead nearly a couple of hundred
years. How is this possible’’ he added, with a polite, grave
‘‘It is not easy,’’ replied Gualdi quietly, ‘‘to know all things
that are possible, for very frequent mistakes are made concerning
such, but there is certainly nothing strange in my being like
a picture painted by Titian.’’
The nobleman easily perceived by his manner and his countenance
that Gualdi felt offense. The temporary misunderstanding
was soon put to an end by Gualdi himself, however,
who in a moment or two resumed his ordinary manner and saw
the father and daughter downstairs to the entrance of his house
with his usual composed politeness. The nobleman, however,
could not help feeling uneasy; his daughter experienced a considerable
amount of discomfort and could not look at Gualdi
for a while. When she did look, she looked too much.
This little occurrence remained in the mind of the nobleman.
His daughter felt lonely and dissatisfied afterward, eager
for the restoration of friendly feelings with Gualdi. The Venetian
went in the evening to the usual coffeehouse and spoke of
the incident among the group of people collected there. Their
curiosity was roused, and one or two resolved to satisfy themselves
by looking at the picture attentively. In order to do so it
was necessary to see Gualdi somewhere and be invited to his
home. The only likely place to meet him was at the coffeehouse,
and the gentlemen went there the next day at the usual time,
hoping that Gauldi would stop in as was his habit.
But he did not come—nor had he been heard from since the
nobleman’s visit to his house the day before. Since they did not
meet with him at the coffeehouse, one of their number went to
his lodgings to inquire after him. The owner of the house came
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Gualdi, Signor
to the street door and stated that Gauldi had gone, having left
Venice early that morning, and that he had locked up his pictures
with certain orders and taken the key to his rooms with
This affair caused much gossip at the time in Venice, and an
account of it found its way into most of the newspapers of the
year in which it occurred. Gualdi’s story is also found in Les
Mémoires historiques for the year 1687.
Hermippus Redivivus, which includes other strange anecdotes
of triumph over old age, is not a reliable source and may in fact
be a satirical work.