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ests, and to acquaint me that he had entirely put himself into the hands of the Count Matthioli; that he would soon go to Venice, where we might see one another conveniently and without being observed, on account of the Carnival, during which, all the world, even the Doge, and the oldest senators, go about in mask; that he wished me not to lose any time in acquainting your Majesty with this affair, because he feared some surprise from the Spaniards; but that if I wished him to keep his word with me, I must not, on any account, communicate the project to the Cardinal d'Estrées, because there was so strong a report in Italy, that he had your Majesty's orders. to negociate with the Princes there, of which the Spaniards had so great a jealousy, that, upon the least suspicion they should have of him (the Duke) they would ruin him before he could receive assistance from your Majesty, who would, at the same time, lose all hope of getting possession of Casale ; that he would take measures to tranquillize them, and to prevent their having any suspicions of bis conduct; and that if the Cardinal d'Estrées made him any propositions, he would only receive them in full. council, and give general answers, which would
not render him suspected by any body. I thus find myself precluded from the confidence which I intended to make of this business to the Cardinal d'Estrées, who I believe will soon be here, and am obliged to keep the secret scrupulously, till I have received the orders of your Majesty. The Duke of Mantua also offers to raise a regiment, provided it be at your Majesty's expense, and he represents, that by recruiting at Mantua and Casale he shall do much injury to the Spaniards, who are raising troops there daily ; that Joseph Varano, who is one of the two before-mentioned counsellors, promises to get a good many soldiers from the Ferrarese, where he possesses interest, being Lord of Camerigo. He also implores your Majesty to make an effort to send a sufficiently strong army into Italy, to be able to undertake something considerable; and he assures me, that, in this case, he will not content himself with having delivered Casale into the hands of your Majesty, but will obtain for your Majesty other great advantages, through the means of his intimate connexions with the other states of Italy; that the Duchy of Milan was never so feeble, nor so devoid of all means of defence, as at present; but that, in order to obtain more particular intelligence upon this head, he has given orders to Matthioli to go to Milan, to observe every thing there with attention, and especially to discover the intention of the Genoese, with regard to the report which has now been for some time afloat in Italy, that your Majesty intends sending an army there next Spring, at the latest. As some accident might happen to the packets, I have not ventured to put into mine the letter that the Count Matthioli, who has certainly served your Majesty well upon this occasion, does himself the honour to write to you, but have had it turned into cypher, as well as the memoir of the demands of the Duke of Mantua; and I keep the originals, together with the plan of Casale, which I do not send to your Majesty, for the same reason. I can assure your Majesty that I have never told either Giuliani or Matthioli that you intend to march troops towards the Milanese ; but the latter speaks of it in his letter, because he has taken for granted the report which was purposely spread abroad in order to lead the Duke of Mantua to the determination I wished him to take; knowing that he desired to be generalissimo above all things, or rather that it was the only thing he was very anxious for, in order to be considered in Italy like the late Duke of Modena, and like the late Duke of Mantua, who at his age commanded in chief the Emperor's army, with the title of Vicar-general of the Empire. When this Prince is here, there will only be at the conference we are to hold together, himself, Matthioli, (whom he has promised to reestablish in his post of Secretary of State, and to appoint his first minister as soon as he shall see himself restored to his authority, and that the treaty he intends making with your Majesty shall have been executed,) the Sieur Giuliani, the Sieur de Pinchesne, (who is secretary of the embassy, and of whom M. de Pomponne, who placed him with me, can answer to your Majesty for the fidelity and secrecy,) and myself. So the secrecy, so necessary in this affair, will certainly remain impenetrable.
MATTHIOLI TO LEWIS THE FOURTEENTH.
Protestations of devotion to Lewis. Belief in the good
intentions of the Duke of Mantua.
December 14th, 1677. SIRE, I take the liberty of bearing testimony to your Majesty, that among the great Ministers, whom, in your supreme wisdom, you have sent at different times into Italy, your ambassador at Venice, the Abbé d'Estrades, ought to be distinguished for his skill and his zeal to seize every occasion, which may seem to offer him the improvement or the aggrandizement of your territories.
This Ambassador having confided to me, that, in order to succeed in the enterprize that you meditate against the territories of Milan, it would be necessary to detach the Duke of Mantua from the Austrian party, and to draw him into that of your Majesty, I am anxious to contribute every thing in my feeble power for the success of this object. Your Majesty will be made acquainted with all that has passed by the despatches of the Ambassador. For myself, I bless the destiny,