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No. 1.


Commencement of the Negociation.-State of the Court of

Mantua.-Influence of the Spaniards there.

Venice, Dec. 18th, 1677. SIRE, As the grief I felt at having displeased your Majesty was extreme, so my joy is not less to learn from M. de Pomponne, that your Majesty has had the goodness to pardon me my too great facility; and that you have been graciously pleased to listen to the reasons, which I took the liberty to offer to you, in justification of the innocence of my intentions ; however, Sire, this misfortune will oblige me, in future, to act in all things with so great a circumspection, that your Majesty will, I hope, never have cause to be dissatisfied with

my conduct.

I have thus far deferred informing your Majesty of a project, which my anxiety for your service has suggested to me, because the success of it appeared so difficult that I did not venture to propose it, till I saw some chance of being able to accomplish it; but, as the affair is at present in a favourable state, I can almost assure your Majesty, that the conclusion of it will depend upon yourself. I shall now give you an exact account of it, in order that I may receive the orders it shall please you to send me; which I will take care to execute punctually. About four months ago, having become more particularly acquainted with the divisions at the Court at Mantua than before was the case, and having heard that the Duke of Mantua was not so abandoned to his pleasures, but that he still had some ambition, and much chagrin at the state to which he was reduced by his mother, and his suspicions of the Spaniards; I hoped that it would not be impossible to detach him entirely from them, to induce him to enter into the views of your Majesty, and to persuade him really to treat respecting Casale. I have thought that I could not employ any one in this affair more proper to conduct it, than a certain Count Matthioli, who is entirely devoted to that prince ; I had already known him for some time, and he had testified a great desire of rendering himself agreeable to your Majesty by some service. I knew that he had been Secretary of State to the late Duke of Mantua, that the present one had preserved much affection for him, and that he was well-informed of the different interests of the Princes of Italy; but as he had been much in the Milanese, and had had a good deal of access to the Spanish ministers, I would not put any confidence in him, till I had first tried him. I therefore charged the individual, named Giuliani, to whom your Majesty had the goodness to make six months ago a gratification, and who has a zeal for your service which prevents my having any doubt of his fidelity, to observe Matthioli attentively and secretly; and after I had been sufficiently informed that he was much discontented with the Spaniards, who had always amused him with hopes, and afterwards abandoned him, I sent Giuliani, in the month

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