In such seasons this chaste husband brought down his fleshly desires by the fatigue of hunting and by abstinence. You can imagine his distress at being left a widower, for he would rather die than take a mistress. His only resource was in hunting, and in so planning out his day that he should have no time left wherein to think of women. It was a difficult matter, for he cares neither for reading nor writing, music wearies him, and conversation of a lively turn inspires him with disgust.
"He has adopted the following plan, in which he will preserve till his dying day: He dresses at seven, then goes into his closet and has his hair dressed. At eight o'clock he says his prayers, then hears mass, and when this is over he takes chocolate and an enormous pinch of snuff, over which his big nose ruminates for some minutes; this is his only pinch in the whole day. At nine o'clock he sees his ministers, and works with them till eleven. Then comes dinner, which he always takes alone, then a short visit to the Princess of the Austurias, and at twelve sharp he gets into his carriage and drives to the hunting-grounds. At seven o'clock he takes a morsel wherever he happens to be, and at eight o'clock he comes home, so tired that he often goes to sleep before he can get his clothes off. Thus he keeps down the desires of the flesh."
"Poor voluntary martyr!"
"He thought of marrying a second time, but when Adelaide of France saw his portrait she was quite frightened and refused him. He was very mortified, and renounced all thoughts of marriage; and woe to the courtier who should advise him to get a mistress!"
In further speaking of his character Don Domingo told me that the ministers had good cause for making him inaccessible, as whenever anyone did succeed in getting at him and asked a favour, he made a point of granting it, as it was at such times that he felt himself really a king.
"Then he is not a hard man, as some say?"
"Not at all. Kings seldom have the reputation they deserve. The most accessible monarchs are the least generous; they are overwhelmed with importunate requests, and their first instinct is always to refuse."
"But as Charles III. is so inaccessible he can have no opportunity of either granting or refusing."
"People catch him when he is hunting; he is usually in a good humour then. His chief defect is his obstinacy; when he has once made up his mind there is no changing it.
"He has the greatest liking for his brother, and can scarce refuse him anything, though he must be master in all things. It is thought he will give him leave to marry for the sake of his salvation; the king has the greatest horror of illegitimate children, and his brother has three already."
There were an immense number of persons at Aranjuez, who persecuted the ministers in the hope of getting employment.
"They will go back as they come," said Don Domingo, "and that is empty- handed."
"Then they ask impossibilities?"
"They don't ask anything. 'What do you want?' says a minister.
"'What your excellency will let me have.'
"'What can you do?'
"'I am ready to do whatever your excellency pleases to think best for me'
"'Please leave me. I have no time to waste.'"
That is always the way. Charles III. died a madman; the Queen of Portugal is mad; the King of England has been mad, and, as some say, is not really cured. There is nothing astonishing in it; a king who tries to do his duty is almost forced into madness by his enormous task.
I took leave of M. Mocenigo three days before he left Aranjuez, and I embraced Manucci affectionately. He had been most kind to me throughout my stay.
My cobbler had written to tell me that for the sum I had mentioned he could provide me with a Biscayan maid who could cook. He sent me the address of my new lodging in the Calle Alcala. I arrived there in the afternoon, having started from Aranjuez in the morning.
I found that the Biscayan maid could speak French; my room was a very pleasant one, with another chamber annexed where I could lodge a friend. After I had had my effects carried up I saw my man, whose face pleased me.