I became an intimate friend of the English ambassador, Sir N----, a rich, accomplished and cultured man, who kept the choicest of tables. Everybody loved him, and amongst others this feeling was warmly shared by a Parmese girl, named Campioni, who was wonderfully beautiful.
As soon as I had told my friends that I intended to go into Switzerland to print at my own expense a refutation in Italian of the "History of the Venetian Government," by Amelot de la Houssaye, they all did their best by subscribing and obtaining subscriptions. The most generous of all was the Comte de la Perouse, who gave me two hundred and fifty francs for fifty copies. I left Turin in a week with two thousand lire in my purse. With this I should be able to print the book I had composed in my prison; but I should have to rewrite it 'ab initio', with the volume to my hand, as also the "History of Venice," by Nani.
When I had got these works I set out with the intention of having my book printed at Lugano, as there was a good press there and no censure. I also knew that the head of the press was a well-read man, and that the place abounded in good cheer and good society.
Lugano is near Milan, Como, and Lake Maggiore, and I was well pleased with the situation. I went to the best inn, which was kept by a man named Tagoretti, who gave me the best room in the house.
The day after my arrival I called on Dr. Agnelli, who was at once printer, priest, theologian, and an honest man. I made a regular agreement with him, he engaging to print at the rate of four sheets a week, and on my side I promised to pay him every week. He reserved the right of censorship, expressing a hope that our opinions might coincide.
I gave him the preface and the preliminary matter at once, and chose the paper and the size, large octavo.
When I got back to my inn the landlord told me that the bargello, or chief constable, wanted to see me.
Although Lugano is in Switzerland, its municipal government is modelled after that of the Italian towns.
I was curious to hear what this ill-omened personage could have to say to me, so I told him to shew him in. After giving me a profound bow, with his hat in his hand, Signor Bargello told me that he had come to offer me his services, and to assure me that I should enjoy complete tranquillity and safety in Lugano, whether from any enemies within the State or from the Venetian Government, in case I had any dispute with it.
"I thank you, signor," I replied, "and I am sure that you are telling me the truth, as I am in Switzerland."
"I must take the liberty of telling you, sir, that it is customary for strangers who take up their residence in Lugano, to pay some trifling sum, either by the week, the month, or the year."
"And if they refuse to pay?"
"Then their safety is not so sure."
"Money does everything in Lugano, I suppose."
"I understand, but let me tell you that I have no fears, and I shall consequently beg to be excused from paying anything."
"You will forgive me, but I happen to know that you have some disputes with the Venetian Government."
"You are making a mistake, my good fellow."
"No, I am not."
"If you are so sure, find someone to bet me two hundred sequins that I have reason to fear the Venetian Government; I will take the bet and deposit the amount."
The bargello remained silent, and the landlord told him he seemed to have made some kind of mistake, so he went away, looking very disappointed.
My landlord was delighted to hear that I thought of making some stay at Lugano, and advised me to call on the high bailiff, who governed the place.
"He's a very nice Swiss gentleman," said he, "and his wife a clever woman, and as fair as the day."
"I will go and see him to-morrow."
I sent in my name to the high bailiff at noon on the day following, and what was my surprise to find myself in the presence of M. de R and his charming wife. Beside her was a pretty boy, five or six years old.
Our mutual surprise may be imagined!
The Punishment of Marazzani--I Leave Lugano--Turin--M.