When my visitors were gone I sat down to write, but I had need of all my patience. The rascally prisoners crowded round me to read what I was writing, and when they could not understand it they were impudent enough to ask me to explain it to them. Under the pretext of snuffing the candle, they put it out. However, I bore with it all. One of the soldiers said he would keep them quiet for a crown, but I gave him no answer. In spite of the hell around me, I finished my letters and sealed them up. They were no studied or rhetorical epistles, but merely the expression of the fury with which I was consumed.
I told Mocenigo that it was his duty to defend a subject of his prince, who had been arrested and imprisoned by a foreign power on an idle pretext. I shewed him that he must give me his protection unless I was guilty, and that I had committed no offence against the law of the land. I reminded him that I was a Venetian, in spite of my persecution at the hands of the State Inquisitors, and that being a Venetian I had a right to count on his protection.
To Don Emmanuel de Roda, a learned scholar, and the minister of justice, I wrote that I did not ask any favour but only simple justice.
"Serve God and your master," said I. "Let his Catholic majesty save me from the hands of the infamous alcalde who has arrested me, an honest and a law-abiding man, who came to Spain trusting in his own innocence and the protection of the laws. The person who writes to you, my lord, has a purse full of doubloons in his pocket; he has already been robbed, and fears assassination in the filthy den in which he has been imprisoned."
I wrote to the Duke of Lossada, requesting him to inform the king that his servants had subjected to vile treatment a man whose only fault was that he had a little money. I begged him to use his influence with his Catholic majesty to put a stop to these infamous proceedings.
But the most vigorous letter of all was the one I addressed to the Count of Aranda. I told him plainly that if this infamous action went on I should be forced to believe that it was by his orders, since I had stated in vain that I came to Madrid with an introduction to him from a princess.
"I have committed no crime," I said; "what compensation am I to have when I am released from this filthy and abominable place? Set me at liberty at once, or tell your hangmen to finish their work, for I warn you that no one shall take me to the galleys alive."
According to my custom I took copies of all the letters, and I sent them off by the servant whom the all-powerful Manucci despatched to the prison. I passed such a night as Dante might have imagined in his Vision of Hell. All the beds were full, and even if there had been a spare place I would not have occupied it. I asked in vain for a mattress, but even if they had brought me one, it would have been of no use, for the whole floor was inundated. There were only two or three chamber utensils for all the prisoners, and everyone discharged his occasions on the floor.
I spent the night on a narrow bench without a back, resting my head on my hands.
At seven o'clock the next morning Manucci came to see me; I looked upon him as my Providence. I begged him to take me down to the guard-room, and give me some refreshment, for I felt quite exhausted. My request was granted, and as I told my sufferings I had my hair done by a barber.
Manucci told me that my letters would be delivered in the course of the day, and observed, smilingly, that my epistle to the ambassador was rather severe. I shewed him copies of the three others I had written, and the inexperienced young man told me that gentleness was the best way to obtain favours. He did not know that there are circumstances in which a man's pen must be dipped in gall. He told me confidentially that the ambassador dined with Aranda that day, and would speak in my favour as a private individual, adding that he was afraid my letter would prejudice the proud Spaniard against me.