de Mocenigo. M. Dandolo said that on reading the enclosed letter the ambassador would have no more scruples about introducing me, as it contained a recommendation from one of the Inquisitors on behalf of the three.
When I told Mengs of this he said it was now in my power to make my fortune in Spain, and that now was the time when all the ministers would be only too anxious to do something for me to make me forget the wrongs I had received.
"I advise you," he said, "to take the letter to the ambassador immediately. Take my carriage; after what you have undergone for the last few days you cannot be in a walking humour."
I had need of rest, and told Mengs that I would not sup with him that night, but would dine with him the next day. The ambassador was out, so I left the letter with Manucci, and then drove home and slept profoundly for twelve hours.
Manucci came to see me the next day in high spirits, and told me that M. Girolamo Zulian had written to the ambassador on behalf of M. du Mula, informing him that he need not hesitate to countenance me, as any articles the Tribunal might have against me were in no degree prejudicial to my honour.
"The ambassador," he continued, "proposes to introduce you at Court next week, and he wants you to dine with him to-day; there will be a numerous company at dinner."
"I am engaged to Mengs."
"No matter, he shall be asked as well; you must come. Consider the effect of your presence at the ambassador's the day after your triumph."
"You are right. Go and ask Mengs, and tell the ambassador that I have much pleasure in accepting his invitation."
Campomanes--Olavides--Sierra Morena--Aranjuez--Mengs--The Marquis Grimaldi--Toledo--Madame Pelliccia--My Return to Madrid
Different circumstances in my life seem to have combined to render me somewhat superstitious; it is a humiliating confession, and yet I make it. But who could help it? A man who abandons himself to his whims and fancies is like a child playing with a billiard cue. It may make a stroke that would be an honour to the most practised and scientific player; and such are the strange coincidences of life which, as I have said, have caused me to become superstitious.
Fortune, which under the humbler name of luck seems but a word, is a very divinity when it guides the most important actions of a man's life. Always it has seemed to me that this divinity is not blind, as the mythologists affirm; she had brought me low only to exalt me, and I found myself in high places, only, as it seems, to be cast into the depths. Fortune has done her best to make me regard her as a reasoning, almighty power; she has made me feel that the strength of my will is as nothing before this mysterious power, which takes my will and moulds it, and makes it a mere instrument for the accomplishment of its decrees.
I could not possibly have done anything in Spain without the help of the representative of my country, and he would not have dared to do anything for me without the letter I had just given him. This letter, in its turn, would probably have had but slight effect if it had not come to hand so soon after my imprisonment, which had become the talk of the town, through the handsome satisfaction the Count of Aranda had given me.
The letter made the ambassador sorry that he had not interposed on my behalf, but he hoped people would believe that the count would not have acted as he did if it had not been for his interposition. His favourite, Count Manucci, had come to ask me to dinner; as it happened I was engaged to Mengs, which obtained an invitation for the painter, and flattered his vanity excessively. He fancied that the invitation proceeded from gratitude, and it certainly smoothed away the mortification he had felt at seeing me arrested in his house. He immediately wrote to the effect that he would call upon me with his carriage.
I called on the Count of Aranda, who kept me waiting for a quarter of an hour, and then came in with some papers in his hand.