Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XVIII. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505)
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LETTER XVIII. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 3 (Diplomatic Missions 1498-1505) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 3.
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Magnificent Signori: —
In my last letters of the 30th ultimo and the 1st instant, I informed you of what I had been able to learn respecting the terms of the treaty, and of the reasons why I had not been able to obtain a copy of it. To-day I had a long conversation with one of the Duke’s first secretaries, who confirmed all I had written you. “The return of the Chevalier Orsino is expected,” said he to me, “and according to his report they will either give the treaty to the public or not.” And he has promised me that no one shall have a copy of it without my having one also. In this matter I am obliged to depend upon others; and yet I have heard nothing that makes me suspect that it contains anything contrary to the interests of your Lordships; I have only heard you blamed for having missed the opportunity of concluding an alliance with the Duke. I have written you at length, and without reserve, all I have learned in relation to matters here; and as nothing new has occurred, I have nothing to write except to repeat that, if words and negotiations indicate an agreement, the orders given and the preparations are manifest indications of war. In accordance with what I have already written, five companies of French lances were quartered four days ago in the territory of Faenza, and their captains came here yesterday to visit the Duke and remained quite a while conferring with him. After they had gone I called in your Lordships’ name on Monseigneur de Montison, the commander-in-chief of the whole. He was pleased to see me, and seemed favorably disposed towards your Lordships; and desired me to remind him, when occasion should offer, of whatever he could do in favor of our republic. I also called upon the Baron di Biera, Monseigneur Le Grafis, and Monseigneur de Borsu, lieutenants of Messieurs de Foix, Miolens, and Dunois. I made myself known to them, and they recognized me as having on a former occasion had some negotiations with them. All seemed pleased to see me, and all offered me their services; and so far as I have been able to judge, they are all your friends, and praised your Lordships highly, which is no trifle. If there be anything special that I can do with these gentlemen, I beg your Lordships to instruct me. About three hundred Gascons arrived here to-day; the Swiss are expected within the next few days, and on their arrival it is believed that active operations will be begun.
I told your Lordships in my last, of the 1st instant, that the Protonotario Bentivogli was to arrive here with a safe-conduct, and in fact he did come at the nineteenth hour. He breakfasted with the Duke, and remained afterwards about half an hour with his Excellency, and then left in the direction of Bologna. I have not been able to learn anything of their conversation, because the person that is in the habit of informing me on these sort of intrigues has gone off with him. True, I have learned from one who is familiar with the affairs of the Duke, that the Protonotario is to return here very soon; and that the Duke is willing to make peace with Giovanni Bentivogli and give him ample security, provided he will obligate himself to sustain the Duke against the Orsini and the Vitelli. And when I remarked to him how the Duke could do so with regard to the other confederates, he replied, that his Excellency would arrange it so that he should be ordered to do it by the king of France. And speaking of the advantages that would result from such an arrangement to the Duke, to the republic of Florence, and to Messer Giovanni Bentivogli, supposing that it could be accomplished, he added, that the Duke desired it very much, as it had been demonstrated to him that it would give more stability to his state to sustain Messer Giovanni, and to have him for a friend, than to drive him out of Bologna and take possession of a place which he could not hold, and which in the end would prove the chief cause of his ruin. And then he went on to say that the Duke of Ferrara had always refused to promise any assistance to his Excellency, and would not do so now unless the Duke first made peace with Bologna.
I endeavored to confirm this individual in that opinion by all the arguments that presented themselves to me. It seems to me certain that such a negotiation is going on, and that both his Excellency and the Duke of Ferrara are desirous of concluding it, of which I deem it proper to advise your Lordships, because it would be so desirable. Although this ought to be communicated to you in cipher, yet as I send it by your own courier I thought I would save myself as well as your Lordships that trouble, and hope you will be satisfied and give me credit therefor.
A person who was formerly master of the horse in your Lordships’ service, and who is now one of the Duke’s bodyguard, told me that, happening to be yesterday evening at the fifth hour at the quarters of the Count Alessandro da Marciano, brother to the Count Rinuccio, the Duke, who was passing by there at the time, had the Count Alessandro called out, and kept him for an hour in conversation. After the Count returned he told this person that the Duke had talked with him about many things, all of which, taken together, indicated on the part of the Duke a desire of revenge rather against those who had imperilled his state than a desire or disposition for peace.
Nothing beyond what I have written above occurs to me in reply to your Lordships’ letter of the 1st; nor have I tried to see the Duke, having nothing new to communicate to him, it being tiresome for him always to hear the same things. I should moreover observe to your Lordships that his Excellency is not accessible except to two or three of his ministers, and to such strangers as may have important business to transact with him. And he never passes out of his antechamber until about the fifth or sixth hour in the evening, and for that reason there is no chance to speak to him except at a specially appointed audience, which he does not grant to any one whom he knows to have nothing but words to offer. I mention this to your Lordships so that you may not be surprised by my resolve not to speak to the Duke, so as not to be obliged hereafter to communicate to you that I have not been able to obtain an audience.
Imola, 3 November, 1502.