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Neri embarked at Cesena and went to Venice; nor was any prince ever received with so much honor as he was; for upon his arrival, and the matters which his intervention was to decide and determine, the safety of the republic seemed to depend. Being introduced to the senate, and in presence of the Doge, he said, "The Signory of Florence, most serene prince, has always perceived in the duke's greatness the source of ruin both to this republic and our own, and that the safety of both states depends upon their separate strength and mutual confidence. If such had been the opinion of this illustrious Signory, we should ourselves have been in better condition, and your republic would have been free from the dangers that now threaten it. But as at the proper crisis you withheld from us confidence and aid, we could not come to the relief of your distress, nor could you, being conscious of this, freely ask us; for neither in your prosperity nor adversity have you clearly perceived our motives. You have not observed, that those whose deeds have once incurred our hatred, can never become entitled to our regard; nor can those who have once merited our affection ever after absolutely cancel their claim. Our attachment to your most serene Signory is well known to you all, for you have often seen Lombardy filled with our forces and our money for your assistance. Our hereditary enmity to Filippo and his house is universally known, and it is impossible that love or hatred, strengthened by the growth of years, can be eradicated from our minds by any recent act either of kindness or neglect. We have always thought, and are still of the same opinion, that we might now remain neutral, greatly to the duke's satisfaction, and with little hazard to ourselves; for if by your ruin he were to become lord of Lombardy, we should still have sufficient influence in Italy in free us from any apprehension on our own account; for every increase of power and territory augments that animosity and envy, from which arise wars and the dismemberment of states. We are also aware what heavy expenses and imminent perils we should avoid, by declining to involve ourselves in these disputes; and how easily the field of battle may be transferred from Lombardy to Tuscany, by our interference in your behalf. Yet all these apprehensions are at once overborne by our ancient affection for the senate and people of Venice, and we have resolved to come to your relief with the same zeal with which we should have armed in our own defense, had we been attacked. Therefore, the senate of Florence, judging it primarily necessary to relieve Verona and Brescia, and thinking this impossible without the count, have sent me, in the first instance, to persuade him to pass into Lombardy, and carry on the war wherever it may be most needful; for you are aware he is under no obligation to cross the Po. To induce him to do so, I have advanced such arguments as are suggested by the circumstances themselves, and which would prevail with us. He, being invincible in arms, cannot be surpassed in courtesy, and the liberality he sees the Florentines exercise toward you, he has resolved to outdo; for he is well aware to what dangers Tuscany will be exposed after his departure, and since we have made your affairs our primary consideration, he has also resolved to make his own subservient to yours. I come, therefore, to tender his services, with seven thousand cavalry and two thousand infantry, ready at once to march against the enemy, wherever he may be. And I beg of you, so do my lords at Florence and the count, that as his forces exceed the number he has engaged to furnish you, out of your liberality, would remunerate him, that he may not repent of having come to your assistance, nor we, who have prevailed with him to do so." This discourse of Neri to the senate was listened to with that profound attention which an oracle might be imagined to command; and his audience were so moved by it, that they could not restrain themselves, till the prince had replied, as strict decorum on such occasions required, but rising from their seats, with uplifted hands, and most of them with tears in their eyes, they thanked the Florentines for their generous conduct, and the ambassador for his unusual dispatch; and promised that time should never cancel the remembrance of such goodness, either in their own hearts, or their children's; and that their country, thenceforth, should be common to the Florentines with themselves.
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