Letters of Maria Celeste:
10 April 1628
Most Beloved Lord Father
Your generosity and loving tenderness, Sire, represent the furthest possible remove from the avarice of Pappazzoni [a legendary miser in the Galilei family, dead more than a decade]; indeed your virtue more closely recalls (if spirit could be equated with strength) that of Alexander the Great. Or better still, if it were up to me, I would compare you to the pelican, Sire, for just as he eviscerates himself in order to sustain his children, so do you, in like manner, deprive yourself of any necessity, without a thought for your own welfare, in order to cover every contingency for us, your beloved daughters. Now how could I not conclude that you are consumed by the thought of needing to send me three or four pounds of sugar, so that I can candy the citrons you sent me? Certainly I do not fear that this preoccupation and anxiety could be strong enough to cause you any palpitation of the heart, and thus assured I have held off responding to you. Not to mention being overtaken by the doctor (just when I had set myself to writing) whom I had called because my mistress is sick again, for several days now, and it is up to me to take care of her, as well as tend the three others who are ill, with the result that I have found it impossible to discharge my regular duties, since in this instance it would have been improper to send another to take my place. Therefore excuse me, Sire, for my tardiness, and pray be good enough to fill this little flask (according to my mistress's wishes) full of your house wine: as long as it is not sour it will do, since the doctor forbids her to drink much, and ours at the convent is surely worse.
I still want to know, Sire, if you might be able to get me a few yards of that inexpensive wool cloth from Pisa, when they hold the fair there, as a favor to two poor little nuns who have asked for my help. In the event that you can do me this service, I will send you the description and eight scudi that they have already insisted on giving me to pay for it. Because I am very rushed I will say no more, except that I pray our Lord to grant you His holy grace, and I send my loving wishes to you, to my Aunt, and to all the little rabble-rousers.
From San Matteo, the 10th day of April 1628.
Your most affectionate daughter,
©1995 Al Van Helden