Letters of Maria Celeste:
20 August 1633
Most Beloved Lord Father
When I wrote to you about your coming home soon, Sire, or your otherwise remaining where you are for a while longer, I knew of the petition you had made to his lordship the Ambassador, but was not yet aware of his answer, which I since learned from Signor Geri when he came here last Tuesday, just after I had written yet another letter to you, enclosing the recipe for the pills that by now must surely have reached you. My motive for addressing you in that seemingly distant fashion had grown out of my frequent discussions with Signor Rondinelli, who all through this period has been my refuge (because, as practical and experienced as he is in the ways of the world, he has many times alleviated my anxiety, prognosticating for me the outcome of situations concerning your affairs, especially in cases that seemed more precipitous to me than they later turned out to be); once during those discussions he told me how people in Florence were saying that when you departed from Siena, Sire, you would have to go to the Certosa, a condition that displeased every one of your friends; yet he saw some good in going along with those orders, as I understand the Ambassador himself did, too, for they both suspected that soliciting too urgently for your direct return here, Sire, might bring about some negative consequence, and therefore they wanted to allow more time to elapse before entreating again. Whereupon I, fearing the worst could all too easily come to pass, and hearing you were preparing to petition yet again, set myself to write to you as I did.
If ever I fail to make a great demonstration of the desire I harbor for your return, I refrain only to avoid goading you too much or disquieting you excessively. Rather than take that risk, all through these days I have been building castles in the air, thinking to myself, if, after these two months of delay in not obtaining the favor of your release, I had been able to appeal to her Ladyship the Ambassadress, then she, working through the sister-in-law of His Holiness, might have successfully implored the Pope on your behalf. I know, as I freely admit to you, that these are poorly drawn plans, yet still I would not rule out the possibility that the prayers of a pious daughter could outweigh even the protection of great personages. While I was wandering lost in these schemes, and I saw in your letter, Sire, how you imply that one of the things that fans my desire for your return is the anticipation of seeing myself delighted by a certain present you are bringing, oh! I can tell you that I turned truly angry; but enraged in the way that blessed King David exhorts us in his psalm where he says, Irascimini et nolite peccare [Be angry, but sin not]. Because it seems almost as though you are inclined to believe, Sire, that the sight of the gift might mean more to me than that of you yourself: which differs as greatly from my true feelings as the darkness from the light. It could be that I mistook the sense of your words, and with this likelihood I calm myself, because if you questioned my love I would not know what to say or do. Enough, Sire, but do realize that if you are allowed to come back here to your hovel, you could not possibly find it more derelict than it is, especially now that the time approaches to refill the casks, which, as punishment for the evil they committed in allowing the wine to spoil, have been hauled up onto the porch and there staved in according to the sentence pronounced by the most expert wine drinkers in these parts, who point out as the primary problem your practice, Sire, of never having broken them open before, and these same experts claim the casks cannot suffer now for having had some sunshine upon their planks.
I received 8 scudi from the sale of the wine, of which I spent 3 on six staia of wheat, so that, as the weather turns cooler, La Piera may return to her bread baking; La Piera sends her best regards to you, and says that if she were able to weigh your desire to return against her longing to see you, she feels certain her side of the scale would plummet to the depths while yours would fly up to the sky: of Geppo there is no news worthy of mention. Signor Rondinelli this week has paid the 6 scudi to Vincenzio Landucci and has retained two receipts, one for last month, one for this: I hear that Vincenzio and the children are healthy, but as for their welfare I do not know how they are getting along, not having been able to inquire after them from a single person.
I am sending you another batch of the same pills, and I greet you with all my heart together with our usual friends and Signor Rondinelli. May Our Lord bless you.
From San Matteo in Arcetri, the 20th day of August 1633.
Most affectionate daughter,
©1995 Al Van Helden