Letters of Maria Celeste:
4 March 1628
Most Beloved Lord Father
I truly believe that the love of a father toward his sons and daughters may be diminished somewhat, on account of the children's own bad habits or behavior; and this belief of mine grows stronger in the light of several indications you give me, Sire, for I discern a waning of the warm affection you have shown us in the past; now that you have let three months go by without coming to visit us, which feels to us like three years, and all the more worrisome, since even now that you have recovered your good health, you never write to me.
I have looked within myself, to see if some error committed on my part might call down this punishment, and I do see one (albeit involuntary), which I would call a heedlessness or thoughtlessness I may give way to, when I neglect my duty to visit you and greet you more often through my letters; this particular failing of mine, accompanied as it is by my many other shortcomings, surely justifies and sustains the fear that I mentioned to you above. Although, as I see it, my negligence should not be attributed to a weakness of my character, but rather to a lack of physical strength, precipitated by a longstanding indisposition that renders me unable to perform any of my duties; for more than a month now I have suffered headaches so severe that I could find no respite day or night. But now that my pain has abated, by the Lord's grace, I take my pen in hand to write you this long lamentation, which, in the spirit of this Carnival season, may simply be dismissed as a joke. Suffice it to say that you recall, Sire, how much we are longing to see you again, when time will allow a visit; meanwhile I send you several little treats that were given to me. They will be somewhat hard, as I have set them aside for a few days in the hope of giving them to you in person. The ring cakes are for Anna Maria and her little brothers. I enclose a letter for Vincenzio, to jog his memory that we are still alive, which he seems to have forgotten, as he never writes us a line. Lastly we send loving regards to you and our Aunt with all our hearts, and from Our Lord I pray for your true happiness.
From San Matteo, the 4th day of March 1627.*
Most affectionate daughter,
*On the Florentine calendar the new year began on 25 March.
©1995 Al Van Helden