The travels of Sig. Pietro della Valle, a noble Roman, into East-India and Arabia Deserta in which, the several countries, together with the customs, manners, traffique, and rites both religious and civil, of those Oriental princes and nations, are faithfully described : in familiar letters to his friend Signior Mario Schipano : whereunto is added a relation of Sir Thomas Roe's Voyage into the East-Indies.
Della Valle, Pietro, 1586-1652., Roe, Thomas, Sir, 1581?-1644., Havers, G. (George)

LETTER. XIV.

From Syracuse,Decemb. 4. 1625.

AFter two and twenty days confinement upon suspition, be∣hold [ I] me, my dear Sig: Mario, now at liberty and in health, ready to come to kiss your hands, having no other impediment to detain me. What things I have noted in the mean time, and what befel me at Malta, and how I am safely arriv'd at Syracuse, I shall now give you an account, in continuation of the Narrative of my Travels.

November the seventh, Early in the Morning four Galleys be∣longing to the Religion of Malta, arriv'd in the Port from Sici∣ly; the new ones, which they were providing instead of two lost a few Months before, not being yet finish'd. They were colour'd all black in token of sadness for the death of their General, who dy'd of a Disease a few days before at Naples.

November the eleventh, The Commissioners of Health came to visit us, and enter'd into the House to see our Goods, whe∣ther Page  297 we had us'd such diligence as was requisite in opening them to the Sun and Wind, that they might give account there∣of to the Council.

November the thirteenth, My Lord the Inquisitor came to visit me, and discours'd with me about an hour without the Gate; for seeing we had no Licence of Prattick, it was not law∣full for me to give him so much as a Chair out of my House. He promis'd me to speak to the Grand Master the same day, and to procure our expedition.

November the sixteenth, In the Morning before day, three of the said Gallies set sail from Malta towards Licata, or Alicata in Sicily, to fetch Corn, whereof there was great penury. The fourth Galley was so old that it could go no more to Sea, and the new which were preparing at Malta, Palermo, and Naples, instead of those that had been lost, were not yet finish'd. After dinner, the Commissioners of Health return'd again to see my Goods, bringing with them a Physitian to view and make rela∣tion of the Coffin wherein they understood I carry'd the Body of Sitti Maani; but because the ball of Cotton yarn wherein it was wrapt, was not quite loosned for fear of spoyling, though I had open'd and air'd it, they not onely refus'd to give me Prattick, but would not suffer the Physitian to touch or view the said Coffin, and told me, I must first loosen and air the Cotton yarn well, and then they would return to us another day to re∣solve about Prattick. After which they made many excuses to me for this strange treatment, alledging that the subsistence of Malta depending upon other parts abroad, they were forc'd to use the most rigorous courses in case of suspition of Infection; to the end Sicily and the other Countries, on which their sub∣sistence depended, might not deprive them of Prattick, as they would easily do, were it known that they proceeded otherwise, and were too easie in admitting suspected things which came from the Levant. Whereupon I knowing that they had reason for what they said, caus'd the Cotton Ball to be wholly un∣wound, as they desir'd, though I did not so at first, to avoid spoyling it, and the hazard of not making it up again so well as before.

November the twentieth, The Grand Spedaliere, (or Master [ II] of the Hospital) and two other Great Crosses came accompany'd with many people to give us another visit; and after many pre∣ambles, with majestick words in praise of their Order, and con∣cerning the observance and respect justly due to it from all, upon the account of Malta's being the Bulwark of the Territories of the Catholick King and of all Christendome, he fell to blame me, (though civilly) in the Name of the Grand Master, that I had not at first declar'd my having my Wife's Body with me, (a very jealous thing, as they said, in times of suspition) and ask'd me the reason of it. I answer'd, that whil'st I was yet a Ship-board, I was ask'd onely in general, What Goods I had? Page  298 And I truly answer'd, that I had one Ball, five Trunks, and some other bundles of goods for my use; and being not more particu∣larly question'd, I did not specifie what was within the Trunks and the Ball, conceiving it not necessary; and the rather, because I being yet uncertain, whether I should stay at Malta, or de∣part in the same Ship, I did not think fit to speak of the said Body in the presence of the Mariners, lest I should be troubled with the vain Auguries they are wont to conceive about carrying such things, in case I had been to go with them: That after I was landed, upon the first more precise demand concerning my goods, I forth-with declar'd it plainly, and afterwards us'd all diligence in opening the Cotton to the Wind and Sun, as those that had frequently visited me could testifie. The Knights re∣main'd satisfi'd with my Answer, and also with my proceeding, which was not so bad as at first they apprehended. Then they view'd the Coffin, and caus'd the Physitian to consider it, asking me Questions concerning all the particulars relating to it; which done, they consulted apart amongst themselves what to do, and the result was: That if I meant to have a clear and full Bill of Health, I must be contented to let the Coffin be open'd and air'd, not onely outwardly, (as had been already done) but also what was within it; otherwise, they would let the Coffin alone as it was, but could not give me a full Bill of Health; whence, per∣haps, I might meet with more trouble in other places. Where∣fore they desir'd me to consider of the business, for they left me to my choice: I remain'd in some suspence, and took time to think of it, as they courteously offer'd me; and so they departed without giving me Prattick, or resolving upon any thing. On one side I was unwilling to open the Coffin, because it was secure and could not be open'd without spoyling both it, and, perhaps, what was within it; and having brought it so far with me with so much diligence, onely to keep it intire and sound, I was very loath to lose my pass'd pains. On the other side, to go from Malta without a good Bill of Health, and so incur a greater trouble else-where, was no safe course: Wherefore I recurr'd to the wonted favour of my Lord the Inquisitor, giving him ac∣count in a Letter how the case stood, and earnestly entreating him to find some little shift how the Knights might be contented, without opening or spoyling the Coffin, to make me a good Bill which might serve me else-where; for which purpose I urg'd him with many good Reasons. The Inquisitor, according to his ac∣custom'd courtesie, undertook the business, and I remain'd in the same House without Prattick expecting the issue.

November the two and twentieth, Early in the Morning we saw the Gallies of Malta already in the Port, being return'd the Night preceding with some provision of Corn, but not much. The Council required of me a punctual Relation of the time, place, and manner of my Wife's Death; which I accordingly sent them in writing, attested by the Journal of my Travels, my Page  299 Book of Expences, and a Latine Treatise of the Countries sub∣ject to the modern Empire of Persia; from which Books, where∣in mention is made thereof, I extracted the said Relation. It was read in the Council, and they being satisfi'd with it, at length sent in the evening to give me Prattick; causing us first to swear that we knew not of any dead of the Pestilence in any place where we had been, nor yet in our Ship. Which truth we swore to; whereupon they granted us Prattick, and promis'd us a good Bill of Health at our departure.

November the three and twentieth, In the Morning my Lord the Inquisitor sent to congratulate with me for my Prattick, and [ III] to invite me to dine with him. After dinner, I went with his Secretary to the new City, call'd, La Valletta, and there in the Palace I did Reverence to the most Serene Grand Master, call'd, Frat' Antonio de Paula, a French-man, who receiv'd me with much courtesie, and offer'd me his utmost favour, both in order to my departure, or any other occasion. After which I accom∣pany'd his Highness to Vespers in the Church of S. John, together with all the other Knights, and back again to the Palace; and after much conversation with the Commendator Brancaccio, at night I return'd to my own House, waving the favor of my Lord the Inquisitor who invited me to lodg in his; because I would not leave my own people alone.

November the four and twentieth, I din'd with my Lord the Inquisitor according to his invitation, and in the Evening accom∣pany'd the Grand Master to the Church of S. Catherine, where because the said Saint is their Patroness, and her Church is us'd for the Italian Tongue, the Knights of Italy solemniz'd a Festival.

November the five and twentieth, I went to hear Mass in the new City at the said Church, where I saw the Relique of the said Saint's Ring, wherewith she was marry'd by our Saviour; 'tis a Gold Ring, of very plain, antique, and coarse work, having a green stone, which, probably, is an Emerald, (a stone in those times much in request) but, whether it be ill pollish'd, or be de∣cay'd by time, 'tis a great Table for a Ring, but appears no very fair Jewel of it self.

December the second, Two Gallies of Malta, being ready to depart from Messina, I would not lose so good an opportunity of passing the channel securely; but having gotten my Bill of Health ready, (wherein though they mention'd my wife's Body which I carry'd, yet they made it to my satisfaction, and full enough to prevent trouble else-where) and dispatcht all things that needed; in the Evening I put all my goods aboard the Galley Santa Maria, whereof Sig: Gio. Francesco Geronimo Salvago, a Genouese was Captain. But because it departed not this night, I repair'd to lodg at the House of my Lord the Inquisitor, and left the Women in that of Sig: Don Francesco Ciantar, our Friend and Patron of the Benefice and House del Salvadore.

Page  300December the third, In the Evening we all went aboard the above-said Galley, after we had taken leave of the Inquisitor and all other Friends, with many Complements and demonstra∣tions of true kindness; a little before mid-night we set sail, being accommodated with the other Galley, call'd, S. John, and four Ships of the Order laden with Flax; all which went under the mand of our Captain.

December the fourth, This Morning we found that we had [ IV] already pass'd the channel, and were come to Capo Passaro, which is the ancient Promontory Pachinum. Before dinner, we enter'd the Port of Syracuse, where Sig: Fra: Marcantonio Pericontato, Receiver of the Order of Malta, came presently to our Galley to visit the Captain, and take his Letters and Orders of business. By this Knight, without making my self known to him, I under∣stood that my great Friend, Monsignor Paolo Faraone, Bishop of Syracuse, being lately return'd from a visitation was now in the City; of which I was very joyful, through the great desire I had to see him. Wherefore after dinner I went ashore as all others did, and with Sig: Frate Antonietto Costa a Roman, presently repair'd to his Palace to visit him: But understanding he was saying the Office, and would not be disturb'd, I stay'd in the Anti-chamber till he had done, being entertain'd in the mean time by Sig: Paolo Faraone his Nephew, whom I had seen at Messina, in the year 1611, then a very Youth, but now grown a compleat young man; yet I did not discover my self to him. When the Bishop had ended the Office, we enter'd to kiss his hands; At first view, he said, he thought he knew me, but remember'd not who I was; and, indeed, he knew me not by my voice after I had spoken to him; although I knew both his voice and person, he seeming to me little or nothing chang'd from what I left him at Rome about twelve years ago when he was an Abbot. But when I discover'd my self to him, he seem'd amaz'd, and with much joy, for seeing me here at a time when he thought I was far enough off; and, perhaps, (as he said) not in this world, (for 'twas four years since he had heard any News of me) he receiv'd me with extream kindness and gladness. After we had given one another account of many things, and I had been com∣plemented by Sig: Paolo his Nephew, and others that were with him, I told him that I had in the Galley Batoni Mariam Tinatin, my spiritual Daughter, and should be glad that before we depart∣ed, (as I thought to do with the same Gallies for Messina) that she saw the Church and something of Syracuse. The Bishop presently sent Signora Maria (his Brother's Wife, and Mother of Sig: Paolo) with two of her Daughters to fetch my Women from the Galley in a Coach; and Sig: Paolo, the Receiver of Malta and my self, went in another Coach to fetch them on Land. After these Gentlewomen had receiv'd them with many Complements, we all went together to the Nunns Church of S. Lucie, where we stay'd till evening; the Nunns being much de∣lighted Page  301 to behold the strange habits of my Women, and to dis∣course with them by Interpreters. In the mean time many peo∣ple flock'd into the Church to see them, and several Cavaliers came to complement me, and make themselves known to me. It being late, we were accompani'd by many Gentry and people to the Palace, where my Women were receiv'd by the Bishop with much Courtesie. And being the Galleys were to depart for Messina this very night, I desir'd leave of the Bishop to return aboard again, but he would by no means grant it; saying that since I was come to see him, it was not fit that I should embitter his joy with so sudden a departure, much less when S. Lucy's day was so near at hand, for which those that are remote use to go to Syracuse; and that I was the more oblig'd to stay, because I had once promis'd him by a Letter, (as indeed I had) to come to Syracuse, and spend a S. Lucy's day with him; so that since chance had brought it thus to pass, I must needs make my word good. I answer'd many things, and did all I could to get away, but to no purpose; for the Bishop sen the Receiver to get all my goods out of the Galley, for which end was necessary for the gate of the City to be kept open a good part of the night contrary to custom: and besides, having caus'd a very noble Apart∣ment to be got ready for me in the new building of his Pa∣lace, he would by all means have us all lodge there. Where∣fore, seeing his pleasure was such, I thought fit to obey him, and accept the favour. The Gentlemen and Gentlewomen after some discourse departed, and we were conducted to our apart∣ment, where, because the Bishop eats not at night, he left us to sup and rest. The two Galleys which brought us, depart this night for Messina, and with them F. Orisno my late Fellow-tra∣veller, who will deliver you this Letter which I conclude this Evening, not omitting to acquaint you with my tarrying here for some days, to the end you may understand my deliverance, and the good issue of my health; and so praying God for the like to you, I very heartily kiss your hands.