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)
Page  322

LETTER XVIII.

From Rome,August 1. 1626.

[ I] ON Saint James's day, the twenty fifth of July last past, In∣tending to bury the Body of Sitti Maani Gioerida my Wife (which I had brought with me so many Voyages) in our Chappel of S. Paul, belonging to the Church of Ara Coeli in the Capitol; (a place, which besides being the ancient Se∣pulchre of my Ancestors, is, undoubtedly, the Noblest, and one of the Holiest in the world) before I inclos'd it in a Coffin of Lead which I had prepar'd, I resolv'd to open the innermost wooden Coffin, that I might see how it was after so many years. Accordingly I open'd the same in the presence of SigraLaura Gaetana my Cousin, Silvia my Daughter, SigraMaria, and all the women of the House. I found that the flesh of the Head, which I could perceive at a rent of the Linnen which cover'd it, was wholly consum'd, nothing remaining but the bone; at which I wonder'd not, because the brain not being taken out of the skull at first, thence proceeded the cause of this consumption. The rest of the Body seem'd better preserv'd; but because the Face was no longer to be seen, I would not unfold the Linnen to see further. That dry Herb where-with I had first fill'd the vacuities of the Coffin was still intire; and so also was the Amba, or Manga-wood of the Coffin, and the pieces of Linnen-Cloth glu'd upon the Commissures thereof. Having nail'd up this innermost Coffin of Amba as it was at first, instead of putting the same into the other outward wooden Coffin in which it came from Malta to Rome, I inclos'd it in a leaden one which I caus'd to be well soder'd, and upon a large Plate fastned near the feet, I caus'd this Epitaph to be engraven at the foot of a great erected Cross,

MAANI GIOERIDAE HEROINAE
PRAESTANTISSIMAE
PETRI DE VALLE PERINI VXORIS
MORTALES EXVVIAE.

Having thus prepar'd all things, late in the Evening, I caus'd it to be carry'd secretly to Ara Coeli, having first obtain'd leave of Card. Melino, the Pope's Vicar for that purpose; and it was accompany'd thither by Sig: Gasparo Albertino my Friend, Hora∣tio the Steward of my House, and others of my familiar ac∣quaintance; whilst I, with SigraMaria, and my Daughter Silvia, waited in the Church. When it was come, I lay'd it in the Vault on the left hand of the Altar as you enter into the Chappel, where lye also my Father, my Mother, my Uncles, and almost Page  233 all my Relations. I descended my self into the Tomb, to∣gether with SigraMaria who was willing likewise to pay this last Office, and with help of the Fryers and Sextons plac'd it there with my own hands. After which, causing the Vault to be clos'd up, I took leave of the Fryers, giving them some Alms of Money and Torches. Besides the persons above-mention'd, there were present at this action, Madonna Guilia Vogli a Bolon∣nese, servant to Sig: Laura, Eugenia the Indian Maid, Michel an Indian man, Ibrahim Abdisciva a Syrian, Gio: Robeh a Chal∣dean, with others of my servants and familiars; besides the F. Guardian. This last Office of Piety which remain'd, I have pay'd to the mortal reliques of my dear Consort Sitti Maani; yet it is not the last that I perform to her better and immortal part, which I accompany with suffrages; neither have I aban∣don'd those in the Tomb, but deposited them, intending (when it shall please God) to leave my own ashes lay'd in the same place, and to rise again with her.

Now from this meditation of death, let us pass (Sig: Mario) to a Remarkable, which occurrs to me of a very long life.

July the seven and twentieth, Being the Feast of S. Pantaleo, in the Church of the Fathers Della Scuole Pie, I went to see F. Gaspare Dragonetti, who hath liv'd in the said Schools ever since the year 1600, and although now a hundred and fifteen years old and more, (as appears by the Dimissory, Letters at his Ordina∣tion, and the writings of a Canonship which he hath had ever since the same was conferr'd upon him, which was in the year 1530 or 1531, and were seen when he entred into the pious Schools) nevertheless is sound and lusty, and not onely sees without Spectacles, and hath his Teeth good, but labors daily in teaching Children the Grammar in those Schools; which profession he told he, he hath exercis'd publickly above sixty years, and before the Jesuits began the same in Rome; who, he saith, when they came first to Rome, he remembers liv'd in a ve∣ry mean and small House, and sent their novices to learn Gram∣mar in his School. Before he read Grammar at Rome, he had read it many years in Sicily in the City of Lenoni, where he was born; his Father being of Calabria, and having retir'd thither I know not upon what occasion. In Sicily, he told me, he re∣member'd Giovanni de Vega, who was the first Vice-Roy under Charles V; and he very well remember'd the first time that the Turks upon the sollicitation of Francis the French King came to infest those Coasts: Moreover, he remember'd when Tripoli was lost, long before the loss of Goletta and Tunis; with several other things sufficiently ancient for the age of one man. The Grammar which he had alwayes read, and still reads to his Scholars, is that of Nebrissensis, which he approves for the best of all; and by his Discourse with me about Grammatical Points, he seems to me exactly skill'd therein. He told me, he Page  324 had many Writings and Grammatical Lectures of his own, cu∣rious, and, I believe, very profitable, as proceeding from a Person so much experienc'd; but hitherto he hath not printed any thing. Emanuel Alvarez, and many other Modern Gram∣marians acknowledg themselves his Scholars: He is a Man of a good and reverend Aspect, cheerful, and of a good Complexion; his Beard is white and large, and his Stature is of the middle sort. It being a rare thing in our dayes to see a Man of so long and healthy an Age, I thought it not amiss to give you this Relation. And so wishing you the years of this new Sicilian Nestor, I heartily kiss your Hands.

From Rome, August the first, 1626.