I have written to you twice by the mail service from Spain which goes to Paris and Bayonne. I addressed my letters to Monsieur de la Lande1 in order to have them forwarded to the King’s procurator who I recall is a relative. I did not know cui altari vovere vow mea2 in order to have news of you, when God, Who, etiamsi differat, non aufert tamen spei effectus3, caused me to meet this venerable Father who was just about to leave. Through him, I hope to enjoy the benefit of which I have been deprived by the perfidiousness of those to whom one entrusts letters.
This benefit is nothing else, Monsieur, than a renewed assurance of your good health and that of your whole family whom I pray the Lord to gladden with the abundance of His grace. I thanked you in my preceding letters for the paternal care you so kindly take of me and my affairs. I asked God, as I am still doing and shall do all my life, to please grant me the means of repaying you by my service, which you secured at the price of all the good that a father can do for his own son.
I am very sorry that I can write to you only4 very briefly about the state of my affairs because of the hasty departure of the ill-mannered sailors with whom the venerable Father is leaving. From what he told me, he is not going to Dax, but rather to Beam. He told me that Father Antoine Pontanus, who has always been a good friend of mine, is preaching there. I am addressing my letters to him as to someone from whom I may expect a favor. I am asking him to be so kind as to forward this letter to you and to send back to me, if he has an opportunity — as Father told me he would have — the answer that I hope you will be pleased to write me.
In a word, then, this is the state of my affairs. I am in this city of Rome, where I am continuing my studies, maintained by the former Vice-Legate of Avignon5. He honors me with his affection and his desire for my advancement, because I have shown him some unusually marvelous things I learned while I was the slave of that old Mirk to whom, as I wrote you, I had been sold. Among these marvels is the beginning — not the total perfection — of the mirror of Archimedes and an artificial spring that makes a death’s head talk, which the scoundrel used to use to deceive the people by telling them that his god Mohammed communicated his will to him by means of that head. I learned from him a thousand other wonderful geometrical things of which the said Bishop is so jealous that he does not even want me to stop and talk to anyone for fear that I might teach them to him. He wants to have for himself alone the reputation of knowing these things which he enjoys showing now and then to His Holiness6 and the cardinals. This affection and benevolence of his ensure for me, as he has also promised me, the means of an honorable retirement by obtaining for me, with that end in view, a suitable benefice in France. That is why I greatly need a copy of my letters of ordination, signed and sealed by the Bishop of Dax7, together with a letter of recommendation from the said Bishop. He could compile it by means of a brief inquiry among some of our friends as to the fact that I have always been considered a good-living man, together with all the other little formalities required for this purpose. The above-mentioned Bishop is urging me every day to get this letter of reference. That is why, Monsieur, I most humbly entreat you to be so good as to do for me once again the kindness of picking up another certification of my letters, and of helping me to obtain the character reference from the said Bishop of Dax in the form stated above, sending it to me by way of the above-mentioned Father Pontanus. I would have sent you some money for this purpose were it not for my fear that the money might cause the letter to be lost. That is why I am asking you to arrange with my mother8 to furnish what is necessary. I think that three or four ecus will be needed. I have already given two as a suitable offering to this religious who has promised me that he would hand them over to the above-mentioned Father Antoine9 so that he might forward them for that purpose. If that will do, please accept them; if not, I promise that I shall send you what has been supplied in the course of four or five months by a letter of exchange, together with what I owe in Toulouse. I am determined to discharge my debts since God has been pleased to give me legitimate means. I am writing to Monsieur Dussin, my uncle10, asking him kindly to assist me in this affair.
I received, from the person who went to visit you for me, the Bachelor’s certificate which you so kindly sent me, together with a copy of my papers. The latter were judged invalid because they had not been authorized by the signature and seal of the said Bishop of Dax.
There is nothing new that I can write to you about except for the conversion of three Tartar families who came to this city to become Christians — His Holiness received them with tears in his eyes — and the conversion to Catholicism of a bishop who was an ambassador for the schismatic Greeks.
Haste obliges me to conclude this letter — badly blotted right here — with my humble prayer that you will excuse my excessive importunity and believe that I shall hasten my return as much as I can, so that I may come and acquit myself of the service I owe you. Until then, I remain, Monsieur, your most humble and obedient servant.
Rome, February 28, 1608
Addressed: Monsieur de Comet, advocate at the Presidial Court of Dax, in Dax.
- Very probably Bertrand de Lalande, Councillor of the King and Lieutenant General of the Presidia] of Dax. By his marriage to Jeanne de ?wage, Dame d’Escanebaque, he became the founder of the De Lalande family, Seigneurs d’Escanebaque in Sabres (Landes).
- Whom to ask.
- Although He may delay, nevertheless, does not remove the fulfillment or our hope.
- This word is repeated in the original.
- Pietro Francesco Montorio
- Paul V (1605-1621).
- The copy sent to the Saint at his request began thus: “Extract from the fourth register of the Ecclesiastical Insertions of the diocese of Acqs (d’Acqs).” Then came the text of the letters of ordination followed by: “In the year sixteen hundred four and on.the twentieth day of the present month of October, all the above-mentioned letters of ordination to the priesthood were inserted and registered in the fourth register of the Ecclesiastical Insertions of the diocese of Acqs at the request of the said Vincent de Paul named herein. And on the fifteenth day of the present month of May, sixteen hundred eight, the entire text was carefully and duly extracted, certified and verified with the said fourth register of the Insertions, at the request of (the place for the name was left blank) his brother, in the name of and at the request of the said Vincent de Paul, to be used as he sees fit. Drawn up at d’Acqs on the day and in the year mentioned above by me. De Luc, registrar.” The attestation, in Latin, of Jean-Jacques Dusault, Bishop of Dax, completed the document; “Jean-Jacques Dusault, by the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See, Bishop of Dax, to all who read the present letter, greetings in the Lord. We make it known and we attest that the above-mentioned letter of all the orders and the dimissorial of Master Vincent de Paul, priest of our diocese, inscribed and entered in the register of ecclesiastical insertions of our said diocese, inserted from a true original, were extracted thence as we attest by the tenor of these presents. In faith thereof, we have ordered that the said certificatory letter be validated by our sign and seal and by the sign of our secretary. Given at Dax on the seventeenth day of the month of May in the year of Our Lord one thousand six hundred eight. J.-J. Dusault, Bishop of Dax. By order of the aforesaid My Lord the Most Reverend Bishop. Duclos, Secretary.” (Arch. of the Priests of the Mission, eighteenth century, copy)
- Vincent de Paul had lost his father in 1598. (Abelly, op. cir., vol. I, chap. III, p. 12.)
- Antoine Pontanus.
- Probably Dominique Dusin, who was or later became Pastor of Pouy. (Collet, op. cit., vol. I, p. 109.)