If I must sincerely reveal my soul to you, I must utter an ardent truth. Among the various correspondences which I keep up in Europe and outside it, the one of which I am fondest is the one I hope to establish with you: my correspondence with the blessed house of Carpegna. You can therefore imagine how pleased I was with your blessed letter of the 10th of this month. Enough on this subject. Since you are a poet and from the work you read to me on the shores of Greece, inspirer of the ancient Orpheus, I foresee that, in time, our homeland will have a worthy cultivator of Italian literature and I would like to send you a poetic endeavour by a friend of mine, a student at my Institute, the priest Fr Vincenzo Ramazzini. It is entitled La Creazione (Creation), and today it is being dedicated by my Institute to Mgr Canossa, on the occasion of his taking possession as Bishop of Verona. This work consists of only seven sonnets on which I long to hear your opinion. When I have the chance I will send you the printed edition, I hope this summer, through the Bishop. Oh! If I could but see your work published, how happy I would be! But fiat: with time and as things develop, it will all come to pass.
I dare to ask another favour of you. One of the most respected naturalists in Europe and a great man of letters, my friend, Dr Pietro Paolo Martinati, collects the autographed works ofmen distinguished in science and letters; and he longs to possess a work in Passaglia’s hand. Would you be able to find me one? Either a letter or a theological work, or anything else; I believe this would not be a hard task for you, a Roman nobleman and former pupil of his at the Collegio Romano and La Sapienza. Take your time and do not miss the opportunity, should it arise. In your first letter, give me your opinion of Creazione, etc.
Now let us come to us. I have heard and pondered about what you told me in your precious letter. Among the blessings of your house, I rejoice to hear that the Falconiere case is proceeding in your favour by leaps and bounds. Praise be to God who is also frequently willing to be generous with earthly happiness here below to those who fear him. I am as pleased as if it were my own good fortune. I was ineffably consoled to hear that the comments made about you to Monsignor came to nothing. I feel esteem for you, for your judgement, your moderation, your prudence, your calm, which means that you will never reach the point of compromising yourself. Be generous and great in stifling a certain exuberance in others which does not conform to your noble and considerate feelings.
Sometimes deep down inside me certain doubts arise as I reflect on that digression late in the evening on the condition of Poland, in the Muscovite Ambassador’s presence; however, considering other things in favour of your wisdom, I am sure that you will never show yourself to be thoughtless but, on the contrary, calm and considerate with regard to all things. Reciprocate the kind greetings of the remarkable eye specialist, the surgeon Mazzoni, and tell him I remember with pleasure that celebration when I was present at those magnificent operations. I am very glad to hear that the blind man sees very well. What a marvellous thing! That lucky wretch is admitted to hospital deprived of the beneficial faculty of sight, and he will leave it an ecstatic admirer of the world’s sublime wonders! Tell him (the Professor) that I will send him my photograph as a souvenir of his kindness in admitting me to those wonderful operations; me, who can scarcely recite the Breviary!
How is Maman? Speak to me of her, always tell me something special about her in your letters. I am glad that H. E. Monsieur Papa, my dear Pippo and Fr Luigi, his worthy tutor and my friend, are all well. Remember that although I know I have no influence with heaven I nonetheless always pray to the Lord for you, for your happiness, for your harmony, for your soul, for your bodies; and it is the most spontaneous and sincerest prayer that can spring from my heart.
Today his Distinguished and Most Reverend Excellency, Mgr Canossa, an illustrious descendant of the renowned Princess Matilde, triumphantly enters Verona as Bishop. My Superior, Fr Nicola Mazza, returns your greetings and thanks you for your kindness: and he remembers you, for I often talk about you and he knows that I accompanied you on the brief crossing from Alexandria to Trieste. All the little Africans offer their respects to their kindest Abu-Dagn. Poor Luigi is very unwell because he has had an excessively precocious spurt of growth. He is twelve years old and as tall as me! As soon as he has recovered, I will have his picture taken and send you some copies. I am waiting impatiently for your photograph and the one of Maman; I will also do the same. I have had no further news from the Polish ladies we know. They wrote to me recently, and I am only too lucky if I hear from them three or four times a year. In Poland, impatience, doubt and fear prevail. May God stretch out his hand over the unfortunate!
Greet all those I have met at your house one by one and pay them my respects; Mazzoni, Mgr Besi, Nardi, Bernini, etc. and my special greetings to Giovanelli and the princesses, wife and mother. But before all the others, I ask you on my behalf to kiss the hands of venerable, dear Maman, guardian angel of your home, of Papa, of my innocent and beloved Pippo and of my dear friend Fr Luigi, from whom I expect a few lines and to whom I will also write later; and I assure you of the everlasting esteem and affection of
Your most unworthy, faithful and affectionate
I realise I have been too lengthy and dull.
Peroni, the Veronese, with whom you travelled from Turin to Genoa, tells me to give you his respects.