|Bartolomeu da Costa
Translation by Rita Marquilhas
Translation of a letter sent to his wife, a fishmonger, by a Portuguese sailor captive of the Turks. From Rhodes to Lisbon. 15/12/1662
To maDanela francisca in the city of Lisbon in the district of san stevão Dalfama. In her absence to anna farya. She sells at rybeyra do Peyxe. Letter from a poor captive, may God show the way to the one who shows this letter the way. It goes from Turquey.
The peace of Christ may be with you.
Sister in the soul.
I hope you will be in good health in the company of your mother and all the people in our household. May heaven keep it for many and happy years it is the wish of this poor captive. I am in good health at present, thank God, going through many miserable ways and troubles in this miserable captivity where my sins brought me 20 years ago. Absent from your sight but managing to keep my faith in Christ as a faithful Christian should. Now I shall tell you all about my miserable life. Since I left Argel 18 years ago I am inside a galley with a thick chain in my foot passing through many troubles and miseries which I could not tell in a letter. I work continuously which means I don’t have one hour of rest neither by day nor by night, dying of thirst and hunger and dressed in rags, not to mention the infinite stick beatings I take since there’s no lack of that inside a galley. However I thank God our Lord for all the mercies he has been giving be for so many years, he has given me patience to keep going in spite of so many troubles and he kept me alive although I am dead in this world to you. But I have hope that God our Lord and the Holy Virgin will give me freedom and let me see you before I die because after all I am a man, and men are supposed to suffer troubles in this world. I do regret, though, having no news neither yours nor from our household so I beg you, sister in the soul, since I brought you such misfortune, do try to find in that town some way to write me to the east since there are many knights in Malta coming from that town. Send me some news by them: it is the best and the safest way to write. And don’t you think that because I am in Turquey there is no remedy for my freedom. So I beg yoy, if you have some means and someone to help you with my ransom, you can do it by sending the order by Lord joão de Sir joão de souza de vasComselos Comendador das Comemdas de santarey AlCayde mor de Palmela ecause the said lord will send it to Malta to friar jaComo P(erei)ra Loureyro Camareyro do grão mestre de malta born in vyla do Comde because they exchange letters and it will arrive here in a better and cheaper way. And all you can do for my freedom, tell it to me by letter sent through the said lord because that way I could go by Malta. Tell me all about you and our household, about who is alive and who is dead because from now on my eyes will be looking above to heaven hoping to get news from you. The carrier of this letter is a man from setuvele called manoel rodrygues married in matozynhos. Try to speak to him if God will take him safely to that town because he will give you many news from me and my miserable life. And now may God our Lord allow us to see each other once more before we die. To my mother-in-law, if she is alive, give her my regards and to everyone in our household.
Today, from Rhodes, the 15th of December 1662
From this brother in the soul bertolameu da Costa
To francisco guasPar, if he is alive, give him my regards. I’m not writing to him because there is no time.