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by Silvio Pellico


Silvio Pellico was born at Saluzzo, in North Italy, in the year of
the fall of the Bastille, 1789.  His health as a child was feeble,
his temper gentle, and he had the instincts of a poet.  Before he
was ten years old he had written a tragedy on a theme taken from
Macpherson's Ossian.  His chief delight as a boy was in acting plays
with other children, and he acquired from his father a strong
interest in the patriotic movements of the time.  He fastened upon
French literature during a stay of some years at Lyons with a
relation of his mother's.  Ugo Foscolo's Sepolcri revived his
patriotism, and in 1810, at the age of twenty-one, he returned to
Italy.  He taught French in the Soldiers' Orphans' School at Milan.
At Milan he was admitted to the friendship of Vincenzo Monti, a poet
then touching his sixtieth year, and of the younger Ugo Foscolo, by
whose writings he had been powerfully stirred, and to whom he became
closely bound.  Silvio Pellico wrote in classical form a tragedy,
Laodicea, and then, following the national or romantic school, for a
famous actress of that time, another tragedy, Francesca di Rimini,
which was received with great applause.

After the dissolution of the kingdom of Italy, in April 1814,
Pellico became tutor to the two children of the Count Porro
Lambertenghi, at whose table he met writers of mark, from many
countries; Byron (whose Manfred he translated), Madame de Stael,
Schlegel, Manzoni, and others.  In 1819 Silvio Pellico began
publishing Il Conciliatore, a journal purely literary, that was to
look through literature to the life that it expresses, and so help
towards the better future of his country.  But the merciless
excisions of inoffensive passages by the Austrian censorship
destroyed the journal in a year.

A secret political association had been formed in Italy of men of
all ranks who called themselves the Carbonari (charcoal burners),
and who sought the reform of government in Italy.  In 1814 they had
planned a revolution in Naples, but there was no action until 1820.
After successful pressure on the King of the two Sicilies, the
forces of the Carbonari under General Pepe entered Naples on the
ninth of July, 1820, and King Ferdinand I. swore on the 13th of July
to observe the constitution which the Carbonari had proclaimed at
Nola and elsewhere during the preceding month.  On the twenty-fifth
of August, the Austrian government decreed death to every member of
a secret society, and carcere duro e durissimo, severest pains of
imprisonment, to all who had neglected to oppose the progress of
Carbonarism.  Many seizures were made, and on the 13th of October
the gentle editor of the Conciliatore, Silvio Pellico, was arrested
as a friend of the Carbonari, and taken to the prison of Santa
Margherita in Milan.

In the same month of October, the Emperors of Austria and Russia,
and the Prince of Prussia met at Troppau to concert measures for
crushing the Carbonari.

In January, 1821, they met Ferdinand I. at Laybach and then took
arms against Naples.  Naples capitulated on the 20th of March, and
on the 24th of March, 1821, its Revolutionary council was closed.  A
decree of April 10th condemned to death all persons who attended
meetings of the Carbonari, and the result was a great accession to
the strength of this secret society, which spread its branches over
Germany and France.

On the 19th of February, 1821, Silvio Pellico was transferred to
imprisonment under the leads, on the isle of San Michele, Venice.
There he wrote two plays, and some poems.  On the 21st of February,
1822, he and his friend Maroncelli were condemned to death; but,
their sentence being commuted to twenty years for Maroncelli, and
fifteen years for Pellico, of carcere duro, they entered their
underground prisons at Spielberg on the 10th of April, 1822.  The
government refused to transmit Pellico's tragedies to his family,
lest, though harmless in themselves, the acting of them should bring
good-will to a state prisoner.  At Spielberg he composed a third
tragedy, Leoniero da Dordona, though deprived of books, paper, and
pens, and preserved it in his memory.  In 1828, a rumour of
Pellico's death in prison caused great excitement throughout Italy.
On the 17th of September, 1830, he was released, by the amnesty of
that year, and, avoiding politics thenceforth, devoted himself to
religion.  The Marchesa Baroli, at Turin, provided for his
maintenance, by engaging him as her secretary and librarian.  With
health made weaker by his sufferings, Silvio Pellico lived on to the
age of sixty-five, much honoured by his countrymen.  Gioberti
dedicated a book to him as "The first of Italian Patriots."  He died
at Turin on the 1st of February, 1854.

Silvio Pellico's account of his imprisonment, Le Mie Prigioni, was
first published in Paris in 1833.  It has been translated into many
languages, and is the work by which he will retain his place in
European literature.  His other plays, besides the two first named,
were Eufemia di Messina; Iginia di Asti; Leoniero da Dordona,
already named as having been thought out at Spielberg; his Gismonda;
l'Erodiade; Ester d'Engaddi; Corradino; and a play upon Sir Thomas
More.  He wrote also poems, Cantiche, of which the best are Eligi e
Valfrido and Egilde; and, in his last years, a religious manual on
the Duties of Men.

H. M.


Have I penned these memorials, let me ask myself, from any paltry
vanity, or desire to talk about that self?  I hope this is not the
case, and forasmuch as one may be able to judge in one's own cause,
I think I was actuated by better views.  These, briefly, were to
afford consolation to some unfortunate being, situated like myself,
by explaining the evils to which I was exposed, and those sources of
relief which I found were accessible, even when labouring under the
heaviest misfortune; to bear witness, moreover, that in the midst of
my acute and protracted torments, I never found humanity, in the
human instruments around me, so hopelessly wicked, so unworthy of
consideration, or so barren of noble minds in lowly station, as it
is customary to represent it; to engage, if possible, all the
generous and good-hearted to love and esteem each other, to become
incapable of hating any one; to feel irreconcilable hatred only
towards low, base falsehood; cowardice, perfidy, and every kind of
moral degradation.  It is my object to impress on all that well-
known but too often forgotten truth, namely, that both religion and
philosophy require calmness of judgment combined with energy of
will, and that without such a union, there can be no real justice,
no dignity of character, and no sound principles of human action.



On Friday, the 15th of October, 1820, I was arrested at Milan, and
conveyed to the prison of Santa Margherita.  The hour was three in
the afternoon.  I underwent a long examination, which occupied the
whole of that and several subsequent days; but of this I shall say
nothing.  Like some unfortunate lover, harshly dealt with by her he
adored, yet resolved to bear it with dignified silence, I leave la
Politica, such as SHE IS, and proceed to something else.

At nine in the evening of that same unlucky Friday, the actuary
consigned me to the jailer, who conducted me to my appointed
residence.  He there politely requested me to give up my watch, my
money, and everything in my pockets, which were to be restored to me
in due time; saying which he respectfully bade me good-night.

"Stop, my dear sir," I observed, "I have not yet dined; let me have
something to eat."

"Directly; the inn is close by, and you will find the wine good,

"Wine I do not drink."

At this announcement Signor Angiolino gave me a look of unfeigned
surprise; he imagined that I was jesting.  "Masters of prisons," he
rejoined, "who keep shop, have a natural horror of an abstemious

"That may be; I don't drink it."

"I am sorry for you, sir; you will feel solitude twice as heavily."

But perceiving that I was firm, he took his leave; and in half an
hour I had something to eat.  I took a mouthful, swallowed a glass
of water, and found myself alone.  My chamber was on the ground
floor, and overlooked the court-yard.  Dungeons here, dungeons
there, to the right, to the left, above, below, and opposite,
everywhere met my eye.  I leaned against the window, listened to the
passing and repassing of the jailers, and the wild song of a number
of the unhappy inmates.  A century ago, I reflected, and this was a
monastery; little then thought the pious, penitent recluses that
their cells would now re-echo only to the sounds of blasphemy and
licentious song, instead of holy hymn and lamentation from woman's
lips; that it would become a dwelling for the wicked of every class-
-the most part destined to perpetual labour or to the gallows.  And
in one century to come, what living being will be found in these
cells?  Oh, mighty Time! unceasing mutability of things!  Can he who
rightly views your power have reason for regret or despair when
Fortune withdraws her smile, when he is made captive, or the
scaffold presents itself to his eye? yesterday I thought myself one
of the happiest of men; to-day every pleasure, the least flower that
strewed my path, has disappeared.  Liberty, social converse, the
face of my fellow-man, nay, hope itself hath fled.  I feel it would
be folly to flatter myself; I shall not go hence, except to be
thrown into still more horrible receptacles of sorrow; perhaps,
bound, into the hands of the executioner.  Well, well, the day after
my death it will be all one as if I had yielded my spirit in a
palace, and been conveyed to the tomb, accompanied with all the
pageantry of empty honours.

It was thus, by reflecting on the sweeping speed of time, that I
bore up against passing misfortune.  Alas, this did not prevent the
forms of my father, my mother, two brothers, two sisters, and one
other family I had learned to love as if it were my own, from all
whom I was, doubtless, for ever cut off, from crossing my mind, and
rendering all my philosophical reasoning of no avail.  I was unable
to resist the thought, and I wept even as a child.


Three months previous to this time I had gone to Turin, where, after
several years of separation, I saw my parents, one of my brothers,
and two sisters.  We had always been an attached family; no son had
ever been more deeply indebted to a father and a mother than I; I
remember I was affected at beholding a greater alteration in their
looks, the progress of age, than I had expected.  I indulged a
secret wish to part from them no more, and soothe the pillow of
departing age by the grateful cares of a beloved son.  How it vexed
me, too, I remember, during the few brief days I passed with them,
to be compelled by other duties to spend so much of the day from
home, and the society of those I had such reason to love and to
revere; yes, and I remember now what my mother said one day, with an
expression of sorrow, as I went out--"Ah! our Silvio has not come to
Turin to see US!"  The morning of my departure for Milan was a truly
painful one.  My poor father accompanied me about a mile on my way;
and, on leaving me, I more than once turned to look at him, and,
weeping, kissed the ring my mother had just given me; nor did I ever
before quit my family with a feeling of such painful presentiment.
I am not superstitious; but I was astonished at my own weakness, and
I more than once exclaimed in a tone of terror, "Good God! whence
comes this strange anxiety and alarm?" and, with a sort of inward
vision, my mind seemed to behold the approach of some great
calamity.  Even yet in prison I retain the impression of that sudden
dread and parting anguish, and can recall each word and every look
of my distressed parents.  The tender reproach of my mother, "Ah!
Silvio has not come to Turin to see US!" seemed to hang like a
weight upon my soul.  I regretted a thousand instances in which I
might have shown myself more grateful and agreeable to them; I did
not even tell them how much I loved; all that I owed to them.  I was
never to see them more, and yet I turned my eyes with so much like
indifference from their dear and venerable features!  Why, why was I
so chary of giving expression to what I felt (would they could have
read it in my looks), to all my gratitude and love?  In utter
solitude, thoughts like these pierced me to the soul.

I rose, shut the window, and sat some hours, in the idea that it
would be in vain to seek repose.  At length I threw myself on my
pallet, and excessive weariness brought me sleep.


To awake the first night in a prison is a horrible thing.  Is it
possible, I murmured, trying to collect my thoughts, is it possible
I am here?  Is not all that passed a dream?  Did they really seize
me yesterday?  Was it I whom they examined from morning till night,
who am doomed to the same process day after day, and who wept so
bitterly last night when I thought of my dear parents?  Slumber, the
unbroken silence, and rest had, in restoring my mental powers, added
incalculably to the capability of reflecting, and, consequently, of
grief.  There was nothing to distract my attention; my fancy grew
busy with absent forms, and pictured, to my eye the pain and terror
of my father and mother, and of all dear to me, on first hearing the
tidings of my arrest.

At this moment, said I, they are sleeping in peace; or perhaps,
anxiety for me may keep them watching, yet little anticipating the
fate to which I am here consigned.  Happy for them, were it the will
of God, that they should cease to exist ere they hear of this
horrible misfortune.  Who will give them strength to bear it?  Some
inward voice seemed to whisper me, He whom the afflicted look up to,
love and acknowledge in their hearts; who enabled a mother to follow
her son to the mount of Golgotha, and to stand under His cross.  He,
the friend of the unhappy, the friend of man.

Strange this should be the first time I truly felt the power of
religion in my heart; and to filial love did I owe this consolation.
Though not ill-disposed, I had hitherto been little impressed with
its truth, and had not well adhered to it.  All common-place
objections I estimated at their just value, yet there were many
doubts and sophisms which had shaken my faith.  It was long, indeed,
since they had ceased to trouble my belief in the existence of the
Deity; and persuaded of this, it followed necessarily, as part of
His eternal justice, that there must be another life for man who
suffers so unjustly here.  Hence, I argued, the sovereign reason in
man for aspiring to the possession of that second life; and hence,
too, a worship founded on the love of God, and of his neighbour, and
an unceasing impulse to dignify his nature by generous sacrifices.
I had already made myself familiar with this doctrine, and I now
repeated, "And what else is Christianity but this constant ambition
to elevate and dignify our nature?" and I was astonished, when I
reflected how pure, how philosophical, and how invulnerable the
essence of Christianity manifested itself, that there could come an
epoch when philosophy dared to assert, "From this time forth I will
stand instead of a religion like this."  And in what manner--by
inculcating vice?  Certainly not.  By teaching virtue?  Why that
will be to teach us to love God and our neighbour; and that is
precisely what Christianity has already done, on far higher and
purer motives.  Yet, notwithstanding such had, for years, been my
opinion, I had failed to draw the conclusion, Then be a Christian!
No longer let corruption and abuses, the work of man, deter you; no
longer make stumbling-blocks of little points of doctrine, since the
principal point, made thus irresistibly clear, is to love God and
your neighbour.

In prison I finally determined to admit this conclusion, and I
admitted it.  The fear, indeed, of appearing to others more
religious than I had before been, and to yield more to misfortune
than to conviction, made me sometimes hesitate; but feeling that I
had done no wrong, I felt no debasement, and cared nothing to
encounter the possible reproaches I had not deserved, resolving
henceforward to declare myself openly a Christian.


I adhered firmly to this resolution as time advanced; but the
consideration of it was begun the first night of my captivity.
Towards morning the excess of my grief had grown calmer, and I was
even astonished at the change.  On recalling the idea of my parents
and others whom I loved, I ceased to despair of their strength of
mind, and the recollection of those virtues which I knew they had
long possessed gave me real consolation.  Why had I before felt such
great dismay on thinking of them, and now so much confidence in
their strength of mind?  Was this happy change miraculous, or the
natural effect of my renewed belief in God?  What avails the
distinction, while the genuine sublime benefits of religion remain
the same.

At midnight two secondini (the under jailers are so termed) had paid
me a visit, and found me in a very ill mood; in the morning they
returned, and were surprised to see me so calm, and even cheerful.

"Last night, sir, you had the face of a basilisk," said Tirola; "now
you are quite another thing; I rejoice at it, if, indeed, it be a
sign, forgive me the expression, that you are not a scoundrel.  Your
scoundrels (for I am an old hand at the trade, and my observations
are worth something) are always more enraged the second day after
their arrest than the first.  Do you want some snuff?"

"I do not take it, but will not refuse your offer.  If I have not a
gorgon-face this morning, it must surely be a proof of my utter
insensibility, or easy belief of soon regaining my freedom."

"I should doubt that, even though you were not in durance for state
matters.  At this time of day they are not so easily got over as you
might think; you are not so raw as to imagine such a thing.  Pardon
me, but you will know more by and by."

"Tell me, how come you to have so pleasant a look, living only, as
you do, among the unfortunate?"

"Why, sir, you will attribute it to indifference to others'
sufferings; of a truth, I know not how it is; yet, I assure you, it
often gives me pain to see the prisoners weep.  Truly, I sometimes
pretend to be merry to bring a smile upon their faces."

"A thought has just struck me, my friend, which I never had before;
it is, that a jailer may be made of very congenial clay."

"Well, the trade has nothing to do with that, sir.  Beyond that huge
vault you see there, without the court-yard, is another court, and
other prisons, all prepared for women.  They are, sir, women of a
certain class; yet are there some angels among them, as to a good
heart.  And if you were in my place, sir--"

"I?" and I laughed out heartily.

Tirola was quite disconcerted, and said no more.  Perhaps he meant
to imply that had I been a secondino, it would have been difficult
not to become attached to some one or other of these unfortunates.

He now inquired what I wished to take for breakfast, left me, and
soon returned with my coffee.  I looked hard at him, with a sort of
malicious smile, as much as to say, "Would you carry me a bit of a
note to an unhappy friend--to my friend Piero?" {1}  He understood
it, and answered with another:  "No sir; and if you do not take heed
how you ask any of my comrades, they will betray you."

Whether or not we understood each other, it is certain I was ten
times upon the point of asking him for a sheet of paper, &c.; but
there was a something in his eye which seemed to warn me not to
confide in any one about me, and still less to others than himself.


Had Tirola, with his expression of good-nature, possessed a less
roguish look, had there been something a little more dignified in
his aspect, I should have tried to make him my ambassador; for
perhaps a brief communication, if in time, might prevent my friend
committing some fatal error, perhaps save him, poor fellow; besides
several others, including myself:  and too much was already known.
Patience! it was fated to be thus.

I was here recalled to be examined anew.  The process continued
through the day, and was again and again repeated, allowing me only
a brief interval during dinner.  While this lasted, the time seemed
to pass rapidly; the excitement of mind produced by the endless
series of questions put to me, and by going over them at dinner and
at night, digesting all that had been asked and replied to,
reflecting on what was likely to come, kept me in a state of
incessant activity.  At the end of the first week I had to endure a
most vexatious affair.  My poor friend Piero, eager as myself to
have some communication, sent me a note, not by one of the jailers,
but by an unfortunate prisoner who assisted them.  He was an old man
from sixty to seventy, and condemned to I know not how long a period
of captivity.  With a pin I had by me I pricked my finger, and
scrawled with my blood a few lines in reply, which I committed to
the same messenger.  He was unluckily suspected, caught with the
note upon him, and from the horrible cries that were soon heard, I
conjectured that he was severely bastinadoed.  At all events I never
saw him more.

On my next examination I was greatly irritated to see my note
presented to me (luckily containing nothing but a simple
salutation), traced in my blood.  I was asked how I had contrived to
draw the blood; was next deprived of my pin, and a great laugh was
raised at the idea and detection of the attempt.  Ah, I did not
laugh, for the image of the poor old messenger rose before my eyes.
I would gladly have undergone any punishment to spare the old man.
I could not repress my tears when those piercing cries fell upon my
ear.  Vainly did I inquire of the jailers respecting his fate.  They
shook their heads, observing, "He has paid dearly for it, he will
never do such like things again; he has a little more rest now."
Nor would they speak more fully.  Most probably they spoke thus on
account of his having died under, or in consequence of, the
punishment he had suffered; yet one day I thought I caught a glimpse
of him at the further end of the court-yard, carrying a bundle of
wood on his shoulders.  I felt a beating of the heart as if I had
suddenly recognised a brother.


When I ceased to be persecuted with examinations, and had no longer
anything to fill up my time, I felt bitterly the increasing weight
of solitude.  I had permission to retain a bible, and my Dante; the
governor also placed his library at my disposal, consisting of some
romances of Scuderi, Piazzi, and worse books still; but my mind was
too deeply agitated to apply to any kind of reading whatever.  Every
day, indeed, I committed a canto of Dante to memory, an exercise so
merely mechanical, that I thought more of my own affairs than the
lines during their acquisition.  The same sort of abstraction
attended my perusal of other things, except, occasionally, a few
passages of scripture.  I had always felt attached to this divine
production, even when I had not believed myself one of its avowed
followers.  I now studied it with far greater respect than before;
yet my mind was often almost involuntarily bent upon other matters;
and I knew not what I read.  By degrees I surmounted this
difficulty, and was able to reflect upon its great truths with
higher relish than I had ever before done.  This, in me, did not
give rise to the least tendency to moroseness or superstition,
nothing being more apt than misdirected devotion to weaken and
distort the mind.  With the love of God and mankind, it inspired me
also with a veneration for justice, and an abhorrence of wickedness,
along with a desire of pardoning the wicked.  Christianity, instead
of militating against anything good, which I had derived from
Philosophy, strengthened it by the aid of logical deductions, at
once more powerful and profound.

Reading one day that it was necessary to pray without ceasing, and
that prayer did not consist in many words uttered after the manner
of the Pharisees, but in making every word and action accord with
the will of God, I determined to commence with earnestness, to pray
in the spirit with unceasing effort:  in other words, to permit no
one thought which should not be inspired by a wish to conform my
whole life to the decrees of God.

The forms I adopted were simple and few; not from contempt of them
(I think them very salutary, and calculated to excite attention),
but from the circumstance of my being unable to go through them at
length, without becoming so far abstracted as to make me forget the
solemn duty in which I am engaged.  This habitual observance of
prayer, and the reflection that God is omnipresent as well as
omnipotent in His power to save, began ere long to deprive solitude
of its horrors, and I often repeated, "Have I not the best society
man can have?" and from this period I grew more cheerful, I even
sang and whistled in the new joy of my heart.  And why lament my
captivity?  Might not a sudden fever have carried me off? and would
my friends then have grieved less over my fate than now? and cannot
God sustain them even as He could under a more trying dispensation?
And often did I offer up my prayers and fervent hopes that my dear
parents might feel, as I myself felt, resigned to my lot; but tears
frequently mingled with sweet recollections of home.  With all this,
my faith in God remained undisturbed, and I was not disappointed.


To live at liberty is doubtless much better than living in a prison;
but, even here, the reflection that God is present with us, that
worldly joys are brief and fleeting, and that true happiness is to
be sought in the conscience, not in external objects, can give a
real zest to life.  In less than one month I had made up my mind, I
will not say perfectly, but in a tolerable degree, as to the part I
should adopt.  I saw that, being incapable of the mean action of
obtaining impunity by procuring the destruction of others, the only
prospect that lay before me was the scaffold, or long protracted
captivity.  It was necessary that I should prepare myself.  I will
live, I said to myself, so long as I shall be permitted, and when
they take my life, I will do as the unfortunate have done before me;
when arrived at the last moment, I can die.  I endeavoured, as much
as possible, not to complain, and to obtain every possible enjoyment
of mind within my reach.  The most customary was that of recalling
the many advantages which had thrown a charm round my previous life;
the best of fathers, of mothers, excellent brothers and sisters,
many friends, a good education, and a taste for letters.  Should I
now refuse to be grateful to God for all these benefits, because He
had pleased to visit me with misfortune?  Sometimes, indeed, in
recalling past scenes to mind, I was affected even to tears; but I
soon recovered my courage and cheerfulness of heart.

At the commencement of my captivity I was fortunate enough to meet
with a friend.  It was neither the governor, nor any of his under-
jailers, nor any of the lords of the process-chamber.  Who then?--a
poor deaf and dumb boy, five or six years old, the offspring of
thieves, who had paid the penalty of the law.  This wretched little
orphan was supported by the police, with several other boys in the
same condition of life.  They all dwelt in a room opposite my own,
and were only permitted to go out at certain hours to breathe a
little air in the yard.  Little deaf and dumb used to come under my
window, smiled, and made his obeisance to me.  I threw him a piece
of bread; he took it, and gave a leap of joy, then ran to his
companions, divided it, and returned to eat his own share under the
window.  The others gave me a wistful look from a distance, but
ventured no nearer, while the deaf and dumb boy expressed a sympathy
for me; not, I found, affected, out of mere selfishness.  Sometimes
he was at a loss what to do with the bread I gave him, and made
signs that he had eaten enough, as also his companions.  When he saw
one of the under-jailers going into my room, he would give him what
he had got from me, in order to restore it to me.  Yet he continued
to haunt my window, and seemed rejoiced whenever I deigned to notice
him.  One day the jailer permitted him to enter my prison, when he
instantly ran to embrace my knees, actually uttering a cry of joy.
I took him up in my arms, and he threw his little hands about my
neck, and lavished on me the tenderest caresses.  How much affection
in his smile and manner! how eagerly I longed to have him to
educate, raise him from his abject condition, and snatch him,
perhaps, from utter ruin.  I never even learnt his name; he did not
himself know that he had one.  He seemed always happy, and I never
saw him weep except once, and that was on being beaten, I know not
why, by the jailer.  Strange that he should be thus happy in a
receptacle of so much pain and sorrow; yet he was light-hearted as
the son of a grandee.  From him I learnt, at least, that the mind
need not depend on situation, but may be rendered independent of
external things.  Govern the imagination, and we shall be well,
wheresoever we happen to be placed.  A day is soon over, and if at
night we can retire to rest without actual pain and hunger, it
little matters whether it be within the walls of a prison, or of a
kind of building which they call a palace.  Good reasoning this; but
how are we to contrive so to govern the imagination?  I began to
try, and sometimes I thought I had succeeded to a miracle; but at
others the enchantress triumphed, and I was unexpectedly astonished
to find tears starting into my eyes.


I am so far fortunate, I often said, that they have given me a
dungeon on the ground floor, near the court, where that dear boy
comes within a few steps of me, to converse in our own mute
language.  We made immense progress in it; we expressed a thousand
various feelings I had no idea we could do, by the natural
expressions of the eye, the gesture, and the whole countenance.
Wonderful human intelligence!  How graceful were his motions! how
beautiful his smile! how quickly he corrected whatever expression I
saw of his that seemed to displease me!  How well he understands I
love him, when he plays with any of his companions!  Standing only
at my window to observe him, it seemed as if I possessed a kind of
influence over his mind, favourable to his education.  By dint of
repeating the mutual exercise of signs, we should be enabled to
perfect the communication of our ideas.  The more instruction he
gets, the more gentle and kind he becomes, the more he will be
attached to me.  To him I shall be the genius of reason and of good;
he will learn to confide his sorrows to me, his pleasures, all he
feels and wishes; I will console, elevate, and direct him in his
whole conduct.  It may be that this my lot may be protracted from
month to month, even till I grow grey in my captivity.  Perhaps this
little child may continue to grow under my eye, and become one in
the service of this large family of pain, and grief, and calamity.
With such a disposition as he has already shown, what would become
of him?  Alas; he would at most be made only a good under-keeper, or
fill some similar place.  Yet I shall surely have conferred on him
some benefit if I can succeed in giving him a desire to do kind
offices to the good and to himself, and to nourish sentiments of
habitual benevolence.  This soliloquy was very natural in my
situation; I was always fond of children, and the office of an
instructor appeared to me a sublime duty.  For a few years I had
acted in that capacity with Giacomo and Giulio Porro, two young men
of noble promise, whom I loved, and shall continue to love as if
they were my own sons.  Often while in prison were my thoughts
busied with them; and how it grieved me not to be enabled to
complete their education.  I sincerely prayed that they might meet
with a new master, who would be as much attached to them as I had

At times I could not help exclaiming to myself, What a strange
burlesque is all this! instead of two noble youths, rich in all that
nature and fortune can endow them with, here I have a pupil, poor
little fellow! deaf, dumb, a castaway; the son of a robber, who at
most can aspire only to the rank of an under-jailer, and which, in a
little less softened phraseology, would mean to say a sbirro. {2}
This reflection confused and disquieted me; yet hardly did I hear
the strillo {3} of my little dummy than I felt my heart grow warm
again, just as a father when he hears the voice of a son.  I lost
all anxiety about his mean estate.  It is no fault of his if he be
lopped of Nature's fairest proportions, and was born the son of a
robber.  A humane, generous heart, in an age of innocence, is always
respectable.  I looked on him, therefore, from day to day with
increased affection, and was more than ever desirous of cultivating
his good qualities, and his growing intelligence.  Nay, perhaps we
might both live to get out of prison, when I would establish him in
the college for the deaf and dumb, and thus open for him a path more
fortunate and pleasing than to play the part of a shirro.  Whilst
thus pleasingly engaged in meditating his future welfare, two of the
under-jailers one day walked into my cell.

"You must change your quarters, sir!"

"What mean you by that?"

"We have orders to remove you into another chamber."

"Why so?"

"Some other great bird has been caged, and this being the better
apartment--you understand."

"Oh, yes! it is the first resting-place for the newly arrived."

They conveyed me to the opposite side of the court, where I could no
longer converse with my little deaf and dumb friend, and was far
removed from the ground floor.  In walking across, I beheld the poor
boy sitting on the ground, overcome with grief and astonishment, for
he knew he had lost me.  Ere I quite disappeared, he ran towards me;
my conductors tried to drive him away, but he reached me, and I
caught him in my arms, and returned his caresses with expressions of
tenderness I sought not to conceal.  I tore myself from him, and
entered my new abode.


It was a dark and gloomy place; instead of glass it had pasteboard
for the windows; the walls were rendered more repulsive by being
hung with some wretched attempts at painting, and when free from
this lugubrious colour, were covered with inscriptions.  These last
gave the name and country of many an unhappy inmate, with the date
of the fatal day of their captivity.  Some consisted of lamentations
on the perfidy of false friends, denouncing their own folly, or
women, or the judge who condemned them.  Among a few were brief
sketches of the victims' lives; still fewer embraced moral maxims.
I found the following words of Pascal:  "Let those who attack
religion learn first what religion is.  Could it boast of commanding
a direct view of the Deity, without veil or mystery, it would be to
attack that religion to say, 'that there is nothing seen in the
world which displays Him with such clear evidence.'  But since it
rather asserts that man is involved in darkness, far from God, who
is hidden from human knowledge, insomuch as to give Himself the name
in scripture of 'Deus absconditus,' what advantage can the enemies
of religion derive when, neglecting, as they profess to do, the
science of truth, they complain that the truth is not made apparent
to them?"  Lower down was written (the words of the same author),
"It is not here a question of some trivial interest relating to a
stranger; it applies to ourselves, and to all we possess.  The
immortality of the soul is a question of that deep and momentous
importance to all, as to imply an utter loss of reason to rest
totally indifferent as to the truth or the fallacy of the
proposition."  Another inscription was to this effect:  "I bless the
hour of my imprisonment; it has taught me to know the ingratitude of
man, my own frailty, and the goodness of God."  Close to these words
again appeared the proud and desperate imprecations of one who
signed himself an Atheist, and who launched his impieties against
the Deity, as if he had forgotten that he had just before said there
was no God.  Then followed another column, reviling the cowardly
fools, as they were termed, whom captivity had converted into
fanatics.  I one day pointed out these strange impieties to one of
the jailers, and inquired who had written them?  "I am glad I have
found this," was the reply, "there are so many of them, and I have
so little time to look for them;" and he took his knife, and began
to erase it as fast as he could.

"Why do you do that?" I inquired of him.

"Because the poor devil who wrote it was condemned to death for a
cold-blooded murder; he repented, and made us promise to do him this

"Heaven pardon him!" I exclaimed; "what was it he did?"

"Why, as he found he could not kill his enemy, he revenged himself
by slaying the man's son, one of the finest boys you ever saw."

I was horror-struck.  Could ferocity of disposition proceed to such
lengths? and could a monster, capable of such a deed, hold the
insulting language of a man superior to all human weaknesses? to
murder the innocent, and a child!


In my new prison, black and filthy to an extreme, I sadly missed the
society of my little dumb friend.  I stood for hours in anxious,
weary mood, at the window which looked over a gallery, on the other
side of which could be seen the extremity of the court-yard, and the
window of my former cell.  Who had succeeded me there?  I could
discern his figure, as he paced quickly to and fro, apparently in
violent agitation.  Two or three days subsequently, I perceived that
he had got writing materials, and remained busied at his little
table the whole of the day.  At length I recognised him.  He came
forth accompanied by his jailer; he was going to be examined, when I
saw he was no other than Melchiorre Gioja. {4}  It went to my heart:
"You, too, noble, excellent man, have not escaped!"  Yet he was more
fortunate than I.  After a few months' captivity, he regained his
liberty.  To behold any really estimable being always does me good;
it affords me pleasant matter for reflection, and for esteem--both
of great advantage.  I could have laid down my life to save such a
man from captivity; yet merely to see him was some consolation to
me.  After regarding him intently, some time, to ascertain if he
were tranquil or agitated, I offered up a heart-felt prayer for his
deliverance; I felt my spirits revived, a greater flow of ideas, and
greater satisfaction with myself.  Such an incident as this has a
charm for utter solitude, of which you can form no idea without
experiencing it.  A poor dumb boy had before supplied me with this
real enjoyment, and I now derived it from a distant view of a man of
distinguished merit.

Perhaps some one of the jailers had informed him where I was.  One
morning, on opening his window, he waved his handkerchief in token
of salutation, and I replied in the same manner.  I need not
describe the pleasure I felt; it appeared as if we were no longer
separated; and we discoursed in the silent intercourse of the
spirit, which, when every other medium is cut off, in the least
look, gesture, or signal of any kind, can make itself comprehended
and felt.

It was with no small pleasure I anticipated a continuation of this
friendly communication.  Day after day, however, went on, and I was
never more gratified by the appearance of the same favourite
signals.  Yet I frequently saw my friend at his window; I waved my
handkerchief, but in vain; he answered it no more.  I was now
informed by our jailers, that Gioja had been strictly prohibited
from exciting my notice, or replying to it in any manner.
Notwithstanding, he still continued to look at me, and I at him, and
in this way, we conversed upon a great variety of subjects, which
helped to keep us alive.


Along the same gallery, upon a level with my prison, I saw other
prisoners passing and repassing the whole day to the place of
examination.  They were, for the chief part, of lowly condition, but
occasionally one or two of better rank.  All, however, attracted my
attention, brief as was the sight of them, and I truly
compassionated them.  So sorrowful a spectacle for some time filled
me with grief, but by degrees I became habituated to it, and at last
it rather relieved than added to the horror of my solitude.  A
number of women, also, who had been arrested, passed by.  There was
a way from the gallery, through a large vault, leading to another
court, and in that part were placed the female prisoners, and others
labouring under disease.  A single wall, and very slight, separated
my dwelling from that of some of the women.  Sometimes I was almost
deafened with their songs, at others with their bursts of maddened
mirth.  Late at evening, when the din of day had ceased, I could
hear them conversing, and, had I wished, I could easily have joined
with them.  Was it timidity, pride, or prudence which restrained me
from all communication with the unfortunate and degraded of their
sex?  Perhaps it partook of all.  Woman, when she is what she ought
to be, is for me a creature so admirable, so sublime, the mere
seeing, hearing, and speaking to her, enriches my mind with such
noble fantasies; but rendered vile and despicable, she disturbs, she
afflicts, she deprives my heart, as it were, of all its poetry and
its love.  Spite of this, there were among those feminine voices,
some so very sweet that, there is no use in denying it, they were
dear to me.  One in particular surpassed the rest; I heard it more
seldom, and it uttered nothing unworthy of its fascinating tone.
She sung little and mostly kept repeating these two pathetic lines:-

Chi rende alla meschina
La sua felicita?

Ah, who will give the lost one
Her vanished dream of bliss?

At other times, she would sing from the litany.  Her companions
joined with her; but still I could discern the voice of Maddalene
from all others, which seemed only to unite for the purpose of
robbing me of it.  Sometimes, too, when her companions were
recounting to her their various misfortunes, I could hear her
pitying them; could catch even her very sighs, while she invariably
strove to console them:  "Courage, courage, my poor dear," she one
day said, "God is very good, and He will not abandon us."

How could I do otherwise than imagine she was beautiful, more
unfortunate than guilty, naturally virtuous, and capable of
reformation?  Who would blame me because I was affected with what
she said, listened to her with respect, and offered up my prayers
for her with more than usual earnestness of heart.  Innocence is
sacred, and repentance ought to be equally respected.  Did the most
perfect of men, the Divinity on earth, refuse to cast a pitying eye
on weak, sinful women; to respect their fear and confusion, and rank
them among the minds he delighted to consort with and to honour?  By
what law, then, do we act, when we treat with so much contempt women
fallen into ignominy?

While thus reasoning, I was frequently tempted to raise my voice and
speak, as a brother in misfortune, to poor Maddalene.  I had often
even got out the first syllable; and how strange!  I felt my heart
beat like an enamoured youth of fifteen; I who had reached thirty-
one; and it seemed as if I should never be able to pronounce the
name, till I cried out almost in a rage, "Mad!  Mad!" yes, mad
enough, thought I.


Thus ended my romance with that poor unhappy one; yet it did not
fail to produce me many sweet sensations during several weeks.
Often, when steeped in melancholy, would her sweet calm voice
breathe consolation to my spirit; when, dwelling on the meanness and
ingratitude of mankind, I became irritated, and hated the world, the
voice of Maddalene gently led me back to feelings of compassion and

How I wish, poor, unknown, kind-hearted repentant one, that no heavy
punishment may befall thee.  And whatever thou shalt suffer, may it
well avail thee, re-dignify thy nature, and teach thee to live and
die to thy Saviour and thy Lord.  Mayest thou meet compassion and
respect from all around thee, as thou didst from me a stranger to
thee.  Mayest thou teach all who see thee thy gentle lesson of
patience, sweetness, the love of virtue, and faith in God, with
which thou didst inspire him who loved without having beheld thee.
Perhaps I erred in thinking thee beautiful, but, sure I am, thou
didst wear the beauty of the soul.  Thy conversation, though spoken
amidst grossness and corruption of every kind, was ever chaste and
graceful; whilst others imprecated, thou didst bless; when eager in
contention, thy sweet voice still pacified, like oil upon the
troubled waters.  If any noble mind hath read thy worth, and
snatched thee from an evil career; hath assisted thee with delicacy,
and wiped the tears from thy eyes, may every reward heaven can give
be his portion, that of his children, and of his children's

Next to mine was another prison occupied by several men.  I also
heard THEIR conversation.  One seemed of superior authority, not so
much probably from any difference of rank, as owing to greater
eloquence and boldness.  He played, what may musically be termed,
the first fiddle.  He stormed himself, yet put to silence those who
presumed to quarrel by his imperious voice.  He dictated the tone of
the society, and after some feeble efforts to throw off his
authority they submitted, and gave the reins into his hands.

There was not a single one of those unhappy men who had a touch of
that in him to soften the harshness of prison hours, to express one
kindly sentiment, one emanation of religion, or of love.  The chief
of these neighbours of mine saluted me, and I replied.  He asked me
how I contrived to pass such a cursed dull life?  I answered, that
it was melancholy, to be sure; but no life was a cursed one to me,
and that to our last hour, it was best to do all to procure oneself
the pleasure of thinking and of loving.

"Explain, sir, explain what you mean!"

I explained, but was not understood.  After many ingenious attempts,
I determined to clear it up in the form of example, and had the
courage to bring forward the extremely singular and moving effect
produced upon me by the voice of Maddalene; when the magisterial
head of the prison burst into a violent fit of laughter.  "What is
all that, what is that?" cried his companions.  He then repeated my
words with an air of burlesque; peals of laughter followed, and I
there stood, in their eyes, the picture of a convicted blockhead.

As it is in prison, so it is in the world.  Those who make it their
wisdom to go into passions, to complain, to defy, to abuse, think
that to pity, to love, to console yourself with gentle and beautiful
thoughts and images, in accord with humanity and its great Author,
is all mere folly.


I let them laugh and said not a word; they hit at me again two or
three times, but I was mute.  "He will come no more near the
window," said one, "he will hear nothing but the sighs of Maddalene;
we have offended him with laughing."  At length, the chief imposed
silence upon the whole party, all amusing themselves at my expense.
"Silence, beasts as you are; devil a bit you know what you are
talking about.  Our neighbour is none so long eared an animal as you
imagine.  You do not possess the power of reflection, no not you.  I
grin and joke; but afterwards I reflect.  Every low-born clown can
stamp and roar, as we do here.  Grant a little more real
cheerfulness, a spark more of charity, a bit more faith in the
blessing of heaven;--what do you imagine that all this would be a
sign of?"  "Now, that I also reflect," replied one, "I fancy it
would be a sign of being a little less of a brute."

"Bravo!" cried his leader, in a most stentorian howl! "now I begin
to have some hope of you."

I was not overproud at being thus rated a LITTLE LESS OF A BRUTE
than the rest; yet I felt a sort of pleasure that these wretched men
had come to some agreement as to the importance of cultivating, in
some degree, more benevolent sentiments.

I again approached the window, the chief called me, and I answered,
hoping that I might now moralise with him in my own way.  I was
deceived; vulgar minds dislike serious reasoning; if some noble
truth start up, they applaud for a moment, but the next withdraw
their notice, or scruple not to attempt to shine by questioning, or
aiming to place it in some ludicrous point of view.

I was next asked if I were imprisoned for debt?

"Perhaps you are paying the penalty of a false oath, then?"

"No, it is quite a different thing."

"An affair of love, most likely, I guess?"


"You have killed a man, mayhap?"


"It's for carbonarism, then?"

"Exactly so."

"And who are these carbonari?"

"I know so little of them, I cannot tell you."

Here a jailer interrupted us in great anger; and after commenting on
the gross improprieties committed by my neighbours, he turned
towards me, not with the gravity of a sbirro, but the air of a
master:  "For shame, sir, for shame! to think of talking to men of
this stamp! do you know, sir, that they are all robbers?"

I reddened up, and then more deeply for having shown I blushed, and
methought that to deign to converse with the unhappy of however
lowly rank, was rather a mark of goodness than a fault.


Next morning I went to my window to look for Melchiorre Gioja; but
conversed no more with the robbers.  I replied to their salutation,
and added, that I had been forbidden to hold conversation.  The
secretary who had presided at my examinations, told me with an air
of mystery, I was about to receive a visit.  After a little further
preparation, he acquainted me that it was my father; and so saying,
bade me follow him.  I did so, in a state of great agitation,
assuming at the same time an appearance of perfect calmness in order
not to distress my unhappy parent.  Upon first hearing of my arrest,
he had been led to suppose it was for some trifling affair, and that
I should soon be set at liberty.  Finding his mistake, however, he
had now come to solicit the Austrian government on my account.
Here, too, he deluded himself, for he never imagined I could have
been rash enough to expose myself to the penalty of the laws, and
the cheerful tone in which I now spoke persuaded him that there was
nothing very serious in the business.

The few words that were permitted to pass between us gave me
indescribable pain; the more so from the restraint I had placed upon
my feelings.  It was yet more difficult at the moment of parting.
In the existing state of things, as regarded Italy, I felt convinced
that Austria would make some fearful examples, and that I should be
condemned either to death or long protracted imprisonment.  It was
my object to conceal this from my father and to flatter his hopes at
a moment when I was inquiring for a mother, brother, and sisters,
whom I never expected to behold more.  Though I knew it to be
impossible, I even calmly requested of him that he would come and
see me again, while my heart was wrung with the bitter conflict of
my feelings.  He took his leave, filled with the same agreeable
delusion, and I painfully retraced my steps back into my dungeon.  I
thought that solitude would now be a relief to me; that to weep
would somewhat ease my burdened heart? yet, strange to say, I could
not shed a tear.  The extreme wretchedness of feeling this inability
even to shed tears excites, under some of the heaviest calamities,
is the severest trial of all, and I have often experienced it.

An acute fever, attended by severe pains in my head, followed this
interview.  I could not take any nourishment; and I often said, how
happy it would be for me, were it indeed to prove mortal.  Foolish
and cowardly wish! heaven refused to hear my prayer, and I now feel
grateful that it did.  Though a stern teacher, adversity fortifies
the mind, and renders man what he seems to have been intended for;
at least, a good man, a being capable of struggling with difficulty
and danger; presenting an object not unworthy, even in the eyes of
the old Romans, of the approbation of the gods.


Two days afterwards I again saw my father.  I had rested well the
previous night, and was free from fever; before him I preserved the
same calm and even cheerful deportment, so that no one could have
suspected I had recently suffered, and still continued to suffer so
much.  "I am in hopes," observed my father, "that within a very few
days we shall see you at Turin.  Your mother has got your old room
in readiness, and we are all expecting you to come.  Pressing
affairs now call me away, but lose no time, I entreat you, in
preparing to rejoin us once more."  His kind and affecting
expressions added to my grief.  Compassion and filial piety, not
unmingled with a species of remorse, induced me to feign assent; yet
afterwards I reflected how much more worthy it had been, both of my
father and myself, to have frankly told him that most probably, we
should never see each other again, at least in this world.  Let us
take farewell like men, without a murmur and without a tear, and let
me receive the benediction of a father before I die.  As regarded
myself, I should wish to have adopted language like that; but when I
gazed on his aged and venerable features, and his grey hairs,
something seemed to whisper me, that it would be too much for the
affectionate old man to bear; and the words died in my heart.  Good
God! I thought, should he know the extent of the EVIL, he might,
perhaps, run distracted, such is his extreme attachment to me:  he
might fall at my feet, or even expire before my eyes.  No!  I could
not tell him the truth, nor so much as prepare him for it; we shed
not a tear, and he took his departure in the same pleasing delusion
as before.  On returning into my dungeon I was seized in the same
manner, and with still more aggravated suffering, as I had been
after the last interview; and, as then, my anguish found no relief
from tears.

I had nothing now to do but resign myself to all the horrors of long
captivity, and to the sentence of death.  But to prepare myself to
bear the idea of the immense load of grief that must fall on every
dear member of my family, on learning my lot, was beyond my power.
It haunted me like a spirit, and to fly from it I threw myself on my
knees, and in a passion of devotion uttered aloud the following
prayer:- "My God! from thy hand I will accept all--for me all:  but
deign most wonderfully to strengthen the hearts of those to whom I
was so very dear!  Grant thou that I may cease to be such to them
now; and that not the life of the least of them may be shortened by
their care for me, even by a single day!"

Strange! wonderful power of prayer! for several hours my mind was
raised to a contemplation of the Deity, and my confidence in His
goodness proportionately increased; I meditated also on the dignity
of the human mind when, freed from selfishness, it exerts itself to
will only that which is the will of eternal wisdom.  This can be
done, and it is man's duty to do it.  Reason, which is the voice of
the Deity, teaches us that it is right to submit to every sacrifice
for the sake of virtue.  And how could the sacrifice which we owe to
virtue be completed, if in the most trying afflictions we struggle
against the will of Him who is the source of all virtue?  When death
on the scaffold, or any other species of martyrdom becomes
inevitable, it is a proof of wretched degradation, or ignorance, not
to be able to approach it with blessing upon our lips.  Nor is it
only necessary we should submit to death, but to the affliction
which we know those most dear to us must suffer on our account.  All
it is lawful for us to ask is, that God will temper such affliction,
and that he will direct us all, for such a prayer is always sure to
be accepted.


For a period of some days I continued in the same state of mind; a
sort of calm sorrow, full of peace, affection, and religious
thoughts.  I seemed to have overcome every weakness, and as if I
were no longer capable of suffering new anxiety.  Fond delusion! it
is man's duty to aim at reaching as near to perfection as possible,
though he can never attain it here.  What now disturbed me was the
sight of an unhappy friend, my good Piero, who passed along the
gallery within a few yards of me, while I stood at my window.  They
were removing him from his cell into the prison destined for
criminals.  He was hurried by so swiftly that I had barely time to
recognise him, and to receive and return his salutation.

Poor young man! in the flower of his age, with a genius of high
promise, of frank, upright, and most affectionate disposition, born
with a keen zest of the pleasures of existence, to be at once
precipitated into a dungeon, without the remotest hope of escaping
the severest penalty of the laws.  So great was my compassion for
him, and my regret at being unable to afford him the slightest
consolation, that it was long before I could recover my composure of
mind.  I knew how tenderly he was attached to every member of his
numerous family, how deeply interested in promoting their happiness,
and how devotedly his affection was returned.  I was sensible what
must be the affliction of each and all under so heavy a calamity.
Strange, that though I had just reconciled myself to the idea in my
own case, a sort of phrensy seized my mind when I depicted the
scene; and it continued so long that I began to despair of mastering

Dreadful as this was, it was still but an illusion.  Ye afflicted
ones, who believe yourselves victims of some irresistible, heart-
rending, and increasing grief, suffer a little while with patience,
and you will be undeceived.  Neither perfect peace, nor utter
wretchedness can be of long continuance here below.  Recollect this
truth, that you may not become unduly elevated in prosperity, and
despicable under the trials which assuredly await you.  A sense of
weariness and apathy succeeded the terrible excitement I had
undergone.  But indifference itself is transitory, and I had some
fear lest I should continue to suffer without relief under these
wretched extremes of feeling.  Terrified at the prospect of such a
future, I had recourse once more to the only Being from whom I could
hope to receive strength to bear it, and devoutly bent down in
prayer.  I beseeched the Father of mercies to befriend my poor
deserted Piero, even as myself, and to support his family no less
than my own.  By constant repetition of prayers like these, I became
perfectly calm and resigned.


It was then I reflected upon my previous violence; I was angry at my
own weakness and folly, and sought means of remedying them.  I had
recourse to the following expedient.  Every morning, after I had
finished my devotions, I set myself diligently to work to recall to
mind every possible occurrence of a trying and painful kind, such as
a final parting from my dearest friends and the approach of the
executioner.  I did this not only in order to inure my nerves to
bear sudden or dreadful incidents, too surely my future portion, but
that I might not again be taken unawares.  At first this melancholy
task was insupportable, but I persevered; and in a short time became
reconciled to it.

In the spring of 1821 Count Luigi Porro {5} obtained permission to
see me.  Our warm friendship, the eagerness to communicate our
mutual feelings, and the restraint imposed by the presence of an
imperial secretary, with the brief time allowed us, the
presentiments I indulged, and our efforts to appear calm, all led me
to expect that I should be thrown into a state of fearful
excitement, worse than I had yet suffered.  It was not so; after
taking his leave I remained calm; such to me proved the signal
efficacy of guarding against the assault of sudden and violent
emotions.  The task I set myself to acquire, constant calmness of
mind, arose less from a desire to relieve my unhappiness than from a
persuasion how undignified, unworthy, and injurious, was a temper
opposite to this, I mean a continued state of excitement and
anxiety.  An excited mind ceases to reason; carried away by a
resistless torrent of wild ideas, it forms for itself a sort of mad
logic, full of anger and malignity; it is in a state at once as
absolutely unphilosophical as it is unchristian.

If I were a divine I should often insist upon the necessity of
correcting irritability and inquietude of character; none can be
truly good without that be effected.  How nobly pacific, both with
regard to himself and others, was He whom we are all bound to
imitate.  There is no elevation of mind, no justice without
moderation in principles and ideas, without a pervading spirit which
inclines us rather to smile at, than fall into a passion with, the
events of this little life.  Anger is never productive of any good,
except in the extremely rare case of being employed to humble the
wicked, and to terrify them from pursuing the path of crime, even as
the usurers were driven by an angry Saviour, from polluting his holy
Temple.  Violence and excitement, perhaps, differing altogether from
what I felt, are no less blamable.  Mine was the mania of despair
and affliction:  I felt a disposition, while suffering under its
horrors, to hate and to curse mankind.  Several individuals, in
particular, appeared to my imagination depicted in the most
revolting colours.  It is a sort of moral epidemic, I believe,
springing from vanity and selfishness; for when a man despises and
detests his fellow-creatures, he necessarily assumes that he is much
better than the rest of the world.  The doctrine of such men amounts
to this:- "Let us admire only one another, if we turn the rest of
mankind into a mere mob, we shall appear like demi-gods on earth."
It is a curious fact that living in a state of hostility and rage
actually affords pleasure; it seems as if people thought there was a
species of heroism in it.  If, unfortunately, the object of our
wrath happens to die, we lose no time in finding some one to fill
the vacant place.  Whom shall I attack next, whom shall I hate?  Ah!
is that the villain I was looking out for?  What a prize!  Now my
friends, at him, give him no quarter.  Such is the world, and,
without uttering a libel, I may add that it is not what it ought to


It showed no great malignity, however, to complain of the horrible
place in which they had incarcerated me, but fortunately another
room became vacant, and I was agreeably surprised on being informed
that I was to have it.  Yet strangely enough, I reflected with
regret that I was about to leave the vicinity of Maddalene.  Instead
of feeling rejoiced, I mourned over it with almost childish feeling.
I had always attached myself to some object, even from motives
comparatively slight.  On leaving my horrible abode, I cast back a
glance at the heavy wall against which I had so often supported
myself, while listening as closely as possible to the gentle voice
of the repentant girl.  I felt a desire to hear, if only for the
last time, those two pathetic lines, -

Chi rende alla meschina
La sua felicita?

Vain hope! here was another separation in the short period of my
unfortunate life.  But I will not go into any further details, lest
the world should laugh at me, though it would be hypocrisy in me to
affect to conceal that, for several days after, I felt melancholy at
this imaginary parting.

While going out of my dungeon I also made a farewell signal to two
of the robbers, who had been my neighbours, and who were then
standing at their window.  Their chief also got notice of my
departure, ran to the window, and repeatedly saluted me.  He began
likewise to sing the little air, Chi rende alla meschina; and was
this, thought I, merely to ridicule me?  No doubt that forty out of
fifty would say decidedly, "It was!"  In spite, however, of being
outvoted, I incline to the opinion that the GOOD ROBBER meant it
kindly; and, as such I received it, and gave him a look of thanks.
He saw it, and thrust his arm through the bars, and waved his cap,
nodding kindly to me as I turned to go down the stairs.

Upon reaching the yard below, I was further consoled by a sight of
the little deaf and dumb boy.  He saw me, and instantly ran towards
me with a look of unfeigned delight.  The wife of the jailer,
however, Heaven knows why, caught hold of the little fellow, and
rudely thrusting him back, drove him into the house.  I was really
vexed; and yet the resolute little efforts he made even then to
reach me, gave me indescribable pleasure at the moment, so pleasing
it is to find that one is really loved.  This was a day full of
great adventures for ME; a few steps further I passed the window of
my old prison, now the abode of Gioja:  "How are you, Melchiorre?" I
exclaimed as I went by.  He raised his head, and getting as near me
as it was POSSIBLE, cried out, "How do you do, Silvio?"  They would
not let me stop a single moment; I passed through the great gate,
ascended a flight of stairs, which brought us to a large, well-swept
room, exactly over that occupied by Gioja.  My bed was brought after
me, and I was then left to myself by my conductors.  My first object
was to examine the walls; I met with several inscriptions, some
written with charcoal, others in pencil, and a few incised with some
sharp point.  I remember there were some very pleasing verses in
French, and I am sorry I forgot to commit them to mind.  They were
signed "The duke of Normandy."  I tried to sing them, adapting to
them, as well as I could, the favourite air of my poor Maddalene.
What was my surprise to hear a voice, close to me, reply in the same
words, sung to another air.  When he had finished, I cried out,
"Bravo!" and he saluted me with great respect, inquiring if I were a

"No; an Italian, and my name is Silvio Pellico."

"The author of Francesca da Rimini?" {6}

"The same."

Here he made me a fine compliment, following it with the condolences
usual on such occasions, upon hearing I had been committed to
prison.  He then inquired of what part of Italy I was a native.
"Piedmont," was the reply; "I am from Saluzzo."  Here I was treated
to another compliment, on the character and genius of the
Piedmontese, in particular, the celebrated men of Saluzzo, at the
head of whom he ranked Bodoni. {7}  All this was said in an easy
refined tone, which showed the man of the world, and one who had
received a good education.

"Now, may I be permitted," said I, "to inquire who you are, sir?"

"I heard you singing one of my little songs," was the reply.

"What! the two beautiful stanzas upon the wall are yours!"

"They are, sir."

"You are, therefore,--"

"The unfortunate duke of Normandy."


The jailer at that moment passed under our windows, and ordered us
to be silent.

What can he mean by the unfortunate duke of Normandy? thought I,
musing to myself.  Ah! is not that the title said to be assumed by
the son of Louis XVI.? but that unhappy child is indisputably no
more.  Then my neighbour must be one of those unlucky adventurers
who have undertaken to bring him to life again.  Not a few had
already taken upon themselves to personate this Louis XVII., and
were proved to be impostors; how is my new acquaintance entitled to
greater credit for his pains?

Although I tried to give him the advantage of a doubt, I felt an
insurmountable incredulity upon the subject, which was not
subsequently removed.  At the same time, I determined not to mortify
the unhappy man, whatever sort of absurdity he might please to
hazard before my face.

A few minutes afterwards he began again to sing, and we soon renewed
our conversation.  In answer to my inquiry, "What is your real
name?" he replied, "I am no other than Louis XVII."  And he then
launched into very severe invectives against his uncle, Louis
XVIII., the usurper of his just and natural rights.

"But why," said I, "did you not prefer your claims at the period of
the restoration?"

"I was unable, from extreme illness, to quit the city of Bologna.
The moment I was better I hastened to Paris; I presented myself to
the allied monarchs, but the work was done.  The good Prince of
Conde knew, and received me with open arms, but his friendship
availed me not.  One evening, passing through a lonely street, I was
suddenly attacked by assassins, and escaped with difficulty.  After
wandering through Normandy, I returned into Italy, and stopped some
time at Modena.  Thence I wrote to the allied powers, in particular
to the Emperor Alexander, who replied to my letter with expressions
of the greatest kindness.  I did not then despair of obtaining
justice, or, at all events, if my rights were to be sacrificed, of
being allowed a decent provision, becoming a prince.  But I was
arrested, and handed over to the Austrian government.  During eight
months I have been here buried alive, and God knows when I shall
regain my freedom."

I begged him to give me a brief sketch of his life.  He told me very
minutely what I already knew relating to Louis XVII. and the cruel
Simon, and of the infamous calumnies that wretch was induced to
utter respecting the unfortunate queen, &c.  Finally he said, that
while in prison, some persons came with an idiot boy of the name of
Mathurin, who was substituted for him, while he himself was carried
off.  A coach and four was in readiness; one of the horses was
merely a wooden-machine, in the interior of which he was concealed.
Fortunately, they reached the confines, and the General (he gave me
the name, which has escaped me) who effected his release, educated
him for some time with the attention of a father, and subsequently
sent, or accompanied him, to America.  There the young king, without
a sceptre, had room to indulge his wandering disposition; he was
half famished in the forests; became at length a soldier, and
resided some time, in good credit, at the court of the Brazils.
There, too, he was pursued and persecuted, till compelled to make
his escape.  He returned to Europe towards the close of Napoleon's
career, was kept a close prisoner at Naples by Murat; and, at last,
when he was liberated, and in full preparation to reclaim the throne
of France, he was seized with that unlucky illness at Bologna,
during which Louis XVIII. was permitted to assume his nephew's


All this he related with an air of remarkable frankness and truth.
Although not justified in believing him, I nevertheless was
astonished at his knowledge of the most minute facts connected with
the revolution.  He spoke with much natural fluency, and his
conversation abounded with a variety of curious anecdotes.  There
was something also of the soldier in his expression, without showing
any want of that sort of elegance resulting from an intercourse with
the best society.

"Will it be permitted me," I inquired, "to converse with you on
equal terms, without making use of any titles?"

"That is what I myself wish you to do," was the reply.  "I have at
least reaped one advantage from adversity; I have learnt to smile at
all these vanities.  I assure you that I value myself more upon
being a man, than having been born a prince."

We were in the habit of conversing together both night and morning,
for a considerable time; and, in spite of what I considered the
comic part of his character, he appeared to be of a good
disposition, frank, affable, and interested in the virtue and
happiness of mankind.  More than once I was on the point of saying,
"Pardon me; I wish I could believe you were Louis XVII., but I
frankly confess I cannot prevail on myself to believe it; be equally
sincere, I entreat you, and renounce this singular fiction of
yours."  I had even prepared to introduce the subject with an
edifying discourse upon the vanity of all imposture, even of such
untruths as may appear in themselves harmless.

I put off my purpose from day to day; I partly expected that we
should grow still more friendly and confidential, but I had never
the heart really to try the experiment upon his feelings.  When I
reflect upon this want of resolution, I sometimes attempt to
reconcile myself to it on the ground of proper urbanity,
unwillingness to give offence, and other reasons of the kind.  Still
these excuses are far from satisfying me; I cannot disguise that I
ought not to have permitted my dislike to preaching him a sermon to
stand in the way of speaking my real sentiments.  To affect to give
credit to imposture of any kind is miserable weakness, such as I
think I should not, even in similar circumstances, exhibit again.
At the same time, it must be confessed that, preface it as you will,
it is a harsh thing to say to any one, "I don't believe you!"  He
will naturally resent it; it would deprive us of his friendship or
regard:  nay it would, perhaps, make him hate us.  Yet it is better
to run every risk than to sanction an untruth.  Possibly, the man
capable of it, upon finding that his imposture is known, will
himself admire our sincerity, and afterwards be induced to reflect
in a manner that may produce the best results.

The under-jailers were unanimously of opinion that he was really
Louis XVII., and having already seen so many strange changes of
fortune, they were not without hopes that he would some day ascend
the throne of France, and remember the good treatment and attentions
he had met with.  With the exception of assisting in his escape,
they made it their object to comply with all his wishes.  It was by
such means I had the honour of forming an acquaintance with this
grand personage.  He was of the middle height, between forty and
forty-five years of age, rather inclined to corpulency, and had
features strikingly like those of the Bourbons.  It is very probable
that this accidental resemblance may have led him to assume the
character he did, and play so melancholy a part in it.


There is one other instance of unworthy deference to private
opinion, of which I must accuse myself.  My neighbour was not an
Atheist, he rather liked to converse on religious topics, as if he
justly appreciated the importance of the subject, and was no
stranger to its discussion.  Still, he indulged a number of
unreasonable prejudices against Christianity, which he regarded less
in its real nature than its abuses.  The superficial philosophy
which preceded the French revolution had dazzled him.  He had formed
an idea that religious worship might be offered up with greater
purity than as it had been dictated by the religion of the
Evangelists.  Without any intimate acquaintance with the writings of
Condillac and Tracy, he venerated them as the most profound
thinkers, and really thought that the last had carried the branch of
metaphysics to the highest degree of perfection.

I may fairly say that MY philosophical studies had been better
directed; I was aware of the weakness of the experimental doctrine,
and I knew the gross and shameless errors in point of criticism,
which influenced the age of Voltaire in libelling Christianity.  I
had also read Guenee, and other able exposers of such false
criticism.  I felt a conviction that, by no logical reasoning, could
the being of a God be granted, and the Bible rejected, and I
conceived it a vulgar degradation to fall in with the stream of
antichristian opinions, and to want elevation of intellect to
apprehend how the doctrine of Catholicism in its true character, is
religiously simple and ennobling.  Yet I had the meanness to bow to
human opinion out of deference and respect.  The wit and sarcasms of
my neighbour seemed to confound me, while I could not disguise from
myself that they were idle and empty as the air.  I dissimulated, I
hesitated to announce my own belief, reflecting how far it were
seasonable thus to contradict my companion, and persuading myself
that it would be useless, and that I was perfectly justified in
remaining silent.  What vile pusillanimity! why thus respect the
presumptuous power of popular errors and opinions, resting upon no
foundation.  True it is that an ill-timed zeal is always indiscreet,
and calculated to irritate rather than convert; but to avow with
frankness and modesty what we regard as an important truth, to do it
even when we have reason to conclude it will not be palatable, and
to meet willingly any ridicule or sarcasm which may be launched
against it; this I maintain to be an actual duty.  A noble avowal of
this kind, moreover, may always be made, without pretending to
assume, uncalled for, anything of the missionary character.

It is, I repeat, a duty, not to keep back an important truth at any
period; for though there may be little hope of it being immediately
acknowledged; it may tend to prepare the minds of others, and in due
time, doubtless, produce a better and more impartial judgment, and a
consequent triumph of truth.


I continued in the same apartment during a month and some days.  On
the night of February the 18th, 1821, I was roused from sleep by a
loud noise of chains and keys; several men entered with a lantern,
and the first idea that struck me was, that they were come to cut my
throat.  While gazing at them in strange perplexity, one of the
figures advanced towards me with a polite air; it was Count B- , {8}
who requested I would dress myself as speedily as possible to set

I was surprised at this announcement, and even indulged a hope that
they were sent to conduct me to the confines of Piedmont.  Was it
likely the storm which hung over me would thus early be dispersed?
should I again enjoy that liberty so dearly prized, be restored to
my beloved parents, and see my brothers and sisters?

I was allowed short time to indulge these flattering hopes.  The
moment I had thrown on my clothes, I followed my conductors without
having an opportunity of bidding farewell to my royal neighbour.
Yet I thought I heard him call my name, and regretted it was out of
my power to stop and reply.  "Where are we going?" I inquired of the
Count, as we got into a coach, attended by an officer of the guard.
"I cannot inform you till we shall be a mile on the other side the
city of Milan."  I was aware the coach was not going in the
direction of the Vercelline gate; and my hopes suddenly vanished.  I
was silent; it was a beautiful moonlight night; I beheld the same
well-known paths I had traversed for pleasure so many years before.
The houses, the churches, and every object renewed a thousand
pleasing recollections.  I saw the Corsia of Porta Orientale, I saw
the public gardens, where I had so often rambled with Foscolo, {9}
Monti, {10} Lodovico di Breme, {11} Pietro Borsieri, {12} Count
Porro, and his sons, with many other delightful companions,
conversing in all the glow of life and hope.  How I felt my
friendship for these noble men revive with double force when I
thought of having parted from them for the last time, disappearing
as they had done, one by one, so rapidly from my view.  When we had
gone a little way beyond the gate, I pulled my hat over my eyes, and
indulged these sad retrospections unobserved.

After having gone about a mile, I addressed myself to Count B-.  "I
presume we are on the road to Verona."  "Yes, further," was the
reply; "we are for Venice, where it is my duty to hand you over to a
special commission there appointed."

We travelled post, stopped nowhere, and on the 20th of February
arrived at my destination.  The September of the year preceding,
just one month previous to my arrest, I had been at Venice, and had
met a large and delightful party at dinner, in the Hotel della Luna.
Strangely enough, I was now conducted by the Count and the officer
to the very inn where we had spent that evening in social mirth.

One of the waiters started on seeing me, perceiving that, though my
conductors had assumed the dress of domestics, I was no other than a
prisoner in their hands.  I was gratified at this recognition, being
persuaded that the man would mention my arrival there to more than

We dined, and I was then conducted to the palace of the Doge, where
the tribunals are now held.  I passed under the well-known porticoes
of the Procuratie, and by the Florian Hotel, where I had enjoyed so
many pleasant evenings the last autumn; but I did not happen to meet
a single acquaintance.  We went across the piazzetta, and there it
struck me that the September before, I had met a poor mendicant, who
addressed me in these singular words:-

"I see, sir, you are a stranger, but I cannot make out why you, sir,
and all other strangers, should so much admire this place.  To me it
is a place of misfortune, and I never pass it when I can avoid it."

"What, did you here meet with some disaster?"

"I did, sir; a horrible one, sir; and not only I.  God protect you
from it, God protect you!"  And he took himself off in haste.

At this moment it was impossible for me to forget the words of the
poor beggarman.  He was present there, too, the next year, when I
ascended the scaffold, whence I heard read to me the sentence of
death, and that it had been commuted for fifteen years hard
imprisonment.  Assuredly, if I had been inclined ever so little to
superstition, I should have thought much of the mendicant,
predicting to me with so much energy, as he did, and insisting that
this was a place of misfortune.  As it is, I have merely noted it
down for a curious incident.  We ascended the palace; Count B- spoke
to the judges, then, handing me over to the jailer, after embracing
me with much emotion, he bade me farewell.


I followed the jailer in silence.  After turning through a number of
passages, and several large rooms, we arrived at a small staircase,
which brought us under the Piombi, those notorious state prisons,
dating from the time of the Venetian republic.

There the jailer first registered my name, and then locked me up in
the room appointed for me.  The chambers called I Piombi consist of
the upper portion of the Doge's palace, and are covered throughout
with lead.

My room had a large window with enormous bars, and commanded a view
of the roof (also of lead), and the church, of St. Mark.  Beyond the
church I could discern the end of the Piazza in the distance, with
an immense number of cupolas and belfries on all sides.  St. Mark's
gigantic Campanile was separated from me only by the length of the
church, and I could hear persons speaking from the top of it when
they talked at all loud.  To the left of the church was to be seen a
portion of the grand court of the palace, and one of the chief
entrances.  There is a public well in that part of the court, and
people were continually in the habit of going thither to draw water.
From the lofty site of my prison they appeared to me about the size
of little children, and I could not at all hear their conversation,
except when they called out very loud.  Indeed, I found myself much
more solitary than I had been in the Milanese prisons.

During several days the anxiety I suffered from the criminal trial
appointed by the special commission, made me rather melancholy, and
it was increased, doubtless, by that painful feeling of deeper

I was here, moreover, further removed from my family, of whom I
heard no more.  The new faces that appeared wore a gloom at once
strange and appalling.  Report had greatly exaggerated the struggle
of the Milanese and the rest of Italy to recover their independence;
it was doubted if I were not one of the most desperate promoters of
that mad enterprise.  I found that my name, as a writer, was not
wholly unknown to my jailer, to his wife, and even his daughter,
besides two sons, and the under-jailers, all of whom, by their
manner, seemed to have an idea that a writer of tragedies was little
better than a kind of magician.  They looked grave and distant, yet
as if eager to learn more of me, had they dared to waive the
ceremony of their iron office.

In a few days I grew accustomed to their looks, or rather, I think,
they found I was not so great a necromancer as to escape through the
lead roofs, and, consequently, assumed a more conciliating
demeanour.  The wife had most of the character that marks the true
jailer; she was dry and hard, all bone, without a particle of heart,
about forty, and incapable of feeling, except it were a savage sort
of instinct for her offspring.  She used to bring me my coffee,
morning and afternoon, and my water at dinner.  She was generally
accompanied by her daughter, a girl of about fifteen, not very
pretty, but with mild, compassionating looks, and her two sons, from
ten to thirteen years of age.  They always went back with their
mother, but there was a gentle look and a smile of love for me upon
their young faces as she closed the door, my only company when they
were gone.  The jailer never came near me, except to conduct me
before the special commission, that terrible ordeal for what are
termed crimes of state.

The under-jailers, occupied with the prisons of the police, situated
on a lower floor, where there were numbers of robbers, seldom came
near me.  One of these assistants was an old man, more than seventy,
but still able to discharge his laborious duties, and to run up and
down the steps to the different prisons; another was a young man
about twenty-five, more bent upon giving an account of his love
affairs than eager to devote himself to his office.


I had now to confront the terrors of a state trial.  What was my
dread of implicating others by my answers!  What difficulty to
contend against so many strange accusations, so many suspicions of
all kinds!  How impossible, almost, not to become implicated by
these incessant examinations, by daily new arrests, and the
imprudence of other parties, perhaps not known to you, yet belonging
to the same movement!  I have decided not to speak on politics; and
I must suppress every detail connected with the state trials.  I
shall merely observe that, after being subjected for successive
hours to the harassing process, I retired in a frame of mind so
excited, and so enraged, that I should assuredly have taken my own
life, had not the voice of religion, and the recollection of my
parents restrained my hand.  I lost the tranquillity of mind I had
acquired at Milan; during many days, I despaired of regaining it,
and I cannot even allude to this interval without feelings of
horror.  It was vain to attempt it, I could not pray; I questioned
the justice of God; I cursed mankind, and all the world, revolving
in my mind all the possible sophisms and satires I could think of,
respecting the hollowness and vanity of virtue.  The disappointed
and the exasperated are always ingenious in finding accusations
against their fellow-creatures, and even the Creator himself.  Anger
is of a more universal and injurious tendency than is generally
supposed.  As we cannot rage and storm from morning till night, and
as the most ferocious animal has necessarily its intervals of
repose, these intervals in man are greatly influenced by the immoral
character of the conduct which may have preceded them.  He appears
to be at peace, indeed, but it is an irreligious, malignant peace; a
savage sardonic smile, destitute of all charity or dignity; a love
of confusion, intoxication, and sarcasm.

In this state I was accustomed to sing--anything but hymns--with a
kind of mad, ferocious joy.  I spoke to all who approached my
dungeon, jeering and bitter things; and I tried to look upon the
whole creation through the medium of that commonplace wisdom, the
wisdom of the cynics.  This degrading period, on which I hate to
reflect, lasted happily only for six or seven days, during which my
Bible had become covered with dust.  One of the jailer's boys,
thinking to please me, as he cast his eye upon it, observed, "Since
you left off reading that great, ugly book, you don't seem half so
melancholy, sir."  "Do you think so?" said I.  Taking the Bible in
my hands, I wiped off the dust, and opening it hastily, my eyes fell
upon the following words: --"And he said unto his disciples, it must
needs be that offences come; but woe unto him by whom they come; for
better had it been for him that a millstone were hanged about his
neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of
these little ones."

I was affected upon reading this passage, and I felt ashamed when I
thought that this little boy had perceived, from the dust with which
it was covered, that I no longer read my Bible, and had even
supposed that I had acquired a better temper by want of attention to
my religious duties, and become less wretched by forgetting my God.
"You little graceless fellow," I exclaimed, though reproaching him
in a gentle tone, and grieved at having afforded him a subject of
scandal; "this is not a great, ugly book, and for the few days that
I have left off reading it, I find myself much worse.  If your
mother would let you stay with me a little while, you would see that
I know how to get rid of my ill-humour.  If you knew how hard it was
to be in good humour, when left so long alone, and when you hear me
singing and talking like a madman, you would not call this a great
ugly book."


The boy left me, and I felt a sort of pleasure at having taken the
Bible again in my hands, more especially at having owned I had been
worse for having neglected it.  It seemed as if I had made atonement
to a generous friend whom I had unjustly offended, but had now
become reconciled to.  Yes! I had even forgotten my God! I
exclaimed, and perverted my better nature.  Could I have been led to
believe that the vile mockery of the cynic was applicable to one in
my forlorn and desperate situation?

I felt an indescribable emotion on asking myself this question; I
placed the Bible upon a chair, and, falling on my knees, I burst
into tears of remorse:  I who ever found it so difficult to shed
even a tear.  These tears were far more delightful to me than any
physical enjoyment I had ever felt.  I felt I was restored to God, I
loved him, I repented of having outraged religion by degrading
myself; and I made a vow never, never more to forget, to separate
myself from, my God.

How truly a sincere return to faith, and love, and hope, consoles
and elevates the mind.  I read and continued to weep for upwards of
an hour.  I rose with renewed confidence that God had not abandoned
me, but had forgiven my every fault and folly.  It was then that my
misfortunes, the horrors of my continued examinations, and the
probable death which awaited me, appeared of little account.  I
rejoiced in suffering, since I was thus afforded an occasion to
perform some duty, and that, by submitting with a resigned mind, I
was obeying my Divine Master.  I was enabled, thanks be to Heaven,
to read my Bible.  I no longer estimated it by the wretched,
critical subterfuges of a Voltaire, heaping ridicule upon mere
expressions, in themselves neither false nor ridiculous, except to
gross ignorance or malice, which cannot penetrate their meaning.  I
became clearly convinced how indisputably it was the code of
sanctity, and hence of truth itself; how really unphilosophical it
was to take offence at a few little imperfections of style, not less
absurd than the vanity of one who despises everything that wears not
the gloss of elegant forms; what still greater absurdity to imagine
that such a collection of books, so long held in religious
veneration, should not possess an authentic origin, boasting, as
they do, such a vast superiority over the Koran, and the old
theology of the Indies.

Many, doubtless, abused its excellence, many wished to turn it into
a code of injustice, and a sanction of all their bad passions.  But
the triumphant answer to these is, that every thing is liable to
abuse; and when did the abuse of the most precious and best of
things lead us to the conclusion that they were in their own nature
bad?  Our Saviour himself declared it; the whole law and the
Prophets, the entire body of these sacred books, all inculcate the
same precept to love God and mankind.  And must not such writings
embrace the truth--truth adapted to all times and ages? must they
not ever constitute the living word of the Holy Spirit?

Whilst I made these reflections, I renewed my intention of
identifying with religion all my thoughts concerning human affairs,
all my opinions upon the progress of civilisation, my philanthropy,
love of my country, in short, all the passions of my mind.

The few days in which I remained subjected to the cynic doctrine,
did me a deal of harm.  I long felt its effects, and had great
difficulty to remove them.  Whenever man yields in the least to the
temptation of undignifying his intellect, to view the works of God
through the infernal medium of scorn, to abandon the beneficent
exercise of prayer, the injury which he inflicts upon his natural
reason prepares him to fall again with but little struggle.  For a
period of several weeks I was almost daily assaulted with strong,
bitter tendencies to doubt and disbelief; and it called for the
whole power of my mind to free myself from their grasp.


When these mental struggles had ceased, and I had again become
habituated to reverence the Deity in all my thoughts and feelings, I
for some time enjoyed the most unbroken serenity and peace.  The
examinations to which I was every two or three days subjected by the
special commission, however tormenting, produced no lasting anxiety,
as before.  I succeeded in this arduous position, in discharging all
which integrity and friendship required of me, and left the rest to
the will of God.  I now, too, resumed my utmost efforts to guard
against the effects of any sudden surprise, every emotion and
passion, and every imaginable misfortune; a kind of preparation for
future trials of the greatest utility.

My solitude, meantime, grew more oppressive.  Two sons of the
jailer, whom I had been in the habit of seeing at brief intervals,
were sent to school, and I saw them no more.  The mother and the
sister, who had been accustomed, along with them, to speak to me,
never came near me, except to bring my coffee.  About the mother I
cared very little; but the daughter, though rather plain, had
something so pleasing and gentle, both in her words and looks, that
I greatly felt the loss of them.  Whenever she brought the coffee,
and said, "It was I who made it," I always thought it excellent:
but when she observed, "This is my mother's making," it lost all its

Being almost deprived of human society, I one day made acquaintance
with some ants upon my window; I fed them; they went away, and ere
long the placed was thronged with these little insects, as if come
by invitation.  A spider, too, had weaved a noble edifice upon my
walls, and I often gave him a feast of gnats or flies, which were
extremely annoying to me, and which he liked much better than I did.
I got quite accustomed to the sight of him; he would run over my
bed, and come and take the precious morsels out of my hand.  Would
to heaven these had been the only insects which visited my abode.
It was still summer, and the gnats had begun to multiply to a
prodigious and alarming extent.  The previous winter had been
remarkably mild, and after the prevalence of the March winds
followed extreme heat.  It is impossible to convey an idea of the
insufferable oppression of the air in the place I occupied.  Opposed
directly to a noontide sun, under a leaden roof, and with a window
looking on the roof of St. Mark, casting a tremendous reflection of
the heat, I was nearly suffocated.  I had never conceived an idea of
a punishment so intolerable:  add to which the clouds of gnats,
which, spite of my utmost efforts, covered every article of
furniture in the room, till even the walls and ceiling seemed alive
with them; and I had some apprehension of being devoured alive.
Their bites, moreover, were extremely painful, and when thus
punctured from morning till night, only to undergo the same
operation from day to day, and engaged the whole time in killing and
slaying, some idea may be formed of the state both of my body and my

I felt the full force of such a scourge, yet was unable to obtain a
change of dungeon, till at length I was tempted to rid myself of my
life, and had strong fears of running distracted.  But, thanks be to
God, these thoughts were not of long duration, and religion
continued to sustain me.  It taught me that man was born to suffer,
and to suffer with courage:  it taught me to experience a sort of
pleasure in my troubles, to resist and to vanquish in the battle
appointed me by Heaven.  The more unhappy, I said to myself, my life
may become, the less will I yield to my fate, even though I should
be condemned in the morning of my life to the scaffold.  Perhaps,
without these preliminary and chastening trials, I might have met
death in an unworthy manner.  Do I know, moreover, that I possess
those virtues and qualities which deserve prosperity; where and what
are they?  Then, seriously examining into my past conduct, I found
too little good on which to pride myself; the chief part was a
tissue of vanity, idolatry, and the mere exterior of virtue.
Unworthy, therefore, as I am, let me suffer!  If it be intended that
men and gnats should destroy me, unjustly or otherwise, acknowledge
in them the instruments of a divine justice, and be silent.


Does man stand in need of compulsion before he can be brought to
humble himself with sincerity? to look upon himself as a sinner?  Is
it not too true that we in general dissipate our youth in vanity,
and, instead of employing all our faculties in the acquisition of
what is good, make them the instruments of our degradation?  There
are, doubtless, exceptions, but I confess they cannot apply to a
wretched individual like myself.  There is no merit in thus being
dissatisfied with myself; when we see a lamp which emits more smoke
than flame, it requires no great sincerity to say that it does not
burn as it ought to do.

Yes, without any degradation, without any scruples of hypocrisy, and
viewing myself with perfect tranquillity of mind, I perceived that I
had merited the chastisement of my God.  An internal monitor told me
that such chastisements were, for one fault or other, amply merited;
they assisted in winning me back to Him who is perfect, and whom
every human being, as far as their limited powers will admit, are
bound to imitate.  By what right, while constrained to condemn
myself for innumerable offences and forgetfulness towards God, could
I complain, because some men appeared to me despicable, and others
wicked?  What if I were deprived of all worldly advantages, and was
doomed to linger in prison, or to die a violent death?  I sought to
impress upon my mind reflections like these, at once just and
applicable; and this done, I found it was necessary to be
consistent, and that it could be effected in no other manner than by
sanctifying the upright judgments of the Almighty, by loving them,
and eradicating every wish at all opposed to them.  The better to
persevere in my intention, I determined, in future, carefully to
revolve in my mind all my opinions, by committing them to writing.
The difficulty was that the Commission, while permitting me to have
the use of ink and paper, counted out the leaves, with an express
prohibition that I should not destroy a single one, and reserving
the power of examining in what manner I had employed them.  To
supply the want of paper, I had recourse to the simple stratagem of
smoothing with a piece of glass a rude table which I had, and upon
this I daily wrote my long meditations respecting the duties of
mankind, and especially of those which applied to myself.  It is no
exaggeration to say that the hours so employed were sometimes
delightful to me, notwithstanding the difficulty of breathing I
experienced from the excessive heat, to say nothing of the bitterly
painful wounds, small though they were, of those poisonous gnats.
To defend myself from the countless numbers of these tormentors, I
was compelled, in the midst of suffocation, to wrap my head and my
legs in thick cloth, and not only write with gloves on, but to
bandage my wrist to prevent the intruders creeping up my sleeves.

Meditations like mine assumed somewhat of a biographical character.
I made out an account of all the good and the evil which had grown
up with me from my earliest youth, discussing them within myself,
attempting to resolve every doubt, and arranging, to the best of my
power, the various kinds of knowledge I had acquired, and my ideas
upon every subject.  When the whole surface of the table was covered
with my lucubrations, I perused and re-perused them, meditated on
what I had already meditated, and, at length, resolved (however
unwillingly) to scratch out all I had done with the glass, in order
to have a clean superficies upon which to recommence my operations.

From that time I continued the narrative of my experience of good
and evil, always relieved by digressions of every kind, by some
analysis of this or that point, whether in metaphysics, morals,
politics, or religion; and when the whole was complete, I again
began to read, and re-read, and lastly, to scratch out.  Being
anxious to avoid every chance of interruption, or of impediment, to
my repeating with the greatest possible freedom the facts I had
recorded, and my opinions upon them, I took care to transpose and
abbreviate the words in such a manner as to run no risk from the
most inquisitorial visit.  No search, however, was made, and no one
was aware that I was spending my miserable prison-hours to so good a
purpose.  Whenever I heard the jailer or other person open the door
I covered my little table with a cloth, and placed upon it the ink-
stand, with the LAWFUL quantity of state paper by its side.


Still I did not wholly neglect the paper put into my hands, and
sometimes even devoted an entire day or night to writing.  But here
I only treated of literary matters.  I composed at that time the
Ester d'Engaddi, the Iginia d'Asti, and the Cantichi, entitled,
Tanereda Rosilde, Eligi and Valafrido, Adello, besides several
sketches of tragedies, and other productions, in the list of which
was a poem upon the Lombard League, and another upon Christopher

As it was not always so easy an affair to get a reinforcement of
paper, I was in the habit of committing my rough draughts to my
table, or the wrapping-paper in which I received fruit and other
articles.  At times I would give away my dinner to the under-jailer,
telling him that I had no appetite, and then requesting from him the
favour of a sheet of paper.  This was, however, only in certain
exigencies, when my little table was full of writing, and I had not
yet determined on clearing it away.  I was often very hungry, and
though the jailer had money of mine in his possession, I did not ask
him to bring me anything to eat, partly lest he should suspect I had
given away my dinner, and partly that the under-jailer might not
find out that I had said the thing which was not when I assured him
of my loss of appetite.  In the evening I regaled myself with some
strong coffee, and I entreated that it might be made by the little
sioa, Zanze. {13}  This was the jailer's daughter, who, if she could
escape the lynx-eye of her sour mamma, was good enough to make it
exceedingly good; so good, indeed, that, what with the emptiness of
my stomach, it produced a kind of convulsion, which kept me awake
the whole of the night.

In this state of gentle inebriation, I felt my intellectual
faculties strangely invigorated; wrote poetry, philosophized, and
prayed till morning with feelings of real pleasure.  I then became
completely exhausted, threw myself upon my bed, and, spite of the
gnats that were continually sucking my blood, I slept an hour or two
in profound rest.

I can hardly describe the peculiar and pleasing exaltation of mind
which continued for nights together, and I left no means untried to
secure the same means of continuing it.  With this view I still
refused to touch a mouthful of dinner, even when I was in no want of
paper, merely in order to obtain my magic beverage for the evening.

How fortunate I thought myself when I succeeded; not unfrequently
the coffee was not made by the gentle Angiola; and it was always
vile stuff from her mother's hands.  In this last case, I was sadly
put out of humour, for instead of the electrical effect on my
nerves, it made me wretched, weak, and hungry; I threw myself down
to sleep, but was unable to close an eye.  Upon these occasions I
complained bitterly to Angiola, the jailer's daughter, and one day,
as if she had been in fault, I scolded her so sharply that the poor
girl began to weep, sobbing out, "Indeed, sir, I never deceived
anybody, and yet everybody calls me a deceitful little mix."

"Everybody!  Oh then, I see I am not the only one driven to
distraction by your vile slops."

"I do not mean to say that, sir.  Ah, if you only knew; if I dared
to tell you all that my poor, wretched heart--"

"Well, don't cry so!  What is all this ado?  I beg your pardon, you
see, if I scolded you.  Indeed, I believe you would not, you could
not, make me such vile stuff as this."

"Dear me!  I am not crying about that, sir."

"You are not!" and I felt my self-love not a little mortified,
though I forced a smile.  "Are you crying, then, because I scolded
you, and yet not about the coffee?"

"Yes, indeed, sir?"

"Ah! then who called you a little deceitful one before?"

"HE did, sir."

"HE did; and who is HE?"

"My lover, sir;" and she hid her face in her little hands.

Afterwards she ingenuously intrusted to my keeping, and I could not
well betray her, a little serio-comic sort of pastoral romance,
which really interested me.


From that day forth, I know not why, I became the adviser and
confidant of this young girl, who returned and conversed with me for
hours.  She at first said, "You are so good, sir, that I feel just
the same when I am here as if I were your own daughter."

"That is a very poor compliment," replied I, dropping her hand; "I
am hardly yet thirty-two, and you look upon me as if I were an old

"No, no, not so; I mean as a brother, to be sure;" and she insisted
upon taking hold of my hand with an air of the most innocent
confidence and affection.

I am glad, thought I to myself, that you are no beauty; else, alas,
this innocent sort of fooling might chance to disconcert me; at
other times I thought it is lucky, too, she is so young, there could
never be any danger of becoming attached to girls of her years.  At
other times, however, I felt a little uneasy, thinking I was
mistaken in having pronounced her rather plain, whereas her whole
shape and features were by no means wanting in proportion or
expression.  If she were not quite so pale, I said, and her face
free from those marks, she might really pass for a beauty.  It is
impossible, in fact, not to find some charm in the presence and in
the looks and voice of a young girl full of vivacity and affection.
I had taken not the least pains to acquire her good-will; yet was I
as dear to either as a father or a brother, whichever title I
preferred.  And why?  Only because she had read Francesca da Rimini
and Eufemio, and my poems, she said, had made her weep so often;
then, besides, I was a solitary prisoner, WITHOUT HAVING, as she
observed, either robbed or murdered anybody.

In short, when I had become attached to poor Maddalene, without once
seeing her, how was it likely that I could remain indifferent to the
sisterly assiduity and attentions, to the thousand pleasing little
compliments, and to the most delicious cups of coffee of this young
Venice girl, my gentle little jailer? {14}  I should be trying to
impose on myself, were I to attribute to my own prudence the fact of
my not having fallen in love with Angiola.  I did not do so, simply
from the circumstance of her having already a lover of her own
choosing, to whom she was desperately, unalterably attached.  Heaven
help me! if it had not been thus I should have found myself in a
very CRITICAL position, indeed, for an author, with so little to
keep alive his attention.  The sentiment I felt for her was not,
then, what is called love.  I wished to see her happy, and that she
might be united to the lover of her choice; I was not jealous, nor
had I the remotest idea she could ever select me as the object of
her regard.  Still, when I heard my prison-door open, my heart began
to beat in the hope it was my Angiola; and if she appeared not, I
experienced a peculiar kind of vexation; when she really came my
heart throbbed yet more violently, from a feeling of pure joy.  Her
parents, who had begun to entertain a good opinion of me, and were
aware of her passionate regard for another, offered no opposition to
the visits she thus made me, permitting her almost invariably to
bring me my coffee in a morning, and not unfrequently in the

There was altogether a simplicity and an affectionateness in her
every word, look, and gesture, which were really captivating.  She
would say, "I am excessively attached to another, and yet I take
such delight in being near you!  When I am not in HIS company, I
like being nowhere so well as here."  (Here was another compliment.)

"And don't you know why?" inquired I.

"I do not."

"I will tell you, then.  It is because I permit you to talk about
your lover."

"That is a good guess; yet still I think it is a good deal because I
esteem you so very much!"

Poor girl! along with this pretty frankness she had that blessed sin
of taking me always by the hand, and pressing it with all her heart,
not perceiving that she at once pleased and disconcerted me by her
affectionate manner.  Thanks be to Heaven, that I can always recall
this excellent little girl to mind without the least tinge of


The following portion of my narrative would assuredly have been more
interesting had the gentle Angiola fallen in love with me, or if I
had at least run half mad to enliven my solitude.  There was,
however, another sentiment, that of simple benevolence, no less dear
to me, which united our hearts in one.  And if, at any moment, I
felt there was the least risk of its changing its nature in my vain,
weak heart, it produced only sincere regret.

Once, certainly, having my doubts that this would happen, and
finding her, to my sorrow, a hundred times more beautiful than I had
at first imagined; feeling too so very melancholy when she was
absent, so joyous when near, I took upon myself to play the
UNAMIABLE, in the idea that this would remove all danger by making
her leave off the same affectionate and familiar manner.  This
innocent stratagem was tried in vain; the poor girl was so patient,
so full of compassion for me.  She would look at me in silence, with
her elbow resting upon the window, and say, after a long pause, "I
see, sir, you are tired of my company, yet _I_ would stay here the
whole day if I could, merely to keep the hours from hanging so heavy
upon you.  This ill-humour of yours is the natural effect of your
long solitude; if you were able to chat awhile, you would be quite
well again.  If you don't like to talk, I will talk for you."

"About your lover, eh?"

"No, no; not always about him; I can talk of many things."

She then began to give me some extracts from the household annals,
dwelling upon the sharp temper of her mother, her good-natured
father, and the monkey-tricks of her little brothers; and she told
all this with a simple grace and innocent frankness not a little
alluring.  Yet I was pretty near the truth; for, without being aware
of it, she uniformly concluded with the one favourite theme:  her
ill-starred love.  Still I went on acting the part of the UNAMIABLE,
in the hope that she would take a spite against me.  But whether
from inadvertency or design, she would not take the hint, and I was
at last fairly compelled to give up by sitting down contented to let
her have her way, smiling, sympathising with, and thanking her for
the sweet patience with which she had so long borne with me.

I no longer indulged the ungracious idea of spiting her against me,
and, by degrees, all my other fears were allayed.  Assuredly I had
not been smitten; I long examined into the nature of my scruples,
wrote down my reflections upon the subject, and derived no little
advantage from the process.

Man often terrifies himself with mere bugbears of the mind.  If we
would learn not to fear them, we have only to examine them a little
more nearly and attentively.  What harm, then, if I looked forward
to her visits to me with a tender anxiety, if I appreciated their
sweetness, if it did me good to be compassioned by her, and to
interchange all our thoughts and feelings, unsullied, I will say, as
those of childhood.  Even her most affectionate looks, and smiles,
and pressures of the hand, while they agitated me, produced a
feeling of salutary respect mingled with compassion.  One evening, I
remember, when suffering under a sad misfortune, the poor girl threw
her arms round my neck, and wept as if her heart would break.  She
had not the least idea of impropriety; no daughter could embrace a
father with more perfect innocence and unsuspecting affection.  I
could not, however, reflect upon that embrace without feeling
somewhat agitated.  It often recurred to my imagination, and I could
then think of no other subject.  On another occasion, when she thus
threw herself upon my confidence, I was really obliged to
disentangle myself from her dear arms, ere I once pressed her to my
bosom, or gave her a single kiss, while I stammered out, "I pray
you, now, sweet Angiola, do not embrace me ever again; it is not
quite proper."  She fixed her eyes upon me for a moment, then cast
them down, while a blush suffused her ingenuous countenance; and I
am sure it was the first time that she read in my mind even the
possibility of any weakness of mine in reference to her.  Still she
did not cease to continue her visits upon the same friendly footing,
with a little mere reserve and respect, such as I wished it to be;
and I was grateful to her for it.


I am unable to form an estimate of the evils which afflict others;
but, as respects myself, I am bound to confess that, after close
examination, I found that no sufferings had been appointed me,
except to some wise end, and for my own advantage.  It was thus even
with the excessive heat which oppressed, and the gnats which
tormented me.  Often have I reflected that but for this continual
suffering I might not have successfully resisted the temptation of
falling in love, situated as I was, and with one whose extremely
affectionate and ardent feelings would have made it difficult always
to preserve it within respectful limits.  If I had sometimes reason
to tremble, how should I have been enabled to regulate my vain
imagination in an atmosphere somewhat inspiring, and open to the
breathings of joy.

Considering the imprudence of Angiola's parents, who reposed such
confidence in me, the imprudence of the poor girl herself, who had
not an idea of giving rise to any culpable affection on my part, and
considering, too, the little steadfastness of my virtue, there can
be little doubt but the suffocating heat of my great oven, and the
cruel warfare of the gnats, were effectual safeguards to us both.

Such a reflection reconciled me somewhat to these scourges; and I
then asked myself, Would you consent to become free, and to take
possession of some handsome apartment, filled with flowers and fresh
air, on condition of never more seeing this affectionate being?  I
will own the truth; I had not courage to reply to this simple

When you really feel interested about any one, it is indescribable
what mere trifles are capable of conferring pleasure.  A single
word, a smile, a tear, a Venetian turn of expression, her eagerness
in protecting me from my enemies, the gnats, all inspired me with a
childish delight that lasted the whole day.  What most gratified me
was to see that her own sufferings seemed to be relieved by
conversing with me, that my compassion consoled her, that my advice
influenced her, and that her heart was susceptible of the warmest
devotion when treating of virtue and its great Author.

When we had sometimes discussed the subject of religion, she would
observe, "I find that I can now pray with more willingness and more
faith than I did."  At other times, suddenly breaking off some
frivolous topic, she took the Bible, opened it, pressed her lips to
it, and then begged of me to translate some passages, and give my
comments.  She added, "I could wish that every time you happen to
recur to this passage you should call to mind that I have kissed and
kissed it again."

It was not always, indeed, that her kisses fell so appropriately,
more especially if she happened to open at the spiritual songs.
Then, in order to spare her blushes, I took advantage of her want of
acquaintance with the Latin, and gave a turn to the expressions
which, without detracting from the sacredness of the Bible, might
serve to respect her innocence.  On such occasions I never once
permitted myself to smile; at the same time I was not a little
perplexed, when, not rightly comprehending my new version, she
entreated of me to translate the whole, word for word, and would by
no means let me shy the question by turning her attention to
something else.


Nothing is durable here below!  Poor Angiola fell sick; and on one
of the first days when she felt indisposed, she came to see me,
complaining bitterly of pains in her head.  She wept, too, and would
not explain the cause of her grief.  She only murmured something
that looked like reproaches of her lover.  "He is a villain!" she
said; "but God forgive him, as I do!"

I left no means untried to obtain her confidence, but it was the
first time I was quite unable to ascertain why she distressed
herself to such an excess.  "I will return tomorrow morning," she
said, one evening on parting from me; "I will, indeed."  But the
next morning came, and my coffee was brought by her mother; the
next, and the next, by the under-jailers; and Angiola continued
grievously ill.  The under-jailers, also, brought me very unpleasant
tidings relating to the love-affair; tidings, in short, which made
me deeply sympathize with her sufferings.  A case of seduction!
But, perhaps, it was the tale of calumny.  Alas!  I but too well
believed it, and I was affected at it more than I can express;
though I still like to flatter myself that it was false.  After
upwards of a month's illness, the poor girl was taken into the
country, and I saw her no more.

It is astonishing how deeply I felt this deprivation, and how much
more horrible my solitude now appeared.  Still more bitter was the
reflection that she, who had so tenderly fed, and watched, and
visited me in my sad prison, supplying every want and wish within
her power, was herself a prey to sorrow and misfortune.  Alas! I
could make her no return; yet, surely she will feel aware how truly
I sympathize with her; that there is no effort I would not make to
afford her comfort and relief, and that I shall never cease to offer
up my prayers for her, and to bless her for her goodness to a
wretched prisoner.

Though her visits had been too brief, they were enough to break upon
the horrid monotony of my solitude.  By suggesting and comparing our
ideas, I obtained new views and feelings, exercised some of the best
and sweetest affections, gave a zest to life, and even threw a sort
of lustre round my misfortunes.

Suddenly the vision fled, and my dungeon became to me really like a
living tomb.  A strange sadness for many days quite oppressed me.  I
could not even write:  it was a dark, quiet, nameless feeling, in no
way partaking of the violence and irritation which I had before
experienced.  Was it that I had become more inured to adversity,
more philosophical, more of a Christian?  Or was it really that the
extremely enervating heat of my dungeon had so prostrated my powers
that I could no longer feel the pangs of excessive grief.  Ah, no!
for I can well recollect that I then felt it to my inmost soul; and,
perhaps, more intensely from the want both of will and power to give
vent to it by agitation, maledictions, and cries.  The fact is, I
believe, that I had been severely schooled by my past sufferings,
and was resigned to the will of God.  I had so often maintained that
it was a mark of cowardice to complain, that, at length, I succeeded
in restraining my passion, when on the point of breaking out, and
felt vexed that I had permitted it to obtain any ascendancy over me.

My mental faculties were strengthened by the habit of writing down
my thoughts; I got rid of all my vanity, and reduced the chief part
of my reasonings to the following conclusions:  There is a God:
THEREFORE unerring justice; THEREFORE all that happens is ordained
to the best end; consequently, the sufferings of man on earth are
inflicted for the good of man.

Thus, my acquaintance with Angiola had proved beneficial, by
soothing and conciliating my feelings.  Her good opinion of me had
urged me to the fulfilment of many duties, especially of that of
proving one's self superior to the shocks of fortune, and of
suffering in patience.  By exerting myself to persevere for about a
month, I was enabled to feel perfectly resigned.

Angiola had beheld me two or three times in a downright passion;
once, as I have stated, on account of her having brought me bad
coffee, and a second time as follows:-

Every two or three weeks the jailer had brought me a letter from
some of my family.  It was previously submitted to the Commission,
and most roughly handled, as was too evident by the number of
ERASURES in the blackest ink which appeared throughout.  One day,
however, instead of merely striking out a few passages, they drew
the black line over the entire letter, with the exception of the
words, "My DEAREST SILVIO," at the beginning, and the parting
salutation at the close, "ALL UNITE IN KINDEST LOVE TO YOU."

This act threw me into such an uncontrollable fit of passion, that,
in presence of the gentle Angiola, I broke out into violent shouts
of rage, and cursed I know not whom.  The poor girl pitied me from
her heart; but, at the same time, reminded me of the strange
inconsistency of my principles.  I saw she had reason on her side,
and I ceased from uttering my maledictions.


One of the under-jailers one day entered my prison with a mysterious
look, and said, "Sometime, I believe, that Siora Zanze (Angiola) . .
. was used to bring you your coffee . . . She stopped a good while
to converse with you, and I was afraid the cunning one would worm
out all your secrets, sir."

"Not one," I replied, in great anger; "or if I had any, I should not
be such a fool as to tell them in that way.  Go on."

"Beg pardon, sir; far from me to call you by such a name . . . But I
never trusted to that Siora Zanze.  And now, sir, as you have no
longer any one to keep you company . . . I trust I--"

"What, what! explain yourself at once!"

"Swear first that you will not betray me."

"Well, well; I could do that with a safe conscience.  I never
betrayed any one."

"Do you say really you will swear?"

"Yes; I swear not to betray you.  But what a wretch to doubt it; for
any one capable of betraying you will not scruple to violate an

He took a letter from his coat-lining, and gave it me with a
trembling hand, beseeching I would destroy it the moment I had read

"Stop," I cried, opening it; "I will read and destroy it while you
are here."

"But, sir, you must answer it, and I cannot stop now.  Do it at your
leisure.  Only take heed, when you hear any one coming, you will
know if it be I by my singing, pretty loudly, the tune, Sognai mi
gera un gato.  You need, then, fear nothing, and may keep the letter
quietly in your pocket.  But should you not hear this song, set it
down for a mark that it cannot be me, or that some one is with me.
Then, in a moment, out with it, don't trust to any concealment, in
case of a search; out with it, tear it into a thousand bits, and
throw it through the window."

"Depend upon me; I see you are prudent, I will be so too."

"Yet you called me a stupid wretch."

"You do right to reproach me," I replied, shaking him by the hand,
"and I beg your pardon."  He went away, and I began to read

"I am (and here followed the name) one of your admirers:  I have all
your Francesca da Rimini by heart.  They arrested me for--(and here
he gave the reason with the date)--and I would give, I know not how
many pounds of my blood to have the pleasure of being with you, or
at least in a dungeon near yours, in order that we might converse
together.  Since I heard from Tremerello, so we shall call our
confidant, that you, sir, were a prisoner, and the cause of your
arrest, I have longed to tell you how deeply I lament your
misfortune, and that no one can feel greater attachment to you than
myself.  Have you any objection to accept the offer I make, namely,
that we should try to lighten the burden of our solitude by writing
to each other.  I pledge you my honour, that not a being shall ever
hear of our correspondence from me, and am persuaded that I may
count upon the same secresy on your part, if you adopt my plan.
Meantime, that you may form some idea, I will give you an abstract
from my life."--(It followed.)


The reader, however deficient in the imaginative organ, may easily
conceive the electric effect of such a letter upon the nerves of a
poor prisoner, not of the most savage disposition, but possessing an
affectionate and gregarious turn of mind.  I felt already an
affection for the unknown; I pitied his misfortunes, and was
grateful for the kind expressions he made use of.  "Yes," exclaimed
I, "your generous purpose shall be effected.  I wish my letters may
afford you consolation equal to that which I shall derive from

I re-perused his letter with almost boyish delight, and blessed the
writer; there was not an expression which did not exhibit evidence
of a clear and noble mind.

The sun was setting, it was my hour of prayer; I felt the presence
of God; how sincere was my gratitude for his providing me with new
means of exercising the faculties of my mind.  How it revived my
recollection of all the invaluable blessings he had bestowed upon

I stood before the window, with my arms between the bars, and my
hands folded; the church of St. Mark lay below me, an immense flock
of pigeons, free as the air, were flying about, were cooing and
billing, or busied in constructing their nests upon the leaden roof;
the heavens in their magnificence were before me; I surveyed all
that part of Venice visible from my prison; a distant murmur of
human voices broke sweetly on my ear.  From this vast unhappy
prison-house did I hold communion with Him, whose eyes alone beheld
me; to Him I recommended my father, my mother, and, individually,
all those most dear to me, and it appeared as if I heard Him reply,
"Confide in my goodness," and I exclaimed, "Thy goodness assures

I concluded my prayer with much emotion, greatly comforted, and
little caring for the bites of the gnats, which had been joyfully
feasting upon me.  The same evening, my mind, after such exaltation,
beginning to grow calmer, I found the torment from the gnats
becoming insufferable, and while engaged in wrapping up my hands and
face, a vulgar and malignant idea all at once entered my mind, which
horrified me, and which I vainly attempted to banish.

Tremerello had insinuated a vile suspicion respecting Angiola; that,
in short, she was a spy upon my secret opinions!  She! that noble-
hearted creature, who knew nothing of politics, and wished to know
nothing of them!

It was impossible for me to suspect her; but have I, said I, the
same certainty respecting Tremerello?  Suppose that rogue should be
the bribed instrument of secret informers; suppose the letter had
been fabricated by WHO KNOWS WHOM, to induce me to make important
disclosures to my new friend.  Perhaps his pretended prison does not
exist; or if so, he may be a traitor, eager to worm out secrets in
order to make his own terms; perhaps he is a man of honour, and
Tremerello himself the traitor who aims at our destruction in order
to gain an additional salary.

Oh, horrible thought, yet too natural to the unhappy prisoner,
everywhere in fear of enmity and fraud!

Such suspicions tormented and degraded me.  I did not entertain them
as regarded Angiola a single moment.  Yet, from what Tremerello had
said, a kind of doubt clung to me as to the conduct of those who had
permitted her to come into my apartment.  Had they, either from
their own zeal, or by superior authority, given her the office of
spy? in that case, how ill had she discharged such an office!

But what was I to do respecting the letter of the unknown?  Should I
adopt the severe, repulsive counsel of fear which we call prudence?
Shall I return the letter to Tremerello, and tell him, I do not wish
to run any risk.  Yet suppose there should be no treason; and the
unknown be a truly worthy character, deserving that I should venture
something, if only to relieve the horrors of his solitude?  Coward
as I am, standing on the brink of death, the fatal decree ready to
strike me at any moment, yet to refuse to perform a simple act of
love!  Reply to him I must and will.  Grant that it be discovered,
no one can fairly be accused of writing the letter, though poor
Tremerello would assuredly meet with the severest chastisement.  Is
not this consideration of itself sufficient to decide me against
undertaking any clandestine correspondence?  Is it not my absolute
duty to decline it?


I was agitated the whole evening; I never closed my eyes that night,
and amidst so many conflicting doubts, I knew not on what to

I sprung from my bed before dawn, I mounted upon the window-place,
and offered up my prayers.  In trying circumstances it is necessary
to appeal with confidence to God, to heed his inspirations, and to
adhere to them.

This I did, and after long prayer, I went down, shook off the gnats,
took the bitten gloves in my hands, and came to the determination to
explain my apprehensions to Tremerello and warn him of the great
danger to which he himself was exposed by bearing letters; to
renounce the plan if he wavered, and to accept it if its terrors did
not deter him.  I walked about till I heard the words of the song:-
Segnai mi gera un gato, E ti me carezzevi.  It was Tremerello
bringing me my coffee.  I acquainted him with my scruples and spared
nothing to excite his fears.  I found him staunch in his desire to
SERVE, as he said, TWO SUCH COMPLETE GENTLEMEN.  This was strangely
at variance with the sheep's face he wore, and the name we had just
given him. {15}  Well, I was as firm on my part.

"I shall leave you my wine," said I, "see to find me the paper; I
want to carry on this correspondence; and, rely on it, if any one
comes without the warning song, I shall make an end of every
suspicious article."

"Here is a sheet of paper ready for you; I will give you more
whenever you please, and am perfectly satisfied of your prudence."

I longed to take my coffee; Tremerello left me, and I sat down to
write.  Did I do right? was the motive really approved by God?  Was
it not rather the triumph of my natural courage, of my preference of
that which pleased me, instead of obeying the call for painful
sacrifices.  Mingled with this was a proud complacency, in return
for the esteem expressed towards me by the unknown, and a fear of
appearing cowardly, if I were to adhere to silence and decline a
correspondence, every way so fraught with peril.  How was I to
resolve these doubts?  I explained them frankly to my fellow-
prisoner in replying to him, stating it nevertheless, as my opinion,
that if anything were undertaken from good motives, and without the
least repugnance of conscience, there could be no fear of blame.  I
advised him at the same time to reflect seriously upon the subject,
and to express clearly with what degree of tranquillity, or of
anxiety, he was prepared to engage, in it.  Moreover, if, upon
reconsideration, he considered the plan as too dangerous, we ought
to have firmness enough to renounce the satisfaction we promised
ourselves in such a correspondence, and rest satisfied with the
acquaintance we had formed, the mutual pleasure we had already
derived, and the unalterable goodwill we felt towards each other,
which resulted from it.  I filled four pages with my explanations,
and expressions of the warmest friendship; I briefly alluded to the
subject of my imprisonment; I spoke of my family with enthusiastic
love, as well as of some of my friends, and attempted to draw a full
picture of my mind and character.

In the evening I sent the letter.  I had not slept during the
preceding night; I was completely exhausted, and I soon fell into a
profound sleep, from which I awoke on the ensuing morning, refreshed
and comparatively happy.  I was in hourly expectation of receiving
my new friend's answer, and I felt at once anxious and pleased at
the idea.


The answer was brought with my coffee.  I welcomed Tremerello, and,
embracing him, exclaimed, "May God reward you for this goodness!"
My suspicions had fled, because they were hateful to me; and
because, making a point of never speaking imprudently upon politics,
they appeared equally useless; and because, with all my admiration
for the genius of Tacitus, I had never much faith in the justice of
TACITISING as he does, and of looking upon every object on the dark
side.  Giuliano (as the writer signed himself), began his letter
with the usual compliments, and informed me that he felt not the
least anxiety in entering upon the correspondence.  He rallied me
upon my hesitation; occasionally assumed a tone of irony; and then
more seriously declared that it had given him no little pain to
observe in me "a certain scrupulous wavering, and a subtilty of
conscience, which, however Christian-like, was little in accordance
with true philosophy."  "I shall continue to esteem you," he added,
"though we should not agree upon that point; for I am bound, in all
sincerity, to inform you, that I have no religion, that I abhor all
creeds, and that I assume from a feeling of modesty the name of
Julian, from the circumstance of that good emperor having been so
decided an enemy of the Christians, though, in fact, I go much
further than he ever did.  The sceptred Julian believed in God, and
had his own little superstitions.  I have none; I believe not in a
God, but refer all virtue to the love of truth, and the hatred of
such as do not please me."  There was no reasoning in what he said.
He inveighed bitterly against Christianity, made an idol of worldly
honour and virtue; and in a half serious and jocular vein took on
himself to pronounce the Emperor Julian's eulogium for his apostasy,
and his philanthropic efforts to eradicate all traces of the gospel
from the face of the earth.

Apprehending that he had thus given too severe a shock to my
opinions, he then asked my pardon, attempting to excuse himself upon
the ground of PERFECT SINCERITY.  Reiterating his extreme wish to
enter into more friendly relations with me, he then bade me

In a postscript he added:- "I have no sort of scruples, except a
fear of not having made myself sufficiently understood.  I ought not
to conceal that to me the Christian language which you employ,
appears a mere mask to conceal your real opinions.  I wish it may be
so; and in this case, throw off your cloak, as I have set you an

I cannot describe the effect this letter had upon me.  I had opened
it full of hope and ardour.  Suddenly an icy hand seemed to chill
the life-blood of my heart.  That sarcasm on my conscientiousness
hurt me extremely.  I repented having formed any acquaintance with
such a man, I who so much detest the doctrine of the cynics, who
consider it so wholly unphilosophical, and the most injurious in its
tendency:  I who despise all kind of arrogance as it deserves.

Having read the last word it contained, I took the letter in both my
hands, and tearing it directly down the middle, I held up a half in
each like an executioner, employed in exposing it to public scorn.


I kept my eye fixed on the fragments, meditating for a moment upon
the inconstancy and fallacy of human things I had just before
eagerly desired to obtain, that which I now tore with disdain.  I
had hoped to have found a companion in misfortune, and how I should
have valued his friendship!  Now I gave him all kinds of hard names,
insolent, arrogant, atheist, and self-condemned.

I repeated the same operation, dividing the wretched members of the
guilty letter again and again, till happening to cast my eye on a
piece remaining in my hand, expressing some better sentiment, I
changed my intention, and collecting together the disjecta membra,
ingeniously pieced them with the view of reading it once more.  I
sat down, placed them on my great Bible, and examined the whole.  I
then got up, walked about, read, and thought, "If I do not answer,"
said I, "he will think he has terrified me at the mere appearance of
such a philosophical hero, a very Hercules in his own estimation.
Let us show him, with all due courtesy, that we fear not to confront
him and his vicious doctrines, any more than to brave the risk of a
correspondence, more dangerous to others than to ourselves.  I will
teach him that true courage does not consist in ridiculing
CONSCIENCE, and that real dignity does not consist in arrogance and
pride.  He shall be taught the reasonableness of Christianity, and
the nothingness of disbelief.  Moreover, if this mock Julian start
opinions so directly opposite to my own, if he spare not the most
biting sarcasm, if he attack me thus uncourteously; is it not all a
proof that he can be no spy?  Yet, might not this be a mere
stratagem, to draw me into a discussion by wounding my self-love?
Yet no!  I am unjust--I smart under his bitter irreligious jests,
and conclude at once that he must be the most infamous of men.  Base
suspicion, which I have so often decried in others! he may be what
he appears--a presumptuous infidel, but not a spy.  Have I even a
right to call by the name of INSOLENCE, what he considers SINCERITY.
Is this, I continued, thy humility, oh, hypocrite?  If any one
presume to maintain his own opinions, and to question your faith, he
is forthwith to be met with contempt and abuse.  Is not this worse
in a Christian, than the bold sincerity of the unbeliever?  Yes, and
perhaps he only requires one ray of Divine grace, to employ his
noble energetic love of truth in the cause of true religion, with
far greater success than yourself.  Were it not, then, more becoming
in me to pray for, than to irritate him?  Who knows, but while
employed in destroying his letter with every mark of ignominy, he
might be reading mine with expressions of kindness and affection;
never dreaming I should fly into such a mighty passion at his plain
and bold sincerity.  Is he not the better of the two, to love and
esteem me while declaring he is no Christian; than I who exclaim, I
am a Christian, and I detest you.  It is difficult to obtain a
knowledge of a man during a long intercourse, yet I would condemn
him on the evidence of a single letter.  He may, perhaps, be unhappy
in his atheism, and wish to hear all my arguments to enable him the
better to arrive at the truth.  Perhaps, too, I may be called to
effect so beneficent a work, the humble instrument of a gracious
God.  Oh, that it may indeed be so, I will not shrink from the


I sat down to write to Julian, and was cautious not to let one
irritating word proceed from my pen.  I took in good part his
reflection upon my fastidiousness of conscience; I even joked about
it, telling him he perhaps gave me too much credit for it, and ought
to suspend his good opinion till he knew me better.  I praised his
sincerity, assuring him that he would find me equal to him in this
respect, and that as a proof of it, I had determined to defend
Christianity, "Well persuaded," I added, "that as I shall readily
give free scope to your opinions, you will be prepared to give me
the same advantage."

I then boldly entered upon my task, arguing my way by degrees, and
analysing with impartiality the essence of Christianity; the worship
of God free from superstitions, the brotherhood of mankind,
aspiration after virtue, humility without baseness, dignity without
pride, as exemplified in our Divine Saviour! what more
philosophical, and more truly grand?

It was next my object to demonstrate, "that this divine wisdom had
more or less displayed itself to all those who by the light of
reason had sought after the truth, though not generally diffused
till the arrival of its great Author upon the earth.  He had proved
his heavenly mission by effecting the most wonderful and glorious
results, by human means the most mean and humble.  What the greatest
philosophers had in vain attempted, the overthrow of idolatry, and
the universal preaching of love and brotherhood, was achieved by a
few untutored missionaries.  From that era was first dated the
emancipation of slaves, no less from bondage of limbs than of mind,
until by degrees a civilisation without slavery became apparent, a
state of society believed to be utterly impracticable by the ancient
philosophers.  A review of history from the appearance of Christ to
the present age, would finally demonstrate that the religion he
established had invariably been found adapted to all possible grades
in civilised society.  For this reason, the assertion that the
gospel was no longer in accordance with the continued progress of
civilisation, could not for a moment be maintained."

I wrote in as small characters as I could, and at great length, but
I could not embrace all which I had ready prepared upon the subject.
I re-examined the whole carefully.  There was not one revengeful,
injurious, or even repulsive word.  Benevolence, toleration, and
forbearance, were the only weapons I employed against ridicule and
sarcasm of every kind; they were also employed after mature
deliberation, and dictated from the heart.

I despatched the letter, and in no little anxiety waited the arrival
of the next morning, in hopes of a speedy reply.

Tremerello came, and observed; "The gentleman, sir, was not able to
write, but entreats of you to continue the joke."

"The joke!" I exclaimed.  "No, he could not have said that! you must
have mistaken him."

Tremerello shrugged up his shoulders:  "I suppose I must, if you say

"But did it really seem as if he had said a joke?"

"As plainly as I now hear the sound of St. Mark's clock;" (the
Campanone was just then heard.)  I drank my coffee and was silent.

"But tell me; did he read the whole of the letter?"

"I think he did; for he laughed like a madman, and then squeezing
your letter into a ball, he began to throw it about, till reminding
him that he must not forget to destroy it, he did so immediately."

"That is very well."

I then put my coffee cup into Tremerello's hands, observing that it
was plain the coffee had been made by the Siora Bettina.

"What! is it so bad?"

"Quite vile!"

"Well!  I made it myself; and I can assure you that I made it
strong; there were no dregs."

"True; it may be, my mouth is out of taste."


I walked about the whole morning in a rage.  "What an abandoned
wretch is this Julian! what, call my letter a joke! play at ball
with it, reply not a single line!  But all your infidels are alike!
They dare not stand the test of argument; they know their weakness,
and try to turn it off with a jest.  Full of vanity and boasting,
they venture not to examine even themselves.  They philosophers,
indeed! worthy disciples of Democritus; who DID nothing but laugh,
and WAS nothing but a buffoon.  I am rightly served, however, for
beginning a correspondence like this; and still more for writing a
second time."

At dinner, Tremerello took up my wine, poured it into a flask, and
put it into his pocket, observing:  "I see that you are in want of
paper;" and he gave me some.  He retired, and the moment I cast my
eye on the paper, I felt tempted to sit down and write to Julian a
sharp lecture on his intolerable turpitude and presumption, and so
take leave of him.  But again, I repented of my own violence, and
uncharitableness, and finally resolved to write another letter in a
better spirit as I had done before.

I did so, and despatched it without delay.  The next morning I
received a few lines, simply expressive of the writer's thanks; but
without a single jest, or the least invitation to continue the
correspondence.  Such a billet displeased me; nevertheless I
determined to persevere.  Six long letters were the result, for each
of which I received a few laconic lines of thanks, with some
declamation against his enemies, followed by a joke on the abuse he
had heaped upon them, asserting that it was extremely natural the
strong should oppress the weak, and regretting that he was not in
the list of the former.  He then related some of his love affairs,
and observed that they exercised no little sway over his disturbed

In reply to my last on the subject of Christianity, he said he had
prepared a long letter; for which I looked out in vain, though he
wrote to me every day on other topics--chiefly a tissue of obscenity
and folly.

I reminded him of his promise that he would answer all my arguments,
and recommended him to weigh well the reasonings with which I had
supplied him before he attempted to write.  He replied to this
somewhat in a rage, assuming the airs of a philosopher, a man of
firmness, a man who stood in no want of brains to distinguish "a
hawk from a hand-saw." {16}  He then resumed his jocular vein, and
began to enlarge upon his experiences in life, and especially some
very scandalous love adventures.


I bore all this patiently, to give him no handle for accusing me of
bigotry or intolerance, and in the hope that after the fever of
erotic buffoonery and folly had subsided, he might have some lucid
intervals, and listen to common sense.  Meantime I gave him
expressly to understand that I disapproved of his want of respect
towards women, his free and profane expressions, and pitied those
unhappy ones, who, he informed me, had been his victims.

He pretended to care little about my disapprobation, and repeated:
"spite of your fine strictures upon immorality, I know well you are
amused with the account of my adventures.  All men are as fond of
pleasure as I am, but they have not the frankness to talk of it
without cloaking it from the eyes of the world; I will go on till
you are quite enchanted, and confess yourself compelled in VERY
CONSCIENCE to applaud me."  So he went on from week to week, I
bearing with him, partly out of curiosity and partly in the
expectation he would fall upon some better topic; and I can fairly
say that this species of tolerance, did me no little harm.  I began
to lose my respect for pure and noble truths, my thoughts became
confused, and my mind disturbed.  To converse with men of degraded
minds is in itself degrading, at least if you possess not virtue
very superior to mine.  "This is a proper punishment," said I, "for
my presumption; this it is to assume the office of a missionary
without its sacredness of character."

One day I determined to write to him as follows:- " I have hitherto
attempted to turn your attention to other subjects, and you
persevere in sending me accounts of yourself which no way please me.
For the sake of variety, let us correspond a little respecting
worthier matters; if not, give the hand of fellowship, and let us
have done."

The two ensuing days I received no answer, and I was glad of it.
"Oh, blessed solitude;" often I exclaimed, "how far holier and
better art thou than harsh and undignified association with the
living.  Away with the empty and impious vanities, the base actions,
the low despicable conversations of such a world.  I have studied it
enough; let me turn to my communion with God; to the calm, dear
recollections of my family and my true friends.  I will read my
Bible oftener than I have done, I will again write down my thoughts,
will try to raise and improve them, and taste the pleasure of a
sorrow at least innocent; a thousand fold to be preferred to vulgar
and wicked imaginations."

Whenever Tremerello now entered my room he was in the habit of
saying, "I have got no answer yet."

"It is all right," was my reply.

About the third day from this, he said, with a serious look, "Signor
N. N. is rather indisposed."

"What is the matter with him?"

"He does not say, but he has taken to his bed, neither eats nor
drinks, and is sadly out of humour."

I was touched; he was suffering and had no one to console him.

"I will write him a few lines," exclaimed I.

"I will take them this evening, then," said Tremerello, and he went

I was a little perplexed on sitting down to my table:  "Am I right
in resuming this correspondence? was I not, just now, praising
solitude as a treasure newly found? what inconsistency is this!  Ah!
but he neither eats nor drinks, and I fear must be very ill.  Is it,
then, a moment to abandon him?  My last letter was severe, and may
perhaps have caused him pain.  Perhaps, in spite of our different
ways of thinking, he wished not to end our correspondence.  Yes, he
has thought my letter more caustic than I meant it to be, and taken
it in the light of an absolute and contemptuous dismission.


I sat down and wrote as follows:-

"I hear that you are not well, and am extremely sorry for it.  I
wish I were with you, and enabled to assist you as a friend.  I hope
your illness is the sole cause why you have not written to me during
the last three days.  Did you take offence at my little strictures
the other day?  Believe me they were dictated by no ill will or
spleen, but with the single object of drawing your attention to more
serious subjects.  Should it be irksome for you to write, send me an
exact account, by word, how you find yourself.  You shall hear from
me every day, and I will try to say something to amuse you, and to
show you that I really wish you well."

Imagine my unfeigned surprise when I received an answer, couched in
these terms:

"I renounce your friendship:  if you are at a loss how to estimate
mine, I return the compliment in its full force.  I am not a man to
put up with injurious treatment; I am not one, who, once rejected,
will be ordered to return."

"Because you heard I was unwell, you approach me with a hypocritical
air, in the idea that illness will break down my spirit, and make me
listen to your sermons . . . "

In this way he rambled on, reproaching and despising me in the most
revolting terms he could find, and turning every thing I had said
into ridicule and burlesque.  He assured me that he knew how to live
and die with consistency; that is to say, with the utmost hatred and
contempt for all philosophical creeds differing from his own.  I was

"A pretty conversion I have made of it!" I exclaimed; "yet God is my
witness that my motives were pure.  I have done nothing to merit an
attack like this.  But patience!  I am once more undeceived.  I am
not called upon to do more."

In a few days I became less angry, and conceived that all this
bitterness might have resulted from some excitement which might pass
away.  Probably he repents, yet scorns to confess he was in the
wrong.  In such a state of mind, it might be generous of me to write
to him once more.  It cost my self-love something, but I did it.  To
humble one's self for a good purpose is not degrading, with whatever
degree of unjust contempt it may be returned.

I received a reply less violent, but not less insulting.  The
implacable patient declared that he admired what he called my
evangelical moderation.  "Now, therefore," he continued, "let us
resume our correspondence, but let us speak out.  We do not like
each other, but we will write, each for his own amusement, setting
everything down which may come into our heads.  You will tell me
your seraphic visions and revelations, and I will treat you with my
profane adventures; you again will run into ecstasies upon the
dignity of man, yea, and of woman; I into an ingenuous narrative of
my various profanations; I hoping to make a convert of you, and you
of me.

"Give me an answer should you approve these conditions."

I replied, "Yours is not a compact, but a jest.  I was full of good-
will towards you.  My conscience does not constrain me to do more
than to wish you every happiness both as regards this and another

Thus ended my secret connexion with that strange man.  But who
knows; he was perhaps more exasperated by ill fortune, delirium, or
despair, than really bad at heart.


I once more learnt to value solitude, and my days tracked each other
without any distinction or mark of change.

The summer was over; it was towards the close of September, and the
heat grew less oppressive; October came.  I congratulated myself now
on occupying a chamber well adapted for winter.  One morning,
however, the jailer made his appearance, with an order to change my

"And where am I to go?"

"Only a few steps, into a fresher chamber."

"But why not think of it when I was dying of suffocation; when the
air was filled with gnats, and my bed with bugs?"

"The order did not come before."

"Patience! let us be gone!"

Notwithstanding I had suffered so greatly in this prison, it gave me
pain to leave it; not simply because it would have been best for the
winter season, but for many other reasons.  There I had the ants to
attract my attention, which I had fed and looked upon, I may almost
say, with paternal care.  Within the last few days, however, my
friend the spider, and my great ally in my war with the gnats, had,
for some reason or other, chosen to emigrate; at least he did not
come as usual.  "Yet perhaps," said I, "he may remember me, and come
back, but he will find my prison empty, or occupied by some other
guest--no friend perhaps to spiders--and thus meet with an awkward
reception.  His fine woven house, and his gnat-feasts will all be
put an end to."

Again, my gloomy abode had been embellished by the presence of
Angiola, so good, so gentle and compassionate.  There she used to
sit, and try every means she could devise to amuse me, even dropping
crumbs of bread for my little visitors, the ants; and there I heard
her sobs, and saw the tears fall thick and fast, as she spoke of her
cruel lover.

The place I was removed to was under the leaden prisons, (I Piombi)
open to the north and west, with two windows, one on each side; an
abode exposed to perpetual cold and even icy chill during the
severest months.  The window to the west was the largest, that to
the north was high and narrow, and situated above my bed.

I first looked out at this last, and found that it commanded a view
of the Palace of the Patriarch.  Other prisons were near mine, in a
narrow wing to the right, and in a projection of the building right
opposite.  Here were two prisons, one above the other.  The lower
had an enormous window, through which I could see a man, very richly
drest, pacing to and fro.  It was the Signor Caporale di Cesena.  He
perceived me, made a signal, and we pronounced each other's names.

I next looked out at my other window.  I put the little table upon
my bed, and a chair upon my table; I climbed up and found myself on
a level with part of the palace roof; and beyond this was to be seen
a fine view of the city and the lake.

I paused to admire it; and though I heard some one open the door, I
did not move.  It was the jailer; and perceiving that I had
clambered up, he got it into his head I was making an attempt to
escape, forgetting, in his alarm, that I was not a mouse to creep
through all those narrow bars.  In a moment he sprung upon the bed,
spite of a violent sciatica which had nearly bent him double, and
catching me by the legs, he began to call out, "thieves and murder!"

"But don't you see," I exclaimed, "you thoughtless man, that I
cannot conjure myself through these horrible bars?  Surely you know
I got up here out of mere curiosity."

"Oh, yes, I see, I apprehend, sir; but quick, sir, jump down, sir;
these are all temptations of the devil to make you think of it! come
down, sir, pray."

I lost no time in my descent, and laughed.


At the windows of the side prisons I recognised six other prisoners,
all there on account of politics.  Just then, as I was composing my
mind to perfect solitude, I found myself comparatively in a little
world of human beings around me.  The change was, at first, irksome
to me, such complete seclusion having rendered me almost unsociable,
add to which, the disagreeable termination of my correspondence with
Julian.  Still, the little conversation I was enabled to carry on,
partly by signs, with my new fellow-prisoners, was of advantage by
diverting my attention.  I breathed not a word respecting my
correspondence with Julian; it was a point of honour between us, and
in bringing it forward here, I was fully aware that in the immense
number of unhappy men with which these prisons were thronged, it
would be impossible to ascertain who was the assumed Julian.

To the interest derived from seeing my fellow-captives was added
another of a yet more delightful kind.  I could perceive from my
large window, beyond the projection of prisons, situated right
before me, a surface of roofs; decorated with cupolas, campanili,
towers, and chimneys, which gradually faded in a distant view of sea
and sky.  In the house nearest to me, a wing of the Patriarchal
palace, lived an excellent family, who had a claim to my gratitude,
for expressing, by their salutations, the interest which they took
in my fate.  A sign, a word of kindness to the unhappy, is really
charity of no trivial kind.  From one of the windows I saw a little
boy, nine or ten years old, stretching out his hands towards me, and
I heard him call out, "Mamma, mamma, they have placed somebody up
there in the Piombi.  Oh, you poor prisoner, who are you?"

"I am Silvio Pellico," was the reply.

Another older boy now ran to the same window, and cried out, "Are
you Silvio Pellico?"

"Yes; and tell me your names, dear boys."

"My name is Antonio S-, and my brother's is Joseph."

He then turned round, and, speaking to some one within, "What else
ought I to ask him?"  A lady, whom I conjecture to have been their
mother, then half concealed, suggested some pretty words to them,
which they repeated, and for which I thanked them with all my heart.
These sort of communications were a small matter, yet it required to
be cautious how we indulged in them, lest we should attract the
notice of the jailer.  Morning, noon, and night, they were a source
of the greatest consolation; the little boys were constantly in the
habit of bidding me good night, before the windows were closed, and
the lights brought in, "Good night, Silvio," and often it was
repeated by the good lady, in a more subdued voice, "Good night,
Silvio, have courage!"

When engaged at their meals they would say, "How we wish we could
give you any of this good coffee and milk.  Pray remember, the first
day they let you out, to come and see us.  Mamma and we will give
you plenty of good things, {17} and as many kisses as you like."


The month of October brought round one of the most disagreeable
anniversaries in my life.  I was arrested on the 13th of that month
in the preceding year.  Other recollections of the same period, also
pained me.  That day two years, a highly valued and excellent man
whom I truly honoured, was drowned in the Ticino.  Three years
before, a young person, Odoardo Briche, {18} whom I loved as if he
had been my own son, had accidentally killed himself with a musket.
Earlier in my youth another severe affliction had befallen me in the
same month.

Though not superstitious, the remembrance of so many unhappy
occurrences at the same period of the year, inspired a feeling of
extreme sorrow.  While conversing at the window with the children,
and with my fellow prisoners, I assumed an air of mirth, but hardly
had I re-entered my cave than an irresistible feeling of melancholy
weighed down every faculty of my mind.  In vain I attempted to
engage in some literary composition; I was involuntarily impelled to
write upon other topics.  I thought of my family, and wrote letters
after letters, in which I poured forth all my burdened spirit, all I
had felt and enjoyed of home, in far happier days, surrounded by
brothers, sisters, and friends who had always loved me.  The desire
of seeing them, and long compulsory separation, led me to speak on a
variety of little things, and reveal a thousand thoughts of
gratitude and tenderness, which would not otherwise have occurred to
my mind.

In the same way I took a review of my former life, diverting my
attention by recalling past incidents, and dwelling upon those
happier periods now for ever fled.  Often, when the picture I had
thus drawn, and sat contemplating for hours, suddenly vanished from
my sight, and left me conscious only of the fearful present, and
more threatening future, the pen fell from my hand; I recoiled with
horror; the contrast was more than I could bear.  These were
terrific moments; I had already felt them, but never with such
intense susceptibility as then.  It was agony.  This I attributed to
extreme excitement of the passions, occasioned by expressing them in
the form of letters, addressed to persons to whom I was so tenderly

I turned to other subjects, I determined to change the form of
expressing my ideas, but could not.  In whatever way I began, it
always ended in a letter teeming with affection and with grief.

"What," I exclaimed, "am I no more master of my own will?  Is this
strange necessity of doing that which I object to, a distortion of
my brain?  At first I could have accounted for it; but after being
inured to this solitude, reconciled, and supported by religious
reflections; how have I become the slave of these blind impulses,
these wanderings of heart and mind? let me apply to other matters!"
I then endeavoured to pray; or to weary my attention by hard study
of the German.  Alas!  I commenced and found myself actually engaged
in writing a letter!


Such a state of mind was a real disease, or I know not if it may be
called a kind of somnambulism.  Without doubt it was the effect of
extreme lassitude, occasioned by continual thought and watchfulness.

It gained upon me.  I grew feverish and sleepless.  I left off
coffee, but the disease was not removed.  It appeared to me as if I
were two persons, one of them eagerly bent upon writing letters, the
other upon doing something else.  "At least," said I, "you shall
write them in German if you do; and we shall learn a little of the
language.  Methought HE then set to work, and wrote volumes of bad
German, and he certainly brought me rapidly forward in the study of
it.  Towards morning, my mind being wholly exhausted, I fell into a
heavy stupor, during which all those most dear to me haunted my
dreams.  I thought that my father and mother were weeping over me; I
heard their lamentations, and suddenly I started out of my sleep
sobbing and affrighted.  Sometimes, during short, disturbed
slumbers, I heard my mother's voice, as if consoling others, with
whom she came into my prison, and she addressed me in the most
affectionate language upon the duty of resignation, and then, when I
was rejoiced to see her courage, and that of others, suddenly she
appeared to burst into tears, and all wept.  I can convey no idea of
the species of agony which I at these times felt.

To escape from this misery, I no longer went to bed.  I sat down to
read by the light of my lamp, but I could comprehend nothing, and
soon I found that I was even unable to think.  I next tried to copy
something, but still copied something different from what I was
writing, always recurring to the subject of my afflictions.  If I
retired to rest, it was worse; I could lie in no position; I became
convulsed, and was constrained to rise.  In case I slept, the same
visions reappeared, and made me suffer much more than I did by
keeping awake.  My prayers, too, were feeble and ineffectual; and,
at length, I could simply invoke the name of the Deity; of the Being
who had assumed a human form, and was acquainted with grief.  I was
afraid to sleep; my prayers seemed to bring me no relief; my
imagination became excited, and, even when awake, I heard strange
noises close to me, sometimes sighs and groans, at others mingled
with sounds of stifled laughter.  I was never superstitious, but
these apparently real and unaccountable sights and sounds led me to
doubt, and I then firmly believed that I was the victim of some
unknown and malignant beings.  Frequently I took my light, and made
a search for those mockers and persecutors of my waking and sleeping
hours.  At last they began to pull me by my clothes, threw my books
upon the ground, blew out my lamp, and even, as it seemed, conveyed
me into another dungeon.  I would then start to my feet, look and
examine all round me, and ask myself if I were really mad.  The
actual world, and that of my imagination, were no longer
distinguishable, I knew not whether what I saw and felt was a
delusion or truth.  In this horrible state I could only repeat one
prayer, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"


One morning early, I threw myself upon my pallet, having first
placed my handkerchief, as usual, under my pillow.  Shortly after,
falling asleep, I suddenly woke, and found myself in a state of
suffocation; my persecutors were strangling me, and, on putting my
hand to my throat, I actually found my own handkerchief, all
knotted, tied round my neck.  I could have sworn I had never made
those knots; yet I must have done this in my delirium; but as it was
then impossible to believe it, I lived in continual expectation of
being strangled.  The recollection is still horrible.  They left me
at dawn of day; and, resuming my courage, I no longer felt the least
apprehension, and even imagined it would be impossible they should
again return.  Yet no sooner did the night set in, than I was again
haunted by them in all their horrors; being made sensible of their
gradual approach by cold shiverings, the loss of all power, with a
species of fascination which riveted both the eye and the mind.  In
fact, the more weak and wretched I felt, at night, the greater were
my efforts during the day to appear cheerful in conversing with my
companions, with the two boys at the palace, and with my jailers.
No one to hear my jokes, would have imagined it possible that I was
suffering under the disease I did.  I thought to encourage myself by
this forced merriment, but the spectral visions which I laughed at
by day became fearful realities in the hours of darkness.

Had I dared, I should have petitioned the commission to change my
apartment, but the fear of ridicule, in case I should be asked my
reasons, restrained me.  No reasonings, no studies, or pursuits, and
even no prayers, were longer of avail, and the idea of being wholly
abandoned by heaven, took possession of my mind.

All those wicked sophisms against a just Providence, which, while in
possession of reason, had appeared to me so vain and impious, now
recurred with redoubled power, in the form of irresistible
arguments.  I struggled mightily against this last and greatest evil
I had yet borne, and in the lapse of a few days the temptation fled.
Still I refused to acknowledge the truth and beauty of religion; I
quoted the assertions of the most violent atheists, and those which
Julian had so recently dwelt upon:  "Religion serves only to
enfeeble the mind," was one of these, and I actually presumed that
by renouncing my God I should acquire greater fortitude.  Insane
idea!  I denied God, yet knew not how to deny those invisible
malevolent beings, that appeared to encompass me, and feast upon my

What shall I call this martyrdom? is it enough to say that it was a
disease? or was it a divine chastisement for my pride, to teach me
that without a special illumination I might become as great an
unbeliever as Julian, and still more absurd.  However this may be,
it pleased God to deliver me from such evil, when I least expected
it.  One morning, after taking my coffee, I was seized with violent
sickness, attended with colic.  I imagined that I had been poisoned.
After excessive vomiting, I burst into a strong perspiration and
retired to bed.  About mid-day I fell asleep, and continued in a
quiet slumber till evening.  I awoke in great surprise at this
unexpected repose, and, thinking I should not sleep again, I got up.
On rising I said, "I shall now have more fortitude to resist my
accustomed terrors."  But they returned no more.  I was in
ecstasies; I threw myself upon my knees in the fulness of my heart,
and again prayed to my God in spirit and in truth, beseeching pardon
for having denied, during many days, His holy name.  It was almost
too much for my newly reviving strength, and while even yet upon my
knees, supporting my head against a chair, I fell into a profound
sleep in that very position.

Some hours afterwards, as I conjectured, I seemed in part to awake,
but no sooner had I stretched my weary limbs upon my rude couch than
I slept till the dawn of day.  The same disposition to somnolency
continued through the day, and the next night, I rested as soundly
as before.  What was the sort of crisis that had thus taken place?
I know not; but I was perfectly restored.


The sickness of the stomach which I had so long laboured under now
ceased, the pains of the head also left me, and I felt an
extraordinary appetite.  My digestion was good, and I gained
strength.  Wonderful providence! that deprived me of my health to
humble my mind, and again restored it when the moment was at hand
that I should require it all, that I might not sink under the weight
of my sentence.

On the 24th of November, one of our companions, Dr. Foresti, was
taken from the Piombi, and transported no one knew whither.  The
jailer, his wife, and the assistants, were alike alarmed, and not
one of them ventured to throw the least light upon this mysterious

"And why should you persist," said Tremerello, "in wishing to know,
when nothing good is to be heard?  I have told you too much--too
much already."

"Then what is the use of trying to hide it?  I know it too well.  He
is condemned to death."

"Who? . . . he . . . Doctor Foresti?"

Tremerello hesitated, but the love of gossip was not the least of
his virtues.

"Don't say, then," he resumed, "that I am a babbler; I never wished
to say a word about these matters; so, remember, it is you who
compel me."

"Yes, yes, I do compel you; but courage! tell me every thing you
know respecting the poor Doctor?"

"Ah, Sir! they have made him cross the Bridge of Sighs! he lies in
the dungeons of the condemned; sentence of death has been announced
to him and two others."

"And will it be executed?  When?  Oh, unhappy man! and what are the
others' names?"

"I know no more.  The sentences have not been published.  It is
reported in Venice that they will be commuted.  I trust in God they
may, at least, as regards the good Doctor.  Do you know, I am as
fond of that noble fellow, pardon the expression, as if he were my
own brother."

He seemed moved, and walked away.  Imagine the agitation I suffered
throughout the whole of that day, and indeed long after, as there
were no means of ascertaining anything further respecting the fate
of these unfortunate men.

A month elapsed, and at length the sentences connected with the
first trial were published.  Nine were condemned to death,
GRACIOUSLY exchanged for hard imprisonment, some for twenty, and
others for fifteen years in the fortress of Spielberg, near the city
of Brunn, in Moravia; while those for ten years and under were to be
sent to the fortress of Lubiana.

Were we authorised to conclude, from this commutation of sentence in
regard to those first condemned, that the parties subject to the
second trial would likewise be spared?  Was the indulgence to be
confined only to the former, on account of their having been
arrested previous to the publication of the edicts against secret
societies; the full vengeance of the law being reserved for
subsequent offenders?

Well, I exclaimed, we shall not long be kept in suspense; I am at
least grateful to Heaven for being allowed time to prepare myself in
a becoming manner for the final scene.


It was now my only consideration how to die like a Christian, and
with proper fortitude.  I felt, indeed, a strong temptation to avoid
the scaffold by committing suicide, but overcame it.  What merit is
there in refusing to die by the hand of the executioner, and yet to
fall by one's own?  To save one's honour?  But is it not childish to
suppose that there can be more honour in cheating the executioner,
than in not doing this, when it is clear that we must die.  Even had
I not been a Christian, upon serious reflection, suicide would have
appeared to me both ridiculous and useless, if not criminal in a
high degree.

"If the term of life be expired," continued I, "am I not fortunate
in being permitted to collect my thoughts and purify my conscience
with penitence and prayer becoming a man in affliction.  In popular
estimation, the being led to the scaffold is the worst part of
death; in the opinion of the wise, is not this far preferable to the
thousand deaths which daily occur by disease, attended by general
prostration of intellect, without power to raise the thoughts from
the lowest state of physical exhaustion."

I felt the justice of this reasoning, and lost all feeling of
anxiety or terror at the idea of a public execution.  I reflected
deeply on the sacraments calculated to support me under such an
appalling trial, and I felt disposed to receive them in a right
spirit.  Should I have been enabled, had I really been conducted to
the scaffold, to preserve the same elevation of mind, the same
forgiveness of my enemies, the same readiness to lay down my life at
the will of God, as I then felt?  Alas, how inconsistent is man!
when most firm and pious, how liable is he to fall suddenly into
weakness and crime!  Is it likely I should have died worthily?  God
only knows; I dare not think well enough of myself to assert it.

The probable approach of death so riveted my imagination, that not
only did it seem possible but as if marked by an infallible
presentiment.  I no longer indulged a hope of avoiding it, and at
every sound of footsteps and keys, or the opening of my door, I was
in the habit of exclaiming:  "Courage!  Perhaps I am going to
receive sentence.  Let me hear it with calm dignity, and bless the
name of the Lord."

I considered in what terms I should last address my family, each of
my brothers, and each of my sisters, and by revolving in my mind
these sacred and affecting duties, I was often drowned in tears,
without losing my fortitude and resignation.

I was naturally unable to enjoy sound repose; but my sleeplessness
was not of the same alarming character as before; no visions,
spectres, or concealed enemies were ready to deprive me of life.  I
spent the night in calm and reviving prayer.  Towards morning I was
enabled to sleep for about two hours, and rose late to breakfast.

One night I had retired to rest earlier than usual; I had hardly
slept a quarter of an hour, when I awoke, and beheld an immense
light upon the wall opposite to me.  At first I imagined that I had
been seized with my former illness; but this was no illusion.  The
light shone through the north window, under which I then lay.

I started up, seized my table, placed it on my bed, and a chair
again upon the table, by means of all which I mounted up, and beheld
one of the most terrific spectacles of fire that can be imagined.
It was not more than a musket shot distant from our prison; it
proceeded from the establishment of the public ovens, and the
edifice was entirely consumed.

The night was exceedingly dark, and vast globes of flame spouted
forth on both sides, borne away by a violent wind.  All around, it
seemed as if the sky rained sparks of fire.  The adjacent lake
reflected the magnificent sight; numbers of gondolas went and came,
but my sympathy was most excited at the danger and terrors of those
who resided nearest to the burning edifice.  I heard the far off
voices of men and women calling to each other.  Among others, I
caught the name of Angiola, and of this doubtless there are some
thousands in Venice:  yet I could not help fearing it might be the
one of whom the recollection was so sweet to me.  Could it be her?--
was she surrounded by the flames? how I longed to fly to her rescue.

Full of excitement, wonder, and terror, I stood at the window till
the day dawned, I then got down oppressed by a feeling of deep
sorrow, and imagined much greater misfortune than had really
occurred.  I was informed by Tremerello that only the ovens and the
adjoining magazine had suffered, the loss consisting chiefly of corn
and sacks of flour.


The effect of this accident upon my imagination had not yet ceased,
when one night, as I was sitting at my little table reading, and
half perished with cold, I heard a number of voices not far from me.
They were those of the jailer, his wife, and sons, with the
assistants, all crying:

"Fire! fire.  Oh, blessed Virgin! we are lost, we are lost!"

I felt no longer cold, I started to my feet in a violent
perspiration, and looked out to discover the quarter from which the
fire proceeded.  I could perceive nothing, I was informed, however,
that it arose in the palace itself, from some public chambers
contiguous to the prisons.  One of the assistants called out, "But,
sir governor, what shall we do with these caged birds here, if the
fire keeps a head?"  The head jailer replied, "Why, I should not
like to have them roasted alive.  Yet I cannot let them out of their
bars without special orders from the commission.  You may run as
fast as you can, and get an order if you can."

"To be sure I will, but, you know, it will be too late for the

All this was said in the rude Venetian dialect, but I understood it
too well.  And now, where was all my heroic spirit and resignation,
which I had counted upon to meet sudden death?  Why did the idea of
being burnt alive throw me into such a fever?  I felt ashamed of
this unworthy fear, and though just on the point of crying out to
the jailer to let me out, I restrained myself, reflecting that there
might be as little pleasure in being strangled as in being burnt.
Still I felt really afraid.

"Here," said I, "is a specimen of my courage, should I escape the
flames, and be doomed to mount the scaffold.  I will restrain my
fear, and hide it from others as well as I can, though I know I
shall tremble.  Yet surely it is courage to behave as if we were not
afraid, whatever we may feel.  Is it not generosity to give away
that which it costs us much to part with?  It is, also, an act of
obedience, though we obey with great repugnance."

The tumult in the jailer's house was so loud and continued that I
concluded the fire was on the increase.  The messenger sent to ask
permission for our temporary release had not returned.  At last I
thought I heard his voice; no; I listened, he is not come.  Probably
the permission will not be granted; there will be no means of
escape; if the jailer should not humanely take the responsibility
upon himself, we shall be suffocated in our dungeons!  Well, but
this, I exclaimed, is not philosophy, and it is not religion.  Were
it not better to prepare myself to witness the flames bursting into
my chamber, and about to swallow me up.

Meantime the clamour seemed to diminish; by degrees it died away;
was this any proof that the fire had ceased?  Or, perhaps, all who
could had already fled, and left the prisoners to their fate.

The silence continued, no flames appeared, and I retired to bed,
reproaching myself for the want of fortitude I had evinced.  Indeed,
I began to regret that I had not been burnt alive, instead of being
handed over, as a victim, into the hands of men.

The next morning, I learnt the real cause of the fire from
Tremerello, and laughed at his account of the fear he had endured,
as if my own had not been as great--perhaps, in fact, much greater
of the two.


On the 11th of January, 1822, about nine in the morning, Tremerello
came into my room in no little agitation, and said,

"Do you know, Sir, that in the island of San Michele, a little way
from Venice, there is a prison containing more than a hundred

"You have told me so a hundred times.  Well! what would you have me
hear, speak out; are some of them condemned?"


"Who are they?"

"I don't know."

"Is my poor friend Maroncelli among them?"

"Ah, Sir, too many . . . I know not who."  And he went away in great
emotion, casting on me a look of compassion.

Shortly after came the jailer, attended by the assistants, and by a
man whom I had never before seen.  The latter opened his subject as
follows:  "The commission, Sir, has given orders that you come with

"Let us go, then," I replied; "may I ask who you are?"

"I am jailer of the San Michele prisons, where I am going to take

The jailer of the Piombi delivered to the new governor the money
belonging to me which he had in his hands.  I obtained permission to
make some little present to the under jailers; I then put my clothes
in order, put my Bible under my arm, and departed.  In descending
the immense track of staircases, Tremerello for a moment took my
hand; he pressed it as much as to say, "Unhappy man! you are lost."

We came out at a gate which opened upon the lake, and there stood a
gondola with two under jailers belonging to San Michele.

I entered the boat with feelings of the most contradictory nature;
regret at leaving the prison of the Piombi, where I had suffered so
much, but where I had become attached to some individuals, and they
to me; the pleasure of beholding once more the sky, the city, and
the clear waters, without the intervention of iron bars.  Add to
this the recollection of that joyous gondola, which, in time past,
had borne me on the bosom of that placid lake; the gondolas of the
lake of Como, those of Lago Maggiore, the little barks of the Po,
those of the Rodano, and of the Sonna!  Oh, happy vanished years!
who, who then so happy in the world as I?

The son of excellent and affectionate parents, in a rank of life,
perhaps, the happiest for the cultivation of the affections, being
equally removed from riches and from poverty; I had spent my infancy
in the participation of the sweetest domestic ties; had been the
object of the tenderest domestic cares.  I had subsequently gone to
Lyons, to my maternal uncle, an elderly man, extremely wealthy, and
deserving of all he possessed; and at his mansion I partook of all
the advantages and delights of elegance and refined society, which
gave an indescribable charm to those youthful days.  Thence
returning into Italy, under the parental roof, I at once devoted
myself with ardour to study, and the enjoyment of society;
everywhere meeting with distinguished friends and the most
encouraging praise.  Monti and Foscolo, although at variance with
each other, were kind to me.  I became more attached to the latter,
and this irritable man, who, by his asperities, provoked so many to
quarrel with him, was with me full of gentleness and cordiality.
Other distinguished characters likewise became attached to me, and I
returned all their regard.  Neither envy nor calumny had the least
influence over me, or I felt it only from persons who had not the
power to injure me.  On the fall of the kingdom of Italy, my father
removed to Turin, with the rest of his family.  I had preferred to
remain at Milan, where I spent my time at once so profitably and so
happily as made me unwilling to leave it.  Here I had three friends
to whom I was greatly attached--D. Pietro Borsieri, Lodovico di
Breme, and the Count Luigi Porro Lambertenghi.  Subsequently I added
to them Count Federigo Confalonieri. {19}  Becoming the preceptor of
two young sons of Count Porro, I was to them as a father, and their
father acted like a brother to me.  His mansion was the resort not
only of society the most refined and cultivated of Italy, but of
numbers of celebrated strangers.  It was there I became acquainted
with De Stael, Schlegel, Davis, Byron, Brougham, Hobhouse, and
illustrious travellers from all parts of Europe.  How delightful,
how noble an incentive to all that is great and good, is an
intercourse with men of first-rate merit!.  I was then happy; I
would not have exchanged my lot with a prince; and now, to be
hurled, as I had been, from the summit of all my hopes and projects,
into an abyss of wretchedness, and to be hurried thus from dungeon
to dungeon, to perish doubtless either by a violent death or
lingering in chains.


Absorbed in reflections like these, I reached San Michele, and was
locked up in a room which embraced a view of the court yard, of the
lake, and the beautiful island of Murano.  I inquired respecting
Maroncelli from the jailer, from his wife, and the four assistants;
but their visits were exceedingly brief, very ceremonious, and, in
fact, they would tell me nothing.

Nevertheless where there are five or six persons, it is rarely you
do not find one who possesses a compassionate, as well as a
communicative disposition.  I met with such a one, and from him I
learnt what follows:-

Maroncelli, after having been long kept apart, had been placed with
Count Camillo Laderchi. {20}  The last, within a few days, had been
declared innocent, and discharged from prison, and the former again
remained alone.  Some other of our companions had also been set at
liberty; the Professor Romagnosi, {21} and Count Giovanni
Arrivabene. {22}  Captain Rezia {23} and the Signor Canova were
together.  Professor Ressi {24} was dying at that time, in a prison
next to that of the two before mentioned.  "It follows then," said
I, "that the sentences of those not set at liberty must have
arrived.  How are they to be made known?  Perhaps, poor Ressi will
die; and will not be in a state to hear his sentence; is it true?"

"I believe it is."

Every day I inquired respecting the unhappy man.  "He has lost his
voice; he is rather better; he is delirious; he is nearly gone; he
spits blood; he is dying;" were the usual replies; till at length
came the last of all, "He is dead."

I shed a tear to his memory, and consoled myself with thinking that
he died ignorant of the sentence which awaited him.

The day following, the 21st of February, 1822, the jailer came for
me about ten o'clock, and conducted me into the Hall of the
Commission.  The members were all seated, but they rose; the
President, the Inquisitor, and two assisting Judges.--The first,
with a look of deep commiseration, acquainted me that my sentence
had arrived; that it was a terrible one; but that the clemency of
the Emperor had mitigated it.

The Inquisitor, fixing his eye on me, then read it:- "Silvio
Pellico, condemned to death; the imperial decree is, that the
sentence be commuted for fifteen years hard imprisonment in the
fortress of Spielberg."

"The will of God be done!" was my reply.

It was really my intention to bear this horrible blow like a
Christian, and neither to exhibit nor to feel resentment against any
one whatever.  The President then commended my state of mind, warmly
recommending me to persevere in it, and that possibly by affording
an edifying example, I might in a year or two be deemed worthy of
receiving further favours from the imperial clemency.

Instead, however, of one or two, it was many years before the full
sentence was remitted.

The other judges also spoke encouragingly to me.  One of them,
indeed, had appeared my enemy on my trial, accosting me in a
courteous but ironical tone, while his look of insulting triumph
seemed to belie his words.  I would not make oath it was so, but my
blood was then boiling, and I was trying to smother my passion.
While they were praising me for my Christian patience, I had not a
jot of it left me.  "To-morrow," continued the Inquisitor, "I am
sorry to say, you must appear and receive your sentence in public.
It is a formality which cannot be dispensed with."

"Be it so!" I replied.

"From this time we grant you the company of your friend," he added.
Then calling the jailer, he consigned me into his hands, ordering
that I should be placed in the same dungeon with Maroncelli.


It was a delightful moment, when, after a separation of three
months, and having suffered so greatly, I met my friend.  For some
moments we forgot even the severity of our sentence, conscious only
of each other's presence.

But I soon turned from my friend to perform a more serious duty--
that of writing to my father.  I was desirous that the first tidings
of my sad lot should reach my family from myself; in order that the
grief which I knew they would all feel might be at least mitigated
by hearing my state of mind, and the sentiments of peace and
religion by which I was supported.  The judges had given me a
promise to expedite the letter the moment it was written.

Maroncelli next spoke to me respecting his trial; I acquainted him
with mine, and we mutually described our prison walks and
adventures, complimenting each other on our peripatetic philosophy.
We approached our window, and saluted three of our friends, whom we
beheld standing at theirs.  Two of these were Canova and Rezia, in
the same apartment; the first of whom was condemned to six-years'
hard imprisonment, and the last to three.  The third was Doctor
Cesare Armari, who had been my neighbour some preceding months, in
the prisons of the Piombi.  He was not, however, among the
condemned, and soon obtained his liberty.

The power of communicating with one or other of our fellow-
prisoners, at all hours, was a great relief to our feelings.  But
when buried in silence and darkness, I was unable to compose myself
to rest; I felt my head burn, and my heart bleed, as my thoughts
reverted to home.  Would my aged parents be enabled to bear up
against so heavy a misfortune? would they find a sufficient resource
in their other children?  They were equally attached to all, and I
valued myself least of all in that family of love; but will a father
and a mother ever find in the children that remain to them a
compensation for the one of whom they are deprived.

Had I dwelt only upon my relatives and a few other dear friends,
much as I regretted them, my thoughts would have been less bitter
than they were.  But I thought of the insulting smile of that judge,
of the trial, the cause of the respective sentences, political
passions and enmities, and the fate of so many of my friends . . .
It was then I could no longer think with patience or indulgence of
any of my persecutors.  God had subjected me to a severe trial, and
it was my duty to have borne it with courage.  Alas!  I was neither
able nor willing.  The pride and luxury of hatred pleased me better
than the noble spirit of forgiveness; and I passed a night of horror
after receiving sentence.

In the morning I could not pray.  The universe appeared to me, then,
to be the work of some power, the enemy of good.  I had previously,
indeed, been guilty of calumniating my Creator; but little did I
imagine I should revert to such ingratitude, and in so brief a time.
Julian, in his most impious moods, could not express himself more
impiously than myself.  To gloat over thoughts of hatred, or fierce
revenge, when smarting under the scourge of heaviest calamity,
instead of flying to religion as a refuge, renders a man criminal,
even though his cause be just.  If we hate, it is a proof of rank
pride; and where is the wretched mortal that dare stand up and
declare in the face of Heaven, his title to hatred and revenge
against his fellows? to assert that none have a right to sit in
judgment upon him and his actions;--that none can injure him without
a bad intention, or a violation of all justice?  In short, he dares
to arraign the decrees of Heaven itself, if it please Providence to
make him suffer in a manner which he does not himself approve.

Still I was unhappy because I could not pray; for when pride reigns
supreme, it acknowledges no other god than the self-idol it has
created.  How I could have wished to recommend to the Supreme
Protector, the care of my bereaved parents, though at that unhappy
moment I felt as if I no more believed in Him.


At nine in the morning Maroncelli and I were conducted into the
gondola which conveyed us into the city.  We alighted at the palace
of the Doge, and proceeded to the prisons.  We were placed in the
apartment which had been occupied by Signor Caporali a few days
before, but with whose fate we were not acquainted.  Nine or ten
sbirri were placed over us as a guard, and walking about, we awaited
the moment of being brought into the square.  There was considerable
delay.  The Inquisitor did not make his appearance till noon, and
then informed us that it was time to go.  The physician, also,
presented himself, and advised us to take a small glass of mint-
water, which we accepted on account of the extreme compassion which
the good old man expressed for us.  It was Dr. Dosmo.  The head
bailiff then advanced and fixed the hand-cuffs upon us.  We followed
him, accompanied by the other bailiffs.

We next descended the magnificent staircase of the Giganti, and we
called to mind the old Doge Faliero, who was beheaded there.  We
entered through the great gate which opens upon the small square
from the court-yard of the palace, and we then turned to the left,
in the direction of the lake.  In the centre of the small square was
raised the scaffold which we were to ascend.  From the staircase of
the Giganti, extending to the scaffold, were two lines of Austrian
soldiers, through which we passed.

After ascending the platform, we looked around us, and saw an
immense assembly of people, apparently struck with terror.  In other
directions were seen bands of armed men, to awe the multitude; and
we were told that cannon were loaded in readiness to be discharged
at a moment's notice.  I was now exactly in the spot where, in
September, 1820, just a month previous to my arrest, a mendicant had
observed to me, "This is a place of misfortune."

I called to mind the circumstance, and reflected that very possibly
in that immense throng of spectators the same person might be
present, and perhaps even recognise me.

The German Captain now called out to us to turn towards the palace,
and look up; we did so, and beheld, upon the lodge, a messenger of
the Council, with a letter in his hand; it was the sentence; he
began to read it in a loud voice.

It was ushered in by solemn silence, which was continued until he
came to the words, CONDEMNED TO DEATH.  There was then heard one
general murmur of compassion.  This was followed by a similar
silence, in order to hear the rest of the document.  A fresh murmur
arose on the announcement of the following:- condemned to hard
imprisonment, Maroncelli for TWENTY YEARS, and Pellico for FIFTEEN.

The Captain made a sign for us to descend.  We cast one glance
around us, and came down.  We re-entered the court-yard, mounted the
great staircase, and were conducted into the room from which we had
been dragged.  The manacles were removed, and we were soon
reconducted to San Michele.


The prisoners who had been condemned before us had already set out
for Lubiana and Spielberg, accompanied by a commissary of police.
He was now expected back, in order to conduct us to our destination;
but the interval of a month elapsed.

My time was chiefly spent in talking, and listening to the
conversation of others, in order to distract my attention.
Maroncelli read me some of his literary productions, and in turn, I
read him mine.  One evening I read from the window my play of Ester
d'Engaddi, to Canova, Rezia, and Armari; and the following evening,
the Iginia d'Asti.  During the night, however, I grew irritable and
wretched, and was unable to sleep.  I both desired and feared to
learn in what manner the tidings of my calamity had been received by
my family.

At length I got a letter from my father, and was grieved to find,
from the date, that my last to him had not been sent, as I had
requested of the Inquisitor, immediately!  Thus my unhappy father,
while flattering himself that I should be set at liberty, happening
to take up the Milan Gazette, read the horrid sentence which I had
just received upon the scaffold.  He himself acquainted me with this
fact, and left me to infer what his feelings must have been on
meeting thus suddenly with the sad news.  I cannot express the
contempt and anger I felt on learning that my letter had been kept
back; and how deeply I felt for all my poor unhappy family.  There
was doubtless no malice in this delay, but I looked upon it as a
refinement of the most atrocious barbarity; an eager, infernal
desire to see the iron enter, as it were, the very soul of my
beloved and innocent relatives.  I felt, indeed, as if I could have
delighted to shed a sea of blood, could I only punish this flagrant
and premeditated inhumanity.

Now that I judge calmly, I find it very improbable.  The delay,
doubtless, was simply owing to inadvertency on the part of
subordinate agents.  Enraged as I was, I heard with still more
excited feelings that my companions were about to celebrate Easter
week ere their departure.  As for me, I considered it wholly
impossible, inasmuch as I felt not the least disposition towards
forgiveness.  Should I be guilty of such a scandal!


At length the German commissioner arrived, and came to acquaint us
that within two days we were to set out.  "I have the pleasure," he
added, "to give you some consoling tidings.  On my return from
Spielberg, I saw his majesty the Emperor at Vienna, who acquainted
me that the penal days appointed you will not extend to twenty-four
hours, but only to twelve.  By this expression it is intended to
signify that the pain will be divided, or half the punishment
remitted."  This division was never notified to us in an official
form, but there is no reason to suppose that the commissioner would
state an untruth; the less so as he made no secret of the
information, which was known to the whole commission.  Nevertheless,
I could not congratulate myself upon it.  To my feelings, seven
years and a half had little more horrible in them (to be spent in
chains and solitude) than fifteen; for I conceived it to be
impossible to survive so long a period.  My health had recently
again become wretched!  I suffered from severe pains of the chest,
attended with cough, and thought my lungs were affected.  I ate
little, and that little I could not digest.  Our departure took
place on the night of the 25th of March.  We were permitted to take
leave of our friend, Cesare Armari.  A sbirro chained us in a
transverse manner, namely, the right hand and the left foot, so as
to render it impossible for us to escape.

We went into a gondola, and the guards rowed us towards Fusina.  On
our arrival we found two boats in readiness for us.  Rezia and
Canova were placed in one, and Maroncelli and myself in the other.
The commissary was also with two of the prisoners, and an under-
commissary with the others.  Six or seven guards of police completed
our convoy; they were armed with swords and muskets; some of them at
hand in the boats, others in the box of the Vetturino.

To be compelled by misfortune to leave one's country is always
sufficiently painful; but to be torn from it in chains, doomed to
exile in a horrible climate, to linger days, and hours, and years,
in solitary dungeons, is a fate so appalling as to defy language to
convey the remotest idea of it.

Ere we had traversed the Alps, I felt that my country was becoming
doubly dear to me; the sympathy we awakened on every side, from all
ranks, formed an irresistible appeal to my affection and gratitude.
In every city, in every village, in every group of meanest houses,
the news of our condemnation had been known for some weeks, and we
were expected.  In several places the commissioners and the guards
had difficulty in dispersing the crowd which surrounded us.  It was
astonishing to witness the benevolent and humane feeling generally
manifested in our behalf.

In Udine we met with a singular and touching incident.  On arriving
at the inn, the commissary caused the door of the court-yard to be
closed, in order to keep back the people.  A room was assigned us,
and he ordered the waiters to bring supper, and make such
accommodation as we required for repose.  In a few moments three men
entered with mattresses upon their shoulders.  What was our surprise
to see that only one of them was a servant of the inn; the other two
were our acquaintance.  We pretended to assist them in placing the
beds, and had time to recognise and give each other the hand of
fellowship and sympathy.  It was too much; the tears started to our
eyes.  Ah! how trying was it to us all, not to be allowed the sad
satisfaction even of shedding them in a last embrace.

The commissaries were not aware of the circumstance; but I had
reason to think that one of the guards saw into the affair, just as
the good Dario grasped me by the hand.  He was a Venetian; he fixed
his eyes upon us both; he turned pale; appeared in the act of making
an alarm, then turned away his eyes, as if pretending not to see us.
If he felt not assured that they were indeed our friends, he must
have believed them to be some waiters with whom we were acquainted.


The next morning we left Udine by dawn of day.  The affectionate
Dario was already in the street, wrapped in his mantle; he beckoned
to us and followed us a long way.  A coach also continued at some
little distance from us for several miles.  Some one waved a
handkerchief from it, till it turned back; who could it have been?
We had our own conjectures on the subject.  May Heaven protect those
generous spirits that thus cease not to love, and express their love
for the unfortunate.  I had the more reason to prize them from the
fact of having met with cowards, who, not content with denying me,
thought to benefit themselves by calumniating their once fortunate
FRIEND.  These cases, however, were rare, while those of the former,
to the honour of the human character, were numerous.

I had supposed that the warm sympathy expressed for us in Italy
would cease when we entered on a foreign soil.  But I was deceived;
the good man is ever the fellow-countryman of the unhappy!  When
traversing Illyrian and German ground, it was the same as in our own
country.  There was the same general lamentation at our fate; "Arme
herren!" poor gentlemen, was on the lips of all.

Sometimes, on entering another district, our escort was compelled to
stop in order to decide in what part to take up our quarters.  The
people would then gather round us, and we heard exclamations, and
other expressions of commiseration, which evidently came from the
heart.  These proofs of popular feeling were still more gratifying
to me, than such as I had met with from my own countrymen.  The
consolation which was thus afforded me, helped to soothe the bitter
indignation I then felt against those whom I esteemed my enemies.
Yet, possibly, I reflected, if we were brought more nearly
acquainted, if I could see into their real motives, and I could
explain my own feelings, I might be constrained to admit that they
are not impelled by the malignant spirit I suppose, while they would
find there was as little of bad in me.  Nay, they might perhaps be
induced not only to pity, but to admire and love us!

It is true, indeed, that men too often hate each other, merely
because they are strangers to each other's real views and feelings;
and the simple interchange of a few words would make them
acknowledge their error, and give the hand of brotherhood to each

We remained a day at Lubiana; and there Canova and Rezia were
separated from us, being forthwith conducted into the castle.  It is
easy to guess our feelings upon this painful occasion.

On the evening of our arrival at Lubiana and the day following, a
gentleman came and joined us, who, if I remember rightly, announced
himself as the municipal secretary.  His manners were gentle and
humane, and he spoke of religion in a tone at once elevated and
impressive.  I conjectured he must be a priest, the priests in
Germany being accustomed to dress exactly in the same style as
laymen.  His countenance was calculated to excite esteem.  I
regretted that I was not enabled further to cultivate his
acquaintance, and I blame myself for my inadvertency in not having
taken down his name.

It irks me, too, that I cannot at this time recall the name of
another gentle being, a young girl of Styria, who followed us
through the crowd, and when our coach stopped for a few minutes,
moved towards us with both hands, and afterwards, turned weeping
away, supported by a young man, whose light hair proclaimed him of
German extraction.  But most probably he had been in Italy, where he
had fallen in love with our fair countrywoman, and felt touched for
our country.  Yes! what pleasure it would have given me to record
the names of those venerable fathers and mothers of families, who,
in different districts, accosted us on our road, inquiring if we had
parents and friends; and on hearing that we had, would grow pale,
and exclaim, "Alas! may it please God to restore you soon to those
wretched, bereaved ones whom you have left behind."


On the 10th of April we arrived at our place of destination.  The
city of Brunn is the capital of Moravia, where the governor of the
two provinces of Moravia and Silesia is accustomed to reside.
Situated in a pleasant valley, it presents a rich and noble aspect.
At one time it was a great manufactory of cloth, but its prosperous
days were now passed, and its population did not exceed thirty

Contiguous to the walls on the western side rises a mount, and on
this is placed the dreaded fortress of Spielberg, once the royal
seat of the lords of Moravia, and now the most terrific prison under
the Austrian monarchy.  It was a well-guarded citadel, but was
bombarded and taken by the French after the celebrated battle of
Austerlitz, a village at a little distance from it.  It was not
generally repaired, with the exception of a portion of the outworks,
which had been wholly demolished.  Within it are imprisoned some
three hundred wretches, for the most part robbers and assassins,
some condemned to the carcere dare, others to that called durissimo,
the severest of all.  This HARD IMPRISONMENT comprehends compulsory,
daily labour, to wear chains on the legs, to sleep upon bare boards,
and to eat the worst imaginable food.  The durissimo, or hardest,
signifies being chained in a more horrible manner, one part of the
iron being fixed in the wall, united to a hoop round the body of the
prisoner, so as to prevent his moving further than the board which
serves for his couch.  We, as state prisoners, were condemned to the
carcere duro.  The food, however, is the same, though in the words
of the law it is prescribed to be bread and water.

While mounting the acclivity we turned our eyes as if to take a last
look of the world we were leaving, doubting if ever the portals of
that living grave would be again unclosed to us.  I was calm, but
rage and indignation consumed my heart.  It was in vain I had
recourse to philosophy; it had no arguments to quiet or to support

I was in poor health on leaving Venice, and the journey had fatigued
me exceedingly.  I had a fever, and felt severe pains, both in my
head and my limbs.  Illness increased my irritation, and very
probably the last had an equally ill effect upon my frame.

We were consigned over to the superintendent of Spielberg, and our
names were registered in the same list as that of the robbers.  The
imperial commissary shook our hands upon taking leave, and was
evidently affected.  "Farewell," he said, "and let me recommend to
you calmness and submission:  for I assure you the least infraction
of discipline will be punished by the governor in the severest

The consignment being made out, my friend and myself were conducted
into a subterranean gallery, where two dismal-looking dungeons were
unlocked, at a distance from each other.  In one of these I was
entombed alive, and poor Maroncelli in the other.


How bitter is it, after having bid adieu to so many beloved objects,
and there remains only a single one between yourself and utter
solitude, the solitude of chains and a living death, to be separated
even from that one!  Maroncelli, on leaving me, ill and dejected,
shed tears over me as one whom, it was most probable, he would never
more behold.  In him, too, I lamented a noble-minded man, cut off in
the splendour of his intellect, and the vigour of his days, snatched
from society, all its duties and its pleasures, and even from "the
common air, the earth, the sky."  Yet he survived the unheard of
afflictions heaped upon him, but in what a state did he leave his
living tomb!

When I found myself alone in that horrid cavern, heard the closing
of the iron doors, the rattling of chains, and by the gloomy light
of a high window, saw the wooden bench destined for my couch, with
an enormous chain fixed in the wall, I sat down, in sullen rage, on
my hard resting-place, and taking up the chain, measured its length,
in the belief that it was destined for me.

In half an hour I caught the sound of locks and keys; the door
opened, and the head-jailer handed me a jug of water.

"Here is something to drink," he said in a rough tone, "and you will
have your loaf to-morrow."

"Thanks, my good man."

"I am not good," was the reply.

"The worse for you," I answered, rather sharply.  "And this great
chain," I added, "is it for me?"

"It is, Sir; if you don't happen to be quiet; if you get into a
rage, or say impertinent things.  But if you are reasonable, we
shall only chain you by the feet.  The blacksmith is getting all

He then walked sullenly up and down, shaking that horrid ring of
enormous keys, while with angry eye I measured his gigantic, lean,
and aged figure.  His features, though not decidedly vulgar, bore
the most repulsive expression of brutal severity which I ever

How unjust are mankind when they presume to judge by appearances,
and in deference to their vain, arrogant prejudices.  The man whom I
upbraided in my heart for shaking as it were in triumph those
horrible keys, to make me more keenly sensible of his power, whom I
set down as an insignificant tyrant, inured to practices of cruelty,
was then revolving thoughts of compassion, and assuredly had spoken
in that harsh tone only to conceal his real feelings.  Perhaps he
was afraid to trust himself, or that I should prove unworthy gentler
treatment; doubtful whether I might not be yet more criminal than
unhappy, though willing to afford me relief.

Annoyed by his presence, and the sort of lordly air he assumed, I
determined to try to humble him, and called out as if speaking to a
servant, "Give me something to drink!"  He looked at me, as much as
to say, "Arrogant man! this is no place for you to show the airs of
a master."  Still he was silent, bent his long back, took up the
jug, and gave it to me.  I perceived, as I took it from him, that he
trembled, and believing it to proceed from age, I felt a mingled
emotion of reverence and compassion.  "How old are you?" I inquired
in a kinder tone.

"Seventy-four, Sir; I have lived to see great calamities, both as
regards others and myself."

The tremulous emotion I had observed increased as he said this, and
again took the jug from my hand.  I now thought it might be owing to
some nobler feeling than the effect of age, and the aversion I had
conceived instantaneously left me.

"And what is your name?" I inquired.

"It pleased fortune, Sir, to make a fool of me, by giving me the
name of a great man.  My name is Schiller."  He then told me in a
few words, some particulars as to his native place, his family, the
campaigns in which he had served, and the wounds he had received.

He was a Switzer, the son of peasants, had been in the wars against
the Turks, under Marshal Laudon, in the reign of Maria Theresa and
Joseph II.  He had subsequently served in the Austrian campaigns
against France, up to the period of Napoleon's exile.


When we begin to form a better opinion of one against whom we had
conceived a strong prejudice, we seem to discover in every feature,
in his voice, and manner, fresh marks of a good disposition, to
which we were before strangers.  Is this real, or is it not rather
founded upon illusion?  Shortly before, we interpreted the very same
expressions in another way.  Our judgment of moral qualities has
undergone a change, and soon, the conclusions drawn from our
knowledge of physiognomy are equally different.  How many portraits
of celebrated men inspire us only with respect or admiration because
we know their characters; portraits which we should have pronounced
worthless and unattractive had they represented the ordinary race of
mortals.  And thus it is, if we reason vice versa.  I once laughed,
I remember, at a lady, who on beholding a likeness of Catiline
mistook it for that of Collatinus, and remarked upon the sublime
expression of grief in the features of Collatinus for the loss of
his Lucretia.  These sort of illusions are not uncommon.  I would
not maintain that the features of good men do not bear the
impression of their character, like irreclaimable villains that of
their depravity; but that there are many which have at least a
doubtful cast.  In short, I won a little upon old Schiller; I looked
at him more attentively, and he no longer appeared forbidding.  To
say the truth, there was something in his language which, spite of
its rough tone, showed the genuine traits of a noble mind.  And
spite of our first looks of mutual distrust and defiance, we seemed
to feel a certain respect for each other; he spoke boldly what he
thought, and so did I.

"Captain as I am," he observed, "I have fallen,--to take my rest,
into this wretched post of jailer; and God knows it is far more
disagreeable for me to maintain it, than it was to risk my life in

I was now sorry I had asked him so haughtily to give me drink.  "My
dear Schiller," I said, grasping his hand, "it is in vain you deny
it, I know you are a good fellow; and as I have fallen into this
calamity, I thank heaven which has given me you for a guardian!"

He listened to me, shook his head, and then rubbing his forehead,
like a man in some perplexity or trouble.

"No, Sir, I am bad--rank bad.  They made me take an oath, which I
must, and will keep.  I am bound to treat all the prisoners, without
distinction, with equal severity; no indulgence, no permission to
relent, to soften the sternest orders, in particular as regards
prisoners of state."

"You are a noble fellow; I respect you for making your duty a point
of conscience.  You may err, humanly speaking, but your motives are
pure in the eyes of God."

"Poor gentleman, have patience, and pity me.  I shall be hard as
steel in my duty, but my heart bleeds to be unable to relieve the
unfortunate.  This is all I really wished to say."  We were both

He then entreated that I would preserve my calmness, and not give
way to passion, as is too frequent with solitary prisoners, and
calls for restraint, and even for severer punishment.

He afterwards resumed his gruff, affected tone as if to conceal the
compassion he felt for me, observing that it was high time for him
to go.

He came back, however, and inquired how long a time I had been
afflicted with that horrible cough, reflecting sharply upon the
physician for not coming to see me that very evening.  "You are ill
of a horse fever," he added, "I know it well; you will stand in need
of a straw bed, but we cannot give you one till the doctor has
ordered it."

He retired, locked the door, and I threw myself upon the hard
boards, with considerable fever and pain in my chest, but less
irritable, less at enmity with mankind, and less alienated from God.


In the evening came the superintendent, attended by Schiller,
another captain, and two soldiers, to make the usual search.  Three
of these inquisitions were ordered each day, at morning, noon, and
midnight.  Every corner of the prison was examined, and each article
of the most trivial kind.  The inferior officers then left, and the
superintendent remained a little time to converse with me.

The first time I saw this troop of jailers approach, a strange
thought came into my head.  Being unacquainted with their habits of
search, and half delirious with fever, it struck me that they were
come to take my life, and seizing my great chain I resolved to sell
it dearly by knocking the first upon the head that offered to molest

"What mean you?" exclaimed the superintendent; "we are not going to
hurt you.  It is merely a formal visit to ascertain that all is in
proper order in the prisons."

I hesitated, but when I saw Schiller advance and stretch forth his
hand with a kind, paternal look, I dropped the chain and took his
proffered hand.  "Lord! how it burns," he said, turning towards the
superintendent; "he ought at least to have a straw bed;" and he said
this in so truly compassionate a tone as quite to win my heart.  The
superintendent then felt my pulse, and spoke some consolatory words:
he was a man of gentlemanly manners, but dared not for his life
express any opinion upon the subject.

"It is all a reign of terror here," said he, "even as regards
myself.  Should I not execute my orders to the rigour of the letter,
you would no longer see me here."  Schiller made a long face, and I
could have wagered he said within himself, "But if I were at the
head, like you, I would not carry my apprehensions so very far; for
to give an opinion on a matter of such evident necessity, and so
innocuous to government, would never be esteemed a mighty fault."

When left alone, I felt my heart, so long incapable of any deep
sense of religion, stirred within me, and knelt down to pray.  I
besought a blessing upon the head of old Schiller, and appealing to
God, asked that he would so move the hearts of those around me, as
to permit me to become attached to them, and no longer suffer me to
hate my fellow-beings, humbly accepting all that was to be inflicted
upon me from His hand.

About midnight I heard people passing along the gallery.  Keys were
sounding, and soon the door opened; it was the captain and his
guards on search.

"Where is my old Schiller?" inquired I.  He had stopped outside in
the gallery.

"I am here--I am here!" was the answer.  He came towards the table,
and, feeling my pulse, hung over me as a father would over his child
with anxious and inquiring look.  "Now I remember," said he, "to-
morrow is Thursday."

"And what of that?" I inquired.

"Why! it is just one of the days when the doctor does not attend, he
comes only on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Plague on him."

"Give yourself no uneasiness about that!"

"No uneasiness, no uneasiness!" he muttered, "but I do; you are ill,
I see; nothing is talked of in the whole town but the arrival of
yourself and friends; the doctor must have heard of it; and why the
devil could he not make the extraordinary exertion of coming once
out of his time?"

"Who knows!" said I, "he may perhaps be here tomorrow,--Thursday
though it will be?"

The old man said no more, he gave me a squeeze of the hand, enough
to break every bone in my fingers, as a mark of his approbation of
my courage and resignation.  I was a little angry with him, however,
much as a young lover, if the girl of his heart happen in dancing to
press her foot upon his; he laughs and esteems himself highly
favoured, instead of crying out with the pain.


I awoke on Thursday morning, after a horrible night, weak, aching in
all my bones, from the hard boards, and in a profuse perspiration.
The visit hour came, but the superintendent was absent; and he only
followed at a more convenient time.  I said to Schiller, "Just see
how terribly I perspire; but it is now growing cold upon me; what a
treat it would be to change my shirt."

"You cannot do it," he said, in a brutal tone.  At the same time he
winked, and moved his hand.  The captain and guards withdrew, and
Schiller made me another sign as he closed the door.  He soon opened
it again, and brought one of his own shirts, long enough to cover me
from head to feet, even if doubled.

"It is perhaps a little too long, but I have no others here."

"I thank you, friend, but as I brought with me a whole trunk full of
linen, I do hope I may be permitted the use of it.  Have the
kindness to ask the superintendent to let me have one of my shirts."

"You will not be permitted, Sir, to use any of your linen here.
Each week you will have a shirt given you from the house like the
other prisoners."

"You see, good man, in what a condition I am.  I shall never go out
of here alive.  I shall never be able to reward you."

"For shame, Sir! for shame!" said the old man.  "Talk of reward to
one who can do you no good! to one who dare hardly give a dry shirt
to a sick fellow creature in a sweat!"  He then helped me on with
his long shirt, grumbling all the while, and slammed the door to
with violence on going out, as if he had been in a great rage.

About two hours after, he brought me a piece of black bread.
"This," he said, "is your two days' fare!" he then began to walk
about in a sulky mood.

"What is the matter?" I inquired; "are you vexed at me?  You know I
took the shirt."

"I am enraged at that doctor; though it be Thursday he might show
his ugly face here."

"Patience!" said I; but though I said it, I knew not for the life of
me how to get the least rest, without a pillow, upon those hard
boards.  Every bone in my body suffered.  At eleven I was treated to
the prison dinner--two little iron pots, one of soup, the other of
herbs, mixed in such a way as to turn your stomach with the smell.
I tried to swallow a few spoonfuls, but did not succeed.  Schiller
encouraged me:  "Never despair," said he; "try again; you will get
used to it in time.  If you don't, you will be like many others
before you, unable to eat anything but bread, and die of mere

Friday morning came, and with it came Dr. Bayer at last.  He found
me very feverish, ordered me a straw bed, and insisted I should be
removed from the caverns into one of the abodes above.  It could not
be done; there was no room.  An appeal was made to the Governor of
Moravia and Silesia, residing at Brunn, who commanded, on the
urgency of the case, that the medical advice should be followed.

There was a little light in the room to which I was removed.  I
crawled towards the bars of the narrow window, and had the delight
of seeing the valley that lay below,--part of the city of Brunn,--a
suburb with gardens,--the churchyard,--the little lake of Certosa,--
and the woody hills which lay between us and the famous plains of
Austerlitz.  I was enchanted, and oh, what double pleasure, thought
I, would be mine, were I enabled to share it with my poor friend


Meanwhile, our prison dresses were making for us, and five days
afterwards mine was brought to me.  It consisted of a pair of
pantaloons made of rough cloth, of which the right side was grey,
the left of a dark colour.  The waistcoat was likewise of two
colours equally divided, as well as the jacket, but with the same
colours placed on the contrary sides.  The stockings were of the
coarsest wool; the shirt of linen tow full of sharp points--a true
hair-cloth garment; and round the neck was a piece of the same kind.
Our legs were enveloped in leather buskins, untanned, and we wore a
coarse white hat.

This costume was not complete without the addition of chains to the
feet, that is, extending from one leg to the other, the joints being
fastened with nails, which were riveted upon an anvil.  The
blacksmith employed upon my legs, in this operation, observed to one
of the guards, thinking I knew nothing of German, "So ill as he is,
one would think they might spare him this sort of fun; ere two
months be over, the angel of death will loosen these rivets of

"Mochte es seyn! may it be so!" was my reply, as I touched him upon
the shoulder.  The poor fellow started, and seemed quite confused;
he then said; "I hope I may be a false prophet; and I wish you may
be set free by another kind of angel."

"Yet, rather than live thus, think you not, it would be welcome even
from the angel of death?"  He nodded his head, and went away, with a
look of deep compassion for me.

I would truly have been willing to die, but I felt no disposition
towards suicide.  I felt confident that the disease of my lungs
would be enough, ere long, to give me freedom.  Such was not the
will of God.  The fatigue of my journey had made me much worse, but
rest seemed again to restore my powers.

A few minutes after the blacksmith left me, I heard the hammer
sounding upon the anvil in one of the caverns below.  Schiller was
then in my room.  "Do you hear those blows?" I said; "they are
certainly fixing the irons on poor Maroncelli."  The idea for the
moment was so overwhelming, that if the old man had not caught me, I
should have fallen.  For more than half an hour, I continued in a
kind of swoon, and yet I was sensible.  I could not speak, my pulse
scarcely beat at all; a cold sweat bathed me from head to foot.
Still I could hear all that Schiller said, and had a keen
perception, both of what had passed and was passing.

By command of the superintendent and the activity of the guards, the
whole of the adjacent prisons had been kept in a state of profound
silence.  Three or four times I had caught snatches of some Italian
song, but they were quickly stifled by the calls of the sentinels on
duty.  Several of these were stationed upon the ground-floor, under
our windows, and one in the gallery close by, who was continually
engaged in listening at the doors and looking through the bars to
forbid every kind of noise.

Once, towards evening (I feel the same sort of emotion whenever I
recur to it), it happened that the sentinels were less on the alert;
and I heard in a low but clear voice some one singing in a prison
adjoining my own.  What joy, what agitation I felt at the sound.  I
rose from my bed of straw, I bent my ear; and when it ceased--I
burst into tears.  "Who art thou, unhappy one?" I cried, "who art
thou? tell me thy name!  I am Silvio Pellico."

"Oh, Silvio!" cried my neighbour, "I know you not by person, but I
have long loved you.  Get up to your window, and let us speak to
each other, in spite of the jailers."

I crawled up as well as I could; he told me his name, and we
exchanged few words of kindness.  It was the Count Antonio Oroboni,
a native of Fratta, near Rovigo, and only twenty-nine years of age.
Alas! we were soon interrupted by the ferocious cries of the
sentinels.  He in the gallery knocked as loud as he could with the
butt-end of his musket, both at the Count's door and at mine.  We
would not, and we could not obey; but the noise, the oaths, and
threats of the guards were such as to drown our voices, and after
arranging that we would resume our communications, upon a change of
guards, we ceased to converse.


We were in hopes (and so in fact it happened) that by speaking in a
lower tone, and perhaps occasionally having guards whose humanity
might prompt them to pay no attention to us, we might renew our
conversation.  By dint of practice we learnt to hear each other in
so low a key that the sounds were almost sure to escape the notice
of the sentinels.  If, as it rarely happened, we forgot ourselves,
and talked aloud, there came down upon us a torrent of cries, and
knocks at our doors, accompanied with threats and curses of every
kind, to say nothing of poor Schiller's vexation, and that of the

By degrees, however, we brought our system to perfection; spoke only
at the precise minutes, quarters, and half hours when it was safe,
or when such and such guards were upon duty.  At length, with
moderate caution, we were enabled every day to converse almost as
much as we pleased, without drawing on us the attention or anger of
any of the superior officers.

It was thus we contracted an intimate friendship.  The Count told me
his adventures, and in turn I related mine.  We sympathised in
everything we heard, and in all each other's joys or griefs.  It was
of infinite advantage to us, as well as pleasure; for often, after
passing a sleepless night, one or the other would hasten to the
window and salute his friend.  How these mutual welcomes and
conversations helped to encourage us, and to soothe the horrors of
our continued solitude!  We felt that we were useful to each other;
and the sense of this roused a gentle emulation in all our thoughts,
and gave a satisfaction which man receives, even in misery, when he
knows he can serve a fellow-creature.  Each conversation gave rise
to new ones; it was necessary to continue them, and to explain as we
went on.  It was an unceasing stimulus to our ideas to our reason,
our memory, our imagination, and our hearts.

At first, indeed, calling to mind Julian, I was doubtful as to the
fidelity of this new friend.  I reflected that hitherto we had not
been at variance; but some day I feared something unpleasant might
occur, and that I should then be sent back to my solitude.  But this
suspicion was soon removed.  Our opinions harmonised upon all
essential points.  To a noble mind, full of ardour and generous
sentiment, undaunted by misfortune, he added the most clear and
perfect faith in Christianity, while in me this had become
vacillating and at times apparently extinct.

He met my doubts with most just and admirable reflections; and with
equal affection, I felt that he had reason on his side:  I admitted
it, yet still my doubts returned.  It is thus, I believe, with all
who have not the Gospel at heart, and who hate, or indulge
resentments of any kind.  The mind catches glimpses, as it were, of
the truth, but as it is unpleasing, it is disbelieved the moment
after, and the attention directed elsewhere.

Oroboni was indefatigable in turning MY attention to the motives
which man has to show kindness to his enemies.  I never spoke of any
one I abhorred but he began in a most dexterous manner to defend
him, and not less by his words than by his example.  Many men had
injured him; it grieved him, yet he forgave all, and had the
magnanimity to relate some laudable trait or other belonging to
each, and seemed to do it with pleasure.

The irritation which had obtained such a mastery over me, and
rendered me so irreligious after my condemnation, continued several
weeks, and then wholly ceased.  The noble virtue of Oroboni
delighted me.  Struggling as well as I could to reach him, I at
least trod in the same track, and I was then enabled to pray with
sincerity; to forgive, to hate no one, and dissipate every remaining
doubt and gloom.

Ubi charitas et amor, Deus ibi est. {25}


To say truth, if our punishment was excessively severe, and
calculated to irritate the mind, we had still the rare fortune of
meeting only with individuals of real worth.  They could not,
indeed, alleviate our situation, except by kindness and respect, but
so much was freely granted.  If there were something rude and
uncouth in old Schiller, it was amply compensated by his noble
spirit.  Even the wretched Kunda (the convict who brought us our
dinner, and water three times a day) was anxious to show his
compassion for us.  He swept our rooms regularly twice in the week.
One morning, while thus engaged, as Schiller turned a few steps from
the door, poor Kunda offered me a piece of white bread.  I refused
it, but squeezed him cordially by the hand.  He was moved, and told
me, in bad German, that he was a Pole.  "Good sir," he added, "they
give us so little to eat here, that I am sure you must be hungry."
I assured him I was not, but he was very hard of belief.

The physician, perceiving that we were none of us enabled to swallow
the kind of food prepared for us on our first arrival, put us all
upon what is considered the hospital diet.  This consisted of three
very small plates of soup in the day, the least slice of roast lamb,
hardly a mouthful, and about three ounces of white bread.

As my health continued to improve, my appetite grew better, and that
"fourth portion," as they termed it, was really too little, and I
began to feel the justice of poor Kunda's remarks.  I tried a return
to the sound diet, but do what I would to conquer my aversion, it
was all labour lost.  I was compelled to live upon the fourth part
of ordinary meals:  and for a whole year I knew by experience the
tortures of hunger.  It was still more severely felt by many of my
fellow-prisoners, who, being far stouter, had been accustomed to a
full and generous diet.  I learnt that many of them were glad to
accept pieces of bread from Schiller and some of the guards, and
even from the poor hungry Kunda.

"It is reported in the city," said the barber, a young practitioner
of our surgery, one day to me, "it is reported that they do not give
you gentlemen here enough to eat."

"And it is very true," replied I, with perfect sincerity.

The next Sunday (he came always on that day) he brought me an
immense white loaf, and Schiller pretended not to see him give it
me.  Had I listened to my stomach I should have accepted it, but I
would not, lest he should repeat the gift and bring himself into
some trouble.  For the same reason I refused Schiller's offers.  He
would often bring me boiled meat, entreating me to partake of it,
and protesting it cost him nothing; besides, he knew not what to do
with it, and must give it away to somebody.  I could have devoured
it, but would he not then be tempted to offer me something or other
every day, and what would it end in?  Twice only I partook of some
cherries and some pears; they were quite irresistible.  I was
punished as I expected, for from that time forth the old man never
ceased bringing me fruit of some kind or other.


It was arranged, on our arrival, that each of us should be permitted
to walk an hour twice in the week.  In the sequel, this relief was
one day granted us and another refused; and the hour was always
later during festivals.

We went, each separately, between two guards, with loaded muskets on
their shoulders.  In passing from my prison, at the head of the
gallery, I went by the whole of the Italian prisoners, with the
exception of Maroncelli--the only one condemned to linger in the
caverns below.  "A pleasant walk!" whispered they all, as they saw
me pass; but I was not allowed to exchange a single word.

I was led down a staircase which opened into a spacious court, where
we walked upon a terrace, with a south aspect, and a view of the
city of Brunn and the surrounding country.  In this courtyard we saw
numbers of the common criminals, coming from, or going to, their
labour, or passing along conversing in groups.  Among them were
several Italian robbers, who saluted me with great respect.  "He is
no rogue, like us; yet you see his punishment is more severe"; and
it was true, they had a larger share of freedom than I.

Upon hearing expressions like these, I turned and saluted them with
a good-natured look.  One of them observed, "It does me good to see
you, sir, when you notice me.  Possibly you may see something in my
look not so very wicked.  An unhappy passion instigated me to commit
a crime, but believe me, sir, I am no villain!"

Saying this he burst into tears.  I gave him my hand, but he was
unable to return the pressure.  At that moment, my guard, according
to their instructions, drove him away, declaring that they must
permit no one to approach me.  The observations subsequently
addressed to me were pretended to be spoken among each other; and if
my two attendants became aware of it, they quickly interposed

Prisoners of various ranks, and visitors of the superintendent, the
chaplain, the sergeant, or some of the captains, were likewise to be
seen there.  "That is an Italian, that is an Italian!" they often
whispered each other.  They stopped to look at me, and they would
say in German, supposing I should not understand them, "That poor
gentleman will not live to be old; he has death in his countenance."

In fact, after recovering some degree of strength, I again fell ill
for want of nourishment, and fever again attacked me.  I attempted
to drag myself, as far as my chain would permit, along the walk, and
throwing myself upon the turf, I rested there until the expiration
of my hour.  The guards would then sit down near me, and begin to
converse with each other.  One of them, a Bohemian, named Kral, had,
though very poor, received some sort of an education, which he had
himself improved by reflection.  He was fond of reading, had studied
Klopstock, Wieland, Goethe, Schiller, and many other distinguished
German writers.  He knew a good deal by memory, and repeated many
passages with feeling and correctness.  The other guard was a Pole,
by name Kubitzky, wholly untaught, but kind and respectful.  Their
society was a great relief to me.


At one end of the terrace was situated the apartments of the
superintendent, at the other was the residence of a captain, with
his wife and son.  When I saw any one appear from these buildings, I
was in the habit of approaching near, and was invariably received
with marks of courtesy and compassion.

The wife of the captain had been long ill, and appeared to be in a
decline.  She was sometimes carried into the open air, and it was
astonishing to see the sympathy she expressed for our sufferings.
She had the sweetest look I ever saw; and though evidently timid,
would at times fix her eye upon me with an inquiring, confiding
glance, when appealed to by name.  One day I observed to her with a
smile, "Do you know, signora, I find a resemblance between you and
one who was very dear to me."  She blushed, and replied with
charming simplicity, "Do not then forget me when I shall be no more;
pray for my unhappy soul, and for the little ones I leave behind
me!"  I never saw her after that day; she was unable to rise from
her bed, and in a few months I heard of her death.

She left three sons, all beautiful as cherubs, and one still an
infant at the breast.  I had often seen the poor mother embrace them
when I was by, and say, with tears in her eyes, "Who will be their
mother when I am gone?  Ah, whoever she may be, may it please the
Father of all to inspire her with love, even for children not her

Often, when she was no more, did I embrace those fair children, shed
a tear over them, and invoke their mother's blessing on them, in the
same words.  Thoughts of my own mother, and of the prayers she so
often offered up for HER lost son, would then come over me, and I
added, with broken words and sighs, "Oh, happier mother than mine,
you left, indeed, these innocent ones, so young and fair, but my
dear mother devoted long years of care and tenderness to me, and saw
them all, with the object of them, snatched from her at a blow!"

These children were intrusted to the care of two elderly and
excellent women; one of them the mother, the other the aunt of the
superintendent.  They wished to hear the whole of my history, and I
gave it them as briefly as I could.  "How greatly we regret," they
observed, with warm sympathy, "to be unable to help you in any way.
Be assured, however, we offer up constant prayers for you, and if
ever the day come that brings you liberty, it will be celebrated by
all our family, like one of the happiest festivals."

The first-mentioned of these ladies had a remarkably sweet and
soothing voice, united to an eloquence rarely to be heard from the
lips of woman.  I listened to her religious exhortations with a
feeling of filial gratitude, and they sunk deep into my heart.
Though her observations were not new to me, they were always
applicable, and most valuable to me, as will appear from what

"Misfortune cannot degrade a man, unless he be intrinsically mean;
it rather elevates him."--"If we could penetrate the judgments of
God, we should find that frequently the objects most to be pitied
were the conquerors, not the conquered; the joyous rather than the
sorrowful; the wealthy rather than those who are despoiled of all."-
-"The particular kindness shown by the Saviour of mankind to the
unfortunate is a striking fact."--"That man ought to feel honoured
in bearing the cross, when he considers that it was borne up the
mount of our redemption by the Divinity himself in human form."

Such were among the excellent sentiments she inculcated; but it was
my lot, as usual, to lose these delightful friends when I had become
most attached to them.  They removed from the castle, and the sweet
children no longer made their appearance upon the terrace.  I felt
this double deprivation more than I can express.


The inconvenience I experienced from the chain upon my legs, which
prevented me from sleeping, destroyed my health.  Schiller wished me
to petition, declaring that it was the duty of the physician to
order it to be taken off.  For some time I refused to listen to him,
I then yielded, and informed the doctor that, in order to obtain a
little sleep, I should be thankful to have the chain removed, if
only for a few days.  He answered that my fever was not yet so bad
as to require it; and that it was necessary I should become
accustomed to the chain.  I felt indignant at this reply, and more
so at myself for having asked the favour.  "See what I have got by
following your advice," said I to Schiller; and I said it in a very
sharp tone, not a little offensive to the old man.

"You are vexed," he exclaimed, "because you met with a denial; and I
am as much so with your arrogance!  Could I help it?"  He then began
a long sermon.  "The proud value themselves mightily in never
exposing themselves to a refusal, in never accepting an offer, in
being ashamed at a thousand little matters.  Alle eselen, asses as
they all are.  Vain grandeur, want of true dignity, which consists
in being ashamed only of bad actions!"  He went off, and made the
door ring with a tremendous noise.

I was dismayed; yet his rough sincerity scarcely displeased me.  Had
he not spoken the truth? to how many weaknesses had I not given the
name of dignity! the result of nothing but pride.

At the dinner hour Schiller left my fare to the convict Kunda, who
brought me some water, while Schiller stood outside.  I called him.
"I have no time," he replied, very drily.

I rose, and going to him, said, "If you wish my dinner to agree with
me, pray don't look so horribly sour; it is worse than vinegar."

"And how ought I to look?" he asked, rather more appeased.

"Cheerful, and like a friend," was my reply.

"Let us be merry, then!  Viva l'allegria!" cried the old man.  "And
if it will make your dinner agree with you, I will dance you a
hornpipe into the bargain."  And, assuming a broad grin, he set to
work with his long, lean, spindle shanks, which he worked about like
two huge stilts, till I thought I should have died with laughing.  I
laughed and almost cried at the same time.


One evening Count Oroboni and I were standing at our windows
complaining of the low diet to which we were subjected.  Animated by
the subject, we talked a little too loud, and the sentinels began to
upbraid us.  The superintendent, indeed, called in a loud voice to
Schiller, as he happened to be passing, inquiring in a threatening
voice why he did not keep a better watch, and teach us to be silent?
Schiller came in a great rage to complain of me, and ordered me
never more to think of speaking from the window.  He wished me to
promise that I would not.

"No!" replied I; "I shall do no such thing."

"Oh, der Teufel; der Teufel!" {26} exclaimed the old man; "do you
say that to me?  Have I not had a horrible strapping on your

"I am sorry, dear Schiller, if you have suffered on my account.  But
I cannot promise what I do not mean to perform."

"And why not perform it?"

"Because I cannot; because this continual solitude is such a torment
to me.  No!  I will speak as long as I have breath, and invite my
neighbour to talk to me.  If he refuse I will talk to my window-
bars, I will talk to the hills before me, I will talk to the birds
as they fly about.  I will talk!"

"Der Teufel! you will!  You had better promise!"

"No, no, no! never!" I exclaimed.

He threw down his huge bunch of keys, and ran about, crying, "Der
Teufel! der Teufel!"  Then, all at once, he threw his long bony arms
about my neck:  "By -, and you shall talk!  Am I to cease to be a
man because of this vile mob of keys?  You are a gentleman, and I
like your spirit!  I know you will not promise.  I would do the same
in your place."

I picked up his keys and presented them to him.  "These keys," said
I, "are not so bad after all; they cannot turn an honest soldier,
like you, into a villainous sgherro."

"Why, if I thought they could, I would hand them back to my
superiors, and say, 'If you will give me no bread but the wages of a
hangman, I will go and beg alms from door to door.'"

He took out his handkerchief, dried his eyes, and then, raising
them, seemed to pray inwardly for some time.  I, too, offered up my
secret prayers for this good old man.  He saw it, and took my hand
with a look of grateful respect.

Upon leaving me he said, in a low voice, "When you speak with Count
Oroboni, speak as I do now.  You will do me a double kindness:  I
shall hear no more cruel threats of my lord superintendent, and by
not allowing any remarks of yours to be repeated in his ear, you
will avoid giving fresh irritation to ONE who knows how to punish."

I assured him that not a word should come from either of our lips
which could possibly give cause of offence.  In fact, we required no
further instructions to be cautious.  Two prisoners desirous of
communication are skilful enough to invent a language of their own,
without the least danger of its being interpreted by any listener.


I had just been taking my morning's walk; it was the 7th of August.
Oroboni's dungeon door was standing open; Schiller was in it, and he
was not sensible of my approach.  My guards pressed forward in order
to close my friend's door, but I was too quick for them; I darted
into the room, and the next moment found myself in the arms of Count

Schiller was in dismay, and cried out "Der Teufel! der Teufel!" most
vigorously, at the same time raising his finger in a threatening
attitude.  It was in vain, for his eyes filled with tears, and he
cried out, sobbing, "Oh, my God! take pity on these poor young men
and me; on all the unhappy like them, my God, who knows what it is
to be so very unhappy upon earth!"  The guards, also, both wept; the
sentinel on duty in the gallery ran to the spot, and even he caught
the infection.

"Silvio! Silvio!" exclaimed the Count, "this is the most delightful
day of my life!"  I know not how I answered him; I was nearly
distracted with joy and affection.

When Schiller at length beseeched us to separate, and it was
necessary we should obey, Oroboni burst into a flood of tears.  "Are
we never to see each other again upon earth?" he exclaimed, in a
wild, prophetic tone.

Alas!  I never saw him more!  A very few months after this parting,
his dungeon was empty, and Oroboni lay at rest in the cemetery, on
which I looked out from my window!

From the moment we had met, it seemed as if the tie which bound us
were drawn closer round our hearts; and we were become still more
necessary to each other.

He was a fine young man, with a noble countenance, but pale, and in
poor health.  Still, his eyes retained all their lustre.  My
affection for him was increased by a knowledge of his extreme
weakness and sufferings.  He felt for me in the same manner; we saw
by how frail a tenure hung the lives of both, and that one must
speedily be the survivor.

In a few days he became worse; I could only grieve and pray for him.
After several feverish attacks, he recovered a little, and was even
enabled to resume our conversations.  What ineffable pleasure I
experienced on hearing once more the sound of his voice!  "You seem
glad," he said, "but do not deceive yourself; it is but for a short
time.  Have the courage to prepare for my departure, and your
virtuous resolution will inspire me also with courage!"

At this period the walls of our prison were about to be whitewashed,
and meantime we were to take up our abode in the caverns below.
Unfortunately they placed us in dungeons apart from each other.  But
Schiller told me that the Count was well; though I had my doubts,
and dreaded lest his health should receive a last blow from the
effects of his subterranean abode.  If I had only had the good
fortune, thought I, to be near my friend Maroncelli; I could
distinguish his voice, however, as he sung.  We spoke to each other,
spite of the shouts and conversation of the guards.  At the same
period, the head physician of Brunn paid us a visit.  He was sent in
consequence of the report made by the superintendent in regard to
the extreme ill health of the prisoners from the scanty allowance of
food.  A scorbutic epidemic was already fast emptying the dungeons.
Not aware of the cause of his visit, I imagined that he came to see
Oroboni, and my anxiety was inexpressible; I was bowed down with
sorrow, and I too wished to die.  The thought of suicide again
tormented me.  I struggled, indeed; but I felt like the weary
traveller, who though compelled to press forward, feels an almost
irresistible desire to throw himself upon the ground and rest.

I had been just informed that in one of those subterranean dens an
aged Bohemian gentleman had recently destroyed himself by beating
his head against the walls.  I wish I had not heard it; for I could
not, do what I would, banish the temptation to imitate him.  It was
a sort of delirium, and would most probably have ended in suicide,
had not a violent gush of blood from my chest, which made me think
that death was close at hand, relieved me.  I was thankful to God
that it should happen in this manner, and spare me an act of
desperation, which my reason so strongly condemned.  But Providence
ordered it otherwise; I found myself considerably better after the
discharge of blood from my lungs.  Meantime, I was removed to the
prison above, and the additional light, with the vicinity of my
friend Oroboni, reconciled me to life.


I first informed the Count of the terrific melancholy I had endured
when separated from him; and he declared he had been haunted with a
similar temptation to suicide.  "Let us take advantage," he said,
"of the little time that remains for us, by mutually consoling each
other.  We will speak of God; emulate each other in loving him, and
inculcate upon each other that he only is Justice, Wisdom, Goodness,
Beauty--is all which is most worthy to be reverenced and adored.  I
tell you, friend, of a truth, that death is not far from me.  I
shall be eternally grateful, Silvio, if you will help me, in these
my last moments, to become as religious as I ought to have been
during my whole life."

We now, therefore, confined our conversation wholly to religious
subjects, especially to drawing parallels between the Christian
philosophy and that of mere worldly founders of the Epicurean
schools.  We were both delighted to discover so strict an union
between Christianity and reason; and both, on a comparison of the
different evangelical communions, fully agreed that the catholic was
the only one which could successfully resist the test of criticism,-
-which consisted of the purest doctrines and the purest morality--
not of those wretched extremes, the product of human ignorance.

"And if by any unexpected accident," observed Oroboni, "we should be
restored to society, should we be so mean-spirited as to shrink from
confessing our faith in the Gospel?  Should we stand firm if accused
of having changed our sentiments in consequence of prison

"Your question, my dear Oroboni," I replied, "acquaints me with the
nature of your reply; it is also mine.  The vilest servility is that
of being subjected to the opinions of others, when we feel a
persuasion at the same time that they are false.  I cannot believe
that either you or I could be guilty of so much meanness."  During
these confidential communications of our sentiments, I committed one
fault.  I had pledged my honour to Julian never to reveal, by
mention of his real name, the correspondence which had passed
between us.  I informed poor Oroboni of it all, observing that "it
never should escape my lips in any other place; but here we are
immured as in a tomb; and even should you get free, I know I can
confide in you as in myself."

My excellent friend returned no answer.  "Why are you silent?" I
enquired.  He then seriously upbraided me for having broken my word
and betrayed my friend's secret.  His reproach was just; no
friendship, however intimate, however fortified by virtue, can
authorise such a violation of confidence, guaranteed, as it had
been, by a sacred vow.

Since, however, it was done, Oroboni was desirous of turning my
fault to a good account.  He was acquainted with Julian, and related
several traits of character, highly honourable to him.  "Indeed," he
added, "he has so often acted like a true Christian, that he will
never carry his enmity to such a religion to the grave with him.
Let us hope so; let us not cease to hope.  And you, Silvio, try to
pardon his ill-humour from your heart; and pray for him!"  His words
were held sacred by me.


The conversations of which I speak, sometimes with Oroboni, and
sometimes with Schiller, occupied but a small portion of the twenty-
four hours daily upon my hands.  It was not always, moreover, that I
could converse with Oroboni.  How was I to pass the solitary hours?
I was accustomed to rise at dawn, and mounting upon the top of my
table, I grasped the bars of my window, and there said my prayers.
The Count was already at his window, or speedily followed my
example.  We saluted each other, and continued for a time in secret
prayer.  Horrible as our dungeons were, they made us more truly
sensible of the beauty of the world without, and the landscape that
spread around us.  The sky, the plains, the far off noise and
motions of animals in the valley, the voices of the village maidens,
the laugh, the song, had a charm for us it is difficult to express,
and made us more dearly sensible of the presence of him who is so
magnificent in his goodness, and of whom we ever stand in so much

The morning visit of the guards was devoted to an examination of my
dungeon, to see that all was in order.  They felt at my chain, link
by link, to be sure that no conspiracy was at work, or rather in
obedience to the laws of discipline which bound them.  If it were
the day for the doctor's visit, Schiller was accustomed to ask us if
we wished to see him, and to make a note to that effect.

The search being over, Schiller made his appearance, accompanied by
Kunda, whose care it was to clean our rooms.  Shortly after he
brought our breakfast--a little pot of hogwash, and three small
slices of coarse bread.  The bread I was able to eat, but could not
contrive to drink the swill.

It was next my business to apply to study.  Maroncelli had brought a
number of books from Italy, as well as some other of our fellow-
prisoners--some more, and some less, but altogether they formed a
pretty good library.  This, too, we hoped to enlarge by some
purchases; but awaited an answer from the Emperor, as to whether we
might be permitted to read them and buy others.  Meantime the
governor gave us permission, PROVISIONALLY, to have each two books
at a time, and to exchange them when we pleased.  About nine came
the superintendent, and if the doctor had been summoned, he
accompanied him.

I was allowed another interval for study between this and the dinner
hour at eleven.  We had then no further visits till sunset, and I
returned to my studies.  Schiller and Kunda then appeared with a
change of water, and a moment afterwards, the superintendent with
the guards to make their evening inspection, never forgetting my
chain.  Either before or after dinner, as best pleased the guards,
we were permitted in turn to take our hour's walk.  The evening
search being over, Oroboni and I began our conversation,--always
more extended than at any other hour.  The other periods were, as
related in the morning, or directly after dinner--but our words were
then generally very brief.  At times the sentinels were so kind as
to say to us:  "A little lower key, gentlemen, or otherwise the
punishment will fall upon us."  Not unfrequently they would pretend
not to see us, and if the sergeant appeared, begged us to stop till
he were past, when they told us we might talk again--"But as low as
you possibly can, gentlemen, if you please!"

Nay, it happened that they would quietly accost us themselves;
answer our questions, and give us some information respecting Italy.

Touching upon some topics, they entreated of us to be silent,
refusing to give any answer.  We were naturally doubtful whether
these voluntary conversations, on their part, were really sincere,
or the result of an artful attempt to pry into our secret opinions.

I am, however, inclined to think that they meant it all in good
part, and spoke to us in perfect kindness and frankness of heart.


One evening the sentinels were more than usually kind and
forbearing, and poor Oroboni and I conversed without in the least
suppressing our voices.  Maroncelli, in his subterraneous abode,
caught the sound, and climbing up to the window, listened and
distinguished my voice.  He could not restrain his joy; but sung out
my name, with a hearty welcome.  He then asked me how I was, and
expressed his regret that he had not yet been permitted to share the
same dungeon.  This favour I had, in fact, already petitioned for,
but neither the superintendent nor the governor had the power of
granting it.  Our united wishes upon the same point had been
represented to the Emperor, but no answer had hitherto been received
by the governor of Brunn.  Besides the instance in which we saluted
each other in song, when in our subterraneous abodes, I had since
heard the songs of the heroic Maroncelli, by fits and starts, in my
dungeon above.  He now raised his voice; he was no longer
interrupted, and I caught all he said.  I replied, and we continued
the dialogue about a quarter of an hour.  Finally, they changed the
sentinels upon the terrace, and the successors were not "of gentle
mood."  Often did we recommence the song, and as often were
interrupted by furious cries, and curses, and threats, which we were
compelled to obey.

Alas! my fancy often pictured to me the form of my friend,
languishing in that dismal abode so much worse than my own; I
thought of the bitter grief that must oppress him, and the effect
upon his health, and bemoaned his fate in silence.  Tears brought me
no relief; the pains in my head returned, with acute fever.  I could
no longer stand, and took to my straw bed.  Convulsions came on; the
spasms in my breast were terrible.  Of a truth, I believed that that
night was my last.

The following day the fever ceased, my chest was relieved, but the
inflammation seemed to have seized my brain, and I could not move my
head without the most excruciating pain.  I informed Oroboni of my
condition; and he too was even worse than usual.  "My dear friend,"
said he, "the day is near when one or other of us will no longer be
able to reach the window.  Each time we welcome one another may be
the last.  Let us hold ourselves in readiness, then, to die--yes to
die! or to survive a friend."

His voice trembled with emotion; I could not speak a word in reply.
There was a pause, and he then resumed, "How fortunate you are in
knowing the German language!  You can at least have the advantage of
a priest; I cannot obtain one acquainted with the Italian.  But God
is conscious of my wishes; I made confession at Venice--and in
truth, it does not seem that I have met with anything since that
loads my conscience."

"I, on the contrary, confessed at Venice," said I, "with my heart
full of rancour, much worse than if I had wholly refused the
sacrament.  But if I could find a priest, I would now confess myself
with all my heart, and pardon everybody, I can assure you."

"God bless you, Silvio!" he exclaimed, "you give me the greatest
consolation I can receive.  Yes, yes; dear friend! let us both do
all in our power to merit a joyful meeting where we shall no more be
separated, where we shall be united in happiness, as now we are in
these last trying hours of our calamity."

The next day I expected him as usual at the window.  But he came
not, and I learnt from Schiller that he was grievously ill.  In
eight or ten days he recovered, and reappeared at his accustomed
station.  I complained to him bitterly, but he consoled me.  A few
months passed in this strange alternation of suffering; sometimes it
was he, at others I, who was unable even to reach our window.


I was enabled to keep up until the 11th of January, 1823.  On that
morning, I rose with a slight pain in my head, and a strong tendency
to fainting.  My legs trembled, and I could scarcely draw my breath.

Poor Oroboni, also, had been unable to rise from his straw for
several days past.  They brought me some soup, I took a spoonful,
and then fell back in a swoon.  Some time afterwards the sentinel in
the gallery, happening to look through the pane of my door, saw me
lying senseless on the ground, with the pot of soup at my side; and
believing me to be dead, he called Schiller, who hastened, as well
as the superintendent, to the spot.

The doctor was soon in attendance, and they put me on my bed.  I was
restored with great difficulty.  Perceiving I was in danger, the
physician ordered my irons to be taken off.  He then gave me some
kind of cordial, but it would not stay on my stomach, while the pain
in my head was horrible.  A report was forthwith sent to the
governor, who despatched a courier to Vienna, to ascertain in what
manner I was to be treated.  The answer received, was, that I should
not be placed in the infirmary, but was to receive the same
attendance in my dungeon as was customary in the former place.  The
superintendent was further authorised to supply me with soup from
his own kitchen so long as I should continue unwell.

The last provision of the order received was wholly useless, as
neither food nor beverage would stay on my stomach.  I grew worse
during a whole week, and was delirious without intermission, both
day and night.

Kral and Kubitzky were appointed to take care of me, and both were
exceedingly attentive.  Whenever I showed the least return of
reason, Kral was accustomed to say, "There! have faith in God; God
alone is good."

"Pray for me," I stammered out, when a lucid interval first
appeared; "pray for me not to live, but that he will accept my
misfortunes and my death as an expiation."  He suggested that I
should take the sacrament.

"If I asked it not, attribute it to my poor head; it would be a
great consolation to me."

Kral reported my words to the superintendent, and the chaplain of
the prisons came to me.  I made my confession, received the
communion, and took the holy oil.  The priest's name was Sturm, and
I was satisfied with him.  The reflections he made upon the justice
of God, upon the injustice of man, upon the duty of forgiveness, and
upon the vanity of all earthly things, were not out of place.  They
bore moreover the stamp of a dignified and well-cultivated mind as
well as an ardent feeling of true love towards God and our


The exertion I made to receive the sacrament exhausted my remaining
strength; but it was of use, as I fell into a deep sleep, which
continued several I hours.

On awaking I felt somewhat refreshed, and observing Schiller and
Kral near me, I took them by the hand, and thanked them for their
care.  Schiller fixed his eyes on me.

"I am accustomed," he said, "to see persons at the last, and I would
lay a wager that you will not die."

"Are you not giving me a bad prognostic?" said I.

"No;" he replied, "the miseries of life are great it is true; but he
who supports them with dignity and with humility must always gain
something by living."  He then added, "If you live, I hope you will
some day meet with consolation you had not expected.  You were
petitioning to see your friend Signor Maroncelli."

"So many times, that I no longer hope for it."

"Hope, hope, sir; and repeat your request."

I did so that very day.  The superintendent also gave me hopes; and
added, that probably I should not only be permitted to see him, but
that he would attend on me, and most likely become my undivided

It appeared, that as all the state prisoners had fallen ill, the
governor had requested permission from Vienna to have them placed
two and two, in order that one might assist the other in case of
extreme need.

I had also solicited the favour of writing to my family for the last

Towards the end of the second week, my attack reached its crisis,
and the danger was over.  I had begun to sit up, when one morning my
door opened, and the superintendent, Schiller, and the doctor, all
apparently rejoicing, came into my apartment.  The first ran towards
me, exclaiming,

"We have got permission for Maroncelli to bear you company; and you
may write to your parents."

Joy deprived me both of breath and speech, and the superintendent,
who in his kindness had not been quite prudent, believed that he had
killed me.  On recovering my senses, and recollecting the good news,
I entreated not to have it delayed.  The physician consented, and my
friend Maroncelli was conducted to my bedside.  Oh! what a moment
was that.

"Are you alive?" each of us exclaimed.

"Oh, my friend, my brother--what a happy day have we lived to see!
God's name be ever blessed for it."  But our joy was mingled with as
deep compassion.  Maroncelli was less surprised upon seeing me,
reduced as I was, for he knew that I had been very ill, but though
aware how HE must have suffered, I could not have imagined he would
be so extremely changed.  He was hardly to be recognised; his once
noble and handsome features were wholly consumed, as it were, by
grief, by continual hunger, and by the bad air of his dark,
subterranean dungeon.

Nevertheless, to see, to hear, and to be near each other was a great
comfort.  How much had we to communicate--to recollect--and to talk
over!  What delight in our mutual compassion, what sympathy in all
our ideas!  Then we were equally agreed upon subjects of religion;
to hate only ignorance and barbarism, but not man, not individuals,
and on the other hand to commiserate the ignorant and the barbarous,
and to pray for their improvement.


I was now presented with a sheet of paper and ink, in order that I
might write to my parents.

As in point of strictness the permission was only given to a dying
man, desirous of bidding a last adieu to his family, I was
apprehensive that the letter being now of different tenour, it would
no longer be sent upon its destination.  I confined myself to the
simple duty of beseeching my parents, my brothers, and my sisters,
to resign themselves without a murmur to bear the lot appointed me,
even as I myself was resigned to the will of God.

This letter was, nevertheless, forwarded, as I subsequently learnt.
It was, in fact, the only one which, during so long protracted a
captivity, was received by my family; the rest were all detained at
Vienna.  My companions in misfortune were equally cut off from all
communication with their friends and families.

We repeatedly solicited that we might be allowed the use of pen and
paper for purposes of study, and that we might purchase books with
our own money.  Neither of these petitions was granted.

The governor, meanwhile, permitted us to read our own books among
each other.  We were indebted also to his goodness for an
improvement in our diet; but it did not continue.  He had consented
that we should be supplied from the kitchen of the superintendent
instead of that of the contractor; and some fund had been put apart
for that purpose.  The order, however, was not confirmed; but in the
brief interval it was in force my health had greatly improved.  It
was the same with Maroncelli; but for the unhappy Oroboni it came
too late.  He had received for his companion the advocate Solera,
and afterwards the priest, Dr. Fortini.

We were no sooner distributed through the different prisons than the
prohibition to appear or to converse at our windows was renewed,
with threats that, if detected, the offenders would be consigned to
utter solitude.  We often, it is true, broke through this prison-
law, and saluted each other from our windows, but no longer engaged
in long conversations as we had before done.

In point of disposition, Maroncelli and I were admirably suited to
each other.  The courage of the one sustained the other; if one
became violent the other soothed him; if buried in grief or gloom,
he sought to rouse him; and one friendly smile was often enough to
mitigate the severity of our sufferings, and reconcile each other to

So long as we had books, we found them a delightful relief, not only
by reading, but by committing them to memory.  We also examined,
compared, criticised, and collated, &c.  We read and we reflected
great part of the day in silence, and reserved the feast of
conversation for the hours of dinner, for our walks, and the

While in his subterranean abode, Maroncelli had composed a variety
of poems of high merit.  He recited them and produced others.  Many
of these I committed to memory.  It is astonishing with what
facility I was enabled, by this exercise, to repeat very extensive
compositions, to give them additional polish, and bring them to the
highest possible perfection of which they were susceptible, even had
I written them down with the utmost care.  Maroncelli did the same,
and, by degrees, retained by heart many thousand lyric verses, and
epics of different kinds.  It was thus, too, I composed the tragedy
of Leoniero da Dertona, and various other works.


Count Oroboni, after lingering through a wretched winter and the
ensuing spring, found himself much worse during the summer.  He was
seized with a spitting of blood, and a dropsy ensued.  Imagine our
affliction on learning that he was dying so near us, without a
possibility of our rendering him the last sad offices, separated
only as we were by a dungeon-wall.

Schiller brought us tidings of him.  The unfortunate young Count, he
said, was in the greatest agonies, yet he retained his admirable
firmness of mind.  He received the spiritual consolations of the
chaplain, who was fortunately acquainted with the French language.
He died on the 13th of June, 1823.  A few hours before he expired,
he spoke of his aged father, eighty years of age, was much affected,
and shed tears.  Then resuming his serenity, he said, "But why thus
lament the destiny of the most fortunate of all those so dear to me;
for HE is on the eve of rejoining me in the realms of eternal
peace?"  The last words he uttered, were, "I forgive all my enemies;
I do it from my heart!"  His eyes were closed by his friend, Dr.
Fortini, a most religious and amiable man, who had been intimate
with him from his childhood.  Poor Oroboni! how bitterly we felt his
death when the first sad tidings reached us!  Ah! we heard the
voices and the steps of those who came to remove his body!  We
watched from our window the hearse, which, slow and solemnly, bore
him to that cemetery within our view.  It was drawn thither by two
of the common convicts, and followed by four of the guards.  We kept
our eyes fixed upon the sorrowful spectacle, without speaking a
word, till it entered the churchyard.  It passed through, and
stopped at last in a corner, near a new-made grave.  The ceremony
was brief; almost immediately the hearse, the convicts, and the
guards were observed to return.  One of the last was Kubitzky.  He
said to me, "I have marked the exact spot where he is buried, in
order that some relation or friend may be enabled some day to remove
his poor bones, and lay them in his own country.  It was a noble
thought, and surprised me in a man so wholly uneducated; but I could
not speak.  How often had the unhappy Count gazed from his window
upon that dreary looking cemetery, as he observed, "I must try to
get accustomed to the idea of being carried thither; yet I confess
that such an idea makes me shiver.  It is strange, but I cannot help
thinking that we shall not rest so well in these foreign parts as in
our own beloved land."  He would then laugh, and exclaim, "What
childishness is this! when a garment as worn out, and done with,
does it signify where we throw it aside?"  At other times, he would
say, "I am continually preparing for death, but I should die more
willingly upon one condition--just to enter my father's house once
more, embrace his knees, hear his voice blessing me, and die!"  He
then sighed and added, "But if this cup, my God, cannot pass from
me, may thy will be done."  Upon the morning of his death he also
said, as he pressed a crucifix, which Kral brought him, to his lips;
"Thou, Lord, who wert Divine, hadst also a horror of death, and
if I too say it; but I will repeat also with Thee, Nevertheless, not
as I will, but as thou willest it!"


After the death of Oroboni, I was again taken ill.  I expected very
soon to rejoin him, and I ardently desired it.  Still, I could not
have parted with Maroncelli without regret.  Often, while seated on
his straw-bed, he read or recited poetry to withdraw my mind, as
well as his own, from reflecting upon our misfortunes, I gazed on
him, and thought with pain, When I am gone, when you see them
bearing me hence, when you gaze at the cemetery, you will look more
sorrowful than now.  I would then offer a secret prayer that another
companion might be given him, as capable of appreciating all his

I shall not mention how many different attacks I suffered, and with
how much difficulty I recovered from them.  The assistance I
received from my friend Maroncelli, was like that of an attached
brother.  When it became too great an effort for me to speak, he was
silent; he saw the exact moment when his conversation would soothe
or enliven me, he dwelt upon subjects most congenial to my feelings,
and he continued or varied them as he judged most agreeable to me.
Never did I meet with a nobler spirit; he had few equals, none, whom
I knew, superior to him.  Strictly just, tolerant, truly religious,
with a remarkable confidence in human virtue, he added to these
qualities an admirable taste for the beautiful, whether in art or
nature, and a fertile imagination teeming with poetry; in short, all
those engaging dispositions of mind and heart best calculated to
endear him to me.

Still, I could not help grieving over the fate of Oroboni while, at
the same time, I indulged the soothing reflection that he was freed
from all his sufferings, that they were rewarded with a better
world, and that in the midst of the enjoyments he had won, he must
have that of beholding me with a friend no less attached to me than
he had been himself.  I felt a secret assurance that he was no
longer in a place of expiation, though I ceased not to pray for him.
I often saw him in my dreams, and he seemed to pray for me; I tried
to think that they were not mere dreams; that they were
manifestations of his blessed spirit, permitted by God for my
consolation.  I should not be believed were I to describe the
excessive vividness of such dreams, if such they were, and the
delicious serenity which they left in my mind for many days after.
These, and the religious sentiments entertained by Maroncelli, with
his tried friendship, greatly alleviated my afflictions.  The sole
idea which tormented me was the possibility of this excellent friend
also being snatched from me; his health having been much broken, so
as to threaten his dissolution ere my own sufferings drew to a
close.  Every time he was taken ill, I trembled; and when he felt
better, it was a day of rejoicing for me.  Strange, that there
should be a fearful sort of pleasure, anxious yet intense, in these
alternations of hope and dread, regarding the existence of the only
object left you on earth.  Our lot was one of the most painful; yet
to esteem, to love each other as we did, was to us a little
paradise, the one green spot in the desert of our lives; it was all
we had left, and we bowed our heads in thankfulness to the Giver of
all good, while awaiting the hour of his summons.


It was now my favourite wish that the chaplain who had attended me
in my first illness, might be allowed to visit us as our confessor.
But instead of complying with our request, the governor sent us an
Augustine friar, called Father Battista, who was to confess us until
an order came from Vienna, either to confirm the choice, or to
nominate another in his place.

I was afraid we might suffer by the change, but was deceived.
Father Battista was an excellent man, highly educated, of polished
manners, and capable of reasoning admirably, even profoundly, upon
the duties of man.  We entreated him to visit us frequently; he came
once a month, and oftener when in his power to do so; he always
brought us some book or other with the governor's permission, and
informed us from the abbot that the entire library of the convent
was at our service.  This was a great event for us; and we availed
ourselves of the offer during several months.

After confession, he was accustomed to converse with us and gave
evidence of an upright and elevated mind, capable of estimating the
intrinsic dignity and sanctity of the human mind.  We had the
advantage of his enlightened views, of his affection, and his
friendship for us during the space of a year.  At first I confess
that I distrusted him, and imagined that we should soon discover him
putting out his feelers to induce us to make imprudent disclosures.
In a prisoner of state this sort of diffidence is but too natural;
but how great the satisfaction we experience when it disappears, and
when we acknowledge in the interpreter of God no other zeal than
that inspired by the cause of God and of humanity.

He had a most efficacious method of administering consolation.  For
instance, I accused myself of flying into a rage at the rigours
imposed upon me by the prison discipline.  He discoursed upon the
virtue of suffering with resignation, and pardoning our enemies; and
depicted in lively colours the miseries of life--in ranks and
conditions opposite to my own.  He had seen much of life, both in
cities and the country, known men of all grades, and deeply
reflected upon human oppression and injustice.  He painted the
operation of the passions, and the habits of various social classes.
He described them to me throughout as the strong and the weak, the
oppressors and the oppressed:  and the necessity we were under,
either of hating our fellow-man or loving him by a generous effort
of compassion.

The examples he gave to show me the prevailing character of
misfortune in the mass of human beings, and the good which was to be
hence derived, had nothing singular in them; in fact they were
obvious to view; but he recounted them in language so just and
forcible, that I could not but admit the deductions he wished to
draw from them.

The oftener he repeated his friendly reproaches, and has noble
exhortations, the more was I incited to the love of virtue; I no
longer felt capable of resentment--I could have laid down my life,
with the permission of God, for the least of my fellow-creatures,
and I yet blest His holy name for having created me--MAN!

Wretch that he is who remains ignorant of the sublime duty of
confession!  Still more wretched who, to shun the common herd, as he
believes, feels himself called upon to regard it with scorn!  Is it
not a truth that even when we know what is required of us to be
good, that self-knowledge is a dead letter to us? reading and
reflection are insufficient to impel us to it; it is only the living
speech of a man gifted with power which can here be of avail.  The
soul is shaken to its centre, the impressions it receives are more
profound and lasting.  In the brother who speaks to you, there is a
life, and a living and breathing spirit--one which you can always
consult, and which you will vainly seek for, either in books or in
your own thoughts.


In the beginning of 1824 the superintendent who had his office at
one end of our gallery, removed elsewhere, and the chambers, along
with others, were converted into additional prisons.  By this, alas,
we were given to understand that other prisoners of state were
expected from Italy.

They arrived in fact very shortly--a third special commission was at
hand--and they were all in the circle of my friends or my
acquaintance.  What was my grief when I was told their names!
Borsieri was one of my oldest friends.  To Confalonieri I had been
attached a less time indeed, but not the less ardently.  Had it been
in my power, by taking upon myself the carcere durissimo, or any
other imaginable torment, how willingly would I have purchased their
liberation.  Not only would I have laid down my life for them,--for
what is it to give one's life? I would have continued to suffer for

It was then I wished to obtain the consolations of Father Battista;
but they would not permit him to come near me.

New orders to maintain the severest discipline were received from
Vienna.  The terrace on which we walked was hedged in by stockades,
and in such a way that no one, even with the use of a telescope,
could perceive our movements.  We could no longer catch the
beautiful prospect of the surrounding hills, and part of the city of
Brunn which lay below.  Yet this was not enough.  To reach the
terrace, we were obliged, as before stated, to traverse the
courtyard, and a number of persons could perceive us.  That we might
be concealed from every human eye, we were prohibited from crossing
it, and we were confined in our walk to a small passage close to our
gallery, with a north aspect similar to that of our dungeons.

To us such a change was a real misfortune, and it grieved us.  There
were innumerable little advantages and refreshments to our worn and
wasted spirits in the walk of which we were deprived.  The sight of
the superintendent's children; their smiles and caresses; the scene
where I had taken leave of their mother; the occasional chit-chat
with the old smith, who had his forge there; the joyous songs of one
of the captains accompanied by his guitar; and last not least, the
innocent badinage of a young Hungarian fruiteress--the corporal's
wife, who flirted with my companions--were among what we had lost.
She had, in fact, taken a great fancy for Maroncelli.

Previous to his becoming my companion, he had made a little of her
acquaintance; but was so sincere, so dignified, and so simple in his
intentions as to be quite insensible of the impression he had
produced.  I informed him of it, and he would not believe I was
serious, though he declared that he would take care to preserve a
greater distance.  Unluckily the more he was reserved, the more did
the lady's fancy for him seemed to increase.

It so happened that her window was scarcely above a yard higher than
the level of the terrace; and in an instant she was at our side with
the apparent intention of putting out some linen to dry, or to
perform some other household offices; but in fact to gaze at my
friend, and, if possible, enter into conversation with him.

Our poor guards, half wearied to death for want of sleep, had,
meantime, eagerly caught at an opportunity of throwing themselves on
the grass, just in this corner, where they were no longer under the
eye of their superiors.  They fell asleep; and meanwhile Maroncelli
was not a little perplexed what to do, such was the resolute
affection borne him by the fair Hungarian.  I was no less puzzled;
for an affair of the kind, which, elsewhere, might have supplied
matter for some merriment, was here very serious, and might lead to
some very unpleasant result.  The unhappy cause of all this had one
of those countenances which tell you at once their character--the
habit of being virtuous, and the necessity of being esteemed.  She
was not beautiful, but had a remarkable expression of elegance in
her whole manner and deportment; her features, though not regular,
fascinated when she smiled, and with every change of sentiment.

Were it my purpose to dwell upon love affairs, I should have no
little to relate respecting this virtuous but unfortunate woman--now
deceased.  Enough that I have alluded to one of the few adventures
which marked my prison-hours.


The increasing rigour of our prison discipline rendered our lives
one unvaried scene.  The whole of 1824, of 1825, of 1826, of 1827,
presented the same dull, dark aspect; and how we lived through years
like these is wonderful.  We were forbidden the use of books.  The
prison was one immense tomb, though without the peace and
unconsciousness of death.  The director of police came every month
to institute the most strict and minute search, assisted by a
lieutenant and guards.  They made us strip to the skin, examined the
seams of our garments, and ripped up the straw bundles called our
beds in pursuit of--nothing.  It was a secret affair, intended to
take us by surprise, and had something about it which always
irritated me exceedingly, and left me in a violent fever.

The preceding years had appeared to me very unhappy, yet I now
remembered them with regret.  The hours were fled when I could read
my Bible, and Homer, from whom I had imbibed such a passionate
admiration of his glorious language.  Oh, how it irked me to be
unable to prosecute my study of him!  And there were Dante,
Petrarch, Shakespeare, Byron, Walter Scott, Schiller, Goethe, &c.--
how many friends, how many innocent and true delights were withheld
from me.  Among these I included a number of works, also, upon
Christian knowledge; those of Bourdaloue, Pascal, "The Imitation of
Christ," "The Filotea," &c., books usually read with narrow,
illiberal views by those who exult in every little defect of taste,
and at every common-place thought which impels the reader to throw
them for ever aside; but which, when perused in a true spirit free
from scandalous or malignant construction, discover a mine of deep
philosophy, and vigorous nutriment both for the intellect and the
heart.  A few of certain religious books, indeed, were sent us, as a
present, by the Emperor, but with an absolute prohibition to receive
works of any other kind adapted for literary occupation.

This imperial gift of ascetic productions arrived in 1825 by a
Dalmatian Confessor, Father Stefano Paulowich, afterwards Bishop of
Cattaro, who was purposely sent from Vienna.  We were indebted to
him for performing mass, which had been before refused us, on the
plea that they could not convey us into the church and keep us
separated into two and two as the imperial law prescribed.  To avoid
such infraction we now went to mass in three groups; one being
placed upon the tribune of the organ, another under the tribune, so
as not to be visible, and the third in a small oratory, from which
was a view into the church through a grating.  On this occasion
Maroncelli and I had for companions six convicts, who had received
sentence before we came, but no two were allowed to speak to any
other two in the group.  Two of them, I found, had been my
neighbours in the Piombi at Venice.

We were conducted by the guards to the post assigned us, and then
brought back after mass in the same manner, each couple into their
former dungeon.  A Capuchin friar came to celebrate mass; the good
man ended every rite with a "let us pray" for "liberation from
chains," and "to set the prisoner free," in a voice which trembled
with emotion.

On leaving the altar he cast a pitying look on each of the three
groups, and bowed his head sorrowfully in secret prayer.


In 1825 Schiller was pronounced past his service from infirmity and
old age; though put in guard over some other prisoners, not thought
to require equal vigilance and care.  It was a trying thing to part
from him, and he felt it as well as we.  Kral, a man not inferior to
him in good disposition, was at first his successor.  But he too was
removed, and we had a jailer of a very harsh and distant manner,
wholly devoid of emotion, though not intrinsically bad.

I felt grieved; Schiller, Kral, and Kubitzky, but in particular the
two former, had attended us in our extreme sufferings with the
affection of a father or a brother.  Though incapable of violating
their trust, they knew how to do their duty without harshness of any
kind.  If there were something hard in the forms, they took the
sting out of them as much as possible by various ingenious traits
and turns of a benevolent mind.  I was sometimes angry at them, but
they took all I said in good part.  They wished us to feel that they
had become attached to us; and they rejoiced when we expressed as
much, and approved of anything they did.

From the time Schiller left us, he was frequently ill; and we
inquired after him with a sort of filial anxiety.  When he
sufficiently recovered, he was in the habit of coming to walk under
our windows; we hailed him, and he would look up with a melancholy
smile, at the same time addressing the sentinels in a voice we could
overhear:  "Da sind meine Sohne! there are my sons."

Poor old man! how sorry I was to see him almost staggering along,
with the weight of increasing infirmities, so near us, and without
being enabled to offer him even my arm.

Sometimes he would sit down upon the grass, and read.  They were the
same books he had often lent me.  To please me, he would repeat the
titles to the sentinels, or recite some extract from them, and then
look up at me, and nod.  After several attacks of apoplexy, he was
conveyed to the military hospital, where in a brief period he died.
He left some hundreds of florins, the fruit of long savings.  These
he had already lent, indeed, to such of his old military comrades as
most required them; and when he found his end approaching, he called
them all to his bedside, and said:  "I have no relations left; I
wish each of you to keep what I have lent you, for my sake.  I only
ask that you will pray for me."

One of these friends had a daughter of about eighteen, and who was
Schiller's god-daughter.  A few hours before his death, the good old
man sent for her.  He could not speak distinctly, but he took a
silver ring from his finger, and placed it upon hers.  He then
kissed her, and shed tears over her.  The poor girl sobbed as if her
heart would break, for she was tenderly attached to him.  He took a
handkerchief, and, as if trying to soothe her, he dried her eyes.
Lastly, he took hold of her hands, and placed them upon his eyes;
and those eyes were closed for ever.


All human consolations were one by one fast deserting us, and our
sufferings still increased.  I resigned myself to the will of God,
but my spirit groaned.  It seemed as if my mind, instead of becoming
inured to evil, grew more keenly susceptible of pain.  One day there
was secretly brought to me a page of the Augsburgh Gazette, in which
I found the strangest assertions respecting myself on occasion of
mention being made of one of my sisters retiring into a nunnery.  It
stated as follows:- "The Signora Maria Angiola Pellico, daughter,
&c., took the veil (on such a day) in the monastery of the
Visitazione at Turin, &c.  This lady is sister to the author of
Francesca da Rimini, Silvio Pellico, who was recently liberated from
the fortress of Spielberg, being pardoned by his Majesty, the
emperor--a trait of clemency worthy of so magnanimous a sovereign,
and a subject of gratulation to the whole of Italy, inasmuch as,"
&c., &c.

And here followed some eulogiums which I omit.  I could not conceive
for what reason the hoax relating to the gracious pardon had been
invented.  It seemed hardly probable it could be a mere freak of the
editor's; and was it then intended as some stroke of oblique German
policy?  Who knows!  However this may be, the names of Maria Angiola
were precisely those of my younger sister, and doubtless they must
have been copied from the Turin Gazette into other papers.  Had that
excellent girl, then, really become a nun?  Had she taken this step
in consequence of the loss of her parents?  Poor Maria! she would
not permit me alone to suffer the deprivations of a prison; she too
would seclude herself from the world.  May God grant her patience
and self-denial, far beyond what I have evinced; for often I know
will that angel, in her solitary cell, turn her thoughts and her
prayers towards me.  Alas, it may be, she will impose on herself
some rigid penance, in the hope that God may alleviate the
sufferings of her brother!  These reflections agitated me greatly,
and my heart bled.  Most likely my own misfortunes had helped to
shorten the days both of my father and my mother; for, were they
living, it would be hardly possible that my Marietta would have
deserted our parental roof.  At length the idea oppressed me with
the weight of absolute certainty, and I fell into a wretched and
agonised state of mind.  Maroncelli was no less affected than
myself.  The next day he composed a beautiful elegy upon "the sister
of the prisoner."  When he had completed it, he read it to me.  How
grateful was I for such a proof of his affection for me!  Among the
infinite number of poems which had been written upon similar
subjects, not one, probably, had been composed in prison, for the
brother of the nun, and by his companion in captivity and chains.
What a field for pathetic and religious ideas was here, and
Maroncelli filled his lyre with wild and pathetic tones, which drew
delicious tears from my eyes.

It was thus friendship sweetened all my woes.  Seldom from that day
did I forget to turn my thoughts long and fondly to some sacred
asylum of virgin hearts, and that one beloved form did not rise
before my fancy, dressed in all that human piety and love can
picture in a brother's heart.  Often did I beseech Heaven to throw a
charm round her religious solitude, and not permit that her
imagination should paint in too horrible colours the sufferings of
the sick and weary captive.


The reader must not suppose from the circumstance of my seeing the
Gazette, that I was in the habit of hearing news, or could obtain
any.  No! though all the agents employed around me were kind, the
system was such as to inspire the utmost terror.  If there occurred
the least clandestine proceeding, it was only when the danger was
not felt--when not the least risk appeared.  The extreme rareness of
any such occurrences may be gathered from what has been stated
respecting the ordinary and extraordinary searches which took place,
morning, noon, and night, through every corner of our dungeons.

I had never a single opportunity of receiving any notice, however
slight, regarding my family, even by secret means, beyond the
allusions in the Gazette to my sister and myself.  The fears I
entertained lest my dear parents no longer survived were greatly
augmented, soon after, by the manner in which the police director
came to inform me that my relatives were well.

"His Majesty the Emperor," he said, "commands me to communicate to
you good tidings of your relations at Turin."

I could not express my pleasure and my surprise at this unexpected
circumstance; but I soon put a variety of questions to him as to
their health:  "Left you my parents, brothers, and sisters, at
Turin? are they alive? if you have any letter from them pray let me
have it."

"I can show you nothing.  You must be satisfied.  It is a mark of
the Emperor's clemency to let you know even so much.  The same
favour is not shown to every one."

"I grant it is a proof of the Emperor's kindness; but you will allow
it to be impossible for me to derive the least consolation from
information like this.  Which of my relations are well? have I lost
no one?"

"I am sorry, sir, that I cannot state more than I have been
directed."  And he retired.

It must assuredly have been intended to console me by this
indefinite allusion to my family.  I felt persuaded that the Emperor
had yielded to the earnest petition of some of my relatives to
permit me to hear tidings of them, and that I was permitted to
receive no letter in order to remain in the dark as to which of my
dear family were now no more.  I was the more confirmed in this
supposition from the fact of receiving a similar communication a few
months subsequently; but there was no letter, no further news.

It was soon perceived that so far from having been productive of
satisfaction to me, such meagre tidings had thrown me into still
deeper affliction, and I heard no more of my beloved family.  The
continual suspense, the distracting idea that my parents were dead,
that my brothers also might be no more, that my sister Giuseppina
was gone, and that Marietta was the sole survivor, and that in the
agony of her sorrow she had thrown herself into a convent, there to
close her unhappy days, still haunted my imagination, and completely
alienated me from life.

Not unfrequently I had fresh attacks of the terrible disorders under
which I had before suffered, with those of a still more painful
kind, such as violent spasms of the stomach, exactly like cholera
morbus, from the effects of which I hourly expected to die.  Yes!
and I fervently hoped and prayed that all might soon be over.

At the same time, nevertheless, whenever I cast a pitying glance at
my no less weak and unfortunate companion--such is the strange
contradiction of our nature--I felt my heart inly bleed at the idea
of leaving him, a solitary prisoner, in such an abode; and again I
wished to live.


Thrice, during my incarceration at Spielberg, there arrived persons
of high rank to inspect the dungeons, and ascertain that there was
no abuse of discipline.  The first visitor was the Baron Von Munch,
who, struck with compassion on seeing us so sadly deprived of light
and air, declared that he would petition in our favour, to have a
lantern placed over the outside of the pane in our dungeon doors,
through which the sentinels could at any moment perceive us.  His
visit took place in 1825, and a year afterwards his humane
suggestion was put in force.  By this sepulchral light we could just
catch a view of the walls, and prevent our knocking our heads in
trying to walk.  The second visit was that of the Baron Von Vogel.
He found me in a lamentable state of health; and learning that the
physician had declared that coffee would be very good for me, and
that I could not obtain it, as being too great a luxury, he
interested himself for me, and my old, delightful beverage, was
ordered to be brought me.  The third visit was from a lord of the
court, with whose name I am not acquainted, between fifty and sixty
years of age, and who, by his manners as well as his words,
testified the sincerest compassion for us; at the same time
lamenting that he could do nothing for us.  Still, the expression of
his sympathy--for he was really affected--was something, and we were
grateful for it.

How strange, how irresistible, is the desire of the solitary
prisoner to behold some one of his own species!  It amounts almost
to a sort of instinct, as if in order to avoid insanity, and its
usual consequence, the tendency to self-destruction.  The Christian
religion, so abounding in views of humanity, forgets not to
enumerate amongst its works of mercy the visiting of the prisoner.
The mere aspect of man, his look of commiseration, and his
willingness, as it were, to share with you, and bear a part of your
heavy burden, even when you know he cannot relieve you, has
something that sweetens your bitter cup.

Perfect solitude is doubtless of advantage to some minds, but far
more so if not carried to an extreme, and relieved by some little
intercourse with society.  Such at least is my constitution.  If I
do not behold my fellow-men, my affections become restricted to too
confined a circle, and I begin to dislike all others; while, if I
continue in communication with an ordinary number, I learn to regard
the whole of mankind with affection.

Innumerable times, I am sorry to confess, I have been so exclusively
occupied with a few, and so averse to the many, as to be almost
terrified at the feelings I experienced.  I would then approach the
window, desirous of catching some new features, and thought myself
happy when the sentinel passed not too closely to the wall, if I got
a single glance of him, or if he lifted up his head upon hearing me
cough--more especially if he had a good-natured countenance; when he
showed the least feeling of pity, I felt a singular emotion of
pleasure, as if that unknown soldier had been one of my intimate

If, the next time, he passed by in a manner that prevented my seeing
him, or took no notice of me, I felt as much mortified as some poor
lover, when he finds that the beloved object wholly neglects him.


In the adjoining prison, once occupied by Oroboni, D. Marco Fortini
and Antonio Villa were now confined.  The latter, once as strong as
Hercules, was nearly famished the first year, and when a better
allowance was granted he had wholly lost the power of digestion.  He
lingered a long time, and when reduced almost to the last extremity,
he was removed into a somewhat more airy prison.  The pestilential
atmosphere of these narrow receptacles, so much resembling real
tombs, was doubtless very injurious to others as well as to him.
But the remedy sought for was too late or insufficient to remove the
cause of his sufferings.  He had scarcely been a month in this
spacious prison, when, in consequence of bursting several blood-
vessels, and his previously broken health, he died.

He was attended by his fellow-prisoner, D. Fortini, and by the Abate
Paulowich, who hastened from Vienna upon hearing that he was dying.
Although I had not been on the same intimate terms with him as with
Count Oroboni, his death a good deal affected me.  He had parents
and a wife, all most tenderly attached to him.  HE, indeed, was more
to be envied than regretted; but, alas, for the unhappy survivors to
whom he was everything!  He had, moreover, been my neighbour when
under the Piombi.  Tremerello had brought me several of his poetical
pieces, and had conveyed to him some lines from me in return.  There
was sometimes a depth of sentiment and pathos in his poems which
interested me.  I seemed to become still more attached to him after
he was gone; learning, as I did from the guards, how dreadfully he
had suffered.  It was with difficulty, though truly religious, that
he could resign himself to die.  He experienced to the utmost the
horror of that final step, while he blessed the name of the Lord,
and called upon His name with tears streaming from his eyes.
"Alas," he said, "I cannot conform my will unto thine, yet how
willingly would I do it; do thou work this happy change in me!"  He
did not possess the same courage as Oroboni, but followed his
example in forgiving all his enemies.

At the close of the year (1826) we one evening heard a suppressed
noise in the gallery, as if persons were stealing along.  Our
hearing had become amazingly acute in distinguishing different kinds
of noises.  A door was opened; and we knew it to be that of the
advocate Solera.  Another! it was that of Fortini!  There followed a
whispering, but we could tell the voice of the police director,
suppressed as it was.  What could it be? a search at so late an
hour! and for what reason?

In a brief space, we heard steps again in the gallery; and ah! more
plainly we recognised the voice of our excellent Fortini:
"Unfortunate as I am! excuse it? go out!  I have forgotten a volume
of my breviary!"  And we then heard him run back to fetch the book
mentioned, and rejoin the police.  The door of the staircase opened,
and we heard them go down.  In the midst of our alarm we learnt that
our two good friends had just received a pardon; and although we
regretted we could not follow them, we rejoiced in their unexpected
good fortune.


The liberation of our two companions brought no alteration in the
discipline observed towards us.  Why, we asked ourselves, were they
set at liberty, condemned as they had been, like us, the one to
twenty, the other to fifteen years' imprisonment, while no sort of
favour was shown to the rest?

Were the suspicions against those who were still consigned to
captivity more strong, or did the disposition to pardon the whole,
at brief intervals of time, and two together, really exist?  We
continued in suspense for some time.  Upwards of three months
elapsed, and we heard of no fresh instances of pardon.  Towards the
end of 1827, we considered that December might be fixed on as the
anniversary of some new liberations; but the month expired, and
nothing of the kind occurred.

Still we indulged the expectation until the summer of 1828, when I
had gone through seven years and a half of my punishment--
equivalent, according to the Emperor's declaration, to the fifteen,
if the infliction of it were to be dated from the term of my arrest.
If, on the other hand, it were to be calculated, not from the period
of my trial, as was most probable, but from that of the publication
of my sentence, the seven years and a half would only be completed
in 1829.

Yet all these periods passed over, and there was no appearance of a
remittance of punishment.  Meantime, even before the liberation of
Solera and Fortini, Maroncelli was ill with a bad tumour upon his
knee.  At first the pain was not great, and he only limped as he
walked.  It then grew very irksome to him to bear his irons, and he
rarely went out to walk.  One autumnal morning he was desirous of
breathing the fresh air; there was a fall of snow, and unfortunately
in walking his leg failed him, and he came to the ground.  This
accident was followed by acute pain in his knee.  He was carried to
his bed; for he was no longer able to remain in an upright position.
When the physician came, he ordered his irons to be taken off; but
the swelling increased to an enormous size, and became more painful
every day.  Such at length were the sufferings of my unhappy friend,
that he could obtain no rest either in bed or out of it.  When
compelled to move about, to rise or to lie down, it was necessary to
take hold of the bad leg and carry it as he went with the utmost
care; and the most trifling motion brought on the most severe pangs.
Leaches, baths, caustics, and fomentations of different kinds, were
all found ineffectual, and seemed only to aggravate his torments.
After the use of caustics, suppuration followed; the tumour broke
out into wounds, but even these failed to bring relief to the
suffering patient.

Maroncelli was thus far more unfortunate than myself, although my
sympathy for him caused me real pain and suffering, I was glad,
however, to be near him, to attend to all his wants, and to perform
all the duties of a brother and a friend.  It soon became evident
that his leg would never heal:  he considered his death as near at
hand, and yet he lost nothing of his admirable calmness or his
courage.  The sight of his sufferings at last was almost more than I
could bear.


Still, in this deplorable condition, he continued to compose verses,
he sang, and he conversed; and all this he did to encourage me, by
disguising from me a part of what he suffered.  He lost his powers
of digestion, he could not sleep, was reduced to a skeleton, and
very frequently swooned away.  Yet the moment he was restored he
rallied his spirits, and, smiling, bade me be not afraid.  It is
indescribable what he suffered during many months.  At length a
consultation was to be held; the head physician was called in,
approved of all his colleague had done, and, without expressing a
decisive opinion, took his leave.  A few minutes after, the
superintendent entered, and addressing Maroncelli,

"The head physician did not venture to express his real opinion in
your presence; he feared you would not have fortitude to bear so
terrible an announcement.  I have assured him, however, that you are
possessed of courage."

"I hope," replied Maroncelli, "that I have given some proof of it in
bearing this dreadful torture without howling out.  Is there
anything he would propose?"

"Yes, sir, the amputation of the limb:  only perceiving how much
your constitution is broken down, he hesitates to advise you.  Weak
as you are, could you support the operation? will you run the risk--

"Of dying? and shall I not equally die if I go on, without ending
this diabolical torture?"

"We will send off an account, then, direct to Vienna, soliciting
permission, and the moment it comes you shall have your leg cut

"What! does it require a PERMIT for this?"

"Assuredly, sir," was the reply.

In about a week a courier arrived from Vienna with the expected

My sick friend was carried from his dungeon into a larger room, for
permission to have his leg cut off had just arrived.  He begged me
to follow him:  "I may die under the knife, and I should wish, in
that case, to expire in your arms."  I promised, and was permitted
to accompany him.  The sacrament was first administered to the
unhappy prisoner, and we then quietly awaited the arrival of the
surgeons.  Maroncelli filled up the interval by singing a hymn.  At
length they came; one was an able surgeon, to superintend the
operation, from Vienna; but it was the privilege of our ordinary
prison apothecary, and he would not yield to the man of science, who
must be contented to look on.  The patient was placed on the side of
a couch; with his leg down, while I supported him in my arms.  It
was to be cut above the knee; first, an incision was made, the depth
of an inch--then through the muscles--and the blood flowed in
torrents:  the arteries were next taken up with ligatures, one by
one.  Next came the saw.  This lasted some time, but Maroncelli
never uttered a cry.  When he saw them carrying his leg away, he
cast on it one melancholy look, then turning towards the surgeon, he
said, "You have freed me from an enemy, and I have no money to give
you."  He saw a rose, in a glass, placed in a window:  "May I beg of
you to bring me hither that flower?"  I brought it to him; and he
then offered it to the surgeon with an indescribable air of good-
nature:  "See, I have nothing else to give you in token of my
gratitude."  He took it as it was meant, and even wiped away a tear.


The surgeons had supposed that the hospital of Spielberg would
provide all that was requisite except the instruments, which they
brought with them.  But after the amputation, it was found that a
number of things were wanting; such as linen, ice, bandages, &c.  My
poor friend was thus compelled to wait two hours before these
articles were brought from the city.  At length he was laid upon his
bed, and the ice applied to the trunk of the bleeding thigh.  Next
day it was dressed; but the patient was allowed to take no
nourishment beyond a little broth, with an egg.  When the risk of
fever was over, he was permitted the use of restoratives; and an
order from the Emperor directed that he should be supplied from the
table of the superintendent till he was better.

The cure was completed in about forty days, after which we were
conducted into our dungeon.  This had been enlarged for us; that is,
an opening was made in the wall so as to unite our old den to that
once occupied by Oroboni, and subsequently by Villa.  I placed my
bed exactly in the same spot where Oroboni had died, and derived a
mournful pleasure from thus approaching my friend, as it were, as
nearly as possible.  It appeared as if his spirit still hovered
round me, and consoled me with manifestations of more than earthly

The horrible sight of Maroncelli's sufferings, both before and
subsequently to the amputation of his leg, had done much to
strengthen my mind.  During the whole period, my health had enabled
me to attend upon him, and I was grateful to God; but from the
moment my friend assumed his crutches, and could supply his own
wants, I began daily to decline.  I suffered extremely from
glandular swellings, and those were followed by pains of the chest,
more oppressive than I had before experienced, attended with
dizziness and spasmodic dysentery.  "It is my turn now," thought I;
"shall I show less patience than my companion?"

Every condition of life has its duties; and those of the sick
consist of patience, courage, and continual efforts to appear not
unamiable to the persons who surround them.  Maroncelli, on his
crutches, no longer possessed the same activity, and was fearful of
not doing everything for me of which I stood in need.  It was in
fact the case, but I did all to prevent his being made sensible of
it.  Even when he had recovered his strength he laboured under many
inconveniences.  He complained, like most others after a similar
operation, of acute pains in the nerves, and imagined that the part
removed was still with him.  Sometimes it was the toe, sometimes the
leg, and at others the knee of the amputated limb which caused him
to cry out.  The bone, moreover, had been badly sawed, and pushed
through the newly-formed flesh, producing frequent wounds.  It
required more than a year to bring the stump to a good state, when
at length it hardened and broke out no more.


New evils, however, soon assailed my unhappy friend.  One of the
arteries, beginning at the joints of the hand, began to pain him,
extending to other parts of his body; and then turned into a
scorbutic sore.  His whole person became covered with livid spots,
presenting a frightful spectacle.  I tried to reconcile myself to
it, by considering that since it appeared we were to die here, it
was better that one of us should be seized with the scurvy; it is a
contagious disease, and must carry us off either together, or at a
short interval from each other.  We both prepared ourselves for
death, and were perfectly tranquil.  Nine years' imprisonment, and
the grievous sufferings we had undergone, had at length familiarised
us to the idea of the dissolution of two bodies so totally broken
and in need of peace.  It was time the scene should close, and we
confided in the goodness of God, that we should be reunited in a
place where the passions of men should cease, and where, we prayed,
in spirit and in truth, that those who DID NOT LOVE US might meet us
in peace, in a kingdom where only one Master, the supreme King of
kings, reigned for evermore.

This malignant distemper had destroyed numbers of prisoners during
the preceding years.  The governor, upon learning that Maroncelli
had been attacked by it, agreed with the physician, that the sole
hope of remedy was in the fresh air.  They were afraid of its
spreading; and Maroncelli was ordered to be as little as possible
within his dungeon.  Being his companion, and also unwell, I was
permitted the same privilege.  We were permitted to be in the open
air the whole time the other prisoners were absent from the walk,
during two hours early in the morning, during the dinner, if we
preferred it, and three hours in the evening, even after sunset.

There was one other unhappy patient, about seventy years of age, and
in extremely bad health, who was permitted to bear us company.  His
name was Constantino Munari; he was of an amiable disposition,
greatly attached to literature and philosophy, and agreeable in

Calculating my imprisonment, not from my arrest, but from the period
of receiving my sentence, I had been seven years and a half (in the
year 1829), according to the imperial decree, in different dungeons;
and about nine from the day of my arrest.  But this term, like the
other, passed over, and there was no sign of remitting my

Up to the half of the whole term, my friend Maroncelli, Munari, and
I had indulged the idea of a possibility of seeing once more our
native land and our relations; and we frequently conversed with the
warmest hopes and feelings upon the subject.  August, September, and
the whole of that year elapsed, and then we began to despair;
nothing remained to relieve our destiny but our unaltered attachment
for each other, and the support of religion, to enable us to close
our latter prison hours with becoming dignity and resignation.  It
was then we felt the full value of friendship and religion, which
threw a charm even over the darkness of our lot.  Human hopes and
promises had failed us; but God never forsakes the mourners and the
captives who truly love and fear Him.


After the death of Villa, the Abate Wrba was appointed our
confessor, on occasion of the Abate Paulowich receiving a bishopric.
He was a Moravian, professor of the gospel at Brunn, and an able
pupil of the Sublime Institute of Vienna.  This was founded by the
celebrated Frinl, then chaplain to the court.  The members of the
congregation are all priests, who, though already masters of
theology, prosecute their studies under the Institution with the
severest discipline.  The views of the founder were admirable, being
directed to the continual and general dissemination of true and
profound science, among the Catholic clergy of Germany.  His plans
were for the most part successful, and are yet in extensive

Being resident at Brunn, Wrba could devote more of his time to our
society than Paulowich.  He was a second father Battista, with the
exception that he was not permitted to lend us any books.  We held
long discussions, from which I reaped great advantage, and real
consolation.  He was taken ill in 1829, and being subsequently
called to other duties, he was unable to visit us more.  We were
much hurt, but we obtained as his successor the Abate Ziak, another
learned and worthy divine.  Indeed, among the whole German
ecclesiastics we met with, not one showed the least disposition to
pry into our political sentiments; not one but was worthy of the
holy task he had undertaken, and imbued at once with the most
edifying faith and enlarged wisdom.

They were all highly respectable, and inspired us with respect for
the general Catholic clergy.

The Abate Ziak, both by precept and example, taught me to support my
sufferings with calmness and resignation.  He was afflicted with
continual defluxions in his teeth, his throat, and his ears, and
was, nevertheless, always calm and cheerful.

Maroncelli derived great benefit from exercise and open air; the
eruptions, by degrees, disappeared; and both Munari and myself
experienced equal advantage.


It was the first of August, 1830.  Ten years had elapsed since I was
deprived of my liberty:  for eight years and a half I had been
subjected to hard imprisonment.  It was Sunday, and, as on other
holidays, we went to our accustomed station, whence we had a view
from the wall of the valley and the cemetery below, where Oroboni
and Villa now reposed.  We conversed upon the subject, and the
probability of our soon sharing their untroubled sleep.  We had
seated ourselves upon our accustomed bench, and watched the unhappy
prisoners as they came forth and passed to hear mass, which was
performed before our own.  They were women, and were conducted into
the same little chapel to which we resorted at the second mass.

It is customary with the Germans to sing hymns aloud during the
celebration of mass.  As the Austrian empire is composed partly of
Germans and partly of Sclavonians, and the greater part of the
prisoners at Spielberg consist of one or other of these people, the
hymns are alternately sung in the German and the Sclavonian
languages.  Every festival, two sermons are preached, and the same
division observed.  It was truly delightful to us to hear the
singing of the hymns, and the music of the organ which accompanied
it.  The voices of some of these women touched us to the heart.
Unhappy ones! some of them were very young; whom love, or jealousy,
or bad example, had betrayed into crime.  I often think I can still
hear their fervidly devotional hymn of the sanctus--Heilig! heilig!
heilig!--Holy of holies; and the tears would start into my eyes.  At
ten o'clock the women used to withdraw, and we entered to hear mass.
There I saw those of my companions in misfortune, who listened to
the service from the tribune of the organ, and from whom we were
separated only by a single grate, whose pale features and emaciated
bodies, scarcely capable of dragging their irons, bore witness to
their woes.

After mass we were conveyed back to our dungeons.  About a quarter
of an hour afterwards we partook of dinner.  We were preparing our
table, which consisted in putting a thin board upon a wooden target,
and taking up our wooden spoons, when Signor Wagrath, the
superintendent, entered our prison.  "I am sorry to disturb you at
dinner; but have the goodness to follow me; the Director of Police
is waiting for us."  As he was accustomed to come near us only for
purposes of examination and search, we accompanied the
superintendent to the audience room in no very good humour.  There
we found the Director of Police and the superintendent, the first of
whom moved to us with rather more politeness than usual.  He took
out a letter, and stated in a hesitating, slow tone of voice, as if
afraid of surprising us too greatly:  "Gentlemen, . . . I have . . .
the pleasure . . . the honour, I mean . . . of .  . . of acquainting
you that his Majesty the Emperor has granted you a further favour."
Still he hesitated to inform us what this favour was; and we
conjectured it must be some slight alleviation, some exemption from
irksome labour,--to have a book, or, perhaps, less disagreeable
diet.  "Don't you understand?" he inquired.  "No, sir!" was our
reply; "have the goodness, if permitted, to explain yourself more

"Then hear it! it is liberty for your two selves, and a third, who
will shortly bear you company."

One would imagine that such an announcement would have thrown us
into ecstasies of joy.  We were so soon to see our parents, of whom
we had not heard for so long a period; but the doubt that they were
no longer in existence, was sufficient not only to moderate--it did
not permit us to hail, the joys of liberty as we should have done.

"Are you dumb?" asked the director; "I thought to see you exulting
at the news."

"May I beg you," replied I, "to make known to the Emperor our
sentiments of gratitude; but if we are not favoured with some
account of our families, it is impossible not to indulge in the
greatest fear and anxiety.  It is this consciousness which destroys
the zest of all our joy."

He then gave Maroncelli a letter from his brother, which greatly
consoled him.  But he told me there was no account of my family,
which made me the more fear that some calamity had befallen them.

"Now, retire to your apartments, and I will send you a third
companion, who has received pardon."

We went, and awaited his arrival anxiously; wishing that all had
alike been admitted to the same act of grace, instead of that single
one.  Was it poor old Munari? was it such, or such a one?  Thus we
went on guessing at every one we knew; when suddenly the door
opened, and Signor Andrea Torrelli, of Brescia, made his appearance.
We embraced him; and we could eat no more dinner that day.  We
conversed till towards evening, chiefly regretting the lot of the
unhappy friends whom we were leaving behind us.

After sunset, the Director of Police returned to escort us from our
wretched prison house.  Our hearts, however, bled within us, as we
were passing by the dungeons of so many of our countrymen whom we
loved, and yet, alas, not to have them to share our liberty!  Heaven
knows how long they would be left to linger here! to become the
gradual, but certain, prey of death.

We were each of us enveloped in a military great-coat, with a cap;
and then, dressed as we were in our jail costume, but freed from our
chains, we descended the funereal mount, and were conducted through
the city into the police prisons.

It was a beautiful moonlight night.  The roads, the houses, the
people whom we met--every object appeared so strange, and yet so
delightful, after the many years during which I had been debarred
from beholding any similar spectacle!


We remained at the police prisons, awaiting the arrival of the
imperial commissioner from Vienna, who was to accompany us to the
confines of Italy.  Meantime, we were engaged in providing ourselves
with linen and trunks, our own having all been sold, and defraying
our prison expenses.

Five days afterwards, the commissary was announced, and the director
consigned us over to him, delivering, at the same time, the money
which we had brought with us to Spielberg, and the amount derived
from the sale of our trunks and books, both which were restored to
us on reaching our destination.

The expense of our journey was defrayed by the Emperor, and in a
liberal manner.  The commissary was Herr Von Noe, a gentleman
employed in the office of the minister of police.  The charge could
not have been intrusted to a person every way more competent, as
well from education as from habit; and he treated us with the
greatest respect.

I left Brunn, labouring under extreme difficulty of breathing; and
the motion of the carriage increased it to such a degree, that it
was expected I should hardly survive during the evening.  I was in a
high fever the whole of the night; and the commissary was doubtful
whether I should be able to continue my journey even as far as
Vienna.  I begged to go on; and we did so, but my sufferings were
excessive.  I could neither eat, drink, nor sleep.

I reached Vienna more dead than alive.  We were well accommodated at
the general directory of police.  I was placed in bed, a physician
called in, and after being bled, I found myself sensibly relieved.
By means of strict diet, and the use of digitalis, I recovered in
about eight days.  My physician's name was Singer; and he devoted
the most friendly attentions to me.

I had become extremely anxious to set out; the more so from an
account of the THREE DAYS having arrived from Paris.  The Emperor
had fixed the day of our liberation exactly on that when the
revolution burst forth; and surely he would not now revoke it.  Yet
the thing was not improbable; a critical period appeared to be at
hand, popular commotions were apprehended in Italy, and though we
could not imagine we should be remanded to Spielberg, should we be
permitted to return to our native country?

I affected to be stronger than I really was, and entreated we might
be allowed to resume our journey.  It was my wish, meantime, to be
presented to his Excellency the Count Pralormo, envoy from Turin to
the Austrian Court, to whom I was aware how much I had been
indebted.  He had left no means untried to procure my liberation;
but the rule that we were to hold no communication with any one
admitted of no exception.  When sufficiently convalescent, a
carriage was politely ordered for me, in which I might take an
airing in the city; but accompanied by the commissary, and no other
company.  We went to see the noble church of St. Stephen, the
delightful walks in the environs, the neighbouring Villa
Lichtenstein, and lastly the imperial residence of Schoenbrunn.

While proceeding through the magnificent walks in the gardens, the
Emperor approached, and the commissary hastily made us retire, lest
the sight of our emaciated persons should give him pain.


We at length took our departure from Vienna, and I was enabled to
reach Bruck.  There my asthma returned with redoubled violence.  A
physician was called--Herr Judmann, a man of pleasing manners.  He
bled me, ordered me to keep my bed, and to continue the digitalis.
At the end of two days I renewed my solicitations to continue our

We proceeded through Austria and Stiria, and entered Carinthia
without any accident; but on our arrival at the village of
Feldkirchen, a little way from Klagenfurt, we were overtaken by a
counter order from Vienna.  We were to stop till we received farther
directions.  I leave the reader to imagine what our feelings must
have been on this occasion.  I had, moreover, the pain to reflect,
that it would be owing to my illness if my two friends should now be
prevented from reaching their native land.  We remained five days at
Feldkirchen, where the commissary did all in his power to keep up
our spirits.  He took us to the theatre to see a comedy, and
permitted us one day to enjoy the chase.  Our host and several young
men of the country, along with the proprietor of a fine forest, were
the hunters, and we were brought into a station favourable for
commanding a view of the sports.

At length there arrived a courier from Vienna, with a fresh order
for the commissary to resume his journey with us to the place first
appointed.  We congratulated each other, but my anxiety was still
great, as I approached the hour when my hopes or fears respecting my
family would be verified.  How many of my relatives and friends
might have disappeared during my ten years' absence!

The entrance into Italy on that side is not pleasing to the eye; you
descend from the noble mountains of Germany into the Italian plains,
through a long and sterile district, insomuch that travellers who
have formed a magnificent idea of our country, begin to laugh, and
imagine they have been purposely deluded with previous accounts of
La Bella Italia.

The dismal view of that rude district served to make me more
sorrowful.  To see my native sky, to meet human features no more
belonging to the north, to hear my native tongue from every lip
affected me exceedingly; and I felt more inclined to tears than to
exultation.  I threw myself back in the carriage, pretending to
sleep; but covered my face and wept.  That night I scarcely closed
my eyes; my fever was high, my whole soul seemed absorbed in
offering up vows for my sweet Italy, and grateful prayers to
Providence for having restored to her her captive son.  Then I
thought of my speedy separation from a companion with whom I had so
long suffered, and who had given me so many proofs of more than
fraternal affection, and I tortured my imagination with the idea of
a thousand disasters which might have befallen my family.  Not even
so many years of captivity had deadened the energy and
susceptibility of my feelings! but it was a susceptibility only to
pain and sorrow.

I felt, too, on my return, a strange desire to visit Udine, and the
lodging-house, where our two generous friends had assumed the
character of waiters, and secretly stretched out to us the hand of
friendship.  But we passed that town to our left, and passed on our


Pordenone, Conegliano, Ospedaletto, Vicenza, Verona, and Mantua,
were all places which interested my feelings.  In the first resided
one of my friends, an excellent young man, who had survived the
campaigns of Russia; Conegliano was the district whither, I was told
by the under-jailers, poor Angiola had been conducted; and in
Ospedaletto there had married and resided a young lady, who had more
of the angel than the woman, and who, though now no more, I had
every reason to remember with the highest respect.  The whole of
these places, in short, revived recollections more or less dear; and
Mantua more than any other city.  It appeared only yesterday that I
had come with Lodovico in 1815, and paid another visit with Count
Porro in 1820.  The same roads, the same squares, the same palaces,
and yet such a change in all social relations!  So many of my
connections snatched away for ever--so many exiled--one generation,
I had beheld when infants, started up into manhood.  Yet how painful
not to be allowed to call at a single house, or to accost a single
person we met.

To complete my misery, Mantua was the point of separation between
Maroncelli and myself.  We passed the night there, both filled with
forebodings and regret.  I felt agitated like a man on the eve of
receiving his sentence.

The next morning I rose, and washed my face, in order to conceal
from my friend how much I had given way to grief during the
preceding night.  I looked at myself in the glass, and tried to
assume a quiet and even cheerful air.  I then bent down in prayer,
though ill able to command my thoughts; and hearing Maroncelli
already upon his crutches, and speaking to the servant, I hastened
to embrace him.  We had both prepared ourselves, with previous
exertions, for this closing interview, and we spoke to each other
firmly, as well as affectionately.  The officer appointed to conduct
us to the borders of Romagna appeared; it was time to set out; we
hardly knew how to speak another word; we grasped each other's hands
again and again,--we parted; he mounted into his vehicle, and I felt
as if I had been annihilated at a blow.  I returned into my chamber,
threw myself upon my knees, and prayed for my poor mutilated friend,
thus separated from me, with sighs and tears.

I had known several celebrated men, but not one more affectionately
sociable than Maroncelli; not one better educated in all respects,
more free from sudden passion or ill-humour, more deeply sensible
that virtue consists in continued exercises of tolerance, of
generosity, and good sense.  Heaven bless you, my dear companion in
so many afflictions, and send you new friends who may equal me in my
affection for you, and surpass me in true goodness.


I set out the same evening for Brescia.  There I took leave of my
other fellow-prisoner, Andrea Torrelli.  The unhappy man had just
heard that he had lost his mother, and the bitterness of his grief
wrung my heart; yet, agonised as were my feelings from so many
different causes, I could not help laughing at the following

Upon the table of our lodging-house I found the following theatrical
announcement:- Francesca da Rimini; Opera da Musica, &c.  "Whose
work is this?" I inquired of the waiter.

"Who versified it, and composed the music, I cannot tell, but it is
the Francesca da Rimini which everybody knows."

"Everybody! you must be wrong there.  I come from Germany, yet what
do I know of your Francescas?"  The waiter was a young man with
rather a satirical cast of face, quite Brescian; and he looked at me
with a contemptuous sort of pity.  "What should you know, indeed, of
our Francescas? why, no, sir, it is only ONE we speak of--Francesca
des Rimini, to be sure, sir; I mean the tragedy of Signor Silvio
Pellico.  They have here turned it into an opera, spoiling it a
little, no doubt, but still it is always Pellico."

"Ah, Silvio Pellico!  I think I have heard his name.  Is it not that
same evil-minded conspirator who was condemned to death, and his
sentence was changed to hard imprisonment, some eight or ten years

I should never have hazarded such a jest.  He looked round him,
fixed his eyes on me, showed a fine set of teeth, with no amiable
intention; and I believe he would have knocked me down, had he not
heard a noise close by us.

He went away muttering:  "Ill-minded conspirator, indeed!"  But
before I left, he had found me out.  He was half out of his wits; he
could neither question, nor answer, nor write, nor walk, nor wait.
He had his eyes continually upon me, he rubbed his hands, and
addressing himself to every one near him; "Sior si, Sior si; Yes,
sir!  Yes, sir!" he kept stammering out, "coming! coming!"

Two days afterwards, on the 9th of September, I arrived with the
commissary at Milan.  On approaching the city, on seeing the cupola
of the cathedral, in repassing the walk by Loretto, so well known,
and so dear, on recognising the corso, the buildings, churches, and
public places of every kind, what were my mingled feelings of
pleasure and regret!  I felt an intense desire to stop, and embrace
once more my beloved friends.  I reflected with bitter grief on
those, whom, instead of meeting here, I had left in the horrible
abode of Spielberg,--on those who were wandering in strange lands,--
on those who were no more.  I thought, too, with gratitude upon the
affection shown me by the people; their indignation against all
those who had calumniated me, while they had uniformly been the
objects of my benevolence and esteem.

We went to take up our quarters at the Bella Venezia.  It was here I
had so often been present at our social meetings; here I had called
upon so many distinguished foreigners; here a respectable, elderly
Signora invited me in vain to follow her into Tuscany, foreseeing,
she said, the misfortunes that would befall me if I remained at
Milan.  What affecting recollections!  How rapidly past times came
thronging over my memory, fraught with joy and grief!

The waiters at the hotel soon discovered who I was.  The report
spread, and towards evening a number of persons stopped in the
square, and looked up at the windows.  One, whose name I did not
know, appeared to recognise me, and raising both his arms, made a
sign of embracing me, as a welcome back to Italy.

And where were the sons of Porro; I may say my own sons?  Why did I
not see them there?


The commissary conducted me to the police, in order to present me to
the director.  What were my sensations upon recognising the house!
it was my first prison.  It was then I thought with pain of
Melchiorre Gioja, on the rapid steps with which I had seen him
pacing within those narrow walls, or sitting at his little table,
recording his noble thoughts, or making signals to me; and his last
look of sorrow, when forbidden longer to communicate with me.  I
pictured to myself his solitary grave, unknown to all who had so
ardently loved him, and, while invoking peace to his gentle spirit,
I wept.

Here, too, I called to mind the little dumb boy, the pathetic tones
of Maddalene, my strange emotions of compassion for her, my
neighbours the robbers, the assumed Louis XVII., and the poor
prisoner who had carried the fatal letter, and whose cries under the
infliction of the bastinado, had reached me.

These and other recollections appeared with all the vividness of
some horrible dream; but most of all, I felt those two visits which
my father had made me ten years before, when I last saw him.  How
the good old man had deceived himself in the expectation that I
should so soon rejoin him at Turin!  Could he then have borne the
idea of a son's ten years' captivity, and in such a prison?  But
when these flattering hopes vanished, did he, and did my mother bear
up against so unexpected a calamity? was I ever to see them again in
this world?  Had one, or which of them, died during the cruel
interval that ensued?

Such was the suspense, the distracting doubt which yet clung to me.
I was about to knock at the door of my home without knowing if they
were in existence, or what other members of my beloved family were
left me.

The director of police received me in a friendly manner.  He
permitted me to stay at the Bella Venezia with the imperial
commissary, though I was not permitted to communicate with any one,
and for this reason I determined to resume my journey the following
morning.  I obtained an interview, however, with the Piedmontese
consul, to learn if possible some account of my relatives.  I should
have waited on him, but being attacked with fever, and compelled to
keep my bed, I sent to beg the favour of his visiting me.  He had
the kindness to come immediately, and I felt truly grateful to him.

He gave me a favourable account of my father, and of my eldest
brother.  Respecting my mother, however, my other brother, and my
two sisters, I could learn nothing.

Thus in part comforted, I could have wished to prolong the
conversation with the consul, and he would willingly have gratified
me had not his duties called him away.  After he left me, I was
extremely affected, but, as had so often happened, no tears came to
give me relief.  The habit of long, internal grief, seemed yet to
prey upon my heart; to weep would have alleviated the fever which
consumed me, and distracted my head with pain.

I called to Stundberger for something to drink.  That good man was a
sergeant of police at Vienna, though now filling the office of
valet-de-chambre to the commissary.  But though not old, I perceived
that his hand trembled in giving me the drink.  This circumstance
reminded me of Schiller, my beloved Schiller, when, on the day of my
arrival at Spielberg, I ordered him, in an imperious tone, to hand
me the jug of water, and he obeyed me.

How strange it was!  The recollection of this, added to other
feelings of the kind, struck, as it were, the rock of my heart, and
tears began to flow.


The morning of the 10th of September, I took leave of the excellent
commissary, and set out.  We had only been acquainted with each
other for about a month, and yet he was as friendly as if he had
known me for years.  His noble and upright mind was above all
artifice, or desire of penetrating the opinions of others, not from
any want of intelligence, but a love of that dignified simplicity
which animates all honest men.

It sometimes happened during our journey that I was accosted by some
one or other when unobserved, in places where we stopped.  "Take
care of that ANGEL KEEPER of yours; if he did not belong to those
neri (blacks), they would not have put him over you."

"There you are deceived," said I; "I have the greatest reason to
believe that you are deceived."

"The most cunning," was the reply, "can always contrive to appear
the most simple."

"If it were so, we ought never to give credit to the least goodness
in any one."

"Yes, there are certain social stations," he replied, "in which
men's manners may appear to great advantage by means of education;
but as to virtue, they have none of it."

I could only answer, "You exaggerate, sir, you exaggerate."

"I am only consistent," he insisted.  We were here interrupted, and
I called to mind the cave a censequentariis of Leibnitz.

Too many are inclined to adopt this false and terrible doctrine.  I
follow the standard A, that is JUSTICE.  Another follows standard B;
it must therefore be that of INJUSTICE, and, consequently, he must
be a villain!

Give ME none of your logical madness; whatever standard you adopt,
do not reason so inhumanly.  Consider, that by assuming what data
you please, and proceeding with the most violent stretch of rigour
from one consequence to another, it is easy for any one to come to
the conclusion that, "Beyond we four, all the rest of the world
deserve to be burnt alive."  And if we are at the pains of
investigating a little further, we shall find each of the four
crying out, "All deserve to be burnt alive together, with the
exception of I myself."

This vulgar tenet of exclusiveness is in the highest degree
unphilosophical.  A moderate degree of suspicion is wise, but when
urged to the extreme, it is the opposite.

After the hint thus thrown out to me respecting that angelo custode,
I turned to study him with greater attention than I had before done;
and each day served to convince me more and more of his friendly and
generous nature.

When an order of society, more or less perfect, has been
established, whether for better or worse, all the social offices,
not pronounced by general consent to be infamous, all that are
adapted to promote the public good, and the confidence of a
respectable number, and which are filled by men acknowledged to be
of upright mind, such offices may undeniably be undertaken by honest
men without incurring any charge of unconscientiousness.

I have read of a Quaker who had a great horror of soldiers.  He one
day saw a soldier throw himself into the Thames, and save the life
of a fellow-being who was drowning.  "I don't care," he exclaimed,
"I will still be a Quaker, but there are some good fellows, even
among soldiers."


Stundberger accompanied me to my vehicle, into which I got with the
brigadier of gens d'armes, to whose care I was entrusted.  It was
snowing, and the cold was excessive.

"Wrap yourself well up in your cloak," said Stundberger; "cover your
head better, and contrive to reach home as little unwell as you can;
remember, that a very little thing will give you cold just now.  I
wish it had been in my power to go on and attend you as far as
Turin."  He said this in a tone of voice so truly cordial and
affectionate that I could not doubt its sincerity.

"From this time you will have no German near you," he added; "you
will no longer hear our language spoken, and little, I dare say,
will you care for that; the Italians find it very harsh.  Besides,
you have suffered so greatly among us, that most probably you will
not like to remember us; yet, though you will so soon forget my very
name, I shall not cease, sir, to offer up prayers for your safety."

"I shall do the same for you," I replied; as I shook his hand for
the last time.

"Guten morgen! guten morgen! gute raise! leben sie wohl!"--farewell;
a pleasant journey! good morning he continued to repeat; and the
sounds were to me as sweat as if they had been pronounced in my
native tongue.

I am passionately attached to my country, but I do not dislike any
other nation.  Civilisation, wealth, power, glory, are differently
apportioned among different people; but in all there are minds
obedient to the great vocation of man,--to love, to pity, and to
assist each other.

The brigadier who attended me, informed me that he was one of those
who arrested Confalonieri.  He told me how the unhappy man had tried
to make his escape; how he had been baffled, and how he had been
torn from the arms of his distracted wife, while they both at the
same time submitted to the calamity with dignity and resignation.

The horrible narrative increased my fear; a hand of iron seemed to
be weighing upon my heart.  The good man, in his desire of showing
his sociality, and entertaining me with his remarks, was not aware
of the horror he excited in me when I cast my eye on those hands
which had seized the person of my unfortunate friend.

He ordered luncheon at Buffalora, but I was unable to taste
anything.  Many years back, when I was spending my time at Arluno,
with the sons of Count Porro, I was accustomed to walk thither (to
Buffalora), along the banks of the Ticino.  I was rejoiced to see
the noble bridge, the materials of which I had beheld scattered
along the Lombard shore, now finished, notwithstanding the general
opinion that the design would be abandoned.  I rejoiced to traverse
the river and set my foot once more on Piedmontese ground.  With all
my attachment to other nations, how much I prefer Italy! yet Heaven
knows that however much more delightful to me is the sound of the
Italian name, still sweeter must be that of Piedmont, the land of my


Opposite to Buffalora lies San Martino.  Here the Lombard brigadier
spoke of the Piedmontese carabineers, saluted me, and repassed the

"Let us go to Novara!" I said to the Vetturino.

"Have the goodness to stay a moment," said a carabineer.  I found I
was not yet free; and was much vexed, being apprehensive it would
retard my arrival at the long-desired home.  After waiting about a
quarter of an hour, a gentleman came forward and requested to be
allowed to accompany us as far as Novara.  He had already missed one
opportunity; there was no other conveyance than mine; and he
expressed himself exceedingly happy that I permitted him to avail
himself of it.

This carabineer in disguise was very good-humoured, and kept me
company as far as Novara.  Having reached that city, and feigning we
were going to an hotel, he stopt at the barracks of the carabineers,
and I was told there was a bed for me, and that I must wait the
arrival of further orders.  Concluding that I was to set off the
next day, I went to bed, and after chatting some time with my host,
I fell fast asleep; and it was long since I had slept so profoundly.

I awoke towards morning, rose as quickly as possible, and found the
hours hang heavy on my hands.  I took my breakfast, chatted, walked
about the apartment and over the lodge, cast my eye over the host's
books, and finally,--a visitor was announced.  An officer had come
to give me tidings respecting my father, and inform me that there
was a letter from him, lying for me at Novara.  I was exceedingly
grateful to him for this act of humane courtesy.  After a few hours,
which to me appeared ages, I received my father's letter.  Oh what
joy to behold that hand-writing once more! what joy to learn that
the best of mothers was spared to me! that my two brothers were
alive, and also my eldest sister.  Alas! my young and gentle
Marietta, who had immured herself in the convent of the Visitazione,
and of whom I had received so strange an account while a prisoner,
had been dead upwards of nine months.  It was a consolation for me
to believe that I owed my liberty to all those who had never ceased
to love and to pray for me, and more especially to a beloved sister
who had died with every expression of the most edifying devotion.
May the Almighty reward her for the many sufferings she underwent,
and in particular for all the anxiety she experienced on my account.

Days passed on; yet no permission for me to quit Novara!  On the
morning of the 16th of September, the desired order at length
arrived, and all superintendence over me by the carabineers ceased.
It seemed strange! so many years had now elapsed since I had been
permitted to walk unaccompanied by guards.  I recovered some money;
I received the congratulations of some of my father's friends, and
set out about three in the afternoon.  The companions of my journey
were a lady, a merchant, an engraver, and two young painters; one of
whom was both deaf and dumb.  These last were coming from Rome; and
I was much pleased by hearing from them that they were acquainted
with the family of my friend Maroncelli, for how pleasant a thing it
is to be enabled to speak of those we love, with some one not wholly
indifferent to them.

We passed the night at Vercelli.  The happy day, the 17th of
September, dawned at last.  We pursued our journey; and how slow we
appeared to travel! it was evening before we arrived at Turin.

Who would attempt to describe the consolation I felt, the nameless
feelings of delight, when I found myself in the embraces of my
father, my mother, and my two brothers?  My dear sister Giuseppina
was not then with them; she was fulfilling her duties at Chieri; but
on hearing of my felicity, she hastened to stay for a few days with
our family, to make it complete.  Restored to these five long-
sighed-for, and beloved objects of my tenderness,--I was, and I
still am, one of the most enviable of mankind.

Now, therefore, for all my past misfortunes and sufferings, as well
as for all the good or evil yet reserved for me, may the providence
of God be blessed; of God, who renders all men, and all things,
however opposite the intentions of the actors, the wonderful
instruments which He directs to the greatest and best of purposes.


{1}  Piero Maroncelli da Forli, an excellent poet, and most amiable
man, who had also been imprisoned from political motives.  The
author speaks of him at considerable length, as the companion of his
sufferings, in various parts of his work.

{2}  A bailiff.

{3}  A sort of scream peculiar to dumb children.

{4}  Melchiorre Gioja, a native of Piacenza, was one of the most
profound writers of our times, principally upon subjects of public
economy.  Being suspected of carrying on a secret correspondence, he
was arrested in 1820, and imprisoned for a space of nine months.
Among the more celebrated of his works are those entitled, Nuovo
prospetto delle Scienze Economiche, Trattato del Merito e delle
Ricompense, Dell' Ingiuria e dei Danni, Filosofia della Statistica,
Ideologia e Esercizo Logico, Delle Manifatture, Del Divorzio,
Elementi di Filosofia, Nuovo Galateo, Qual Governo convenga all'
Italia.  This able writer died in the month of January, 1829.

{5}  The Count Luigi Porro was one of the most distinguished men of
Milan, and remarkable for the zeal and liberality with which he
promoted the cultivation of literature and the arts.  Having early
remarked the excellent disposition of the youthful Pellico, the
Count invited him to reside in his mansion, and take upon himself
the education of his sons, uniformly considering him, at the same
time, more in the light of a friend than of a dependent.  Count
Porro himself subsequently fell under the suspicions of the Austrian
Government, and having betaken himself to flight, was twice
condemned to death (as contumacious), the first time under the
charge of Carbonarism, and the second time for a pretended
conspiracy.  The sons of Count Porro are more than once alluded to
by their friend and tutor, as the author designates himself.

{6}  This excellent tragedy, suggested by the celebrated episode in
the fifth canto of Dante's Inferno, was received by the whole of
Italy with the most marked applause.  Such a production at once
raised the young author to a high station in the list of Italy's
living poets.

{7}  The Cavalier Giovanni Bodoni was one of the most distinguished
among modern printers.  Becoming admirably skilled in his art, and
in the oriental languages, acquired in the college of the Propaganda
at Rome, he went to the Royal Printing Establishment at Parma, of
which he took the direction in 1813, and in which he continued till
the period of his death.  In the list of the numerous works which he
thence gave to the world may be mentioned the Pater Noster
Poligletto, the Iliad in Greek, the Epithalamia Exoticis, and the
Manuale Tipografico, works which will maintain their reputation to
far distant times.

{8} The Count Bolza, of the lake of Como, who has continued for
years in the service of the Austrian Government, showing inexorable
zeal in the capacity of a Commissary of Police.

{9}  The learning of Ugo Foscolo, and the reputation he acquired by
his Hymn upon the Tombs, his Last Letters of Jecopo Ortis, his
Treatises upon Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, &c, are well-known in
this country, where he spent a considerable portion of his life, and
died in the year 1827.

{10}  The Cavalier Vincenzo Monti stands at the head of the modern
poets of Italy.  His stanzas on the Death of Uge Basville obtained
for him the title of Dante Redivivo.  His works, both in verse and
prose, are numerous, and generally acknowledged to be noble models
in their several styles.  His tragedy of Aristodemo, takes the lead
among the most admirable specimens of the Italian drama.  He died at
Milan in the year 1829.

{11}  Monsignor Lodovico di Breme, son of the Marquis of the same
name, a Piedmontese, an intimate friend of the celebrated Madame de
Stael, of Mons. Sismondi, &c, and a man of elevated sentiments,
brilliant spirit, high cultivation, and accomplishments.

{12}  Don Pietro Borsieri, son of a judge of the Court of Appeal at
Milan, of which, previous to his receiving sentence of death, he was
one of the state secretaries.  He is the author of several little
works and literary essays, all written with singular energy and
chasteness of language.

{13}  La Signora Angiola.

{14}  "Venezianina adolescente sbirra?"

{15}  Tremerello, or the little trembler.

{16}  Per capire che le lucciole non erano lanterne.
"To know that glowworms are not lanterns."

{17}  Buzzolai, a kind of small loaf.

{18}  Odoardo Briche, a young man of truly animated genius, and the
most amiable disposition.  He was the son of Mons. Briche, member of
the Constituent Assembly in France, who for thirty years past, had
selected Milan as his adopted country.

{19}  Respecting Pietro Borsieri, Lodovico di Breme, and Count
Porro, mention has already been made.  The Count Federico
Confalonieri, of an illustrious family of Milan, a man of immense
intellect, and the firmest courage, was also the most zealous
promoter of popular institutions in Lombardy.  The Austrian
Government, becoming aware of the aversion entertained by the Count
for the foreign yoke which pressed so heavily upon his country, had
him seized and handed over to the special commissions, which sat in
the years 1822 and 1823.  By these he was condemned to the severest
of all punishments--imprisonment for life, in the fortress of
Spielberg, where, during six months of each weary year, he is
compelled by the excess of his sufferings to lie stretched upon a
wretched pallet, more dead than alive.

{20}  The Count Camillo Laderchi, a member of one of the most
distinguished families of Faenza, and formerly prefect in the ex-
kingdom of Italy.

{21}  Gian Domenico Romagnosi, a native of Piacenza, was for some
years Professor of Criminal Law, in the University of Pavia.  He is
the author of several philosophical works, but more especially of
the Genesi del Diritto Penale, which spread his reputation both
throughout and beyond Italy.  Though at an advanced age, he was
repeatedly imprisoned and examined on the charge of having belonged
to a lodge of Freemasons; a charge advanced against him by an
ungrateful Tyrolese, who had initiated him into, and favoured him as
a fellow-member of, the same society, and who had the audacity
actually to sit as judge upon his FRIEND'S trial.

{22}  The Count Giovanni Arrivabene, of Mantua, who, being in
possession of considerable fortune, made an excellent use of it,
both as regarded private acts of benevolence, and the maintenance of
a school of mutual instruction.  But having more recently fallen
under the displeasure of the Government, he abandoned Italy, and
during his exile employed himself in writing, with rare
impartiality, and admirable judgment, a work which must be
considered interesting to all engaged in alleviating the ills of
humanity, both here and in other countries.  It is entitled, Delle
Societa di Publica Beneficenza in Londra.

{23}  The Capitano Rezia, one of the best artillery officers in the
Italian army, son of Professor Rezia, the celebrated anatomist,
whose highly valuable preparations and specimens are to be seen in
the Anatomical Museum at Pavia.

{24}  The Professor Ressi, who occupied, during several years, the
chair of Political Economy in the University at Pavia.  He is the
author of a respectable work, published under the title of Economica
della Specie Umana.  Having unfortunately attracted the suspicions
of the Austrian police, he was seized and committed to a dungeon, in
which he died, about a year from the period of his arrest, and while
the special examinations of the alleged conspirators were being

{25}  Where charity and love are, God is present.

{26} The Devil! the Devil!

End of Project Gutenberg's My Ten Years' Imprisonment, by Silvio Pellico