My Ten Years' Imprisonment
Silvio Pellico

Part 3 out of 4

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?"


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