My Ten Years’imprisonment

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Author: Silvio Pellico

Chapter XVIII.

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

Chi rende alla meschina La sua felicita?

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

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

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

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

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

"The same."

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

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

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

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

"They are, sir."

"You are, therefore,—"

"The unfortunate duke of Normandy."

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Chicago: Silvio Pellico, "Chapter XVIII.," My Ten Years’imprisonment, ed. CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb and trans. Roscoe, Thomas, 1791-1871 in My Ten Years’imprisonment (New York: The Modern Library Publishers, 1918), Original Sources, accessed August 11, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4YCNQVB8WGPW7JD.

MLA: Pellico, Silvio. "Chapter XVIII." My Ten Years’imprisonment, edited by CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb, and translated by Roscoe, Thomas, 1791-1871, in My Ten Years’imprisonment, New York, The Modern Library Publishers, 1918, Original Sources. 11 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4YCNQVB8WGPW7JD.

Harvard: Pellico, S, 'Chapter XVIII.' in My Ten Years’imprisonment, ed. and trans. . cited in 1918, My Ten Years’imprisonment, The Modern Library Publishers, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 11 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4YCNQVB8WGPW7JD.