My Ten Years’imprisonment

Author: Silvio Pellico

Chapter XXXVIII.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"That is very well."

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

"What! is it so bad?"

"Quite vile!"

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

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


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Chicago: Silvio Pellico, "Chapter XXXVIII.," 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 July 12, 2024,

MLA: Pellico, Silvio. "Chapter XXXVIII." 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. 12 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Pellico, S, 'Chapter XXXVIII.' in My Ten Years’imprisonment, ed. and trans. . cited in 1918, My Ten Years’imprisonment, The Modern Library Publishers, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 12 July 2024, from