My Ten Years’imprisonment

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Author: Silvio Pellico

Chapter LXXI.

The conversations of which I speak, sometimes with Oroboni, and sometimes with Schiller, occupied but a small portion of the twentyfour 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 need.

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 fellowprisoners—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.

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Chicago: Silvio Pellico, "Chapter LXXI.," 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 February 7, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=84W7M5DCB2ZJNSS.

MLA: Pellico, Silvio. "Chapter LXXI." 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. 7 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=84W7M5DCB2ZJNSS.

Harvard: Pellico, S, 'Chapter LXXI.' in My Ten Years’imprisonment, ed. and trans. . cited in 1918, My Ten Years’imprisonment, The Modern Library Publishers, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 7 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=84W7M5DCB2ZJNSS.