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looked by chance through the wicket of the door a few moments after, and seeing me extended on the floor, with the pot upside down lying near me, he judged me dead, and called Schiller.
The superintendent came also; the physician was likewise called, and I was put to bed. It was with difficulty I recovered. The physician declared my life in danger, and caused my chains to be removed. He ordered me some sort of a cordial, but my stomach would retain nothing. The headache grew to an intolerable height. A report to the governor was immediately made as to my condition, and he despatched a courier to Vienna to ask how I should be treated. He was ordered in reply not to send me to the infirmary, but to cause me to be attended to in the prison with the same care as if I had been in the infirmary. Further, the superintendent was authorised to furnish me with soups and pottages from his own kitchen as long as the malady should continue serious.
This last precaution was quite useless to me at first. Neither meat nor drink passed my lips. For a whole week I got worse and worse; I was delirious day and night.
Kral and Kubitzky were given me as attendants, and they served me with affection. Each time that I resumed a little consciousness Kral repeated to me, "Have confidence in God, sir; God alone is good.”
"Pray to Him for me," said I to him; “not that he will cure me, but that my misfortunes and my death may be received in expiation of my sins."
He suggested to me the idea of calling for the sacraments.
"If I have not demanded them already," I answered, “ attribute it to the weakness of my head, but it will be a great consolation for me to receive them."
He reported my words to the superintendent, who brought the chaplain of the prison. I was pleased with this priest; his name was Sturm. The reflections which he delivered to me upon the justice of God, the injustice of mankind, the duty of forgiveness, the vanity of all the things of this world, were not commonplaces. They bore the stamp of a high and cultivated intellect, and of a lively sentiment of the love due to God and our neighbour.
The effort which I was called upon to make in receiving the sacraments, seemed at first to exhaust the slight remains of life; but it afterwards served to assist me, by plunging me into a lethargy, which produced some hours of repose.
I awoke a little relieved, and seeing Kral and Schiller near me, I took their hands in mine, and thanked them for all their
Towards the end of the second week a crisis occurred in the malady, and all danger vanished.
I was about to rise one morning, when my door opened, and the superintendent, Schiller, and the physician, entered with
smiling countenances. The first of them ran to me and said, “We have received permission to give you Maroncelli for a companion, and to allow you to write to your parents.” Maroncelli was conducted to my arms.
Oh what a moment was that! " Thou yet livest, my friend, my brother !” we each exclaimed. “How happy a day we have been reserved to see! Praise be to God!”
But our joy, great as it was, was soon damped by mutual compassion. Maroncelli was necessarily less struck at finding me so wasted, knowing from how severe an illness I had just escaped. But I, with all my knowledge of what he had undergone, could not have imagined so great a difference from what he was before -I scarcely recognised him. His beautiful countenance, so radiant with health, was withered from grief, from hunger, from the bad air of his gloomy prison.
However, it was a source of consolation to see and hear each other, to be assured we should not again be separated. It was likewise consolatory to write to my parents, which I now did, and the letter was duly forwarded.
The dispositions of Maroncelli and myself harmonised perfectly together. The courage of the one sustained the courage of the other. If either of us was seized with melancholy, or excited to anger by the hardships of our condition, the other restored his friend's equanimity by some pleasantries or appropriate reasonings. A smile generally tempered our sorrows.
As long as we had books, though we had read them often enough to know them by heart, we possessed an agreeable means of mental cultivation, because they were a perpetual excitation to fresh examinations, comparisons, criticisms, and corrections. We read, or meditated in silence, the greatest part of the day, and we gave to conversation the times of dinner and of the pro menade, and all the evening.
Maroncelli, in his dungeon, had composed a great many verses of superior beauty. He recited them to me, and composed others; while I also composed some which I recited to him, and our memories were exercised in retaining all this. We acquired by these means a wonderful facility in the composition, from memory, of long poems, a power of polishing and improving them at repeated intervals, and of bringing them to as high a state of perfection as we could have done by writing them. Maroncelli thus composed by degrees, and delivered to memory, several thousands of lyric and epic verses. As for me, I composed the tragedy of Leoniero da Dertona, and various other pieces.
At the commencement of 1824 a number of additional prisoners were brought to Spielberg, among whom were some of our unfortunate acquaintances; and the rigours of our confinement were increased. How did we pass all the years 1824, 1825, 1826, and 1827! We were refused the use of our books, which the governor had granted provisionally. The prison became for us a real tomb, in which, however, we were not allowed even the tranquillity of the tomb. Each month, on an indeterminate day, the director of the police, accompanied by a lieutenant and his guards, came to make a severe inspection. They stripped us naked, examined all the seams of our clothes, and, in the fear that any paper or other thing was concealed therein, they opened our mattresses to search the insides. Although it was impossible they could find anything clandestine with us, this visit, made in so hostile a manner, so suddenly, and so often repeated, irritated me to a great extent, and always threw me into a fever.
The preceding years had appeared to me so sad, and now, I looked back with regret upon those years, as to a time of enjoyment !
By making the punishment commence not at the epoch of my arrest, but at that of my condemnation, the seven years and a half finished in 1829, in the first days of July, if they were dated from the signature of the emperor, or on the 22d of August, if dated from the publication of the sentence. But this term passed like the others, and all hope was extinguished.
Up to that time, Maroncelli and I sometimes imagined that it might yet be possible we should once more see the world, our beloved Italy, and our relations; and it was for us a subject of conversation replete with anxiety, emotion, and love.
But when we saw August pass, then September, then that whole year, we accustomed ourselves to hope nothing more on this earth 'except the unvarying continuance of our mutual friendship, and the aid of God to perform worthily what remained to accomplish of our long sacrifice.
Ah! friendship and religion are two inestimable benefits ! They embellish even the hours of prisoners for whom all hope of mercy has expired. God is indeed with the unfortunate--with the unfortunate who love him! The first day of August 1830 appeared. It was not far from
years since I had lost my liberty, and eight and a half since I had been subjected to the carcere duro.
It was a Sunday. We went, as on other holidays, to the usual enclosure, and looked again, from the low wall running round it, upon the valley and the graveyard in which Oroboni and Villa lay, talking to each other of the repose which our bones would one day find in the same place.
This day, after returning from the chapel, and when preparing to eat our wretched dinner, the sub-intendant entered the cell. "I am very sorry to disturb your dinner,” said he,“ but have the goodness to follow me; the director of the police is here."
As this latter personage never came but for disagreeable purposes, such as searches or inquiries, we followed the sub-intendant, in very bad humour, to the room of audience.
We found there the director of police and the superintendent; the former moved to us more graciously than usual.
He took a paper in his hand, and, in disconnected words, as if he were afraid. of producing upon us too great a sensation of surprise by a more rapid delivery, said to us—“ Gentlemen, I have the pleasure—I have the honour—to inform you—that his majesty the emperor-has performed another act of mercy,
And he hesitated to inform us in what the mercy consisted. We thought that it referred to some mitigation of our punishment, such as exempting us from the tiresomeness of labour, permitting us some more books, or granting us less disgusting food.
not understand ?” added the director. "No, sir; have the goodness to explain to us what sort of mercy is meant.”
“ It is liberty for you both, and for a third, whom you are about to embrace.”
Apparently our joy should have broken forth in loud jubilee. But our thoughts immediately ran upon our parents, of whom we had had no intelligence for so long a time. Should we still find them on earth? This doubt occurred to us in such force, that it certainly destroyed the pleasure the news of our freedom should have given us.
“ You remain mute,” said the police-director. “ I expected to have seen you jump for joy."
“ I beseech you," answered I,“ to be good enough to transmit our gratitude to the emperor. But if no account is given us of our families, it is impossible not to fear that some very dear individuals are now lost to us. This uncertainty overpowers us, even in the moment which should be that of supreme joy.”
He then gave to Maroncelli a letter from his brother, which consoled him. He told me there was none from my family, and that redoubled my fear that some misfortune had happened.
“ Return into your chamber," resumed the director, before long I will show you the other prisoner who has also l'eceived pardon."
We retired, and waited for this third person with anxiety. We would have taken with us all the others, but there could only be one. Might it be the poor Munari? or such a one? or such another? It was not one of those for whom we offered our prayers. At last the door opened, and we saw that our companion was the Signor Andrea Tonelli da Brescia. We embraced. We could eat no dinner. We conversed until the evening, compassionating the lot of those dear friends who remained behind us.
At nightfall the director of police returned to take us from this place of misfortune. Our hearts were lacerated as we passed before the cells of so many beloved beings, without being able to take them with us! Who knows how long they must still languish there! How many of them would become the slow victims of death!
They cast on the shoulders of each of us a soldier's greatcoat, and a cap on our heads; and thus, in the clothing of galley
slaves, with the exception of chains, we descended that disastrous hill, and were conducted into the city to the prisons of the police. It was a beautiful moonlight night. The streets, the houses, the persons whom we met, all appeared to me so strange and pleasant, after the many years I had passed without beholding a similar scene!
We waited in the prisons of the police for an imperial commissary, who was to come from Vienna to accompany us to the frontier. In the meantime, as our trunks had been sold, we provided ourselves with linen and clothes, and laid aside the prison livery.
At the end of five days the commissary arrived, and the director of police delivered us into his hands. He handed over to him at the same time the money that we had brought to Spielberg, and that which resulted from the sale of our portmanteaus and books, all of which was restored to us at the frontier. The expense of our journey was defrayed by the emperor, and nothing was spared. I was far from well, and when we arrived at Vienna, I was in a fever; for eight days I was under medical treatment, and at length I recovered. Being now comparatively well, I was anxious to depart, the more especially as the news of the three days of Paris had just reached us.
had signed the decree for our liberty the very day that revolution broke out. He assuredly would not now revoke it; but it was very probable that, as the crisis was becoming critical for all Europe, and as popular movements were feared also in Italy, Austria would not at such a moment allow us to return to our country. We were well convinced they would not take us back to Spielberg, but we were afraid it might be suggested to the emperor to consign us to some town of the empire far removed from the peninsula.
At last we left Vienna, and I was able to get as far as Brash. There I again became ill; but at the end of two days I insisted apon resuming the journey. We traversed Austria and Styria, and reached Carinthia without accident; but when we arrived at a village called Feldkirchen, a short distance from Klagenfurt, there came a counter order. We were commanded to halt in this place until further directions.
I leave to be imagined how disagreeable this event was to us. I had, in addition, the unpleasant reflection of being the cause of so great a calamity to my two companions. My fatal malady was the reason they were debarred from returning to their country. We remained five days at Feldkirchen, and during that time the commissary did all in his power to amuse us. There Tras a small theatre of poor players, and he took us to it. Another day he procured for us the diversion of a hunt. Our host, and several young people of the country, with the proprietor of a fine forest, were the hunters, and we, placed in a favourable position, enjoyed the sport as spectators.