My Ten Years' Imprisonment/Chapter 14

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Next morning I went to my window to look for Melchiorre Gioja; but conversed no more with the robbers. I replied to their salutation, and added, that I had been forbidden to hold conversation. The secretary who had presided at my examinations, told me with an air of mystery, I was about to receive a visit. After a little further preparation, he acquainted me that it was my father; and so saying, bade me follow him. I did so, in a state of great agitation, assuming at the same time an appearance of perfect calmness in order not to distress my unhappy parent. Upon first hearing of my arrest, he had been led to suppose it was for some trifling affair, and that I should soon be set at liberty. Finding his mistake, however, he had now come to solicit the Austrian government on my account. Here, too, he deluded himself, for he never imagined I could have been rash enough to expose myself to the penalty of the laws, and the cheerful tone in which I now spoke persuaded him that there was nothing very serious in the business.

The few words that were permitted to pass between us gave me indescribable pain; the more so from the restraint I had placed upon my feelings. It was yet more difficult at the moment of parting. In the existing state of things, as regarded Italy, I felt convinced that Austria would make some fearful examples, and that I should be condemned either to death or long protracted imprisonment. It was my object to conceal this from my father and to flatter his hopes at a moment when I was inquiring for a mother, brother, and sisters, whom I never expected to behold more. Though I knew it to be impossible, I even calmly requested of him that he would come and see me again, while my heart was wrung with the bitter conflict of my feelings. He took his leave, filled with the same agreeable delusion, and I painfully retraced my steps back into my dungeon. I thought that solitude would now be a relief to me; that to weep would somewhat ease my burdened heart? yet, strange to say, I could not shed a tear. The extreme wretchedness of feeling this inability even to shed tears excites, under some of the heaviest calamities, is the severest trial of all, and I have often experienced it.

An acute fever, attended by severe pains in my head, followed this interview. I could not take any nourishment; and I often said, how happy it would be for me, were it indeed to prove mortal. Foolish and cowardly wish! heaven refused to hear my prayer, and I now feel grateful that it did. Though a stern teacher, adversity fortifies the mind, and renders man what he seems to have been intended for; at least, a good man, a being capable of struggling with difficulty and danger; presenting an object not unworthy, even in the eyes of the old Romans, of the approbation of the gods.