The Maremma/Author's remarks

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The following little Tale, written some time ago, was intended to have been enlarged by the introduction of other characters and incidents, and afterwards published separately; but a poem on the same subject, by a writer of considerable celebrity, having recently made its appearance, the Author of the "Maremma" has, in consequence, given up the idea of its publication in any other mode than the present.

"The history of Desdemona has a parallel in the following passage of Dante. Nello Della Pietra had espoused a lady of noble family at Sienna, named Madonna Pia. Her beauty was the admiration of Tuscany, and excited in the heart of her husband a jealousy, which, exasperated by false reports and groundless suspicions, at length drove him to the desperate resolution of Othello. It is difficult to decide whether the lady was quite innocent, but so Dante represents her. Her husband brought her into the Maremma, which, then as now, was a district destructive to health. He never told his unfortunate wife the reason of her banishment to so dangerous a country. He did not deign to utter complaint or accusation. He lived with her alone, in cold silence, without answering her questions, or listening to her remonstrances. He patiently waited till the pestilential air should destroy the health of this young lady. In a few months she died. Some chroniclers, indeed, tell us, that Nello used the dagger to hasten her death. It is certain that he survived her, plunged in sadness and perpetual silence. Dante had, in this incident, all the materials of an ample and very poetical narrative. But he bestows on it only four verses. He meets in Purgatory three spirits; one was a captain, who fell fighting on the same side with him in the battle of Campaldino; the second, a gentleman assassinated by the treachery of the House of Este; the third was a woman unknown to the poet, and who, after the others had spoken, turned towards him with these words:

Ricordati di me; che son la Pia;
Sienna mi fe, disfecemi Maremma.
Salsi colui che inannellata pria
Disposando m'avea con la sua gemma"

Purgat. Cant. 5th.