Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/113



betrayed me even in the time that I placed the greatest confidence in him. I will unfold only that which thou canst not know from others: the horrid cruelty by which he made me perish».

The count then succintly relates when and in what manner he was cast into a horrible dungeon with his four sons by the above-mentioned archbishop and thus goes on:

Quand’io fui desto innanzi la dimane,

pianger senti’ fra V sonno i miei figliuoli, ecc. (i).

Thus engUshed: «The next day, when it was yet scarce light, I heard my children weeping before their sleep was well dissipated. They were in the same place with me, and desired me to give them bread. Ah, if thou weepest not at the reflection of what I felt that cruel moment, thy heart must be proof to every sentiment of compassion. After having past the night in wild tormenting dreams, we ali awaked. The hour approached when we expected to ha ve something brought to us to eat. But instead of seeing any food appear, I heard the doors of that horrible dungeon more closely barred. I beheld my little children in silence and could not weep. My heart was petrifíed. The little wretches wept, and my dear Anselm said: — Father, you look on us! What ails you? — I could neither weep nor answer and continued swallowed up in silent agony ali that day and the following night, even till the dawn of day. As soon as a glimmering ray darted through the doleful prison, that I could view again those four faces, in which my own image was impresi, I gnawed my fist with rage and grief. My children, believing I did thus through eagerness to eat, raising themselves up, said to me: — Dear father! our torments would be less, if you would allay the rage of your hunger upon us. It is you who have clothed US with this miserable flesh ; now then divest us of it ! — I restrained myself that I might not increase their misery. We were mute that day and the following. Ah, cruel earth, why did’st thou not swallow us at once? The fourth day being come.

(i) XXXIII, vv. 37-78 [Ed.]