Page images


not utter a word ! which seemed to me a practical mode of pointing oụt the beauty of concord in opposition to the horrors of discord. /

Michael dell' Agato, who was, as I said before, the manager of St. Benetto, invited me to dine with him tête-à-tête. He expressed a friendly feeling for me, and gave me advice, which subsequently I found of the greatest utility to me. “ In this city,” said he, you

will find innumerable pleasures ; your youth and good spirits will lay you open to many temptations; but against one thing, and one thing only, I particularly cau

I tion

you :-never utter one word against the laws or customs of Venice,—do not suffer yourself to be betrayed even into a jest on this subject. You never know to whom you speak; in every corner spies are lurking, numbers of whom are employed at a high price to ensnare the unwary, and report the language of strangers; but with no other protection than a silent tongue, you may do what you like, and enjoy every thing without molestation. I will relate an anecdote," added he, “which will give you some idea of our police.”

“ A countryman of yours came to this city, accompanied by a Swiss valet; he took up his residence at the Scuda di Francia. On his return home one evening, he found his writing-desk broken

[ocr errors]



open, and a large sum of money taken from it. After making peaceable inquiries, without effect, he flew into a violent rage, charged the landlord and waiters, &c. with being thieves; but, above all, he called them Venetian thieves, and cursed himself for having come into a country where the property of a traveller was not safe even in his own hotel. In the height of his wrath he dismissed his valet for going out and leaving the door of his apartment unlocked; and having thus vented his displeasure, thought the matter ended; but not so. On the third morning after this event, he was roused out of his sleep by the officers of the Inquisition, who informed him, that he must go immediately before the three grand inquisitors. His feelings were not to be envied when, hoodwinked, he was led on board a gondola, and thence into a room hung with black, where sat his judges. After due preparation and solemnity, and a severe lecture on the enormity of the abuse which he had uttered against the Venetian State, its laws, and subjects, he received a peremptory order to quit its territories in twenty-four hours ; this he of course tremblingly promised to obey; but just as he turned to leave the tribunal, a curtain was suddenly drawn aside, behind which lay the strangled corpse of his Swiss valet, and the stolen bag of money by his side.” I confess this instance of the summary mode of administering

justice in Venice, made a deeper impression upon me than all the good Signor's advice.

About this time I wrote to my father, acquainting him with the situation in which I was left, and requesting a remittance, and gave my address to the care of Signor Zanotti, at the Hotel La Regina d'Inghilterra.

Venice! dear, beautiful Venice ! scene of harmony and love ! where all was gaiety and mirth, revelry and pleasure, with what warm feelings do I recal thee to my memory; day and night were the gondoliers singing barcarolles, or the verses of Tasso and Ariosto to Venetian airs; barges full of musicians on the Grande Canale, serenading their enamoratas; the Piazza of St. Marc brilliantly lighted up; ten thousand masks and ballad singers ; the coffee-houses filled with beautiful women, with their cicisbeos; or if alone, unmolested, taking their refreshments and enjoying themselves without restraint. Venice was the paradise of women, and the Venetian women worthy of a paradise at least of Mahomet’s. They were perfect Houri; and the Venetian dialect, spoken by a lovely woman, is the softest and most delicious music in the world to him whom she favours. In short, a Venetian woman, in her zindale dress, well answers young Mirable's description in the play of the Inconstant ; “Give me the plump Venetian, who smiles upon

me like the glowing sun, and meets my lips like sparkling wine; her person shining as the glass, her spirit like the foaming liquor."

My friend Lampieri received a letter from his uncle at Trieste, desiring him to proceed thither immediately; this was bad news for me; for besides the loss of my agreeable companion, I felt that I should lose his pecuniary assistance, which, “though somewhat of the smallest, Master Matthew," as Bobadil says, was generously and frankly given. A Ragusan polacca was to sail in about a week, on board of which he took his passage; the intermediate time we resolved to pass in pleasure ; the mornings we usually spent on the Rialto, it was a favourite lounge, crowded with shops, where merchants of all countries meet. It is their exchange, and a scene of continual bustle, crowded with Christians, Turks, Armenians, and Jews. The latter enjoyed but little liberty in this city,--they were obliged to wear a piece of red cloth in the hat, by way of distinction, (which, considering how much the hand of Nature has done for them in that way, seems superfluous,) and to live in a particular quarter called La Giudica, and were obliged, under a heavy penalty, to be in their houses before sun-set.

When Lampieri was forced to go, I was unhappy enough; my finances were becoming deplorable,

and I was obliged to part with a kind and dear friend. I saw him on board the polacca, and took leave of him with an aching heart. He had expended almost his last ducat, and I had but two zecchinos left wherewith to fight my way through this wicked world. My spirits, for the first time,

, deserted me: I never passed so miserable a night in my life, and in shame of my “doublet and hose," I felt very much inclined to “cry like a child.” While tossing on my pillow, however, I chanced to recollect a letter which my landlord of Bologna, Signor Passerini, had given me to a friend of his, a Signor Andrioli: for, as he told me, he thought the introduction might be of use to me.

In the morning, I went to the Rialto coffeehouse, to which I was directed by the address of the letter. Here I found the gentleman who was the object of my search; after reading my credentials very graciously, he smiled, and requested me to take a turn with him in the Piazza St. Mare. He was a fine looking man, of about sixty years old. I remarked there was an aristocratic manner about him, and he wore a very large tie-wig, well powdered, with an immensely long tail. He addressed me with a benevolent and patronizing air, and told me that he should be delighted to be of service to me, and bade me from that moment consider myself under his protection. " A little

« PreviousContinue »