Page images

(80) Les prisons des plombs, c'est-à-dire ces fournaises ardentes qu'on avait distribuées en petites cellules sous les terrasses qui couvrent le palais; les puits, c'est-à-dire ces fosses creusées sous les canaux, où le jour et la chaleur n'avaient jamais pénétré, étaient les silencieux dépositaires des mystérieuses vengeances de ce tribunal. -- Daru.

(81) A deep channel behind the island of S. Giorgio Maggiore.

(82) "How fares it with your world?" says his highness the Devil to Quevedo, on their first interview in the lower regions. "Do I prosper there?""Much as usual, I believe." "But tell me truly. How is my good city of Venice? Flourishing ?"—"More than ever."" Then I am under no apprehension. All must go well."

In a letter written by Francesco Priscianese, a Florentine, there is an interesting account of an entertainment given in that city by Titian.

"I was invited," says he, "to celebrate the first of August (ferrare Agosto) in a beautiful garden belonging to that great painter,* a man who by his courtesies could give a grace and a charm to anything festive; and there, when I arrived, I found him in company with some of the most accomplished persons then in Venice; together with three of my countrymen, Pietro Aretino, Nardi the historian,‡ and Sansovino, so celebrated as a sculptor and an architect.

[ocr errors]

"Though the place was shady, the sun was still powerful; and, before we sat down at table, we passed our time in contemplating the excellent pictures with which the house was filled, and in admiring the order and beauty of the garden, which, being on the sea and at the northern extremity of Venice, looked directly on the little island of Murano, and on others not less beautiful.

"Great, indeed, was our admiration, great our enjoyment, wherever we turned; and no sooner did the sun go down than the water was covered with gondolettas adorned with ladies, and resounding with the richest harmonies, vocal and instrumental, which continued till midnight, and delighted us beyond measure, while we sat and supped, regaling ourselves with everything that was most exquisite."

(83) An allusion to the supper in Candide : c. xxvi.

(84) See Schiller's Ghost-seer, c. i.

(85) See the history of Bragadino, the Alchemist, as related by Daru. Hist. de Venise, c. 28.

The person that follows him was yet more extraordinary, and is said to have appeared there in 1687. See Hermippus Redivivus.

"Those who have experienced the advantages which all strangers enjoy in that city will not be surprised that one who went by the name of Signor Gualdi was admitted into the best company, though none knew who or what he was. He remained there some months; and three things were remarked concerning him that he had a small but inestimable collection of pictures, which he readily showed to anybody; that he spoke on every subject with such a mastery as astonished all who heard him; and that he never wrote or received any letter, never required any credit or used any bills of exchange, but paid for everything in ready money, and lived respectably, though not splendidly.

• Great as he was, we know little of his practice. Palma the elder, who studied under him, used to say that he finished more with the finger than the pencil. Boschini.

+ His scholar Tintoret, if so much could not be said of him, would now and then enliven the conversation at his table with a sally that was not soon forgotten. Sitting one day there with his friend Bassan, "I tell thee what, Giacomo," said he: "if I had thy coloring and thou hadst my design, the Titians and Corregios and Raphaels should not approach us."-Verci.

↑ Nardi lived long, if not so long as Titian. Writing to Varchi on the 13th of July, 1555, he says: "I am still sound, though feeble; having on the twenty-first of the present month to begin to climb with my staff the steep ascent of the eightieth year of this my misspent life."-Tiraboschi.

"This gentleman being one day at the coffee-house, a Venetian nobleman, who was an excellent judge of pictures, and who had heard of Signor Gualdi's collection, expressed a desire to see them; and his request was instantly granted. After observing and admiring them for some time, he happened to cast his eyes over the chamber-door, where hung a portrait of the stranger. The Venetian looked upon it, and then upon him. 'This is your portrait, sir,' said he to Signor Gualdi. The other made no answer but by a low bow. 'Yet you look,' he continued, 'like a man of fifty; and I know this picture to be of the hand of Titian, who has been dead one hundred and thirty years. How is this possible?' 'It is not easy,' said Signor Gualdi, gravely, 'to know all things that are possible; but there is certainly no crime in my being like a picture of Titian's.' The Venetian perceived that he had given offence, and took his leave.

"In the evening he could not forbear mentioning what had passed to some of his friends, who resolved to satisfy themselves the next day by seeing the picture. For this purpose they went to the coffee-house about the time that Signor Gualdi was accustomed to come there; and, not meeting with him, inquired at his lodgings, where they learnt that he had set out an hour before for Vienna. This affair made a great stir at the time.

(86) A Frenchman of high rank, who had been robbed at Venice and had complained in conversation of the negligence of the police, saying that they were vigilant only as spies on the stranger, was on his way back to the Terra Firma, when his gondola stopped suddenly in the midst of the waves. He inquired the reason; and his gondoliers pointed to a boat with a red flag, that had just made them a signal. It arrived; and he was called on board. >> "You are the Prince de Craon? Were you not robbed on Friday evening? "I was."" Of what?"-"Of five hundred ducats."-"And where were they?"— "In a green purse."-" Do you suspect anybody?"—"I do, a servant."—"Would you know him again?"-"Certainly." The interrogator with his foot turned aside an old cloak that lay there; and the prince beheld his purse in the hand of a dead man. "Take it; and remember that none set their feet again in a country where they have presumed to doubt the wisdom of the government."

[ocr errors]

(87) Une magistrature terrible, says Montesquieu, une magistrature établie pour venger les crimes qu'elle soupçonne. Of the terror which it inspired he could speak from experience, if we may believe one of his contemporaries.

In Italy, says Diderot, he became acquainted with Lord Chesterfield, and they travelled on together, disputing all the way; each asserting and maintaining as for his life the intellectual superiority of his countrymen; till at length they came to Venice, where Montesquieu was prosecuting his researches with an ardor all his own, when he received a visit from a stranger, — a Frenchman in a rusty garb, who thus addressed him : "You must wonder at my intrusion, sir; but, when the life of a countryman is in danger, I cannot remain silent, cost me what it may. In this city many a man has gone to his grave for one inconsiderate word, and you have uttered a thousand. Nor is it unknown to the government that you write; and before the sun goes down-But I have said more than enough; and may it not be too late! Good-morning to you, sir. All I beg of you in return is, that, if you see me again under any circumstances, you will not discover that you have seen me before."

The president, in the greatest consternation, prepared for instant flight, and had already committed his papers to the flames, when Chesterfield appeared and began to reason with him on the subject.

"What could be his motive? Friendship? "_"He did not know me."-" Money?"—-"He asked for none."—" And all, then, for nothing; when, if detected, he would be strangled on the spot! - No, no, my friend. He was sent, you may rest assured; and what would you say, but let me reflect a little, and what would you say, if you were indebted for this visit to an Englishman, a fellow-traveller of yours, to convince you by

experience of what by argument he could never convince you; that one grain of our common sense, meanly as you may think of it, is worth a thousand of that esprit on which you all value yourselves so highly; for with one grain of common sense --"

“Ah, villain !" exclaimed Montesquieu, "what a trick you have played me! And my manuscript! my manuscript, which I have burnt!"

(88) La Biondina in Gondoletta.

(89) "C'était sous les portiques de Saint-Marc que les patriciens se réunissaient tous les jours. Le nom de cette promenade indiquait sa destination; on l'appellait il Broglio.” -Daru.

[ocr errors]

(90) When a despot lays his hand on a free city, how soon must he make the discovery of the rustic who bought Punch of the puppet-show man, and complained that he would not speak!

(91) For this thought I am indebted to some unpublished travels by the author of Vathek.

(92) Goldoni, describing his excursion with the Passalacqua, has left us a lively picture of this class of men.

"We were no sooner in the middle of that great lagoon which encircles the city, than our discreet gondolier drew the curtain behind us, and let us float at the will of the waves. At length night came on, and we could not tell where we were. "What is the hour?' said I to the gondolier. — 'I cannot guess, sir; but, if I am not mistaken, it is the lover's hour.''Let us go home,' I replied; and he turned the prow homeward, singing, as he rowed, the twenty-sixth strophe of the sixteenth canto of the Jerusalem Delivered."

(93) Premi o stali.

(94) At Venice, if you have la riva in casa, you step from your boat into the hall.

(95) Bianca Capello. It had been shut, if we may believe the novelist Malespini, by a baker's boy, as he passed by at daybreak; and in her despair she fled with her lover to Florence, where he fell by assassination. Her beauty, and her love-adventure as here related, her marriage afterwards with the grand duke, and that fatal banquet at which they were both poisoned by the cardinal, his brother, have rendered her history a


(96) This circumstance took place at Venice on the first of February, the eve of the feast of the Purification of the Virgin, A. D. 994, Pietro Candiano, Doge.

(97) "E' costume era, che tutte le novizze con tutta la dote loro venissero alla detta chiesa, dov' era il vescovo con tutta la chieresia."— A. Navagiero.

(98) Among the Habiti Antichi, in that admirable book of wood-cuts ascribed to Titian (A. D. 1590), there is one entitled "Sposa Venetiana à Castello." It was taken from an old painting in the Scuola di S. Giovanni Evangelista, and by the writer is believed to represent one of the brides here described.

(99) San Pietro di Castello, the patriarchal church of Venice.

(100) "Una galera e una galeotta." M. Sanuto.

(101) In the lagoons of Caorlo. The creek is still called Il Porto delle Donzelle.

(102) ❝Paululùm etiam spirans," &c. - Sallust. Bell. Catal. 59.

[ocr errors]

(103) They are described by Evelyn and La Lande, and were to be seen in the treasury of St. Mark very lately.

(104) "Le quali con trionfo si conducessero sopra una piatta pe' canali di Venezia con suoni e canti."M. Sanuto.

(105) An English abbreviation. Rialto is the name, not of the bridge, but of the island from which it is called; and the Venetians say Il ponte di Rialto, as we say Westminster bridge.

In that island is the exchange; and I have often walked there as on classic ground. In the days of Antonio and Bassanio it was second to none. "I sottoportici," says Sansovino, writing in 1580, "sono ogni giorno frequentati da i mercatanti Fiorentini, Genovesi, Milanesi, Spagnuoli, Turchi, e d'altre nationi diverse del mondo, i quali vi concorrono in tanta copia, che questa piazza è annoverata fra le prime dell' universo." It was છે there that the Christian held discourse with the Jew; and Shylock refers to it, when he says,

"Signor Antonio, many a time and oft,

In the Rialto you have rated me —”

"Andiamo a Rialto," "L'ora di Rialto,". - were on every tongue; and continue so to the present day, as we learn from the comedies of Goldoni, and particularly from his Mercanti.

There is a place adjoining, called Rialto Nuovo; and so called, according to Sansovino, "perchè fù fabbricato dopo il vecchio."

(106) The Council of Ten and the Giunta, "nel quale," says Sanuto, "fu messer lo doge." The Giunta at the first examination consisted of ten patricians, at the last of twenty.

This story and the tragedy of the Two Foscari were published within a few days of each other, in November, 1821.

(107) She was a Contarini; a name coëval with the Republic, and illustrated by eight Doges. On the occasion of their marriage the Bùcentaur came out in its splendor; and a bridge of boats was thrown across the Canal Grande for the bridegroom and his retinue of three hundred horse. Sanuto dwells with pleasure on the costliness of the dresses, and the magnificence of the processions by land and water. The tournaments in the place of St. Mark lasted three days, and were attended by thirty thousand people.

(108) Francesco Sforza. His father, when at work in the field, was accosted by some soldiers, and asked if he would enlist. "Let me throw my mattock on that oak,” he replied, "and if it remains there, I will." It remained there; and the peasant, regarding it as a sign, enlisted. He became soldier, general, prince; and his grandson, in the palace at Milan, said to Paulus Jovius, "You behold these guards and this grandeur. I owe everything to the branch of an oak, - the branch that held my grandfather's mattock."

(109) It was a high crime to solicit the intercession of any foreign prince.

(110) “Va e ubbidisci a quello che vuole la terra, e non cercar più oltre.”

(111) The state-inquisitors. For an account of their authority, see page 306.

(112) There is a beautiful precept which he who has received an injury, or who thinks that he has, would for his own sake do well to follow: "Excuse half and forgive the rest."

(113) "Veneno sublatus." The tomb is in the Church of St. Elena.

(114) A remarkable instance, among others in the annals of Venice, that her princes were merchants; her merchants, princes.

(115) Count Ugolino. — Inferno, 32.

(116) Remember the poor Marcolini !

(117) “ I visited once more," says Alfieri, "the tomb of our master in love, the divine Petrarch; and there, as at Ravenna, consecrated a day to meditation and verse." He visited also the house; and in the album there wrote a sonnet worthy of Petrarch himself.

"O Cameretta, che già in te chiudesti

Quel Grande alla cui fama è angusto il mondo," &c.

Alfieri took great pleasure in what he called his poetical pilgrimages. At the birthplace and the grave of Tasso he was often to be found; and in the library at Ferrara he has left this memorial of himself on a blank leaf of the Orlando Furioso: "Vittorio Alfieri vide e venerd. 18 giugno, 1783."

(118) The Côte Rotie, the Hermitage, &c.

(119) After which, in the MS.

A Crusoe, sorrowing in his loneliness

(120) This village, says Boccaccio, hitherto almost unknown even at Padua, is soon to become famous through the world; and the sailor on the Adriatic will prostrate himself when he discovers the Euganean hills. "Among them," will he say, "sleeps the poet who is our glory. Ah, unhappy Florence! You neglected him, you deserved him not."

[ocr errors]

(121) "I have built among the Euganean hills a small house, decent and proper; in which I hope to pass the rest of my days, thinking always of my dead or absent friends." Among those still living was Boccaccio; who is thus mentioned by him in his will: "To Don Giovanni of Certaldo, for a winter-gown at his evening studies, I leave fifty golden florins; truly little enough for so great a man."

When the Venetians overran the country, Petrarch prepared for flight. "Write your name over your door," said one of his friends, "and you will be safe." "I am not so sure of that,” replied Petrarch, and fled with his books to Padua. His books he left to the republic of Venice, laying, as it were, a foundation for the library of St. Mark; but they exist no longer. His legacy to his friend Francis Carrara the elder, a Madonna painted by Giotto, is still preserved in the cathedral of Padua.

(122) Thrice happy is he who acquires the habit of looking everywhere for excellences, and not for faults, whether in art or in nature, whether in a picture, a poem, or a character. Like the bee in its flight, he extracts the sweet, and not the bitter, wherever he goes; till his mind becomes a dwelling-place for all that is beautiful, receiving, as it were by instinct, what is congenial to itself, and rejecting everything else almost as unconsciously as if it was not there.

(123) May I for a moment transport my reader into the depths of the Black Forest? It is for the sake of a little story which has some relation to the subject, and which many, if I mistake not, will wish to be true.

"Farewell!" said the old baron, as he conducted his guest to the gate. "If you must go, you must. But promise to write, for we shall be anxious to hear of your entire recovery; though we cannot regret, as we ought to do, an illness by which we have been so much the gainers." The young man said nothing, but the tears were in his eyes; and,

« PreviousContinue »