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very surface of the water.
After threading a labyrinth of minor channels, we at length entered the Grand Canal, which is about three hundred feet in width, and winds through the city, in the shape of the letter S. Its borders are lined with proud structures, which the breadth of the channel in front enables the spectator to examine at a proper distance, and under the most favourable circumstances. Subsequent observation satisfied us, that Venice was made for the night, and that it appears much the best by moonlight, when the mud and sea-weed of its canals, the filth of its narrow lanes, the dilapidations of its buildings are concealed from the eye, and when alone any considerable portion of its inhabitants are awake and visible.
Reaching the centre of the city, we stepped from the boat into the very porch of the White Lion, which is one of the best hotels that had been found in Italy, and afforded us excellent accommodations for eight or ten days. Its front windows command an extensive view of the Grand Canal, of the fleets of gondolas that darken its surface, of the palaces upon its shores, and of the Rialto, which spans its channel at the distance of perhaps fifty rods above. A first glimpse of this far-famed bridge, immortalized by the allusions of Shakspeare, was obtained on the evening of our arrival. The outlines could not be distinctly traced; but while we were gazing from the porch of the Bianca Leone, a person crossed with a light, which described an arch against the horizon, corresponding with that of the Rialto. A solitary lamp was burning upon its top. At 9 or 10 o'clock a concert of voices proceeded from this rendezvous of the lower classes, and at length others responded on the shore below. Sometimes the parties joined in the same tune and kept exact time, though they were far apart. The effect was charming. There was a plaintive, pleasing melancholy in the music, which seemed to breathe an elegy over departed greatness and grandeur.
We began to think that all which has been recorded or sung of this romantic city, is strictly true, and that the half had not been told us. Had the gondola taken us back to terra firma on the same night, our excursion would have left an impression of a visit to an enchanted land, presenting scenes entirely out of the sphere of ordinary life, and unlike any thing else to be found on earth. A tourist would do well to select a bright moonlight evening, cross the Lagune at sunset, navigate the canals, pause a moment at the Rialto, visit St. Mark's, climb the Campanile, saunter amidst the circles of Venetian beauty beneath the arcades, take a turn or two in the Public Garden, row to the Lido, and return to the shore at the dawn of day, before the inha
bitants have gone to sleep. Rich as the city is in the works of art and the monuments of former grandeur, an examination in detail will by no means support the first impression, and the visitant finds his enthusiastic admiration declining daily, till his dreams of romance have all vanished, and the mistress of the hundred Isles is left without any feelings of deep regret. Venice is like a woman with a pretty face, but destitute of intellect or heart. She may please the eye, without being able
VENICE CONTINUED RIALTO-SANTA TERESA-SQUARE OF ST. MARK'S -CHURCH-BRONZE HORSES-CAMPANILE-VIEW OF THE CITY AND ISLANDS-DUCAL PALACE ANCIENT HALLS-BRIDGE OF SIGHS-DUNGEONS-MINT-PUBLIC GARDEN-GREEKS AT VENICE.
On the morning after our arrival, we chartered a gondola with one oar, at the rate of five francs a day, and commenced a voyage of discovery, directing our course along the Grand Canal to the Rialto, which was examined with a minuteness proportioned to its fame. It is built of white stone, resembling marble. The chord of its arch is only eighty feet. Its sides are embellished with statues in alto-rilievo, with some other decorations and inscriptions. But the view from the water is neither grand nor beautiful. Poetry and association have done every thing for this bridge. It is at most a fantastic object. Its construction is peculiar. As it has long been one of the principal marts of the city, it is fitted up with appurtenances adapted to such purposes. The central passage is lined on both sides with jewellers' shops and boutiques for other merchandise. On the highest part of the bridge are transverse arches, enclosing a small square, which is occupied as a sort of Exchange. Behind the shops are two other passages, one on each side, guarded outwardly by handsome balustrades. The ascent from the ends to the centre of the walks is so steep, as to render steps necessary. It is of course never crossed by carriages, as there are none in the city. I do not recollect to have seen a horse, except the brazen steeds in front of St. Mark's, during my visit.
While lounging to contemplate the ranges of palaces extending on either hand, and to watch the throng continually crossing, we saw Jews, Greeks, and people from all countries pass in various costumes. Few of Titian's Venuses were visible, and most of the passengers had a coarse, vulgar appearance. At the door of a coffee-house, a group of females were drinking l'eau de vie, though it was not yet 11 o'clock. These early risers belonged to the lower classes. The fashionable part of the community were at home and asleep, reserving a display of their charms till evening.
Saluting the Madonna, who guards the flight of steps leading from the bridge to the water, we re-embarked, passed under the ponderous arch, and continued our voyage through the Grand Canal. The next landing was effected upon the steps of the church of Santa Teresa
Senza Calce, which once belonged to the Carmelites. Its front is majestic, rising from the water on double ranges of columns, crowded with statues and other ornaments. The interior is rich, too rich, in splendid materials. A series of chapels extend round the walls, finished at the expense of noble families, each of whom sought to be foremost in the extravagance of embellishments. Every variety of marble, precious stone, and metal has here been squandered, and the wanton profusion detracts from the simplicity and beauty of the church. The chapel which is the most elegant and in the best taste, is the least gaudy. Its pillars are of black antique, with dove-coloured capitals. The canopy of the high altar is supported by spiral columns of red marble, which appear extremely awkward and ugly. St. Teresa furnishes an illustration of the Venetian School of painting, in which too much stress is laid upon colour, to the neglect of other principles of more importance. A young priest seemed to take a pride in informing us, that this church cost 336,000 ducats.
Continuing our excursion, we emerged from the Canal into an arm of the Lagune, half a mile in breadth, separating the island of St. Maggiore from the rest of the city, and forming the principal harbour for boats and small craft. The view of St. Mark's and the neighbouring edifices, embracing a large number of churches and palaces; the lofty tower rising in the centre; the shipping in the port; and the Public Garden beyond, can hardly be surpassed in magnificence. Debarking at the quay, which is as spacious and beautiful as those of the Arno, we found the winged Lion and a statue of Theodoric, poised far above our heads upon two stupendous columns of granite. An esplanade, denominated the Piazzetta, opens from the water to the great Square, in front of St. Mark's, which is the Palais Royal of Venice--the scene of the Carnival and other great fetes, the place of resort for eating, drinking, gaiety, and pleasure. It lies in the form of a parallelogram, perhaps a thousand feet in length, and three or four hundred in breadth, surrounded on three sides by continuous ranges of palaces, three stories high, uniform both in material and architecture, at least so far as not to break the unity of the view, or to offend the eye. The whole area is neatly paved, and lined with deep arcades, into which shops and coffee-houses without number open, presenting at night a most brilliant spectacle. In architectural grandeur, this square far surpasses the Palais Royal. Several days were occupied in examining the edifices which surround it, and of which I shall attempt a hasty notice.
The Church of St. Mark, standing at one end of the Piazza, is the most prominent object. I have called it the St. Peter's of Venice.
Such it is in a religious point of view, and the richness of its materials; though it will bear no comparison in size and architecture. It is an irregular, rude, Gothic pile, in which oriental marbles and the splendid spoils of the cast have been heaped together, without much regard to taste or elegance. Its exterior is grotesque, and strikes only by its novelty, being a mixture of all orders and of all kinds of materials. Its front is indented with five deep alcoves, filled with rows of pillars, differing as much in style as in colour--some Moorish, others Gothic, and the rest Grecian. It is said there are three hundred in all. In their wars with the Turks and other nations, the Venetians brought home the fragments of demolished temples, and added them to this proud structure, which in turn was doomed to conquest and pillage. Our guide informed us, that the silver heads of saints were picked out of the doors, and many of the valuable ornaments pilfered by the French soldiers, instead of being left for the Austrians.
A gallery extends across the whole front of the church, above which rise five stately domes, in the midst of innumerable pinnacles. We ascended to the terrace, under the guidance of a priest, and examined the celebrated bronze-gilt horses of Lysippus, which have been great travellers, and jaded almost into hacks. They were plundered from Corinth by Mummius Achaicus and carried to Rome; thence returned to Constantinople; on the conquest of that city by the Venetians, they were taken as trophies, and placed over the front of St. Mark's; Napoleon led them captive over the Alps, to grace his triumphal arches at Paris; and the members of the Holy Alliance, turning hostlers, conducted them back to the Adriatic. They are sadly maimed, bruised, and galled by so many long journeys. The gilding has in many places been scratched off for the sake of the gold. One of the collars was broken and lost in the removal, and a new one put on by the French. They have been patched up and repaired since their return. In size, they are somewhat larger than life, extremely well proportioned, and spirited in their attitudes. Their present location is horrible. They are moderately elevated upon pedestals, and nothing but their heads can be seen from the Square below. Why did not the Emperor of Austria, who acted in the capacity of groom at the restoration, direct them to be placed in the centre of the area, or any where else than among the pinnacles of a church, between which and war-horses there is a strange incongruity?
The inside of St. Mark's is as unique as the exterior. Dark and gloomy as it is, I was pleased with it on account of its nationality. It was commenced during the early ages of the Republic, in the 7th or 8th century, and enriched with the trophies of victory.. The spoils of