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Ducale far exceeded our expectations. Founded above a thousand years ago, and destroyed no fewer than five times, it has arisen, phoenix-like, from its ruins, more and more magnificent. The Grand Entrance (the Porta della Carta) bears its name because there all the edicts of the Republic were placarded. Inside is the great, court, with its double row of arcades. We tasted of the water at one of the two wells, and found it delicious and refreshing. It is said to be the best in Venice, as it passes through sand tanks and clay filters. We ascended the Giant's Staircase, with its statues of Mars and Neptune, Adam and Eve. It was upon the landing at the head of these stairs that the newly-elected Doge received the berretta of his office, and then having heard mass in the Basilica and made the tour of the Piazza, returned quietly to his future abode. It was upon this landing that on the morning of the 25th of October, 1457, the aged Foscari fainted with anguish when forced to abandon a palace which for more than thirty years had been his home. But it was not on this landing that Falieri was beheaded, nor did his head roll down the Giant's Staircase on which we were, despite the tragedies of Byron and Delavigne, for the excellent reason that neither staircase nor landing had any existence until nearly a century after the event took place. The objects of interest in various parts of the palace are numberless-magnificent paintings, portraits, statuary, &c. requiring weeks of careful study to satisfy the intelligent visitor.
The Library and the Archäological Museum are full of objects of interest, but it is in the Sala del Consiglio that the thoughtful student of Venetian history feels a thrill of powerful emotion, mingled with horror, as he remembers that it was here that the Council of Ten, established in 1310, held their sittings. Invested with supreme authority, hated by many, dreaded by all, secret, almost omnipotent, relentless as the Vehmgericht of Westphalia, they issued in this hall their terrible decrees. They received denunciations through the lions' mouths, which were everywhere—at the landing of the Giant's Staircase, at the portals of the Ducal Palace, &c. At the entrance of this chamber was a lion's mouth of marble, with everyawning jaws, to receive written communications, signed or anonymous, against any person in the state, whilst under each was inscribed “Denounce ! denounce! What an unhappy and terrible state of society ! Once denounced, the victim was seized; once seized,
condernned; once sentenced, all was over; he disappeared. Nothing was seen, heard, or known of his fate.
If a man was missing from his family they dared not make any inquiries concerning him, lest they also should suffer the same fate. The Pozzi, the Piombi, the Ponte dei Sospiri, the Rio Oriano, alone could tell. A secret door and narrow staircase led from this room to the Pozzi, or wells, in the foundation of the palace, whence none returned alive to publish the horrors they had witnessed. Another staircase led up to the Piombi, narrow cells under the leaden roof, where severe cold in winter and equally intense heat in summer rendered then places of dreadful suffering, ending in insanity and death. What visions of starvation and strangulation, of torture in dungeons, and the fatal axe of the executioner, crowd on the thoughtful mind! Yor are they dissipated
passing through the Sala della Bussola to the Stanza dei tre Capi del Consiglio dei Dieci (the room of the Three Heads of the Council of Ten), where the highest Tribunal sat, even more terrible than the Ten. Here the Inquisitors sat concealed, whilst they heard all the statements of the witnesses and accused, themselves unseen. How thankful were we to be Englishmen of the nineteenth century ! others rail against the imperfections of our laws, the occasional unjust decisions of our magistrates, and all the errors they fancy they are able to detect in our social system. We have no such feelings, but, thinking of the terrible condition of Venice when there were continually being enacted such fearful acts of injustice, we could exclaim with all sincerity, " England, with all thy faults, I love thee still !”
But the Church of St. Marco occupied as much of our time and attention as any building in Venice. The four bronze horses by Lysippus of Chio, brought here from Constantinople by Dandolo, are too well known to require much description. They are of pure copper, and weigh about two tons each; they were formerly covered with gold, and must have had a magnificent appearance. they were removed to Paris by Napoleon, to grace the Triumphal Arch in the Place du Carrousel, but in 1815, on the occupation of Paris by the Allied Armies, they were sent back to Venice to be placed where we saw them. In the Vestibule is the well-known slab of porphyry, where Barbarossa threw off his mantle and knelt, whilst the proud Pontiff placed his foot on his neck. We examined with
great interest the vast treasure of mosaics and remarkable objects around, much regretting that we could not devote more time to inspect each object more fully. The Façade, brilliant with mosaics of the embarkation and disembarkation of the body of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice, which was brought here in 829- The Last Judgment—The Descent from the Cross-Christ in Hades (wherever that may be)-The Resurrection and the Ascension. The Vault of the Vestibule has a series of mosaics by Francesco and Valerio Zuccato, illustrating the history of the Old Testament. The three doors leading to the church are inlaid with silver. The one on the right hand was brought from the Mosque of St. Sophia in Constantinople, in 1203. A legend says that some of the columns are from the Temple of Jerusalem. At the extreme left hand of the Vestibule is the tomb of Manin, whose remains were brought from Paris a few years ago. It was the first interment there for several centuries, and magnificent was the funeral procession of the President of the 1848 Venetian Republic. But the interior is more wonderful and impressive than the exterior. How graphic is Ruskin's description ! “ There opens before us a vast cave, hewn out in the form of a cross, and divided into shadowy aisles by many pillars. Round the domes of its roofs the light enters only by narrow apertures like large stars, and here and there a ray or two from some far-off casement wanders into the darkness, and casts a narrow phosphoric stream upon the waves of marble that heave and fall in a thousand colours on the floor. What else there is of light is from torches or silver lamps burning ceaselessly in the recesses of the chapels. The roof sheathed with gold, and the polished marble walls covered with rich alabaster, give back at every curve and angle some feeble gleaming to the flames, and the glories round the heads of the sculptured saints flash out upon us as we pass them, and sink again into the gloom. Underfoot and overhead is a continued succession of crowded imagery—one picture passing into another, as in a dream. Forms, beautiful and terrible, mixed together; dragons and serpents and ravening beasts of prey, and graceful birds, that, in the midst of them, drink from fountains of running waters and feed from vases of crystal ;—the passions and pleasures of human life symbolised together, and the mystery of its redemption ; for the mazes of interwoven lines and changeful pictures lead always at last
to the cross, lifted and carved in every place and upon every stone, sometimes with the Serpent of Eternity wrapped around it, sometimes with doves beneath its arms, and sweet herbage growing forth from beneath its feet. But conspicuous most of all, is the great rood that crosses the church before the altar, raised in bright blazonry against the shadow of the apse."
The visitor will speedily notice, how, when Venice was dominant in the Mediterranean, every country was laid under contribution to enrich this church. The guide is continually saying in reference to the pillars of porphyry, jasper, and verd-antique, “This was brought from Tyre; this from Constantinople; this from Greece," &c. The oldest mosaic in the church is over the central door, and represents Christ, the Virgin Mary, and St. Mark. The basin for holy water on the right, is of porphyry. On the screen which separates the choir are fourteen beautiful marble statues, representing St. Mark, the Madonna, and the twelve Apostles, by Jacobello and Pietro Paolo Masegne. But a bare enumeration of all the rare and valuable relics would require too much space. They boast of having a quantity of the blood of our Saviour in a crystal vase, and a portion of the skull of St. John. Of course they have a part of the true cross, &c. Venice has numerous other churches, beautifully embellished with rare and costly monolith pillars, statues, and paintings innumerable, but it would be utterly impossible to mention more than the most striking of them. It was with feelings of deep regret that we turned our backs on the beautiful fairy city of the Lagoons, but, though lost to sight, its peculiar situation and surroundings, its own noble palaces and cathedral and other objects of interest, will ever remain imprinted in brightest colours on the tablet of our memory.
HOBGOBLIVS IN POETRY AND ART; OR, THE
BEAUTY OF TRUTH.
I, "HERE are so many of them! I suppose the family of the
Hobgoblins is one of the most numerous in existence. They come crowding round me even as I begin to write, hiding your faces from me. One is telling me that in my love of things beautiful I over-estimate the value of Poetry and Art, while my readers will see with clearer eyes. Another is urging that the subject itself, “The Beauty of Truth," is too high, too noble for me to dare to touch within the limit of these pages. And yet another suggests that between the cares of the day and the pleasant hours of evening rest, filled with the laughing voices of our children, there is but little time for earnest and grave thought.
Hobgoblins ! all of them ! and thus do I dismiss them.
The Beauty of Truth—the splendour of Truth-the glory of Truth-the subject is indeed noble; but it is therefore the more worthy of our consideration. And, moreover, to my readers it is a subject not so new or strange but that I may rely upon their love of it rather than on my own skill to make it interesting. It is for their eyes to see, not mine; and if, as in the turning of a kaleidescope, things beautiful are made to take new forms, I shall not measure my success by laughter, though laughter has its own beauty and splendour and glory too.
But these Hobgoblins; they are not only an extensive family, but they are of very ancient pedigree. If antiquity can make a family respectable, then the Hobgoblins are eminently so. And besides this, they are of an almost infinite variety. There are the Black Hobgoblins and the White Hobgoblins, like their Black and White cousins in the family of man. There are big, blundering, foolish Hobgoblins, and there are Hobgoblins ridiculously small, and impudent in proportion. There are Hobgoblins of the Fire and Brimstone sort, that would frighten timid souls from the right path; and there are pacific little hop-o'-my-thumb Hobgoblins, that would laugh one out of remembering that there is any particular path we ought to tread.