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I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs,
A palace and a prison on each hand;
I saw from out the wave her structures rise,
As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying glory smiles
O'er the far times, when many a subject land
Looked to the winged lions' marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles.


The sun had disappeared behind the summits of the Tyrolean Alps, and the moon was already risen above the low barrier of the Lido. Hundreds of pedestrians were pouring out of the narrow streets of Venice into the square of St. Mark, like water gushing through some straight aqueduct, into a broad and bubbling basin. Gallant cava. lieri and grave cittadini ; soldiers of Dalmatia, and seamen of the galleys ; dames of the city, and females of lighter manners; jewellers of the Rialto, and traders from the Levant; Jew, Turk, and Christian ; traveller, adventurer, podestà, valet, avvocato, and gondolier, held their way alike to the common centre of amusement. The hurried air and careless eye; the measured step and jealous glance ; the jest and laugh; the song of the cantatrice, and the melody of the flute; the grimace of the buffoon, and the tragic frown of the improvisatore; the pyramid of the grotesque, the compelled and melancholy smile of the harpist

, cries of water-sellers, cowls of monks, plumage of warriors, hum of voices, and the universal movement and


bustle, added to the more permanent objects of the place, rendered the scene the most remarkable of Christendom.

On the very confines of the line which separates western from eastern Europe, and in constant communication with the latter, Venice possessed a greater admixture of character and costume than any other of the numerous ports of that region. A portion of this peculiarity is to be observed under the fallen fortunes of the place; but at the period of our tale, the city of the isles, though no longer mistress of the Mediterranean, nor even of the Adriatic, was still rich and powerful. Her influence was felt in the councils of the civilised world, and her commerce, though waning, was yet sufficient to uphold the vast possessions of the fa milies that had become rich in the day of her prosperity. Men lived among her islands in the state of incipient lethargy which marks the progress of a downward course, whether the decline be that of a moral or of a physical decay.

At the hour we have named, the vast parallelogram of the piazza was filling fast; the cafés and casinos within the porticoes, which surround three of its sides, being already thronged with company.

While all beneath the arches was gay and brilliant with the flare of torch and lamp, the noble range of edifices called the Procuratories, the massive pile of the Ducal Palace, the most ancient Christian church, the granite columns of the piazetta, the triumphal masts of the great square, and the giddy tower of the campanile, were slumbering in the more mellow glow of the moon.

Facing the wide area of the great square stood the quaint and venerable cathedral of San Marco. A temple of trophies, equally proclaiming the prowess and the piety of its founders, this remarkable structure presided over the other fixtures of the place, like a monument of the republic's antiquity and greatness. Its Saracenic architecture, the rows of precious but useless little columns that load its front, the low Asiatic domes which rest upon its walls in the repose of a thousand years, the rude and gaudy mosaios, and above all, the captured horses of Corinth, which start from out the sombre mass in the glory of Grecian art,

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received from the solemn and appropriate light a character of melancholy and mystery, that well comported with the thick recollections which crowd the mind as the eye gazes at this rare relic of the past.

As fit companions of this edifice the other peculiar ornaments of the place stood at hand. The base of the campanile lay in shadow, but a hundred feet of its grey summit received the rays of the full moon along its eastern face. The masts destined to bear the conquered ensigns of Candia, Constantinople, and the Morea, cut the air by its side, in dark and fairy lines, while at the extremity of the smaller square, and near the margin of the sea, the forms of the winged lion and the patron saint of the city, each on his column of African granite, were distinctly traced against a back ground of the azure sky.

Near the base of the former of these massive blocks of stone, there stood one who was gazing at the animated and striking scene, with the listlessness and indifference of satiety. A multitude, some in masques and others careless of being known, had poured along the quay into the piazetta, on their way to the principal square, while this individual had scarce turned a glance aside, or changed a limb in weariness. His attitude was that of patient, practised, and obedient waiting on another's pleasure. With folded arms, a body poised on one leg, and a vacant though good. humoured eye, he appeared to attend some beck of authority ere he quitted the spot. A silken jacket, in whose tissue were interwoven flowers of the gayest colours, the falling collar of scarlet, the bright velvet cap with armorial bear. ings embroidered on its front, showed that he was a gondolier in private service. *

Wearied with the antics of a distant group of tumblers, whose pile of human bodies had for a time arrested his look, the patient waterman turned away, and faced the light air from the port. Recognition and pleasure shot into his countenance, and in a moment his arms were interlocked with those of a swarthy mariner, who wore

The public gondoliers formerly wore a costume, as was the usage in Europe a century since with all kinds of labouring men; but this practice has been discontinued, though the private gondoliers, being servants, still wear a sort of livery.



the loose attire and Phrygian cap so usual to men of his calling in that classic sea. The gondolier was the first to speak, the words flowing from him in the soft accents of the islands on which he had long been a dweller.

“ Is it thou, Stefano ? They said thou hadst fallen into the gripe of the devils of Barbary, and that thou wast planting flowers for an infidel with thy hands, and watering them with thy tears !"

The answer was in the harsher dialect of Calabria, and it was given with the rough familiarity of a seaman.

“ La Bella Sorrentina is no housekeeper of a curato ! She is not a damsel to take a siesta with a Tunisian rover prowling about in her neighbourhood. Hadst ever been beyond the Lido, thou wouldst have known the difference between chasing the felucca and catching her.”

“ Kneel down, and thank San Teodoro for his care. There was much praying on thy decks that hour, caro Stefano, though none is bolder among the mountains of Calabria when thy felucca is safe upon the beach !"*

The mariner cast a half-comic, half-serious glance upward at the image of the patron saint, ere he replied,

“ There was more need of the wings of thy lion than of the favour of thy saint. I never come further north for aid than San Gennaro, even when it blows a hurricane.”

“ So much the worse for thee, caro, since the good bishop is better at stopping the lava than at quieting the winds. There was danger, then, of losing the felucca and her brave people among the Turks ? ”

“ There was, in truth, a Tunis-man prowling about, between Stromboli and Sicily ; but, Ali di San Michele ! he might better have chased the cloud above the volcano than run after the felucca in a scirocco !"

“ Thou wast chicken-hearted, Stefano ?”

I!-I was more like thy lion, here, with some small additions of chains and muzzles."

“ As was seen by thy felucca's speed ?”


• The practice of "beaching" the smaller vessels is universal on the shores of the Mediterranean. The coast is very generally rocky, but there are occa. sionally little indentations that have sandy margins, and these are usually fined with the different picturesque-looking barks of those seas.

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