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serves the name of more than a mere temporary triumph. Such, as we have seen, is the picture every where presented to us by the history of the arts among the ancients; at Sparta, at Rome, at Marseilles, the republican austerity rejected them; at Carthage commercial ignorance neglected them; at Athens they were encouraged from motives of policy; and they prospered at Sicyon and Syracuse, by the wisdom and magnificence of enlightened princes. In all climates nature fits men for the enjoyment of the arts; in every climate, and under every form of government, their success is the result of public munificence, and the favour of the laws. Q.
PRESENT STATE OF THE CITY OF
FOR the following particulars respecting the present state of the city of Venice, and especially for the description of its great mole or pier, we are indebted chiefly to the communication of a gentleman of this city, who lately visited that celebrated spot.
Venice, it is well known, is built on a cluster of islets, situated among the shallows which occur near the head of the Adriatic Gulf. The houses and spires seem to spring from the water; canals are substituted for paved streets, and long narrow boats, or gondolas, for coaches. Some parts of the city are elegant, exhibiting fine specimens of the architecture of Palladio; but the splendid Place of St Mark is no longer thronged by Venetian nobles; the cassinos are comparatively deserted; and the famed Rialto bridge has ceased to be distinguished for its rich shops and their matchless brocades. The ancient brazen horses have returned from their travels to Paris; but Venice has not been suffered to resume its consequence as the capital of an independent state; the bucentaur is rotten, and there is no longer any Doge to wed the Adriatic.
The great mole is situated about seventeen miles to the south of Venice. It was begun so long ago as the year 1751, and it was not completed when the French revolution broke out. On one part of the wall were inscribed these words: "Ut sacra æstuaria, urbis et libertatis sedes, perpetuo conservetur, colosseas moles ex solido marmore contra mare posuere cura
tores aquarum." This truly colossal rampart passes through a morass, from l'Isle di Chiusa on the west, along l'Isle di Murassi, to the Bocca del Porto on the east, being an extent nearly of three miles. Towards the land side, it is terminated by a wall about ten feet high and four feet broad. If one stands on the top of this wall, the whole is seen slanting on the other side till it majestically dips into the Adriatic; and the magnitude of the undertaking forcibly strikes the spectator's mind. The slanting part of the work commences about two feet and a half below the top of the wall, and descends towards the water by two shelves or terraces. A great part of the embankment is of close stone-work: this vast piece of solid masonry is about fifty feet broad, measuring from the top of the wall to the water's edge. The stones are squared masses of primitive limestone, or "solid marble;" they are very large, and are connected by Puzzulana earth, brought from Mount Vesuvius. Beyond this pile of masonry many loose blocks of marble are placed, and extend a considerable way into the Adriatic. When very high tides occur, accompanied with wind, the waves break over the whole pier; and sometimes, on these occasions, part of the loose blocks are thrown up and lodged upon the level part of the rampart: it may be questioned, therefore, if this exterior range of loose masses of stone be not likely to prove rather detrimental than useful. Near to this pier, on the side next the sea, there is water for vessels of considerable size. The great object of the work is to guard the Lagoon on its south and most assailable point, "contra mare," as the inscription bears; and but for it, Venice, it is thought, would by this time have been in ruins, from the gradual encroachments of the sea. It is kept in good order, and seems lately, during the dominion of the French, to have received extensive repairs. This magnificent work is said to have excited even the admiration of Napoleon, which he has marked by this inscription: "Ausu Romano, ære Veneto."
It may be noticed, that the part of the rampart next to the entrance of the harbour, was the scene of many combats between the French troops and the English sailors, during the blockade of Venice by our navy. The
rigour of this blockade is not generally known; so effectual did it prove, that numbers of the native inhabit ants, particularly of the lower orders, such as gondoliers, absolutely perished through famine.
On the Isle di Murassi, already mentioned, are a number of houses, of a pretty enough appearance at a distance, but miserable on a nearer view; they are inhabited by fishermen, who, with their wretched and squalid wives and children, flock around a stranger, begging with deplorable looks and tones of penury and want. The great Laguna, or shallow lake, also already mentioned, varies in depth from half a foot to three and four feet and more. From the eastern termination of the pier at the Bocco del Porto, the course of the deeper channel, accessible to very large vessels to the port of Venice, is marked out by wooden stakes, or beacons, placed at short distances.
The long continued blockade of the English annihilated the commerce of the port, and proved very disastrous to the Venetian vessels, many of which became ruinous, and have been found incapable of repair. For some days during September last (1816), only two vessels cleared out at the customhouse-one for Constantinople, and another for Corfu. About half a dozen of small craft, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, and Italian, were then lying at the births, waiting for cargoes, but with little expectation of obtaining them. During the war, capital was wasted, and mercantile spirit extinguished; it is not surprising, there fore, to find the commerce of Venice at the lowest ebb. The merchants are now endeavouring to obtain from the Austrian government some advantages, at the expense of the rival ports of Leghorn and Trieste, but with slender hopes of success; and it is not perhaps without reason, that the Venetians have begun to despair of any signal revival of the commerce of this ancient and once celebrated emporium-to which Europe, it may be remarked, was indebted for the invention of public banks.
man power have been extended, and the condition of the lower orders of society ameliorated, a very conspicuous place ought to be assigned to the establishment of Saving Banks, They have originated in a spirit of pure benevolence-placed within the reach of the lowest and most helpless portion of the community the means of a secure and profitable de posite, of which they are now eagerly availing themselves and in proportion as they are multiplied and extended, so must necessarily be the industry, the frugality, the foresight, and the comparative independence, of the lower classes. What is no small recommendation-no complicated or expensive machinery is required for either their formation or their management; the time of the contributors needs not be wasted in discussions and arrangements to which their knowledge and habits are but ill adapted; and no opportunity is afforded for combination. Every one may lodge and withdraw his little hoard according to his convenience, instead of the time and amount being prescribed and enforced by penalties, by which the savings of many years may, without any delinquency which it was in the contributor's power to avoid, be suddenly transferred to his less needy or more fortunate associates. To give facility and encouragement to the labourer to save a little when it is in his power to save, with the most perfect liberty to draw it back, with interest, when his occasions require it, is the primary object, and ought to be the sole object, of this institution. Much of the distress of the lower orders may thus come to be relieved from their own funds, instead of their having recourse to poor rates or private charity.
It does not seem necessary to enter into the details of these establishments, which are now sufficiently numerous to furnish room for selection, whatever may be the local circumstances in which it may be proposed to introduce them. Nor is it consistent with my present purpose, and the limits to which this letter must be confined, to examine the rules by which their business is conducted. Little, that is of real utility on this head, can be added to what has been already laid before the public, in the numerous pamphlets and reports which this interesting
novelty has produced, and in the periodical works in which their merits have been discussed. What is wanted, is not the knowledge of minute particulars regarding the plan and conduct of the establishment, which ought to be varied, perhaps, with any considerable difference in the number and character of the contributors, and in the tract of country over which it is expected to extend. I shall therefore content myself at present with a few remarks on the nature and purpose of Saving Banks in general, which after all that has been written on the subject, do not seem to be well understood even by some of those who have made the most meritorious exertions in promoting them.
It cannot be too frequently recommended to those who may take the lead in establishing banks for savings, to study to combine simplicity with security, and to give to them such a constitution as may not contain within itself the seeds of dissension and party spirit. While the security of the funds is not impaired, a preference should always be given to what is simple, and promises to be permanent, over what is artificial, of a remote or doubtful tendency, or merely calculated for producing a temporary effect. Upon this principle I would venture to suggest, that a Saving Bank should approach as nearly as possible in its character to a Mercantile Bank-that no inquiry into the character or conduct of the depositors should be tolerated for a moment-that the choice of managers should not in general be vested in the depositors, nor the managers themselves taken from that body, and that it should be kept entirely distinct from Benefit Societies, Annuity Schemes, Loan Banks; and its provisions strictly confined to its own proper object of safe custody and prompt payment with interest.
In hazarding this opinion, it is not necessary to deny the influence of great names on the list of honorary and extraordinary members, in giving a momentary eclat to a new institution, and in inspiring the public with confidence in its respectability. But it may well be doubted, whether, after the advantages of a Saving Bank have been generally understood, a parade of inefficient officers will contribute much to its permanency, and to its utility among the lower classes. My own opinion cer
tainly is, that to place the Lord Lieutenant, the Members of Parliament, and the Sheriff of the county, for the time being, among the honorary members of so humble an institution as a bank for the savings of the labourers of a small district, is calculated to call down ridicule on the whole undertaking. But should these gentlemen, constituted members of the bank merely in virtue of their official situations, choose to interfere with the details of its business, either directly or indirectly, without having first acquired by their personal character, or the interest they may have taken in the prosperity of the institution, the confidence of the great body of the depositors, there is every reason to believe that the consequences would be most pernicious. The lower classes would be ready to suspect, whether with or without reason is of little consequence, that the knowledge of their circumstances, and the control over their funds, possessed by these official characters, might be employed in enforcing obnoxious measures of public policy. And on every occasion, when the popular feeling is opposed to the enactments of the legislature, how soon soever it may subside, we might expect to see such a run made upon our Saving Banks, as happens on a larger scale of business, whenever the creditors of individuals, of societies, or of the public, begin to lose confidence in the prudence or ability with which the affairs of their debtors are conducted. Add to this, the habitual jealousy which the lower classes have been taught to entertain of their rulers, so frequently kindled into phrenzy by the arts of the disaffected; and it may be laid down as a rule, that in these simple institutions, which ought to have no other object than the ostensible one, every ground for suspecting the influence of government should be carefully excluded, as not only unnecessary, but likely to be injurious.
With this impression, it is impossible not to feel some degree of alarm at the Bill introduced into Parliament last Session by Mr Rose. As I do not know the provisions of this Bill in its amended form, I shall only venture to observe, that the clause which requires the funds of the Saving Banks to be invested in government securities, ought on no account to be extended to Scotland, where banks of the most
tion, but which is not the less just when this obvious distinction of character is, as I am inclined to think it should be, preserved, both in its original constitution and in the conduct of its affairs.
undoubted responsibility are always
I have already expressed my conviction, that a Saving Bank, in its character, ought as nearly as possible to approach to a common trading bank, or to that branch of its business which consists in receiving and returning money deposited; and, as in Scotland, with interest for the time it has been under its care. Whatever departure from this principle, therefore, may be desirable in the commencement of a very limited local establishment, such as the parish bank of Ruthwell, in Dumfriesshire, the inconvenience and danger that must be felt from the popular election of the officers of a numerous and extensive association, composed, with few exceptions, of the least informed portion of the community, seem to outweigh all the advantages which have been ascribed to it. While the institution is in its infancy, and the zeal for its success, which in some measure supplies the want of experience in the managers, may be paramount to every other feeling in the minds of the depositors, there may be no great inconvenience in general meetings and periodical elections, which, at this early period, it cannot be difficult for its philanthropic founders and patrons to direct or control. But it is by no means probable t that men, whose education and property entitle them to influence the proceedings of such associations, will always be found ready to undertake so difficult a task, and always successful in the attempt. There is certainly more reason to fear, after the zeal of novelty has subsided, and the founders have been removed by death or otherwise, that the management of the concern may become the object of caballing and intrigue among the members themselves, or among others in a station very little higher, and be seized by men whose knowledge of business, or whose integrity, is far from being their chief recommendation. It would display little knowledge of human nature to predict different consequences from the popular election of the officers of Saving Banks in a great town, where the association must contain a large portion of heterogeneous and repulsive materials.
It may naturally be asked, who shall be the officers of these banks, if they are not to be chosen by the contributurs themselves, ather out of their own body, or tom the higher classes? To the i might answer, by referring to the highly respectable self-constitad using ampanies in every part Freizan, dus i un aware, that the an Mogy Netween Dese and Saving Banks Symous ampiete. The object a dhe mes de unt of the partners, whereas Dat of the other ought to be * prouver de weitare of ne labouring ass, ani, on this account, the sos ✰ is managers stouiti de aber alger graculous or pad sease was
a Saving Bank to the management of all its details; and the success of these Societies as a farther proof of the ad vantages to be expected from the choice of their own functionaries by the de positors. But a Saving Bank and : Benefit Society are usually as diffaat in the information and circumstances of their members, as in their object. The frequent meeting of benefit s cieties, or of their committes, is te cessary for the admission of new ma• bers, and for carrying into effect, i eessions require, the very purposed their establishment. The cases of picants must be speedily examined, and such allowances made to the out out of the finds as they are entitled the shape of moiu receive by the rules of the society The responsibility of the managers is not confined to the security of the timis, but extemis also to the mode in which hey are employed, and the r sipts mú üisbursements must ther ire envestigated at short interak Sver member has an equal and
# # si ma si out be sure «Arts will its us But here > was of neverent murrutiais Mga batteries i mur own SAMEN V Dor de responsibuity, mi dru use Sing Ring what je er ansattuun VINES, I jos te
* Ng menced in their