Sidor som bilder
PDF

circulated sonnet. Does a physician or a lawyer take his degree, or a cler. . gyman preach his maiden sermon, has a surgeon performed an operation, would a harlequin announce his departure or his benefit, are you to be congratulated on a marriage, or a birth, or a lawsuit, the Muses are invoked to furnish the same number of syllables, and the individual triumphs blaze abroad in virgin white or party-coloured placards on half the corners of the capital. The last curtsy of a favourite “prima donna” brings down a shower of these poetical tributes from those upper regions, from which, in our theatres, nothing but cupids and snow-storms are accustomed to descend. There is a poetry in the very life of a Venetian, which, in its common course, is varied with those surprises and changes so recommendable in fiction, but so different from the sober monotony of northern existence; amusements are raised into duties, duties are softened into amusements, and every object being considered as equally making a part of the business of life, is announced and performed with the same earnest indifference and gay assiduity. The Venetian gazette constantly closes its columns with the following triple advertisement: —

Charade.

Exposition of the most Holy Sacrament in the church of St. –

Theatres.
St. Moses, opera.

St. Benedict, a comedy of characters.
St. Luke, repose.

When it is recollected what the Catholics believe their consecrated wafer to be, we may perhaps think it worthy of a more respectable niche than between poetry and the playhouse.

III.
THE LION AND HORSES OF ST. MARK’S.

“St. Mark yet sees his lion where he stood - Stand,”—

Stanza xi. line 5.

The Lion has lost nothing by his journey to the Invalides but the gospel which supported the paw that is now on a level with the other foot. The Horses also are returned to the ill-chosen spot whence they set out, and are, as before, half hidden under the porch window of St. Mark's church. Their history, after a desperate struggle, has been satisfactorily

explored. The decisions and doubts of Erizzo and Zanetti, and lastly, of the Count Leopold Cicognara, would have given them a Roman extraction, and a pedigree not more ancient than the reign of Nero. But M. de Schlegel stepped in to teach the Venetians the value of their own treasures, and a Greek vindicated, at last and for ever, the pretension of his countrymen to this noble production.* M. Mustoxidi has not been left without a reply; but, as yet, he has received no answer. It should seem that the horses are irrevocably Chian, and were transferred to Constantinople by Theodosius. Lapidary writing is a favourite play of the Italians, and has conferred reputation on more than one of their literary characters. One of the best specimens of Bodoni's typography is a respectable volume of inscriptions, all written by his friend Pacciaudi. Several were prepared for the recovered horses. It is to be hoped the best was not selected, when the following words were ranged in gold letters above the cathedral porch;

[ocr errors]

Nothing shall be said of the Latin, but it may be permitted to observe, that the injustice of the Venetians in transporting the horses from Constantinople was at least equal to that of the French in carrying them to Paris, and that it would have been more prudent to have avoided all allusions to either robbery. An apostolic prince should, perhaps, have objected to affixing over the principal entrance of a metropolitan church an inscription having a reference to any other triumphs than those of religion. Nothing less than the pacification of the world can excuse such a solecism.

IV. SUBMISSION OF BARBAROSSA TO POPE ALEXANDER III.

“The Swabian sued, and now the Austrian reigns
An Emperor tramples where an Emperor knelt.”
Stanza xii. lines 1. and 2.

After many vain efforts on the part of the Italians entirely to throw off the yoke of Frederic Barbarossa, and as fruitless attempts of the Emperor to make himself absolute master throughout the whole of his Cisalpine dominions, the bloody struggles of four and twenty years were happily brought to a close in the city of Venice. The articles of a treaty had been

* Su i quattro cavalli della Basilica di S. Marco in Venezia. Lettera di Andrea Mustoxidi Corcirese. Padua, per Bettoni e compag. . . . 1816.

previously agreed upon between Pope Alexander III. and Barbarossa; ant. the former having received a safe-conduct, had already arrived at Venice from Ferrara, in company with the ambassadors of the King of Sicily and the consuls of the Lombard league. There still remained, however, many points to adjust, and for several days the peace was believed to be impracticable. At this juncture it was suddenly reported that the Emperor had arrived at Chioza, a town fifteen miles from the capital. The Venetians rose tumultuously, and insisted upon immediately conducting him to the city. The Lombards took the alarm, and departed towards Treviso. The Pope himself was apprehensive of some disaster if Frederic should suddenly advance upon him, but was reassured by the prudence and address of Sebastian Ziani, the Doge. Several embassies passed between Chioza and the capital, until, at last, the Emperor, relaxing somewhat of his pretensions, “laid aside his leonine ferocity, and put on the mildness of the lamb.” + On Saturday the 23d of July, in the year 1177, six Venetian galleys transferred Frederic, in great pomp, from Chioza to the island of Lido, a mile from Venice. Early the next morning the Pope, accompanied by the Sicilian ambassadors, and by the envoys of Lombardy, whom he had recalled from the main land, together with a great concourse of people, repaired from the patriarchal palace to St. Mark’s church, and solemnly absolved the Emperor and his partisans from the excommunication pronounced against him. The Chancellor of the Empire, on the part of his master, renounced the anti-popes and their schismatic adherents. Immediately the Doge, with a great suite both of the clergy and laity, got on board the galleys, and waiting on Frederic, rowed him in mighty state from the Lido to the capital. The Emperor descended from the galley at the quay of the Piazzetta. The Doge, the patriarch, his bishops and clergy, and the people of Venice with their crosses and their standards, marched in solemn procession before him to the church of St. Mark. Alexander was seated before the vestibule of the basilica, attended by his bishops and cardinals, by the patriarch of Aquileja, by the archbishops and bishops of Lombardy, all of them in state, and clothed in their church robes. Frederic approached—“moved by the Holy Spirit, venerating the Almighty in the person of Alexander, laying aside his imperial dignity, and throwing off his mantle, he prostrated himself at full length at the feet of the Pope. Alexander, with tears in his eyes, raised him benignantly from the ground, kissed him, blessed him; and immediately the Germans of the train sang, with a loud voice, ‘We praise thee, O Lord.” The Emperor then taking the Pope by the right hand, led him to the church, and having received his benediction, returned to the ducal palace.” + The ceremony of humiliation was repeated the next day. The Pope himself, at the re

* “Quibus auditis, imperator, operante eo, qui corda principum sicut vult et quando vult humiliter inclinat, leonina feritate deposita, ovinam mansuetudinem induit.”—Romualdi Salernitani Chronicon, apud Script. Rer. Ital tom. vii. p. 229. + Ibid. p. 231.

[ocr errors]

quest of Frederic, said mass at St. Mark's. The Emperor again laid aside his imperial mantle, and taking a wand in his hand, officiated as verger, driving the laity from the choir, and preceding the pontiff to the altar. Alexander, after reciting the gospel, preached to the people. The Emperor put himself close to the pulpit in the attitude of listening; and the pontiff, touched by this mark of his attention (for he knew that Frederic did not understand a word he said), commanded the patriarch of Aquileja to translate the Latin discourse into the German tongue. The creed was then chanted. Frederic made his oblation, and kissed the Pope's feet, and, mass being over, led him by the hand to his white horse. He held the stirrup, and would have led the horse's rein to the water side, had not the Pope accepted of the inclination for the performance, and affectionately dismissed him with his benediction. Such is the substance of the account left by the archbishop of Salerno, who was present at the ceremony, and whose story is confirmed by every subsequent narration. It would be not worth so minute a record, were it not the triumph of liberty as well as of superstition. The states of Lombardy owed to it the confirmation of their privileges; and Alexander had reason to thank the Almighty, who had enabled an infirm, unarmed old man to subdue a terrible and potent sovereign.*

[merged small][ocr errors]

The reader will recollect the exclamation of the highlander, Oh for one hour of Dundee 1 Henry Dandolo, when elected Doge, in 1192, was eightyfive years of age. When he commanded the Venetians at the taking of Constantinople, he was consequently ninety-seven years old. At this age he annexed the fourth and a half of the whole empire of Romania +, for

* See the above-cited Romuald of Salermo. In a second sermon which Alexander preached, on the first day of August, before the Emperor, he compared Frederic to the prodigal son, and himself to the forgiving father.

+ Mr. Gibbon has omitted the important ae, and has written Romani instead of Romaniae. Decline and Fall, chap. lxi. note 9. But the title acquired by Dandolo runs thus in the chronicle of his namesake, the Doge Andrew Dandolo. “Ducali titulo addidit, “Quartae partis et dimidiae totius imperii Romaniae.” And Dand. Chronicon, cap. iii. pars xxxvii. ap. Script. Rer. Ital tom. xii. page 331. And the Romaniae is observed in the subsequent acts of the Doges. Indeed, the continental possessions of the Greek empire in Europe were then generally known by the name of Romania,

[ocr errors]

so the Roman empire was then called, to the title and to the territories of the Venetian Doge. The three eighths of this empire were preserved in the diplomas until the dukedom of Giovanni Dolfino, who made use of the above designation in the year 1357.*

Dandolo led the attack on Constantinople in person: two ships, the Paradise and the Pilgrim, were tied together, and a drawbridge or ladder let down from their higher yards to the walls. The Doge was one of the first to rush into the city. Then was completed, said the Venetians, the prophecy of the Erythraean sibyl:—“A gathering together of the powerful shall be made amidst the waves of the Adriatic, under a blind leader; they shall beset the goat — they shall profane Byzantium—they shall blacken her buildings — her spoils shall be dispersed; a new goat shall bleat until they have measured out and run over fifty-four feet, nine inches, and a half.” +

Dandolo died on the first day of June, 1205, having reigned thirteen years, six months, and five days, and was buried in the church of St. Sophia, at Constantinople. Strangely enough it must sound, that the name of the rebel apothecary who received the Doge's sword, and annihilated the ancient government, in 1796-7, was Dandolo.

VI.

THE WAR OF CHIOZA.

“But is not Doria's menace come to pass =
Are they not bridled?”
Stanza xiii. lines 3, and 4.

After the loss of the battle of Pola, and the taking of Chioza on the 16th of August, 1379, by the united armament of the Genoese and Francesco da Carrara, Signor of Padua, the Venetians were reduced to the utmost despair. An embassy was sent to the conquerors with a blank sheet of paper,

and that appellation is still seen in the maps of Turkey as applied to Thrace. - -

* See the continuation of Dandolo's Chronicle, ibid. page 498. Mr. Gibbon appears not to include Dolfino, following Sanudo, who says, “il qual titolo siuso final Doge Giovanni Dolfino.” See Wite de' Duchi di Venezia, ap. Script. Rer. Ital tom. xxii. 530. 641.

+ “Fiet potentium in aquis Adriaticis congregatio, caeco praeduce, Hircum ambigent, Byzantium prophanabunt, aedificia denigrabunt; spolia dispergentur, Hircus novus balabit usque dum Liv pedes et Ix pollices, et semis praemensurati discurrant.”— Chronicom, ibid. pars xxxiv

« FöregåendeFortsätt »