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Foreign Correspondence

Foreign Correspondence image
Parent Issue
Day
17
Month
January
Year
1873
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Texice, ÏTot. 2, 1872. My Dïïae Poud: At Venico ! Wero wo to realizo half the dreams of our teeming imaginations, or were wo to be diaappointed in our pleasant anticipations. It wan with mingicd eraotions of delight and fear that we stcpped from the oars and found our: : lv.'s in a depot vory mueh after tho stTle and with mucli of tlio confusión of einiüar places elsewhoro. AVe ought to have cxpectodthis, but somehovv itseèmed as if tho "City of the Sea" sUould havo vort of fioating receptaele for railarrivala. Stepping from the dejiot out upon the platform in front, everythnig suddenly changed : boforo us lay tho grand canal, and along tho wharf were drawn up hundreda of those beautifully shuped, sombro colorcd góndolas, as familiar to us as if wo liad ahvuya kno-.vn theia. And theso wero tho csirriagffl that wero to bcar passengers to thcir bótela. Surely, now we bcgan to realizo that wo wero indeed at Yenice, as wo stcTped carofully down into the bottom and thonco beneath tlio central canopy -n-ith soats for four. Our craft was full, and with two gondoliers to push us forward, ono standing on a small doek astem and ono in tho bottom for war d, and pushing tho oars from thern against a jaga;ed f ulonim fast to the side, we bcgan to glido on our way as quietly and as smoothly as only tb.o góndola can move, yet with considerable speed. There was soniüthiug almost liko enchantment in the sceno about us. Tor a short timo we iolluwed the grand canal, swarming with boita of all kinds from fiftoon feet iu lcngth to soiuc noarly as large as ordinary cs.nal boats in America. Palaoea lmed thegides on eithor hand, and soon the Eialtc, recognizod at onoo, rose bef oto us. Taking a noarer route we now shot intOEaiTowercanuls.andstill great houses and ediiices, adorned with sculptured faeadea even w'aero thcy wero almost ungeen, were noticed, and tokens of the magnificence o: former times aróse on every hand. iOur arrival héro -was too lato in the day for us to atteuipt finding lodgings, oxcept at the hotel, so we had our gondola land us at Hotel Baur, not i'ar from St. BAark'a place, and by the time our supper was disposed of irresistible curiosity impellod us to to visit the celebra tedPiazza. In various Buropean eities we had seen navrow sfreets, and they seemed contractel ndeetl tq us, hut i)i-.y wpv nothing to be coinparcd to tho exceediugly narrow streets of Yenice. Before reaching St. Mark's place wo passed through somo which were scarcály moro than five feet across, yet they were public ways and much frequentod, leading to "II Bocea," as it is called, the entranco to tho Piazza frora our direction. Wo kopt in the orowd, and soon passed benoath the fine archway under the Atrio and wcro in the square of St. Mark's. The blazo of thousand lights cncircling the vast space '-the dazzling illumination of hundreds of show-windows - tho mass of pcople engaged in indolent promenades - the welling musie of a military band - and the ceaseless hum which pervaded the air, realized in full all we had read and hourd of this world renowned spot. It is questionable whether any ono was ever disappointed in his first sight of the square of St. Mark - espocialty if it happened to be after nightfall. The scone is more likc enchantmont than anvthing real, and, what is of more importance, it does not pall after tho firat brief illusion, By night or by day such is the offect of its marvclous concentrationof attractions --its splendid palacos - its gorgeous cathodral - its mosaic pavements - its towerïng campanile - its lions- its clock tower - nnd, abovo all, the glory of its his:oric associations, that it would bo impossible not to feel the spell of tho placo. ind the great extent of the whole, with Ihe wonderful minuteness of finish, in ivory nook and corner, is such that somefcing undiscovered before is ever presenthg itself to gratify the oye. This first eveuing we did not attempt to mako any comprehensivo examination, of tho wholo or ot' tho details, but abandonad ourselves tn tío simple luxury of enjoyment and tomuorary forgetfulnesa of all olso but tho briiliimt and fascinatiiig sceno around us. Tho first improssions of Venico as a city, asido fronithe spectacle of the Grand Piazza, has iu it something of sadness. Fron the absence of all wheeled vehiclos and tho tramp of horses there is at first an inusual quietness pervading the air. Thocanals often present a busy sceno, yet all tho varióos íloating vessels are bladc, and the góndolas, which are so nu nierms everywhere, have almost ahoarsolikeappoarancc to tho now-comer; but abore all the once gay and bright palaces, riet in all that marblo and graceful scu'pturo can present, look now so blackenod or bloached (according to their exposvre) in their long conflict with the oleinents, that ono iesensibly feols as if it vas indeed a city of tho past, and that 'its glory bas departed." The evidences f the former prodigious wealth and luxary of Veniee are everywhero. There is scarcely a dingy lano anywhero where palaces may not bo found on whoso facado onongh money has been lavished to build somo of the most expensive structuresin our littlo city, whilo churches of tho most unpretending exterior are still suro to have within some pricelcss treas ure in sculpture or painting, or more froquently of both. And tho public and private collections of the old masters preMrved ïrom the period of hor prosperity aio absolutely invalUfvble as well us numerous. But how is there to beseen of freshness or of the nev in tho buildings and improvoments of ï0 placo n would seem as if in the day of lr est glory thero was no spare spuco unoooupied by the crowded population tha then throngod her bordors, and every inch of' lier torritory, öircnmscribod by the soa, was then built upon for all time and aftor gencrations havo ever sincc simply continucd ia possession - with fuwer Diunbsn, less raeans, and a growing in.ibility to preserve their fair inheritanco unimpaired. Víctor Emmanucl st. is the only notablo oxception to this statement. AV'antever may bo tho future of Venice, it is not iikely that sao WÜ1 ever bo ablc to eniso these palpable tokens of decline froin her groat wealth and power. But we caino aot here to criticise her polity, or oven to pour forth fruitless regret3 over her lecay, but to see her as she is, thankful that onr opportunity bae pcrmiti.cd U9 to tarvy a íam brief weel::; in a city whoso attraotiems are still such aa are exoolled by but few European citie3. Of what wo havo scon we shall givo our own impressions and in our om straihti'orward way, having littlo opportunity or desire to substituto tho experience of othors, excopt in moroly statistical or bistorioal statements. And first, of St. Mark'a Square, or, as it ia geuerally called hoce, " tho Piazza," for all othor squares aro called by other names - the larger being tormed campos, tJie smaller oampanellos, and that extendiug southward froin the Piazza to tho Malo bcing callod tho Piazzetta. This is called ono of the finest squares in tho world and is sitnate quito in tho southern aida of the city, Ifc is entirely 6urrounded by buildings of tho utmost architectural beauty and with a lavish profusión of adorument, whieh, hovever, does not leave any impression of being in oxocss or ovcrloaded. Tho squnro i ó, t'uct long, at thü east end 268 feet wide, and 185 feet at the west. Upon the east end, extending nearly tho vholo width, is St. Mark's Cathedral. Thero is [ an appearance of too little height in this edifice, oving to its great extent without any one of its íive domes much exceeding the others m height (the campanile ia too far removed to be regarded as lessoning this uifficulty), and to the fully equal height of the buildings in the vicinity. Eut this feeling is greatly dhninished as ono approaches nearcr, and tho great beauty of tho faeado absorbs the attention. The many pinnaoled canopies with their saintly statues - the brazen lion of St. Mark and tho open gospel - the four world-renowncd steeds in bronze and the many sculptured figures - the five noble arches to as many noblo portals, rosplendent with beautiful mosaics upon a ground of gold - the inany uuluums, il iwu llora, oí vuríous OOÏOTed maïble and porphyry, sustaining.all complete, a Tï'orlc of such exquisito symmetry and beauty that it forms a moat fitting crown to this unrivallod square. On tho north, south, and east sidos oxtend throe imposing marble cdmces, each n continuous pa] ace filling each of the sides.respectively. They were formorly occupied by the Procurators, the highost oflicers of the govornment. The Procuratio Vicchia on the north was orected at the close of the lóth century, is of three stories of great height, and with a corresponding height of friezo and balustrade. Each story representa a marble arcado along the entire front. Forming a portion of this long palace is the clock tower, erected somewhat earlior, in 1 101, and spanning the Mercerio, a very busy street which leaves the square at that point. Over the arch is a largo dial of azure and gold, numbering the hours from ono to twelve twico, and in an inner oircle giving the Zodiacal signs. Abovo this aro two transparencias, one on oither sido of a statuc of tho Virgin of gildod bronze, whicharc oporatedby the clock and at all times show the precise timo at intervals of five minutes. The figuro exhibited on the left niay be 1, that on the right may be 5, the latter being the minutos. At ten minutes past ono the 5 slowly descends, followod closely by a 10, and so on until two o'clock, when both the figures descend and 2 appears at tho left and 0 at tho right, and thus the chango goes on through tho wholo twenty-four hours. In tho story abovo there stands tho brazen lion of St. Mark, of colossal size; and above all, forming as it were the pointed summit of tho tower is poised a pondorous bell, on either side of which stands a giant figuro of bronze, in Moorish costume, who are armod with heavy hammers and strike tho hours as they revolve. m addition to these ordinary performances, on Ascensión Day a door opens upon each sido of the Virgin, and four figures - representing tho three wise men, Melchior, Balthazar and Caspar, preceded by an angel blowing a trumpet - mako their appsarance every hour during tho day, and passing beforo tbo Virgin mako obeisanco and disappear vvithin the door at tho opposite side. The south sido of the Piazza is bonnded by the new Procuratie, erected 1582. This palaee is also of three stories, but is higher than tho former, has a more imposing facade, and is richer in its decoratious. Along the west sitio extonds a structure quite modern forVenice, ha ving been erected in 1810, undcr Napoleon's authority. It is termed the Atrio, and forms an extensión of tho Palazzo Eealo, with a beautiful front, ornamented with many finoly oxecutod statues. Ou three sidos of the Piazza these fino buildings aro finished so as to í'orm a continuous arcade of grand proportions in tho lower story, and these are literally lined by shops displaying the rarest and richest variety of fine jewclry, marbles, pictures, and othcr objocts of beautiful art - with occasional cafes intorspersed, where crowds of strangers may always be seen at certain hours enjoying their cako and coffee and conversation. In addition to theso buildings bounding the square thero is the Campanile of St. Mark, built of brick, 321 feet high, 42 feet base, and though a conspicuous , not the most attractive specimen of chiteoturo, if we except the logghotta, whioh constituios tho facade to tho vostibule of the tower, and is raally vory fineStatues in bronze, by tëansovino.of Peace, Apollo, Pallas, and Morcury occupy nichos prnpared for thom, and allogorical bas reliëfs extend along tho upper portion of the fauade, One representa Vcnice under tho figaro of Justice, with the Brenta and tho Adigo at her feet, op one sido of her, standing Júpiter, and'upon the other tho Cyprian Venus. Üthers represent L'.-ander, assisted by ïethys, wifeTJf Oceanus, in hi.s aquatio courtslup of Hero- tho wholo presenting a great contrast to tho plain brick tower above. The bronze doors to tho entrance are of tho most beautifül design and oxecution. The tower is made to open iuto a large platform or loggia surrounded by a heavy marblo colonnade oí' í'ouv aichos oagb.fri.de ot a height of about 225 feot, affording a magnificent view of tho city and country and soa for many miles. It was built in tho lOth contury, and shows no signs of dilapidation or woakness. Above this lookout tho tower gradually tapors, in a square pyramidal form, nearly to a point only largo enough to support the colossal gilt bronzo angel figure, 30 fcot high, whioh stands in fine relief at that immense height. Tho towor fctunds about GO feot in front of the Southwest angle of St. Mark's in tho Piazza, and is not very easily associated with tho cathedral as forming its proper bell tower. Standing also in front of St. Ivlark's, gomo fifty feet distant from it and from each other, are tho three cedar flag-staffs, about se'venty-five feet in height, from whioh anciently floated the banners gonialons of silk and gold, of the three subugated kingdoms of Candía, Cyprus, and tho Morea ; but which upon festival and gala days at this time bear the Italian colors in honor oí" Emanuel I. These flag-staffs are set in bronze pedestals about ten feet high above the pavement, which resemble huga candelabra. They iro most beautifully exeeuted in high relief, with figures of Tritons and soa nymphs, dosigned by Leopardi, and' dato xom 1505. In the spaee at the north of St. Mark's, upon their marblo pedestals, lie couchant tho two ancient lions of redilish marblo, kopt beautifully polished by the constant familiarity of the Venotian youths, who fearlessly mount them. These constituto the surroundings of the Piazza itself, but extending fiom the square south to the '-Molo" is the Piazzetta, forming an addition of about one'ourth of tho real oxtent of tho Piazza, sinco both are united in the form of an ell. This space, though smaller, is scarcey loss interesting, as upon its west side extend? one of the finost buildings in the city. Dating from 150S, its lowor story :orming an arcade beneath Í3 in tho Dorio stylo, tho fine, substantial marble columns of which ordor form a noble colonade. Tho second story, is of the ighter and more graceful Ionio, and as each vindow is framed also, as it wore, vith too smaller columns of this order rhe whole presonts to the oye tha appoarance of a doublé colonnade. Above thesa s a very high friezo along the top of which stand finoly posed statues of the heathon gods. This fine building is called the "old library," having boen erseted to receivo the boooks and manucripts of Petraroh and Cardinal Bessaiono which had boen presnted to the Rejublic. But tho library has since been ransferred to the Ducal Palace. Across the Piazzetta and fronting it tands thecelebrated Palace of tho Doges. t was erected in 1421, in the acute üothc style, but whilo tbc lowor portian is 'ormed by two tiers of tho most substanial marble pillars, whose capitals are each a study of the most elabórate and joautiful seulpturo- figures of birds, anmals, and allegorical andgrotesque characters being introduced among Lhe foliaions - the upper and rather largor half jresents a very large surface of red and vhite marble, in squares of porhapseight nches by six, set in a chequered pattern, and broken only by five very wido and ïot vory high windows, and tho iiarrow ihough very órnate central portion of the vhole. Euskin bas given tho whole very ligh commendation, but thare is a plain ■ ness and hcaviness about the whole upper ïalf ao entircly in contrast with the opon colonnade finish below, that it is difficult ;o feel satisfied with it as a whole. Porions of this building wcro begun as early as 813, and it is said that tho lowcr tior of oolumiis appear somowhat too cliort and. ow, from the fact that the sea levcl has íocomo three inches higher every century, and tho pavement has boon raised until t now vory nearly covers tho wholo base of the columns. The Piazzetta at tho southern extremty looks out upon the lagoon, and cocstitutca tho landing placo for all who reaeh the Grand Piazza from tho water. The quay at this point is called the 'Molo," and is one of the most famous in ;he world. And here were erected, in [VIT, tworoddish colored granito columns of nearly equal sizo and height, each a single shaft hewn from a single block of stone perhaps four feet in diameter and "orty feot high. They wero brought from tho Holy Land under tho Dogo Don Michele, and the story is told that large rewards woro offcred for their erection whore they now stand. The task was inally undertaken by ono Nicolo Berra;iero, who stipulated that he should be allowed the exclusivo right to carry on osrtain prohibited gamos of chance in ;he spaco betwecn tho two columns when erected. After tho work had been completed tho monopoly of gaming was granted, but at tho pame time it was ordered that hencoforth the execution of crimináis should tako place on the samo spot. In this way the place becamo one to be avoided rather than sought for, and it was even thought to be an unlucky omen to cross the place. Tho Venctians of oui' day do not seeni to cherish this opinión any longor - though gaines of chanco have not been resumed. It is torically trv.c that executions did for a long time take place between these pillars. One is surmonntcd by the ancient patrón saint of tho city, St. Theodore - with a buelder on hia right arm and a awoxd in bis left hand, eigniflying dtfenoe, not dofiance - who stands upon a crocodile, the hoad and tail of -which extends beyond tho top of the column ; the otilar by the winged Lion of St. Mark, whioh, stands with oe paw resting on the open gospel. This .imperfect notieo of St. Hark 's square and of tho esternal appunruneu of the principal edifiees surrouuding it and its adjoining Piazzetta, -would fail to give any adequate notion of ita niagniflcence if it is not also kept in niind that the entire surfacs is covered with square blocks of unpolislietl gray marble, formeel into mosaic patterns by a tracing of outliaes in polished white mnrblo. By night or by day the whole presents a aceae of most imnressive richness and splondo well sustainol by its long conturies cL the grandest historie a-sociationi. In giving somo doscription of St. Mark' Square befora evpsything elso tho most natural ordo has been observad, for tho vory first placo to be visited and the ona to which tho stranger's step will oftenest turn whilo in Yenice is alwaya this grand Piazza. Just as threo centuries ago the eyes of tho world wero turned on this "City of the Sea," and St. Mark's Square and tho Ducal Palaco ivero the heart and center of its vast power and wealth, so tno visitor rrom lanas uien ,iu&, ai,.ored, familiar with its history, turns now his curious eye upon eaoh nook and corner, oach building and evory part of each building upon this noblo square, and traces back to that eventful epoch thr associations with which cvery stone aiid column is instinct and toeming. But a, more particular account of somo of the interesting things and sights of this strango city must ba deferred to soma other tiice. Ever yours,

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus