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side of every street runs a range of low plain arches, based on heavy massive pedestals, (for columns they cannot be called,) and on these arcades are raised the houses,-dull
, venerable, dreamy-looking buildings, white originally, but now a weather-stained grey, or sometimes faced with half-obliterated frescoes. The streets are narrow, lortuous, and dreary; and altogether Padua has by far the most gloomy air of any city I have yet seen in Italy. I saw few of the Patavini beyond a train of deaf and dumb girls, all dressed alike, walking two and (wo, on their way to attend early mass in the church of San Antonio.
But I have no more to say of Padua, for time would not allow me to see its lions. These are a university, which once boasted of eighteen thousand students, but is now almost empty; a cathedral, containing nothing to interest but the body of St. Anthony enshrined in the midst, and emitting always a sweet odour, the literal odour of sanctity; a town. hall, called the Salone, the largest room in Europe, unpropped by columns, beating Westminster Hall by thirty feet every way; an observatory on the lower of Eccelino ; the house in which Livy first saw the light; with some other little et ceteras, which I have forgotten.
Padua, I should think, is not without considerable interest, but situat. ed between Verona and Venice, it loses much of its attractions for the traveller, who is magnetically drawn to one or the other of those cities; and few would now-a-days exclaim with Lucentio,
“ For the great desire I had To see fair Padua,
I am arrived for fruitful Lombardy." As I was despatching a cup of chocolate at a small table in front of “the largest café in all Italy,” according to the garzone, a number of filthy half-clad urchins beset me, praying for carità.” They kept, however, a respectful distance, not venturing to set foot upon the raised paved platform on which I was sitting ; and as they were not “between the wind and my nobility,” I did not much heed them. They served to call to mind what I had heard related of Italian beggars by a Belgian gentleman whom I met on the Lake Maggiore. His story was this :
The day he landed at Naples from the Marseilles steamer, he entered a café to refresh himself after a stroll; but no sooner was he seated than a beggar woman with a child in her arms, both most disgusting from filth and disease, with a tribe of brats equally offensive, some with. out a rag on their sun.burnt bodies, presented themselves at the door of the café. On the coffee being placed before him, the whole gang of beggars entered the room, the children surrounding his ta. ble whining for alms, the woman standing behind and baring her sores for his inspection. He indignantly ordered them out ; but they only inore loudly besought ó carilà per l'amor della santissina Vir gine !” He called the master of the café, who shrugging his shoulders and smiling at the fastidiousness of foreigners, who could not drink coffee when looked at by beggars, made a show of turning them out, but to no purpose. The gentleman grew furious, took his hat, and was walking off, leaving his repast untasted ; but before he could leave the room, his arm was seized by the cafetier, who vehemently de. manded payment, accused him of being a thief and a scoundrel, and loaded him with all the abuse in which the Neapolitan dialect is so rich. He appealed to some policemen who were passing at the moment; but they laughed, shrugged their shoulders, and walked on. Finding there
was no alternative, he paid for the refreshment, which had already been devoured by the woman and her filthy family, who had only awaited his leaving the table to fall, harpy-like, on the feast.
By the time I had finished my breakfast, I heard the loud shouts of the conduttore from the yard of the posla, " Signori, signori, alla car. rozza !” and I was presently en route through the cloistered streets, crossing a few canals which intersect the city, and connect it with Ve. nice. Then follow me in imagination through the city.gate, and down a long avenue of Lombardy poplars, with fields on either hand covered with stubble, showing that one harvest was already past, while the vines luxuriantly shrouding the mulberry-trees above, and festooning gaily from one to the other, gave promise of a yet richer harvest to come. Here and there by the way-side picture to yourself a small thatched white-walled cottage in the midst of its little garden, where hemp and maize in patches shoot their heads high above the hedge, sparkling with the purple or white flowers of the gum-cistus, which mingles with the homely privei and hawthorn, like a gay city lass in the society of her country cousins; and there is generally some small spot in the field adjoining where the creeping melon spreads out far and wide, and displays its tempting fruit to the eyes of passers-by.
The road, it is true, like most roads in level Lombardy, was most unpicturesquely straight; but then it was bordered by banks clothed with the most bea teous mantle of wild flowers, preserved in all their brightness by the drep trenches of water beneath; and on either hand were fields of towering flaunting maize, or tall feathery hemp, studded with willows, beech, cherry, or walnut-trees, all overgrown with vines, and all now glistening with the heavy dew, of which the sun had but just begun to sip his usual morning draught. In other fields, teams of oxen were dragging the heavy ploughs through the corn stubble, or peasant women in huge straw-hats were hoeing the young maize.plants. Over all this foliage appeared from time to time in the distance the red or white square towers of churches or convents; and beyond all, to the left, the shadowy forms of the blue mountains of Friuli and Istria rolled along the horizon.
In an hour or two we crossed the Brenta, where, after flowing southward from the mountains of the Tyrol, it turns to take an easterly course, and lose itself in the Lagune of Venice. Its left bank, along which runs the road for many miles, is lined with villages, neat and clean for Italy, and so full of casinos, or gentlemen's seats, as to answer Beckford's description of them as "villages of palaces;" for the greater part are princely mansions, and one is an imperial palace. They are the summer abodes of rich Shylocks, and other “ merchants of Venice,”
are inhabited by the few relics of Venetian nobility. They are white-walled, red-roofed buildings, mostly in the Palladian style of architecture, and fronted by spacious paved courts, adorned with statues, and rows of orange and acacia-trees in huge pots, most formal and unpicturesque. The iron gates, also, are generally flanked by rows of statues, allegorical and mythological, each of which, for the benefit of ignorant unimaginative beholders, has its name engraved on the pedestal. Here a stony Diana, perched on a high column, makes love to a marble-hearted Endymion at the opposite end of the long iron railing ; there Bacchus and Ceres stand centinels over the gateway of a farmyard. By-the-bye, these farmyards, of which I passed not a few, scattered over with straw, and sprinkled with live stock, with
labourers at the open barn-doors thrashing with flails, carried me in imagination back to dear old England. At the doors of the cottages women, dark rustic beauties, wiih “cheeks of ruddy bronze," were seated, busied with their distaffs, or were stooping over their washing. tubs, and beating their linen against the sides of the troughs fixed above. The men were clustering idly about the doors of the cafés beneath the shady vine-arbours, or around the tables set with bottles of cooling mistra and lemonade.
We traversed successively the villages of Aresiglia, Stra, Fiesso, and at the town of Dolo we changed horses, where, as the posta happened to be in the market-place, and the day happened to be market-day, I found enough to amuse me. Groups of women, dressed alike in dark blue checked gowns, red handkerchiefs on their necks, straw-hats with wide flappiog brims, or with a shawl thrown over the head instead, no stockings, feet sometimes in slippers, but generally bare, were crowd. ing the square; some carrying large jars of milk or wine, as an Eng. lish milkman carries his pails, but with a bent stick over the shoulders, instead of a frame fitted to the shape ; others carrying baskets of fruit or fowl-hampers, and one a couple of haycocks in the same manner. On one side of the market-place these fair ones swarmed like bees in a hive, presenting a very sea of straw-hats, and the shrill buzz of their united tongues almost drowned the screams and cacklings of the fowls, which were being pulled forth from the crowded baskets. The men, who were here but few and far between, wore light blue trousers, sometimes girt up with a red or blue woollen sush, white waistcoat, no coat, a blue or white cap, with the end hanging down the back, or a highcrowned hat. To complete the sketch, fancy several long, narrow, high-wheeled carts laden with bricks, and with a pair of sleepy long. horned oxen yoked to the thick shaft, standing in the midst of the square ; another passing through it piled with huge logs of wood, and drawn by four oxen, two abreast, and a crazy old Rozinante of a horse a-head. Fancy all this in the square or market-place, which is bound
one side by the Brenta, and on the other by a row of white houses, with a fine church standing prominently forth; fancy the heavy yellow velocifero, or diligence, with its three horses abreast, and the harlequin-clad, betasselled, betrumpeted postilion, smacking his whip in his impatience to be in motion, and your humble servant, in scarcely less uncouth costume, mounting to the cabriolet behind him, and you may at once, with the diligence, turn your back upon Dolo.
We soon reached another village on the same bank of the Brenta. Casinos with gaily-painted fronts, courts and gates guarded by statues, as already described, neat white cottages with green window-shutters, many an “ oratorio privato” showing the piety of the inhabitants ; a white church in the Italian style, with a lofty campanile, or bell-tower, —this is La Mira, once the residence of Lord Byron, and the birthplace of that chef.d'æuvre of the poet, the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold.
I inquired in vain of the conductor and postilion for Byron's villa here. They knew only of the Moncenigo Palace at Venice.
The scenery in the neighbourhood of La Mira, seen by sunset, call. ed forth those three magnificent stanzas, commencing with
"The moon is up, and yet it is not night,
Sunset divides the sky with her," &c.
None of Byron's description, however, suited La Mira as I saw it in the light of morning, except the first line, for the crescent moon was still visible, though faint and shadowy, in the clear blue heavens. The Brenta, by the way, is but a paltry stream of thirty or forty feet in breadth, sometimes almost choked by reeds, and always flowing be. tween artificial banks, so as to have all the stiffness and formality of a canal, without its straightness. It is in many parts overhung with weeping willows and cypresses, which give it a melancholy air, not lessened by the crosses reared on its banks. Pretty villas still continue to skirt it below La Mira, with cottages overgrown with vines or melons, and hedged around by bushes of flowering cistus.
On a large vessel moored in the stream were a number of labourers busied in deepening the channel by means of huge shovels, which they worked like oars. These fellows were stripped literally to their shirts ; bui, what matter ?—this is Italy, where delicacy is an exotic. Many of the peasants, too, that I saw in the maize-fields and vineyards by the roadside, were in similar costume; some few with a straw-hat in addition.
After following the windings of the stream for some miles, we reached a spot where the road forked, the right branch running to Fu. sina, the most direct road to Venice, and the other, which we took, leading to Mestre. Ever since leaving Dolo, I had been anxiously looking out for Venice, and every lofty tower which arose in the horizon I regarded as the campanile of St. Mark, till undeceived by the conduttore. But now, soon after entering on this road, as my eyes were wandering across the low marshy country on the right, they caught a distant tower between the trees; another and another rapidly succeeded it, and presently the whole of Venice came at once into view at the distance of five or six miles, beyond the narrow strip of bright water which bounded the marshy shore. A soft sil. very grey haze was sleeping on the horizon, and against this was thrown the city, blued by the distance, and bristling with towers of various forms; and, as the tips of these were sparkling in the sun, it seemed like a brilliant diadem cast upon the waters. In a few minutes all was lost behind the straggling groves,-then again came into view but for a moment, towers and domes fleeting past as rapidly as though they were images in a magic lantern.
Cottages and farms environed with vineyards again adorned the roadside, but I could not notice them, and scarcely could I spare a glance to the wild grey mountains of Friuli waving along the horizon on the left, beyond a vast expanse of marshy ground. My gaze was fixed on the spot where Venice had vanished from my view, and where I momentarily expected her to reappear. At length the velocifero entered the streets of the village of Mestre; and having reached the Piazza, drove into the court-yard of the posta.
Here the vehicle disgorged its passengers, who, after some delay, were conducted with their luggage to the banks of a canal hard by. On the long flight of steps leading down to the water, was a group of laz. zaroni, basking in the sun ; twenty or thirty of them; most picturesque fellows, forming, with their pendent caps, bright-coloured breeches, and half.clad sunburnt limbs, striking subjects for the foreground of an Italian scene. They amused themselves, as they were squatting or lying about, with bantering one another and cutting jokes at our ex. pense. The narrow canal below us was crowded with gondolas—the first I had seen.
“ Didst ever see a gondola ? For fear
You should not, I'll describe it you exactly :
Carved at the prow, built lightly, but compactly,
It glides along the water, looking blackly,
" And up and down the long canals they go,
And under the Rialto shoot along,
And round the theatres, a sable throng,
But not to them do woeful things belong,
Such are the ordinary gondolas; but that which I now entered was of gigantic size, rowed with four oars, and having a covered box in the centre, not unlike an omnibus, capable of holding twelve or fourteen persons, instead of three or four, as the ordinary gondolas.
The crew was of one family. The father and his two eldest sons, stout, brawny fellows, stood in the aft part, while a younger brother, a lad of twelve or fourteen, took the bow.oar. A half-naked urchin, evidently of the same family, sat on the little deck astern, munching a slice of water.melon, and inwardly smiling at his own dolce far niente, while his father and brothers were toiling away at their heavy oars till the perspiration literally rained from their faces.
We steered our way slowly down the canal, amid the gondolas and sea-going craft with which it was almost choked, between banks lined with white houses, and shaded by rows of acacias. Then, leaving Mestre, we proceeded for nearly three miles between bare low banks, (passing the fortress of Malghera) to a dogana, or custom-house, at the mouth of the canal. Here Venice first opened fully upon us at the distance of two miles. Our passports having been examined, we continued our course straight across the wide.spreading lagune; the channel (that of San Secondo) being marked by a row of stakes stretching away in an unbroken line to the city. The water of the lagune was of an oily smoothness, almost colourless; and, as a mist obscured the horizon, the islets which appeared on either hand in the distance, seem. ed to float in the sky, and Venice herself to ride all lightly and airily upon
the waters. On one of the stakes just mentioned was perched a small box, con. taining a Madonna, with some rude steps leading to it from the water. Several gondolas were lying before it, and one crazy old boat pushed off from among them to meet us. Our rowers rested on their oars as it approached, and waited while the old man in it held out a long rod with a leathern bag at the end, into which he besought us in piteous tones, to drop some “ Carilà per le povere anime !" None of us, however, were pious enough to assist in relieving from purgatory the souls of the mariners there drowned, and we rowed on, leaving the old man staring in mute astonistiment at our hard-heartedness.
“But, how could you notice such trifles at such a moment ?" you will doubtless inquire. Shall I tell the truth? Venice, as seen on the approach from Mestre has none, absolutely none of the beauty and glory with which the imagination is ever apt to invest it. Most dull,