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wit of a lover accordingly helped him to an expedient. There was a law in Cea, that any oath pronounced in the temple of Diana, was irrevocably binding. Acontius got an apple, and writing some words upon it, pitched it into Cydippe's bosom.
The words were these :
MA THN APTEMIN AKONTIN TAMOYMAI.
By Dian, I will marry Acontius.
Juro tibi sanctæ per mystica sacra Dianæ,
Thy bride betrothed, and bear thee company. Cydippe read, and married herself. It is said that she was repeatedly on the eve of being married to another person; but her imagination in the shape of the Goddess as often threw her into a fever; and the lover, whose ardour and ingenuity had made an impression upon her, was made happy. Aristænetus in his Epistles calls the apple xvdwvlov pondov, a Cretan apple, which is supposed to mean a quince; or as others think, an orange, or a citron. But the apple was, is, and must be, a true, unsophisticated apple. Nothing else would have suited. “ The apples, methought," says Sir Philip Sydney of his heroine in the Arcadia, “ fell down from the trees to do homage to the apples of her breast.” The idea seems to have originated with Theocritus, (Idyl. 27. v. 50. Edit. Valckenaer.) from whom it copied by the Italian writers. It makes a lovely figure in one of the most famous passages of Ariosto, where he describes the beauty of Alcina (Orlando Furioso, Canto 7. st. 14.)
Bianca neve è il bel collo, e'l petto latte :
When a sweet air is ruffling to and fro.
Allor tra fiori e linfe
Then among streams and flowers,
Honi soit qui mal y pense.
VENICE. This is the country of Titian, of Palladio, of Marcello, who from a nobleman became one of the finest musicians in Italy; of Bembo, one of the most liberal and accomplished of cardinals; of Paul Sarpi, who kept his countrymen independent of the church of Rome.
The Venetians are like a lively family cut off from the rest of Europe. Let the reader imagine himself pushing off from a sea-coast, and coming at a distance of a league and a half upon a city standing in the sea.
This is Venice. It is built upon seventy-two little islands, the houses abutting directly upon the water, the finest of them without even a landing place but the stairs; so that instead of streets there are only canals of sea-water; and instead of coaches and carts, gondolas and other boats. Perhaps the best idea the reader can have of a Venetian street is to imagine a street like Portland-place, or rather a more winding one, like the High-street at Oxford, mixed with nobler as well as smaller houses, and the full sea running through it, with abundance of boats of traffic and swift-darting gondolas. The gondola is a sort of wherry, about five feet broad, and twentyfive long, covered with black cloth, and having a cabin standing up in the middle of it, like the body of a caravan.
The cabin is covered with black also, and has moveable windows with curtains. A Venetian gentleman keeps his gondola as an Englishman does his coach ; only with much greater cheapness, The full complement of a gondola is two rowers, who stand to their oars, one at each end, and with their faces the reverse way of our boatinen. They are very expert, and dart their gondolas in and out among the intricacies of this watery bustle, like fish. They are proverbial for their cheerfulness and honesty. They used to be famous for singing passages out of Tasso and other Italian poets; but political trouble has dashed the spirits even of the Venetian gondolier, and he is now comparatively mute.*
The guitar * It is curious and natural enough, that one of their most favourite passages was the beginning of the seventh book of Jerusalem Delivered, where Erminia gets among the country-people. They sang to a kind of chant, sometimes responding to each other; and the effect at night-time, when the sound came
however is still heard in Venice, especially of an evening; and the visitor continually hears those delightful dancing airs which have been collected and published in this country. The chief, or rather the only place of assemblage for the inhabitants of Venice out of doors (for they have a fine opera and multitudes of opera-houses within) is a large square, containing the principal church and the government offices.
Here all ranks are accustomed to meet of an evening; and here something of amusement is generally going forward all day, from the guitar-player to the punchinello. There is very little more standing-room throughout the city; and so little vegetation, that they call a court by way of eminence the Court of the Tree, and there is a church entitled our Lady of the Garden. There is a monastery with one of these gardens, such as they are; the Palace Zenobio has another, and a Casino,* called Zanne, another. We suppose they muster up some others in miniature; but there is an island near Venice, where the gentry have country-houses, and contrive to be a little more horticultural.
Next to it's watery streets, Venice is remarkable for the number of it's bridges and palaces. The latter are truly so called, and comprise many of the master-pieces of Palladio. Every noble family appears to have once occupied a palace, some of them many palaces. They stand upon the principal canals, into which run smaller ones, all of them having their bridges. These bridges however are in general very small; nor is the famous one, called the Rialto, so remarkable as it's celebrity would imply, though it is built in a striking manner, of one arch. It has houses on it, like old London bridge, though not after the same fashion. They cross it in a covered angle, forming a double arcade. The artist who built it was called Antonio of the Bridge. In the same spirit of poetical tendency, the bridge leading to the city jail is called the Bridge of Sighs; and one of the principal canals, probably from the residence of some great musician, is entitled the River of Song.
The Venetians have always been famous for their enjoying temper, and what the Italians call Brio,--a certain sparkling of the animal spirits. A quintessence of this quality would seem to have been almost the only thing which made a late celebrated dramatist, Goldoni, be taken all over Europe for a great genius. Yet the Venetian character in general is relieved from the frivolous by an evident capacity softened by distance over the water, was often delightful. Rousseau, who was once at Venice, published the chant in notes. We do not remember whether it is from him that Mr. Shield has copied it in the appendix to his Introduction to Harmony; but it is there to be found. Ariosto used to be the great favourite with the Venetians; but Tasso's poem seems to have superseded even the Orlando in popularity. An Italian gentleman, wben asked his opinion of this mystery, thought it explained by the great mixture of Turkish affairs in the Jerusalem, the Venetians having had a good deal to do with the Turks, both as enemies and friends.
* Baretti defines one of these Casinos exactly. He calls it “ a small house kept for pleasure in a town, besides our own.” They are in great request at Venice; more so now, we suppose, than ever, since the nobility have shrunk in their palaces like withered nuts,
for the serious. The wine in their blood has a body with it. There is a tone and substance in their composition as different from the old French levity, as Titian's pictures are from La Guerre. You still meet with Titian's men and women at Venice,--the same rich dark complexions and fine figures; the same faces, earnest without sharpness, quick without confusion, thoughtful without severity, voluptuous without grossness. The men are robust as well as agile: the women have that sort of tone in their con position which made the very courtezan of Venice a Calypso to strangers, and enthroned the more sentimental mistress at the top of her sex, at once to fascinate and to rule.
The leading men in the state, the counsellors at law, &c. take advantage of this solid part of the national character to affect a prodigious air of gravity: and it was perhaps from a mixed spirit of republican pride, and a sort of gusto of contrast to the pleasurability of their temperament, that black colours became the national wear. Not only the divines and lawyers wore black, but the statesmen wore black, the ladies all wore black; and the gondolas carrying guitars and lovers in their bosoms, were clothed in the same external symbol of solemnity. We believe it is the same to this day, if not so universally. There seems in this a kind of pleasant and avowed hypocrisy, which stands the lively and sincere Venetian instead of the more hypocritical zests of other countries.
Venice originated with fugitives from the Italian peninsula during the fierce time of Attila, and subsisted afterwards as an independent state for many centuries, unbesieged even but by the waves. It famous oligarchical form of government, under which it became mistress of the sea, still divides the opinions of politicians. Some think it must have been an intolerable tyranny; while others, among whom is our republican countryman Harrington, have regarded it as the true model of a popular state. The truth seems to be, that the good climate and chearful temperament enjoyed by the Venetians rendered them very easy subjects; and this easiness had it's effect in turn upon their leaders, who with all their outward stateliness were in reality like themselves. There was none of the physical suffering, which naturally renders the people so impatient in harder climates ; and on the other hand, the rulers were generally wise and kind, and not provoked into tyranny either by conscious injustice, or extra-national ambition. The Venetians were too contented with what was done and allowed, to quarrel for the last, sad privilege of political talking; and provided a Venetian did not talk politics, he might talk or do any thing he pleased. Thus they were like a happy family living under a father of austere aspect and real goodnature. their less happy neighbours outgrew them, this happy family was to be disturbed ; and it was so. Venice in common with the other northern states of Italy became the property of the greatest neighbour for the time being,--of the Court of Vienna first, then of France, and now of Vienna again. It's nobles are at length ruined ; it's palaces almost deserted; and the gay Venetian, now a pensive ani
mal to what he was, meditates on the approaching period when his
This apprehension now appears to be a good deal entertained. It
The blood runs quicker in their veins. They have more music,
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