John Evelyn.

Diary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) online

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power. At the corner of the Church, are inserted into the
main wall four figures, as big as life, cut in porphyry,
which they say are the images of four brothers who
poisoned one another, by which means there escheated to
the Republic that vast treasury of relics now belonging to
the Church. At the other entrance that looks towards-
the sea, stands in a small chapel that statue of our Lady,
made (as they affirm) of the same stone, or rock, out of
which Moses brought water to the murmuring Israelites at
Horeb, or Meriba.

After all that is said, this church is, in my opinion, much
too dark and dismal, and of heavy work ; the fabric, as is
much of Venice, both for buildings and other fashions and
circumstances, after the Greeks, their next neighbours.

The next day, by favour of the French Ambassador, I
had admittance with him to view the Reliquary, called
here Tesoro di San Marco, which very few, even of tra-
vellers, are admitted to see. It is a large chamber full of

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 201

presses. There are twelve breast-plates, or pieces of pure
golden armour, studded with precious stones, and as many
crowns dedicated to St. Mark by so many noble Venetians,
who had recovered their wives taken at sea by the Sara-
cens ; many curious vases of agates ; the cap, or coronet,
of the Dukes of Venice, one of which had a ruby set on it,
esteemed worth 200,000 crowns; two unicorns' horns;
numerous vases and dishes of agate, set thick with pre-
cious stones and vast pearls ; divers heads of Saints,
enchased in gold ; a small ampulla, or glass, with our
Saviour's blood ; a great morsel of the real cross ; one of
the nails ; a thorn ; a fragment of the column to which
our Lord was bound, when scourged; the standard, or
ensign, of Constantine ; a piece of St. Luke's arm ; a rib
of St. Stephen ; a finger of Mary Magdalene ; numerous
other things, which I could not remember ; but a priest,
first vesting himself in his sacerdotals, with the stole
about his neck, showed us the Gospel of St. Mark (their
tutelar patron) written by his own hand, and whose body
they show buried in the church, brought hither from
Alexandria many years ago.

The Religious de li Servi have fine paintings of Paolo
Veronese, especially the Magdalen.

A French gentleman and myself went to the Courts of
Justice, the Senate-house, and Ducal Palace. The first
court near this church is almost wholly built of several
coloured sorts of marble, like chequer- work on the outside;
this is sustained by vast pillars, not very shapely, but
observable for their capitals, and that out of thirty-three
no two are alike. Under this fabric is the cloister where
merchants meet morning and evening, as also the grave
senators and gentlemen, to confer of state-affairs, in their
gowns and caps, like so many philosophers ; it is a very
noble and solemn spectacle. In another quadrangle, stood
two square columns of white marble, carved, which they
said had been erected to hang one of their Dukes on, who
designed to make himself Sovereign. Going through a
stately arch, there were standing in niches divers statues
of great value, amongst which is the so celebrated Eve,
esteemed worth its weight in gold ; it is just opposite to
the stairs where are two Colossuses of Mars and Neptune,
by Sansovino. We went up into a Corridor built with


several Tribunals and Courts of Justice ; and by a well-
contrived staircase were landed in the Senate-hall, which
appears to be one of the most noble and spacious rooms in
Europe, being seventy-six paces long, and thirty-two in
breadth. At the upper end, are the Tribunals of the Doge,
Council of Ten, and Assistants ; in the body of the hall,
are lower ranks of seats, capable of containing 1500 Sena-
tors ; for they consist of no fewer on grand debates. Over
the Duke's throne are the paintings of the FinalJudgment,
by Tintoret, esteemed amongst the best pieces in Europe.
On the roof are the famous Acts of the Republic, painted
by several excellent masters, especially Bassano ; next
them, are the effigies of the several Dukes, with their
Elogies. Then, we turned into a great Court painted with
the Battle of Lepanto, an excellent piece ; afterwards, into
the Chamber of the Council of Ten, painted by the most
celebrated masters. From hence, by the special favour
of an Illustrissimo, we were carried to see the private
Armoury of the Palace, and so to the same Court we first
entered, nobly built of polished white marble, part of
which is the Duke's Court, pro tempore; there are two
wells adorned with excellent work, in copper. This led us
to the sea-side, where stand those columns of ophite-stone
in the entire piece, of a great height, one bearing St.
Mark's Lion, the other St. Theodorus ; these pillars were
brought from Greece, and set up by Nicholas Baraterius,
the architect ; between them public executions are per-

Having fed our eyes with the noble prospect of the
Island of St. George, the galleys, gondolas, and other
vessels passing to and fro, we walked under the cloister
on the other side of this goodly piazza, being a most mag-
nificent building, the design of Sansovino. Here we went
into the Zecca, or Mint ; at the entrance, stand two pro-
digious giants, or Hercules, of white marble : we saw them
melt, beat, and coin silver, gold, and copper. We then,
went up into the Procuratory, and a library of excellent
MSS. and books belonging to it and the public. After this,
we climbed up the tower of St. Mark, which we might
have done on horseback, as it is said one of the French
Kings did, there being no stairs, or steps, but returns that
take up an entire square on the arches forty feet, broad

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 203

enough for a coacli. This steeple stands by itself, without
any church near it, and is rather a watch tower in the
corner of the great piazza, 230 feet in height, the founda-
tion exceeding deep; on the top, is an angel, that turns
with the wind; and from hence is a prospect down the
Adriatic, as far as Istria and the Dalmatian side, with the
surprising sight of this miraculous city, lying in the bosom
of the sea, in the shape of a lute, the numberless Islands
tacked together by no fewer than 450 bridges. At the
foot of this tower, is a public tribunal of excellent work, in
white marble polished, adorned with several brass statues
and figures of stone in mezzo-relievo, the performance of
some rare artist.

It was now Ascension- Week, and the great mart, or
fair, of the whole year was kept, every body at liberty and
jolly. The noblemen stalking with their ladies on chop-
pines ; these are high-heeled shoes, particularly affected
by these proud dames, or, as some say, invented to keep
them at home, it being very difficult to walk with them ;
whence one being asked how he liked the Venetian dames,
replied, they were mezzo carne, mezzo legno, half flesh,
half wood ; and he would have none of them. The truth
is, their garb is very odd, as seeming always in masquerade;
their other habits also totally different from all nations.
They wear very long crisp hair, of several streaks and
colours, which they make so by a wash, dishevelling it on
the brims of a broad hat that has no crown, but a hole to
put out their heads by ; they dry them in the sun, as one
may see them at their windows. In their tire, they set
silk flowers and sparkling stones, their petticoats coming
from their very arm-pits, so that they are near three
quarters and a half apron ; their sleeves are made exceed-
ing wide, under which their shift- sleeves as wide, and
commonly tucked up to the shoulder, showing their naked
arms, through false sleeves of tiffany, girt with a bracelet
or two, with knots of points richly tagged about their
shoulders and other places of their body, which they
usually cover with a kind of yellow veil, of lawn, very
transparent. Thus attired, they set their hands on the
heads of two matron-like servants, or old women, to sup-
port them, who are mumbling their beads. It is ridicu-
lous to see how these ladies crawl in and out of their


gondolas, by reason of their choppines, and what dwarfs
they appear, when taken down from their wooden scaffolds;
of these, I saw near thirty together, stalking half as high
again as the rest of the world; for courtezans, or the
citizens, may not wear choppines, but cover their bodies
and faces with a veil of a certain glittering taffeta, or
lustree, out of which they now and then dart a glance of
their eye, the whole face being otherwise entirely hid with
it ; nor may the common misses take this habit ; but go
abroad barefaced. To the corners of these virgin-veils-
hang broad but flat tassels of curious Point de Venice.
The married women go in black veils. The nobility wear
the same colour, but of fine cloth lined with taffeta, in
summer, with fur of the bellies of squirrels, in the winter,
which all put on at a certain day girt with a girdle em-
bossed with silver ; the vest not much different from what
our Bachelors of Arts wear in Oxford, and a hood of cloth,
made like a sack, cast over their left shoulder, and a round
cloth black cap fringed with wool, which is not so comely ;
they also wear their collar open, to show the diamond
button of the stock of their shirt. I have never seen pearl
for colour and bigness comparable to what the ladies wear,
most of the noble families being very rich in jewels, espe-
cially pearls, which are always left to the son, or brother,
who is destined to marry ; which the eldest seldom do.
The Doge's vest is of crimson velvet, the Procurator's, &c.
of damask, very stately. Nor was I less surprised with the
strange variety of the several nations seen every day in
the streets and piazzas ; Jews, Turks, Armenians, Persians,
Moors, Greeks, Sclavonians, some with their targets and
bucklers, and all in their native fashions, negociating in
this famous Emporium, which is always crowded with

This night, having with my Lord Bruce taken our places-
before, we went to the Opera, where comedies and other
plays are represented in recitative music, by the most
excellent musicians, vocal and instrumental, with variety
of scenes painted and contrived with no less art of per-
spective, and machines for flying in the air, and other
wonderful motions ; taken together, it is one of the most
magnificent and expensive diversions the wit of man can
invent. The history was, Hercules in Lydia; the scenes

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 205

changed thirteen times. The famous voices Anna Rencia,
a Roman, and reputed the best treble of women; but
there was an eunuch who, in my opinion, surpassed her ;
also a Genoese that sung an incomparable base. This
held us by the eyes and ears till two in the morning,
when we went to the Ghetto de san Felice, to see the
noblemen and their ladies at basset, a game at cards which
is much used; but they play not in public, and all that
have inclination to it are in masquerade, without speaking
one word, and so they come in, play, lose, or gain, and go
away as they please. This time of licence is only in Car-
nival and this Ascension- Week ; neither are their theatres
open for that other magnificence, or for ordinary comedians,
save on these solemnities, they being a frugal and wise
people, and exact observers of all sumptuary laws.

There being at this time a ship bound for the Holy
Land, I had resolved to embark, intending to see Jerusalem,
and other parts of Syria, Egypt, and Turkey ; but, after I
had provided all necessaries, laid in snow to cool our drink,
bought some sheep, poultry, biscuit, spirits, and a little
cabinet of drugs, in case of sickness, our vessel (whereof
Captain Powell was master) happened to be pressed for the
service of the State, to carry provisions to Candia, now
newly attacked by the Turks ; which altogether frustrated
my design, to my great mortification.

On the . . . June, we went to Padua, to the Fair of their
St. Anthony, in company of divers passengers. The first
terra firma we landed at, was Fusina, being only an inn,
where we changed our barge, and were then drawn up by
horses through the river Brenta, a straight channel as even
as a line for twenty miles, the country on both sides
deliciously adorned with country villas and gentlemen's
retirements, gardens planted with oranges, figs, and other
fruit, belonging to the Venetians. At one of these villas,
we went ashore to see a pretty contrived palace. Observ-
able in this passage was buying their water of those who
farm the sluices ; for this artificial river is in some places
so shallow, that reserves of water are kept with sluices,
which they open and shut with a most ingenious invention,
or engine, governed even by a child. Thus they keep up
the water, or let it go, till the next channel be either filled
by the stop, or abated to the level of the other ; for which


every boat pays a certain duty. Thus, we stayed near half
an hour and more, at three several places, so as it was
evening before we got to Padua. This is a very ancient
city, if the tradition of Antenor's being the founder be not
a fiction; but thus speaks the inscription over a stately

Hanc antiquissimam urbem literarum omnium asylum, cujns agrum
fertilitatis Lumen Natura esse voluit, Antenor condidit anno ante
Christum natum M.Cxviii ; Senatus autem Venetus his belli propugna-
culis ornavit.

The town stands on the river Padus, whence its name,
and is generally built like Bologna, on arches and on brick,
so that one may walk all round it, dry, and in the shade ;
which is very convenient in these hot countries, and I
think I was never sensible of so burning a heat as I was
this season, especially the next day, which was that of the
fair, filled with noble Venetians, by reason of a great and
solemn procession to their famous cathedral. Passing by
St. Lorenzo, I met with this subscription :

Inclytus Antenor patriam vox nisa quietem*
Transtulit hue Henetum Dardanidumq ; fuga,

Expulit Euganeos, Patavinam condidit urbem,
Quern tegit hie humili marmore csesa domus.

Under the tomb, was a cobbler at his work. Being now
come to St. Antony's (the street most of the way straight,
well-built, and outsides excellently painted in fresco) we
surveyed the spacious piazza, in which is erected a noble
statue of copper of a man on horseback, in memory of one
Catta Malata,f a renowned captain. The church, a la
Greca, consists of five handsome cupolas, leaded. At the
left hand within, is the tomb of St. Antony and his altar,
about which a mezzo-relievo of the miracles ascribed to
him is exquisitely wrought in white marble by the three
famous sculptors, Tullius Lombardus, Jacobus Sansovinus,
and Hieronymus Compagno. A little higher is the choir,
walled parapet-fashion, with sundry coloured stone, half
relievo, the work of Andrea Reccij. The altar within is

* Keysler very justly observes, that the first line of this inscription conveys
no meaning. Vol. III., p. 220.

t Lassells calls him Gatta Mela, the Venetian General, nicknamed Gate,
because of his watchfulness. P. 429.

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 07

of the same metal which, with the candlestick and bases,
is, in my opinion, as magnificent as any in Italy. The
wainscot of the choir is rarely inlaid and carved. Here
are the sepulchres of many famous persons, as of Rodolphus
Fulgosi, &c. ; and, among the rest, one for an exploit at sea,
has a galley exquisitely carved thereon. The procession
bore the banners with all the treasure of the cloister, which
was a very fine sight.

Hence, walking over the Prato delle Valle, I went to
see the convent of St. Justina, than which I never beheld
one more magnificent. The church is an excellent piece
of architecture, of Andrea Palladio, richly paved, with a
stately cupola that covers the high altar enshrining the
ashes of that saint. It is of pietra-commessa, consisting of
flowers very naturally done. The choir is inlaid with
several sorts of wood representing the holy history, finished
with exceeding industry. At the far end, is that rare
painting of St. Justina's Martyrdom, by Paolo Veronese ;
and a stone on which they told us divers primitive Chris-
tians had been decapitated. In another place (to which
leads a small cloister well-painted) is a dry well, covered
with a brass-work grate, wherein are the bones of divers
martyrs. They show also the bones of St. Luke, in an old
alabaster coffin ; three of the Holy Innocents ; and the
Bodies of St. Maximus and Prosdocimus.* The dormitory
above is exceeding commodious and stately; but, what
most pleased me, was the old cloister so well painted with
the legendary saints, mingled with many ancient inscrip-
tions, and pieces of urns dug up, it seems, at the foundation
of the church. Thus, having spent the day in rambles, I
returned the next day to Venice.

The arsenal is thought to be one of the best-furnished
in the world. We entered by a strong port, always
guarded, and, ascending a spacious gallery, saw arms of
back, breast, and head, for many thousands ; in another,
were saddles ; over them, ensigns taken from the Turks.
Another hall is for the meeting of the Senate; passing
a graff, are the smiths' forges, where they are continually
employed on anchors and iron work. Near it is a well of
fresh water, which they impute to two rhinoceros's horns

* St. Peter's disciple, first Bishop of Padua. Lassells, p. 430.


which they say lie in it, and will preserve it from ever
being empoisoned. Then we came to where the carpenters
were building their magazines of oars, masts, &c., for an
hundred galleys and ships, which have all their apparel
and furniture near them. Then the foundery, where they
cast ordnance; the forge is 450 paces long, and one of
them has thirteen furnaces. There is one cannon weigh-
ing 16,573 Ibs., cast whilst Henry the Third dined, and
put into a galley built, rigged, and fitted for launching
within that time. They have also arms for twelve galeasses,
which are vessels to row, of almost 150 feet long and
thirty wide, not counting prow, or poop, and contain
twenty-eight banks of oars, each seven men, and to carry
1300 men, with three masts. In another, a magazine for
fifty galleys, and place for some hundreds more. Here
stands the Bucentaur, with a most ample deck, and so
contrived that the slaves are not seen, having on the poop
a throne for the Doge to sit, when he goes in triumph to
espouse the Adriatic. Here is also a gallery of 200 yards
long for cables, and above that a magazine of hemp.
Opposite these, are the saltpetre houses, and a large row
of cells, or houses, to protect their galleys from the weather.
Over the gate, as we go out, is a room full of great and
small guns, some of which discharge six times at once.
Then, there is a court full of cannon, bullets, chains, grap-
ples, grenadoes, &c., and over that arms for 800,000 men,
and by themselves arms for 400, taken from some that
were in a plot against the State ; together with weapons
of offence and defence for sixty-two ships ; thirty-two
pieces of ordnance, on carriages taken from the Turks, and
one prodigious mortar-piece. In a word, it is not to be
reckoned up what this large place contains of this sort.
There were now twenty- three galleys, and four gally-
grossi, of 100 oars of a side. The whole arsenal is walled
about, and may be in compass about three miles, with
twelve towers for the watch, besides that the sea environs
it. The workmen, who are ordinarily 500, march out in
military order, and every evening receive their pay through
a small hole in the gate where the governor lives.

The next day, I saw a wretch executed, who had mur-
dered his master, for which he had his head chopped off

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 09

by an axe that slid down a frame of timber, * between the
two tall columns in St. Mark's piazza, at the sea-brink;
the executioner striking on the axe with a beetle ; and so
the head fell off the block.

Hence, by Gudala, we went to see Grimani's Palace,
the portico whereof is excellent work. Indeed, the world
cannot show a city of more stately buildings, considering
the extent of it, all of square stone, and as chargeable in
their foundations) as superstructure, being all built on
piles at an immense cost. We returned home by the
church of St. Johanne and Paulo, before which is, in cop-
per, the statue of Bartolomeo Colone, on horseback, double
gilt, on a stately pedestal, the work of Andrea Verrochio,
a Florentine ! This is a very fine church, and has in it
many rare altar-pieces of the best masters, especially that
on the left hand, of the Two Friars slain, which is of

The day after, being Sunday, I went over to St. George's
to the ceremony of the schismatic Greeks, who are per-
mitted to have their church, though they are at defiance
with Rome. They allow no carved images, but many
painted, especially the story of their patron and his dragon.
Their rites differ not much from the Latins, save that of
communicating in both species, and distribution of the
holy bread. We afterwards fell into a dispute with a
Candiot, concerning the procession of the Holy Ghost.
The church is a noble fabric.

The church of St. Zachary is of Greek building, by
Leo IV. Emperor, and has in it the bones of that prophet,
with divers other saints. Near this, we visited St. Luke's,
famous for the tomb of Aretm.f

Tuesday, we visited several other churches, as Santa
Maria, newly incrusted with marble on the outside, and
adorned with porphyry, ophite, and Spartan stone. Near
the altar and under the organ, are sculptures, that are said
to be of the famous artist, Praxiteles. To that of St. Paul

The maiden at Halifax, in Yorkshire, and the guillotine in France, were
made after the same manner.

t This epitaph has been made on the above satirist and atheist :

Here lies the man who no man spared)

When the angry fit was on him ;
Nor God himself had better fared,

If An/tin had known him.



I went purposely, to see the tomb of Titian. Then, to
St. John the Evangelist, where, amongst other heroes, lies
Andrea Baldarius, the inventor of oars applied to great
vessels for fighting.

We also saw St. Roche, the roof whereof is, with the
school, or hall, of that rich confraternity, admirably painted
by Tintoretto, especially the Crucifix in the sacristia. We
saw also the church of St. Sebastian, and Carmelites'

Next day, taking our gondola at St. Mark's, I passed to
the island of St. George Maggiore, where is a Convent of
Benedictines, and a well-built church of Andrea Palladio,
the great architect. The pavement, cupola, choir, and
pictures, very rich and sumptuous. The cloister has a
fine garden to it, which is a rare thing at Venice, though
this is an island a little distant from the city ; it has also
an olive-orchard, all environed by the sea. The new clois-
ter now building has a noble stair-case paved with white
and black marble.

From hence, we visited St. Spirito and St. Laurence,
fair churches in several islands ; but most remarkable is
that of the Padri Olivetani, in St. Helen's island, for the
rare paintings and carvings, with inlaid work, &c.

The next morning, we went again to Padua, where, on
the following day, we visited the market, which is plenti-
fully furnished, and exceedingly cheap. Here we saw the
great hall, built in a spacious piazza, and one of the most
magnificent in Europe ; its ascent is by steps a good
height, of a reddish marble polished, much used in these
parts, and happily found not far off"; it is almost 200 paces
long, and forty in breadth, all covered with lead, without
any support of columns. At the farther end, stands the
bust, in white marble, of Titus Livius, the historian. In
this town is the house wherein he was born, full of in-
scriptions and pretty fair.

Near to the monument of Speron Speroni, is painted on
the ceiling the celestial zodiac, and other astronomical
figures ; without side, there is a corridor, in manner of a
balcony, of the same stone ; and at the entry of each of
the three gates is the head of some famous person, as
Albert Eremitano, Julio Paullo (lawyers), and Peter Apo-
nius. In the piazza is the Podesta's and Capitano Grande's

1645.] JOHN EVELYN. 211

Palace, well-built ; but, above all, the Monte Pieta, the
front whereof is of most excellent architecture. This is a
foundation of which there is one in most of the cities in
Italy, where there is a continual bank of money to assist

Online LibraryJohn EvelynDiary and correspondence, To which is subjoined the private correspondence between King Charles I. and Sir Edward Nicholas, and between Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and Sir Richard Browne (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 46)