A. Balfour Symington L. T. Meade.

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evenings are much the pleasantest. The night
grows dark, the stars come out. Many strollers
tramp up and down under the brightly-lighted
arcades, flattening their noses against the glass
panes which protect the diamonds and pearls and
corals, the Venetian beads and gaily-coloured
chandeliers and other fascinating wares, whilst
others turn into Naya's or Perini's, where countless
photographs are on view, or wander into the book-
shops. ^

The cupolas of St. Mark's grow less distinct in
detail as we sit watching. On the clock-tower of
the gateway opposite quaint iron figures clang the

3 Some enterprising tourists buv lace, as I did once, to my cosL I
bargained for an hour with the shopman, and only when I reached the
hotel, having paid my money and carried off the spoil, did I realize that
I had actually insisted on giving several francs more than had been asked
me at first ! I never went near that man's shop again, and indeed used
to cross the Piazza to avoid it. But the dealer, standing spider-like in
his doorway, always managed to see me, and never omitted to raise bu
hat and make me a low and deferential bow !



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H^a/Acr ^ Soutuii, sc. Oara Montaiba^ R. W, S., pitix.

PIGEONS— ST. MARKS PLACE, VENICE.

9?



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RECOLLECTIONS OF VENICE,



passing hours. It is too dark, and Venetian streets
too badly-lit for us to wander through that noble
gateway into the Merceria, which, true to its name,
is still the best quarter for haberdasher's wares,
though no longer gorgeous as of old, when from win-
dows and balconies hung silken stuffs and cloths of
gold and silver. We cross the Piazza nevertheless,
interrupted by a little humpbacked shoeblack, who
hands us with a wan smile a set of comic verses,
himself the subject of them. Probably it is too
late to penetrate into San Marco, unless indeed it
be a festa^ and then we gladly wend our way over
the wavy inlaid floor, dimly lighted by a hanging
cross of coloured lamps. ' It is pleasant to sit on a
porphyry seat away in some quiet corner, to listen
to the solemn chaunting, and watch the flickering
half-light that creeps across the mosaic domes
overhead, or that gleams on the priests' vestments
and on the silver incense-burners that the chorister
boys swing to and fro. Yet, methinks, this mar-
vellous church is most beautiful at hot midday.
Then, whoso lifts the dark and heavy curtain of the
porch must be strongly impressed by the sudden
contrast of religious stillness within to the glare and
stir of life he has just quitted. It is as though the



CANALK SAN FfiWCE^



world (not only that o{ Venice^, but the anxious
busy throbbings of all human hearts) had been left
outside, whilst the cool silence and mellow richness
of colour that enthral the mind bestow upon it
also an instantaneous blessing of restful calm and
peace.

The streets of Venice are better by day than by
night. Some of the calli are scarce a yard in
breadth, and never lighted. Even in the daytime
it is difficult to find the right way; and should a
hapless traveller, worn and weary, ask it of one
small boy after another, he finds himself the object
of much unpleasant interest. Volunteer pilots pre*
sently swarm around him, and he reaches home
with a vagabond train which he has been unable to
shake off.

What can be said of the expeditions to be made
from Venice? They are so many, so beautiful.
Nowadays steamboats ply, freighted with fashion-
able bathers, to the Lido and back ; but only a few-
years ago this favourite resort was still delightfully
unsophisticated. Even the public gardens of the
town were quiet and retired, although one horse —
the horse — trotted and cantered around those
gardens at all hours of the day, sometimes bestridden
by a gentleman, sometimes mounted by a lady*
The poor beast had, in truth, no leisure to be
tired ; there was not another such a quadruped in
Venice.

Many Venetians have lived and died without
the slightest knowledge of horses. Beckford,
writing from Italy more than eighty years ago, tells
an amusing story of a noble Venetian " who left
Venice for the first time, arrived at Padua by water,
and ordered a post-horse, but desired * it might be
a long one, as they were five of them.* "

A few years ago not even a bathing-machine
could be seen on the Lido. Delightful was it to
pace up and down the desolate links (for links they
were, as much as though the low sandy hills and
spare long grass formed part of a Scottish coast)^
whilst the real sea rolled in with long gentle
breakers. Here lay shells on the sand, left by a
slight line of tide ; no land broke the horizon — it
was a true northern picture \ yet, at a stone's throw,
just across the narrow strip of earth, lay the still,
southern-looking lagoon, with curious contrast of
purple shadows and reflections, sunlit islands and
rising towers, from which came echoes of church-
bells wafted like perfume over the poetic scene.



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It seemed not out of place on the desolate Lido
sandhills to come suddenly upon the Jewish ceme-
tery, with its hoary grave-stones marked in Hebrew
characters and equally strongly seared by time and
neglect. Mysterious
very, seemed the an-
cient tombs in the
stillness and the long
grass, close to and
yet away from the
city, nigh to the open
sea though peacefully
harboured from its
rough inbreak.

One late afternoon
on this Lido, or coast,
I witnessed a haul of
fishes. A couple of
boats rocked in the
surf; nets were hur-
riedly drawn in ; the
fishermen — bronzed
figures nearly naked
-ran actively through
a mist of water and
sand ; the fish were
piled in glittering
silver heaps. The
whole scene so re-
sembled Raphael's
depiction of the mar-
vellous draught of
fishes that I stood
still and fairly held
my breath. A rift of
gold broke the gray sky overhead ; sunset tints lay
rosy above the pale distant Euganean hills. . . I
could hear the voices of the men, but not their
words; it might have been thus eighteen centuries
ago. . . .

The Armenian convent is a favourite short ex-
cursion from Venice. It is pleasant to disembark
on the island where the convent stands lonely, and
(whilst the gondoliers moor the boat) to gaze up at
the reddish walls, the dark cypresses and open gate-
way. That Byron chose to dwell for a while in
this charming retreat is no wonder. The cool
white-washed cloisters, the busy printing-press, the
deep-windowed library, above all the small centre
garden — it was full of single-flowered roses when I



FORTIFICATIONS ON THB LIDO.



saw it, and sweet-scented plants, whilst a couple
of studious black-robed Armenians, book in hand,
were pacing to and fro — all this leaves an indelible
picture on the mind. A lay brother took us over

the water-girt domain,
I remember, to see
some mild-eyed cows
in the sheds, and to
chatter happily of his
life and simple plea-
sures. Before leaving
I purchased a small
book printed in the
convent ; a collection
of Turkish proverbs
rendered into Eng-
lish. One of those
shrewd sayings, a
piece of useful philo-
sophy, teaches how
"it is always the big-
gest fish that escape
from the net."

Despite the beauty
of the Venetian la-
goons, I shall never
forget the chill that
struck my heart one
day on the way to
the Armenian con-
vent. We passed
close to the mad-
house. From a high
tower, through grated
bars, a poor lunatic
stretched forth both arms. In one hand he held a
volume from which he was declaiming in sonorous
and intensely melancholy accents. What the words
signified I know not. But, as I recall the scene, I
shiver again, and seem to hear that deep weird voice
still sounding across a waste of desolate waters, in
ominous and terrible perorations, like the warning
of some disregarded prophet.

To Murano every one goes to visit the glass
manufactory, where sticks of pretty-coloured glass,
that look like barley-sugar, are by skilled workmen
blown gradually into bottles of graceful shape and
size. To Torccllo fewer tourists wend their way.
Indeed, for that voyage four rowers are required.
Torcello is a lovely island, in an artist's sense



Clara Montalba, R. W. S.^pinx.



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RECOLLECTIONS OF VENICE.




-i^-



THE ARMENIAN CONVENT.



especially, its loneliness and mournful picturesque-
ness being great. On a hot June day I went there ;
the sirocco, that sighed warm gusts into our faces,
seemed to add a nervous impression to the languor
of the scene. We lunched in a corner of a strag-
gling garden that apparently belonged to nobody,
and where we disembarked at leisure ; we ate
our fruit and drank our Chianti under the shade of
a pomegranate-tree in flower. Presently an old
priest strolled towards us, and smiled at us with
amiable surprise.

In the cool afternoon we were slowly wafted
home again. The gondoliers sang, keeping time
with the stroke of their oars. Then we started
some English melodies in rettun, and the echoes
of " Home, sweet Home " floated across the Vene-
tian waters. ".Is it really English music ? " asked
the men, deeply interested.

There are several kinds of boats at Venice
besides the gondolas : punts, omnibus-boats — above
all, the great Dutch-looking barges, with golden,
orange, or reddish sails, that come floating in like
autumn leaves on a stream, sometimes laden with
fruit, chiefly pumpkins, gourds, etc. Along the

taffrail of these boats,
to propel them in the
shallow water, creep
the bare-footed sailors,
deftly punting with long
poles. Sometimes these




beautiful barges congregate together in the lagoons,
like a flock of golden orioles.



A GONDOLA RACE.



Presently dances by the little venturesome san-
do/Oj a tiny cockle-shell in which the owner stands
and rows himself gondolier fashion. And it was
perhaps only an excess of interest in the ancient
Doges of Venice that caused us irreverently to
rhyme as follows :

"There was an old person called Dandolo,
Who went out to sea in a sandolo ;
But the water was rough,
So he soon had enough,
That foolish old person called Dandolo."

To be more serious. All lovers of poetic sights
and sounds are strongly attracted by those proces-
sions of gondolas which take place occasionally at



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RECOLLECTIONS OF VENICE.



83



night ; the boats start from the Y\3uL2Jd,^ gathering in
numbers as they float slowly to the Rialto whilst
following the two or three pioneers, which are gaily
lit with Chinese lanterns and freighted with musi-
cians. Guitars and mandolines tinkle; a couple
of fiddles and a 'cello, a flute, nay, even a harp, all
help to form the orchestra, and Santa Lucia, or
Andiam, andiam, rise and fall with the echoes



the Rialto bridge. Surely we have the best gondo-
lier in the town — we cleave our way between the
dark shades of other crafts, which miraculously drift
away. Now we are close to one of the music boats.
Some laughing girls are sitting at the prow, their
arms round each other's necks, inevitable carnations
in their hair. Beyond them are other singers, then
a few non-performers; a tired-looking woman, a



Walker S» Boutall, sc.



Clara Montalba, R. W. S.^^inx,



A CROWDED CANAi., VENICE.



of sweet boys' voices, or women's, answered (for

part-songs are favourites) by the baritones and

basses from some other boat. The long trailing

notes are like the reflections of the coloured lights

which are placed, here and there : growing fainter

and fainter, yet clinging fondly to the rippling

water. The shortening touch of dialect seems to

add zest to the language :

"Ah Venezia, benedetta!
Non ti voglio piu lasar."

Finally, all the gondolas, gently bumping and jarr-
ing, huddle closely together in a black mass under



ragged urchin, a couple of babies, and the philo-
sophic house dog — all brought out for the evening's
holiday.

Our dear old friend Mr. Rawdon Brown dis-
approved of such jaunts ; we never could persuade
him even to sit in the Piazza. He considered that,
after the departure of the Austrians, Venice had
fallen a prey to vulgarity. There are two rival
cafes in the Piazza — Florian's and Quadri's. At
one time no Austrian went to the one, no Italian
patronized the other. Since then, he averred, all
had grown mixed and common. It was very de-
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RECOLLECTIONS OF VENICE,



lightful to me to go and see him. He had come to
Venice in his youth, intending to stay a week — he
remained for forty years or more. The archives of
Venice had taken possession of him ; he used to
tell quaint jokes of the Venetians of the thirteenth
century, which, narrated in his courteous, old-world
manner, did not seem so very distant after all.
Sign or Broon, as he was called, was quite a charac-
ter at Venice. He went daily in a sandolo to the
TJdo till nearly the end of his life ; indeed, he spoke
most scathingly of our English style of rowing,
which he stigmatized as the rude action of " savages
on a log."

He used to send his servant Toni to invite me to
come and take coffee in the afternoon. Having
made my way up the staircase painted by Longhi
with startling life-size figures of dames and cavaliers
in black masks and dominos, up to the cosy English-
looking library, high overlooking the Grand Canal, I
was welcomed by the dear old host. Then came
Toni, smiling, bringing a tray of coffee and biscuits,
and presently I went back to the hotel, laden with
books of ancient history and travel.

At one Venetian hotel, now shut up, the food
was bad (even for Venice), and very limited ; and,
moreover, the furniture was as scanty as the food.
Occasionally we missed an arm-chair or a cabinet.
At last the curious fact was elicited that the land-
lord, an inveterate but impoverished gambler, used
his household goods to pay his debts of honour.

Another time we had a large bleak apartment at
the bend of the Grand Canal, rooms now consider-
ably smartened up, and turned into a curiosity shop.
My bedroom was forty-five feet square, and propor-
tionately high ; the dining-room was seventy feet in
length. This banquet hall was only lighted by a
couple of slender candles. When dinner was ready,
the servant's steps could be heard for a considerable
time gradually approaching through the darkness to
announce that soup was served in the very room
where we were sitting.

On the entresol lived the countess, owner of this
palace. She took a great fancy to me, and used to
lie in wait to pounce upon me as I went up or down
the mouldy stone staircase, and would then drag me
into her untidy little sanctum, where clothes lay on
every available chair and table, and plates full of
eatables often strewed the floor. Then she poured
forth to me in rapid language the history of her
iroubles, I gathered that they were troubles, and



so, I presume, looked sympathetic, and she was
satisfied. But at that time I understood no word
of Italian. How well I remember the countess on
the day when we left Venice ! I was already
sitting in the gondola, ready to start, my lap full of
roses bestowed upon me by the servants at parting.
I looked up for a last farewell ; she, half crying,
dressed in a garish blue silk gown, her untidy head
in full sunlight, waved a pocket-handkerchief ener-
getically as she looked out from the window. Then
we slid round a corner of building out of the sun-
shine into a dark and small canal, leaving an episode
of life behind, cutting it off sharply as such chapters
of existence so often end, far more abruptly even than
the novelist's pen can close a chapter in his book.

Good-bye, good-bye to the lovely quiet world of
Venice— good-bye to the lofty towers, which seem
to be ringing peals of farewell, to the narrow shady
streets and the indolent people, to our own gondo-
lier, who sadly kisses our hands at parting ! Back
we steam to the world of noise and dust, where
folks who know no better drive in uncomfortable
carriages over stony pavements, and horses clatter
as they run, and beat the ground with iron hoofs !

I have scarce left myself space to mention the
pictures at Venice — the delightful Accademia, where,
even amidst the glories of the Venetian school,
Carpaccio's touch still glows and conquers. His
name is often unfamiliar to strangers, as he has
always been an appreciated prophet in his own city,
where his works have not been displaced for four
centuries : witness the lovely set of pictures forming
a frieze in the church of San Giorgio dei Schiavoni.
It were impossible, nay, 'twould be almost sacrilege,
in a few hurried words to treat of a gallery like the
Accademia (wherein I have spent many pleasant
stilly hours copying), or of the Doge's palace, or of
the fine churches in which Venice is singularly rich,
with their treasures of painting, their Bellinis and
Tintorettos, and Bonifacios specially, shrined above
altars or in sacristies. I am not writing of Venice
historical, nor of Venice artistic, and these short
pages pretend to be nothing more than a slight
record of my own memories. Other and far worthier
pens have ably written of Venice as she now is.
As for her past splendour, the origin and history of
the sea-bom city herself, the marriage of the Doge
to the Adriatic, the mystery of the Lion's mouth,
the Council of Ten, the sad romance of thfe Bridge
of Sighs, with prison gratings hard by the scenes of



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8S



reckless carnival — all the poetry of bygone Venetian
days has been studied and learned by most of us,
because it appeals so strongly to the imagination.
This short paper must end as it began — a mere
reflex of the writer's own impression. It is an
impression that has not lessened with passing years ;
never will lessen, probably. I can close my eyes
and evoke, if I will, the entire panorama ; each
detail, each tone of colour, stands out as though in
truth there lay before me a tangible vision of water-
palaces and wide water-ways. Yet some things
change even at slowly-changing Venice. My last
day there was spent on the then beautiful island of
Sant' Elena, a little paradise which now, I am told, is
anything but paradisaical, being dug up, left bare,
and given over wholly to the manufacture of railway
i:arriages !



I rejoice that I cannot behold the painful trans-
formation. In former days, around the beautiful
ruined cloisters grew tall trees, sheltering shades
more precious at Venice than elsewhere, whilst
flowering shrubs dotted the green lawns and calm
solitudes. The day that my memory calls back
was in early summer; roses bloomed upon the
fairy-like island ; the sky was soft and clear. On
the morrow we were to start for England. Looking
out towards the Lido, I watched the yellow-sailed
boats go drifting on their way to Chioggia, or, lean-
ing over the low wall, I gazed down into the trans-
parent water of the lagoon, and listened to the
lapping of tiny waves. Well for me was the sweet-
ness of the scene, for thus, in her beauty and still-
ness, her summer-time and her poetry, thus only
would I remember Venice 1



Walker b» Beutall^ sc. Clara Montalba, R. IV. 3"., //wo:,

THB COLUMN OP ST. MARK, VBNICB.



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VERY YOUNG.



Jean Ingelow.



11.



DAISY THE SECOND.



THE Squire's Christian name was Andrew. He
did not like his name, partly because his
brothers had generally called him And. They now
frequently called him " Squire," and he liked this still
less. He had four brothers, and no sisters at all. He
was himself a handsome and very well-proportioned
youth, slightly below the middle height. He had
fine eyes of bluish-gray, very dark hair, thick
black eyebrows, good teeth, a clear rather pale
{Complexion, and a very agreeable expression. He
had as yet a slightly hesitating, somewhat doubtful
manner, as if he did not feel sure of himself, and
did not always remember that the days of discipline
in his case were over. This was not his fault.

The description given above of his person and
manners would do just as well for all his brothers
but one. They were remarkably alike. The
youngest was seven years old, one was fourteen, and
one was sixteen. The one who was not like was
only eleven months younger than the Squire. He
was nearly a head taller, a great deal stronger,
rougher, darker, and vastly more clever. He was
plain. He naturally and inevitably led when he
cared to do so. He had a voice already deep and
decided. To be sure it creaked, and had a crack
in it still now and then. But oh ! how he could
shout when he chose.

His mother, Mrs. Andrew Capper, was decidedly
afraid of him, for he almost always knew what she
was thinking of. It seemed a fine dispensation of
Providence that she had one of her more manage-
able sons as the heir, but then she knew she could
have done a great deal more with him but for
Fergus her second son. He did not exactly appear
to think she was scheming or shamming, or even
trying unduly to influence their taste, but when
she would say before her sons such things as " I
met dear Mrs. Blank to-day ; how sweet and dis-
tinguished she is," Fergus would exclaim, "Oh,
mother, I wonder you think so. I think she is a
horrid old screw."

And then Andrew would break in with —



"Well, though she is so rich, she used never
to give a fellow a tip, years ago."

"I shall be much annoyed," the mother would
add, "if you are not pleasant to her, or if you
have any such thought as that she is — parsi-
monious."

" Ah, well," Fergus would reply ; " but it does
not matter now whether she is or not. We shall
not trouble ourselves ; shall we, Martin ? Him big
brother can tip him now^

Martin, the youngest of the family, having been
tipped by Andrew on his birthday, had changed
the sovereign into sixty fourpenny pieces, and had
not been at all firugal in the spending of them. All
the brothers, in fact, perceived with startling readi-
ness that the money in Andrew's pocket was only
in a certain insignificant sense more his than theirs.
It was to send Fergus to Cambridge, and keep the
two next at Winchester. As for the mother, she
would have managed to come and live with her son
in his house, but that on reflection she had felt that
for all her efforts she might not be able to prevent
his marrying young. In such a case it would have
been bitter to turn out, so she elected to accept the
Dower house, which was a pleasant old gabled resi-
dence, not a quarter of a mile from his gates. Her
husband had died so soon after he inherited the
estate, that he had not even been able to make a
will, but to this house her son made her most
welcome. She came and stayed with him as a
matter of course till it was ready.

" And what a delightful thing it is, dears, isn't it ? "
she remarked, as she sat at the head of his table one
day, and dispensed an early dinner to them all.
" What a delightful thing that dear Cousin Daisy
should propose herself so soon as a visitor. And
the girls, the dear girls, how nice it will be for
you all to take them about over Andy's own park
and woods."

" Oh, mother ! " exclaimed Fergus, and said no
more.

" Delightful ! " persisted Mrs. Capper.

" We shall do it, as we have to do it, I suppose,"
said Andrew, rather disconsolately; "but as to
being delightful, mother — "



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VERY YOUNG.



87



" Well," observed Fergus, " but you know, old
man, you did say they were not so fat as they
used to be. It's a pity they are so re — mark — ably
plain."

" In your opinion," the mother put in. " I think,
my dear, you are peculiar ; other people think they
will be charming."

"And Daisy will have ten thousand a year,
and Bell two thousand."

• " As if that could have anything to do with it ! "
said Mrs. Capper sharply.

Then Andrew said —

" I suppose, mamma, I am not expected to drag
them all over the country, am I ? "

" I suppose, my dear, you understand the duties
of hospitality ? "

"Ye— es."

" Cousin Daisy was most hospitable to you."

"Ye — es. But what put it into her head to
come so soon for, I can't think."

" I know," said Fergus. " They have been yacht-
ing with those friends of theirs, both the girls were
sick, and hated it; so she let them land her and
them at Folkestone. Well, I was at Fraser's, her
sick gardener's, this morning, and he said his folks
had written to him that scarlatina had broken out
at her very lodge. She knows this before now.



Online LibraryA. Balfour Symington L. T. MeadeAtalanta → online text (page 13 of 110)