Edward Augustus Freeman.

Sketches from the subject and neighbour lands of Venice online

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contains other ancient books, and other objects which are well worth
notice, but this strange and precious relic is the chiefest of them

Altogether then there turns out to be a good deal to see on the site
which once was Forum Julii. What is to be seen is perhaps not exactly
of the kind which the traveller may have fancied in his dreams. He can
hardly have come expecting to find a stately mediæval or modern city.
He may have come expecting to find the walls of a Roman city
sheltering here and there either Roman fragments or modern cottages.
He will find neither of these; but he will find a town whose natural
position is far more striking than could have been looked for in the
approach from Udine, and whose chief merit is that it shelters here
and there, in corners where they have to be sought for, several
objects, neither Roman nor mediæval, but of the darker, and therefore
most instructive, period which lies between the two.



At Udine and at Cividale we are still in Italy in every sense which
that name has borne since the days of Augustus Cæsar. But the fact
which may have startled us at the last stage of our course, the fact
that a Slavonic tongue is to be heard within the borders of both the
old and the new Italian kingdom, may suggest the thought that we are
drawing near to parts of the world which are in some respects
different from Treviso and the lands to the west of it. We are about
to pass from the subject lands of Venice to the neighbour lands. We
shall presently reach the borders which modern diplomacy has decreed
for the Italian kingdom, seemingly because they were the borders of
the territory of the Venetian commonwealth on the mainland. Venice, as
Venice, has passed away, but it is strange to see how one of the most
artificial of her boundaries survives. The present arrangements of the
European map seem to lay down as the rule on this frontier that
nothing that was not Venetian can be Italian. The rule is purely
negative; no weight at all is given to the converse doctrine that
whatever was Venetian should be Italian. Nor is it necessary to plead
for any such doctrine, a doctrine which nationality and geography, as
well as practical possibility, would all decline to support. Still it
is hard to see why the negative doctrine should be so strictly
pressed, and why Italian lands should be forced to remain under a
foreign dominion, simply because they never came under the dominion of
Venice. If any argument grounded in this way on facts which have long
since ceased to have a meaning were urged on the Italian side, it
would be at once scouted as pedantic and antiquarian. But it would
seem that even pedantry and antiquarianism are welcomed when they tell
on behalf of the other side. For surely it is the height of pedantry
and antiquarianism to argue that, because a land was never numbered
among the subject provinces of Venice, it therefore may not be
numbered among the equal members of a free Italian kingdom. It is
certainly hard to find any other reason, except that the advance of
Venice stopped at a certain point, to account for the fact that the
dominions of a foreign prince come so awkwardly near to Verona, for
the fact that Trent and Roveredo look to Vienna and not to Rome. Such
are our thoughts on one line of journey; on our present course the
same question suggests itself again. We pass a frontier where it is
not at first sight easy to see why any frontier should be there. We
journey from Udine to Gorizia, still keeping within the old Lombard
Austria, but between Udine and Gorizia lies Cormons, and after Cormons
we find ourselves in a new Austria. We speak with geographical
accuracy. We might not say, as some would, that we were in Austria if
we were at Cattaro or at Tzernovitz, but in the land which we have now
entered, we are, not indeed in the archduchy of Austria, but within
the circle of Austria according to the arrangements of Maximilian. And
in truth we do soon mark a change. We soon come to feel more
distinctly than before that we are in a land where more tongues than
one are spoken. We may have found out that round about Cividale all is
not Italian in speech; but the Slavonic tongue of those parts is
modest and retiring. It does not thrust itself into print or show
itself flauntingly on doors or windows. But when we pass the border,
when we are in the land which is Austrian both in the oldest and the
newest sense, the presence of a twofold, even of a three-fold, speech
makes itself very clear. At Cividale, if Slavonic was to be heard, it
was at least not to be seen. In the city which we next reach, Italian
and Slavonic are both to be seen openly, and a third tongue is to be
seen alongside of them. Are we to seek here for the justification of
the frontier which struck us as artificial and needless? Is the fact
that the Slavonic tongue is spoken in or close by the city which we
next reach a proof that that city ought to remain outside the Italian
kingdom? If so, the argument might be thought to prove too much; it
might be thought to prove that Cividale ought not to be counted to
Italy any more than its neighbour. But any one who took up this line
of argument would hardly be led by it to approval of things as they
are. The Panslavist who should go the length of arguing that neither
Gorizia nor Cividale ought to look to Rome as its head would hardly
argue that either of them ought to look to Vienna.

We have written the name _Gorizia_; but we have written it with fear
and trembling. For we have now reached a city where we have three
names to choose from. Shall we say _Görz_, _Gorizia_, or _Gorici_? All
three names will be found carefully displayed side by side in public
notices. One is tempted, by the analogy of a crowd of Slavonic names
in other places, to suggest _Goritaz_ instead of any of them. But
_Gorici_ is the Slavonic form as by law established, and to that rule
both natives and visitors may do well to bow. In any case there is
little doubt that on this spot of many names we have reached a place
which, though Italian in geography, though for ages German in
allegiance, was in truth Slavonic in origin. A charter of Otto the
Third speaks of "una villa quæ Sclavonica lingua vocatur Gorizia."
This is the earliest certain mention of the place. There is indeed a
document which tells us how in the year 949 Bishop John of Trieste was
borne down by many troubles, and how one source of his troubles was a
heavy debt to David the Jew of Gorizia. But wise men reject the
document which asserts this piece of episcopal mismanagement. And the
way in which the place is spoken of in the eleventh century does not
sound as if it could have been a spot whose wealth could have drawn
Jews thither in the tenth. In any case the Slavonic _villa_ grew into
a town and a county of the Empire, and late in the fifteenth century
the Counts of Gorizia became the same persons as the Archdukes of
Austria. But long after the beginning of that union, the distinction
between Austria and Gorizia was still strongly drawn. How much Gorizia
still thought of itself, how much its prince still thought of himself
in his local character, is made plain by the most prominent feature of
the chief building of the place. Over the gateway of the castle is an
inscription recording repairs done in the year 1660 by the reigning
Count Leopold. That Count bore higher titles, and he does not fail to
record them on the stone; but they are recorded in an almost
incidental way. Letters boldly cut, letters which catch the eye at
some distance, proclaim that the work was done by LEOPOLDUS COMES
GORITIÆ. Go near, and you may literally read between the lines, in
smaller letters and abbreviated words, that this Count Leopold
happened to be also Emperor of the Romans, King of Germany, Hungary,
and Bohemia, Archduke of Austria, and - in his own eyes at least - Duke
of Burgundy. But here at Gorizia he reigned and built directly as
Count of Gorizia, and he proclaimed himself primarily by his local
title. In an inscription such things could be done; heraldry hardly
admitted of any such ingenious devices. The bird of Cæsar must bear
the hereditary shield of the prince who has been chosen to the
imperial office, and on that hereditary shield the bearings of the
Gorizian county cannot displace those of duchies and kingdoms. While
therefore the legend proclaims the doer of the repairs of 1660 as
before all things a hereditary local count, the shield proclaims him
as before all things a Roman Emperor-elect. Yet one may believe that
most of those who pass under the imperial bird over the gateway deem
him all one with his bastard likeness over the tobacco-shops. Some may
even fail to see that, among the many hereditary bearings of the
elective Cæsar, the lion of the Austrian duchy keeps his proper place.
That lion is so apt to pass out of sight, men are so ready to cry
"Austria" when they see the eagle of Rome, so little ready to cry
"Austria" when they see Austria's own bearing, that it may be kind to
point out one place where his form and his occasional destiny may best
be studied. The true Austrian beast is plainly to be seen on the walls
of the _Schlachtkapelle_ near Sempach, and his presence there is
explained by the legend, thrilling to the federal and democratic mind,
"Das Panier von Oestreich ist gefangen, und ist nach Uri gekommen."

The eagle of Rome over the gateway, in a place where in these regions
we look almost mechanically for the lion of Saint Mark, reminds us yet
again that we have passed from the subject into the neighbour lands of
Venice. And various inscriptions, public and private, bring no less
clearly home to our minds that we are in a land of more than one
tongue. Of the three names of the town, that by which we have hitherto
spoken of it, that which it bears in the earliest trustworthy charter,
that which differs by one letter only from its more ordinary Latin
shape as seen over the gate, is also the name which the traveller will
most frequently hear in its streets and will see universally written
over its shops. As far as one can see at a glance, German is at _Görz_
the tongue of hôtels, _cafés_, public departments of all kinds.
Italian is the tongue of the citizens of _Gorizia_ whose shops are
sheltered by its street arcades. Slavonic, we conceive, will some day
be the tongue of the little children who, in all the joy of a state of
nature, as naked as any other mammals, creep, as merrily though more
slowly than the lizards, over the grass and stones of the castle-hill
of _Gorici_. Anyhow Gorizia is, like Palermo of old, the city of the
threefold tongue. But the place itself is, considering its history, a
little disappointing. Nothing indeed is lacking in the way of
position. Mountains on all sides, except where the rich plain of the
swift Isonzo stretches away to the sea, fence in the city, without
hemming it close in as in a prison. One hill is crowned by the castle,
whence we look out on another crowned by the long white line of the
Franciscan convent, suggesting memories of the banished king who was
the last to receive the consecrating oil of Rheims. Houses, churches,
villages, are thickly scattered over the plain and the hill sides. The
vines and the mulberry-trees, the food of the silkworm whose endless
cocoons choke up the market-place, witness to the richness of the
land. But there is a strange lack of buildings of any importance in
this capital of an ancient county, this resort which boasts itself as
the "Nizza Austriaca," the "Oesterreichische Nizza" - in such formulæ
the third tongue of the spot is not called into play. A Nizza without
any Mediterranean may seem as strange as the Rialto which we saw at
Udine without any Grand Canal. But Gorizia as a modern town is not
striking. Its best features are the old arcades in some of its streets
and markets. Such arcades must be bad indeed to be wholly
unsatisfactory, and some of those at Gorizia are very fairly done. But
there is no grand church, no grand municipal palace; the castle itself
is not what on such a site it ought to be. The castle is the kernel of
the whole place. Gorizia is not a hill-town, nor can we call it a
river-town. There is the castle on the hill, and the town seems to
have gathered at its foot. The castle soars so commandingly over the
country round that we wish here, as at Udine, that there was something
better to soar than the ugly barrack which forms its uppermost stage.
There are indeed better things within Count Leopold's gateway. The
outer court is laid out in streets, and contains several houses with
architectural features. One, bearing date 1475, with respectable
columns and round arches below, and with windows of the Venetian type
above, might pass for a very humble following, not of the palaces of
Venice or Udine, but of the far nobler pile which is in store for us
at Ragusa. A small church too strikes us, with its windows projecting
like oriels, one of them indeed rising from the ground. This last,
when we enter, proves to be the smallest of side-chapels set on this
fashion. In some cities such a small eccentricity would hardly deserve
any notice; but at Gorizia we learn to become thankful for rather
small mercies.

In the lower town what little interest there is gathers round the
pieces of street arcades; the churches go for next to nothing. Yet
Gorizia ranks as an ecclesiastical metropolis, and it has its
metropolitan church no less than Canterbury or Lyons. Nor is this
merely one of those arrangements of the present century which have
stripped Mainz and Trier of their immemorial dignity, and which have
given us archbishops of such unexpected places as Munich and
Freiburg-im-Breisgau. The style of Archbishop of Gorizia is at least
several generations older than the style of Emperor of Austria. The
church of Gorizia rose to metropolitan rank, at the same time as the
church of Udine, when the patriarchate of Aquileia came to an end, and
its province was divided between the two new metropolitans thus called
into being. But the seat of the modern primacy is hardly worthy of a
simple bishopric. There is nothing in the building of any antiquity
but a choir, German rather than Italian, and of no great antiquity
either. The rest of the church is of a gaudy _Renaissance_; yet it
deserves some notice from the boldness of its construction. It is
designed, within and without, of two stories: that is, the upper
gallery is an essential part of the building. The principle is the
same as in Saint Agnes and Saint Laurence at Rome, and as in German
churches like the Great Minster at Zürich; but the feeling is quite
different. Still, if a church is to be built in a _Renaissance_ style
and to receive two sets of worshippers, one over the heads of the
other, it must be allowed that the object is thoroughly attained in
the metropolitan church of Gorizia, and its architect is entitled to
the credit of having successfully grappled with the problem
immediately set before him.

Gorizia then can hardly claim, on the ground either of its history or
its buildings, to rank among cities of the first, or even of the
second class. Its natural position far surpasses all that has been
done in it, and all that has been built in it. But there is no spot on
which men have lived for eight or nine hundred years which does not
teach us something, and Gorizia has its lessons as well as other
places. It would hardly be worth making a journey thither from any
distant point to see Gorizia only; but the place should be seen by any
one whose course takes him through the lands at the head of the
Hadriatic. Udine, Cividale, and Gorizia are places which have in some
sort partitioned among them the position of fallen Aquileia. From the
children, we might perhaps say the rebellious children, we must go on
to the ancient mother.


1875 - 1881.

We have already, in our course through the lands at the head of the
Hadriatic, had need constantly to refer to the fallen city which once
was the acknowledged head of those lands, the city whose fame began as
a great Roman colony, the bulwark of Italy at her north-eastern
corner, and which lived on, after the fall of its first greatness, in
the character of the nominal head alike of a considerable temporal
power and of an ecclesiastical power whose position and history were
altogether unique. We have noticed that, while the cities of this
region rise and fall, still even those which fall are not wholly swept
away. Aquileia has always lived, though, since the days of Attila, the
life of the actual city of Aquileia has been a very feeble one indeed.
But though Aquileia, as a city, practically perished in the fifth
century, yet it continued till the eighteenth to give its name to a
power of some kind. Its temporal position passed to Forum Julii, and
Udine succeeded to the position alike of Forum Julii and of Aquileia.
But the patriarchs grew into temporal princes, and their style
continued to be taken from Aquileia, and not from Forum Julii or
Udine. On the ecclesiastical side, the patriarchal title itself arose
out of a theological and a local schism. And, while the bishops of
Aquileia thus rose to the same nominal rank as those of Constantinople
and Alexandria, they had, as the result of the same chain of events,
to see - at least, if they had gone on living at Aquileia they would
have seen - a rival power of the same rank spring up, at their own
gates, in the form of the patriarchs of Grado. This last was surely
the greatest anomaly in all ecclesiastical geography. He who is not
familiar with the Italian ecclesiastical map may be surprised to find
Fiesole a separate bishopric from Florence. Even he who is familiar
with such matters may still be surprised to find Monreale a separate
archbishopric from Palermo. But even this last real anomaly seems a
small matter, compared with the arrangement which placed one patriarch
at Aquileia itself, and another almost within a stone's throw at
Aquileia's port of Grado. At every step we have lighted on something
to suggest the thought of the ancient capital of the Venetian
borderland; we have now to look at what is left of the fallen city
itself. Setting aside the actual seats of Imperial power, Rome Old and
New, Milan, Trier, and Ravenna, few cities stand out more
conspicuously than Aquileia both in general and in ecclesiastical
history. The stronghold by which Rome first secured her power over the
borderland of Illyria and Cisalpine Gaul - the city which grew under
the fostering hand of Augustus into one of the great cities of the
Empire - the city whose overthrow by Attila was one of the causes of
the birth of Venice - might have claimed for itself no mean place in
history, even if it had never become one of the special seats of
ecclesiastical rule and ecclesiastical controversy. To see such a city
sunk to a mean village, to trace out the remains of its ancient
greatness and splendour, is indeed a worthy work for the historical

But how shall the traveller find his way to Aquileia? Let us confess
to a certain degree of pious fraud in our notices of Treviso, Udine,
and Gorizia. We have, for the general purposes of the series,
conceived the traveller as starting from Venice, while in truth those
notices contained the impressions of journeys made the other way, with
Trieste as their starting-point. The mask must be thrown off, if only
because the journey to Aquileia always calls up the memory of an
earlier visit to Aquileia when it was also from Trieste that another
traveller set forth. We have before us a record of travel from Trieste
to Aquileia, in which the pilgrim, finding himself on the road "in a
capital barouche behind two excellent horses," tells us that "the
idea of thus visiting a church city, which seemed a mere existence of
the past, had something so singular and inappropriate as to seem an
ecclesiastical joke. When at the octroi," he continues, "our driver
gave out his destination, the whole arrangement produced the same
effect in my mind as if Saint Augustine had asked me to have a bottle
of soda-water, or Saint Jerome to procure for him a third-class
ticket." Without professing altogether to throw ourselves into
enthusiasm of this kind, the ecclesiastical history of the city, its
long line of patriarchs, schismatical and orthodox, is of itself
enough to give Aquileia a high place among the cities of the earth.
But why Aquileia should be called "a church city" as if it were Wells
or Lichfield or Saint David's, cities to which that name would very
well apply - why going thither should seem an "ecclesiastical
joke" - why Saint Augustine, if he were still on earth, should be
debarred from the use of soda-water - why Saint Jerome should be
condemned to a third-class ticket, while his modern admirer goes in a
capital barouche behind two excellent horses - all these are mysteries
into which it would not do for the profane to peer too narrowly. But
the traveller from whom we quote was one in whose mind the first sight
of Spalato called up no memory of Diocletian, but who wandered off
from the organizer of the Roman power to an ecclesiastical squabble
in which the British Solomon was a chief actor. We quote his own
words. As he first saw the mighty bell-tower, he asks, "What were our
thoughts? What but of poor Mark Antony de Dominis?"

Our ecclesiastical traveller who went straight from Trieste to
Aquileia in the barouche with the excellent horses made his pilgrimage
before the railway was opened. As it is, the more modern inquirer is
more likely to take the train to Monfalcone - perhaps humbly, like
Saint Jerome, by the third class, perhaps otherwise, according to
circumstances. He will pass through a land of specially stony hills
coming down near to the sea, but leaving ever and anon, in the most
utter contrast, green marshy places between the stones and the water.
Some may find an interest in passing by Miramar, the dwelling of the
Maximilian who perished in Mexico; some may prefer to speculate about
Antenor, and to wonder where he found the nine mouths of Timavus. But
it is still possible to go by the same path as our predecessor, and
that antiquated course has something to be said for it. The road from
Trieste to Aquileia is, for some while at least, not rich in specially
striking objects, but it passes over lofty ground whence the traveller
will better understand the geography of the Hadriatic, and will come
in for some glimpses of the inland parts of this region of many
tongues. For here it is not quite enough to say that native Italian
and Slave and official German all meet side by side. We are not far
off from the march-land of two forms of the Slavonic speech; the
tongue of Rome too is represented at no great distance by another of
its children, distinct from the more classic speech of Italy. We
remember that the Vlach, the Rouman, the Latin-speaking remnant of the
East, has settled or has lingered at not very distant points. We are
tempted to fancy - wrongly, it may be - that some of them must almost
come within the distant landscape. One thing is certain; bearers far
more strange of the Roman name, though no speakers of the Roman
tongue, are there in special abundance. Those whom sixteenth century
Acts of Parliament spoke of as "outlandish persons calling themselves
Egyptians," though they certainly now at least no more call themselves
Egyptians than Englishmen ever called themselves Saxons, are there as
a distinct element in the land. The traveller who comes on the right
day may come in for a gipsy fair at Duino; he may hear philologers
whose studies have lain that way talking to them in their own branch
of the common Aryan tongue. He himself meanwhile, driven to look at
their outsides only, perhaps thinks that after all gipsies do not look
so very different from other ragged people. Certainly if he chances
to be making his way, as it is possible that he may be, from Dalmatia
and Montenegro, he will miss, both among the gipsies and the other
inhabitants of the land, the picturesque costumes to which he has
become used further south. Duino itself, a very small haven, but which
once believed that it could rival Trieste, will, to the antiquary at
least, be more interesting than its gipsy visitors. A castle on rocks,
overhanging the sea - a castle, so to speak, in two parts, one of which
contains a tower which claims a Roman date, while the other is said to
have sheltered Dante - will reward the traveller who still keeps to the
barouche and the horses on his journey to the "church city," instead

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Online LibraryEdward Augustus FreemanSketches from the subject and neighbour lands of Venice → online text (page 4 of 23)