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CLXXXVI. Farewell! a word that must be, and hath beenA sound which makes us linger ;-yet-farewell! Ye! who have traced the Pilgrim to the scene Which is his last, if in your memories dwell A thought which once was his, if on ye swell A single recollection, not in vain He wore his sandal-shoon, and scallop-shell ;
Farewell! with him alone may rest the pain, If such there were-with you, the moral of his strain !
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.
I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs ;
Stanza i. lines 1 and 2. The communication between the Ducal palace and the prisons of Venice is by a gloomy bridge, or covered gallery, high above the water, and divided by a stone wall into a passage and a cell. The state dungeons, called “ pozzi," or wells, were sunk in thick walls of the palace; and the prisoner when taken out to die was conducted across the gallery to the other side, and being then led back into the other compartment, or cell, upon the bridge, was there strangled. The low portal through which the criminal was taken into this coll is now walled up; but the passage is still open, and is still known by the name of the Bridge of Sighs. The pozzi are under the flooring of the chamber at the foot of the bridge. They were formerly twelve, but on the first arrival of the French, the Venetians hastily blocked or broke up the deeper of these dungeons. You may still, however, descend by a trap-door, and crawl down through holes, balf choked by rubbish, to the depth of two stories below the first range. I£ you are in want of consolation for the extinction of patrician power, perhaps you may find it there; scarcely a ray of light glimmers into the narrow gallery which leads to the cells, and the places of confinement themselves are totally dark. A small hole in the wall admitted the damp air of the passages, and served for the introduction of the prisoner's food. A wooden pallet, raised a foot from the ground, was the only furniture. The conductors tell you that a light was not allowed. The cells are about five paces in length, two and a half in width, and seven feet in height. They are direct
ly beneath one another, and respiration is somewhat difficult in the lower holes. Only one prisoner was found when the republicans descended into these hideous recesses, and be is said to have been confined sixteen years. But the inmates of the dungeons beneath had left traces of their repentance, or of their despair, which are still visible, and may perhaps one something to recent ingenuity Some of the detained appear to have offended against, and others to have belonged to, the sacred body, not only from their signatures, but from the churches and belfries which they have scratched upon the walls. The reader may not object to see a specimen of the records prompted by so terrific a solitude. As nearly as they could be copied by more than one pencil, three of them were as follows:
NON TI FIDAR AD ALCUNO PENSA E TACI
1607. ADI 2. GENARO. FOI RETENTO P' LA BESTIEMMA P' AVER DATO
DA MANZAR A UN MORTO
IACOMO . GRITTI. SCRISSL.
The copyist has followed, not corrected the solecisms; some of which are however not quite so decided, since the letters were evidently scratched in the dark. It only need be observed, that Bestemmia and Mangiar may be read in the first inscription, which was probably written by a prisoner confined for some act of impiety
committed at a funeral : that Cortellarius is the name of a pacish on terra firma, near the sea : and that the last initials evidently are put for Viva la santa Chiesa Kattolica Romana.
She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,
Stanza ii. lines 1 and 2. An old writer, describing the appearance of Venice, has made use of the above image, which would not be poetical were it not true.
“Quo fit ut qui superne urbem contempletur, turritam telluris imaginem medio Oceano figuralam se putet inspicere*."
In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more.
Stanza iij. line 1. The well known song of the gondoliers, of alternate stanzas, from Tasso's Jerusalem, has died with the independence of Venice. Editions of the poem, with the original on one column, and the Venetian variations on the other, as sung by the boatmen, were once common, and are still to be found. The following extract will serve to show the difference between the Tuscan epic and the “Canta alla Barcariola."
Che 'l gran Sepolcro liberò di Cristo.
Molto soffri nel glorioso acquisto;
S'armò d' Asia, e di Libia il popol misto,
E de Goffredo la immortal braura
Del nostro buon Gesú la Sepoltura
* Marci Antonii Sabelli de Venetæ Urbis situ narratio, edit. Taurin. 1527, lib. i. fol. 202.