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d'un tribunal, d'exception, 'et que ce fut à la police de réprimer le scandale. Le conseil des dix ordonna, en 1782, que toute femme qui intenterait une demande en dissolution de mariage serait obligée d'en attendre le jugement dans un couvent que le tribunal désignerait.* Bientôt après il évoqua devant lui toutes les causes de cette nature.t Cet empiètement sur la juridiction ecclésiastique ayant occasionné des réclamations de la part de la cour de Ronie, le conseil se réserva le droit de débouter les époux de leur demande, et consentit à la renvoyer devant l'officialité, toutes les fois qu'il ne l'aurait pas rejetée.
“Il y eut un moment où sans doute le renversement des fortunes, la perte des jeunes gens, les discordes domestiques, déterminèrent le gouvernement à s'écarter des maximes qu'il s'était faites sur la liberté de mours qu'il permettait à ses sujets : on chassa de Venise toutes les courtisanes. Mais leur absence ne suffisait pas pour ramener aux bonnes maurs toute une population élevée dans la plus honteuse licence. Le désordre pénétra dans l'intérieur des familles, dans les cloîtres ; et l'on se crut obligé de rappeler, d'indemniser & même des femmes qui surprenaient quelquefois d'importants secrets, et qu'on pouvait employer utilement à ruiner des hommes que leur fortune aurait pu rendre dangereux. Depuis, la licence est toujours allée croissant, et l'on a vu non seulement des inères trafiquer de la virginité de leurs filles, mais la vendre par un contrat dont l'authenticité était garantie par la signature d'un officier public, et l'éxecution mise sous la protection des lois.**
“ Les parloirs des couvents où étaient renfermées les filles nobles, les maisons des courtisanes, quoique la police y entretînt soigneusement un grand nombre de surveillants, étaient les seuls points de réunion de la société de Venise, et dans ces deux endroits si divers on était également libre. La musique, les collations, la galanterie, n'étaient pas plus interdites dans les parloirs que dans les casins. Il y avait un grand nombre de casins destinés aux réunions publiques, où le jeu était la principale occupation de la société. C'était un singulier spectacle de voir autour d'une table des personnes des deux sexes en masque, et de graves personnages en robes de magistrature, implorant le hasard, passant des angoisses du désespoir aux illusions de l'espérance, et cela sans proférer une parole.
“ Les riches avaient des casins particuliers; mais ils y vivaient avec mystère ; leurs femmes délaissées trouvaient un dédommagement dans la liberté dont elles jouissaient. La corruption des mœurs les avait privées de tout leur empire; on vient de parcourir toute l'histoire de Venise, et on ne les a pas vues une seule fois exercer la moindre influence.”
Extract from the History of the Republic of Venice, by P. Daru, Member of
the French Academy, vol. V. b. xxxy. p. 95, &c. Paris, Edit. 1819.
“ To these attacks, so frequently pointed by the government against the clergy,– to the continual struggles between the different constituted bodies,—to those enterprises carried on by the mass of the nobles against the depositaries of power,--to all those projects of innovation, which always ended by a stroke of state policy ;-we must add a cause not less fitted to spread contempt for ancient doctrines ; this was the excess of corruption.
“ That freedom of manners which had been long boasted of as the principal charm of Venetian society, had degenerated into scandalous licentiousness : the tie of marriage was less sacred in that Catholic country, than among those nations where the laws and religion admit of its being dissolved. Because they could not break the contract, they feigned that it had not existed ; and the ground of nullity, immodestly alleged by the married pair, was admitted with equal facility by priests and magistrates, alike corrupt. These divorces, veiled under another name, became so frequent, that the most important act of civil society was discovered to be amenable to a tribunal of exceptions; and to restrain the open scandal of such proceedings became the office of the police. In 1782 the Council of Ten decreed, that every woman who should sue for a dissolution of her marriage 'should be compelled to await the decision of the judge in some convent, to be named by the court.* Soon afterwards the same council summoned all causes of that nature before itself.+ This infringement on ecclesiastical jurisdiction having occasioned some remonstrance from Rome, the council retained only the right of rejecting the petition of the married persons, and consented to refer such causes to the Holy Office as it should not previously have rejected. I
* Correspondance de M. Schlick, chargé d'affaires de France ; dépêche du 24 août 1782.7 + Ibid. Dépêche du 31 août.
Ibid. Dépêche du 3 septembre 1785. $ Le décret de rappel les désignait sous le nom de nostre benemerite meretrici. On leur assigna un fonds et des maisons appelées Case rampane, d'où vient la denomination injurieuse de Carumpane.
** Mayer, Description de Venise, tom. ii, et M. Archenholtz, Tableau de l'Italie, tom, I, chap. 2.
“ There was a moment in which, doubtless, the destruction of private fortunes, the ruin of youth, the domestic discord occasioned by these abuses, determined the government to depart from its established maxims concerning the freedom of manners allowed the subject. All the courtesans were banished from Venice, but their absence was not enough to reclaim and bring back good morals to a whole people brought up in the most scandalous licentiousness. Depravity reached the very bosoms of private families, and even into the cloister; and they found themselves obliged to recall, and even to indemnify $ women, who sometimes gained possession of important secrets, and who might be usefully employed in the ruin of men whose fortunes might have rendered them dangerous. Since that time licentiousness has gone on increasing; and we have seen mothers, not only selling the innocence of their daughters, but selling it by a contract, authenticated by the signature of a public officer, and the performance of which was secured by the protection of the
The parlours of the convents of noble ladies, and the houses of the courtesans, though the police carefully kept up a number spies about them, were the only assemblies for society in Venice ; and in these two places, so different from each other, there was equal freedom. Music, collations, gallantry, were not more forbidden in the parlours than at the casinos. There were a number of casinos for the purpose of public assemblies, where gaming was the principal pursuit of the company. It was a strange sight to see persons of either sex, masked, or grave personages in their magisterial robes, round a table, invoking chance, and giving way at one instant to the agonies of despair, at the next to the illusions of hope, and that without uttering a single word.
“The rich had private casinos, but they lived incognito in them ; and the wives whom they abandoned found compensation in the liberty they enjoyed. The corruption of morals had deprived them of their empire. We have just reviewed the whole history of Venice, and we have not once seen them exercise the slightest influence.”
From the present decay and degeneracy of Venice under the barbarians, there are some honourable individual exceptions. There is Pasqualigo, the last, and, alas ! posthumous son of the marriage of the Doges with the Adriatic, who fought his frigate with far greater gallantry than any of his French coadjutors in the memorable action of Lissa. I came home in the squadron with the prizes in 1811, and recollect to have heard Sir William Hoste, and the other officers engaged in that glorious confiet, speak in the highest terms of Pasqualigo's behaviour. There is the Abbate Morelli. There is Alvise Quorini, who, after a long and honourable diplomatic career, finds some consolation for the wrongs of his country in the pursuits of literature, with his nephew, Vittor Benzon, the son of the celebrated beauty, the heroine of “La Biondina in Gondoletta.” There are the patrician poet Morosini, and the poet Lamberti, the author of the “ Biondina,” &c., and many other estimable productions; and, not least in an Englishman's estimation, Madam Michelli, the translator of Shakspeare. There are the young Dandolo, and the improvvisatore Carrer, and Giuseppe Albrizzi, the accomplished son of an accomplished mother. There is Aglietti, and, were there nothing else, there is the immortality of Canova. Cicognara, Mustoxithi, Bucati, &c., &c., I do not reckon, because the one is a Greek, and the others were born at least a hundred miles off, which, throughout Italy, constitutes, if not a foreigner, at least a stranger (forestiere).
* Correspondence of Mr. Schlick, French chargé d'affaires. Despatch of 24th August, 1782. + Ibid. Despatch, 31st August.
Ibid. Despatch, 3d September, 1785.
The decree for their recall designates them as nostre benemerite meretrici. A fund and some houses called Case rampane were assigned to them; hence the opprobrious appellation of Carampane.
** Mayer, Description of Venice, vol. ii, and M. Archenholtz, Picture of Italy, vol. i. chap. 2.
VI. Extrait de l'ouvrage—Histoire littéraire d'Italie, par P. L. Ginguené. Tom. Ix, chap. xxxvi, p. 144. Edition de Paris, 1819.
Il y a une prédiction fort singulière sur Venise : 'Si tu ne changes pas,' dit-elle à cette république altière, 'ta liberté, qui déjà s'enfuit, ne comptera pas un siècle après la millième année.'
“En faisant remonter l'époque de la liberté Vénitienne jusqu'à l'établissement du gouvernement sous lequel la république a fleuri, on trouvera que l'élection du premier Doge date de 697, et si l'on y ajoute un siècle après mille, c'est-à-dire onze cents ans, on trouvera encore que le sens de la prédiction est littéralement celui-ci • "Ta liberté ne comptera pas jusqu'à l'an 1797. Rappelez-vous maintenant que Venise a cessé d'être libre en l'an cinq de la République française, ou en 1796 ; vous verrez qu'il n'y eut jamais de prédiction plus précise et plus ponctuellement suivie de l'effet. Vous noterez donc comme très-remarquables ces trois vers de l’Alamanni, adressés à Venise, que personne pourtant n'a remarqués :
'Se non cangi pensier, l'un secol solo
Tua libertà, che va fuggendo a volo.' Bien des prophéties ont passé pour telles, et bien des gens ont été appelés propbetes à meilleur marché."
Extract from the Literary History of Italy, by P. L. Ginguéné, Vol. IX,
p. 144. Paris Edit. 1819.
“There is one very singular prophecy concerning Venice: 'If thou dost not change,' it says to that proud republic, “thy liberty, which is already on the wing, will not reckon a century more than the thousandth year.'
“If we carry back the epocha of Venetian freedom to the establishment of the government under which the republic flourished, we shall find that the date of the election of the first Doge is 697; and if we add one century to a thousand, that is, eleven hundred years, we shall find the sense of the prediction to be literally this : *Thy liberty will not last till 1797. Recollect that Venice ceased to be free in the year 1796, the fifth year of the French republic; and you will perceive that there never was prediction more pointed, or more exactly followed by the event. You will, therefore, note as very remarkable the three lines of Alamanni, addressed to Venice, which, however, no one has pointed out:
'Se non cangi pensier, l'un secol solo
Many prophecies have passed for such, and many men have been called prophets for much less.”
If the Doge's prophecy seem remarkable, look to the above, made by Alamanni two hundred and seventy years ago.
The author of "Sketches Descriptive of Italy," &c., one of the hundred tours lately published, is extremely anxious to disclaim a possible charge of plagiarism from Childe Harold” and “Beppo.” He adds, that still less could this presumed coincidence arise from my conversation,” as he had repeatedly declined an introduction to me while in Italy.
Who this person may be I know not, but he must have been deceived by all or any of those who“ repeatedly offered to introduce” him, as I have invariably refused to receive any English with whom I was not previously acquainted, even when they had letters from England. If the whole assertion is not an invention, I request this person not to sit down with the notion that he could have been introduced, since there has been nothing I have so carefully avoided as any kind of intercourse with his countrymen, excepting the very few who were a considerable time resident in Venice, or had been of my previous acquaintance. Whoever made him any such offer was possessed of impudence equal to that of making such an assertion without having had it. The fact is, that I hold in utter abhorrence any contact with the travelling English, as my friend the Consul General Hoppner, and the Countess Benzoni (in whose house the Conversazione mostly frequented by them is held) could amply testify, were it worth while. I was persecuted by these tourists even to my riding-ground at Lido, and reduced to the most disagreeable circuits to avoid them. At Madame Benzoni's ) repeatedly refused to be introduced to them ;-of a thousand such presentations pressed upon me, I accepted two, and both were to Irish women.
I should hardly have descended to speak of such trifles publicly, if the impudence of this “sketcher” had not forced me to a refutation of a disingenuous and gratuitously impertinent assertion ;-—so meant to be, for what could it import to the reader to be told that the author" had repeatedly declined an introduction,” even had it been true, which, for the reasons I have above given, is scarcely possible ? Except Lords Lansdowne, Jersey, and Lauderdale; Messrs. Scott, Hammond, Sir Humphrey Davy, the late M. Lewis, W. Bankes, Mr. Hoppner, Thomas Moore, Lord Kinnaird, his brother, Mr Joy, and Mr Hobhouse, I do not recollect to have exchanged a word with another Englishman since I left their country; and almost all these I had known before. The others and God knows there were some hundreds —who bored me with letters or visits, I refused to have any communication with, and shall be proud and happy when that wish becomes mutual.
AN HISTORICAL TRAGEDY.
TO THE ILLUSTRIOUS GETHE,
WHO HAS CREATED
THR UNWORTHY PRODUCTION