There is no place assigned for it but the open street, because it could not (say they) have contained a baptized body, as there are proofs innumerable of its being fabricated many and many years before the birth of Jesus Christ: yet I never pass by without being hurt that it should have no better situation assigned it, till I recollect that the old Romans always buried people by the highway, which made the siste viator[Footnote: Stop traveller] proper for their tomb-stones, as Mr. Addison somewhere remarks; which are foolishly enough engraven upon ours: and till I consider too that the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Patriarch of Antioch, where Christians were first called such, would lie no nearer a Christian Church than old Antenor does, were they unfortunate enough to die, and be put under ground at Padua.
The shrine of St. Antonio is however sufficiently venerated; and the riches of his church really amazed me: such silver lamps! such votive offerings! such glorious sculpture! the bas relievos, representing his life and miracles, are beyond any thing we have yet seen; one compartment particularly, the workmanship, I think, of Sansovino, where an old woman is represented to a degree of finished nicety and curiosity of perfection which I knew not that marble could express.
The hall of justice, which they oppose to our Westminster-hall, but between which there is no resemblance, is two hundred and fifty-six feet long, and eighty-six broad; the form, of it a rhomboid: the walls richly ornamented by Pietro d’Abano, who originally designed, and began to paint the figures round the sides: they have however been retouched by Giotto, who added the signs of the Zodiac to Peter’s mysterious performances, which meant to explain the planetary influences, as he was a man deeply dipped in judicial astrology; and there is his own portrait among them, dressed like a Zoroastrian priest, with a planet in the corner. At the bottom of the hall hangs the famous crucifixion, for the purpose of doing which completely well, it is told that Giotto fastened up a real man, and justly incurred the Pope’s displeasure, who coming one day unawares to see his painter work, caught the unhappy wretch struggling in the closet, and threatened immediately to sign the artist’s death; who with Italian promptness ran to the picture, and daubed it over with his brush and colours;—by this method obliging his sovereign to delay execution till the work was repaired, which no one but himself could finish; mean time the man recovers of his wounds, and the tale ends, whether true or false, according to the hearer’s wish.
The debtor’s stone at the opposite end of the hall has likewise many entertaining stories annexed to it: the bankrupt is obliged to sit there in presence of his creditors and judges, in a very disgraceful state; and many accounts are told one, of the various effects such distresses have had on the mind: but suicide is a crime rarely committed out of England, and the Italians look with just horror on our people for being so easily incited to a sin, which takes from him that commits it all power and possibility of repentance.