A Wanderer in Venice eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 371 pages of information about A Wanderer in Venice.

All went fairly quietly in Venice until 1847, when, shortly after the fall of the Orleans dynasty in France, Daniele Manin, now an eloquent and burningly patriotic lawyer, dared to petition the Austrian Emperor for justice to the nation whom he had conquered, and as a reply was imprisoned for high treason, together with Niccolo Tommaseo.  In 1848, on March 17, the city rose in revolt, the prison was forced, and Manin not only was released but proclaimed President of the Venetian Republic.  He was now forty-four, and in the year of struggle that followed proved himself both a great administrator and a great soldier.

He did all that was humanly possible against the Austrians, but events were too much for him; bigger battalions, combined with famine and cholera, broke the Venetian defence; and in 1849 Austria again ruled the province.  All Italy had been similarly in revolt, but her time was not yet.  The Austrians continued to rule until Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel built up the United Italy which we now know.  Manin, however, did not live to see that.  Forbidden even to return to Venice again, he retired to Paris a poor and broken man, and there died in 1854.

The myriad Austrians who are projected into Venice every day during the summer by excursion steamers from Trieste rarely, I imagine, get so far as the Campo dominated by Manin’s exuberant statue with the great winged lion, and therefore do not see this fine fellow who lived to preserve his country from them.  Nor do they as a rule visit that side of S. Mark’s where his tomb stands.  But they can hardly fail to see the monument to Victor Emmanuel on the Riva—­with the lion which they had wounded so grievously, symbolizing Italy under the enemy, on the one side, and the same animal all alert and confident, on the other, flushed with the assurance which 1866 brought, and the sturdy king riding forth to victory above.  This they cannot well help seeing.

The little piazzetta on the north side of S. Mark’s has a famous well, with two porphyry lions beside it on which small Venetians love to straddle.  A bathing-place for pigeons is here too, and I have counted twenty-seven in it at once.  Here one day I found an artist at work on the head of an old man—­a cunning old rascal with short-cropped grey hair, a wrinkled face packed with craft, and a big pipe.  The artist, a tall, bearded man, was painting with vigour, but without, so far as I could discern, any model; and yet it was obviously a portrait on which he was engaged and no work of invention.  After joining the crowd before the easel for a minute or so, I was passing on when a figure emerged from a cool corner where he had been resting and held out his hand.  He was a cunning old rascal with short-cropped grey hair, a wrinkled face packed with craft, and a big pipe; and after a moment’s perplexity I recognized him as the model.  He pointed to himself and nodded to the picture and again proffered his open palm.  Such money as I have

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A Wanderer in Venice from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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