Everything that an architect can need to know—and more—may be learned in this courtyard, which would be yet more wonderful if it had not its two brick walls. Many styles meet and mingle here: Gothic and Renaissance, stately and fanciful, sombre and gay. Every capital is different. Round arches are here and pointed; invented patterns and marble with symmetrical natural veining which is perhaps more beautiful. Every inch has been thought out and worked upon with devotion and the highest technical skill; and the antiseptic air of Venice and cleansing sun have preserved its details as though it were under glass.
In the walls beneath the arcade on the Piazzetta side may be seen various ancient letter-boxes for the reception of those accusations against citizens, usually anonymous, in which the Venetians seem ever to have rejoiced. One is for charges of evading taxation, another for those who adulterate bread, and so forth.
[Illustration: S. TRIFONIO AND THE BASILISK FROM THE PAINTING BY CARPACCIO At S. Giorgio dei Schiavoni]
The upper gallery running round the courtyard has been converted into a Venetian—almost an Italian—Valhalla. Here are busts of the greatest men, and of one woman, Catherine Cornaro, who gave Cyprus to the Republic and whom Titian painted. Among the first busts that I noted—ascending the stairs close to the Porta della Carta—was that of Ugo Foscolo, the poet, patriot, and miscellaneous writer, who spent the last years of his life in London and became a contributor to English periodicals. One of his most popular works in Italy was his translation of Sterne’s Sentimental Journey. He died at Turnham Green in 1827, but his remains, many years after, were moved to Santa Croce in Florence. Others are Carlo Zeno, the soldier; Goldoni, the dramatist; Paolo Sarpi, the monkish diplomatist; Galileo Galilei, the astronomer and mathematician; the two Cabots, the explorers, and Marco Polo, their predecessor; Niccolo Tommaseo, the patriot and associate of Daniele Manin, looking very like a blend of Walt Whitman and Tennyson; Dante; a small selection of Doges, of whom the great Andrea Dandolo is the most striking; Tintoretto, Giovanni Bellini, Titian, and Paul Veronese; Tiepolo, a big-faced man in a wig whom the inscription credits with having “renewed the glory” of the two last named; Canova, the sculptor; Daniele Manin, rather like John Bright; Lazzaro Mocenigo, commander in chief of the Venetian forces, rather like Buffalo Bill; and flanking the entrance to the palace Vittorio Pisani and Carlo Zeno, the two patriots and warriors who together saved the Republic in the Chioggian war with the Genoese in the fourteenth century.
This collection of great men makes no effort to be complete, but it is rather surprising not to find such very loyal sons of Venice as Canaletto, Guardi and Longhi among the artists, and Giorgione is of course a grievous omission.