Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/509

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NOTES

TO

CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.

CANTO IV.

1.

I stood in Venice, on the "Bridge of Sighs;"
A Palace and a prison on each hand.

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 the 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 cell 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, half choked by rubbish, to the depth of two stories below the first range. If 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