Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/515

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CANTO IV.]
471
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

The love of music and of poetry distinguishes all classes of Venetians, even amongst the tuneful sons of Italy. The city itself can occasionally furnish respectable audiences for two and even three opera-houses at a time; and there are few events in private life that do not call forth a printed and circulated sonnet. Does a physician or a layer take his degree, or a clergyman preach his maiden sermon, has a surgeon performed an operation, would a harlequin announce his departure or his benefit, are you to be congratulated on a marriage, or a birth, or a lawsuit, the Muses are invoked to furnish the same number of syllables, and the individual triumphs blaze abroad in virgin white or party-coloured placards on half the corners of the capital. The last curtsy of a favourite "prima donna" brings down a shower of these poetical tributes from those upper regions, from which, in our theatres, nothing but cupids and snowstorms are accustomed to descend. There is a poetry in the very life of a Venetian, which, in its common course, is varied with those surprises and changes so recommendable in fiction, but so different from the sober monotony of northern existence; amusements are raised into duties, duties are softened into amusements, and every object being considered as equally making a part of the business of life, is announced and performed with the same earnest indifference and gay assiduity. The Venetian gazette constantly closes its columns with the following triple advertisement:—

Charade.

Exposition of the most Holy Sacrament in the church of St. ——


Theatres.

St. Moses, opera.
St. Benedict, a comedy of characters.
St. Luke, repose.

When it is recollected what the Catholics believe their consecrated wafer to be, we may perhaps think it worthy of a more respectable niche than between poetry and the playhouse.


3.

St. Mark yet sees his Lion where he stood
Stand.

Stanza xi. line 5.

The Lion has lost nothing by his journey to the Invalides, but the gospel which supported the paw that is now on a