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A Golden Book of Venice   By: (-1927)

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THE GOLDEN BOOK OF VENICE

A Historical Romance of the 16th Century

By

MRS. LAWRENCE TURNBULL

'This noble citie doth in a manner chalenge this at my hands, that I should describe her ... the fairest Lady, yet the richest Paragon, and Queene of Christendome.'

1900

AS A TRIBUTE TO HIS GIFT OF VIVID HISTORIC NARRATION WHICH WAS THE DELIGHT OF MY CHILDHOOD, I INSCRIBE THIS ROMANCE TO THE MEMORY OF MY DEAR FATHER.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

I desire gratefully to acknowledge my indebtedness to many faithful, loving and able students of Venetian lore, without whose books my own presentation of Venice in the sixteenth century would have been impossible. Mr. Ruskin's name must always come first among the prophets of this City of the Sea, but among others from whom I have gathered side lights I have found quite indispensable Mr. Horatio F. Brown's "Venice; An Historical Sketch of the Republic," "Venetian Studies," and "Life on the Lagoons"; Mr. Hare's suggestive little volume of "Venice"; M. Léon Galibert's "Histoire de la République de Venise"; and Mr. Charles Yriarte's "Venice" and his work studied from the State papers in the Frari, entitled "La vie d'un Patricien de Venise."

Mr. Robertson's life of Fra Paolo Sarpi gave me the first hint of this great personality, but my own portrait has been carefully studied from the volumes of his collected works which later responded to my search; these were collected and preserved for the Venetian government under the title of "Opere di Fra Paolo Sarpi, Servita, Teologo e Consultore della Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia" and included his life, letters and "opinions," and all others of his writings which escaped destruction in the fire of the Servite Convent, as well as many important extracts from the original manuscripts so destroyed and which had been transcribed by order of the Doge, Marco Foscarini, a few years before.

FRANCESE LITCHFIELD TURNBULL.

La Paix, June , 1900.

PRELUDE

Venice, with her life and glory but a memory, is still the citta nobilissima , a city of moods, all beautiful to the beauty lover, all mystic to the dreamer; between the wonderful blue of the water and the sky she floats like a mirage visionary unreal and under the spell of her fascination we are not critics, but lovers. We see the pathos, not the scars of her desolation, and the splendor of her past is too much a part of her to be forgotten, though the gold is dim upon her palace fronts, and the sheen of her precious marbles has lost its bloom, and the colors of the laughing Giorgione have faded like his smile.

But the very soul of Venetia is always hovering near, ready to be invoked by those who confess her charm. When, under the glamor of her radiant skies the faded hues flash forth once more, there is no ruin nor decay, nor touch of conquering hand of man nor time, only a splendid city of dreams, waiting in silence as all visions wait until that invisible, haunting spirit has turned the legends of her power into actual activities.

THE GOLDEN BOOK OF VENICE

I

Sea and sky were one glory of warmth and color this sunny November morning in 1565, and there were signs of unusual activity in the Campo San Rocco before the great church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, which, if only brick without, was all glorious within, "in raiment of needlework" and "wrought gold." And outside, the delicate tracery of the cornice was like a border of embroidery upon the sombre surface; the sculptured marble doorway was of surpassing richness, and the airy grace of the campanile detached itself against the entrancing blue of the sky, as one of those points of beauty for which Venice is memorable.

Usually this small square, remote from the centres of traffic as from the homes of the nobility, seemed scarcely more than a landing place for the gondolas which were constantly bringing visitors and worshippers thither, as to a shrine; for this church was a sort of memorial abbey to the illustrious dead of Venice, her Doges, her generals, her artists, her heads of noble families, and the monuments were in keeping with all its sumptuous decorations, for the Frati Minori of the convent to which it belonged just across the narrow lane at the side of the church were both rich and generous, and many of its gifts and furnishings reflected the highest art to which modern Venice had attained... Continue reading book >>




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