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Donatello's colossal marble-headed wooded horse of Troy, stared at from the other end by the two dog-faced Egyptian women in basalt placed there by Belzoni.
Late in the drowsy summer afternoons I should have the Court of the University all to myself and might study unmolested the blazons of the noble youth who have attended the school in different centuries ever since 1200, and have left their escutcheons on the walls to commemorate them. At the foot of the stairway ascending to the schools from the court is the statue of the learned lady who was once a professor in the University, and who, if her likeness belie not her looks, must have given a great charm to student life in other times. At present there are no lady professors at Padua, any more than at Harvard ; and during late years the schools have suffered greatly from the interference of the Austrian government, which frequently closed them for months, on account of political demonstrations among the students. But now there is an end of this and many other stupid oppressions ; and the time honoured University will doubtless regain its ancient importance. Even in 1864 it had nearly fifteen hundred students, and one met them everywhere under the arcades, and could not well mistake them, with that blended air of pirate and dandy, which these studious young men loved to assume. They were to be seen a good deal on the promenades outside the walls, where the Paduan ladies are driven in their carriages in the afternoon, and where one sees the blood-horses and fine equipages, for which Padua is famous. There used once to be races in the Prato della Valle, after the Italian notion of horse-races; but these are now discontinued, and there is nothing to be found there but the statues of scholars and soldiers and statesmen, posted in a circle around the old race-course. If
If you strolled thither about dusk on such a day as this, you might see the statues unbend a little from their stony rigidity, and in the failing light nod to each other very pleasantly through the trees. And if you stayed in Padua over night, what could be better to-morrow morning than a stroll through the great Botanical Garden—the oldest botanical garden in the world—the garden which first received in Europe the strange and splendid growths of the western hemisphere.
The day that we first visited the city was very rainy, and we spent most of the time in viewing the churches. These, even after the churches of Venice, one finds rich in art and historic interest, and they in no instance fall into the maniacal excesses of the Renaissance to which some of the temples of the latter city abandon themselves. Their architecture forms a sort of border-land between the Byzantine of Venice and the Lombardic of Verona. The superb domes of St. Anthony's emulate those of St. Mark's, and the porticoes of other Paduan churches rest upon the backs of bird-headed lions and leopards that fascinate with their mystery and beauty.
It was the wish to see the attributive Giottos in the Chapter which drew us first to St. Anthony's, and we saw them with the satisfaction naturally attending the contemplation of frescoes discovered only since 1858, after having been hidden under plaster and whitewash for many centuries ; but we could not believe that Giotto's fame was destined to gain much by their rescue from oblivion. They are in no wise to be compared with this master's frescoes in the Chapel of the Annunziata, -which, indeed, is in every way a place of wonder and delight. You reach it by passing through a garden lane bordered with roses, and a taciturn gardener comes out with clinking keys, and lets you into the chapel, where there is nobody but Giotto and Dante, nor seems to have been for ages. Cool it is, and of a pulverous smell, as a sacred place should be; a blessed benching goes round the wall, and you sit down and take unlimited comfort in the frescoes. The gardener leaves you alone to the solitude and the silence, in which the talk of the painter and the exile is plain enough. Their contemporaries and yours are cordial in their gay companionship; through the half-open door falls, in a pause of the rain, the same sunshine that they saw lie there; the deathless birds that they heard sing out in the garden trees; it is the fresh sweetness of the grass mown six hundred years ago that breathes through all the lovely garden grounds.
How mistaken was Ponce de Leon, to seek the fountain of youth in the New World ! It is there, in the Old World,-far back in the past. We are all old men and decrepit together in the present; the future is full of death ; in the past we are light and glad as boys turned barefoot in the spring. The work of the heroes is play to us; the pang of the martyr is a thrill of rapture; the exile's longing is a strain of plaintive music touching and delighting us. We are not only young again, we are immortal. It is this divine sense of superiority to fate which is the supreme good won from travel in historic lands, and from the presence of memorable things, and which no sublimity of natural aspects can bestow. It is this which forms the wide difference between Europe and America,—a gulf that it will take a thousand years to bridge.
It is a shame that the immortals should be limited in their pleasures by the fact that they have hired their brougham by the hour; yet we early quit the Chapel of Giotto on this account. We had chosen our driver from among many other drivers of broughams in the vicinity of Pedrocchi's, because he had such
an honest look, and was not likely, we thought, to deal unfairly with us.
“But first," said the signor who had selected him, “how much is your brougham an hour ?”
So and so.
The tariff appears, and with it the fact that he had demanded just what the boatman of the ballad received in gift,—thrice his fee.
The driver mounted his seat, and served us so faithfully that day in Padua that we took him the next day for Arquà. At the end, when he had received his due, and a handsome mancia besides, he was still unsatisfied, and referred to the tariff in proof that he had been under-paid. On that confronted and defeated, he thanked us very cordially, gave us the number of his brougham, and begged us to ask for him when we came next to Padua and needed a carriage.
From the Chapel of the Annunziata he drove us to the Church of Santa Giustina, where is a very famous and noble picture by Romanino. But as this paper has nothing in the world to do with art, I here dismiss that subject, and with a gross and idle delight follow the sacristan down under this church to the prison of Santa Giustina.
Of all the faculties of the mind, there is none so little fatiguing to exercise as mere wonder; and, for my own sake, I try always to wonder at things without the least critical reservation. I therefore, in the sense of deglutition, bolted this prison at once, though subsequent experiences led me to look with grave indigestion upon the whole idea of prisons, their authenticity, and even their existence.
As far as mere dimensions are concerned, the prison of Santa Giustina was not a hard one to swallow, being only three feet wide by about ten feet in length. In this limited space, Santa Giustina passed five years of the paternal reign of Nero (a virtuous and a long-suffering prince, whom, singularly enough, no historic artist has yet arisen to whitewash), and was then brought out into the larger cell adjoining, to suffer a blessed martyrdom. I am not sure now whether the sacristan said she was dashed to death on the stones, or cut to pieces with knives; but, whatever the form of martyrdom, an iron ring in the ceiling was employed in it, as I know from seeing the ring, -a curiously well-preserved piece of ironmongery. Within the narrow prison of the saint, and just under the grating, through which the sacristan thrust his candle to illuminate it, was a mountain of candle-drippings,-a monument to the fact that faith still largely exists in this doubting world. My own credulity, not only with regard to this prison, but also touching the coffin of St. Luke, which I saw in the church, had so wrought upon the esteem of the sacristan, that he now took me to a well, into which, he said, had been cast the bones of three thousand Christian martyrs. He lowered a lantern into the well, and assured me that, if I looked through a certain screenwork there, I could see the bones. On experiment, I could not see the bones; but this circumstance did not cause me to doubt their presence, particularly as I did see upon the screen a great number of coins offered for the repose of the martyrs' souls. I threw down some soldi, and thus enthralled the sacristan.
If the signor cared to see prisons, he said, the driver must take him to those of Ecelino, at present the property of a private gentleman near by. As I had just bought a history of Ecelino, at a great bargain, from a second-hand book-stall, and had a lively interest in all the enormities of that nobleman, I sped the driver instantly to the villa of the Signor Pacchiarotti.
It depends here altogether upon the freshness or mustiness of the reader's historical reading whether he cares to be reminded more particularly who Ecelino was. He flourished balefully in the early half of the thirteenth century as lord of Vicenza, Verona, Padua, and Brescia, and was defeated and hurt to death in an attempt to possess himself of Milan. He was in every respect a remarkable man for that time,-fearless, abstemious, continent, avaricious, hardy, and unspeakably ambitious and cruel. He survived and suppressed innumerable conspiracies, escaping even the thrust of the assassin whom the fame of his enorinous wickedness had caused the Old Man of the Mountain to send against him. As lord of Padua he was more incredibly severe and bloody in his rule than as lord of the other cities, for the Paduans had been latest free, and conspired most frequently against him. He extirpated whole families on suspicion that a single member had been concerned in a meditated revolt. Little children and helpless women suffered hideous mutilation and shame at his hands. Six prisons in Padua were constantly filled by his arrests. The whole country was traversed by witnesses of his cruelties, ---men and women deprived of an arm or leg, and begging from door to door. He had long been excommunicated; at last the Church proclaimed a crusade against him, and his lieutenant and nephew-more demoniacal, if possible, than himself—was driven out of Padua, while he was operating against Mantua. Ecelino retired to Verona, and maintained a struggle against the crusade for nearly two years longer, with a courage which never failed him. Wounded and taken prisoner, the soldiers of the victorious army gathered about him, and heaped insult and reproach upon him; and one furious peasant, whose brother's feet had been cut off by Ecelino's command, dealt the helpless monster four blows upon the head with a scythe. By some, Ecelino is said to have died of these wounds alone; but by others it is related that his death was a kind of suicide, inasmuch as he himself put the case past surgery by tearing off the bandages from his hurts, and refusing all medicines.
Entering at the enchanted portal of the Villa P-, we found ourselves in a realm of wonder. It was our misfortune not to see the magician who compelled all the marvels on which we looked, but for that very reason, perhaps, we have the clearest sense of his greatness. Everywhere we beheld the evidences of his ingenious but lugubrious fancy, which everywhere tended to a monumental and mortuary effect. A sort of vestibule first received us, and beyond this dripped and glimmered the garden, The walls of the vestibule were covered with inscriptions setting forth the sentiments of the philosophy and piety of all ages concerning life and death ; we began with Confucius, and we ended with Benjamino Franklino. But as if these ideas of mortality were not sufficiently depressing, the funereal Signor P- had collected into earthen amphorce the ashes of the most famous men of ancient and modern times, and arranged them so that a sense of their number and variety should at once strike his visitor. Each jar was conspicuously labelled with the name its illustrious dust had borne in life; and if one escaped with comparative cheerfulness from the thought that Seneca had died, there were in the very next pot the cinders of Napoleon to bully him back to a sense of his mortality.
We were glad to have the gloomy fascination of these objects broken by the custodian, who approached to ask if we wished to see the prisons of Ecelino, and we willingly followed him into the rain out of our sepulchral shelter.
Between the vestibule and the towers of the tyrant lay that garden already mentioned, and our guide led us through ranks of weeping statuary, and rainy bowers, and showery lanes of shrubbery, until we reached the door of his cottage. While he entered to fetch the key to the prisons, we noted that the towers were freshly painted and in perfect repair; and indeed the custodian said frankly enough, on reappearing, that they were merely built over the prisons on the site of the original towers. The storied stream of the Bacchiglione sweeps through the grounds, and now, swollen by the rainfall, it roared, a yellow torrent, under a corner of the prisons. The towers rise from