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as two precautions are taken to prevent such an accident ; one of which seems calculated to quiet the minds of believers, and the other to give confidence to the most incredulous. The first is used by the patriarch, who, as soon as the vessel is afloat, takes care to pour into the sea some holy water, which is believed to have the virtue of preventing or allaying storms. The second is intrusted to the admiral, who has the discretionary power of postponing the marriage ceremony, when the bride seems in the smallest degree boisterous. One of the vir- , tues of the holy water, that of allaying storms, is by this means rendered superfluous.
But when the weather is quite favourable, the ceremony is performed every ascension day. The solemnity is announced in the morning by the ringing of bells and firing of cannon. About mid-day the doge, attended by a numerous party of the senate and clergy, goes on board the Bucentaur : the vessel is rowed a little way into the sea, accompanied by the splendid yachts of the foreign ambassadors, the gondolas of the Venetian nobility, and an incredible number of barks and galleys of every kind. Hymns are sung, and a band of music performs, while the Bucentaur and her attendants slowly move towards St. Lido, a small island, two miles from Venice. Prayers are then said: after which the doge drops a ring, of no great value, into the sea, pronouncing these words--Desponsamus te, Mare, in signum veri perpetuique dominii. The sea, like a modest bride, assents by her silence, and
, the marriage is deemed valid and secure to all intents and purposes,
Certain it is, the time has been, when the doge had entire possession of, and dominion over, his spouse ; but,
, for a considerable time past, her favours have been shared by several other lovers ; or, according to that violent me, taphor of Otway's,
Their great duke shrinks, trembling in his palace,
After viewing every thing in the arsenal, the archduke and duchess, with all the company, were invited on board some boats which had been prepared for their reception, They were directly rowed to that part of the lake from whence there was the most advantageous view of Venice, a band of music performing all the time ; while the sailors, in two or three small boats, were employed in fishing oysters, which they opened and presented to the company.
The amusements of this day had all the advantage of novelty to render them agreeable to strangers, and every additional pleasure which the attentive and polite behaviour of the Venetian nobility could give.
As this is not the time of any of the public solemnities which draw strangers to Venice, it is fortunate that we happen to be here with the archduke and duchess. The great respect which this state is anxious of shewing the imperial family, has brought many of the nobility to Ve. nice, who would otherwise have been at their country seats on the continent, and has also given us opportunities of seeing some things to more advantage than we could otherwise have done.
I had the honour of attending their highnesses when they went to visit the island of Murano. This is about a mile from Venice, was formerly a very flourishing place, and still boasts some palaces which bear the marks of for, mer magnificence, though now in a state of decay. The island is said to contain 20,000 inhabitants. The great manufactories of looking-glasses are the only inducements which strangers have to visit this place. I saw one very fine plate, for a mirror, made in the presence of the arch, duke in a few minutes : though not so large as some I have seen of the Paris manufactory, yet it was much lar, ger than I could have thought it in the power of humaş
lungs to blow. Instead of being cast, as in France and England, the Murano mirrors are all blown in the manner of bottles. It is astonishing to see with what dexterity the workman wields a long hollow cylinder of melted glass, at the end of an iron tube, which, when he has extended as much as possible, by blowing, and every other means his art suggests, he slits with a sharp instrument, removing the two extremities from each other, and folding back the sides: the cylinder now appears a large sheet of glass, which being once more introduced into the furnace, is brought out a clear, finished plate.
This manufactory formerly served all Europe with looking-glasses ; the quantity made here is still considerable ; for although France and England, and some other countries, make their own mirrors, yet, by the natural progress of luxury, those countries which still get their mirrors and other things from Murano, use a much greater quantity now than formerly ; so that on the supposition that the Murano manufacturers have lost three-fourths of their customers, they may still retain half as much trade as they ever had. It is surprising that, instead of blowing, they do not adopt the method of casting, which I should think a much easier process, and by which larger plates may be made. Besides mirrors, an infinite quantity of glass trinkets (margaritini as they are called) of all shapes and colours are made here, Women of the inferior ranks wear them as ornaments, and as rosaries; they also mould this substance into many various whimsical forms, by way of ornamental furniture to houses and churches. In short, there are glass baubles enough made here to bribe into slavery half the inhabitants of the coast of Guinea.
Since the departure of the archduke and duchess, the duke of Hamilton has passed his time mostly in the houses of the foreign ambassadors, the best resource here, next to the theatres, for strangers.
We were lately at a conversazione at the Spanish ambassador's ; it might have passed for a pantomime entertainment. The ambassador, his lady, and daughters,
speak no language but Spanish ; and unfortunately this was understood by none of the company but the duke of Berwick's son. Hearing that Mr. Montague resided at Venice, the duke of Hamilton has had the curiosity to wait on that extraordinary man. He met his grace at the stair-head, and led us through some apartments, furnished in the Venetian manner, into an inner room in quite a different style. There were no chairs, but he desired us to seat ourselves on a sopha, whilst he placed himself on a cushion on the floor, with his legs crossed in the Turkish fashion. A young black slave sat by him, and a venerable old man, with a long beard, served us with coffee.
After this collation some aromatic gums were brought, and burnt in a little silver vessel. Mr. Montague held his nose over the steam for some minutes, and snuffed up the perfume with peculiar satisfaction; he afterwards endeavoured to collect the smoke with his hands, spreading and rubbing it carefully along his beard, which hung in hoary ringlets to his girdle. This manner of perfuming the beard seems more cleanly, and rather an improve. ment upon that used by the Jews in ancient times, as described in the psalms translated by Sternhold and Hopkins.
'Tis like the precious ointment, that
Of his rich garments spread.
Like precious ointment on the head
Did of his garments go. Which of these versions is preferable, I leave to the critics in Hebrew and English poesy to determine. I hope, for the sake of David's reputation as a poet, that neither have retained all the spirit of the original. We had a great deal of conversation with this venerable looking person, who is, to the last degree, acute, communicative, and en
tertaining, and in whose discourse and manners are blended the vivacity of a Frenchman with the gravity of a Turk. We found him, however, wonderfully prejudiced
. in favour of the Turkish characters and manners, which he thinks infinitely preferable to the European, or those of any other nation.
He describes the Turks in general as a people of great sense and integrity, the most hospitable, generous, and the happiest of mankind. He talks of returning, as soon as possible, to Egypt, which he paints as a perfect paradise; and thinks that, had it not been otherwise ordered for wise purposes, of which it does not become us to judge, the children of Israel would certainly have chosen to remain where they were, and have endeavoured to drive the Egyptians to the land of Canaan.
Though Mr. Montague hardly ever stirs abroad, he returned the duke's visit ; and as we were not provided with cushions, he sat, while he staid, upon a sopha, with his legs under him, as he had done at his own house. This posture, by long habit, is now become the most agreeable to him, and he insists on its being by far the most natural and convenient; but, indeed, he seems to cherish the same opinion with regard to all the customs which prevail among the Turks. I could not help mentioning one, which I suspected would be thought both unnatural and inconvenient by at least one-half of the human race; thåt of the men being allowed to engross as many women as they can maintain, and confining them to the most insipid of all lives, within their harams. No doubt, replied he,' the women are all enemies to polygamy and concubinage; and there is reason to imagine, that this aversion of theirs, joined to the great influence they have in all Christian countries, has prevented Mahometanism from making any progress in Europe. The Turkish men, on the other hand,' continued he, have an aversion to Christianity, equal to that which the Christian women have to the religion of Mahomet : auricular confession is perfectly horrible to their imagination. No