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Turk, of any delicacy, would ever allow his wife, particularly if he had but one, to hold private conference with a man, on any pretext whatever.'
I took notice, that this aversion to auricular confession, could not be a reason for the Turk's lislike to the Protest ant religion: That is true,' said he, but you have on ther tenets in common with the Catholics, which renders your religion as odious as theirs. You forbid polygamy and concubinage, which, in the eyes of the Turks, who obey the dictates of the religion they embrace, is considered as an intolerable hardship. Besides, the idea which your religion gives of heaven, is by no means to their taste. If they believed your account, they would think it the most tiresome and comfortless place in the universe, and not one Turk among a thousand would go to the Chris. tian heaven if he had it in his choice. Lastly, the Christian religion considers women, as creatures upon a level with men, and equally entitled to every enjoyment, both here and hereafter. When the Turks are told this,' added he, “ they are not surprised at being informed also, that women, in general, are better Christians than men ; but they are perfectly astonished that an opinion, which they think so contrary to common sense, should subsist among the rational, that is to say, the male part of Christians. It is impossible,' added Mr. Montague, 'to drive it out of the head of a Mussulman, that women are creatures of a subordinate species, created merely to comfort and amuse men during their journey through this vain world, but by no means worthy of accompanying believers to paradise, where females, of a nature far superior to women, wait with impatience to receive all pious Mussulmen into their arms.
It is needless to relate to you any more of our conversation. A lady, to whom I was giving an account of it the day on which it happened, could with difficulty allow me to proceed thus far in my narrative; but, interrupting me with impatience, she said, she was surprised I could repeat all the nonsensical, detestable, impious maxims of those odious Mahometans; and she thought Mr. Montague should be sent back to Egypt, with his long beard, and not be allowed to propagate opinions, the bare mention of which, however reasonable they might appear to Turks, ought not to be tolerated in any Christian land.
Venice. The view of Venice, sat some little distance from the town, is mentioned by many travellers in terms of the highest admiration. I had been so often forewarned of the amazement with which I should be struck at first sight of this city, that when I actually did see it, I felt little or no amazement at all. You will behold, said those anticipators, a magnificent town, or more frequently, to make the deeper impression, they gave it in detail-You will behold, said they, magnificent palaces, churches, towers, and steeples, all standing in the middle of the sea. Well; this, unquestionably, is an uncommon scene ; and there is no manner of doubt that a town, surrounded by water, is a very fine sight; but all the travellers that have existed since the days of Cain, will not convince me, that a town, surrounded by land, is not a much finer. Can there be any comparison, in point of beauty, between the dull monotony of a watery surface, and the delightful variety of gardens, meadows, hills, and woods ?
If the situation of Venice renders it less agreeable than another city, to behold at a distance, it must render it, in a much stronger degree, less agreeable to inhabit. For you will please to recollect, that, instead of walking or riding in the fields, and enjoying the fragrance of herbs, and the melody of birds; when you wish to take the air here, you must submit to be paddled about, from morning to night, in a narrow boat, along dirty canals; or, if you do not like this, you have one resource more, which is, that of walking in St. Mark's Place.
These are the disadvantages which Venice labours under, with regard to situation ; but it has other peculiarities, which, in the opinion of many; overbalance them, and render it, on the whole, an agreeable town.
Venice is said to be built in the sea ; that is, it is built in the midst of shallows, which stretch some miles frorn the shore, at the bottom of the Adriatic Gulf. Though those shallows, being now all covered with water, have the appearance of one great lake, yet they are called Laguna, or lakes, because formerly, as it is imagined, there were several. On sailing on the Laguna, and looking to the bottom, many large hollows are to be seen, which, at some former period, have, very possibly, been distinct lakes, though now, being all covered with a common surface of water, they form one large lake, of unequal depth. The intervals between those hollows, it is supposed, were little islands, and are now shallows, which, at ebb, are all within reach of a pole.
When you approach the city, you come along a liquid road, marked by rows of stakes on each side, which direct vessels, of a certain burden, to avoid the shallows, and keep in deeper water. These shallows are a better defence to the city than the strongest fortifications. On the approach of an enemy's fleet, the Venetians have only to pull up their stakes, and the enemy can advance no farther. They are equally beyond the insult of a land army, even in the midst of winter; for the flux and reflux of the sea, and the mildness of the climate, prevent such a strength of ice as could admit the approach of an army that way.
The lake in which Venice stands, is a kind of small inner gulf, separated from the large one by some islands, at a few miles distance. These islands, in a great measure, break the force of the Adriatic storms, before they reach the Laguna; yet, in very high winds, the navigation of the lake is dangerous to gondolas, and sometimes the gondoleers do not trust themselves, even on the canals within the city. This is not so great an inconveniency to
the inhabitants as you may imagine ; because most of the houses have one door opening upon a canal, and another communicating with the street; by means of which, and of the bridges, you can go to almost any part of the town by land, as well as by water.
The number of inhabitants are computed at about 150,000; the streets, in general, are narrow; so are the canals, except the grand canal ; which is very broad, and has a serpentine course through the middle of the city. They tell you, there are several hundred bridges in Venice. What pass under this name, however, are single arches thrown over the canals ; most of them paltry enough.
The Rialto consists also of a single arch, but a very noble one, and of marble. It is built across the grand canal, near the middle, where it is narrowest. This celebrated arch is ninety feet wide on the level of the canal, and twenty-four feet high. Its beauty is impaired by two rows of booths, or shops, which are erected upon it, and divide its
surface into three narrow streets. The view from the Rialto is equally lively and magnificent ; the objects under your eye are the grand canal, covered with boats and gondolas, and flanked on each side with magnificent palaces, churches, and spires; but this fine prospect is almost the only one in Venice ; for, except the Grand Canal, and the Canal Regio, all the others are narrow and mean ; some of them have no keys; the water literally washes the walls of the houses. When you sail along those wretched canals, you have no one agreeable object to cheer the sight; and the smell is overwhelmed with the stench which, at certain seasons, exhales from the water.
As the only agreeable view in Venice is from the grand canal, so the only place where you can walk with ease and safety, is in the piazza di St. Marco. This is a kind of irregular quadrangle, formed by a number of buildings, all singular in their kind, and very different from each other.
The ducal palace-the church of St. Mark--that of St. Giminiano-a noble range of buildings, called Procuratie, the new and the old, in which are the museum, the public library, and nine large apartments belonging to the procurators of St. Mark; all these buildings are of marble. There is an opening from St. Mark's Place to the sea, on which stand two lofty pillars of granite. Criminals condemned to suffer death publicly, are executed between these pillars; on the top of one of them is a lion, with wings, and on the other a saint-without wings;there is, however, a large crocodile at his feet, which, I presume, belongs to him. At one corner of St. Mark's church, contiguous to the palace, are two statues of Adam and Eve ; they have neither wings nor crocodile, nor any kind of attendant, not even their old acquaintance the serpent.
At the corner of the new Procuratie, a little distant from the church, stands the steeple of St. Mark. This is a quadrangular tower, about three hundred feet in height. I am told it is not uncommon in Italy for the church and steeple to be in this state of disunion ; this shocked a clergyman of my acquaintance very much; he mentioned it to me, many years ago, amongst the errors and absurdities of the church of Rome. The gentleman was clearly of opinion, that church and steeple ought to be inseparable as man and wife, and that every church ought to consider its steeple as mortar of its mortar, and stone of its stone. An old captain of a ship, who was present, declared himself of the same way of thinking; and swore that a church divorced from its steeple, appeared to him as ridiculous as a ship without a mast.
A few paces from the church are three tall poles, on which ensigns and flags are hung on days of public rejoicing. These standards are in memory of the three kingdoms, Cyprus, Candia, and Negropont, which once belong