William H. Seward's Travels around the World

By Olive Risley Seward; William Henry Seward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
ITALY.

Venice.--American Knights Templars.--Florence.--Attractiveness of the City.--Rome.

--The Coliseum.--Cardinal Antonelli and the Pope.--Interview with the Pope.-- The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs.--The Schools of Art.--Naples.--Vesuvius.

Early Civilization on the Mediterranean Coast.-- Naples, the Newport of the Roman Empire.--Genoa.--Susa.--Prospects of Italy.

Venice, July 25th.--We expected to find Venice in a dilapidated and sinking condition. On the contrary, while a large number of its palaces and wharves are empty and idle, there is at present a pervading air of activity and cheerfulness. What can be the cause of this? Venice has become, in its decline, a resort for the studious, the contemplative, and the pleasure-seeking classes throughout all Europe. It is, indeed, a watering-place like Newport, and we happen to be here in the fashionable season. We were startled this morning by a request of the good keeper of our hotel, that we would set our dinner-hour for the day at either five or seven o'clock, because at six he was to furnish a feast to "fifty Knights Templars in full regalia!"

We thought we had read history in vain. We had supposed that ancient and chivalrous order, driven from the East by the Saracens, had been extirpated five hundred years ago throughout Europe. We thought--

"The knights' bones are dust,
Their good swords rust,
Their souls are with the saints, we trust."

-724-

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