St Mark's, Venice II

By William Morris

I note with great pleasure the remarks your Italian Correspondent quotes as expressing the opinions of the Ministry of Public Instruction in Italy, but the answer to their retort on our newly-acquired tenderness for their gloriousmonument is as simple as that retort is natural and reasonable. It is that 15 years ago we had but little tenderness for our own buildings, nor do I think in the long run they will feel aggrieved at our eagerness to save them from some of the same loss that we ourselves have suffered: perhaps they scarcely know with what pleasure some of us would hail their interference with our affairs of a like kind here. Meantime, Sir, I beg to appeal, through your columns, most earnestly to those Italian gentlemen, mentioned by your correspondent, and whose names will surely be always honoured by all lovers of art, to do their utmost to induce the authorities to forbid for the future all meddling with the matchless mosaics and inlaid works which are the crown of the glories of St. Mark's. The news that the so-called restoration of the lovely pavement, now unhappily once again progressing, has been stopped by the authorities would do more than anything else to allay our fears, and would make many of us who at present dread that we shall never dare to see Venice again look forward with redoubled pleasure to our next visit to the most romantic of cities.

Letter to the Times, 24 November 1879.

The reference to this piece of work in the Chronology