Of all the chapters of history, there are few more interesting
or wonderful than that which tells the story of the rise and
progress of Venice. Built upon a few sandy islands in a shallow
lagoon, and originally founded by fugitives from the mainland,
Venice became one of the greatest and most respected powers of
Europe. She was mistress of the sea; conquered and ruled over a
considerable territory bordering on the Adriatic; checked the
rising power of the Turks; conquered Constantinople; successfully
defied all the attacks of her jealous rivals to shake her power;
and carried on a trade relatively as great as that of England in
the present day. I have laid my story in the time not of the
triumphs of Venice, but of her hardest struggle for existence--when
she defended herself successfully against the coalition of Hungary,
Padua, and Genoa--for never at any time were the virtues of Venice,
her steadfastness, her patriotism, and her willingness to make all
sacrifice for her independence, more brilliantly shown. The
historical portion of the story is drawn from Hazlitt's History of
the Republic of Venice, and with it I have woven the adventures of
an English boy, endowed with a full share of that energy and pluck
which, more than any other qualities, have made the British empire
the greatest the world has ever seen.
G. A. Henty.
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