« ForrigeFortsæt »
for the fruit is suffered to grow rancid before the juice is expressed.
You must perceive that I write at such opportunities as can be cauglit from my companions, for the room we sit in serves likewise for the bed-chamber. It is now Monday morning. Oh, the misery of the night! I have been so flead, that a painter would find me an excellent subject for the martyrdom of St Bartholomew. Jacob's pillow of stone was a down cushion, compared to that which bruised my head last night; and my bed had all possible varieties of hill and vale, in whose recesses the feas lay safe; for otherwise I should inevitably have broken their bones by rolling over them. Our apartment is indeed furnished with windows; and he who takes the trouble to examine, may convince himself that they have once been glazed. The night air is very cold, and I have only one solitary blanket; but it is a very pretty one, with red and yellow stripes. Add to this catalogue of comforts, that the cats were saying soft things in most vile Spanish ; and you may judge what refreshment I have received from sleep.
* At breakfast they brought us our tea on a plate by way of cannister, and some butter of the country, positively not godown-able. This however was followed by some excellent chocolate, and I soon established a plenam in my system.
* The monuments of Spanish jealousy still remain in the old houses ; and the balconies of them are fronted with a lattice more thickly barred, than ever was hencoop in England. But jealousy is out of fashion at present; and they tell me, an almost universal depravity of manners has succeeded. The men are a Jew-looking race; the little boys wear the monkey appendage of a tail, and I see infants with more feathers than a fantastic fine lady would wear at a ball. The women soon appear old, and then every feature settles into symmetry of ugliness. If ever Opie paints another witch, he ought to visit Corunna. All ideas that you can form by the help of blear eyes, mahogany complexion, and shrivelled parchment, must fall infinitely short of the life. VOL. IV.
• The carts here remind me of the ancient war-chariots, and the men stand in them as they drive. They are drawn by two oxen, and the wheels make a most melancholy and detestable discord. The governor of this town once ordered that they should be kept well oiled to prevent this; but the drivers presented a petition against it, stating, that the oxen liked the sound, and would not draw without it; and therefore the order was revoked.
A low wall is built all along the water-side to prevent smuggling. This town is admirably paved, but its filth is astonishing, when, with so little trouble, it might be kept clean. In order to keep the balconies dry, the water-spouts project very far: there are are no vents left in the wall, and the water and the filth lie in the middle of the streets, till the sun dries, and the winds sweep them. The market-place is very good; and its fountain ornamented with a fine squabfaced figure of Fame. The fountains are well contrived--the spouts are placed so high that no person can either dirt or deface them; and they therefore fill their vessel by the medium of a long tube, shaped like a tobacco pipe.'
After this our author proceeds ---- I am just returned from the Spanish comedy. The theatre is painted with a muddy light blue, and a dirty yellow, without gilding, or any kind of ornament. The boxes are engaged by the season : and subscribers only, with their friends, admitted to them, paying a pesetta each. In the pit are the men, seated as in a great arm'd chair; the lower class stand behind these seats: above are the women; for the sexes are separated, and so strictly, that an officer was broke at Madrid, for intruding into the female places. The boxes, of course, hold family parties. The centre box, over the entrance of the pit, is appointed for the magistrates; covered in the front with red stuff, and ornamented with the royal arms. The motto is a curious one, “Silencio y no fumar.---Silence and no smoaking." The comedy, of course, was very dull to one who could not understand it. I was told that it contained some wit, and more obscenity; but the only comprehensible joke to me, was
“Ah!" said in a loud voice by one man, and “Oh!" replied equally loud by another, to the great amusement of the audience. To this succeeded a comic opera ; the characters were represented by the most ill-looking man and woman I ever saw. The man's dress was a thread-bare brown coat lined with silk, that had once been white, and dirty corduroy waistcoat and breeches; his beard was black, and his neckcloth and shoes dirty :--but his face ! Jack-ketch might sell the reversion of his fee for him, and be in no danger of defrauding the purchaser. A soldier was the other character, in old black velveret breeches; with a pair of gaiters reaching above the knee, that appeared to have been made out of some blacksmith's old leathern apron. A farce followed, and the hempstretch man again made his appearance; having blacked one of his eyes to look blind, M. observed that he looked better with one eye than with two; and we agreed, that the loss of his head would be an addition to his beauty. The prompter stands in the middle of the stage, about half way above it; before a little tin skreen, not unlike a man in a cheese-toaster. He read the whole play with the actors, in a tone of voice equally loud; and when one of the performers added a little of his own wit, he was so provoked as to abuse him aloud, and shake the book at him. Another prompter made his appearance to the opera, unshaved, and dirty beyond description: they both used as much action as the actors. The scene that falls between the acts would disgrace a puppet-show at an English fair; on one side is a hill, in size and shape like a sugar-loaf, with a temple on the summit, exactly like a watchbox; on the other Parnassus, with Pegasus striking the top in his fight, and so giving a source to the waters of Helicon : but, such is the proportion of the horse to the mountain, that you would imagine him to be only taking a flying leap over a large ant-bill; and think he would destroy the whole economy of the state, by kicking it to pieces. Between the hills lay a city: and in the air sits a duck-legged Minerva, surrounded by flabby Cupids. I could see the hair-dressing behind the scenes: a child was suffered to play on the stage, and amuse himself by sitting on the scene, and swinging backward and
us, than the bill which we were immediately ascending, and often believed we had attained the summit before we had conquered half the road. On the other side we were presented with a majestic sweep down the mountain, and along the lofty bills that inclose the valley of the Rhine, stretching away to the piny forests rising above the vale of Splugen. After descending a considerable way almost perpendicularly, but on a firm and well-constructed road, we came in view of that celebrated river which we had lately beheld bearing its thundering mass of waters to the ocean, but which, now just springing from its source, steals placidly along the quiet valley, soft as the first sleep of infancy after it has waked to new existence.'
On the ascent to the glaciers our travellers observed, that the side of the mountain produced a fine short grass ; and the peasants were spreading as we passed their scented barvest, to the pleasant, but fleeting sun-beam, eager to improve the precarious blessing, and snatch the golden moments ! Along a fine amphitheatre of mountains, we spied the inhabitants of the various cottages at this pastoral employment, hanging on the steeps like goats, to turn the swath, and leaving us to wonder by what ingenuity the grass was first mowed. These chalets, or mountain cabins, are fitted for the region where they are placed, though of an order of architecture of which Palladio gives no description. They are in general built with the wood of the pine or the larch, but when not in the neighbourhood of forests, are erected with stone. To most of the chalets the mountain itself affords one side ready constructed, as they are usually placed in such situations that when the avalanche rolls from the top, it shall find no resistance from those habitations, shielded by the friendly hill that rises abrupt behind, but passing harmless over th heltered dwelling, fling at a safe distance its destructive mass.
• The ascent to the glaciers on the opposite side of the valley appeared so romantic, that we regretted for a moment that we had not taken a route, which seemed not only pleasanter, but shorter; our mountain companions, however, silenced our murmurs by assuring us that every step we took, though apparently leading us further from the opposite mountain, would at length
bring us nearer. We had been so often deceived in our ideas of distances in the Alps, which it requires long usage and a mountain-eye to calculate accurately, that we gave up our reason to the care of these Grisons, persuaded that some mountain-miracle would be wrought in our favour.
• The latter part of our journey was extreme toil; at some distance from the top, the mule which had hitherto carried me was left tied to a rock, and our guides supported me up the rugged steep; my fellow-travellers, who were furnished with crampons, little machines buckled to the feet, with points to enable the wearer to keep his hold, purchased their security by excessive fatigue from wearing them.
“We were frequently overcome by the extreme heat, as well as by the difficulty of the path, and often stopped to cool our fever at the torrent which we saw bursting above, from its icy source. No inconvenience, we were told, resulted from taking this cooling draught; though far from being convinced of the truth of this assertion, we were glad to find an excuse in the example of our Grison companions, for quaffing this delicious beverage ; and like our first parent, “when not deceivid, but fondly overcome,” he tasted “ of that fair enticing fruit,” so we, against our better knowledge, scrupled not to drink large libations of this tempting nectarious water.
• With an inexpressible sensation of fatigue like the giddiness of delirium, breathless, and burning with heat, we threw ourselves, some time after mid-day, on the grass, along the icy boundary, from whose base rushed the torrent whence we gathered the icicles that again slackened our excessive thirst. These feelings of parched keat were not the effects of fatigue; we had taken as violent exercise beneath the hot noon-tide rays in the Italian vallies, with less feverish sensations than we now experienced in those regions of winter. After a slight interval of repose, however, we found ourselves restored to that feeling of serene, tranquil delight, for which the philosophers who have written on the theory of the Higher Alps, account, from the purity of the atmosphere at that immense elevation; and which state of soothing happiness Rousseau has described with his usual eloquence, in a letter to Julia.