Few have thrown more Lustre on the Annals of painting than Murillo Ribera & Velasquez; but Spain has a still greater Genius than these to boast of since she produced l'Esplendente. –

The Parents of this singular Artist were Descendants of the Moorish King who ruled the land in the Days of its prosperity [&] Having suffered many mortifications because they were not Christianos vieos - they retired to a little sequestered spot amongst the Mountains not far from Seville which they cultivated with infinite Labour. – The produce of their little Gardens - was sent every Morn: to the City & being eagerly purchased by its Inhabitants - furnished them with a tolerable subsistance. – Their retirement was sheltered by pleasant Woods under the shades of which flowed a rapid Stream [2] This - our artists Father - had so conducted by sluices & canals as to diffuse over his small domain - a freshness & fertility - unknown in the neighbouring Mountain.

It was on the margins of this Rivulet - that Abou Abdoulrahman & his Brother Zebid raised a rustic building almost intirely with their own hands to which they stole privately of an Evening to perform ablutions & repeat in the silence of the night - those prayers which the prophet has ordained for the relief of Muselmen. –

But I think I hear my Readers asking who is this Abou something & his Brother what of they to do with Ferdinand of Seville. – Why they are one & the same person only I forgot to mention that the Family of Abdoulrahman, to avoid as much as possible the persecutions of the people & were publicly called by Xtian appelations - & attended to outward forms with exactitude [3] Crosses and wooden saints were erected on the frontiers of their retreat before which they were often seen at their devotions - & none of the neighbours bought indulgence to all appearance with greater faith or avidity. – The Avenues to their rude Mosque - were concealed - amongst a labyrinth of Rocks whose fissures & defiles were invested with Abies in abundance – Across their spines 'twas impossible to penetrate. A winding passage hollowed with much difficulty in the Rocks was the only way by which this retreat was accessible – & its entrance was so cautiously concealed by mossy fragments & a thick vegetation – that the eye of the Inquisition itself would have sought for it in vain. – In this secret inclosure Abdoulrahman enjoyed after the fatigues of the Day, the tranquil Hour of meditation & repose –

He had raised a slight shed by his Mosque - just sufficient to shelter himself [4] from the transient inclemencies of an andalusian climate - & had collected the waters of the spring I have mentioned before in a basin scooped out of the naked marble of the Mountains. – Hard by this bath - he had buried a massy Vase which contained some gold his Father had bequeathed him & which had long remained concealed in the ruins of a palace once the abode of their Ancestors. –

But the Treasure he most valued was the Holy Koran - which according to a family tradition - had belonged to the Founder of his Race & had descended from Father to Son thro' a long series of happier Ages. – This jewel he deposited at the extremity of his Mosque - in a coffer of Cedar & carefully spread over it a carpet of brocade. - It is not to be expressed with what fondness & rapture he hung over this relick of better times – when [5] he entered his retreat on a calm evening - after having passed a tedious & toilsome day in Christian Society. - Having enjoyed his pure Bath - he repeated the Bismilla - with fervor - & sat himself down on the Herbage to read his beloved Koran - in peace. - In these moments he forgot his cares & exclaimd when he looked up to the barrier of Cliffs which surrounded him: Here at least may I cultivate undisturbed the religion of my ancestors - of those virtous Men - from whose mild government the Xstian himself - received protection. Ah why were ye destroyed! but it is not for man to murmur - thy decrees O Alla are written on the Tablets of Life - who shall eface them? These reflections served to compose his Spirit & to sooth the remembrance of past misfortunes. [6] He enjoyed them without allay the charms of his secure retirement the evening breeze & falling water & contemplating the various plants & flowers with which he had cloathed their banks - he fancied himself in the Garden of Iran & read with delight that Chapter of the Morning - wherein it is so gloriously described. - Thus placidly passed his Hours whilst the Sun was sinking on the Horizon - the Morn: was alloted to the culture of his Trees which produced so amply that almost every Day he loaded six Mules with Fruits & vegetables By this means in the course of a few years he had enough to satisfy his moderate desires his meads were covered with the richest herbage the cattle Herds they nourished yielded the best of Milk Every thing prospered which he undertook The surrounding Villages loved & respected him - they [7] often received donations from his Bounty for the Koran had breathed into him the very soul of Charity & he was at peace with all mankind. –

[Continued in Part 2]



Introduction to L'Esplendente
Part 1 ::: Part 2 ::: Part 3 ::: Part 4 ::: Part 5 ::: Part 6
Part 7 ::: Part 8 ::: Part 9 ::: Part 10 ::: Part 11 ::: Part 12
Part 13 ::: Part 14 ::: Part 15 ::: Part 16 ::: Part 17 ::: Part 18