L'Esplendente [part 16]

Murillo - anxious for his Disciples advancement - added his solicitations - & at length prevaild. It was agreed that a stipend of 1000 Ducats - should be settled upon Ferdinand during his residence with the Duke D'Arcos - whose Cabinet was to be adorned with all his future paintings. - but he would never consent to alienate the Landscape on which he had [102] placed his affections. - That was to remain his sole property - & be conveyed to his intended Appartment in the Castle. - These stipulations made - the Grandee equiped our Artist with splendor - appointed Servants to attend him - & treated him like a Friend's Relation so great was the respect his talents had inspired. The Duke dArcos - was one of the proudest Nobles in Spain - his Fortune equalled his lofty spirit - & he had an avowed enthusiasm for the fine arts. - To their professors - he was generous & prodigal in the utmost degree - & behaved to the first Hidalgos of the province - with much less affability. - They were the only class of Men - except Grandees of the highest order - with whom he asociated. - The pride of Ancestry & a haughty consciousness of his Descent - which he strove in vain to dissemble - rendered him obnoxious to the World in general & finding himself - disliked & dreaded - he had retired [103] from court - to the solitude of an ancient Castle - in the midst of his Dutchy - where he employed himself - in literary pursuits - & forgot his ennuis & ill humours - in the cultivation of the Arts & the Sciences. - He was surrounded by Poets - Musicians - Sculptors - & Designers who lost & gained by turns the empire of his Mind - Sometimes he was enchanted by chimical researches - another moment - Architecture engaged his attention - & he built lofty - Towers in the morisco style - & added magnificent corinthian porticos - to the gothic abodes of his Ancestors. - When this rage was subsided - the fury of antiquities - began to predominate. - Every corner of his Domain - was first ransacked for medals & tesselated pavements - then - Collectors were sent out to explore - the most remote provinces of the Kingdom in search of - rusty Helmets - tattered shields inscriptions & broken miles stones. - Meanwhile commissions being sent to Sicily & greece - whole shiploads of mutilated figures were landed at Alicant & these pagan images - scandalously usurped the niches of the best Saints in the Calendar. [104] When this passion had worn itself out - a violent admiration of paintings succeeded. - Nothing pleased the Grandee but the productions of the Pencil. - He filled his Appartments - with the works of Raphael Titian & Julio Romano at an immense expence & - constructed whole suites of rooms - purposely to display them. Whilst he was thus employed - the fame of L'Esplendente's talents reached his Ears - He hurried to Murillos - saw & was delighted. - Having entered into engagments with our Artist in the manner I have mentioned - he took him in his own Equipage to Seville - where he remained a Day or two - in his way to Cordova. - Ferdinand availed himself of this opportunity to make a finishd drawing of the Giralda - a surprising Tower by the Cathedral - the work of moorish times - & repairing in the Evening to the hanging Gardens of the Alcazar [105] was so charmed with the verdure & fragrance of their groves - that he asked leave to sleep the whole Night - beneath their shade Having obtaind permission - he established himself - very quietly by a Fountain - eat his supper on its margin - & enjoyed a delicious repose. - Spring was in its full vigor & every gale - strewed orange blossoms over him - as he slept - His bosom as yet - possessd the most perfect tranquility - & in these happy moments he represented a living image of the golden Age. - Next Morning awakend by the sun beams gilding the bright greens of the Orange Trees - he arose - light & airy to walk amongst them - & observe - the pure streams of water - shooting up amongst their foliage - & falling in mists - which reflected [ILLEGIBLE WORDS] colours - almost too glorious for the sight. - The perfumes of the vegetation washed by these perpetual showers - revived in his mind the recollection - of the secret Vale. he thought of his unhappy - Father - & vented his sorrow in a flood of tears - Sunk on the ground - he heeded no longer - the beauty of the Scene - its water bubbld in vain - its aromatic [106] fragrance served but to recall - affecting Images. - & sad reflections. - He seemed to behold his Fathers anguish. - his Mother - prostrate upon the Earth - to hear their lamentations - wounded by the idea; - unable to sustain its poignancy - he flew from the Objects which had inspired it - & returned to his Patron - whom he was happy to find on the eve of departure. - Strange to tell he seemed relieved when he left those Gardens behind - which had reminded him of former years - & grew composed till the prospect - of his native Hills - which offerd itself in the course of his journey - brought again back the series of gloomy thoughts - which had disturbed him. - His colour fled - his lips trembled & his illustrious Companion asked the cause of this sudden tremor. He gave an evasive Answer - & entering into discourse - tried to forget - the melancholy - Scenes which presented [107] themselves, upon viewing the distant range of Mountains. - But notwithstanding all his attempts they haunted him - till the Duke's equipage stopped before - a stately palace in Cordova. - where he intended remaining a week - to settle some affairs & then proceed to his principal residence near the entrance of the Sierra Morena - Ferdinand awoke from his reverie when he found himself in the midst of a City - so famous in moorish story. - The birth place of Averoes & Avicena - the school of Arabian philosophy - the nurse of elegance - & gallantry during the prosperous reign of his [108] renowned Ancestors. - His Heart bled when he beheld their Mosque & holy Edifices polluted by Xtian Worship - surveyed its present state with indignation - remembered the tale of its ancient glories - & mourned in Silence. He took advantage the next morning, of his Patrons absence to visit the Mesquita - a stupendous work which the race of the ommiades had adorned with columns of the richest marble - that to adopt the expression of an Arabian author - they conveyed the idea of a wood of polished marble. - Portals of Bronze & cupolas that gleamed with gold - added to the magnificence of the Edifice - which was intended as the grand sanctuary of the prophets Law & calculated to impress posterity with the most exalted notions of Moorish Splendor. - Tho' gravely divested of its ancient pomp it still afforded a surprising spectacle. - & [109] our Artist paused - upon his first entrance - quite lost in admiration. - The Day happend to be overcast. - & a pale uncertain Light - was admitted thro' the Doors & cupolas. - The Labyrinth of pillars - had a gloomy strange effect. - he walked to & fro amongst them - revolving in his mind - the sad events of former Ages. - A few feeble Devotees prostrate before the scattered altars - were the only Human Beings - visible around - No noise was heard but their devout whispering - faintly echoed by the Arches. - Ferdinand sat down in a dark & lonely aisle - opposite the Zancarron or most holy place - where the Koran had been once deposited - 'Twas there also that his royal Fathers had sat retired from the vulgar Crowd & absorbed in loftier meditations. - With his eyes intent on the spot - which had been dignified by the Throne of Almansor - the [110] young enthusiast gave way to his melancholy reflections. - Awed by the sanctity of the scene - he recited the first chapter of the Koran. - & kissing the venerable pavement - which had been trodden by his Ancestors - he implored aloud his Fathers forgiveness & deprecated the Wrath of Alla. - A cold sepulcral gust - which flew along the Arcades - seemed to bear voices which apraised him with having rejected a Parents admonitions. He thought the very marbles murmur'd & that the pillars rung with hollow sounds - & that some spirit - breathed in his ear - this boding sentence - Evil betide the [111] Wretch who follows a profession - in diffiance to the Law of Mohamed - & unworthy of his Race. - Disturbed by these visionary fears he fled from the Mesquita & reached his palace - just as the Duke d'Arcos - was sitting down to a applauded entertainment - with the Nobles of Cordova. - The Grandee introduced him as an Artist worthy of their admiration & esteem. - & the whole Company vied with each other in loading him with caresses. - The musick played - the bands sparcld Lights & cristal glasses - exilarating wine went round & - after the repast. - a troop of Ladies richly attired - made their appearance. - The Musicians striking up the Fandango - a Dance but lately imported from the other Hemispheres - universal freedom & festivity prevailed - innumerable feet were briskly in motion - & Ferdinand - daring drank an oblivion of his cares - forgetting the terrors of the Mosque - fell a dancing - with a grace & liveliness [112] which excited the praise of every beholder. - The active youth - flushed - with a liquor - to which he had been unacustomed - gave a loose to his spirits - & delighted the Company with his brilliant Sallies. - The Grandee listening with pleasure to the easy & animated flow of eloquence - with which he was endued & wondered at the union of so many talents - whilst the fair Andalusians could not take their eyes of his interesting figure & were in raptures - when he moved - so lightly - in the Dance. - All the night was passd - in joy - & merriment. - the next Day he was invited to another palace - to renew the same agreeable Scenes; - & thus the whole week he remaind in Cordova - was consumed in a continual round of Amusements When the day of the Grandees departure for his Castle arrived [113] he took leave of his new acquaintance with regret - carrying away their portraits & promising to return. - His patron was charmed with the pictures of the cordovan Beauties - & flattered himself he had now found a Painter worthy of imitating the perfections of - Donna. - Rosalia - his only Child - the pride & darling of his Heart - the last hope & Heiress - of his noble House. - This lovely Daughter - composed all his Family - her Mother dying 15 years ago when she was not above two Months old. - Rosalia - had never strayed beyond her native castle the Forests which encircled it were the utmost extent of her Walks. She had written to her Father at Cordova [114] beseeching his return - because - during his absence - she was strictly confined to her Appartments - & by a guard of Duennas & malignant Hags who refined if possible upon his precautions. - The Duke as impatient to embrace her - ordered the Mules to be driven at a furious rate - & travelling all Night - reached a lofty arch the entrance of his Forests. - at break of Day - Ferdinand - was struck with the picturesque appearance of the - structure - overhung with many - Towers - & the gates opening - discoverd a vast avenue - of pines - extending out of sight. - The Sun was not yet above the Horizon - & the tracts of woods - lay - still in solemn shade - Herds of Deer were [ILLEGIBLE] one another - across the dewy Lawns - & now & then a savage Boar - was seen - avoiding [115] the noise - & tumult - which so many equipages rattling down the Walks - occasioned. - After they had - proceeded many leagues thro' the dark Forests - a troup of Horsemen - met the Duke & - gallopping before him - till they came to the moat of the Castle - wound their Horns & proclaimed. his arrival with great state. - Instantaneously the draw bridge was let down - & Ferdinand followed the Grandee - into a stately court - In front appeared - a portico - adorned with a [ILLEGIBLE] - & supported by statues of black marble. - Thro this they entered - a Hall with many gothic Arches - whose corridors - were painted with a series of Historical Events - relating to the House of Arcos [116] Here a crowd of Dependents - met the Grandee & kissed his Hand - who ascending a flight of steps - ordered Ferdinand to be shewn his Appartment - & hastened to embrace Rosalia. - Our Artist - was respectfully conducted to a Chamber in one of the Towers - where the first object - that offered itself - was the delightful Landscape - he esteemed above all his productions. - On this he gazed a few moments with inexpressible fondness & then finding himself quite alone - sat down to reflect upon his situation. - It presented itself in very pleasing colours - the flattering politeness of the Grandee - his noble appointments - & every circumstance of his reception - filled his Mind [117] with the gayest hopes & with an ardour to which we are indebted for some of his most admirable Peices. -

[Continued in Part 17]


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