L'Esplendente [part 17]

He had not been long in his new appartment - which was furnished with Books - & every thing he could desire before - the Duke sent for him into the great Hall - where a repast was prepared under a Canopy - & several courses of costly viands served up by senechals & pages - in gorgeous Habits - Musick sounding in the Galleries above. - Rose water being brought - they washed & the Grandee seating himself - invited Ferdinand to do the same - who scarcely knew - which way to look - such was the variety of splendid objects - This/Their Pomp however - did not in the least confound him - it agreed with his natural inclinations. - & recollecting his princely Descent - he behaved with a dignified composure - that disappointed the Duke d'Arcos - who loved to see those he exacted to his Table dazzled by its magnificence [118] However he could not help admiring the gracefulness of his adress - & the discernment with which he praised the grandeur of his Hall. - Thus By a little well judged flattery our Artist so perfectly insinuated himself into his Patrons good opinion - that he led him round the Castle - after Dinner - shewed him every appartment - took his advice upon the taste of their furniture - & resolved upon introducing him in the Afternoon to Donna Rosalia. In the way to her favourite garden - where she sat the whole Evening - listening to the songs of her Attendants - they passd thro' a long gallery - illuminated by Domes of glass - after the designs of a Venetian Architect - & decorated with - a variety of capital paintings [119] which the light admitted from above displayed to the greatest advantage - One end of this Room - said the Duke I reserve for the most surprising picture your lively Fancy can conceive - & at the other - I hope to place a portrait - by your Hand - of a young person - who delights in this Gallery & whose greatest pleasure is to contemplate its paintings. - Ferdinand bowed & express'd the most ardent desire of exerting himself. - he was in amaze at the majesty of the Gallery. - its airy Domes & those masterpeices of Art which graced the walls - He was All impatience to attempt exceeding them determined to choose some subject - if possible more striking & extraordinary. - The Grandee enjoyed his exclamations of surprise - & the raptures of enthusiasm with which he ran now to one picture & now to another - [120] After the hunger of his Curiosity was a little appeased - They left the Gallery - to traverse a grecian collonade - which led to the Garden gate. - It was opened - by a wrinkled Matron who started at seeing her Master - accompanied by a Stranger - of so blooming an Appearance - The Duke enquiring after his Daughter was informed she was - watering her jessamine - on the Terrace - which looked towards the Sierra Morena - a bleak & desolate range of Mountains - which bounded his Territory on one side - & enhanced its - woody verdure - by the power of contrast - Several thickets of shrubs - intermixed with Cedars of an ancient growth - composed the Garden - that situated on a declivity - fronting the rugged Rocks of the Morena - had a melancholy & romantic - air still <encreased?> by the lateness of the hour - [121] The termination of the Alleys were lost in the dusk & their foliage - exhaled a cool odour which affected young Ferdinand more than can be described - in a Scene where every thing was interesting - The Duke following the distant voices led him thro' a Labyrinth of twilight paths - to the Terrace - opposite the Mountains - whose summits - still - retained a faint blush of Evening. - At the extremity of this - retired spot - he perceived a number of graceful Figures in white which to his animated Imagination - seemed the Spirits - or Sylvan Deities - The tallest & most elegant of the group - throwing down something she held in her hand - ran lightly - to meet the Duke - her veil - floated lonely behind - she passed - Ferdinand - like a transitory Breeze - & strumming along - fell down at her Fathers feet - He took her in his arms with transports of affection [122] & exultingly cried out to the young Artist who had retired a few paces. - Tell - me - do you think these features will disgrace my Gallery? - Ferdinand lifted up his eyes - & saw by the evening Light - the loveliest Form - in Nature. - a tremor - he hardly knew how to conceal came over him. - as he gazed - & after stammering out a compliment in answer to the Duke - he remaind in silence - till Rosalia - with a tone of voice - that compleated his enchantment asked him how he liked the prospect of the Mountains - Their Wildness - replied our Artist - with faultering accents is beautifully contrasted - with these polished Gardens - - - He could say no more - The [123] Lady - turned away precipitably & running swiftly - along the Terrace - soon mixed with her Companions - who were waiting - at the further end - The Grandee - observing it was late - they retired. - All the way - he praised - the symetry & proportions of Rosalia - in a manner very agreeable to a Fathers ears & expressd the liveliest sense of the Honor - which was conferred upon him - in being selected to draw her Portrait. - Tomorrow Morn: - you shall begin - said the Duke - the Subject methink will not disgrace your pencil. - Ferdinand blessed the Darkness - which veiled his blushes & agitation. - After a slight supper he retired to rest, but tried to compose himself in vain - he opened the Window which happened to look upon the Terrace - where he had - seen the most elegant of her Sex for the first time - & inhaled the air with avidity - reflecting it was the same which she had breathed. - There he remained soothed by the universal stillness of the Night [124] - & indulging his pensive recollections. - It seemed - if he dared think so - that Rosalia - had not looked at him with total indifference. - He could not help imagining - her conscious of the emotions she had occasioned in him & that her last glances were full of pity. -

[Continued in Part 18]


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