excerpt from 'Letters on Italy; illustrated by engravings' pp. 74 (437 words)

excerpt from 'Letters on Italy; illustrated by engravings' pp. 74 (437 words)

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Letters on Italy; illustrated by engravings

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[Letter XI]

Guided by the twilight, and shortly afterwards by the beams of the moon, which seemed to rise most majestically amid a crowd of stars, which appeared far more brilliant and numerous than in our climate, I followed a path which I supposed would lead me into the road to Fiesole [a town near Florence]; when suddenly I distinguished the sounds of rustic music, amongst which I heard the notes of the bagpipe, the guitar, and the zampogna [the Italian bagpipe]. Attracted by the charm of this melody, than which, when well executed by the rustic performers in the depth of a wood, and amid the solitude of night, nothing can be more agreeable, I beheld all at once a light shining through the trees. This led me to the place where the rural concert was, and, guided by its light, I arrived at a fountain, or rather a chapel, for beneath an arch, supported by columns, I saw a painting of the Virgin and the Infant Jesus, surrounded by cherubims and prostrate angels. An abundant stream fell from a sculptured lion's head which frowned under the painting, and flowed into the reservoirs which were placed at the sides of the edifice. A lamp, suspended from the centre of the arch, rendered the scene still more interesting. A whole family were imploring the Divine grace for the recovery of an infant which its mother held in her arms, covering it with tears and kisses; the other members of the family were praying with fervour, or chanting hymns which they accompanied with their instruments.

If the reader can imagine the mingling of voices and music, most simple and harmonious, with the sound of the dancing waters flowing over the stones and along the green turf—the light of the moon through the foliage—the clear lustre of the lamp which gilded the figure of the virgin in the niche, and shone in the reflexion of the crystal and moving waters, shedding at the same time a light over the actors of this pious scene—if he can imagine this scene more impressive as it was unexpected, and so sweetly harmonizing with those serious sensations which filled my heart—he will even then have only a weak idea of the impression which I experienced. 

At my approach, the good people rose from their prayers, but I begged that I might mingle my intercessions with theirs. The hymn was recommenced, and the voices of the young girls, joined to those of musicians of every age, made one of the most delicious concerts I ever enjoyed.

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excerpt from 'Letters on Italy; illustrated by engravings' pp. 74 (437 words)


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