« EelmineJätka »
thousand others; and I remarked nothing in him but the peculiar change which took place in his countenance when he smiled; his natural expression being remarkably grave, and his handsome, though marked features, and dark eyes, with the fine contour of his head and well arranged hair, being precisely such as might have been expected beneath the visor or helmet of an Orlando or a Tancred. It may be esked what remarkable change this was? But I can by no means describe it, otherwise than by saying it was striking, and such as fixed the attention of the beholder, and induced the unguarded young creature who had seen it once to look for it again.
Somewhat more than an hour had passed in the manner above described, when the commencement of the amusements proposed for the evening were announced. I had been previously informed, that a tragedy was to he presented in the rural theatre, which is still to be seen in the gardens of Swetzinghen. The hour being duly announced, the noble company began immediately to put themselves in motion; and as it was not supposed that there could be any danger in mixing with any part of such a society as this, my mother, being by this time deeply engaged with some old marchioness or princess of her former acquaintance, and my father not less occupied in immediate conversation with the duke himself, I was permitted to take the chance of the company, and to follow in the royal suite.
“ How the elder and more ceremonious persons were conveyed to the place of amusement, which was in no very distant part of the extensive gardens of Swetzinghen, I cannot say; but I recollect that I myself was persuaded young
Countess of Rheinswald and her brother, to linger somewhat behind the rest of the party, in order that we might better enjoy the beautiful gardens as seen by moonlight. It was, as I before remarked, a fine evening, in the early part of autumn, the air being perfectly dry, and scarcely a cloud visible in the heavens. It had been very hot in the crowded assembly within the palace: I therefore experienced a considerable degree of pleasure, when I stepped forth into the cool air embalmed as it was with the breath of flowers, for the parterres on each side of the grand walk which proceeded
directly from the front of the palace to the more remote parts of the garden, were chiefly composed of beds of roses. Although seen only by moonlight, the first view of the gardens of Swetzinghen was very imposing, notwithstanding their being arranged in the old stiff fashion which we know in England only by report. To our right and left were majestic groves, forming a long but very
wide avenue. Directly before us were three tanks, at regular distances from each other, and separated by green lawns. Beyond the most remote of these artificial pieces of water, and at the utmost extent of the two lines of trees which formed the avenue, appeared a range of hills not to be distinguished at that hour from clouds resting on the horizon, unless by their undeviating forms and unchanging outlines. The borders of the tanks, the groves, and the parterres, were intersected by many broad gravel walks or ranges of trellis work, and scarcely an angle was seen in this many-angled garden which had not its statue to boast; insomuch, that those silent, cold, and motionless figures seemed as it were to people the whole scene: for while I stood looking on them, all the living beings with whom but now I had been surrounded had passed out of sight under the grove to the right, with the exception of the centinels who were walking before the front of the palace, and the young Count and Countess of Rheinswald.
“ It seems that my companions were anxious, for some reasons of their own, which afterwards appeared, to detain me as long as possible in their company; for the young lady holding me back as I was turning after the rest of the party, begged me to stand still awhile to contemplate the beautiful scene. • You have the moun-tains of the Vosgues directly before you,” she said ; and were it day, instead of night, you might see the Hartzwald beneath the arched way which runs under the palace, in a direct line with the opposite hills.'
“I stood still, and we remained motionless for a time, and in deep silence; the murmur of voices having died away in the distance, and no sound disturbing the silence of the night but the rushing waters of the fountains which were playing in the centre of the nearest tanks, and throwing up their crystal waves to the height of inany feet, forming sparkling arches in the moonbeams. “ There is something peculiarly refreshing in the rush of waters, whether natural or artificial, in a hot climate; and upon my expressing some feeling of the kind, my young companions led me towards the first fountain, and we stood awhile on its banks.
While remaining in this situation, the young count endeavoured to draw me into discourse by certain questions and remarks evidently intended to discern the depth of the natural talents and acquirements of the person he had to deal with. I wanted neither information on many subjects, nor quickness of wit, deplorably ignorant as I was of myself, my religion, and human nature in general; and I have no doubt that the count soon perceived that I was not a young person who had been brought up after the ordinary mode of the country in which we were; for he presently, though with great ease, and apparently without design, passed from more common to more refined topics, making several allusions to literary subjects, which proved that he had read largely, if not deeply.
A distant sound of music at length reached our ears; on which we resumed our walk, in the direction whence it proceeded, amusing ourselves, as we passed, with a conversation of which I remember little, till, having made many circumvolutions in the perplexed labyrinths, of the extensive garden, and being sensible only of my approach to the place of amusement by the increasing sound of the music, we at length arrived at a part of the garden where, on a dripping rock, in a striking situation, from the neighbourhood of many clustered and deep shadowing trees, we beheld the god or demon Pan, larger than life, in white marble, and seated on the rock; his figure being the more prominent and striking from the shade in which every object around him was involved.
Although I had always been familiar with these silent breathless figures, to which our good neighbours on the Continent are so greatly attached, and had certainly, during my walk in his serene highness's garden, seen as large an assemblage of them as I could possibly have expected in any other place, unless on paying a visit to the Pantheon at Rome; yet I was certainly somewhat startled to see the god of shepherds, the cele
brated son of Dryope, thus appropriately placed and accurately represented, that is, according to the ideas I had always conceived of him; and I probably somewhat started back when first the large white figure flashed upon my eye. On which, my companions laughed; and the young count remarked, that certainly the ancient Grecians had the advantage over all other men,
whether Hindoos, Chinese, Jews, or Christians, in the elegance and appropriateness of their mythological conceits. • There are some things vastly entertaining,' he added, 'in some of the conceits of these Grecians, some things exceedingly ingenious and amusing.'
“And others,' I added, not aware of the ground I was treading upon, exceedingly elegant and beautiful.'
"Undoubtedly so,' he replied, in a graver manner; 'the mythology of the ancients is as much superior to our barbarous monkish conceptions of it, as the Iliad of Homer surpasses the Contes de Feés de Monsieur Perault. And,' added he, “the characters, formed on the Grecian polytheistical religion, and the works inspired by the belief of it, are to this day the glory and wonder of the world, and will continue to be so as long as the earth endures.'
“ He then entered, as we walked along, into what I have since found to be quite a commonplace panegyric on the classical writers, and the Grecian and the Roman characters, particularly the latter; and finished the whole, as we approached the rural theatre, by hazarding a sentiment so decidedly contemptuous of the Christian religion, that I might have known what he was, and have learned thenceforward to shun him with unfeigned abhorrence, had he not chosen a moment for this declaration in which the new scene which opened upon me, by dividing my attention, prevented it from concentrating in one point.
“ The rural theatre in the gardens of his royal highness at Swetzinghen is nearly encircled by trees, excepting in the back of that part which is laid out for the stage, where is a beautiful temple of Apollo built of polished stone, in the open portico of which is the figure of the demi-god himself, larger than life, and composed of white marble. Under the front of the temple, which is considerably elevated, are two naiads holding vases
through which water flows perpetually into a marble bason placed between them. In the centre of this bason I had afterwards time to observe one of the most beautiful devices which I could have conceived to have been ever produced by the art of man. This was a water-lamp, the water being thrown up so curiously, and so arranged by art, as to form the same protection to the lamp as that commonly supplied by a crystal vase. How it was contrived I do not pretend to say; but such was the appearance it made to me. The whole scene was richly illuminated with lamps suspended from the trees, and upon the light lattice work with which the whole theatre was surrounded; and the audience, placed in a semicircular form, upon seats raised one above another, and composed of all that was gay, splendid, and magnificent, which the realm could afford, formed together a spectacle of no small interest to a young creature who had spent her few last years in retirement. A seat not very distant from my mother had been left for me and the young countess ; behind which the count contrived to place himself, but so near to me, that he had only occasion to stoop forward a little to converse with
" As we entered the theatre, a most exquisite band of music were performing a piece which I thought delightful. Perhaps the scenery and circumstances in which I heard this music added to its charms; but we were in a country celebrated for its superior taste for harmony. The music, however, was not the less pleasing from the orchestra not being visible.
“ All remained silent till the music had ceased; when a short pause ensuing, the young count addressed me by asking me if I did not think the whole arrangement of the theatre truly classical ? And I am happy to say,' he added, “that I trust the representation which we are about to witness will harmonize so well with the scenery, that the illusion will be heightened rather than diminished thereby. We are to have nothing barbarous, nothing modern, but the language.' He then broke forth into a warm panegyric upon the taste of the ancients; such a one
every day, and read every hour, from the mouths and
many good Christians, who continue to repeat the cry of, 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians,'
as we may