23 de May de 1803 - Vista de la ciudad, los encantos de la catedral, italianos en el teatro (652)


Rambla y Teatro Principal (dibujo H. Bibby, grabado A. H. Payne, ca. 1840). Imagen: Wikimedia.

As we proceeded to the stairs in the harbour, the first view of the city particularly struck us by its neatness, and the novelty of the houses contiguous to the port, the greater part of which are new. A large building, the Tribunal of Commerce, stands in front; and the whole scene is exceedingly pleasing, though it exhibits little or nothing of magnificence. The great quay, however, is a noble work, by far the grandest I have seen any where: it was crowded with people, whose cleanliness, bustle, and costume surprised and delighted us. The appearance here is really more striking than I can describe; every body is in motion, and industry busy in every street.

Having secured apartments at los coatro nationes [Las cuatro naciones], a new inn, we began our walk through the town. The cathedral is a small but venerable, Gothic building. The cloister planted with orange trees, and surrounded by chapels, many of which have old armour, swords, and shields, suspended over their altars, is a fit introduction to such an edifice. But the church itself with its spiral stalls, «chaunted mass,» gloomy aisles, and «dim religious light» struggling through a few rich windows, and resting at last upon the gilt traces of a high-wrought Gothic altar, carried me more forcibly than any thing I can remember into the darkest ages of monkish devotion. The Catholic ceremonies are fine only in their edifices; the effect of this altar to me, who had just landed from the tawdry «crimped Grecian» spectacles of Italy, the idea of its having remained in the same state for ages, and that it has never been profaned by French violence, struck me with a mingled sensation of reverence and satisfaction.

Hence we proceeded into the world again; and at the custom-house, a solid, handsome, though not architecturally beautiful building, were present at the examination of our trunks, which was performed with great civility by an officer who was well acquainted with the English, French, and Italian languages. He inspected all my books, one of which was the common prayer; he read the title page aloud and returned it to me. The bustle of business in the custom-house is very great; and the strictness with which the baggage of travellers is generally examined, has been much complained of.

In the evening we visited the theatre: as it begins as early as five o’clock, the Spanish comedy was over when we arrived; but we were in time for the ballet. The theatre is not very large: it is tolerably well constructed; but though neat in the extreme, is miserably deficient in decorations. It has three tiers of boxes and a gallery; a plain white curtain, festooned on a yellow ground; the stage boxes have pilasters adorned with brown arabesks; in the centre of the house is suspended a mean lamp; but the general effect, from its extreme neatness and cleanliness is not unpleasing. The exterior bears the date of 1776. We were best entertained with the ballet Matilda di Orsino, a bustling Spanish story. The scenery was new, well managed, and appropriate; the palace-view was better executed than any scene I have witnessed since I left Paris; the landscapes but indifferently. The dancers are all Italians; but the whole was conducted without extravagance or absurdity, after the French taste. We had only the gusto Italiano for five minutes at the end, when three twirling buffoons with white breeches made their appearance. The good taste which prevails in this department is owing to the first female dancer, La Perron, who received her education at Paris; she has considerable merit, and the actors are respectable. The orchestra is rather scanty. The house was by no means full; the company in the boxes were neatly dressed, and the audience in general quiet and well behaved: the whole performance was finished at eight o’clock.

, Travels through Spain and part of Portugal (1808).

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