Book II. Art, Love, And Wonder
Diversi aspetti in un confusi e misti.
"Ger. Lib," cant. iv. 7.
Different appearances, confused and mixt in one.
Centauri, e Sfingi, e pallide Gorgoni.
"Ger. Lib.," c. iv. v.
(Centaurs and Sphinxes and pallid Gorgons.)
One moonlit night, in the Gardens at Naples, some four or five gentleman were seated
under a tree, drinking their sherbet, and listening, in the intervals of conversation, to the
music which enlivened that gay and favourite resort of an indolent population. One of
this little party was a young Englishman, who had been the life of the whole group, but
who, for the last few moments, had sunk into a gloomy and abstracted reverie. One of his
countrymen observed this sudden gloom, and, tapping him on the back, said, "What ails
you, Glyndon? Are you ill? You have grown quite pale,--you tremble. Is it a sudden
chill? You had better go home: these Italian nights are often dangerous to our English
"No, I am well now; it was a passing shudder. I cannot account for it myself."
A man, apparently of about thirty years of age, and of a mien and countenance strikingly
superior to those around him, turned abruptly, and looked steadfastly at Glyndon.
"I think I understand what you mean," said he; "and perhaps," he added, with a grave
smile, "I could explain it better than yourself." Here, turning to the others, he added,
"You must often have felt, gentlemen, each and all of you, especially when sitting alone
at night, a strange and unaccountable sensation of coldness and awe creep over you; your
blood curdles, and the heart stands still; the limbs shiver; the hair bristles; you are afraid
to look up, to turn your eyes to the darker corners of the room; you have a horrible fancy
that something unearthly is at hand; presently the whole spell, if I may so call it, passes
away, and you are ready to laugh at your own weakness. Have you not often felt what I
have thus imperfectly described?--if so, you can understand what our young friend has
just experienced, even amidst the delights of this magical scene, and amidst the balmy
whispers of a July night."