Sunday, 27 July 2014

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater | Thomas De Quincey

"It was a Sunday afternoon, wet and cheerless: and a duller spectacle this earth of ours has not to show than a rainy Sunday in London."

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821), Thomas De Quincey

Thursday, 10 July 2014

In Spain and a visit to Portugal | Hans Christian Andersen

“One of the last days that I was in Barcelona, it had rained hard during the night, and in the morning it happened that I had to go to the banker's. The water had not run off sufficiently; it was actually over my galoshes. I came home completely drenched; and while I was changing my clothes, I was informed that the inundation had reached the Rambla, and that it was increasing. There were screams and hurrying of feet. I saw from our balcony that heaps of gravel and rubbish were laid down before the hotels, and that up on either side of the more elevated promenades, there flowed a stream of a yellowish coffee color — the paved part of the Rambla was a rushing rising current. I hastened down. The rain was almost over, but its disastrous effects were increasing; I beheld a terrible spectacle — the water's fearful power.

Out among the hills the rain had fallen in such torrents, that the tearing mountain streamlets had soon swollen the little river which runs parallel to the highway and the railroad. At an earlier stage of the inundation there had been no outlet to the sea — now the raging water had forced a passage: it poured into what was once the moat of Barcelona, but which latterly had become choked up with rubbish and stones, it being intended to build upon it, as the town was to be enlarged. Here again the outlet was exhausted; the water rushed on; it rose and flowed over every obstacle; the railway was soon under water; the highway was buried under the overwhelming flood; the fences were broken down, trees and plants uprooted, by the impetuous waters, which rushed in through the gate of the town, and foamed like a mill-dam, darkish yellow in color, on both sides of the walk; the flood swept off with it wooden booths, goods, barrels, carts, everything that it found in its way; pumpkins, oranges, tables, and benches, sailed away; even an unharnessed wagon, which was filled with china and crockery ware, was carried off to be subsiding. It was said that in the church on the Rambla, the priests, up to their waists in water, were singing masses.

In the course of an hour or so the fury of the torrent decreased; the water sank. People were making their way into the side streets, to see the desolation there. I followed them through a thick, yellow mud, which was exceedingly slippery. Water was pouring from the windows and the doors; it was dirty, and smelled shockingly. At length I reached the residence of Dr. Schierbeck which was at some distance; he had no knowledge of the inundation which had just taken place. In the many years during which he had resided at Barcelona, the rain had often caused the mountain streams and the river to overflow, but never to the extent of the impetuous torrent which had now occasioned so much mischief, and so much dismay. As we again threaded our way through the streets, we were disgusted with the filthy mud which the water had deposited in them, which looked like the nasty refuse of sewers. The Rambla was strewed with overturned booths, tables, carriages, and carts. Outside of story which might be told by a little mountain streamlet, usually only a tiny rivulet, shaded by aloes and cacti, its nymph being a playful child ; but as the little Spanish girls in reality do, springing up at once into young women, willful and bold, repairing to the large town, to visit it and its population, to look into their houses and churches, and to see them on the promenade, where strangers always seek them: today I had witnessed its entrance.”

In Spain and a visit to Portugal (1862), Hans Christian Andersen.