Letter from Amy Fay to her sister Zina
(Berlin, 21.08.1870)

Spanish translation & annotations


Berlin, Aug 21st 1870

My Dearest Sohne,

I enclose the chronicle of Charlie's adventures which he sent me to be forwarded to you & that I might have the benefit of them without his having the trouble to write twice. I suppose he has described to you in full our Dresden visit & what a nice time we had. It was really a poetic five days, as everything was new to both of us, & I only wish you have been with us in our voyage of discovery. Charlie behaved most angelically the whole three weeks that we spent together, and made himself as sweet as possible. He is going through Europe in the thorough way in which he does everything & what he don't see won't be worth seeing. We were a good deal surprised at many things in Dresden. In the first place the beauty of the city struck us very forcibly, & we



[p. 86 Music-Study in Germany]

both remarked how singular it was that of all the people we know who have been there no one should have spoken of it. The Brühl'sche Terrasse is the most lovely promenade imaginable & I always felt myself under a species of enchantment as soon as we had ascended the broad flight of steps that lead to it. We had a very pleasant journey from Berlin to Dresden. We went first to Leipsic, as on account of the war the trains ran irregularly. In the morning as we were in the coupé with Germans we spoke English, & kept a lively conversation, but in the afternoon we happened to be first into a coupé with a party of Americans, who wanted it all to themselves. We immediately pretended to be Germans, & spoke to the other only in German. The consequence was they thought we didn't understand English, & we heard them revile the guard for having put us in. One lady of the party called him a villain & the

husband & father of the family, apparently, said he "wished he had said he was just recovering from a fit of the small-pox, & them we wouldn't have got in". All this amused Charlie & me so extremely, & we felt that the expressions of our faces were becoming so hilarious that we did not dare to look to each other for ever so long for fear we should burst out laughing. We took a little drive in Leipsic, & saw something of the town, & the quaint, peaked old houses of all heights & irregularities. Charlie thought he saw one of the originals of a photograph that Willie James has hanging in his room. We had a capital dinner at a restaurant reccommended by Baedeker (the Guide-book), & then had just time to get back to the train. Dresden is four hours ride from Leipsic. We arrived at seven P. M. & drove to Weber's Hotel— a Hotel which no one I have seen since seems to have heard of—  which is rather



odd, as it is just on the left of the Zwinger (picture gallery) & is marked with a star in Baedeker to show it is a good one. We took the two best rooms in the house & decided that we would pass for a devoted couple on their honey-moon —a project which the hotel keeper adroitly frustrated, however, by making us write our names in the book the very next day. The first thing we did, "naturlich", was to make toilette. Then we strolled out by the aid of Baedeker on the Brühl Terrace. I forgot to say that while we were dressing we heard a band playing beautifully across the street, & it kept it up all the evening. This enchanted us at once with our lodgings, & we imagined that we were to have it every evening. It was evidently got up wholly in honour of our arrival, though, for we heard no more of it afterwards. With every step along the terrace we became more enchanted. The evening was soft & balmy, the very perfection

of summer weather. The terrace is quite high above the river, & you look up & down it for a long distance. The city lies to the left, below you, & the towers rise so it looks just like a picture. This air of the culture of centuries lies over everything, & the soft and lazy atmosphere lulls the soul to rest. We walked till we come to the Belvedere, which is a large restaurant with a gallery upstairs running all round it. There we sat[?]  in the evening, & took tea, though I am bound to say the "Essen" was very poor. There was a band of Music there however & the view was so lovely, that we spent two or three hours there always. After tea Charlie would take out his cigar, & we would sit and see the lamps on the bridges lighted one after another, & tremble across the water between the arches. Charlie's interviews with the waiters used to kill me. The way in which he managed to make himself understood, on his limited amount

of German was my daily problem. I never would help him except when he directly appealed to me. There was something in the very way in which he began "Kellner" (waiter), etc. which always set me off. He never would see what amused me so much. He got on uncommonly well though, notwithstanding that he always expressed himself in words which I never heard before, & if his expressions were entirely unique, they were generally correct. The day after we arrived we went, of course, to the picture gallery, & here I was entirely taken by surprise. Nothing one reads or hears gives you the least idea of the magnificence of the pictures there. I never knew what a picture was before. The softness and richness of the colouring & the exquisite beauty of them must be seen to be understood. The Sixtine Madonna fills one with rapture. It is perfectly glorious & one can't imagine hot the mind of man could have conceived it. One sees what a flight it was, after



looking at all the other Madonnas in the Gallery. many of which are wonderful. But this one soars above them all. Most of the Madonnas look so stiff, or so old, or so matronly, or so expresionless, or, at best, as in Corregio's adoration of the Shepherds (a magnificient picture), the rapture of the mother only is expressed in the face. In the Sixtine Madonna the virgin looks so young & innocent —so virgin like— not like a middle-aged married woman. The large wide-open blue eyes have a dewy look in them, as if they had wept many tears, and yet such an innocence that it makes you think of a baby whom you have comforted after a violent fit of crying. The majesty of the attitude, and the perfect repose of the face, upon which is a look of waiting, of ineffable expectancy, are very striking.

St. Sixtus, who is kneeling on the right of the virgin, has an expression of anxious solicitude on his face. He is


evidently interceding with her for the congregation toward whom his right hand is outstretched, for this picture was intended to be placed over an altar. The only fault to be found with the picture, I think, is in the face of Santa Barbara, who kneels on the left. She looks sweetly down upon the sinners below, but with a slight self-consciousness. The two cherubs underneath are exquisite. Their little round faces have an exalted look, as if their eyes fully took in the august pair to whom they are upturned. The background of the picture all of the faces of angels cloudily painted gives the finishing touch to this astounding creation of the painter of [il]. But you must see it to realize it.



Transcription by Silvia Mitarachi (Schlesinger Library, Fay Family Papers)
Una de las ventajas de los textos en formato electrónico respecto de los textos impresos es que pueden corregirse con gran facilidad mediante la colaboración activa de los lectores que adviertan erratas, errores o simplemente mejores transcripciones. En este sentido agradeceríamos que se enviaran todas las sugerencias y correcciones a sbarrena@unav.es
Proyecto de investigación "La correspondencia europea de C. S. Peirce: creatividad y cooperación científica (Universidad de Navarra 2007-09)

Fecha del documento: 29 de marzo 2011
Última actualización: 14 de septiembre 2017
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