The Letter The Performance  

Binnenthal/Im Feld, Tue.16. July 1793

My dear Friend,
Our journey from London to the Wallisser-Land was Exciting in the extreme but damnably Tiring e.t.c. e.t.c. To begin with, in the course of the Sea Voyage to Genova, we narrowly escaped being Shipwrecked - the waves crashed against our Felukke and we were Drenched with foam. Sophia's eyes were wide open – in truth the size of Saucers – and were Terror-Stricken, as in a Heroic oil painting. Our Felukke was seaworthy – for which God be thanked – and our journey continued with little or no further Harm done. For the country path from Genova to the Alps we were obliged to travel by mule, a Resentful creature acquired from a grim-looking, square-headed, Miserly sort of fellow with a dirty Bandage covering his left eye, who immediately harangued us with demands for gin. As our Tortuous route took us straight across stretches of marshland to Domo d'Ossola, the mountains drew nearer, and through Optic Glass I viewed to descry new Lands, Rivers or Mountains in the spotty Globe. Sophia and I took turns sitting on the mule, and whenever it was my turn, I Endeavoured to powder my hair as best I could. As we made our way along the countless twists and turns of the path, dotted with falls of rock, we saw a Wondrous variety of mountain views. Full of Curiosity, I buried my nose in Gabriel Walser's map of Wallis; the descent from the "Pass auf Mayland" is a paved path, which proved most Helpful. Then came a stream rushing down from the Ofi Horn glacier, which could only be crossed with the Utmost difficulty with our grumbling mule. Sophia, with her peach-blood coloured, ribbon-winged bonnet, was in need of Restoration, and I gave her the last of our victuals, a tiny piece of ship bread. We passed through Alpine villages, where we were greeted by little children chanting at us: Mule, mule, mule, the dwarves will help! – all this accompanied by Boisterous dancing. And already the Binnenthal started to unfold before us. Sophia's sufferings were soothed by a warm, gentle Breeze which dispelled our fatigue and made us bloom again. We were refreshed when the night welcomed us with the Deepest of dark blues and the moon, like an enormous disc gleaming faintly in the centre of the remote valley, bestowed its light on us. In Im Feld we were able to stay with genuine peasantfolk, who were most hospitable. The English eat Roastbeef, Plumpudding, and drink Oporto and Claret. The Binnen people eat Bratchäs, which they heat by a fire, and air-dried beef, and drink their spiced brandy.
The walls were covered with Crucifixes and horrible carved masks. I was fascinated by the unfamiliar sounds of the local dialect and felt it was not surprising that a great variety of Ghosts are living here. In fact, a farmer's wife, seated at her spinning wheel, pipe in mouth, insistently pointed out to us that down by the Lengenbach mine there was sometimes Dreadful soul dancing and spirits were known to congregate.

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