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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
A Coronation in Presburg
By Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809–1847)
From the ‘Letters from Italy and Switzerland’: Translation of Grace Wallace

THE KING is crowned—the ceremony was wonderfully fine. How can I even try to describe it to you? An hour hence we will all drive back to Vienna, and thence I pursue my journey. There is a tremendous uproar under my windows; and the Burgher-guards are flocking together, but only for the purpose of shouting “Vivat!” I pushed my way through the crowd, while our ladies saw everything from the windows, and never can I forget the effect of all this brilliant and almost fabulous magnificence.  1
  In the great square of the Hospitalers the people were closely packed together: for there the oaths were to be taken on a platform hung with cloth, and afterwards the people were to be allowed the privilege of tearing down the cloth for their own use; close by was a fountain spouting red and white Hungarian wine. The grenadiers could not keep back the people; one unlucky hackney coach that stopped for a moment was instantly covered with men, who clambered on the spokes of the wheels, and on the roof, and on the box, swarming on it like ants, so that the coachman, unable to drive on without becoming a murderer, was forced to wait quietly where he was. When the procession arrived, which was received bare-headed, I had the utmost difficulty in taking off my hat and holding it above my head: an old Hungarian behind me, however, whose view it intercepted, quickly devised a remedy, for without ceremony he made a snatch at my unlucky hat, and in an instant flattened it to the size of a cap; then they yelled as if they had all been spitted, and fought for the cloth. In short, they were a mob; but my Magyars! the fellows look as if they were born noblemen, and privileged to live at ease, looking very melancholy, but riding like the devil.  2
  When the procession descended the hill, first came the court servants, covered with embroidery, the trumpeters and kettledrums, the heralds and all that class; and then suddenly galloped along the street a mad count, en pleine carrière, his horse plunging and capering, and the caparisons edged with gold; the count himself a mass of diamonds, rare herons’ plumes, and velvet embroidery (though he had not yet assumed his state uniform, being bound to ride so madly—Count Sandor is the name of this furious cavalier). He had an ivory sceptre in his hand with which he urged on his horse, causing it each time to rear and to make a tremendous bound forward.  3
  When his wild career was over, a procession of about sixty more magnates arrived, all in the same fantastic splendor, with handsome colored turbans, twisted mustaches, and dark eyes. One rode a white horse covered with a gold net; another a dark gray, the bridle and housings studded with diamonds; then came a black charger with purple cloth caparisons. One magnate was attired from head to foot in sky-blue, thickly embroidered with gold, a white turban, and a long white dolman; another in cloth of gold, with a purple dolman; each one more rich and gaudy than the other, and all riding so boldly and fearlessly, and with such defiant gallantry, that it was quite a pleasure to look at them. At length came the Hungarian Guards, with Esterhazy at their head, dazzling in gems and pearl embroidery. How can I describe the scene? You ought to have seen the procession deploy and halt in the spacious square, and all the jewels and bright colors, and the lofty golden mitres of the bishops, and the crucifixes glittering in the brilliant sunshine like a thousand stars!  4

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