Irun – Organ in war (1837)

Source: Sketches of scenery in the Basque Provinces of Spain (Ackermann & co, London, 1838)
Henry Wilkinson
The Basque Provinces. Irun. Page 29.

The church contained a noble organ, in perfect condition, and of immense power; rogues soon discovered this, and some of them found out how to manage the bellows, whilst others struck the keys, in glorious ignorance of all musical propriety. The stops were pulled out, and you heard the trumpet and the flute struggling for mastery. The oddest sounds and combinations were produced, which mingled strangely with the wild roar of mirth and song in the body of the church below. The uproar continued till nearly midnight, when deep sleep seized on the faculties of all save those appointed to keep watch against surprise. The numerous tapers and fires continued to blaze, but a perfect silence reigned around, save the measured tread of the sentinels, and the clank of their sounding arms… On the morrow that church was converted into a hospital, and rang with the agonizing shrieks of many unfortunates who were compelled to submit to the surgeon’s amputating knife. What striking contrasts of situation, and differing feelings, does war present to the observing eye!
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Author: Henry Wilkinson
Date: 26/10/1837