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[206] middling class has by no means the strong, decided character it has in other countries. Except on the sea-coast, they cannot well have the ambition of accumulating wealth; because it will not give them rank in society; and as they are almost inevitably ignorant, they in general lead an idle, dull, and unworthy life; though still, when you do find a man who, by the mere force of his character, has raised himself above the level of this class, you are pretty sure to find something marked and distinguished. The highest class of all is deplorable. I can conceive nothing more monotonous, gross, and disgraceful than their manner of passing their day and their life. . . . .

I was presented at court, as it is better a stranger should be in Spain; and afterwards went occasionally to see the show, which is sometimes magnificent. Not one of the royal family is able to manage even the common formal conversation of a presentation, except Don Francisco; and the king was guilty of the marked folly of always talking to me about his Father in Rome, with extreme interest, making inquiries how he looked, etc., as if he were notoriously the most affectionate son in the world. The besa-manos (kissing hands) is, however, the grand exhibition, and in fact is unique in its kind, for nothing like it is to be seen at any other court in Europe. The ceremony is this. On the great court festivals, the magnificent saloon of the ambassadors is dressed out in all its gala; the royal family, in all the royal paraphernalia, stand in a row opposite to the entrance, and as many of their subjects as have a court dress, or a dress that warrants them to appear at court, come and kiss their royal hands in token of allegiance. Of course all in office come in their spendid uniforms, all above a lieutenant of the military, all the nobles of the realm, the heads of the monastic orders in their humble, solemn habits, the king's body-guards with their finery, etc., etc.; in short, as mingled and splendid a show of magnificent dresses, contrasted and broken, occasionally, by the plain and sober suits of the clergy, as I can well imagine, and in no small number, too, for I one day remember to have seen between thirteen and fourteen hundred, who thus voluntarily passed under the yoke. It was there I first saw the distinguished men whose names were so famous in Spain and in Europe, only a few years ago,— Palafox, the Marquis of St. Simond, the Duke of Infantado, the Maid of Zaragoza, dressed as a captain of dragoons, and with a character as impudent as her uniform implies, etc., etc.; and, indeed, aside from this, the mere show is more magnificent than can be seen at any other court in Europe; but this is all there is, at Madrid, that can interest or amuse any stranger at the palace for a moment.

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