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[214] de Balbo is the model of all that is bold, vehement, and obstinate, we used to have fine battles. Indeed the Duke do Laval, with whom I seldom failed to pass three or four hours, every day, in society somewhere, is one of the very few men I have met in Europe in whom I never saw anything to discourage the regard his general character and conduct inspired, and whom I shall always remember with unmingled gratitude and affection. . . .

Excursion to the Escorial.

Just before I left Madrid I took five days, from September 1st to the 6th, to visit the Escorial and St. Ildefonso, the two most famous royal ‘residences,’ and on all other accounts two of the most interesting spots in Spain. I set out early on the morning of the 1st, by the horse-post, which is the most agreeable mode of conveyance the country affords, and after traversing the dreary, barren waste round Madrid, in which for the space of thirty miles I saw only two meagre, dirty villages, and hardly a solitary tree, I at last entered the royal domains of the Escorial, where there are woods, if there is nothing else. These domains extend for many miles round the convent, and, even before I entered them, its domes and towers springing up on the dark, barren sides of the mountain, upon whose declivity it stands, were already visible. I spurred my horse with eagerness to greater speed, and just before eight o'clock reached the little village that has been formed round it, having, in this expeditious and not unpleasant mode of travelling, gone thirty-five (English) miles in four hours.

The Escorial is as vulgar a name as the Tuileries. It signifies the place where scoria are thrown, and it is so called because there was formerly an iron manufactory near, that threw its scoria on this spot. Its more just name is San Lorenzo el Reale, since it is a royal convent, dedicated to Saint Lorenzo. It is a monument of the magnificence, the splendor, the superstition, and perhaps the personal fears of Philip II. It was at the battle of St. Quintin, which happened on the day of this saint,—and which is painted in fresco by Giordano round the chief staircase of the convent,—that he made a secret vow to build a monastery in his honor, if he succeeded and escaped. The battle was gained, and in 1567 he began the convent, led to this spot by the circumstance that he had often hunted here, and perhaps by his gloomy disposition, which seemed always to delight in barrenness and desolation. . . . . The convent itself is worthy of the severest

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