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Chapter 11:


on the evening of September 13, after dining with a few friends at Mr. Erving's, I mounted my post-horse at his door, to leave Madrid. It would be very ungrateful in me to say I left it without regret. I had come there with sad and dark thoughts; but, instead of the solitary, melancholy life I had imagined I was to lead, I found myself, on the whole, more pleasantly situated there, and passed my time, as I think, in some respects, more profitably, than I have done anywhere in Europe. All these thoughts were present to my mind, with the recollections of the many kind and excellent friends I had made there, as I rode slowly and sadly down Calle de Alcala; passed for the last time the Prado, in all its splendor and gala, where I regretted even to the king's coach that was just entering; and forcing my way through the crowd at the Gate of Atocha, and in the Delices, and galloping over the bed of the Manzanares, now dried up, entered the dreary plain round Madrid. . . . . The night was so beautiful, so mild, so calm, that it might well have stilled agitations and regrets more serious than mine;. . . . and before I arrived at Aranjuez I felt myself already hardened, and prepared for the long and difficult journey I had commenced.

The approach to this Royal Sitio1 is announced many miles beforehand, by the long rows of trees that line each side of the road, by the magnificent stone bridges that are thrown over every little stream and valley, and by circular openings, ornamented with seats, statues, and walks, for the benefit of the idle crowd that always followed the Court here, in the delicious months of the spring. At about half past 9 I entered this neat little city,2 built expressly in imitation of a Dutch village. . . . It was originally [the Palace]—I mean in the time of Charles V.—a mere hunting-lodge, and though the succeeding

1 Sitio, a country-seat.

2 Aranjuez.

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