- Journey from Barcelona to Madrid. -- Madrid. -- Conde. -- government of Spain. -- the Inquisition. -- public institutions. -- education. -- School for deaf-mutes. -- bull-fights.
To Elisha Ticknor.
Madrid, May 23, 1818.My last was from Barcelona, dear father and mother, just fourteen days ago. As you may well suppose, in a country such as this, where all comfortable or decent means of travelling fail, I took the shortest route to reach this place; but, though the distance is but four hundred miles, I arrived only this morning, after a journey of thirteen days. I have no desire to conceal from you the difficulties of this expedition. All I have suffered in all my absence put together is nothing, and less than nothing, compared to it. In the first place, imagine roads so abominable that the utmost diligence, from four o'clock in the morning until seven at night, would not bring us forward more than twenty-one or twenty-two miles! Imagine a country so deserted and desolate, and with so little travelling and communication, as to have no taverns; for I do not call the miserable hovels where we stopped by that name, because it is not even expected of them to furnish anything but a place to cover you from the weather. And, in the last place, imagine a country so destitute of the means of subsistence, that, even by seeking every opportunity to purchase provisions, you cannot keep so provided that you will not sometimes want a meal. Since I left Barcelona I have not been in a single inn where the lower story was not a stable, and of course the upper one as full of fleas as if it were under an Egyptian curse; twice I have dined in the very place with the mules; and it is but twice that I have slept on a bedstead, and the rest of the time on their stone floors, (which are not so even or so comfortable as our sidewalks,) and there only with straw and my blanket. Not once have I taken off my clothes except to change them, and here I find myself in quarters little more decent . . . . . And yet, will you believe me when I add to all this that I never made a gayer journey