in my life? It is, notwithstanding, very true. My companions were excellent; and, with that genuine, unpretending courtesy and hearty, dignified kindness for which their nation has always been famous, did everything they could to make me feel as few of the inconveniences of the journey as they could, even at the expense of taking them upon themselves. The oldest was a painter1 of much reputation in Rome, where he has lived seventeen years, and is now called to Madrid to become Director of the Academy of Arts,—a man of much general knowledge and some learning, with great simplicity of character and goodness of heart. The second was a young man, attached to the general staff of the army, and the third an officer in the king's body-guards, —both of them of good families, good manners, and good dispositions. The painter was a little disposed to complain at first, because he had forgotten how bad it was, but he soon got over it; the two officers were used to it; and I had screwed myself up to the sticking-place before I set off, so that I went patiently through the whole. I brought some books with me, and among them was Don Quixote. This I read aloud to them; and I assure you it was a pleasure to me, such as I have seldom enjoyed, to witness the effect this extraordinary book produces on the people from whose very blood and character it is drawn. My painter in particular was alternately holding his sides with laughter at Sancho and his master, and weeping at the touching stories with which it is interspersed. All of them used to beg me to read it to them every time we got into our cart,—like children for toys or sugar-plums,—while I willingly yielded, as every reading was to me a lesson. In this way my journey became far from useless or unpleasant, and I arrived here perhaps as little disposed to complain as any stranger ever was who came in the same way. In Madrid things promise well. I have letters to nearly every one of the foreign ministers, to the Pope's Nuncio from Consalvi, the Pope's Prime Minister, to the Secretaries of the three Royal Academies, etc.; and Mr. Erving, our Minister, has received me with very remarkable kindness. A week hence you shall know more. . . . .
To Elisha Ticknor.
Madrid, June 3, 1818.On my arrival here, on the 23d ultimo, my dear father and mother, I immediately wrote to tell you of my safety . . . . . And now I can tell you that I am as comfortably settled as I have been anywhere