previous next

Chapter 9:

  • 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 [186] 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. . . . .

Geo. T.

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 [187] in Europe, with as good prospects of accomplishing the objects for which I came. But you like to have details, and I like to give them to you.

In the first place, I am settled in lodgings procured for me by Mr. Erving, with people he knows to be honest, and whom I find uncommonly neat; which, you will observe, are the two rarest virtues in Spain. In the next place, I rise early,—at half past 5,—and sit down to my books, taking a cup of Spanish chocolate, so thick it may almost be eaten with a fork. I work from this time until eleven o'clock. At this hour my Spanish instructor comes, and remains with me till one. He is a very good master,—as good as there is in Madrid, I suppose,—punctual, patient, and accurate. About half an hour after he is gone—during which I make my second breakfast, according to the fashions of the Continent–comes my other instructor; for, as I have nothing to do here but to learn Spanish, I think it best to multiply the means . . . .This, however, is an entirely different man from the other. His name is Joseph Antonio Conde; and among all the men of letters I have met in Spain,—and I believe I have seen the most considerable in my department,—he has the most learning by far, and the most taste and talent. He was formerly librarian to the king; when the French came he fled; but, on assurances of personal safety, returned from Toulouse, where he had taken refuge, and was soon afterwards placed at the head of that department of the Ministry of the Interior which was devoted to public instruction. On the restoration of the Bourbons he was of course displaced; but still his merits and his honesty were so notorious that he was excepted (and I believe alone) from the sweeping prosecution of all who had served under Joseph, and permitted to live unmolested in Madrid, where he is much respected. He is about fifty years old, extremely ignorant of the world, timid in disposition, awkward in manners, and of childlike simplicity and openness in his feelings. I had letters to him from Paris, and—not because he is poor, for he is not, but because he is solitary from the death of his wife, and unoccupied from the loss of his employments—he comes and reads Spanish poetry with me two or three hours every day. The pleasure he takes in it is evidently great; for he has no less enthusiasm than learning, and nothing gives him so much delight as to see that I share his feelings for his favorite authors, which I truly do; while, on the other hand, the information I get from him is such as I could get, probably, from nobody else, and certainly in no other way. [188]

When I dine at home, it is at five o'clock; when I dine abroad, it is at four, for that is the hour at Madrid; I prefer the latest possible, because it makes my studying day longer. After dinner I walk until half past 8 or nine.

The houses of the foreign ministers are open to me: the Nuncio, Prince Giustiniani, the French Ambassador Prince Montmorency de Laval, and the English, who is Sir Henry Wellesley, have shown me much kindness and civility. I therefore dine abroad nearly all the time; but as soon as I can speak Spanish tolerably I shall seek Spanish society, which is almost completely distinct from the diplomatic, and is to be found only in late evening parties, called tertulias, which all the principal people have every night, and to which Mr. Erving can introduce me better than anybody else. . . . .


Geo. T.

To Mrs. Walter Channing.

Madrid, July 25, 1818.
. . . . Spain and the Spanish people amuse me more than anything I have met in Europe. There is more national character here, more originality and poetry in the popular manners and feelings, more force without barbarism, and civilization without corruption, than I have found anywhere else. Would you believe it?—I speak not at all of the highest class,—what seems mere fiction and romance in other countries is matter of observation here, and, in all that relates to manners, Cervantes and Le Sage are historians. For, when you have crossed the Pyrenees, you have not only passed from one country and climate to another, but you have gone back a couple of centuries in your chronology, and find the people still in that kind of poetical existence which we have not only long since lost, but which we have long since ceased to credit on the reports of our ancestors.

The pastoral life—I will not say such as it is in Theocritus and Virgil, and still less such as it is in Gesner or Galatea, but a pastoral life which certainly has its poetical side—is still found everywhere in the country. I never come home in the evening that I do not pass half a dozen groups of the lower class of the people dancing to their pipes and castanets some of their beautifully original national dances; for you must observe that, if the Italians are the most musical people in the world, the Spaniards are the most remarkable for a natural and inherent propensity to dance, and have the most [189] graceful movements and manners. Sometimes, especially if it be late, I find a lover with his guitar before the house of his mistress, singing his passion and his suffering. Only last night I was coming home from Sir Henry Wellesley's, where I had stayed very late at a little ball Lady Wellesley gave in her garden,—a kind of fete champetre,—and, as I came into the street where I live, I saw a man standing in the middle, and singing with a beautifully clear and sweet voice to his guitar, which he played with great skill. I stopped to hear him, and recognized a little popular song, called a seguidilla, of eight lines, which I have in a large collection of these pieces, taken from the very lips of the populace that composed them. Each [song] consists of one idea, generally a comparison, always in the same metre, and in eight lines, and often singularly beautiful and original. . . . .

To Elisha Ticknor.

Madrid, August 1, 1818.
I am sure you will think of me more than you commonly do today, my dear father and mother, for these anniversaries seem to be bounds and limits in my absence. This is the fourth birthday I have passed away from you; the next, if Heaven pleases to spare my life and health, will be again at home, to which I look forward every day with new earnestness and impatience. . . . .

There is one person that I have mentioned to you so often, that you may desire that I should tell you with some minuteness who he is. I mean the Duke de Laval, French Ambassador here. Since I have been in Europe I have not been so intimate with any one as with him. He is a man of about fifty years old, with great gayety, openness, and impetuosity of character, and with great talents in conversation; so great, indeed, that Mad. de Stael, who was herself the most remarkable person perhaps in this respect that ever lived, used to delight to hear him talk. He has strong literary propensities and not a little literary knowledge, and especially with a genuine goodness of heart, which makes it necessary for him to make those about him happy merely that he may see them so. He is one of the old exiled nobility, who never gave up their fidelity, and in rank he is the first baron of the kingdom, with the title of Duke de Laval; besides that, in Germany he is, from services rendered by his ancestors, Prince of the Empire, and in Spain, from his own merits, Duke de San Fernando Luis, and grandee of the first class; in short, he is, from the antiquity and splendor of his family, one of the first, if not [190] the very first nobleman in Europe, and, from his personal talents and virtues and fidelity, one of the chief supporters of the French throne. Immediately on the return of the king he was appointed ambassador here; not only from the great importance of the post arising from the connection then to be formed anew between the two branches of the restored family, but from the great dignity of the appointment, as the chief embassy France sends, since it is from a Bourbon to a Bourbon, and from the great personal influence he has with the king and court.

. . . . I dine with him two or three times every week, and see him more or less every day; for if by accident I do not meet him in the evening, I am sure that in the morning he will look into my quarters, telling me that he came to see whether I was sick; and still oftener he comes and sits with me to read or to talk, for he is the only Frenchman whose literary opinions and feelings coincide with my own. . . . .

Now, therefore, my dear father and mother, I hope you know who my most intimate friend here is, for I should always like to have you feel acquainted with those I know; and as this [letter] is finished, all that remains for me is to send you my love for all my friends, whom I certainly love more than ever. . . . .


The interior of the city of Madrid, taken as a whole, is far from handsome. It should not, however, be forgotten that no city in Europe can boast within its walls so fine a walk as the Prado; that Rome alone, as far as I know, has an entrance equal to that by the gate of Alcala; that several of its streets are really fine; that good buildings are not wanting, especially those constructed during the reign of Charles III., such as the Aduana, built in 1769, the Academia de San Fernando near it, and the Casa de Correos,—not forgetting the famous convent of Las Salosas, the work of Ferdinand VI.; but then, on the other hand, it may be fairly remembered there is not a fine square in the whole city, or a fine church; that the palace is a confused, irregular, clumsy piece of architecture, begun in 1737, and never to be finished; and that the new museum, and everything, in short, now doing in the Retiro and elsewhere, is worse than all that has been done before. Among all that Madrid boasts in this way, there was nothing that interested me so much as a few obscure buildings, famous for the names and history attached to them, [191] —the remains of the house where Columbus lived, that where Francis I. was confined, two or three of the famous palaces faithfully described in Gil Bias, the convent which Lewis has made the scene of his monk, etc., etc., all of which might very likely interest few persons besides. On the whole, both for the past and the present,—both as a collection of buildings and as a collection of monuments,—Madrid is the least interesting capital I have visited.

It has, however, the great merit of being clean. I do not know whether I should attribute this altogether to the character of the people, for they are not very neat, and it is apparent the keen fresh air, which reigns of course at this height, dries up all decaying bodies immediately, and prevents the accumulation of filth; so that, though certainly dead animals are not uncommon in the streets, they give little or no disagreeable odor. Still, Madrid is not healthy. . . . .

Of the government there is very little good to say. The king personally is a vulgar blackguard. I will not repeat the instances of rudeness, vulgarity, and insolence towards his servants and ministers, which are just as well known at Madrid as that he drives in the Prado, for they would take up my room and time to no purpose. This, then, is the centre of the government; and of what a government! Certainly such a confusion of abuses never existed before since society was organized, and never, I should hope, can exist again. In the first place, its very principle—I mean in practice—is that the king's decree, which in theory is the highest power in the land, may be resisted and disobeyed, and that the only remedy is to make more decrees. The ministers desire to procure a certain amount of money, and issue a decree for it; that on the face and in any other country ought to produce it, but here it will not produce the third of it. The ministers desire to procure a certain degree of obedience, and the king decrees it; but the obedience may or may not follow, as in a case I knew at Barcelona, where an oppressed individual demanded simply a hearing of his case. The king ordered it by a formal decree to be had forthwith, but the tribunal neglected it; he made a new decree, and so on to a third and fourth, each more peremptory than the preceding, and each followed by a similar gross disobedience, until at last the tribunal, wearied out with being thus teazed, quashed the process they were ordered to examine, and told the injured individual to go about his business. Garay, the Minister of Finance, when he came into office announced his system, and it was supported by all sorts of decrees,—decrees to give a new principle of excise, decrees to remove the custom-house officers to the [192] frontiers of the kingdom, etc., etc.; and all are still nominally in force and actually disobeyed, as I have myself witnessed again and again. The remedy in these cases is to make more decrees, that, from the aggregate of all, obedience enough may be produced to keep the government in motion. There is thus a kind of tacit compromise between the government and its agents, that the king shall issue decrees, and that the people shall be tolerated in disobedience; and in this way disturbances are of course avoided. If, however, on the contrary, the king should attempt to execute even one half of the decrees that are nominally in force, he would, I am persuaded, raise a rebellion in a fortnight.

This system, of course, supposes a certain degree of independence in the officers of government, since it gives them in fact the power of resistance; and this independence leads to such a train of abuses and corruptions as nobody can imagine who has not been in the country, and week after week had them continually pounded into his ears. There is nothing that cannot be done by bribery; and—what is the most extraordinary phenomenon I suspect in legislation—Garay, who as minister did not of course like to see the money that should come to the Treasury stop in the hands of its agents, has by his decree of August 5, 1818, instead of seeking to find a remedy for all these gross abuses, coolly legalized them, and what before were bribes he now calls taxes. Thus, if you want to have a cause examined in the highest tribunal, instead of feeing the servants all round, you pay $750 to the Treasury, and the tribunal must hear you. If a corregidor desired to have two villages under him, which is contrary to ancient usage, to law, and common-sense, he could formerly do it only by bribery; now he pays five hundred ducats to Mr. Garay, and nobody can forbid him. To be a regidor under the age of eighteen, which is of course a solecism, could still be obtained formerly by corruption, but was not therefore the less illegal; now it is legalized for two hundred or four hundred ducats a year. And finally, after fifty individual enumerations, in one sweeping article he declares that the want of ‘any one of the requisites for an office’ shall not be considered as an impediment to holding it, on the payment of one third of its income to the Treasury. In short, there is hardly anything that has ever passed under the name of an abuse of government, that is not legalized and taxed by this extraordinary decree. The very first principles of the social compact, all the political morality that keeps society together, seem to be put up at auction by it, and in any other country a revolution would follow; but here this may be avoided by [193] a tolerated disobedience. So notorious, indeed, and so impudent has corruption become, that it even dresses itself in the livery of law and justice, and thus passes on respected through all the divisions of society.

The Inquisition, which is so much talked about, is more a bugbear than anything else, except in its influences on public instruction and the freedom of the press. As a part of the civil government it is hardly felt in individual instances, though still it is not to be denied that persons have sometimes disappeared and never been heard of afterwards; as one since I have been here, who is believed by everybody to be in the Inquisition, and another, who certainly was there before, and escaped to England about the time of my arrival.

The Inquisition, however, I have since found more powerful in the South. At Granada I saw a printed decree posted up, condemning anew the heresy of Martin Luther, and, as it was then imagined to be making some progress there, calling on servants to denounce their masters, children their parents, wives their husbands, etc., in so many words. I could not get a copy of it by ordinary means, and did not like to use any others, on account of the archbishop. Just before I was at Cadiz, the Inquisition entered the apartments of a young German and took away his private books, deemed dangerous; and at Seville some of my ecclesiastical friends cautioned me about my conversation in general society, on account of the power and vigilance of the holy office there; though certainly nobody was ever less obnoxious from heresy in Spain than I was, for my best friends were always of the Church. The Nuncio and a shrewd little secretary he had even thought to convert me by ‘putting good books into my hands,’ though I should never have suspected it if the Prince de Laval had not let me into the secret.2

Of police there is almost nothing: a little watch in the streets during the night, and a few alguazils—who are about as efficient as [194] our constables—during the day, make up its whole muster-roll. Nor is it wanted, for there is little of that sort of crime among the lower classes—little of the petty larceny and small quarrelling and rioting —which a police can prevent. If a crime be committed, it is, like the national character, a serious and bold one. Of a secret political police there is no thought or suspicion. The government is not yet civilized enough to make use of such delicate machinery.

Yet, with all these gross and portentous defects,—without a police and with an Inquisition, without an administration of justice and with legalized, systematic corruption in all its branches,—the Spanish government (if it deserve the name) still seems to fulfil the great object a government should always propose to itself; for a more quiet, orderly people, a people more obedient and loyal, I have not seen in Europe. The reason is that this corruption is still mainly in the higher classes, and in the agents of the government, and that this strange contest between the ministers and king on one side, and the persons they employ on the other, is still unknown to the classes below; so that, though the surface of the ocean be everywhere vexed and agitated, its depths still remain tranquil and undisturbed. But the moment it becomes the interest of those who stand between the highest and the lowest classes to open the flood-gates, and let in the crimes and corruptions of the government upon the people, and thus excite them to disturbances and opposition,—that moment the government must come to an end.

Of the public institutions there is little to say, but something to praise; for, though they are few, some of them are good.

Among the good, however, is not the General Hospital, which is very dirty and ill kept. Especially in its neighborhood all kinds of filth are allowed to accumulate, so that it is the very dirtiest spot in Madrid and its environs. The proportion of deaths in it is horrible, and nobody can go through its damp lower apartments, and the illventilated [195] rooms above, without feeling it to be a reproach to a great capital to have such an establishment.

Above the Museum of Natural History, in the same building, is the collection of paintings begun in 1774 by Charles III. It is rich in the Italian school, which Spain had such fine opportunities for acquiring when Charles V. possessed, as it were, all Italy, and afterwards by the union of the crown of Naples to the family. But it is the Spanish school—Velasquez and Murillo—that shines forth there; and in looking at the purity and dignity and beauty of its merely human forms, I sometimes become unfaithful to the ideals of Correggio, Titian, and Raphael that I had been accustomed to admire in Italy. There are, too, fine pictures at Medina Celi's, and at all the sitios, especially at Aranjuez and the Escurial and in the palace; and the king has commenced a gallery near the Botanical Garden, where he is going to have all united that belong to himself. It is the Marquis of Sta. Cruz—who, for a grandee, is a man of taste—that is at the head of all there is good in this establishment, and the king suffers him to do what he pleases; not because he understands and feels what it would be to have a grand gallery of as fine pictures as there are in Europe, but simply because he knows and cares nothing about such things, and, as he often says, much prefers paper-hangings, and will be very glad when the old gilt frames are taken down from his walls.

Among the public institutions should also be numbered those that relate to education, where this general distinction may be made,— that those concerning the humbler education of the lower classes are to a certain point good, but those relating to the higher branches of education and the higher classes of society are bad.

In the first place, there are sixty-four women's schools established in the city, and paid by the municipality, where the children of the poor receive the first elements of education on a very good plan and to a very good effect. After this follow the escuelas gratuitas, which are in the hands of two convents of friars, called the Calasanzios; who also do their duty very well in instructing in two different schools, established at the two sides of the city, all who choose to come to them, in reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, the principles and dogmas of their faith, and, if they choose, Latin grammar. These schools are properly called escuelas pias, and by a vulgar corruption esculapios, and are every way to be praised,— religion being put out of the question, where the friars certainly exercise an undue influence. These two classes of schools are so suecessful [196] that it is extremely rare to find a person who cannot read and write, and who has not pretty good, shrewd general ideas; but here comes a great hiatus in the means of education; for while the Universities of Alcala, Salamanca, etc., are so fallen that nobody pretends to go to them but as a matter of form, to have permission to be an advocate or a physician, or some other privileges that were anciently attached to their degrees, the capital has not only done nothing to supply their places, but has even destroyed two institutions of a very useful character, and left nothing for the intermediate steps in education but loose lectures on botany at the Botanic Garden, lectures on physics at the Gabinete, and similar disjointed instructions, that make up no system, and lead to no distinct end. . . . .

The law is not taught at all, being left entirely to the monks of Alcala and Salamanca, and the kind decree of Mr. Garay, who permits every man to become a lawyer that will pay a certain inconsiderable sum to the Treasury. The healing art is very ill taught at their dirty hospital by five professors, for medicine, surgery, anatomy, chemistry and clinics; but it is only necessary to go there and see their collections of filthy preparations, antiquated instruments, and books out of all date and repute, to know that everything is bad and wrong here in medical instruction. . . . .

There are a few institutions for education here that should be separately mentioned; because, though useful, they have no fixed position in the general system. In the first place, there is the school for the deaf and dumb. It should be remembered, in speaking of this, that the world owes the power of teaching them to Spain, for it was Bonet—to whom Lope de Vega has addressed one of his sonnets —that first invented it. The present institution is not a large or an old one. It was established on the return of the king, who gives to it 2,500 of the 4,500 dollars it costs yearly, and contains only twenty-seven pupils. They are well taught to read, write, etc., and, what is more, to speak intelligibly. One fact I witnessed, and knew therefore personally, which is extremely curious. Not one of the pupils, of course, can ever have heard a human sound, and all their knowledge and practice in speaking must come from their imitation of the visible, mechanical movement of the lips, and other organs of enunciation, by their teachers, who are all Castilians; yet each speaks clearly and decidedly, with the accent of the province from which he comes, so that I could instantly distinguish the Catalonians and Biscayans and Castilians, while others more practised in Spanish felt the Malagan and Andalusian tones. How is this to be explained, but [197] by supposing an absolutely and originally different conformation of the organs of speech?. . . .

The Library owes its existence to the French dynasty, for the Austrian never thought of such a thing. Philip V. founded it in 1726, and Charles III. added the Cabinet of Medals. The printed books amount to above 110,000, the Mss. to 3,500, and the medals to 106,000. It is, like the libraries of the Escorial, a mine for future discovery, for it is so ill arranged, and has so bad a catalogue, and is so abominably administered, that all that is known of its curiosities and rarities is by accident. The collection of coins and medals is a perfect confusion worse confounded, and yet Eckhel stands on the shelf. I asked Gonzalez, the chief man of the whole establishment, what book this was, and he said it was an old book on numismatics, that he had never looked into! They have, too, a lumber-room, where there is a great pile of books called useless. The second librarian showed it to me, advising me that it was mere wastepaper. I ventured, however, to look in, and the second book I took up was Laplace's Mecanique Celeste. Ex pede Herculem.

The two Academies owe their existence to the tertulia of the Marquis de Villafranca. The one for the Spanish language was founded in 1714, and has only occupied itself with dictionaries, grammars, orthographies, etc., and with promoting the publication of important works relating to the language, such as Garces' Fuerza y Vigor; new editions of old standard works, such as Balbuena, etc.

The other, for Spanish history and belles-lettres, founded in 1735, is the most respectable literary establishment in Spain; for such men as Navarrete, Marina, Conde, and Clemencin are enough to make an academy respectable in any country. They keep it, too, extremely pure; but the consequence is, that they have only eight or ten members; and yet the five volumes they have published, with their ‘Chronicles,’ Partidas, Fuero Juzgo, etc., do them infinite credit, and show like the work of a great body of learned men. . . . .

Even in the large cities and the capital it is astonishing to see how much they are behindhand,—how rude and imperfect is their house furniture, and how much is absolutely wanting. A great deal of the better sort is brought from Paris and London; and when an ambassador has kept a carriage two or three years, until it has become soiled and worn, he can sell it, as they all do, to some grandee, for more than it cost him. In the country it is, of course, worse. The chief persons in a village — I mean the respectable ecclesiastics and the alcaldes [198] —often have no glass-ware in their houses, no dinner-knives, and little of earthen manufactory, while a metal fork is a matter of curiosity. In agriculture their instruments are extremely clumsy. The scythes, hoes, shovels, pickaxes, etc., are so awkward, that I do not well see how they work with them; their threshing I have seen done, at the gates of Madrid, on just such a threshing-floor as is described in the Old Testament, and by the identical process of driving horses over the grain; their plough, which is of a construction singularly clumsy and inefficient, is the same the Romans used when they were here, for I have it on a coin of Caesar Augustus; and their mode of drawing water by a horse or mule, and a wheel, is the very one which, for its antiquity, is in Egypt attributed to Joseph. Finally, there are almost no manufactories of articles of luxury on private speculation, and the few the king attempts to sustain bring him in debt at the end of every year, with the single exception of the glass manufactory at St. Ildefonso; and yet, there, an ordinary cut-glass tumbler, which might cost in England, at most, four or five shillings, costs eight dollars.

The means and conveniences of life are, then, few here, and the comforts may, as a general remark, be said to be unknown in all that relates to the mechanical arts. Their amusements, too, are hardly less meagre. The common people, however, it should be observed, are gay and light-hearted in their natural dispositions, and on the festivals, which are above one third of the whole year, are always seen in the Delicias,—a public walk outside the walls,—on the borders of the canal, and in the meadows of the Manzanares, dancing to their guitars and castanets. Every evening, too, as I come home I find little groups of them dancing the bolero, the fandango, and the manchegas in the streets; for, if the Italians are the most musical people in the world, the Spaniards of all classes, and especially the lowest, are the most fond of dancing. Their very movements seem from nature to be graceful, and their resting positions picturesque. Except this, however, and the universal passion for toros, they have little amusement that is social, except in a kind of tavern, where they go during the evenings of the summer, not to drink strong liquors,— for I never saw a Spaniard intoxicated,—but to refresh themselves with iced water, orgeats, and cebada, which, as they are the necessaries of life in this burning climate, seem to be within the reach of everybody's means.

The middling classes are the most reserved and the least gay of all the population of Spain,—the most difficult of access, and the [199] least interesting to a stranger when they are known. Their amusements are few. Society they have almost none; for either—which is the general rule—they have very little culture and are rather rude in their manners, and then society, which depends for its charms in this class entirely on cultivation and refinement, is an amusement above their resources, and out of the circle of their pleasures and wants, or else they are instructed and refined, and then the long, long oppression of three centuries of tyranny and inquisition has taught them how dangerous it is to have such meetings, where the heart is too apt to speak what it feels, especially in that very portion of the people which has always been most obnoxious to the government and clergy; and therefore their doors are either hermetically sealed up, or else when they meet it is only to play at cards; which more than one of them has told me he had introduced into his parties, for the express purpose of suppressing conversation. As a general remark, therefore, the pleasures of this class are to walk in the Prado, —in the winter from twelve to two o'clock, and in the summer during the evening, which they end by taking ices at a coffee-house, —to go to the theatre, and to the toros.

1 Madraso.

2 Two attempts were made to convert Mr. Ticknor to Catholicism. Once at Rome, being at a grand funzione, a priest who stood near him and his companion addressed them in English, which he heard them speaking, and they found he was an American of the name of Patterson. His history, as afterwards told to Mr. Ticknor by Mr. George Harrison, was a curious one. He was a Philadelphian, rich, handsome, at the head of fashion, the best billiard player in town. He was still quite young when he was converted, and he immediately gave his property to the Church, keeping only a small stipend for himself; had his teeth pulled to destroy his beauty, and became a priest and an ascetic. Patterson often visited Mr. Ticknor, glad to get a breakfast or a lunch, and one day brought a Padre Grassi with him. He was a man of talent and cultivation, had been in America, and used to talk much of early Christian antiquities and their relation to the Roman Church. His visits ceased after a time, but Mr. Ticknor was told afterwards that it had been an effort to convert him.

In Madrid, Cardinal Giustiniani made Mr. Ticknor acquainted with a young Italian ecclesiastic, a pleasant fellow, who lent him the Abbe de Lamennais's great work in defence of the Church, which had just come out, and he visited Mr. Ticknor often. After this intimacy had passed off, he was told by the the Duke de Laval that there had been great hopes of him.

The Princess Prossedi, the oldest child of Lucien Bonaparte, became an affectionate friend to Mr. Ticknor, and sincerely desired his conversion; and, when he again met her in 1836, told him she had never ceased to pray for it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Madrid (Spain) (17)
Barcino (Spain) (4)
Salmantica (Spain) (2)
Toulouse (France) (1)
Seville (Spain) (1)
Pyrenees (1)
Granada (Spain) (1)
France (France) (1)
Department de Ville de Paris (France) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1836 AD (1)
August 5th, 1818 AD (1)
August 1st, 1818 AD (1)
July 25th, 1818 AD (1)
June 3rd, 1818 AD (1)
May 23rd, 1818 AD (1)
1774 AD (1)
1769 AD (1)
1737 AD (1)
1735 AD (1)
1726 AD (1)
1714 AD (1)
23rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: