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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 [221] princes gradually enlarged it,. . . . it remained little more than a fine country-house, until Charles IV.3—who seems to have had a sense for the beauties of nature, though he certainly had it for little else—made it his favorite residence, and added the Casa del Labrador and its immense gardens.

The Palace is an ordinary building, but full of pictures. Such Murillos, Velasquez, and Riberas I had never seen, except a few in the Palace and Academy at Madrid; and I was delighted to find that the Marquis de Sta. Cruz had marked them all with his ‘M.’ for the new Royal Gallery, where they will be, for the first time, in a situation in which their merit will be known and felt.

What there is curious and interesting in architecture, here, is the Casa del Labrador, or, as we should translate it, ‘the Farm-house,’ —a little plaything of Charles IV.,—standing in the midst of a fine wood, about half a mile from the Palace. It is the merest little jewel. There is but one suite of apartments in it, and only two large saloons; all the rest being divided into small rooms, cabinets, etc., each ornamented with beautiful embroidered tapestry; the roofs painted in miniature frescos, and the floors paved in mosaic. Everything, in short, has a neatness and perfection in its finish, and the whole has an air of comfort, and a preservation of unity in its style, such as I have seldom met; while in the richness of its ornaments, which are often of gold and sometimes of platina, it is absolutely unrivalled.

The Sitio of Aranjuez, however, is not to be so much considered in relation to its architecture and ornaments, as in relation to its natural situation and the beauty of its scenery. It stands in a valley formed by the Tagus, which winds gracefully through it, and forms one large island in front of the Palace,—where is the principal garden,—and two waterfalls, that have been managed by art so as to produce a considerable effect. This is to be regarded as merely the central point of the establishment, while on all sides, where the valley opens, fine groves have been formed, picturesque alleys and walks cut, and rural ornaments distributed for many miles round; so that as a park, or, in fact, as a fine country establishment, there are few, I suspect, in Europe, to compare with it. . . . .

Aranjuez, like the Escorial and St. Ildefonso, marks its Fasti with several famous events, of which the most remarkable is the last. I mean the Revolution, which finally broke out here, on the 17th-18th [222] March, 1808, and the meeting in October, of the Central Junta, which fled before the approach of the French to Seville, on the 21st November.4 This flight probably finishes the history of the political importance of Aranjuez; but its exquisite scenery, and all the beauties which nature has so lavishly poured around it, and which, from the time of Argensola to that of Quintana, have been one of the favorite subjects of Spanish poetry, will remain the same, whether cultivated and cherished by royal favor and taste, or suffered to wanton in their native luxuriance.

On the afternoon of the 14th I left Aranjuez, and came on to Ocaña, the city whose name often occurs in the ancient Spanish ballads, and whose architecture still bears traces of its Moorish origin. . . . . In the evening I came on fifty-five miles to Madrilejos. . . . . Here I had a singular proof of Spanish fidelity and hospitality. My license to post was endorsed with a particular order from the Ministry, that the postmasters should receive me with attention, and give me any assistance I might need. The one at Madrilejos showed, from the moment I entered his house, a kind of dignified obedience to this order, which struck me; and on his relating a story of a robbery, when three thousand reals were taken, and my reply that, in a similar case, less would be taken from me, he began to suspect that I might be in want of money. At first, therefore, he slightly intimated that if I wanted anything, I might be sure he would supply my needs; and finding I did not reply very directly, pressed me further,—offered me money at once, and would not be satisfied until I proved to him that I was in no want, or fear of it. This was no empty offer; I am sure I might have commanded that man's purse and house.

On the 15th I made an easy journey of seventy miles, for the Post is so rapid, and so little fatiguing, that eight hours is enough for it, and it can be done without real weariness5 . . . . . I went out of my way a little, to see where the Guadiana disappears,—a phenomenon which is no less interesting than extraordinary. The precise spot is nowhere so well marked as in the map to Pellicer's Don Quixote, [223] where it is settled with great accuracy, on account of what Montesinos says to Durandarte, in the cave.6

The 16th, early in the morning, I came through Sta. Cruz, the splendid fief of the Marquis, who is son-in-law to the Duchess of Ossuna, and soon afterwards came to the famous passage of the Sierra Morena which divides La Mancha from Andalusia, and which I traversed, at the point where Don Quixote gave their liberty to the galley slaves. It is a long range of dark mountains, which have little striking in their forms;. . . . one of the gorges is, however, fine; and the great number of eagles with which it abounds, and which sail over your head at a height that hardly permits you to hear their cries, strike the imagination like poetry, and announce to you that you are in one of the original, undisturbed solitudes of nature. . . . .

At the foot of the mountains I entered La Carolina, the chief place of a colony of Germans, brought here by Charles III., and distributed through about twenty neat little villages he here built for them. They are in a delicious situation, well built, and in a flourishing condition; full of an industrious population, that furnishes a great quantity of articles in the common arts, such as wooden clocks, coarse earthenware, etc., etc., to all Spain. Carolina is really a beautiful town, with fine buildings, spacious walks, and all the marks of wealth and comfort in the population; and the whole colony, extending from the foot of the Sierra Morena to near Baylen, forms a singular contrast, by its neatness and industry, with the squalid poverty that marks the villages of La Mancha and Castile.

It was in this delightful spot that I first observed the change of climate that might be expected on passing so considerable a chain of mountains. The balmy mildness of the evening air, just such as I had felt it a year ago on descending the Alps; the reappearance of large groves of olives, which are so rare and meagre in Castile; and the hedges of aloes, which I had not seen since I left the coast of Catalonia,—all proved that I had come into what may, without impropriety, be called the Italy of Spain.

In the morning [of the 17th] I rode along, still through the same delicious country, and came at last upon the banks of the Guadalquivir, [224] which I kept continually in view, until, passing the superb stone bridge of Alcolea, the turrets and domes of Cordova appeared in the horizon before me. A half an hour afterwards I entered the city, having ridden, between four o'clock and eleven, sixty-three miles. . . .

The epoch of the splendor of Cordova is, of course, between 755 and 1030. . . . .The remains of the luxury and magnificence of this grand epoch in the Moorish annals are not to be mistaken at Cordova. The ruins of the Palace of the Kings, where the Inquisition now stands, on the bank of the Guadalquivir, and one of the bridges, which, however, is partly of Roman architecture, would be considered very curious in any other part of the world; and, undoubtedly, we should everywhere find more distinct and more magnificent traces of this singular people, if they had not been so carefully obliterated by the conquerors when they entered, in the thirteenth century, and if the monuments, which even they spared and respected, had not been overturned by a tremendous earthquake in 1589.

One, however, still remains to us; and one, too, that so completely fills and satisfies the imagination, that a stranger at Cordova hardly regrets or remembers what he has lost. I mean the Cathedral, still in the popular language called the Mezquita, the grandest of all the monuments of Arabic architecture; for, between Bagdad and the Pillars of Hercules, nothing to be compared to it is to be found. Abderrahman I. began its construction in 786, and his two successors enriched and finished it. It is one of the largest churches in the world, five hundred and thirty-four feet long and three hundred and eighty-seven feet six inches wide, built of a fine stone, and forming nineteen naves, supported by eight hundred and fifty columns. The coup d'oeil, on entering, is magnificent. Nothing but St. Peter's equals it; not even the vast Gothic churches of the North, or the Cathedral of Milan; besides that it has the charm of entire novelty in its form, style, and tone. In all these it is still essentially and purely Arabic. The beauty of its marbles, the curious mixture of the Eastern, the Western, and the Northern styles in its architecture,—which has confounded the inquiries of the learned as to the origin of the style called Gothic,—and the minute delicacy and graceful lightness of its ornaments, combined with the grand effect produced by the whole imposing mass of the edifice, whose thousand columns make you feel as if you were in the labyrinths of a forest, altogether render it not only the first thing of its kind in the world, but one of the most curious of all the monuments of the wealth and power of man. . . . .

Until 1528 it remained precisely as when the Moors left it; and [225] even now the only considerable alteration is the construction of a chapel in the centre, which, however, is so hidden by the columns, that, from many parts of the church, it cannot even be seen. . . . .

You enter by the court and portico, where the faithful, like Moses, put off their shoes because it was holy ground. The very fountains still flow there which flowed for their ablutions; and the orange-trees, the cypresses, and the palms, which still form its refreshing shade, harmonize with the Eastern associations and imagery the edifice itself awakens in the imagination. On the inside, you are continually passing Arabic inscriptions taken from their holy books; you see the sanctuary where they preserved the volumes of the Coran; you enter the dark recess where the doctors met for the exposition of the law; and you sit in the very seat where sat that long and splendid line of proud Moorish kings, from Abderrahman to Hisem. . . . .

The Mosque, however, as the popular feeling still insists on calling it, was not the only thing that interested me in Cordova. A visit that I made on the 19th to the hermits that live in the mountains, about ten miles from the city, gave me a view of the human character on a side where I had not before seen it, or, at least, had caught only some imperfect and indistinct glimpses of it. The Duke de Rivas and his brother Don Angel called on me at five o'clock in the morning on horseback. They were dressed in the picturesque and ancient costume of the country, such as the Picadores wear at Madrid,7 and which the Andalusian gentlemen and nobility often put on, because it is really very beautiful and rich, and because it is, besides, popular, and produces a good effect when they go among their peasantry and vassals, whose own dress, in very humble forms and materials, it still remains.

It was a beautiful morning; their horses and the one they brought for me were fine Arabians, and we rode gayly up the dark sides of the Sierra until nearly eight o'clock, when we had almost reached the summit. There, by the side of a little fountain that gushed from the rocks, we found a cloth spread on the ground and covered with a breakfast of cold meats, fruits, and wine, which the Duke had sent up beforehand. In this romantic spot, under the shade of some pomegranate-trees, and with a magnificent view of Cordova, the rich plain that spreads for fifty miles above and below it, and the Guadalquivir winding through the whole of it, we stretched ourselves on the grass, and I made a breakfast such as is so often described in works of fiction, but which I never realized before, and which I can never forget. When we had finished, we walked up the rest of the mountain, as the [226] passage had now become too steep and difficult for the horses; and on the summit, or rather just below it, so as to shelter themselves from the north-winds and give them a southern aspect, we found this very extraordinary establishment.

Its origin is not well known. The hermits pretend that it has existed ever since the time Christianity came into Spain, though not precisely on the spot where it now is; but all that is certain is, that about two hundred and fifty years ago a nobleman of Cordova, wearied with the world, retired to this solitude and was soon after followed by others, who were attracted by his reputation for sanctity to imitate the austerity of his life and devotions. Their number was shortly so great that they chose one to govern the establishment, and from 1613 they have regular Fasti. . . . . Thirty-four that now live there are shut up, each in his little cell, which stands separate from all the others. They never speak together but on especial occasions, with leave of their head; they never see each other but at mass, once a day; never sleep on anything but boards; never eat anything but vegetables nor drink anything but water, and refuse all alms in money or in anything else that does not serve as the immediate means of subsistence. They have a little church, plain and simple, where the Elder BrotherHermano Mayor, as he is called—lives; and the little cabins of each of the hermits, though not squalid or miserable, are small, and absolutely destitute of everything that can be called either the comforts or the conveniences of life. . . . . Over the door is the skull of one of its former tenants, and within, before the crucifix, there is commonly another. Nine times a day they perform their devotions, at a signal given from the church, which is answered by a bell from each cell; and if there be any faith in wan and suffering countenances, the bloody thongs I saw, hanging up before their humble altars, are but the proofs of the cruel severity of their secret mortifications.

With all this, they are of no religious order, have made no profession and taken no vow, and can go from their hermitage as freely as they came to it; and yet, such secret charms has this life, that there is no instance remembered, or on record, of any one who has returned to the world. Neither have they been men who came here from the lowest classes of society, ignorant of the pleasures of this world, for there is hardly a noble family in Cordova that has not furnished more than one hermit. There are four or five such there now, besides one that has been a colonel in the army, another that commanded a frigate, and fought bravely at Trafalgar. . . . The Elder Brother himself, who has been there twenty-six years, might, if he would [227] return to his family, claim a title and fortune; but these things have lost all charms for him. Yet a more benevolent countenance and manners, or more unaffected kindness, I have rarely seen. He inquired of the Duke very minutely about his friends and relations, told him many anecdotes of their youth, and but for the solitude of his cell, his sackcloth, and his flowing beard, it would have been difficult to say he was anything but a well-bred gentleman, a little touched, indeed, in the tones of his voice and in the forms of his expressions, by the softening and humbling hand of adversity and suffering, but still preserving the unpretending and natural dignity of his character and the ease and grace of his manners. He carried us through the whole establishment, and suffered the brothers to talk to us. Some did it willingly and even gayly, others with reluctance and in monosyllables only. . . . . It was altogether one of the most extraordinary and interesting spectacles I have seen in Europe, and. . . . left an impression on my feelings and fancy that can never pass away. . . .

I remained in Cordova in all two days and a half, and was not a little amused with what I saw of the people and society there. It is altogether different from what I had seen in Madrid. The Castilians are gay in their own private circles; the Andalusians are gay always and everywhere, and they have an open-heartedness towards strangers which, if it be not a more efficient hospitality than you meet at the North, is much more fascinating. The nobility is rich, and generally agricultural, fond of a country life and country amusements, great hunters, bull-baiters, and Picadores; and, above all, proud of having fine horses and cattle. It is in these rich plains that I first realized the truth of Roxas' description of Castañar's wealth and the nature of his incomes, for I was often shown estates where were kept from three to five hundred horses, a thousand cattle, etc., etc., for these are the strength and resources of the country.8 Each evening I spent at the Marquis de Villaseca's, the richest man in Cordova, and the pleasantest house there, as I was told in Madrid. Few people go there, but those that do, go familiarly and intimately; and, to me at least, the society was interesting and amusing. The Marquis himself is a young man, with ninety thousand dollars a year, easy, good-natured, kind-hearted, hospitable, and ignorant; with a house full of old domestics, whose ancestors have been in his family—as is the custom here—from untold generations, and who therefore treat him with great respect, to be sure, but still great familiarity. . . . .

The Duke de Rivas is a true Andalusian nobleman, loving hunting [228] and horses, delighted with living among his own vassals, and promoting good agriculture; a brave and successful soldier, and a dexterous Picador. Don Angel, whom he loves, I am told, affectionately, is certainly one of the most extraordinary young men I have met in Spain.9 He has a fine person, a beautiful face, full of genius, has written several plays that have been well received in the Spanish theatres, painted a large piece that made much noise in the last exhibition at Madrid; is as brave as Caesar, since he has eleven severe wounds in his body received from the French; and, with all this, is very modest, simple, and elegant in his manners, and a pure Andalusian in the gayety of his temper, his horsemanship, and his love of bull-fights and dexterity as a Picador. I really passed my evenings very happily with them. The amusements were dancing, singing, etc., and the evening before I came away, they danced their national dances in the national costumes, to gratify my curiosity, so that I stayed until almost morning, as much as if I had been an Andalusian. . . . .

On the 20th, very early in the morning, I left Cordova, and returned upon my steps as far as Andujar, where I dined. There I turned off, and plunging at once into the mountains, continued travelling through a broken and picturesque country, where, though there was only a road for horses, I often met considerable towns, and almost always with some strong Moorish fortification near them, until four o'clock on the morning of the 22d, when, after having ridden twenty-four hours successively with the mail-post, for safety, I entered Granada. . . . .

After resting myself a little, I went to the palace of the Archbishop, and presented my letter from the Nuncio. The Archbishop is an old man of nearly seventy, but so well preserved that he does not look like fifty-five, plain in his manners and almost rude, and with a strong air of genuine ecclesiastical decision and authority in all he does and says. After talking with him a few minutes, he took me by the coat, and carrying me into a large suite of apartments, gave me the key, and said, ‘There, sir, these rooms are yours, and this servant is at nobody's orders but yours as long as you are in Granada; but you will make use of them or not, just as you please, for I never shall inquire. Moreover, I dine at two o'clock every day, and you will always [229] have a plate on my table; but if you don't come I shall not complain of it, for I mean you should do exactly as you please.’ It was certainly the most rudely and heartily hospitable reception that could be given to a stranger, and his conduct afterwards showed that it was all to be taken literally and in earnest, for there was nothing he did not do for me during the two days I was in Granada.

One great source of my amusement in his palace was the comic recollections of Gil Blas, his ill-timed fidelity, and its ungrateful reward; and often, when I was talking with the Archbishop, and the thought of the irresistibly droll scenes that Le Sage has placed here came into my mind, I could hardly prevent myself from laughing aloud. The parallel, however, certainly does not hold very strictly in the present incumbent. He is undoubtedly a good man, as everybody says; he gives away nearly all his ecclesiastical incomes to the poor; three hundred are fed at his door every day, as I have seen; he supports two charity schools in every town of his archbishopric; educates all the foundlings, etc., etc., and lives liberally and hospitably on his private fortunes, consecrating to religion all he receives from it. But he is not a man to write homilies; and, indeed, with strong masculine sense, and even a bold, original style of thought and talk, he is one of the most grossly superstitious and ignorant men I ever met; and his chief favorite, instead of being a shrewd, original, practical fellow, like Gil Blas, is a humble, insinuating little priest without talent or culture. I recollect that in giving me an account of an irreligious man, he said, ‘He believes neither in God, Christ, nor even the Virgin’; and in describing a library he has at Xerez, he said, that among the Mss. there were autographs of every one of the apostles and prophets, most of which had wrought and still work miracles10 . . . . .

The Cathedral is not very extraordinary, though still a fine church, and remarked chiefly for an admirable dome supported by twelve arches. It was begun by Ferdinand and Isabella, chiefly built by Charles V., and finished by Philip II., but was interesting to me only for a few good pictures, and for the Chapel of the Kings, where are deposited the bodies of Ferdinand and Isabella. . . . .

The Convent of the Carthusians is also due to the Catholic kings, [230] and is, after the Escorial, the finest I ever saw for its architecture, extent, and magnificence. Yet no monks except the order of La Trappe live so severely. They never eat meat, and only once in a week speak together. They live shut up in their cells the rest of the time, and if, from any accident, they meet, they stop an instant, cross themselves, and one says, instead of all other salutation, ‘Brother, we must die’; to which the only answer is, ‘Brother, I know it’; after which they cross themselves again and pass on. By order of the Archbishop, I was permitted to see their manner of life, their cells, etc.; and their austerities made me shudder. I would rather have been with the hermits of Cordova, where at least I should have had a beautiful and smiling nature always before me, than in the dreary, dark, cheerless solitude of this magnificent convent. . . .

Granada was originally divided into four quarters, which still exist and are easily to be traced. Three were given to the people, but the fourth, the famous Alhambra, was reserved for the Court, and is still everywhere covered with bold, striking ruins of the peculiar style of Moorish luxury. It is a considerable hill, at whose base flow the waters of the Douro and Xenil, and beyond which lie the city, the delicious plain of Granada, dotted everywhere with convents and villages, and the dark mountains of the Sierra Nevada. On this hill—which was once strongly walled and fortified as a kind of citadel—stood the palaces and gardens of the Moorish kings, and around it were scattered the establishments of the Court and nobility, so that the whole Alhambra, with its guards, consisted of a population of forty thousand souls. The ruins that remain are worthy monuments of the glory and splendor that once inhabited them. You go up by a fine elm walk and enter the Gate of Judgment, where the Moorish kings sat in the patriarchal manner of the East to administer justice to all who came to ask it. You pass through the immense halls of their palaces, through their bathing-apartments, through the queen's toilet-room and the room where she perfumed herself, through the magnificent saloon of the ambassadors, through the beautiful recesses of the women's apartment, and amidst the exquisite beauties and refreshing shades and fountains of the hanging gardens of the Generalife. All this is in the light, gay, luxurious style of the Arabian architecture, which so singularly marks the peculiar characters of their genius and imagination, and is so different from the severe purity of the Greek and Roman taste and the gloomy grandeur of the spirit of the North. The different degrees, too, in which all this is preserved or ruined, add much to the general effect of the whole. [231]

Here you pass under superb rows of oaks and elms, whose size and regularity prove to you that they are the same where those proud kings walked who claimed to themselves the titles of emperor and sultan; and a little farther on, you find yourself in a thicket as wild as the original fastnesses of nature. Sometimes you meet with a fountain that still flows as it did when tales of Arabian nights were told on its borders, and sometimes you find the waters burst from their aqueducts and bubbling over the ruins of the palaces or pouring in cascades from the summit of the crumbling fortifications. Sometimes the architecture is preserved, even to the very minutest of its most delicate ornaments, as in the queen's toilet, the luxurious bathing-rooms, and the saloon of the ambassadors, and sometimes it has been broken by earthquakes into grand masses of picturesque ruins covered with the graceful drapery of the ivy and the vine; while, for a vast distance around, the remains of immense gardens are apparent in the garden flowers that still grow wild there, in the pomegranate and palm trees that spring up in every thicket, and in the profusion of waters that were the peculiar and characteristic luxury of the Arabs, and which still, brought by their aqueducts from the neighboring mountains, are everywhere seen winding down the sides of the hill and hastening to join the Xenil and the Douro in the fertile plain below.

I wandered here for hours, meeting at every instant something to delight and surprise me, resting under the shade of a palm-tree, sitting amidst the refreshing coolness of the minute fountains the Arabs invented only to temper the heat, or enjoying the magnificent view from the summit of the Generalife, which, taking in the plain below, traversed by four streams and bounded by mountains, is more like an original to Milton's description of Paradise than the Val d'arno, or anything else I have seen in Europe. At length, the sun set upon my unsatisfied eagerness, and the twilight began to fade below. I came down slowly and reluctantly; returned to the Archbishop's and talked it all over with him; went to bed and dreamt of it, and the next morning, at half past 5 o'clock, was again on the summit of the Generalife, with my eyes again fastened on the same enchanting scenery and prospect. The morning was as beautiful as the evening had been. The plain became gradually illuminated, and the mountains beyond passed from gray to purple, and from purple to gold, as I gazed upon them. The birds were everywhere rejoicing at the return of day, in the groves and gardens of the Alhambra, as gayly as if it were still the chosen seat of Arabian luxury; and the convents in the city and its environs were just ringing their matins. In the [232] nearest I could occasionally catch the tones of the organ and the choir, while from the most remote the tolling of the bell had almost died away before it reached me in the intervals of the morning breeze. All was in harmony,—the hour, the season, and the scene; and when the sun rose, it rose on one of the most splendid and glorious prospects in the world.11

The old Archbishop was delighted at breakfast-time to find I had been again at the Alhambra, for in his veneration for this wonderful ruin he is little better than a Mahometan. He sent me out, however, directly afterwards, with his rude kind of hospitality, to see the city itself. It is a good city, like any other, with a few fine houses belonging to the nobility; but what most struck me was the Moorish character so often apparent. I first noticed it in the curious form, arrangement, and splendor of the silk market, which is substantially as it was in the fifteenth century; afterwards in the more showy and rich dresses of the people, in the paintings on the outside of their houses, or in the minute and delicate ornaments of their architecture, and in the awnings over their courts, in their verandas, and in the profusion of waters distributed through their houses, so that they sometimes have a jet d'eau in every room. The last thing in which I noticed it was in their language, as in their salutation, ‘Dios guarde a vin,’ and in their accent, which makes an h guttural, as in Alhambra, Alhama, harto, etc., all which are completely Moorish; as well as a general tone perceptible in the ways and dress of the common people.

At dinner, the Archbishop had invited a good many persons to meet me, and thus made the last hours of my visit to Granada pleasant, for I was obliged to go away this very evening (September 25). I would have stayed until the morning, though only to rest myself, but the ‘Corzarios,’ or company that trades between Granada and Malaga, set off at five o'clock, and the roads are so infested with robbers that no other mode of travelling is safe. We commenced our march, therefore, about thirty strong, with about an hundred mules of burden and [233] six persons like myself, who travelled with them for a protection the government does not pretend to give. The only one that interested me was Count Polentinos, whom I had known at the Archbishop's, a young man of some knowledge in physical science, that is, for a Spanish nobleman. He is of Madrid, and had been at Granada for a lawsuit, which has been pending in the Spanish courts two hundred and eleven years, and which, though he confidently believes he has gained and terminated it, is yet not so completely closed that his adversary cannot disturb him with one more appeal. This is a specimen of Spanish justice, and the Count related to me several similar instances of promptitude in its administration, not less characteristic. We entered at once into the mountains that surround Granada on this side as on all others, and came on that night to Alhama to sleep. The next day we continued several leagues farther in the same kind of country, sometimes even in regions refreshed by the eternal snows that rested on the chain above us, and often through a very rude, picturesque scenery, marked by the remains of Moorish castles and fortifications. As we approached Velez Malaga, however, all this gradually changed. The heats came upon us most oppressively in the valleys; the peasants were all out, drying and packing their Muscadel raisins for our market and the English; the road was lined with aloes, which I now for the first time saw, shooting up their immense blossoms to the height of thirty feet, and looking at a distance like young pines. The palm-trees, dates, and pomegranates grew more frequent; and at last we came to what I had so often heard talked of, and what proved to me completely that I was now in a tropical climate, I mean a regular plantation of the sugar-cane. . . . .

[On the 27th], at nine o'clock, I gladly entered the busy little city of Malaga. . . . The inhabitants—I mean those I knew in a visit of only three days—I found hospitable as the spirit of commerce always makes a people, and frank, open, and giddy, as everybody knows the Andalusians are. Count Cabarrus and his family, and the house of Mr. Rouse would have done anything for me, and, in fact, did much; but Count Teba and the Bishop, who interested me and amused me much more, made it quite unnecessary.

I knew Mad. de Teba in Madrid, when she was there on a visit last summer; and from what I saw of her then, and here where I saw her every day, I do not doubt she is the most cultivated and the most interesting woman in Spain. Young and beautiful, educated strictly and faithfully by her mother, a Scotchwoman,—who, for this purpose, carried her to London and Paris, and kept her there between [234] six and seven years,—possessing extraordinary talents, and giving an air of originality to all she says and does, she unites, in a most bewitching manner, the Andalusian grace and frankness to a French facility in her manners, and a genuine English thoroughness in her knowledge and accomplishments. She knows the five chief modem languages well, and feels their different characters, and estimates their literatures aright; she has the foreign accomplishments of singing, playing, painting, etc., and the national one of dancing, in a high degree. In conversation she is brilliant and original; and yet, with all this, she is a true Spaniard, and as full of Spanish feelings as she is of talent and culture. One night I saw her play, in the house of one of her friends, before about fifty people, the chief part in Quintana's tragedy of Pelayo. The whole exhibition of the evening was interesting, and especially so to me, for it was got up in the true old Spanish style, first with a Loa to the governor, then the tragedy, then an Entremes; afterwards a Tonadilla in national costume, followed by the Bolero; and, finally, a Saynete. But it was the Countess de Teba —who played her part like a Corinne, and, who, in fact, has more reminded me of Corinne than any woman I have seen—that carried off every movement of approbation.12 It was after all this gayety that I very sadly bade her farewell forever, and a couple of hours afterwards, at four o'clock in the morning, mounted my horse for Gibraltar.

The Bishop [of Malaga]. . . . is about fifty years old, possessed of uncommon talents and eloquence, dignified, and a little formal in his manners, and cautious, adroit, and powerful in conversation. When he was canon at Toledo, he was a representative in the Cortes and much remarked for his eloquence, where there were certainly no common competitors, and, what does him yet more honor, he was one of the three chosen to draw up the famous free constitution, and is considered as its chief author. This is the bright side of his character. Now reverse the medal, and he is cunning, obsequious to his superiors [235] and hard to his dependents, loving all kinds of splendor, and a glutton. As I brought an especial letter to him from the Nuncio, he made a great dinner for me, to which he invited the Governor, the Captain of the Port, Count Teba, and all the persons he was aware I knew, several of the nobility of the city, etc., in all about forty persons. His cook made good the boast it is said he ventured, when the Bishop received him, ‘that the king should not dine so well as the Bishop of Malaga,’ for such a luxurious dinner I have rarely beheld, and never one so elaborate. The bread, as he told me himself, came from five-and-twenty miles off, because the baker is better; all the water is brought on mules fifty miles, from a fountain that has the reputation of stimulating the appetite and promoting digestion; he had meats on the table from every part of Spain, pastry from Holland, and wines from all over Europe. In short, taking his eloquence, his culture, and his dinner together, he is as near the original of Gil Bias' Bishop of Granada as a priest of the nineteenth century need be; and if he should ever come to the archbishopric, which is probable, nothing will be wanting but the shrewd, practical secretary, to complete the group which Le Sage has so admirably drawn.

My journey to Gibraltar was bad. The first day it rained the whole time, so that I was wet through to the skin, and yet was able to advance no farther than Marbella, where I was received by the hostess of the poor little inn with a genuine, faithful kindness I can never forget. This is generally the case in Spain. If you really want assistance, if you are really suffering, you are sure to meet nothing but good-will. In Gibraltar I remained from the morning of the 30th September to noon on the 3d of October, and passed my time pleasantly, except that it made me not a little homesick to find so many countrymen there, to hear English everywhere talked, and to look forth from the summit of the rock upon the Atlantic, which I had not seen for above three years, and which seems but a slight separation between me and my home. . . . .

The governor, General Don,13 to whom I had letters, was very kind to me and sent me through all the fortifications,. . . . and gave me for my guide an officer who explained it all to me, without which I should hardly have been wiser than before I went. As I passed along from one battery to another, until I had seen eleven hundred cannon that could be manned in fifteen minutes, it seemed to me as if it were a luxury and waste of fortification; as if it could be defended against all the [236] world with half the present means, as in fact it was in 1705, 1728, and 1782, when half the means did not exist; and as I went through the famous galleries, it seemed to me almost as if men were useless there, and as if the Rock could defend itself. . . . . The town is very pleasant, for English industry and wealth have made it so in defiance of nature. I have seen few towns of the same size more neat or more comfortable, and, what is yet more extraordinary, still fewer that have so many or so fine gardens. Indeed, a genuine horticulture has been carried so far under the present excellent governor, that, instead of depending on the neighboring villages, Gibraltar exports to them different kinds of vegetables through the whole year. Notwithstanding this, however, everything has, as it ought to have, a military character and tone. The houses are painted dark, so as to mask them from an enemy; the walks are esplanades and batteries; the squares made for reviews; and even the hospitable dinner-table of the governor is made of planks from one of the bomb-ships engaged in the siege of 1782, and the candlesticks in his drawing-room are made of some of the brass ordnance of the famous floating batteries. . . . .

The road from Gibraltar to Cadiz is dreary, passing almost always through a good soil, but one much neglected, unpeopled, and uncultivated. . . . .

I remained [at Cadiz] two days, but saw no one monument of architecture, other than military, to attract my notice; almost nothing in painting, for the few collections there were are scattered, and nothing in letters, except the fine Spanish library of the Hanseatic Consul, Bohl von Faber.14 The few persons I knew, especially the women, answered well to the character for grace, lightness, and gayety they have had, from the time of Martial to that of Lord Byron; but, as all have admitted, there are few people here that attract a solid esteem for their cultivation. . . .

1 Sitio, a country-seat.

2 Aranjuez.

3 Charles V., Emperor of Germany, was Charles I. of Spain. Charles IV. reigned from 1788 to 1808.

4 Southey gives this as the date of a proclamation issued from Aranjuez by the Junta, and describes their retreat later, without specifying the day.

5 Mr. Ticknor described this mode of travelling as pleasant; the courier, with the mail, riding a few yards before him; both mounted on small horses, which were changed every hour, going steadily at an easy gallop. To secure some change of position, during a journey of many hours, the stirrups were made extremely short at starting, and gradually lengthened, as the day went on. Mr. Ticknor had his own saddle, of course, and carried, attached to it, a skin of wine, and a haversack with bread, and, occasionally, some other food.

6 The passage here mentioned is as follows: ‘Your squire, Guadiana, lamenting his hard fate, was, in like manner, metamorphosed into a river that bears his name; yet still so sensible of your disaster, that when he first arose out of the bowels of the earth, to flow along its surface, and saw the sun in a strange hemisphere, he plunged again under ground, striving to hide his melting sorrows from the world.’—Don Quixote, Part II. Chap. XXIII.

7 In the bull-fights.

8 Allusion to a play by Francisco de Roxas, called Del Rey abaxo Ninguno.

9 Don Angel afterwards became Duke de Rivas. He was always affectionately remembered by Mr. Ticknor and some interchange of books and letters occurred between them in later years. In the Preface to the first edition of the ‘History of Spanish Literature,’ this Duke de Rivas is spoken of as one ‘who, like the old nobles of the proudest days of the monarchy, has distinguished himself alike in arms, in letters, and in the civil government and foreign diplomacy of his country.’

10 In conversation, Mr. Ticknor described the Archbishop at his breakfast, chatting freely on all subjects, while the little chaplain knelt by his side on a hassock, fluently reciting the prayers from the breviary, and His Reverence always responding at the proper moment with scarcely an interruption of his talk.

11 In a letter to Mr. Daveis, December 5, 1818, Mr. Ticknor says: ‘The Alhambra, a name which will make my blood thrill if I live to the frosts of a century, not that the pleasure I received, on wandering over the immense extent of these most graceful and most picturesque of all ruins, was like the quiet, hallowed delight of a solitary, secret visit to the Coliseum or the Forum, when the moonbeams slept upon the wrecks of three empires and twenty-five hundred years, for it was nothing of all this; but it was a riotous, tumultuous pleasure, which will remain in my memory, like a kind of sensual enjoyment, as long as it has vivacity enough to recall the two days I passed amidst this strange enchantment.’

12 Thirty years after this, M. de Puibusque, author of ‘L'Histoire comparee des Litteratures Francaise et Espagnole,’ being in Boston and much with Mr. Ticknor, spoke with great admiration of the Countess de Montijo, describing the brilliancy of her talent, and the variety of her culture and accomplishments. Mr. Ticknor said he had known but one lady in Spain to whom such a description could apply, and had believed her to be the only one; but she was Countess de Teba. M. de Puibusque explained that it was the same person, under a title later inherited. Mr. Ticknor mentioned this in a letter to Don Pascual de Gayangos (August 20, 1849), and sent a message to Mad. de Montijo, who recollected him and returned his greeting. The Empress Eugenie is her daughter.

13 Later, General Sir George Don, G. C. B. The name always puzzled the Spaniards, who asked, ‘Don what?’

14 In a note to the ‘History of Spanish Literature,’ Mr. Ticknor says: ‘Few foreigners have done so much for Spanish literature as Bohl von Faber,’ and mentions his daughter as ‘one of the most popular of the living writers of Spain,’ her novelas appearing under the pseudonyme of Fernan Caballero.

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