Thursday, November 8, 2007



It is very seldom that the preface of a work is read;
indeed, of late years, most books have been sent into the world
without any. I deem it, however, advisable to write a preface,
and to this I humbly call the attention of the courteous
reader, as its perusal will not a little tend to the proper
understanding and appreciation of these volumes.
The work now offered to the public, and which is styled
THE BIBLE IN SPAIN, consists of a narrative of what occurred to
me during a residence in that country, to which I was sent by
the Bible Society, as its agent for the purpose of printing and
circulating the Scriptures. It comprehends, however, certain
journeys and adventures in Portugal, and leaves me at last in
"the land of the Corahai," to which region, after having
undergone considerable buffeting in Spain, I found it expedient
to retire for a season.
It is very probable that had I visited Spain from mere
curiosity, or with a view of passing a year or two agreeably, I
should never have attempted to give any detailed account of my
proceedings, or of what I heard and saw. I am no tourist, no
writer of books of travels; but I went there on a somewhat
remarkable errand, which necessarily led me into strange
situations and positions, involved me in difficulties and
perplexities, and brought me into contact with people of all
descriptions and grades; so that, upon the whole, I flatter
myself that a narrative of such a pilgrimage may not be wholly
uninteresting to the public, more especially as the subject is
not trite; for though various books have been published about
Spain, I believe that the present is the only one in existence
which treats of missionary labour in that country.
Many things, it is true, will be found in the following
volume which have little connexion with religion or religious
enterprise; I offer, however, no apology for introducing them.
I was, as I may say, from first to last adrift in Spain, the
land of old renown, the land of wonder and mystery, with better
opportunities of becoming acquainted with its strange secrets
and peculiarities than perhaps ever yet were afforded to any
individual, certainly to a foreigner; and if in many instances
I have introduced scenes and characters perhaps unprecedented
in a work of this description, I have only to observe, that,
during my sojourn in Spain, I was so unavoidably mixed up with
such, that I could scarcely have given a faithful narrative of
what befell me had I not brought them forward in the manner
which I have done.
It is worthy of remark that, called suddenly and
unexpectedly "to undertake the adventure of Spain," I was not
altogether unprepared for such an enterprise. In the daydreams
of my boyhood, Spain always bore a considerable share, and I
took a particular interest in her, without any presentiment
that I should at a future time be called upon to take a part,
however humble, in her strange dramas; which interest, at a
very early period, led me to acquire her noble language, and to
make myself acquainted with her literature (scarcely worthy of
the language), her history and traditions; so that when I
entered Spain for the first time I felt more at home than I
should otherwise have done.
In Spain I passed five years, which, if not the most
eventful, were, I have no hesitation in saying, the most happy
years of my existence. Of Spain, at the present time, now that
the daydream has vanished, never, alas! to return, I entertain
the warmest admiration: she is the most magnificent country in
the world, probably the most fertile, and certainly with the
finest climate. Whether her children are worthy of their
mother, is another question, which I shall not attempt to
answer; but content myself with observing, that, amongst much
that is lamentable and reprehensible, I have found much that is
noble and to be admired; much stern heroic virtue; much savage
and horrible crime; of low vulgar vice very little, at least
amongst the great body of the Spanish nation, with which my
mission lay; for it will be as well here to observe, that I
advance no claim to an intimate acquaintance with the Spanish
nobility, from whom I kept as remote as circumstances would
permit me; EN REVANCHE, however, I have had the honour to live
on familiar terms with the peasants, shepherds, and muleteers
of Spain, whose bread and bacalao I have eaten; who always
treated me with kindness and courtesy, and to whom I have not
unfrequently been indebted for shelter and protection.
"The generous bearing of Francisco Gonzales, and the high
deeds of Ruy Diaz the Cid, are still sung amongst the
fastnesses of the Sierra Morena." (1)
(1) "Om Frands Gonzales, og Rodrik Cid.
End siunges i Sierra Murene!"
KRONIKE RIIM. By Severin Grundtvig. Copenhagen, 1829.
I believe that no stronger argument can be brought
forward in proof of the natural vigour and resources of Spain,
and the sterling character of her population, than the fact
that, at the present day, she is still a powerful and
unexhausted country, and her children still, to a certain
extent, a high-minded and great people. Yes, notwithstanding
the misrule of the brutal and sensual Austrian, the doting
Bourbon, and, above all, the spiritual tyranny of the court of
Rome, Spain can still maintain her own, fight her own combat,
and Spaniards are not yet fanatic slaves and crouching beggars.
This is saying much, very much: she has undergone far more than
Naples had ever to bear, and yet the fate of Naples has not
been hers. There is still valour in Astruria; generosity in
Aragon; probity in Old Castile; and the peasant women of La
Mancha can still afford to place a silver fork and a snowy
napkin beside the plate of their guest. Yes, in spite of
Austrian, Bourbon, and Rome, there is still a wide gulf between
Spain and Naples.
Strange as it may sound, Spain is not a fanatic country.
I know something about her, and declare that she is not, nor
has ever been; Spain never changes. It is true that, for
nearly two centuries, she was the she-butcher, LA VERDUGA, of
malignant Rome; the chosen instrument for carrying into effect
the atrocious projects of that power; yet fanaticism was not
the spring which impelled her to the work of butchery; another
feeling, in her the predominant one, was worked upon - her
fatal pride. It was by humouring her pride that she was
induced to waste her precious blood and treasure in the Low
Country wars, to launch the Armada, and to many other equally
insane actions. Love of Rome had ever slight influence over
her policy; but flattered by the title of Gonfaloniera of the
Vicar of Jesus, and eager to prove herself not unworthy of the
same, she shut her eyes and rushed upon her own destruction
with the cry of "Charge, Spain."
But the arms of Spain became powerless abroad, and she
retired within herself. She ceased to be the tool of the
vengeance and cruelty of Rome. She was not cast aside,
however. No! though she could no longer wield the sword with
success against the Lutherans, she might still be turned to
some account. She had still gold and silver, and she was still
the land of the vine and olive. Ceasing to be the butcher, she
became the banker of Rome; and the poor Spaniards, who always
esteem it a privilege to pay another person's reckoning, were
for a long time happy in being permitted to minister to the
grasping cupidity of Rome, who during the last century,
probably extracted from Spain more treasure than from all the
rest of Christendom.
But wars came into the land. Napoleon and his fierce
Franks invaded Spain; plunder and devastation ensued, the
effects of which will probably be felt for ages. Spain could
no longer pay pence to Peter so freely as of yore, and from
that period she became contemptible in the eyes of Rome, who
has no respect for a nation, save so far as it can minister to
her cruelty or avarice. The Spaniard was still willing to pay,
as far as his means would allow, but he was soon given to
understand that he was a degraded being, - a barbarian; nay, a
beggar. Now, you may draw the last cuarto from a Spaniard,
provided you will concede to him the title of cavalier, and
rich man, for the old leaven still works as powerfully as in
the time of the first Philip; but you must never hint that he
is poor, or that his blood is inferior to your own. And the
old peasant, on being informed in what slight estimation he was
held, replied, "If I am a beast, a barbarian, and a beggar
withal, I am sorry for it; but as there is no remedy, I shall
spend these four bushels of barley, which I had reserved to
alleviate the misery of the holy father, in procuring bull
spectacles, and other convenient diversions, for the queen my
wife, and the young princes my children. Beggar! carajo! The
water of my village is better than the wine of Rome."
I see that in a late pastoral letter directed to the
Spaniards, the father of Rome complains bitterly of the
treatment which he has received in Spain at the hands of
naughty men. "My cathedrals are let down," he says, "my
priests are insulted, and the revenues of my bishops are
curtailed." He consoles himself, however, with the idea that
this is the effect of the malice of a few, and that the
generality of the nation love him, especially the peasantry,
the innocent peasantry, who shed tears when they think of the
sufferings of their pope and their religion. Undeceive
yourself, Batuschca, undeceive yourself! Spain was ready to
fight for you so long as she could increase her own glory by
doing so; but she took no pleasure in losing battle after
battle on your account. She had no objection to pay money into
your coffers in the shape of alms, expecting, however, that the
same would be received with the gratitude and humility which
becomes those who accept charity. Finding, however, that you
were neither humble nor grateful; suspecting, moreover, that
you held Austria in higher esteem than herself, even as a
banker, she shrugged up her shoulders, and uttered a sentence
somewhat similar to that which I have already put into the
mouth of one of her children, "These four bushels of barley,"
It is truly surprising what little interest the great
body of the Spanish nation took in the late struggle, and yet
it has been called, by some who ought to know better, a war of
religion and principle. It was generally supposed that Biscay
was the stronghold of Carlism, and that the inhabitants were
fanatically attached to their religion, which they apprehended
was in danger. The truth is, that the Basques cared nothing
for Carlos or Rome, and merely took up arms to defend certain
rights and privileges of their own. For the dwarfish brother
of Ferdinand they always exhibited supreme contempt, which his
character, a compound of imbecility, cowardice, and cruelty,
well merited. If they made use of his name, it was merely as a
CRI DE GUERRE. Much the same may be said with respect to his
Spanish partisans, at least those who appeared in the field for
him. These, however, were of a widely different character from
the Basques, who were brave soldiers and honest men. The
Spanish armies of Don Carlos were composed entirely of thieves
and assassins, chiefly Valencians and Manchegans, who,
marshalled under two cut-throats, Cabrera and Palillos, took
advantage of the distracted state of the country to plunder and
massacre the honest part of the community. With respect to the
Queen Regent Christina, of whom the less said the better, the
reins of government fell into her hands on the decease of her
husband, and with them the command of the soldiery. The
respectable part of the Spanish nation, and more especially the
honourable and toilworn peasantry, loathed and execrated both
factions. Oft when I was sharing at nightfall the frugal fare
of the villager of Old or New Castile, on hearing the distant
shot of the Christino soldier or Carlist bandit, he would
invoke curses on the heads of the two pretenders, not
forgetting the holy father and the goddess of Rome, Maria
Santissima. Then, with the tiger energy of the Spaniard when
roused, he would start up and exclaim: "Vamos, Don Jorge, to
the plain, to the plain! I wish to enlist with you, and to
learn the law of the English. To the plain, therefore, to the
plain to-morrow, to circulate the gospel of Ingalaterra."
Amongst the peasantry of Spain I found my sturdiest
supporters: and yet the holy father supposes that the Spanish
labourers are friends and lovers of his. Undeceive yourself,
But to return to the present work: it is devoted to an
account of what befell me in Spain whilst engaged in
distributing the Scripture. With respect to my poor labours, I
wish here to observe, that I accomplished but very little, and
that I lay claim to no brilliant successes and triumphs; indeed
I was sent into Spain more to explore the country, and to
ascertain how far the minds of the people were prepared to
receive the truths of Christianity, than for any other object;
I obtained, however, through the assistance of kind friends,
permission from the Spanish government to print an edition of
the sacred volume at Madrid, which I subsequently circulated in
that capital and in the provinces.
During my sojourn in Spain, there were others who wrought
good service in the Gospel cause, and of whose efforts it were
unjust to be silent in a work of this description. Base is the
heart which would refuse merit its meed, and, however
insignificant may be the value of any eulogium which can flow
from a pen like mine, I cannot refrain from mentioning with
respect and esteem a few names connected with Gospel
enterprise. A zealous Irish gentleman, of the name of Graydon,
exerted himself with indefatigable diligence in diffusing the
light of Scripture in the province of Catalonia, and along the
southern shores of Spain; whilst two missionaries from
Gibraltar, Messrs. Rule and Lyon, during one entire year,
preached Evangelic truth in a Church at Cadiz. So much success
attended the efforts of these two last brave disciples of the
immortal Wesley, that there is every reason for supposing that,
had they not been silenced and eventually banished from the
country by the pseudo-liberal faction of the Moderados, not
only Cadiz, but the greater part of Andalusia, would by this
time have confessed the pure doctrines of the Gospel, and have
discarded for ever the last relics of popish superstition.
More immediately connected with the Bible Society and
myself, I am most happy to take this opportunity of speaking of
Luis de Usoz y Rio, the scion of an ancient and honourable
family of Old Castile, my coadjutor whilst editing the Spanish
New Testament at Madrid. Throughout my residence in Spain, I
experienced every mark of friendship from this gentleman, who,
during the periods of my absence in the provinces, and my
numerous and long journeys, cheerfully supplied my place at
Madrid, and exerted himself to the utmost in forwarding the
views of the Bible Society, influenced by no other motive than
a hope that its efforts would eventually contribute to the
peace, happiness, and civilisation of his native land.
In conclusion, I beg leave to state that I am fully aware
of the various faults and inaccuracies of the present work. It
is founded on certain journals which I kept during my stay in
Spain, and numerous letters written to my friends in England,
which they had subsequently the kindness to restore: the
greater part, however, consisting of descriptions of scenery,
sketches of character, etc., has been supplied from memory. In
various instances I have omitted the names of places, which I
have either forgotten, or of whose orthography I am uncertain.
The work, as it at present exists, was written in a solitary
hamlet in a remote part of England, where I had neither books
to consult, nor friends of whose opinion or advice I could
occasionally avail myself, and under all the disadvantages
which arise from enfeebled health; I have, however, on a recent
occasion, experienced too much of the lenity and generosity of
the public, both of Britain and America, to shrink from again
exposing myself to its gaze, and trust that, if in the present
volumes it finds but little to admire, it will give me credit
for good spirit, and for setting down nought in malice.
Nov. 26, 1842.
Man Overboard - The Tagus - Foreign Languages - Gesticulation -
Streets of Lisbon - The Aqueduct - Bible tolerated in Portugal -
Cintra - Don Sebastian - John de Castro - Conversation with a Priest -
Colhares - Mafra - Its Palace - The Schoolmaster - The Portuguese -
Their Ignorance of Scripture - Rural Priesthood - The Alemtejo.
On the morning of the tenth of November, 1835, I found
myself off the coast of Galicia, whose lofty mountains, gilded
by the rising sun, presented a magnificent appearance. I was
bound for Lisbon; we passed Cape Finisterre, and standing
farther out to sea, speedily lost sight of land. On the
morning of the eleventh the sea was very rough, and a
remarkable circumstance occurred. I was on the forecastle,
discoursing with two of the sailors: one of them, who had but
just left his hammock, said, "I have had a strange dream, which
I do not much like, for," continued he, pointing up to the
mast, "I dreamt that I fell into the sea from the cross-trees."
He was heard to say this by several of the crew besides myself.
A moment after, the captain of the vessel perceiving that the
squall was increasing, ordered the topsails to be taken in,
whereupon this man with several others instantly ran aloft; the
yard was in the act of being hauled down, when a sudden gust of
wind whirled it round with violence, and a man was struck down
from the cross-trees into the sea, which was working like yeast
below. In a short time he emerged; I saw his head on the crest
of a billow, and instantly recognised in the unfortunate man
the sailor who a few moments before had related his dream. I
shall never forget the look of agony he cast whilst the steamer
hurried past him. The alarm was given, and everything was in
confusion; it was two minutes at least before the vessel was
stopped, by which time the man was a considerable way astern; I
still, however, kept my eye upon him, and could see that he was
struggling gallantly with the waves. A boat was at length
lowered, but the rudder was unfortunately not at hand, and only
two oars could be procured, with which the men could make but
little progress in so rough a sea. They did their best,
however, and had arrived within ten yards of the man, who still
struggled for his life, when I lost sight of him, and the men
on their return said that they saw him below the water, at
glimpses, sinking deeper and deeper, his arms stretched out and
his body apparently stiff, but that they found it impossible to
save him; presently after, the sea, as if satisfied with the
prey which it had acquired, became comparatively calm. The
poor fellow who perished in this singular manner was a fine
young man of twenty-seven, the only son of a widowed mother; he
was the best sailor on board, and was beloved by all who were
acquainted with him. This event occurred on the eleventh of
November, 1835; the vessel was the LONDON MERCHANT steamship.
Truly wonderful are the ways of Providence!
That same night we entered the Tagus, and dropped anchor
before the old tower of Belem; early the next morning we
weighed, and, proceeding onward about a league, we again
anchored at a short distance from the Caesodre, or principal
quay of Lisbon. Here we lay for some hours beside the enormous
black hulk of the RAINHA NAO, a man-of-war, which in old times
so captivated the eye of Nelson, that he would fain have
procured it for his native country. She was, long
subsequently, the admiral's ship of the Miguelite squadron, and
had been captured by the gallant Napier about three years
previous to the time of which I am speaking.
The RAINHA NAO is said to have caused him more trouble
than all the other vessels of the enemy; and some assert that,
had the others defended themselves with half the fury which the
old vixen queen displayed, the result of the battle which
decided the fate of Portugal would have been widely different.
I found disembarkation at Lisbon to be a matter of
considerable vexation; the custom-house officers were
exceedingly uncivil, and examined every article of my little
baggage with most provocating minuteness.
My first impression on landing in the Peninsula was by no
means a favourable one; and I had scarcely pressed the soil one
hour before I heartily wished myself back in Russia, a country
which I had quitted about one month previous, and where I had
left cherished friends and warm affections.
After having submitted to much ill-usage and robbery at
the custom-house, I proceeded in quest of a lodging, and at
last found one, but dirty and expensive. The next day I hired
a servant, a Portuguese, it being my invariable custom on
arriving in a country to avail myself of the services of a
native; chiefly with the view of perfecting myself in the
language; and being already acquainted with most of the
principal languages and dialects of the east and the west, I am
soon able to make myself quite intelligible to the inhabitants.
In about a fortnight I found myself conversing in Portuguese
with considerable fluency.
Those who wish to make themselves understood by a
foreigner in his own language, should speak with much noise and
vociferation, opening their mouths wide. Is it surprising that
the English are, in general, the worst linguists in the world,
seeing that they pursue a system diametrically opposite? For
example, when they attempt to speak Spanish, the most sonorous
tongue in existence, they scarcely open their lips, and putting
their hands in their pockets, fumble lazily, instead of
applying them to the indispensable office of gesticulation.
Well may the poor Spaniards exclaim, THESE ENGLISH TALK SO
Lisbon is a huge ruinous city, still exhibiting in almost
every direction the vestiges of that terrific visitation of
God, the earthquake which shattered it some eighty years ago.
It stands on seven hills, the loftiest of which is occupied by
the castle of Saint George, which is the boldest and most
prominent object to the eye, whilst surveying the city from the
Tagus. The most frequented and busy parts of the city are
those comprised within the valley to the north of this
Here you find the Plaza of the Inquisition, the principal
square in Lisbon, from which run parallel towards the river
three or four streets, amongst which are those of the gold and
silver, so designated from being inhabited by smiths cunning in
the working of those metals; they are upon the whole very
magnificent; the houses are huge and as high as castles;
immense pillars defend the causeway at intervals, producing,
however, rather a cumbrous effect. These streets are quite
level, and are well paved, in which respect they differ from
all the others in Lisbon. The most singular street, however,
of all is that of the Alemcrin, or Rosemary, which debouches on
the Caesodre. It is very precipitous, and is occupied on
either side by the palaces of the principal Portuguese
nobility, massive and frowning, but grand and picturesque,
edifices, with here and there a hanging garden, overlooking the
streets at a great height.
With all its ruin and desolation, Lisbon is
unquestionably the most remarkable city in the Peninsula, and,
perhaps, in the south of Europe. It is not my intention to
enter into minute details concerning it; I shall content myself
with remarking, that it is quite as much deserving the
attention of the artist as even Rome itself. True it is that
though it abounds with churches it has no gigantic cathedral,
like St. Peter's, to attract the eye and fill it with wonder,
yet I boldly say that there is no monument of man's labour and
skill, pertaining either to ancient or modern Rome, for
whatever purpose designed, which can rival the water-works of
Lisbon; I mean the stupendous aqueduct whose principal arches
cross the valley to the north-east of Lisbon, and which
discharges its little runnel of cool and delicious water into
the rocky cistern within that beautiful edifice called the
Mother of the Waters, from whence all Lisbon is supplied with
the crystal lymph, though the source is seven leagues distant.
Let travellers devote one entire morning to inspecting the
Arcos and the Mai das Agoas, after which they may repair to the
English church and cemetery, Pere-la-chaise in miniature,
where, if they be of England, they may well be excused if they
kiss the cold tomb, as I did, of the author of AMELIA, the most
singular genius which their island ever produced, whose works
it has long been the fashion to abuse in public and to read in
secret. In the same cemetery rest the mortal remains of
Doddridge, another English author of a different stamp, but
justly admired and esteemed. I had not intended, on
disembarking, to remain long in Lisbon, nor indeed in Portugal;
my destination was Spain, whither I shortly proposed to direct
my steps, it being the intention of the Bible Society to
attempt to commence operations in that country, the object of
which should be the distribution of the Word of God, for Spain
had hitherto been a region barred against the admission of the
Bible; not so Portugal, where, since the revolution, the Bible
had been permitted both to be introduced and circulated.
Little, however, had been accomplished; therefore, finding
myself in the country, I determined, if possible, to effect
something in the way of distribution, but first of all to make
myself acquainted as to how far the people were disposed to
receive the Bible, and whether the state of education in
general would permit them to turn it to much account. I had
plenty of Bibles and Testaments at my disposal, but could the
people read them, or would they? A friend of the Society to
whom I was recommended was absent from Lisbon at the period of
my arrival; this I regretted, as he could have afforded me
several useful hints. In order, however, that no time might be
lost, I determined not to wait for his arrival, but at once
proceed to gather the best information I could upon those
points to which I have already alluded. I determined to
commence my researches at some slight distance from Lisbon,
being well aware of the erroneous ideas that I must form of the
Portuguese in general, should I judge of their character and
opinions from what I saw and heard in a city so much subjected
to foreign intercourse.
My first excursion was to Cintra. If there be any place
in the world entitled to the appellation of an enchanted
region, it is surely Cintra; Tivoli is a beautiful and
picturesque place, but it quickly fades from the mind of those
who have seen the Portuguese Paradise. When speaking of
Cintra, it must not for a moment be supposed that nothing more
is meant than the little town or city; by Cintra must be
understood the entire region, town, palace, quintas, forests,
crags, Moorish ruin, which suddenly burst on the view on
rounding the side of a bleak, savage, and sterile-looking
mountain. Nothing is more sullen and uninviting than the
south-western aspect of the stony wall which, on the side of
Lisbon, seems to shield Cintra from the eye of the world, but
the other side is a mingled scene of fairy beauty, artificial
elegance, savage grandeur, domes, turrets, enormous trees,
flowers and waterfalls, such as is met with nowhere else
beneath the sun. Oh! there are strange and wonderful objects
at Cintra, and strange and wonderful recollections attached to
them. The ruin on that lofty peak, and which covers part of
the side of that precipitous steep, was once the principal
stronghold of the Lusitanian Moors, and thither, long after
they had disappeared, at a particular moon of every year, were
wont to repair wild santons of Maugrabie, to pray at the tomb
of a famous Sidi, who slumbers amongst the rocks. That grey
palace witnessed the assemblage of the last cortes held by the
boy king Sebastian, ere he departed on his romantic expedition
against the Moors, who so well avenged their insulted faith and
country at Alcazarquibir, and in that low shady quinta,
embowered amongst those tall alcornoques, once dwelt John de
Castro, the strange old viceroy of Goa, who pawned the hairs of
his dead son's beard to raise money to repair the ruined wall
of a fortress threatened by the heathen of Ind; those crumbling
stones which stand before the portal, deeply graven, not with
"runes," but things equally dark, Sanscrit rhymes from the
Vedas, were brought by him from Goa, the most brilliant scene
of his glory, before Portugal had become a base kingdom; and
down that dingle, on an abrupt rocky promontory, stand the
ruined halls of the English Millionaire, who there nursed the
wayward fancies of a mind as wild, rich, and variegated as the
scenes around. Yes, wonderful are the objects which meet the
eye at Cintra, and wonderful are the recollections attached to
The town of Cintra contains about eight hundred
inhabitants. The morning subsequent to my arrival, as I was
about to ascend the mountain for the purpose of examining the
Moorish ruins, I observed a person advancing towards me whom I
judged by his dress to be an ecclesiastic; he was in fact one
of the three priests of the place. I instantly accosted him,
and had no reason to regret doing so; I found him affable and
After praising the beauty of the surrounding scenery, I
made some inquiry as to the state of education amongst the
people under his care. He answered, that he was sorry to say
that they were in a state of great ignorance, very few of the
common people being able either to read or write; that with
respect to schools, there was but one in the place, where four
or five children were taught the alphabet, but that even this
was at present closed; he informed me, however, that there was
a school at Colhares, about a league distant. Amongst other
things, he said that nothing more surprised him than to see
Englishmen, the most learned and intelligent people in the
world, visiting a place like Cintra, where there was no
literature, science, nor anything of utility (COISA QUE
PRESTA). I suspect that there was some covert satire in the
last speech of the worthy priest; I was, however, Jesuit enough
to appear to receive it as a high compliment, and, taking off
my hat, departed with an infinity of bows.
That same day I visited Colhares, a romantic village on
the side of the mountain of Cintra, to the north-west. Seeing
some peasants collected round a smithy, I inquired about the
school, whereupon one of the men instantly conducted me
thither. I went upstairs into a small apartment, where I found
the master with about a dozen pupils standing in a row; I saw
but one stool in the room, and to that, after having embraced
me, he conducted me with great civility. After some discourse,
he showed me the books which he used for the instruction of the
children; they were spelling books, much of the same kind as
those used in the village schools in England. Upon my asking
him whether it was his practice to place the Scriptures in the
hands of the children, he informed me that long before they had
acquired sufficient intelligence to understand them they were
removed by their parents, in order that they might assist in
the labours of the field, and that the parents in general were
by no means solicitous that their children should learn
anything, as they considered the time occupied in learning as
so much squandered away. He said, that though the schools were
nominally supported by the government, it was rarely that the
schoolmasters could obtain their salaries, on which account
many had of late resigned their employments. He told me that
he had a copy of the New Testament in his possession, which I
desired to see, but on examining it I discovered that it was
only the epistles by Pereira, with copious notes. I asked him
whether he considered that there was harm in reading the
Scriptures without notes: he replied that there was certainly
no harm in it, but that simple people, without the help of
notes, could derive but little benefit from Scripture, as the
greatest part would be unintelligible to them; whereupon I
shook hands with him, and on departing said that there was no
part of Scripture so difficult to understand as those very
notes which were intended to elucidate it, and that it would
never have been written if not calculated of itself to illume
the minds of all classes of mankind.
In a day or two I made an excursion to Mafra, distant
about three leagues from Cintra; the principal part of the way
lay over steep hills, somewhat dangerous for horses; however, I
reached the place in safety.
Mafra is a large village in the neighbourhood of an
immense building, intended to serve as a convent and palace,
and which is built somewhat after the fashion of the Escurial.
In this edifice exists the finest library in Portugal,
containing books on all sciences and in all languages, and well
suited to the size and grandeur of the edifice which contains
it. There were no monks, however, to take care of it, as in
former times; they had been driven forth, some to beg their
bread, some to serve under the banners of Don Carlos, in Spain,
and many, as I was informed, to prowl about as banditti. I
found the place abandoned to two or three menials, and
exhibiting an aspect of solitude and desolation truly
appalling. Whilst I was viewing the cloisters, a fine
intelligent-looking lad came up and asked (I suppose in the
hope of obtaining a trifle) whether I would permit him to show
me the village church, which he informed me was well worth
seeing; I said no, but added, that it he would show me the
village school I should feel much obliged to him. He looked at
me with astonishment, and assured me that there was nothing to
be seen at the school, which did not contain more than half a
dozen boys, and that he himself was one of the number. On my
telling him, however, that he should show me no other place, he
at length unwillingly attended me. On the way I learned from
him that the schoolmaster was one of the friars who had lately
been expelled from the convent, that he was a very learned man,
and spoke French and Greek. We passed a stone cross, and the
boy bent his head and crossed himself with much devotion. I
mention this circumstance, as it was the first instance of the
kind which I had observed amongst the Portuguese since my
arrival. When near the house where the schoolmaster resided,
he pointed it out to me, and then hid himself behind a wall,
where he awaited my return.
On stepping over the threshold I was confronted by a
short stout man, between sixty and seventy years of age,
dressed in a blue jerkin and grey trousers, without shirt or
waistcoat; he looked at me sternly, and enquired in the French
language what was my pleasure. I apologised for intruding upon
him, and stated that, being informed he occupied the situation
of schoolmaster, I had come to pay my respects to him and to
beg permission to ask a few questions respecting the seminary.
He answered that whoever told me he was a schoolmaster lied,
for that he was a friar of the convent and nothing else. "It
is not then true," said I, "that all the convents have been
broken up and the monks dismissed?" "Yes, yes," said he with a
sigh, "it is true; it is but too true." He then was silent for
a minute, and his better nature overcoming his angry feelings,
he produced a snuffbox and offered it to me. The snuff-box is
the olive-branch of the Portuguese, and he who wishes to be on
good terms with them must never refuse to dip his finger and
thumb into it when offered. I took therefore a huge pinch,
though I detest the dust, and we were soon on the best possible
terms. He was eager to obtain news, especially from Lisbon and
Spain. I told him that the officers of the troops at Lisbon
had, the day before I left that place, gone in a body to the
queen and insisted upon her either receiving their swords or
dismissing her ministers; whereupon he rubbed his hands and
said that he was sure matters would not remain tranquil at
Lisbon. On my saying, however, that I thought the affairs of
Don Carlos were on the decline (this was shortly after the
death of Zumalacarregui), he frowned, and cried that it could
not possibly be, for that God was too just to suffer it. I
felt for the poor man who had been driven out of his home in
the noble convent close by, and from a state of affluence and
comfort reduced in his old age to indigence and misery, for his
present dwelling scarcely seemed to contain an article of
furniture. I tried twice or thrice to induce him to converse
about the school, but he either avoided the subject or said
shortly that he knew nothing about it. On my leaving him, the
boy came from his hiding-place and rejoined me; he said that he
had hidden himself through fear of his master's knowing that he
had brought me to him, for that he was unwilling that any
stranger should know that he was a schoolmaster.
I asked the boy whether he or his parents were acquainted
with the Scripture and ever read it; he did not, however, seem
to understand me. I must here observe that the boy was fifteen
years of age, that he was in many respects very intelligent,
and had some knowledge of the Latin language; nevertheless he
knew not the Scripture even by name, and I have no doubt, from
what I subsequently observed, that at least two-thirds of his
countrymen are on that important point no wiser than himself.
At the doors of village inns, at the hearths of the rustics, in
the fields where they labour, at the stone fountains by the
wayside where they water their cattle, I have questioned the
lower class of the children of Portugal about the Scripture,
the Bible, the Old and New Testament, and in no one instance
have they known what I was alluding to, or could return me a
rational answer, though on all other matters their replies were
sensible enough; indeed, nothing surprised me more than the
free and unembarrassed manner in which the Portuguese peasantry
sustain a conversation, and the purity of the language in which
they express their thoughts, and yet few of them can read or
write; whereas the peasantry of England, whose education is in
general much superior, are in their conversation coarse and
dull almost to brutality, and absurdly ungrammatical in their
language, though the English tongue is upon the whole more
simple in its structure than the Portuguese.
On my return to Lisbon I found our friend -, who received
me very kindly. The next ten days were exceedingly rainy,
which prevented me from making any excursions into the country:
during this time I saw our friend frequently, and had long
conversations with him concerning the best means of
distributing the gospel. He thought we could do no better for
the present than put part of our stock into the hands of the
booksellers of Lisbon, and at the same time employ colporteurs
to hawk the books about the streets, receiving a certain profit
off every copy they sold. This plan was agreed upon and
forthwith put in practice, and with some success. I had
thought of sending colporteurs into the neighbouring villages,
but to this our friend objected. He thought the attempt
dangerous, as it was very possible that the rural priesthood,
who still possessed much influence in their own districts, and
who were for the most part decided enemies to the spread of the
gospel, might cause the men employed to be assassinated or illtreated.
I determined, however, ere leaving Portugal, to establish
depots of Bibles in one or two of the provincial towns. I
wished to visit the Alemtejo, which I had heard was a very
benighted region. The Alemtejo means the province beyond the
Tagus. This province is not beautiful and picturesque, like
most other parts of Portugal: there are few hills and
mountains, the greater part consists of heaths broken by
knolls, and gloomy dingles, and forests of stunted pine; these
places are infested with banditti. The principal city is Evora,
one of the most ancient in Portugal, and formerly the seat of
a branch of the Inquisition, yet more cruel and baneful than the
terrible one of Lisbon. Evora lies about sixty miles from Lisbon,
and to Evora I determined on going with twenty Testaments
and two Bibles. How I fared there will presently be seen.
Boatmen of the Tagus - Dangers of the Stream - Aldea Gallega -
The Hostelry - Robbers - Sabocha - Adventure of a Muleteer -
Estalagem de Ladroes - Don Geronimo - Vendas Novas - Royal Residence -
Swine of the Alemtejo - Monto Moro - Swayne Vonved - Singular Goatherd -
Children of the Fields - Infidels and Sadducees.
On the afternoon of the sixth of December I set out for
Evora, accompanied by my servant. I had been informed that the
tide would serve for the regular passage-boats, or felouks, as
they are called, at about four o'clock, but on reaching the
side of the Tagus opposite to Aldea Gallega, between which
place and Lisbon the boats ply, I found that the tide would not
permit them to start before eight o'clock. Had I waited for
them I should have probably landed at Aldea Gallega about
midnight, and I felt little inclination to make my entree in
the Alemtejo at that hour; therefore, as I saw small boats
which can push off at any time lying near in abundance, I
determined upon hiring one of them for the passage, though the
expense would be thus considerably increased. I soon agreed
with a wild-looking lad, who told me that he was in part owner
of one of the boats, to take me over. I was not aware of the
danger in crossing the Tagus at its broadest part, which is
opposite Aldea Gallega, at any time, but especially at close of
day in the winter season, or I should certainly not have
ventured. The lad and his comrade, a miserable looking object,
whose only clothing, notwithstanding the season, was a tattered
jerkin and trousers, rowed until we had advanced about half a
mile from the land; they then set up a large sail, and the lad,
who seemed to direct everything and to be the principal, took
the helm and steered. The evening was now setting in; the sun
was not far from its bourne in the horizon, the air was very
cold, the wind was rising, and the waves of the noble Tagus
began to be crested with foam. I told the boy that it was
scarcely possible for the boat to carry so much sail without
upsetting, upon which he laughed, and began to gabble in a most
incoherent manner. He had the most harsh and rapid
articulation that has ever come under my observation in any
human being; it was the scream of the hyena blended with the
bark of the terrier, though it was by no means an index of his
disposition, which I soon found to be light, merry, and
anything but malevolent, for when I, in order to show him that
I cared little about him, began to hum "EU QUE SOU
CONTRABANDISTA," he laughed heartily and said, clapping me on
the shoulder, that he would not drown us if he could help it.
The other poor fellow seemed by no means averse to go to the
bottom; he sat at the fore part of the boat looking the image
of famine, and only smiled when the waters broke over the
weather side and soaked his scanty habiliments. In a little
time I had made up my mind that our last hour was come; the
wind was getting higher, the short dangerous waves were more
foamy, the boat was frequently on its beam, and the water came
over the lee side in torrents; but still the wild lad at the
helm held on laughing and chattering, and occasionally yelling
out part of the Miguelite air, "QUANDO EL REY CHEGOU" the
singing of which in Lisbon is imprisonment.
The stream was against us, but the wind was in our
favour, and we sprang along at a wonderful rate, and I saw that
our only chance of escape was in speedily passing the farther
bank of the Tagus where the bight or bay at the extremity of
which stands Aldea Gallega commences, for we should not then
have to battle with the waves of the stream, which the adverse
wind lashed into fury. It was the will of the Almighty to
permit us speedily to gain this shelter, but not before the
boat was nearly filled with water, and we were all wet to the
skin. At about seven o'clock in the evening we reached Aldea
Gallega, shivering with cold and in a most deplorable plight.
Aldea Gallega, or the Galician Village (for the two words
are Spanish, and have that signification), it a place
containing, I should think, about four thousand inhabitants.
It was pitchy dark when we landed, but rockets soon began to
fly about in all directions, illuming the air far and wide. As
we passed along the dirty unpaved street which leads to the
Largo, or square in which the inn is situated, a horrible
uproar of drums and voices assailed our ears. On inquiring the
cause of all this bustle, I was informed that it was the eve of
the Conception of the Virgin.
As it was not the custom of the people at the inn to
furnish provisions for the guests, I wandered about in search
of food; and at last seeing some soldiers eating and drinking
in a species of wine-house, I went in and asked the people to
let me have some supper, and in a short time they furnished me
with a tolerable meal, for which, however, they charged three
Having engaged with a person for mules to carry us to
Evora, which were to be ready at five next morning, I soon
retired to bed, my servant sleeping in the same apartment,
which was the only one in the house vacant. I closed not my
eyes during the whole night. Beneath us was a stable, in which
some almocreves, or carriers, slept with their mules; at our
back, in the yard, was a pigsty. How could I sleep? The hogs
grunted, the mules screamed, and the almocreves snored most
horribly. I heard the village clock strike the hours until
midnight, and from midnight till four in the morning, when I
sprang up and began to dress, and despatched my servant to
hasten the man with the mules, for I was heartily tired of the
place and wanted to leave it. An old man, bony and hale,
accompanied by a barefooted lad, brought the beasts, which were
tolerably good. He was the proprietor of them, and intended,
with the lad, who was his nephew, to accompany us to Evora.
When we started, the moon was shining brightly, and the
morning was piercingly cold. We soon entered on a sandy hollow
way, emerging from which we passed by a strange-looking and
large edifice, standing on a high bleak sand-hill on our left.
We were speedily overtaken by five or six men on horseback,
riding at a rapid pace, each with a long gun slung at his
saddle, the muzzle depending about two feet below the horse's
belly. I inquired of the old man what was the reason of this
warlike array. He answered, that the roads were very bad
(meaning that they abounded with robbers), and that they went
armed in this manner for their defence; they soon turned off to
the right towards Palmella.
We reached a sandy plain studded with stunted pine; the
road was little more than a footpath, and as we proceeded, the
trees thickened and became a wood, which extended for two
leagues, with clear spaces at intervals, in which herds of
cattle and sheep were feeding; the bells attached to their
necks were ringing lowly and monotonously. The sun was just
beginning to show itself; but the morning was misty and dreary,
which, together with the aspect of desolation which the country
exhibited, had an unfavourable effect on my spirits. I got
down and walked, entering into conversation with the old man.
He seemed to have but one theme, "the robbers," and the
atrocities they were in the habit of practising in the very
spots we were passing. The tales he told were truly horrible,
and to avoid them I mounted again, and rode on considerably in
In about an hour and a half we emerged from the forest,
and entered upon a savage, wild, broken ground, covered with
mato, or brushwood. The mules stopped to drink at a shallow
pool, and on looking to the right I saw a ruined wall. This,
the guide informed me, was the remains of Vendas Velhas, or the
Old Inn, formerly the haunt of the celebrated robber Sabocha.
This Sabocha, it seems, had, some sixteen years ago, a band of
about forty ruffians at his command, who infested these wilds,
and supported themselves by plunder. For a considerable time
Sabocha pursued his atrocious trade unsuspected, and many an
unfortunate traveller was murdered in the dead of night at the
solitary inn by the wood-side, which he kept; indeed, a more
fit situation for plunder and murder I never saw. The gang
were in the habit of watering their horses at the pool, and
perhaps of washing therein their hands stained with the blood
of their victims; the lieutenant of the troop was the brother
of Sabocha, a fellow of great strength and ferocity,
particularly famous for the skill he possessed in darting a
long knife, with which he was in the habit of transfixing his
opponents. Sabocha's connection with the gang at length became
known, and he fled, with the greater part of his associates,
across the Tagus to the northern provinces. Himself and his
brothers eventually lost their lives on the road to Coimbra, in
an engagement with the military. His house was razed by order
of the government.
The ruins are still frequently visited by banditti, who
eat and drink amidst them, and look out for prey, as the place
commands a view of the road. The old man assured me, that
about two months previous, on returning to Aldea Gallega with
his mules from accompanying some travellers, he had been
knocked down, stripped naked, and all his money taken from him,
by a fellow whom he believed came from this murderers' nest.
He said that he was an exceedingly powerful young man, with
immense moustaches and whiskers, and was armed with an
espingarda, or musket. About ten days subsequently he saw the
robber at Vendas Novas, where we should pass the night. The
fellow on recognising him took him aside, and, with horrid
imprecations, threatened that he should never be permitted to
return home if he attempted to discover him; he therefore held
his peace, as there was little to be gained and everything to
be risked in apprehending him, as he would have been speedily
set at liberty for want of evidence to criminate him, and then
he would not have failed to have had his revenge, or would have
been anticipated therein by his comrades.
I dismounted and went up to the place, and saw the
vestiges of a fire and a broken bottle. The sons of plunder
had been there very lately. I left a New Testament and some
tracts amongst the ruins, and hastened away.
The sun had dispelled the mists and was beaming very hot;
we rode on for about an hour, when I heard the neighing of a
horse in our rear, and our guide said there was a party of
horsemen behind; our mules were good, and they did not overtake
us for at least twenty minutes. The headmost rider was a
gentleman in a fashionable travelling dress; a little way
behind were an officer, two soldiers, and a boy in livery. I
heard the principal horseman, on overtaking my servant,
inquiring who I was, and whether French or English. He was
told I was an English gentleman, travelling. He then asked
whether I understood Portuguese; the man said I understood it,
but he believed that I spoke French and Italian better. The
gentleman then spurred on his horse and accosted me, not in
Portuguese, nor in French or Italian, but in the purest English
that I ever heard spoken by a foreigner; it had, indeed,
nothing of foreign accent or pronunciation in it; and had I not
known, by the countenance of the speaker, that he was no
Englishman, (for there is a peculiarity in the countenance, as
everybody knows, which, though it cannot be described, is sure
to betray the Englishman), I should have concluded that I was
in company with a countryman. We continued discoursing until
we arrived at Pegoens.
Pegoens consists of about two or three houses and an inn;
there is likewise a species of barrack, where half a dozen
soldiers are stationed. In the whole of Portugal there is no
place of worse reputation, and the inn is nick-named ESTALAGEM
DE LADROES, or the hostelry of thieves; for it is there that
the banditti of the wilderness, which extends around it on
every side for leagues, are in the habit of coming and spending
the money, the fruits of their criminal daring; there they
dance and sing, eat fricasseed rabbits and olives, and drink
the muddy but strong wine of the Alemtejo. An enormous fire,
fed by the trunk of a cork tree, was blazing in a niche on the
left hand on entering the spacious kitchen. Close by it,
seething, were several large jars, which emitted no
disagreeable odour, and reminded me that I had not broken my
fast, although it was now nearly one o'clock, and I had ridden
five leagues. Several wild-looking men, who if they were not
banditti might easily be mistaken for such, were seated on logs
about the fire. I asked them some unimportant questions, to
which they replied with readiness and civility, and one of
them, who said he could read, accepted a tract which I offered
My new friend, who had been bespeaking dinner, or rather
breakfast, now, with great civility, invited me to partake of
it, and at the same time introduced me to the officer who
accompanied him, and who was his brother, and also spoke
English, though not so well as himself. I found I had become
acquainted with Don Geronimo Joze D'Azveto, secretary to the
government at Evora; his brother belonged to a regiment of
hussars, whose headquarters were at Evora, but which had
outlying parties along the road, - for example, the place where
we were stopping.
Rabbits at Pegoens seem to be a standard article of food,
being produced in abundance on the moors around. We had one
fried, the gravy of which was delicious, and afterwards a
roasted one, which was brought up on a dish entire; the
hostess, having first washed her hands, proceeded to tear the
animal to pieces, which having accomplished, she poured over
the fragments a sweet sauce. I ate heartily of both dishes,
particularly of the last; owing, perhaps, to the novel and
curious manner in which it was served up. Excellent figs, from
the Algarves, and apples concluded our repast, which we ate in
a little side room with a mud floor, which sent such a piercing
chill into my system, as prevented me from deriving that
pleasure from my fare and my agreeable companions that I should
have otherwise experienced.
Don Geronimo had been educated in England, in which
country he passed his boyhood, which in a certain degree
accounted for his proficiency in the English language, the
idiom and pronunciation of which can only be acquired by
residing in the country at that period of one's life. He had
also fled thither shortly after the usurpation of the throne of
Portugal by Don Miguel, and from thence had departed to the
Brazils, where he had devoted himself to the service of Don
Pedro, and had followed him in the expedition which terminated
in the downfall of the usurper and the establishment of the
constitutional government in Portugal. Our conversation rolled
chiefly on literary and political subjects, and my acquaintance
with the writings of the most celebrated authors of Portugal
was hailed with surprise and delight; for nothing is more
gratifying to a Portuguese than to observe a foreigner taking
an interest in the literature of his nation, of which, in many
respects, he is justly proud.
At about two o'clock we were once more in the saddle, and
pursued our way in company through a country exactly resembling
that which we had previously been traversing, rugged and
broken, with here and there a clump of pines. The afternoon
was exceedingly fine, and the bright rays of the sun relieved
the desolation of the scene. Having advanced about two
leagues, we caught sight of a large edifice towering
majestically in the distance, which I learnt was a royal palace
standing at the farther extremity of Vendas Novas, the village
in which we were to pass the night; it was considerably more
than a league from us, yet, seen through the clear transparent
atmosphere of Portugal it appeared much nearer.
Before reaching it we passed by a stone cross, on the
pedestal of which was an inscription commemorating a horrible
murder of a native of Lisbon, which had occurred on that spot;
it looked ancient, and was covered with moss, and the greater
part of the inscription was illegible, at least it was to me,
who could not bestow much time on its deciphering. Having
arrived at Vendas Novas, and bespoken supper, my new friend and
myself strolled forth to view the palace; it was built by the
late king of Portugal, and presents little that is remarkable
in its exterior; it is a long edifice with wings, and is only
two stories high, though it can be seen afar off, from being
situated on elevated ground; it has fifteen windows in the
upper, and twelve in the lower story, with a paltry-looking
door, something like that of a barn, to which you ascend by one
single step; the interior corresponds with the exterior,
offering nothing which can gratify curiosity, if we except the
kitchens, which are indeed magnificent, and so large that food
enough might be cooked in them, at one time, to serve as a
repast for all the inhabitants of the Alemtejo.
I passed the night with great comfort in a clean bed,
remote from all those noises so rife in a Portuguese inn, and
the next morning at six we again set out on our journey, which
we hoped to terminate before sunset, as Evora is but ten
leagues from Vendas Novas. The preceding morning had been
cold, but the present one was far colder, so much so, that just
before sunrise I could no longer support it on horseback, and
therefore dismounting, ran and walked until we reached a few
houses at the termination of these desolate moors. It was in
one of these houses that the commissioners of Don Pedro and
Miguel met, and it was there agreed that the latter should
resign the crown in favour of Donna Maria, for Evora was the
last stronghold of the usurper, and the moors of the Alemtejo
the last area of the combats which so long agitated unhappy
Portugal. I therefore gazed on the miserable huts with
considerable interest, and did not fail to scatter in the
neighbourhood several of the precious little tracts with which,
together with a small quantity of Testaments, my carpet bag was
The country began to improve; the savage heaths were left
behind, and we saw hills and dales, cork trees, and azinheiras,
on the last of which trees grows that kind of sweet acorn
called bolotas, which is pleasant as a chestnut, and which
supplies in winter the principal food on which the numerous
swine of the Alemtejo subsist. Gallant swine they are, with
short legs and portly bodies of a black or dark red colour; and
for the excellence of their flesh I can vouch, having
frequently luxuriated upon it in the course of my wanderings in
this province; the lombo, or loin, when broiled on the live
embers, is delicious, especially when eaten with olives.
We were now in sight of Monte Moro, which, as the name
denotes, was once a fortress of the Moors; it is a high steep
hill, on the summit and sides of which are ruined walls and
towers; at its western side is a deep ravine or valley, through
which a small stream rushes, traversed by a stone bridge;
farther down there is a ford, over which we passed and ascended
to the town, which, commencing near the northern base, passes
over the lower ridge towards the north-east. The town is
exceedingly picturesque, and many of the houses are very
ancient, and built in the Moorish fashion. I wished much to
examine the relics of Moorish sway on the upper part of the
mountain, but time pressed, and the short period of our stay at
this place did not permit me to gratify my inclination.
Monte Moro is the head of a range of hills which cross
this part of the Alemtejo, and from hence they fork east and
south-east, towards the former of which directions lies the
direct road to Elvas, Badajos, and Madrid; and towards the
latter that to Evora. A beautiful mountain, covered to the top
with cork trees, is the third of the chain which skirts the way
in the direction of Elvas. It is called Monte Almo; a brook
brawls at its base, and as I passed it the sun was shining
gloriously on the green herbage on which flocks of goats were
feeding, with their bells ringing merrily, so that the TOUT
ENSEMBLE resembled a fairy scene; and that nothing might be
wanted to complete the picture, I here met a man, a goatherd,
beneath an azinheira, whose appearance recalled to my mind the
Brute Carle, mentioned in the Danish ballad of Swayne Vonved:-
"A wild swine on his shoulders he kept,
And upon his bosom a black bear slept;
And about his fingers with hair o'erhung,
The squirrel sported and weasel clung."
Upon the shoulder of the goatherd was a beast, which he
told me was a lontra, or otter, which he had lately caught in
the neighbouring brook; it had a string round its neck which
was attached to his arm. At his left side was a bag, from the
top of which peered the heads of two or three singular-looking
animals, and at his right was squatted the sullen cub of a
wolf, which he was endeavouring to tame; his whole appearance
was to the last degree savage and wild. After a little
conversation such as those who meet on the road frequently
hold, I asked him if he could read, but he made me no answer.
I then inquired if he knew anything of God or Jesus Christ; he
looked me fixedly in the face for a moment, and then turned his
countenance towards the sun, which was beginning to sink in the
west, nodded to it, and then again looked fixedly upon me. I
believe that I understood the mute reply; which probably was,
that it was God who made that glorious light which illumes and
gladdens all creation; and gratified with that belief, I left
him and hastened after my companions, who were by this time a
considerable way in advance.
I have always found in the disposition of the children of
the fields a more determined tendency to religion and piety
than amongst the inhabitants of towns and cities, and the
reason is obvious, they are less acquainted with the works of
man's hands than with those of God; their occupations, too,
which are simple, and requiring less of ingenuity and skill
than those which engage the attention of the other portion of
their fellow-creatures, are less favourable to the engendering
of self-conceit and sufficiency so utterly at variance with
that lowliness of spirit which constitutes the best foundation
of piety. The sneerers and scoffers at religion do not spring
from amongst the simple children of nature, but are the
excrescences of overwrought refinement, and though their
baneful influence has indeed penetrated to the country and
corrupted man there, the source and fountainhead was amongst
crowded houses, where nature is scarcely known. I am not one
of those who look for perfection amongst the rural population
of any country; perfection is not to be found amongst the
children of the fall, wherever their abodes may happen to be;
but, until the heart discredits the existence of a God, there
is still hope for the soul of the possessor, however stained
with crime he may be, for even Simon the magician was
converted; but when the heart is once steeled with infidelity,
infidelity confirmed by carnal wisdom, an exuberance of the
grace of God is required to melt it, which is seldom
manifested; for we read in the blessed book that the Pharisee
and the wizard became receptacles of grace, but where is there
mention made of the conversion of the sneering Sadducee, and is
the modern infidel aught but a Sadducee of later date?
It was dark night before we reached Evora, and having
taken leave of my friends, who kindly requested me to consider
their house my home, I and my servant went to the Largo de San
Francisco, in which the muleteer informed me was the best
hostelry of the town. We rode into the kitchen, at the extreme
end of which was the stable, as is customary in Portugal. The
house was kept by an aged gypsy-like female and her daughter, a
fine blooming girl about eighteen years of age. The house was
large; in the upper storey was a very long room, like a
granary, which extended nearly the whole length of the house;
the farther part was partitioned off and formed a chamber
tolerably comfortable but very cold, and the floor was of
tiles, as was also that of the large room in which the
muleteers were accustomed to sleep on the furniture of the
mules. After supper I went to bed, and having offered up my
devotions to Him who had protected me through a dangerous
journey, I slept soundly till the morning.
Shopkeeper at Evora - Spanish Contrabandistas - Lion and Unicorn -
The Fountain - Trust in the Almighty - Distribution of Tracts -
Library at Evora - Manuscript -The Bible as a Guide - The Infamous Mary
- The Man of Palmella - The Charm - The Monkish System - Sunday -
Volney - An Auto-Da-Fe - Men from Spain - Reading of a Tract -
New Arrival - The Herb Rosemary.
Evora is a small city, walled, but not regularly
fortified, and could not sustain a siege of a day. It has five
gates; before that to the south-west is the principal promenade
of its inhabitants: the fair on St. John's day is likewise held
there; the houses are in general very ancient, and many of them
unoccupied. It contains about five thousand inhabitants,
though twice that number would be by no means disproportionate
to its size. The two principal edifices are the See, or
cathedral, and the convent of San Francisco, in the square
before the latter of which was situated the posada where I had
taken up my abode. A large barrack for cavalry stands on the
right-hand side, on entering the south-west gate. To the
south-east, at the distance of six leagues, is to be seen a
blue chain of hills, the highest of which is called Serra
Dorso; it is picturesquely beautiful, and contains within its
recesses wolves and wild boars in numbers. About a league and
a half on the other side of this hill is Estremos.
I passed the day succeeding my arrival principally in
examining the town and its environs, and, as I strolled about,
entering into conversation with various people that I met;
several of these were of the middle class, shopkeepers and
professional men; they were all Constitutionalists, or
pretended to be so, but had very little to say except a few
commonplace remarks on the way of living of the friars, their
hypocrisy and laziness. I endeavoured to obtain some
information respecting the state of instruction in the place,
and from their answers was led to believe that it must be at
the lowest ebb, for it seemed that there was neither book-shop
nor school. When I spoke of religion, they exhibited the
utmost apathy for the subject, and making their bows left me as
soon as possible.
Having a letter of introduction to a person who kept a
shop in the market-place, I went thither and delivered it to
him as he stood behind his counter. In the course of
conversation, I found that he had been much persecuted whilst
the old system was in its vigour, and that he entertained a
hearty aversion for it. I told him that the ignorance of the
people in religious matters had served to nurse that system,
and that the surest way to prevent its return was to enlighten
their minds: I added that I had brought a small stock of Bibles
and Testaments to Evora, which I wished to leave for sale in
the hands of some respectable merchant, and that it he were
anxious to help to lay the axe to the root of superstition and
tyranny, he could not do so more effectually than by
undertaking the charge of these books. He declared his
willingness to do so, and I went away determined to entrust to
him half of my stock. I returned to the hostelry, and sat down
on a log of wood on the hearth within the immense chimney in
the common apartment; two surly looking men were on their knees
on the stones; before them was a large heap of pieces of old
iron, brass, and copper; they were assorting it, and stowing it
away in various bags. They were Spanish contrabandistas of the
lowest class, and earned a miserable livelihood by smuggling
such rubbish from Portugal into Spain. Not a word proceeded
from their lips, and when I addressed them in their native
language, they returned no other answer than a kind of growl.
They looked as dirty and rusty as the iron in which they
trafficked; their four miserable donkeys were in the stable in
the rear.
The woman of the house and her daughter were exceedingly
civil to me, and coming near crouched down, asking various
questions about England. A man dressed somewhat like an
English sailor, who sat on the other side of the hearth
confronting me, said, "I hate the English, for they are not
baptized, and have not the law," meaning the law of God. I
laughed, and told him that according to the law of England, no
one who was unbaptized could be buried in consecrated ground;
whereupon he said, "Then you are stricter than we." He then
said, "What is meant by the lion and the unicorn which I saw
the other day on the coat of arms over the door of the English
consul at St. Ubes?" I said they were the arms of England!
"Yes," he replied, "but what do they represent?" I said I did
not know. "Then," said he, "you do not know the secrets of
your own house." I said, "Suppose I were to tell you that they
represent the Lion of Bethlehem, and the horned monster of the
flaming pit in combat, as to which should obtain the mastery in
England, what would you say?" He replied, "I should say that
you gave a fair answer." This man and myself became great
friends; he came from Palmella, not far from St. Ubes; he had
several mules and horses with him, and dealt in corn and
barley. I again walked out and roamed in the environs of the
About half a mile from the southern wall is a stone
fountain, where the muleteers and other people who visit the
town are accustomed to water their horses. I sat down by it,
and there I remained about two hours, entering into
conversation with every one who halted at the fountain; and I
will here observe, that during the time of my sojourn at Evora,
I repeated my visit every day, and remained there the same
time; and by following this plan, I believe that I spoke to at
least two hundred of the children of Portugal upon matters
relating to their eternal welfare. I found that very few of
those whom I addressed had received any species of literary
education, none of them had seen the Bible, and not more than
half a dozen had the slightest inkling of what the holy book
consisted. I found that most of them were bigoted Papists and
Miguelites at heart. I therefore, when they told me they were
Christians, denied the possibility of their being so, as they
were ignorant of Christ and His commandments, and placed their
hope of salvation on outward forms and superstitious
observances, which were the invention of Satan, who wished to
keep them in darkness that at last they might stumble into the
pit which he had dug for them. I said repeatedly that the
Pope, whom they revered, was an arch deceiver, and the head
minister of Satan here on earth, and that the monks and friars,
whose absence they so deplored, and to whom they had been
accustomed to confess themselves, were his subordinate agents.
When called upon for proofs, I invariably cited the ignorance
of my auditors respecting the Scriptures, and said that if
their spiritual guides had been really ministers of Christ,
they would not have permitted their flocks to remain
unacquainted with His Word.
Since this occurred, I have been frequently surprised
that I experienced no insult and ill-treatment from the people,
whose superstitions I was thus attacking; but I really
experienced none, and am inclined to believe that the utter
fearlessness which I displayed, trusting in the Protection of
the Almighty, may have been the cause. When threatened by
danger, the best policy is to fix your eye steadily upon it,
and it will in general vanish like the morning mist before the
sun; whereas, if you quail before it, it is sure to become more
imminent. I have fervent hope that the words of my mouth sank
deep into the hearts of some of my auditors, as I observed many
of them depart musing and pensive. I occasionally distributed
tracts amongst them; for although they themselves were unable
to turn them to much account, I thought that by their means
they might become of service at some future time, and fall into
the hands of others, to whom they might be of eternal interest.
Many a book which is abandoned to the waters is wafted to some
remote shore, and there proves a blessing and a comfort to
millions, who are ignorant from whence it came.
The next day, which was Friday, I called at the house of
my friend Don Geronimo Azveto. I did not find him there, but
was directed to the see, or episcopal palace, in an apartment
of which I found him, writing, with another gentleman, to whom
he introduced me; it was the governor of Evora, who welcomed me
with every mark of kindness and affability. After some
discourse, we went out together to examine an ancient edifice,
which was reported to have served, in bygone times, as a temple
to Diana. Part of it was evidently of Roman architecture, for
there was no mistaking the beautiful light pillars which
supported a dome, under which the sacrifices to the most
captivating and poetical divinity of the heathen theocracy had
probably been made; but the original space between the pillars
had been filled up with rubbish of a modern date, and the rest
of the building was apparently of the architecture of the
latter end of the Middle Ages. It was situated at one end of
the building which had once been the seat of the Inquisition,
and had served, before the erection of the present see, as the
residence of the bishop.
Within the see, where the governor now resides, is a
superb library, occupying an immense vaulted room, like the
aisle of a cathedral, and in a side apartment is a collection
of paintings by Portuguese artists, chiefly portraits, amongst
which is that of Don Sebastian. I sincerely hope it did not do
him justice, for it represents him in the shape of an awkward
lad of about eighteen, with a bloated booby face with staring
eyes, and a ruff round a short apoplectic neck.
I was shown several beautifully illuminated missals and
other manuscripts; but the one which most arrested my
attention, I scarcely need say why, was that which bore the
following title:-
"Forma sive ordinatio Capelli illustrissimi et xianissimi
principis Henvici Sexti Regis Anglie et Francie am dm Hibernie
descripta serenissio principi Alfonso Regi Portugalie illustri
per humilem servitorem sm Willm. Sav. Decanu capelle
It seemed a voice from the olden times of my dear native
land! This library and picture gallery had been formed by one
of the latter bishops, a person of much learning and piety.
In the evening I dined with Don Geronimo and his brother;
the latter soon left us to attend to his military duties. My
friend and myself had now much conversation of considerable
interest; he lamented the deplorable state of ignorance in
which his countrymen existed at present. He said that his
friend the governor and himself were endeavouring to establish
a school in the vicinity, and that they had made application to
the government for the use of an empty convent, called the
Espinheiro, or thorn tree, at about a league's distance, and
that they had little doubt of their request being complied
with. I had before told him who I was, and after expressing
joy at the plan which he had in contemplation, I now urged him
in the most pressing manner to use all his influence to make
the knowledge of the Scripture the basis of the education which
the children were to receive, and added, that half the Bibles
and Testaments which I had brought with me to Evora were
heartily at his service; he instantly gave me his hand, said he
accepted my offer with the greatest pleasure, and would do all
in his power to forward my views, which were in many respects
his own. I now told him that I did not come to Portugal with
the view of propagating the dogmas of any particular sect, but
with the hope of introducing the Bible, which is the well-head
of all that is useful and conducive to the happiness of
society, - that I cared not what people called themselves,
provided they followed the Bible as a guide; for that where the
Scriptures were read, neither priestcraft nor tyranny could
long exist, and instanced the case of my own country, the cause
of whose freedom and prosperity was the Bible, and that only,
as the last persecutor of this book, the bloody and infamous
Mary, was the last tyrant who had sat on the throne of England.
We did not part till the night was considerably advanced, and
the next morning I sent him the books, in the firm and
confident hope that a bright and glorious morning was about to
rise over the night which had so long cast its dreary shadows
over the regions of the Alemtejo.
The day after this interesting event, which was Saturday,
I had more conversation with the man from Palmella. I asked
him if in his journeys he had never been attacked by robbers;
he answered no, for that he generally travelled in company with
others. "However," said he, "were I alone I should have little
fear, for I am well protected." I said that I supposed he
carried arms with him. "No other arms than this," said he,
pulling out one of those long desperate looking knives, of
English manufacture, with which every Portuguese peasant is
usually furnished. This knife serves for many purposes, and I
should consider it a far more efficient weapon than a dagger.
"But," said he, "I do not place much confidence in the knife."
I then inquired in what rested his hope of protection. "In
this," said he: and unbuttoning his waistcoat, he showed me a
small bag, attached to his neck by a silken string. "In this
bag is an oracam, or prayer, written by a person of power, and
as long as I carry it about with me, no ill can befall me."
Curiosity is the leading feature of my character, and I
instantly said, with eagerness, that I should feel great
pleasure in being permitted to read the prayer. "Well," he
replied, "you are my friend, and I would do for you what I
would for few others, I will show it you." He then asked for
my penknife, and having unripped the bag, took out a large
piece of paper closely folded up. I hurried to my apartment
and commenced the examination of it. It was scrawled over in a
very illegible hand, and was moreover much stained with
perspiration, so that I had considerable difficulty in making
myself master of its contents, but I at last accomplished the
following literal translation of the charm, which was written
in bad Portuguese, but which struck me at the time as being one
of the most remarkable compositions that had ever come to my
"Just Judge and divine Son of the Virgin Maria, who wast
born in Bethlehem, a Nazarene, and wast crucified in the midst
of all Jewry, I beseech thee, O Lord, by thy sixth day, that
the body of me be not caught, nor put to death by the hands of
justice at all; peace be with you, the peace of Christ, may I
receive peace, may you receive peace, said God to his
disciples. If the accursed justice should distrust me, or have
its eyes on me, in order to take me or to rob me, may its eyes
not see me, may its mouth not speak to me, may it have ears
which may not hear me, may it have hands which may not seize
me, may it have feet which may not overtake me; for may I be
armed with the arms of St. George, covered with the cloak of
Abraham, and shipped in the ark of Noah, so that it can neither
see me, nor hear me, nor draw the blood from my body. I also
adjure thee, O Lord, by those three blessed crosses, by those
three blessed chalices, by those three blessed clergymen, by
those three consecrated hosts, that thou give me that sweet
company which thou gavest to the Virgin Maria, from the gates
of Bethlehem to the portals of Jerusalem, that I may go and
come with pleasure and joy with Jesus Christ, the Son of the
Virgin Maria, the prolific yet nevertheless the eternal
The woman of the house and her daughter had similar bags
attached to their necks, containing charms, which, they said,
prevented the witches having power to harm them. The belief in
witchcraft is very prevalent amongst the peasantry of the
Alemtejo, and I believe of other provinces of Portugal. This
is one of the relies of the monkish system, the aim of which,
in all countries where it has existed, seems to have been to
beset the minds of the people, that they might be more easily
misled. All these charms were fabrications of the monks, who
had sold them to their infatuated confessants. The monks of
the Greek and Syrian churches likewise deal in this ware, which
they know to be poison, but which they would rather vend than
the wholesome balm of the gospel, because it brings them a
large price, and fosters the delusion which enables them to
live a life of luxury.
The Sunday morning was fine, and the plain before the
church of the convent of San Francisco was crowded with people
hastening to or returning from the mass. After having
performed my morning devotion, and breakfasted, I went down to
the kitchen; the girl Geronima was seated by the fire. I
inquired if she had heard mass? She replied in the negative,
and that she did not intend to hear it. Upon my inquiring her
motive for absenting herself, she replied, that since the
friars had been expelled from their churches and convents she
had ceased to attend mass, or to confess herself; for that the
government priests had no spiritual power, and consequently she
never troubled them. She said the friars were holy men and
charitable; for that every morning those of the convent over
the way fed forty poor persons with the relics of the meals of
the preceding day, but that now these people were allowed to
starve. I replied, that the friars, who lived on the fat of
the land, could well afford to bestow a few bones upon their
poor, and that their doing so was merely a part of their
policy, by which they hoped to secure to themselves friends in
time of need. The girl then observed, that as it was Sunday, I
should perhaps like to see some books, and without waiting for
a reply she produced them. They consisted principally of
popular stories, with lives and miracles of saints, but amongst
them was a translation of Volney's RUINS OF EMPIRES. I
expressed a wish to know how she became possessed of this book.
She said that a young man, a great Constitutionalist, had given
it to her some months previous, and had pressed her much to
read it, for that it was one of the best books in the world. I
replied, that the author of it was an emissary of Satan, and an
enemy of Jesus Christ and the souls of mankind; that it was
written with the sole aim of bringing all religion into
contempt, and that it inculcated the doctrine that there was no
future state, nor reward for the righteous nor punishment for
the wicked. She made no reply, but going into another room,
returned with her apron full of dry sticks and brushwood, all
which she piled upon the fire, and produced a bright blaze.
She then took the book from my hand and placed it upon the
flaming pile; then sitting down, took her rosary out of her
pocket and told her beads till the volume was consumed. This
was an AUTO DA FE in the best sense of the word.
On the Monday and Tuesday I paid my usual visits to the
fountain, and likewise rode about the neighbourhood on a mule,
for the purpose of circulating tracts. I dropped a great many
in the favourite walks of the people of Evora, as I felt rather
dubious of their accepting them had I proffered them with my
own hand, whereas, should they be observed lying on the ground,
I thought that curiosity might cause them to be picked up and
examined. I likewise, on the Tuesday evening, paid a farewell
visit to my friend Azveto, as it was my intention to leave
Evora on the Thursday following and return to Lisbon; in which
view I had engaged a calash of a man who informed me that he
had served as a soldier in the grande armee of Napoleon, and
been present in the Russian campaign. He looked the very image
of a drunkard. His face was covered with carbuncles, and his
breath impregnated with the fumes of strong waters. He wished
much to converse with me in French, in the speaking of which
language it seemed he prided himself, but I refused, and told
him to speak the language of the country, or I would hold no
discourse with him.
Wednesday was stormy, with occasional rain. On coming
down, I found that my friend from Palmella had departed: but
several contrabandistas had arrived from Spain. They were
mostly fine fellows, and unlike the two I had seen the
preceding week, who were of much lower degree, were chatty and
communicative; they spoke their native language, and no other,
and seemed to hold the Portuguese in great contempt. The
magnificent tones of the Spanish sounded to great advantage
amidst the shrill squeaking dialect of Portugal. I was soon in
deep conversation with them, and was much pleased to find that
all of them could read. I presented the eldest, a man of about
fifty years of age, with a tract in Spanish. He examined it
for some time with great attention; he then rose from his seat,
and going into the middle of the apartment, began reading it
aloud, slowly and emphatically; his companions gathered around
him, and every now and then expressed their approbation of what
they heard. The reader occasionally called upon me to explain
passages which, as they referred to particular texts of
Scripture, he did not exactly understand, for not one of the
party had ever seen either the Old or New Testament.
He continued reading for upwards of an hour, until he had
finished the tract; and, at its conclusion, the whole party
were clamorous for similar ones, with which I was happy to be
able to supply them.
Most of these men spoke of priestcraft and the monkish
system with the utmost abhorrence, and said that they should
prefer death to submitting again to the yoke which had formerly
galled their necks. I questioned them very particularly
respecting the opinion of their neighbours and acquaintances on
this point, and they assured me that in their part of the
Spanish frontier all were of the same mind, and that they cared
as little for the Pope and his monks as they did for Don
Carlos; for the latter was a dwarf (CHICOTITO) and a tyrant,
and the others were plunderers and robbers. I told them they
must beware of confounding religion with priestcraft, and that
in their abhorrence of the latter they must not forget that
there is a God and a Christ to whom they must look for
salvation, and whose word it was incumbent upon them to study
on every occasion; whereupon they all expressed a devout belief
in Christ and the Virgin.
These men, though in many respects more enlightened than
the surrounding peasantry, were in others as much in the dark;
they believed in witchcraft and in the efficacy of particular
charms. The night was very stormy, and at about nine we heard
a galloping towards the door, and then a loud knocking; it was
opened, and in rushed a wild-looking man mounted on a donkey;
he wore a ragged jacket of sheepskin, called in Spanish
zamarra, with breeches of the same as far down as his knees;
his legs were bare. Around his sombrero, or shadowy hat, was
tied a large quantity of the herb which in English is called
rosemary, in Spanish romero, and in the rustic language of
Portugal, alecrim; which last is a word of Scandinavian origin
(ELLEGREN), signifying the elfin plant, and was probably
carried into the south by the Vandals. The man seemed frantic
with terror, and said that the witches had been pursuing him
and hovering over his head for the last two leagues. He came
from the Spanish frontier with meal and other articles; he said
that his wife was following him and would soon arrive, and in
about a quarter of an hour she made her appearance, dripping
with rain, and also mounted on a donkey.
I asked my friends the contrabandistas why he wore the
rosemary in his hat; whereupon they told me that it was good
against witches and the mischances on the road. I had no time
to argue against this superstition, for, as the chaise was to
be ready at five the next morning, I wished to make the most of
the short time which I could devote to sleep.
Vexatious Delays - Drunken Driver - The Murdered Mule -
The Lamentation - Adventure on the Heath - Fear of Darkness -
Portuguese Fidalgo - The Escort - Return to Lisbon.
I rose at four, and after having taken some refreshment,
I descended and found the strange man and his wife sleeping in
the chimney corner by the fire, which was still burning; they
soon awoke and began preparing their breakfast, which consisted
of salt sardinhas, broiled upon the embers. In the meantime
the woman sang snatches of the beautiful hymn, very common in
Spain, which commences thus:-
"Once of old upon a mountain, shepherds overcome with
Near to Bethlem's holy tower, kept at dead of night their
Round about the trunk they nodded of a huge ignited oak,
Whence the crackling flame ascending bright and clear the
darkness broke."
On hearing that I was about to depart, she said, "You
shall have some of my husband's rosemary, which will keep you
from danger, and prevent any misfortune occurring." I was
foolish enough to permit her to put some of it in my hat; and
the man having by this time arrived with his mules, I bade
farewell to my friendly hostesses, and entered the chaise with
my servant.
I remarked at the time, that the mules which drew us were
the finest I had ever seen; the largest could be little short
of sixteen hands high; and the fellow told me in his bad French
that he loved them better than his wife and children. We
turned round the corner of the convent and proceeded down the
street which leads to the south-western gate. The driver now
stopped before the door of a large house, and having alighted,
said that it was yet very early, and that he was afraid to
venture forth, as it was very probable we should be robbed, and
himself murdered, as the robbers who resided in the town would
be apprehensive of his discovering them, but that the family
who lived in this house were going to Lisbon, and would depart
in about a quarter of an hour, when we might avail ourselves of
an escort of soldiers which they would take with them, and in
their company we should run no danger. I told him I had no
fear, and commanded him to drive on; but he said he would not,
and left us in the street. We waited an hour, when two
carriages came to the door of the house, but it seems the
family were not yet ready, whereupon the coachman likewise got
down and went away. At the expiration of about half an hour
the family came out, and when their luggage had been arranged
they called for the coachman, but he was nowhere to be found.
Search was made for him, but ineffectually, and an hour more
was spent before another driver could be procured; but the
escort had not yet made its appearance, and it was not before a
servant had been twice despatched to the barracks that it
arrived. At last everything was ready, and they drove off.
All this time I had seen nothing of our own coachman, and
I fully expected that he had abandoned us altogether. In a few
minutes I saw him staggering up the street in a state of
intoxication, attempting to sing the Marseillois hymn. I said
nothing to him, but sat observing him. He stood for some time
staring at the mules and talking incoherent nonsense in French.
At last he said, "I am not so drunk but I can ride," and
proceeded to lead his mules towards the gate. When out of the
town he made several ineffectual attempts to mount the smallest
mule which bore the saddle; he at length succeeded, and
instantly commenced spurring at a furious rate down the road.
We arrived at a place where a narrow rocky path branched off,
by taking which we should avoid a considerable circuit round
the city wall, which otherwise it would be necessary to make
before we could reach the road to Lisbon, which lay at the
north-east; he now said, "I shall take this path, for by so
doing we shall overtake the family in a minute"; so into the
path we went; it was scarcely wide enough to admit the
carriage, and exceedingly steep and broken; we proceeded;
ascending and descending, the wheels cracked, and the motion
was so violent that we were in danger of being cast out as from
a sling. I saw that if we remained in the carriage it must be
broken in pieces, as our weight must insure its destruction. I
called to him in Portuguese to stop, but he flogged and spurred
the beasts the more. My man now entreated me for God's sake to
speak to him in French, for, if anything would pacify him, that
would. I did so, and entreated him to let us dismount and
walk, till we had cleared this dangerous way. The result
justified Antonio's anticipation. He instantly stopped and
said, "Sir, you are master, you have only to command and I
shall obey." We dismounted and walked on till we reached the
great road, when we once more seated ourselves.
The family were about a quarter of a mile in advance, and
we were no sooner reseated, than he lashed the mules into full
gallop for the purpose of overtaking it; his cloak had fallen
from his shoulder, and, in endeavouring to readjust it, he
dropped the string from his hand by which he guided the large
mule, it became entangled in the legs of the poor animal, which
fell heavily on its neck, it struggled for a moment, and then
lay stretched across the way, the shafts over its body. I was
pitched forward into the dirt, and the drunken driver fell upon
the murdered mule.
I was in a great rage, and cried, "You drunken renegade,
who are ashamed to speak the language of your own country, you
have broken the staff of your existence, and may now starve."
"Paciencia," said he, and began kicking the head of the mule,
in order to make it rise; but I pushed him down, and taking his
knife, which had fallen from his pocket, cut the bands by which
it was attached to the carriage, but life had fled, and the
film of death had begun to cover its eyes.
The fellow, in the recklessness of intoxication, seemed
at first disposed to make light of his loss, saying, "The mule
is dead, it was God's will that she should die, what more can
be said? Paciencia." Meanwhile, I despatched Antonio to the
town for the purpose of hiring mules, and, having taken my
baggage from the chaise, waited on the roadside until he should
The fumes of the liquor began now to depart from the
fellow's brain; he clasped his hands and exclaimed, "Blessed
Virgin, what is to become of me? How am I to support myself?
Where am I to get another mule! For my mule, my best mule is
dead, she fell upon the road, and died of a sudden! I have
been in France, and in other countries, and have seen beasts of
all kinds, but such a mule as that I have never seen; but she
is dead - my mule is dead - she fell upon the road and died of
a sudden!" He continued in this strain for a considerable
time, and the burden of his lamentation was always, "My mule is
dead, she fell upon the road, and died of a sudden." At length
he took the collar from the creature's neck, and put it upon
the other, which with some difficulty he placed in the shafts.
A beautiful boy of about thirteen now came from the
direction of the town, running along the road with the velocity
of a hare: he stopped before the dead mule and burst into
tears: it was the man's son, who had heard of the accident from
Antonio. This was too much for the poor fellow: he ran up to
the boy, and said, "Don't cry, our bread is gone, but it is
God's will; the mule is dead!" He then flung himself on the
ground, uttering fearful cries. "I could have borne my loss,"
said he, "but when I saw my child cry, I became a fool." I
gave him two or three crowns, and added some words of comfort;
assuring him I had no doubt that, if he abandoned drink, the
Almighty God would take compassion on him and repair his loss.
At length he became more composed, and placing my baggage in
the chaise, we returned to the town, where I found two
excellent riding mules awaiting my arrival at the inn. I did
not see the Spanish woman, or I should have told her of the
little efficacy of rosemary in this instance.
I have known several drunkards amongst the Portuguese,
but, without one exception, they have been individuals who,
having travelled abroad, like this fellow, have returned with a
contempt for their own country, and polluted with the worst
vices of the lands which they have visited.
I would strongly advise any of my countrymen who may
chance to read these lines, that, if their fate lead them into
Spain or Portugal, they avoid hiring as domestics, or being
connected with, individuals of the lower classes who speak any
other language than their own, as the probability is that they
are heartless thieves and drunkards. These gentry are
invariably saying all they can in dispraise of their native
land; and it is my opinion, grounded upon experience, that an
individual who is capable of such baseness would not hesitate
at the perpetration of any villainy, for next to the love of
God, the love of country is the best preventive of crime. He
who is proud of his country, will be particularly cautious not
to do anything which is calculated to disgrace it.
We now journeyed towards Lisbon, and reached Monte Moro
about two o'clock. After taking such refreshment as the place
afforded, we pursued our way till we were within a quarter of a
league of the huts which stand on the edge of the savage
wilderness we had before crossed. Here we were overtaken by a
horseman; he was a powerful, middle-sized man, and was mounted
on a noble Spanish horse. He had a broad, slouching sombrero
on his head, and wore a jerkin of blue cloth, with large bosses
of silver for buttons, and clasps of the same metal; he had
breeches of yellow leather, and immense jack-boots: at his
saddle was slung a formidable gun. He inquired if I intended
to pass the night at Vendas Novas, and on my replying in the
affirmative, he said that he would avail himself of our
company. He now looked towards the sun, whose disk was rapidly
sinking beneath the horizon, and entreated us to spur on and
make the most of its light, for that the moor was a horrible
place in the dusk. He placed himself at our head, and we
trotted briskly on, the boy or muleteer who attended us running
behind without exhibiting the slightest symptom of fatigue.
We entered upon the moor, and had advanced about a mile
when dark night fell around us; we were in a wild path, with
high brushwood on either side, when the rider said that he
could not confront the darkness, and begged me to ride on
before, and he would follow after: I could hear him trembling.
I asked the reason of his terror, and he replied that at one
time darkness was the same thing to him as day, but that of
late years he dreaded it, especially in wild places. I
complied with his request, but I was ignorant of the way, and
as I could scarcely see my hand, was continually going wrong.
This made the man impatient, and he again placed himself at our
head. We proceeded so for a considerable way, when he again
stopped, and said that the power of the darkness was too much
for him. His horse seemed to be infected with the same panic,
for it shook in every limb. I now told him to call on the name
of the Lord Jesus, who was able to turn the darkness into
light, but he gave a terrible shout, and, brandishing his gun
aloft, discharged it in the air. His horse sprang forward at
full speed, and my mule, which was one of the swiftest of its
kind, took fright and followed at the heels of the charger.
Antonio and the boy were left behind. On we flew like a
whirlwind, the hoofs of the animals illuming the path with the
sparks of fire they struck from the stones. I knew not whither
we were going, but the dumb creatures were acquainted with the
way, and soon brought us to Vendas Novas, where we were
rejoined by our companions.
I thought this man was a coward, but I did him injustice,
for during the day he was as brave as a lion, and feared no
one. About five years since, he had overcome two robbers who
had attacked him on the moors, and, after tying their hands
behind them, had delivered them up to justice; but at night the
rustling of a leaf filled him with terror. I have known
similar instances of the kind in persons of otherwise
extraordinary resolution. For myself, I confess I am not a
person of extraordinary resolution, but the dangers of the
night daunt me no more than those of midday. The man in
question was a farmer from Evora, and a person of considerable
I found the inn at Vendas Novas thronged with people, and
had some difficulty in obtaining accommodation and refreshment.
It was occupied by the family of a certain Fidalgo, from
Estremoz; he was on the way to Lisbon, conveying a large sum of
money, as was said - probably the rents of his estates. He had
with him a body guard of four-and-twenty of his dependants,
each armed with a rifle; they consisted of his swineherds,
shepherds, cowherds, and hunters, and were commanded by two
youths, his son and nephew, the latter of whom was in
regimentals; nevertheless, notwithstanding the number of his
troop, it appeared that the Fidalgo laboured under considerable
apprehension of being despoiled upon the waste which lay
between Vendas Novas and Pegoens, as he had just requested a
guard of four soldiers from the officer who commanded a
detachment stationed here: there were many females in his
company, who, I was told, were his illegitimate daughters - for
he bore an infamous moral character, and was represented to me
as a staunch friend of Don Miguel. It was not long before he
came up to me and my new acquaintance, as we sat by the kitchen
fire: he was a tall man of about sixty, but stooped much. His
countenance was by no means pleasing: he had a long hooked
nose, small twinkling cunning eyes, and, what I liked worst of
all, a continual sneering smile, which I firmly believe to be
the index of a treacherous and malignant heart. He addressed
me in Spanish, which, as he resided not far from the frontier,
he spoke with fluency, but contrary to my usual practice, I was
reserved and silent.
On the following morning I rose at seven, and found that
the party from Estremoz had started several hours previously.
I breakfasted with my acquaintance of the preceding night, and
we set out to accomplish what remained of our journey. The sun
had now arisen; and all his fears had left him - he breathed
defiance against all the robbers of the Alemtejo. When we had
advanced about a league, the boy who attended us said he saw
heads of men amongst the brushwood. Our cavalier instantly
seized his gun, and causing his horse to make two or three
lofty bounds, held it in one hand, the muzzle pointed in the
direction indicated, but the heads did not again make their
appearance, and it was probably but a false alarm.
We resumed our way, and the conversation turned, as might
be expected, upon robbers. My companion, who seemed to be
acquainted with every inch of ground over which we passed, had
a legend to tell of every dingle and every pine-clump. We
reached a slight eminence, on the top of which grew three
stately pines: about half a league farther on was another
similar one: these two eminences commanded a view of the road
from Pegoens and Vendas Novas, so that all people going and
coming could be descried, whilst yet at a distance. My friend
told me that these heights were favourite stations of robbers.
Some two years since, a band of six mounted banditti remained
there three days, and plundered whomsoever approached from
either quarter: their horses, saddled and bridled, stood
picqueted at the foot of the trees, and two scouts, one for
each eminence, continually sat in the topmost branches and gave
notice of the approach of travellers: when at a proper distance
the robbers below sprang upon their horses, and putting them to
full gallop, made at their prey, shouting RENDETE, PICARO!
RENDETE, PICARO! (Surrender, scoundrel, surrender!) We,
however, passed unmolested, and, about a quarter of a mile
before we reached Pegoens, overtook the family of the Fidalgo.
Had they been conveying the wealth of Ind through the
deserts of Arabia, they could not have travelled with more
precaution. The nephew, with drawn sabre, rode in front;
pistols at his holsters, and the usual Spanish gun slung at his
saddle. Behind him tramped six men in a rank, with muskets
shouldered, and each of them wore at his girdle a hatchet,
which was probably intended to cleave the thieves to the
brisket should they venture to come to close quarters. There
were six vehicles, two of them calashes, in which latter rode
the Fidalgo and his daughters; the others were covered carts,
and seemed to be filled with household furniture; each of these
vehicles had an armed rustic on either side; and the son, a lad
about sixteen, brought up the rear with a squad equal to that
of his cousin in the van. The soldiers, who by good fortune
were light horse, and admirably mounted, were galloping about
in all directions, for the purpose of driving the enemy from
cover, should they happen to be lurking in the neighbourhood.
I could not help thinking as I passed by, that this
martial array was very injudicious, for though it was
calculated to awe plunderers, it was likewise calculated to
allure them, as it seemed to hint that immense wealth was
passing through their territories. I do not know how the
soldiers and rustics would have behaved in case of an attack;
but am inclined to believe that if three such men as Richard
Turpin had suddenly galloped forth from behind one of the bushcovered
knolls, neither the numbers nor resistance opposed to
them would have prevented them from bearing away the contents
of the strong box jingling in their saddle-bags.
From this moment nothing worthy of relating occurred till
our arrival at Aldea Gallega, where we passed the night, and
next morning at three o'clock embarked in the passage-boat for
Lisbon, where we arrived at eight - and thus terminates my
first wandering in the Alemtejo.
The College - The Rector - Shibboleth - National Prejudices -
Youthful Sports - Jews of Lisbon - Bad Faith -
Crime and Superstition - Strange Proposal.
One afternoon Antonio said to me, "It has struck me,
Senhor, that your worship would like to see the college of the
English - ." "By all means," I replied, "pray conduct me
thither." So he led me through various streets until we
stopped before the gate of a large building in one of the most
elevated situations in Lisbon; upon our ringing, a kind of
porter presently made his appearance, and demanded our
business. Antonio explained it to him. He hesitated for a
moment; but presently, bidding us enter, conducted us to a
large gloomy-looking stone hall, where, begging us to be
seated, he left us. We were soon joined by a venerable
personage, seemingly about seventy, in a kind of flowing robe
or surplice, with a collegiate cap upon his head.
Notwithstanding his age there was a ruddy tinge upon his
features, which were perfectly English. Coming slowly up he
addressed me in the English tongue, requesting to know how he
could serve me. I informed him that I was an English
traveller, and should be happy to be permitted to inspect the
college, provided it were customary to show it to strangers.
He informed me that there could be no objection to accede to my
request, but that I came at rather an unfortunate moment, it
being the hour of refection. I apologised, and was preparing
to retire, but he begged me to remain, as, in a few minutes,
the refection would be over, when the principals of the college
would do themselves the pleasure of waiting on me.
We sat down on the stone bench, when he commenced
surveying me attentively for some time, and then cast his eyes
on Antonio. "Whom have we here?" said he to the latter;
"surely your features are not unknown to me." "Probably not,
your reverence," replied Antonio, getting up and bowing most
profoundly. "I lived in the family of the Countess -, at
Cintra, when your venerability was her spiritual guide."
"True, true," said the old gentleman, sighing, "I remember you
now. Ah, Antonio, things are strangely changed since then. A
new government - a new system - a new religion, I may say."
Then looking again at me, he demanded whither I was journeying?
"I am going to Spain," said I, "and have stopped at Lisbon by
the way." "Spain, Spain!" said the old man; "surely you have
chosen a strange time to visit Spain; there is much
bloodshedding in Spain at present, and violent wars and
tumults." "I consider the cause of Don Carlos as already
crushed," I replied; "he has lost the only general capable of
leading his armies to Madrid. Zumalacarregui, his Cid, has
fallen." "Do not flatter yourself; I beg your pardon, but do
not think, young man, that the Lord will permit the powers of
darkness to triumph so easily; the cause of Don Carlos is not
lost; its success did not depend on the life of a frail worm
like him whom you have mentioned." We continued in discourse
some little time, when he arose, saying that by this time he
believed the refection was concluded.
He had scarcely left me five minutes when three
individuals entered the stone hall, and advanced slowly towards
me; - the principals of the college, said I to myself! and so
indeed they were. The first of these gentlemen, and to whom
the other two appeared to pay considerable deference, was a
thin spare person, somewhat above the middle height; his
complexion was very pale, his features emaciated but fine, his
eyes dark and sparkling; he might be about fifty - the other
two were men in the prime of life. One was of rather low
stature; his features were dark, and wore that pinched and
mortified expression so frequently to be observed in the
countenance of the English -: the other was a bluff, ruddy, and
rather good-looking young man; all three were dressed alike in
the usual college cap and silk gown. Coming up, the eldest of
the three took me by the hand and thus addressed me in clear
silvery tones:-
"Welcome, Sir, to our poor house; we are always happy to
see in it a countryman from our beloved native land; it will
afford us extreme satisfaction to show you over it; it is true
that satisfaction is considerably diminished by the reflection
that it possesses nothing worthy of the attention of a
traveller; there is nothing curious pertaining to it save
perhaps its economy, and that as we walk about we will explain
to you. Permit us, first of all, to introduce ourselves to
you; I am rector of this poor English house of refuge; this
gentleman is our professor of humanity, and this (pointing to
the ruddy personage) is our professor of polite learning,
Hebrew, and Syriac."
MYSELF. - I humbly salute you all; excuse me if I inquire
who was the venerable gentleman who put himself to the
inconvenience of staying with me whilst I was awaiting your
RECTOR. - O! a most admirable personage, our almoner, our
chaplain; he came into this country before any of us were born,
and here he has continued ever since. Now let us ascend that
we may show you our poor house: but how is this, my dear Sir,
how is it that I see you standing uncovered in our cold damp
MYSELF. - I can easily explain that to you; it is a
custom which has become quite natural to me. I am just arrived
from Russia, where I have spent some years. A Russian
invariably takes off his hat whenever he enters beneath a roof,
whether it pertain to hut, shop, or palace. To omit doing so
would be considered as a mark of brutality and barbarism, and
for the following reason: in every apartment of a Russian house
there is a small picture of the Virgin stuck up in a corner,
just below the ceiling - the hat is taken off out of respect to
Quick glances of intelligence were exchanged by the three
gentlemen. I had stumbled upon their shibboleth, and
proclaimed myself an Ephraimite, and not of Gilead. I have no
doubt that up to that moment they had considered me as one of
themselves - a member, and perhaps a priest, of their own
ancient, grand, and imposing religion, for such it is, I must
confess - an error into which it was natural that they should
fall. What motives could a Protestant have for intruding upon
their privacy? What interest could he take in inspecting the
economy of their establishment? So far, however, from relaxing
in their attention after this discovery, their politeness
visibly increased, though, perhaps, a scrutinizing observer
might have detected a shade of less cordiality in their manner.
RECTOR. - Beneath the ceiling in every apartment? I
think I understood you so. How delightful - how truly
interesting; a picture of the BLESSED Virgin beneath the
ceiling in every apartment of a Russian house! Truly, this
intelligence is as unexpected as it is delightful. I shall
from this moment entertain a much higher opinion of the
Russians than hitherto - most truly an example worthy of
imitation. I wish sincerely that it was our own practice to
place an IMAGE of the BLESSED Virgin beneath the ceiling in
every corner of our houses. What say you, our professor of
humanity? What say you to the information so obligingly
communicated to us by this excellent gentleman?
HUMANITY PROFESSOR. - It is, indeed, most delightful,
most cheering, I may say; but I confess that I was not
altogether unprepared for it. The adoration of the Blessed
Virgin is becoming every day more extended in countries where
it has hitherto been unknown or forgotten. Dr. W-, when he
passed through Lisbon, gave me some most interesting details
with respect to the labours of the propaganda in India. Even
England, our own beloved country. . . .
My obliging friends showed me all over their "poor
house," it certainly did not appear a very rich one; it was
spacious, and rather dilapidated. The library was small, and
possessed nothing remarkable; the view, however, from the roof,
over the greater part of Lisbon and the Tagus, was very grand
and noble; but I did not visit this place in the hope of seeing
busts, or books, or fine prospects, - I visited this strange
old house to converse with its inmates, for my favourite, I
might say, my only study, is man. I found these gentlemen much
what I had anticipated, for this was not the first time that I
had visited an English - establishment in a foreign land. They
were full of amiability and courtesy to their heretic
countryman, and though the advancement of their religion was
with them an object of paramount importance, I soon found that,
with ludicrous inconsistency, they cherished, to a wonderful
degree, national prejudices almost extinct in the mother land,
even to the disparagement of those of their own darling faith.
I spoke of the English -, of their high respectability, and of
the loyalty which they had uniformly displayed to their
sovereign, though of a different religion, and by whom they had
been not unfrequently subjected to much oppression and
RECTOR. - My dear Sir, I am rejoiced to hear you; I see
that you are well acquainted with the great body of those of
our faith in England. They are as you have well described
them, a most respectable and loyal body; from loyalty, indeed,
they never swerved, and though they have been accused of plots
and conspiracies, it is now well known that such had no real
existence, but were merely calumnies invented by their
religious enemies. During the civil wars the English -
cheerfully shed their blood and squandered their fortunes in
the cause of the unfortunate martyr, notwithstanding that he
never favoured them, and invariably looked upon them with
suspicion. At present the English - are the most devoted
subjects to our gracious sovereign. I should be happy if I
could say as much for our Irish brethren; but their conduct has
been - oh! detestable. Yet what can you expect? The true -
blush for them. A certain person is a disgrace to the church
of which he pretends to be a servant. Where does he find in
our canons sanction for his proceedings, his undutiful
expressions towards one who is his sovereign by divine right,
and who can do no wrong? And above all, where does he find
authority for inflaming the passions of a vile mob against a
nation intended by nature and by position to command them?
MYSELF. - I believe there is an Irish college in this
RECTOR. - I believe there is; but it does not flourish,
there are few or no pupils. Oh!
I looked through a window, at a great height, and saw
about twenty or thirty fine lads sporting in a court below.
"This is as it should be," said I; "those boys will not make
worse priests from a little early devotion to trap-ball and
cudgel playing. I dislike a staid, serious, puritanic
education, as I firmly believe that it encourages vice and
We then went into the Rector's room, where, above a
crucifix, was hanging a small portrait.
MYSELF. - That was a great and portentous man, honest
withal. I believe the body of which he was the founder, and
which has been so much decried, has effected infinitely more
good than it has caused harm.
RECTOR. - What do I hear? You an Englishman, and a
Protestant, and yet an admirer of Ignatius Loyola?
MYSELF. - I will say nothing with respect to the doctrine
of the Jesuits, for, as you have observed, I am a Protestant:
but I am ready to assert that there are no people in the world
better qualified, upon the whole, to be intrusted with the
education of youth. Their moral system and discipline are
truly admirable. Their pupils, in after life, are seldom
vicious and licentious characters, and are in general men of
learning, science, and possessed of every elegant
accomplishment. I execrate the conduct of the liberals of
Madrid in murdering last year the helpless fathers, by whose
care and instruction two of the finest minds of Spain have been
evolved - the two ornaments of the liberal cause and modern
literature of Spain, for such are Toreno and Martinez de la
Rosa. . . .
Gathered in small clusters about the pillars at the lower
extremities of the gold and silver streets in Lisbon, may be
observed, about noon in every day, certain strange looking men,
whose appearance is neither Portuguese nor European. Their
dress generally consists of a red cap, with a blue silken
tassel at the top of it, a blue tunic girded at the waist with
a red sash, and wide linen pantaloons or trousers. He who
passes by these groups generally hears them conversing in
broken Spanish or Portuguese, and occasionally in a harsh
guttural language, which the oriental traveller knows to be the
Arabic, or a dialect thereof. These people are the Jews of
Lisbon. Into the midst of one of these groups I one day
introduced myself, and pronounced a beraka, or blessing. I
have lived in different parts of the world, much amongst the
Hebrew race, and am well acquainted with their ways and
phraseology. I was rather anxious to become acquainted with
the state of the Portuguese Jews, and I had now an opportunity.
"The man is a powerful rabbi," said a voice in Arabic; "it
behoves us to treat him kindly." They welcomed me. I favoured
their mistake, and in a few days I knew all that related to
them and their traffic in Lisbon.
I found them a vile, infamous rabble, about two hundred
in number. With a few exceptions, they consist of escapados
from the Barbary shore, from Tetuan, from Tangier, but
principally from Mogadore; fellows who have fled to a foreign
land from the punishment due to their misdeeds. Their manner
of life in Lisbon is worthy of such a goodly assemblage of AMIS
REUNIS. The generality of them pretend to work in gold and
silver, and keep small peddling shops; they, however,
principally depend for their livelihood on an extensive traffic
in stolen goods which they carry on. It is said that there is
honour amongst thieves, but this is certainly not the case with
the Jews of Lisbon, for they are so greedy and avaricious, that
they are constantly quarrelling about their ill-gotten gain,
the result being that they frequently ruin each other. Their
mutual jealousy is truly extraordinary. If one, by cheating
and roguery, gains a cruzado in the presence of another, the
latter instantly says I cry halves, and if the first refuse he
is instantly threatened with an information. The manner in
which they cheat each other has, with all its infamy,
occasionally something extremely droll and ludicrous. I was
one day in the shop of a Swiri, or Jew of Mogadore, when a Jew
from Gibraltar entered, with a Portuguese female, who held in
her hand a mantle, richly embroidered with gold.
GIBRALTAR JEW (speaking in broken Arabic). - Good-day, O
Swiri; God has favoured me this day; here is a bargain by which
we shall both gain. I have bought this mantle of the woman
almost for nothing, for it is stolen; but I am poor, as you
know, I have not a cruzado; pay her therefore the price, that
we may then forthwith sell the mantle and divide the gain.
SWIRI. - Willingly, brother of Gibraltar; I will pay the
woman for the mantle; it does not appear a bad one.
Thereupon he flung two cruzados to the woman, who
forthwith left the shop.
GIBRALTAR JEW. - Thanks, brother Swirl, this is very kind
of you; now let us go and sell the mantle, the gold alone is
well worth a moidore; but I am poor and have nothing to eat,
give me, therefore, the half of that sum and keep the mantle; I
shall be content.
SWIRI. - May Allah blot out your name, you thief. What
mean you by asking me for money? I bought the mantle of the
woman and paid for it. I know nothing of you. Go out of my
doors, dog of a Nazarene, if not I will pay you with a kick.
The dispute was referred to one of the sabios, or
priests; but the sabio, who was also from Mogadore, at once
took the part of the Swiri, and decided that the other should
have nothing. Whereupon the Gibraltar Jew cursed the sabio,
his father, mother, and all his family. The sabio replied, "I
put you in ndui," a kind of purgatory or hell. "I put you in
seven nduis," retorted the incensed Jew, over whom, however,
superstitious fear speedily prevailed; he faltered, became
pale, and dropping his voice, retreated, trembling in every
The Jews have two synagogues in Lisbon, both are small;
one is, however, tolerably well furnished, it has its reading
desk, and in the middle there is a rather handsome chandelier;
the other is little better than a sty, filthy to a degree,
without ornament of any kind. The congregation of this last
are thieves to a man; no Jew of the slightest respectability
ever enters it.
How well do superstition and crime go hand in hand.
These wretched beings break the eternal commandments of their
Maker without scruple; but they will not partake of the beast
of the uncloven foot, and the fish which has no scales. They
pay no regard to the denunciations of holy prophets against the
children of sin, but they quake at the sound of a dark
cabalistic word, pronounced by one perhaps their equal, or
superior, in villainy, as if God would delegate the exercise of
his power to the workers of iniquity.
I was one day sauntering on the Caesodre, when a Jew,
with whom I had previously exchanged a word or two, came up and
addressed me.
JEW. - The blessing of God upon you, brother; I know you
to be a wise and powerful man, and I have conceived much regard
for you; it is on that account that I wish to put you in the
way of gaining much money. Come with me, and I will conduct
you to a place where there are forty chests of tea. It is a
sereka (a robbery), and the thieves are willing to dispose of
it for a trifle, for there is search being made, and they are
in much fear. I can raise one half of what they demand, do you
supply the other, we will then divide it, each shall go his own
way and dispose of his portion.
MYSELF. - Wherefore, O son of Arbat, do you propose this
to me, who am a stranger? Surely you are mad. Have you not
your own people about you whom you know, and in whom you can
JEW. - It is because I know our people here that I do not
confide in them; we are in the galoot of sin. Were I to
confide in my brethren there would be a dispute, and perhaps
they would rob me, and few of them have any money. Were I to
apply to the sabio he might consent, but when I ask for my
portion he would put me in ndui! You I do not fear; you are
good and would do me no harm, unless I attempted to deceive
you, and that I dare not do, for I know you are powerful. Come
with me, master, for I wish to gain something, that I may
return to Arbat, where I have children . . .
Such are Jews in Lisbon.
Cold of Portugal - Extortion prevented - Sensation of Loneliness -
The Dog - The Convent - Enchanting Landscape - Moorish Fortresses -
Prayer for the Sick.
About a fortnight after my return from Evora, having made
the necessary preparations, I set out on my journey for
Badajoz, from which town I intended to take the diligence to
Madrid. Badajoz lies about a hundred miles distant from
Lisbon, and is the principal frontier town of Spain in the
direction of the Alemtejo. To reach this place, it was
necessary to retravel the road as far as Monte More, which I
had already passed in my excursion to Evora; I had therefore
very little pleasure to anticipate from novelty of scenery.
Moreover, in this journey I should be a solitary traveller,
with no other companion than the muleteer, as it was my
intention to take my servant no farther than Aldea Gallega, for
which place I started at four in the afternoon. Warned by
former experience, I did not now embark in a small boat, but in
one of the regular passage felouks, in which we reached Aldea
Gallega, after a voyage of six hours; for the boat was heavy,
there was no wind to propel it, and the crew were obliged to
ply their huge oars the whole way. In a word, this passage was
the reverse of the first, - safe in every respect, - but so
sluggish and tiresome, that I a hundred times wished myself
again under the guidance of the wild lad, galloping before the
hurricane over the foaming billows. From eight till ten the
cold was truly terrible, and though I was closely wrapped in an
excellent fur "shoob," with which I had braved the frosts of
Russian winters, I shivered in every limb, and was far more
rejoiced when I again set my foot on the Alemtejo, than when I
landed for the first time, after having escaped the horrors of
the tempest.
I took up my quarters for the night at a house to which
my friend who feared the darkness had introduced me on my
return from Evora, and where, though I paid mercilessly dear
for everything, the accommodation was superior to that of the
common inn in the square. My first care now was to inquire for
mules to convey myself and baggage to Elvas, from whence there
are but three short leagues to the Spanish town of Badajoz.
The people of the house informed me that they had an excellent
pair at my disposal, but when I inquired the price, they were
not ashamed to demand four moidores. I offered them three,
which was too much, but which, however, they did not accept,
for knowing me to be an Englishman, they thought they had an
excellent opportunity to practise imposition, not imagining
that a person so rich as an Englishman MUST be, would go out in
a cold night for the sake of obtaining a reasonable bargain.
They were, however, much mistaken, as I told them that rather
than encourage them in their knavery, I should be content to
return to Lisbon; whereupon they dropped their demand to three
and a half, but I made them no answer, and going out with
Antonio, proceeded to the house of the old man who had
accompanied us to Evora. We knocked a considerable time, for
he was in bed; at length he arose and admitted us, but on
hearing our object, he said that his mules were again gone to
Evora, under the charge of the boy, for the purpose of
transporting some articles of merchandise. He, however,
recommended us to a person in the neighbourhood who kept mules
for hire, and there Antonio engaged two fine beasts for two
moidores and a half. I say he engaged them, for I stood aloof
and spoke not, and the proprietor, who exhibited them, and who
stood half-dressed, with a lamp in his hand and shivering with
cold, was not aware that they were intended for a foreigner
till the agreement was made, and he had received a part of the
sum in earnest. I returned to the inn well pleased, and having
taken some refreshment went to rest, paying little attention to
the people, who glanced daggers at me from their small Jewish
At five the next morning the mules were at the door; a
lad of some nineteen or twenty years of age attended them; he
was short but exceedingly strong built, and possessed the
largest head which I ever beheld upon mortal shoulders; neck he
had none, at least I could discern nothing which could be
entitled to that name. His features were hideously ugly, and
upon addressing him I discovered that he was an idiot. Such
was my intended companion in a journey of nearly a hundred
miles, which would occupy four days, and which lay over the
most savage and ill noted track in the whole kingdom. I took
leave of my servant almost with tears, for he had always served
me with the greatest fidelity, and had exhibited an assiduity
and a wish to please which afforded me the utmost satisfaction.
We started, my uncouth guide sitting tailor-fashion on
the sumpter mule upon the baggage. The moon had just gone
down, and the morning was pitchy dark, and, as usual,
piercingly cold. He soon entered the dismal wood, which I had
already traversed, and through which we wended our way for some
time, slowly and mournfully. Not a sound was to be heard save
the trampling of the animals, not a breath of air moved the
leafless branches, no animal stirred in the thickets, no bird,
not even the owl, flew over our heads, all seemed desolate and
dead, and during my many and far wanderings, I never
experienced a greater sensation of loneliness, and a greater
desire for conversation and an exchange of ideas than then. To
speak to the idiot was useless, for though competent to show
the road, with which he was well acquainted, he had no other
answer than an uncouth laugh to any question put to him. Thus
situated, like many other persons when human comfort is not at
hand, I turned my heart to God, and began to commune with Him,
the result of which was that my mind soon became quieted and
We passed on our way uninterrupted; no thieves showed
themselves, nor indeed did we see a single individual until we
arrived at Pegoens, and from thence to Vendas Novas our fortune
was the same. I was welcomed with great kindness by the people
of the hostelry of the latter place, who were well acquainted
with me on account of my having twice passed the night under
their roof. The name of the keeper of this is, or was, Joze
Dias Azido, and unlike the generality of those of the same
profession as himself in Portugal, he is an honest man, and a
stranger and foreigner who takes up his quarters at his inn,
may rest assured that he will not be most unmercifully pillaged
and cheated when the hour of reckoning shall arrive, as he will
not be charged a single re more than a native Portuguese on a
similar occasion. I paid at this place exactly one half of the
sum which was demanded from me at Arroyolos, where I passed the
ensuing night, and where the accommodation was in every respect
At twelve next day we arrived at Monte More, and, as I
was not pressed for time, I determined upon viewing the ruins
which cover the top and middle part of the stately hill which
towers above the town. Having ordered some refreshment at the
inn where we dismounted, I ascended till I arrived at a large
wall or rampart, which, at a certain altitude embraces the
whole hill. I crossed a rude bridge of stones, which bestrides
a small hollow or trench; and passing by a large tower, entered
through a portal into the enclosed part of the hill. On the
left hand stood a church, in good preservation, and still
devoted to the purposes of religion, but which I could not
enter, as the door was locked, and I saw no one at hand to open
I soon found that my curiosity had led me to a most
extraordinary place, which quite beggars the scanty powers of
description with which I am gifted. I stumbled on amongst
ruined walls, and at one time found I was treading over vaults,
as I suddenly started back from a yawning orifice into which my
next step, as I strolled musing along, would have precipitated
me. I proceeded for a considerable way by the eastern wall,
till I heard a tremendous bark, and presently an immense dog,
such as those which guard the flocks in the neighbourhood
against the wolves, came bounding to attack me "with eyes that
glowed and fangs that grinned." Had I retreated, or had
recourse to any other mode of defence than that which I
invariably practise under such circumstances, he would probably
have worried me; but I stooped till my chin nearly touched my
knee, and looked him full in the eyes, and as John Leyden says,
in the noblest ballad which the Land of Heather has produced:-
"The hound he yowled and back he fled,
As struck with fairy charm."
It is a fact known to many people, and I believe it has
been frequently stated, that no large and fierce dog or animal
of any kind, with the exception of the bull, which shuts its
eyes and rushes blindly forward, will venture to attack an
individual who confronts it with a firm and motionless
countenance. I say large and fierce, for it is much easier to
repel a bloodhound or bear of Finland in this manner than a
dunghill cur or a terrier, against which a stick or a stone is
a much more certain defence. This will astonish no one who
considers that the calm reproving glance of reason, which
allays the excesses of the mighty and courageous in our own
species, has seldom any other effect than to add to the
insolence of the feeble and foolish, who become placid as doves
upon the infliction of chastisements, which if attempted to be
applied to the former would only serve to render them more
terrible, and like gunpowder cast on a flame, cause them in mad
desperation to scatter destruction around them.
The barking of the dog brought out from a kind of alley
an elderly man, whom I supposed to be his master, and of whom I
made some inquiries respecting the place. The man was civil,
and informed me that he served as a soldier in the British
army, under the "great lord," during the Peninsular war. He
said that there was a convent of nuns a little farther on,
which he would show me, and thereupon led the way to the southeast
part of the wall, where stood a large dilapidated edifice.
We entered a dark stone apartment, at one corner of which
was a kind of window occupied by a turning table, at which
articles were received into the convent or delivered out. He
rang the bell, and, without saying a word, retired, leaving me
rather perplexed; but presently I heard, though the speaker was
invisible, a soft feminine voice demanding who I was, and what
I wanted. I replied that I was an Englishman travelling into
Spain, and that passing through Monte Moro I had ascended the
hill for the purpose of seeing the ruins. The voice then said,
"I suppose you are a military man going to fight against the
king, like the rest of your countrymen." "No," said I, "I am
not a military man, but a Christian, and I go not to shed blood
but to endeavour to introduce the gospel of Christ into a
country where it is not known;" whereupon there was a stifled
titter, I then inquired if there were any copies of the Holy
Scriptures in the convent, but the friendly voice could give me
no information on that point, and I scarcely believe that its
possessor understood the purport of my question. It informed
me, that the office of lady abbess of the house was an annual
one, and that every year there was a fresh superior; on my
inquiring whether the nuns did not frequently find the time
exceedingly heavy on their hands, it stated that, when they had
nothing better to do, they employed themselves in making
cheesecakes, which were disposed of in the neighbourhood. I
thanked the voice for its communications, and walked away.
Whilst proceeding under the wall of the house towards the
south-west, I heard a fresh and louder tittering above my head,
and looking up, saw three or four windows crowded with dusky
faces, and black waving hair; these belonged to the nuns,
anxious to obtain a view of the stranger. After kissing my
hand repeatedly, I moved on, and soon arrived at the south-west
end of this mountain of curiosities. There I found the remains
of a large building, which seemed to have been originally
erected in the shape of a cross. A tower at its eastern
entrance was still entire; the western side was quite in ruins,
and stood on the verge of the hill overlooking the valley, at
the bottom of which ran the stream I have spoken of on a former
The day was intensely hot, notwithstanding the coldness
of the preceding nights; and the brilliant sun of Portugal now
illumined a landscape of entrancing beauty. Groves of cork
trees covered the farther side of the valley and the distant
acclivities, exhibiting here and there charming vistas, where
various flocks of cattle were feeding; the soft murmur of the
stream, which was at intervals chafed and broken by huge
stones, ascended to my ears and filled my mind with delicious
feelings. I sat down on the broken wall and remained gazing,
and listening, and shedding tears of rapture; for, of all the
pleasures which a bountiful God permitteth his children to
enjoy, none are so dear to some hearts as the music of forests,
and streams, and the view of the beauties of his glorious
creation. An hour elapsed, and I still maintained my seat on
the wall; the past scenes of my life flitting before my eyes in
airy and fantastic array, through which every now and then
peeped trees and hills and other patches of the real landscape
which I was confronting; the sun burnt my visage, but I heeded
it not; and I believe that I should have remained till night,
buried in these reveries, which, I confess, only served to
enervate the mind, and steal many a minute which might be most
profitably employed, had not the report of the gun of a fowler
in the valley, which awakened the echoes of the woods, hills,
and ruins, caused me to start on my feet, and remember that I
had to proceed three leagues before I could reach the hostelry
where I intended to pass the night.
I bent my steps to the inn, passing along a kind of
rampart: shortly before I reached the portal, which I have
already mentioned, I observed a kind of vault on my right hand,
scooped out of the side of the hill; its roof was supported by
three pillars, though part of it had given way towards the
farther end, so that the light was admitted through a chasm in
the top. It might have been intended for a chapel, a dungeon,
or a cemetery, but I should rather think for the latter; one
thing I am certain of, that it was not the work of Moorish
hands, and indeed throughout my wanderings in this place I saw
nothing which reminded me of that most singular people. The
hill on which the ruins stand was doubtless originally a strong
fortress of the Moors, who, upon their first irruption into the
peninsula, seized and fortified most of the lofty and naturally
strong positions, but they had probably lost it at an early
period, so that the broken walls and edifices, which at present
cover the hill, are probably remains of the labours of the
Christians after the place had been rescued from the hands of
the terrible enemies of their faith. Monte Moro will perhaps
recall Cintra to the mind of the traveller, as it exhibits a
distant resemblance to that place; nevertheless, there is
something in Cintra wild and savage, to which Monte Moro has no
pretension; its scathed and gigantic crags are piled upon each
other in a manner which seems to menace headlong destruction to
whatever is in the neighbourhood; and the ruins which still
cling to those crags seem more like eagles' nests than the
remains of the habitations even of Moors; whereas those of
Monte Moro stand comparatively at their ease on the broad back
of a hill, which, though stately and commanding, has no crags
nor precipices, and which can be ascended on every side without
much difficulty: yet I was much gratified by my visit, and I
shall wander far indeed before I forget the voice in the
dilapidated convent, the ruined walls amongst which I strayed,
and the rampart where, sunk in dreamy rapture, I sat during a
bright sunny hour at Monte Moro.
I returned to the inn, where I refreshed myself with tea
and very sweet and delicious cheesecakes, the handiwork of the
nuns in the convent above. Observing gloom and unhappiness on
the countenances of the people of the house, I inquired the
reason of the hostess, who sat almost motionless, on the hearth
by the fire; whereupon she informed me that her husband was
deadly sick with a disorder which, from her description, I
supposed to be a species of cholera; she added, that the
surgeon who attended him entertained no hopes of his recovery.
I replied that it was quite in the power of God to restore her
husband in a few hours from the verge of the grave to health
and vigour, and that it was her duty to pray to that Omnipotent
Being with all fervency. I added, that if she did not know how
to pray upon such an occasion, I was ready to pray for her,
provided she would join in the spirit of the supplication. I
then offered up a short prayer in Portuguese, in which I
entreated the Lord to remove, if he thought proper, the burden
of affliction under which the family was labouring.
The woman listened attentively, with her hands devoutly
clasped, until the prayer was finished, and then gazed at me
seemingly with astonishment, but uttered no word by which I
could gather that she was pleased or displeased with what I had
said. I now bade the family farewell, and having mounted my
mule, set forward to Arroyolos.
The Druids' Stone - The Young Spaniard - Ruffianly Soldiers -
Evils of War - Estremoz - The Brawl - Ruined Watch Tower -
Glimpse of Spain - Old Times and New.
After proceeding about a league and a half, a blast came
booming from the north, rolling before it immense clouds of
dust; happily it did not blow in our faces, or it would have
been difficult to proceed, so great was its violence. We had
left the road in order to take advantage of one of those short
cuts, which, though possible for a horse or a mule, are far too
rough to permit any species of carriage to travel along them.
We were in the midst of sands, brushwood, and huge pieces of
rock, which thickly studded the ground. These are the stones
which form the sierras of Spain and Portugal; those singular
mountains which rise in naked horridness, like the ribs of some
mighty carcass from which the flesh has been torn. Many of
these stones, or rocks, grew out of the earth, and many lay on
its surface unattached, perhaps wrested from their bed by the
waters of the deluge. Whilst toiling along these wild wastes,
I observed, a little way to my left, a pile of stones of rather
a singular appearance, and rode up to it. It was a druidical
altar, and the most perfect and beautiful one of the kind which
I had ever seen. It was circular, and consisted of stones
immensely large and heavy at the bottom, which towards the top
became thinner and thinner, having been fashioned by the hand
of art to something of the shape of scollop shells. These were
surmounted by a very large flat stone, which slanted down
towards the south, where was a door. Three or four individuals
might have taken shelter within the interior, in which was
growing a small thorn tree.
I gazed with reverence and awe upon the pile where the
first colonies of Europe offered their worship to the unknown
God. The temples of the mighty and skilful Roman,
comparatively of modern date, have crumbled to dust in its
neighbourhood. The churches of the Arian Goth, his successor
in power, have sunk beneath the earth, and are not to be found;
and the mosques of the Moor, the conqueror of the Goth, where
and what are they? Upon the rock, masses of hoary and
vanishing ruin. Not so the Druids' stone; there it stands on
the hill of winds, as strong and as freshly new as the day,
perhaps thirty centuries back, when it was first raised, by
means which are a mystery. Earthquakes have heaved it, but its
copestone has not fallen; rain floods have deluged it, but
failed to sweep it from its station; the burning sun has
flashed upon it, but neither split nor crumbled it; and time,
stern old time, has rubbed it with his iron tooth, and with
what effect let those who view it declare. There it stands,
and he who wishes to study the literature, the learning, and
the history of the ancient Celt and Cymbrian, may gaze on its
broad covering, and glean from that blank stone the whole known
amount. The Roman has left behind him his deathless writings,
his history, and his songs; the Goth his liturgy, his
traditions, and the germs of noble institutions; the Moor his
chivalry, his discoveries in medicine, and the foundations of
modern commerce; and where is the memorial of the Druidic
races? Yonder: that pile of eternal stone!
We arrived at Arroyolos about seven at night. I took
possession of a large two-bedded room, and, as I was preparing
to sit down to supper, the hostess came to inquire whether I
had any objection to receive a young Spaniard for the night.
She said he had just arrived with a train of muleteers, and
that she had no other room in which she could lodge him. I
replied that I was willing, and in about half an hour he made
his appearance, having first supped with his companions. He
was a very gentlemanly, good-looking lad of seventeen. He
addressed me in his native language, and, finding that I
understood him, he commenced talking with astonishing
volubility. In the space of five minutes he informed me that,
having a desire to see the world, he had run away from his
friends, who were people of opulence at Madrid, and that he did
not intend to return until he had travelled through various
countries. I told him that if what he said was true, he had
done a very wicked and foolish action; wicked, because he must
have overwhelmed those with grief whom he was bound to honour
and love, and foolish, inasmuch as he was going to expose
himself to inconceivable miseries and hardships, which would
shortly cause him to rue the step he had taken; that he would
be only welcome in foreign countries so long as he had money to
spend, and when he had none, he would be repulsed as a
vagabond, and would perhaps be allowed to perish of hunger. He
replied that he had a considerable sum of money with him, no
less than a hundred dollars, which would last him a long time,
and that when it was spent he should perhaps be able to obtain
more. "Your hundred dollars," said I, "will scarcely last you
three months in the country in which you are, even if it be not
stolen from you; and you may as well hope to gather money on
the tops of the mountains as expect to procure more by
honourable means." But he had not yet sufficiently drank of
the cup of experience to attend much to what I said, and I soon
after changed the subject. About five next morning he came to
my bedside to take leave, as his muleteers were preparing to
depart. I gave him the usual Spanish valediction (VAYA USTED
CON DIOS), and saw no more of him.
At nine, after having paid a most exorbitant sum for
slight accommodation, I started from Arroyolos, which is a town
or large village situated on very elevated ground, and
discernible afar off. It can boast of the remains of a large
ancient and seemingly Moorish castle, which stands on a hill on
the left as you take the road to Estremoz.
About a mile from Arroyolos I overtook a train of carts
escorted by a number of Portuguese soldiers, conveying stores
and ammunition into Spain. Six or seven of these soldiers
marched a considerable way in front; they were villainous
looking ruffians upon whose livid and ghastly countenances were
written murder, and all the other crimes which the decalogue
forbids. As I passed by, one of them, with a harsh, croaking
voice, commenced cursing all foreigners. "There," said he, "is
this Frenchman riding on horseback" (I was on a mule), "with a
man" (the idiot) "to take care of him, and all because he is
rich; whilst I, who am a poor soldier, am obliged to tramp on
foot. I could find it in my heart to shoot him dead, for in
what respect is he better than I? But he is a foreigner, and
the devil helps foreigners and hates the Portuguese." He
continued shouting his remarks until I got about forty yards in
advance, when I commenced laughing; but it would have been more
prudent in me to have held my peace, for the next moment, with
bang - bang, two bullets, well aimed, came whizzing past my
ears. A small river lay just before me, though the bridge was
a considerable way on my left. I spurred my animal through it,
closely followed by my terrified guide, and commenced galloping
along a sandy plain on the other side, and so escaped with my
These fellows, with the look of banditti, were in no
respect better; and the traveller who should meet them in a
solitary place would have little reason to bless his good
fortune. One of the carriers (all of whom were Spaniards from
the neighbourhood of Badajoz, and had been despatched into
Portugal for the purpose of conveying the stores), whom I
afterwards met in the aforesaid town, informed me that the
whole party were equally bad, and that he and his companions
had been plundered by them of various articles, and threatened
with death if they attempted to complain. How frightful to
figure to oneself an army of such beings in a foreign land,
sent thither either to invade or defend; and yet Spain, at the
time I am writing this, is looking forward to armed assistance
from Portugal. May the Lord in his mercy grant that the
soldiers who proceed to her assistance may be of a different
stamp: and yet, from the lax state of discipline which exists
in the Portuguese army, in comparison with that of England and
France, I am afraid that the inoffensive population of the
disturbed provinces will say that wolves have been summoned to
chase away foxes from the sheepfold. O! may I live to see the
day when soldiery will no longer be tolerated in any civilized,
or at least Christian, country!
I pursued my route to Estremoz, passing by Monte Moro
Novo, which is a tall dusky hill, surmounted by an ancient
edifice, probably Moorish. The country was dreary and
deserted, but offering here and there a valley studded with
cork trees and azinheiras. After midday the wind, which during
the night and morning had much abated, again blew with such
violence as nearly to deprive me of my senses, though it was
still in our rear.
I was heartily glad when, on ascending a rising ground,
at about four o'clock, I saw Estremoz on its hill at something
less than a league's distance. Here the view became wildly
interesting; the sun was sinking in the midst of red and stormy
clouds, and its rays were reflected on the dun walls of the
lofty town to which we were wending. Nor far distant to the
south-west rose Serra Dorso, which I had seen from Evora, and
which is the most beautiful mountain in the Alemtejo. My idiot
guide turned his uncouth visage towards it, and becoming
suddenly inspired, opened his mouth for the first time during
the day, I might almost say since we had left Aldea Gallega,
and began to tell me what rare hunting was to be obtained in
that mountain. He likewise described with great minuteness a
wonderful dog, which was kept in the neighbourhood for the
purpose of catching the wolves and wild boars, and for which
the proprietor had refused twenty moidores.
At length we reached Estremoz, and took up our quarters
at the principal inn, which looks upon a large plain or marketplace
occupying the centre of the town, and which is so
extensive that I should think ten thousand soldiers at least
might perform their evolutions there with case.
The cold was far too terrible to permit me to remain in
the chamber to which I had been conducted; I therefore went
down to a kind of kitchen on one side of the arched passage,
which led under the house to the yard and stables. A
tremendous withering blast poured through this passage, like
the water through the flush of a mill. A large cork tree was
blazing in the kitchen beneath a spacious chimney; and around
it were gathered a noisy crew of peasants and farmers from the
neighbourhood, and three or four Spanish smugglers from the
frontier. I with difficulty obtained a place amongst them, as
a Portuguese or a Spaniard will seldom make way for a stranger,
till called upon or pushed aside, but prefers gazing upon him
with an expression which seems to say, I know what you want,
but I prefer remaining where I am.
I now first began to observe an alteration in the
language spoken; it had become less sibilant, and more
guttural; and, when addressing each other, the speakers used
the Spanish title of courtesy USTED, or your worthiness,
instead of the Portuguese high flowing VOSSEM SE, or your
lordship. This is the result of constant communication with
the natives of Spain, who never condescend to speak Portuguese,
even when in Portugal, but persist in the use of their own
beautiful language, which, perhaps, at some future period, the
Portuguese will generally adopt. This would greatly facilitate
the union of the two countries, hitherto kept asunder by the
natural waywardness of mankind.
I had not been seated long before the blazing pile, when
a fellow, mounted on a fine spirited horse, dashed from the
stables through the passage into the kitchen, where he
commenced displaying his horsemanship, by causing the animal to
wheel about with the velocity of a millstone, to the great
danger of everybody in the apartment. He then galloped out
upon the plain, and after half an hour's absence returned, and
having placed his horse once more in the stable, came and
seated himself next to me, to whom he commenced talking in a
gibberish of which I understood very little, but which he
intended for French. He was half intoxicated, and soon became
three parts so, by swallowing glass after glass of aguardiente.
Finding that I made him no answer, he directed his discourse to
one of the contrabandistas, to whom he talked in bad Spanish.
The latter either did not or would not understand him; but at
last, losing patience, called him a drunkard, and told him to
hold his tongue. The fellow, enraged at this contempt, flung
the glass out of which he was drinking at the Spaniard's head,
who sprang up like a tiger, and unsheathing instantly a snick
and snee knife, made an upward cut at the fellow's cheek, and
would have infallibly laid it open, had I not pulled his arm
down just in time to prevent worse effects than a scratch above
the lower jawbone, which, however, drew blood.
The smuggler's companions interfered, and with much
difficulty led him off to a small apartment in the rear of the
house, where they slept, and kept the furniture of their mules.
The drunkard then commenced singing, or rather yelling, the
Marseillois hymn; and after having annoyed every one for nearly
an hour, was persuaded to mount his horse and depart,
accompanied by one of his neighbours. He was a pig merchant of
the vicinity, but had formerly been a trooper in the army of
Napoleon, where, I suppose, like the drunken coachman of Evora,
he had picked up his French and his habits of intoxication.
From Estremoz to Elvas the distance is six leagues. I
started at nine next morning; the first part of the way lay
through an enclosed country, but we soon emerged upon wild
bleak downs, over which the wind, which still pursued us,
howled most mournfully. We met no one on the route; and the
scene was desolate in the extreme; the heaven was of a dark
grey, through which no glimpse of the sun was to be perceived.
Before us, at a great distance, on an elevated ground, rose a
tower - the only object which broke the monotony of the waste.
In about two hours from the time when we first discovered it,
we reached a fountain, at the foot of the hill on which it
stood; the water, which gushed into a long stone trough, was
beautifully clear and transparent, and we stopped here to water
the animals.
Having dismounted, I left the guide, and proceeded to
ascend the hill on which the tower stood. Though the ascent
was very gentle I did not accomplish it without difficulty; the
ground was covered with sharp stones, which, in two or three
instances, cut through my boots and wounded my feet; and the
distance was much greater than I had expected. I at last
arrived at the ruin, for such it was. I found it had been one
of those watch towers or small fortresses called in Portuguese
ATALAIAS; it was square, and surrounded by a wall, broken down
in many places. The tower itself had no door, the lower part
being of solid stone work; but on one side were crevices at
intervals between the stones, for the purpose of placing the
feet, and up this rude staircase I climbed to a small
apartment, about five feet square, from which the top had
fallen. It commanded an extensive view from all sides, and had
evidently been built for the accommodation of those whose
business it was to keep watch on the frontier, and at the
appearance of an enemy to alarm the country by signals -
probably by a fire. Resolute men might have defended
themselves in this little fastness against many assailants, who
must have been completely exposed to their arrows or musketry
in the ascent.
Being about to leave the place, I heard a strange cry
behind a part of the wall which I had not visited, and
hastening thither, I found a miserable object in rags, seated
upon a stone. It was a maniac - a man about thirty years of
age, and I believe deaf and dumb; there he sat, gibbering and
mowing, and distorting his wild features into various dreadful
appearances. There wanted nothing but this object to render
the scene complete; banditti amongst such melancholy desolation
would have been by no means so much in keeping. But the
maniac, on his stone, in the rear of the wind-beaten ruin,
overlooking the blasted heath, above which scowled the leaden
heaven, presented such a picture of gloom and misery as I
believe neither painter nor poet ever conceived in the saddest
of their musings. This is not the first instance in which it
has been my lot to verify the wisdom of the saying, that truth
is sometimes wilder than fiction.
I remounted my mule, and proceeded till, on the top of
another hill, my guide suddenly exclaimed, "there is Elvas." I
looked in the direction in which he pointed, and beheld a town
perched on the top of a lofty hill. On the other side of a
deep valley towards the left rose another hill, much higher, on
the top of which is the celebrated fort of Elvas, believed to
be the strongest place in Portugal. Through the opening
between the fort and the town, but in the background and far in
Spain, I discerned the misty sides and cloudy head of a stately
mountain, which I afterwards learned was Albuquerque, one of
the loftiest of Estremadura.
We now got into a cultivated country, and following the
road, which wound amongst hedge-rows, we arrived at a place
where the ground began gradually to shelve down. Here, on the
right, was the commencement of an aqueduct by means of which
the town on the opposite hill was supplied; it was at this
point scarcely two feet in altitude, but, as we descended, it
became higher and higher, and its proportions more colossal.
Near the bottom of the valley it took a turn to the left,
bestriding the road with one of its arches. I looked up, after
passing under it; the water must have been flowing near a
hundred feet above my head, and I was filled with wonder at the
immensity of the structure which conveyed it. There was,
however, one feature which was no slight drawback to its
pretensions to grandeur and magnificence; the water was
supported not by gigantic single arches, like those of the
aqueduct of Lisbon, which stalk over the valley like legs of
Titans, but by three layers of arches, which, like three
distinct aqueducts, rise above each other. The expense and
labour necessary for the erection of such a structure must have
been enormous; and, when we reflect with what comparative ease
modern art would confer the same advantage, we cannot help
congratulating ourselves that we live in times when it is not
necessary to exhaust the wealth of a province to supply a town
on a hill with one of the first necessaries of existence.
Elvas - Extraordinary Longevity - The English Nation -
Portuguese Ingratitude - Illiberality - Fortifications -
Spanish Beggar - Badajoz - The Custom House.
Arrived at the gate of Elvas, an officer came out of a
kind of guard house, and, having asked me some questions,
despatched a soldier with me to the police office, that my
passport might be viseed, as upon the frontier they are much
more particular with respect to passports than in other parts.
This matter having been settled, I entered an hostelry near the
same gate, which had been recommended to me by my host at
Vendas Novas, and which was kept by a person of the name of
Joze Rosado. It was the best in the town, though, for
convenience and accommodation, inferior to a hedge alehouse in
England. The cold still pursued me, and I was glad to take
refuge in an inner kitchen, which, when the door was not open,
was only lighted by a fire burning somewhat dimly on the
hearth. An elderly female sat beside it in her chair, telling
her beads: there was something singular and extraordinary in
her look, as well as I could discern by the imperfect light of
the apartment. I put a few unimportant questions to her, to
which she replied, but seemed to be afflicted to a slight
degree with deafness. Her hair was becoming grey, and I said
that I believed she was older than myself, but that I was
confident she had less snow on her head.
"How old may you be, cavalier?" said she, giving me that
title which in Spain is generally used when an extra-ordinary
degree of respect is wished to be exhibited. I answered that I
was near thirty. "Then," said she, "you were right in
supposing that I am older than yourself; I am older than your
mother, or your mother's mother: it is more than a hundred
years since I was a girl, and sported with the daughters of the
town on the hillside." "In that case," said I, "you doubtless
remember the earthquake." "Yes," she replied, "if there is any
occurrence in my life that I remember, it is that: I was in the
church of Elvas at the moment, hearing the mass of the king,
and the priest fell on the ground, and let fall the Host from
his hands. I shall never forget how the earth shook; it made
us all sick; and the houses and walls reeled like drunkards.
Since that happened I have seen fourscore years pass by me, yet
I was older then than you are now."
I looked with wonder at this surprising female, and could
scarcely believe her words. I was, however, assured that she
was in fact upwards of a hundred and ten years of age, and was
considered the oldest person in Portugal. She still retained
the use of her faculties in as full a degree as the generality
of people who have scarcely attained the half of her age. She
was related to the people of the house.
As the night advanced, several persons entered for the
purpose of enjoying the comfort of the fire and for the sake of
conversation, for the house was a kind of news room, where the
principal speaker was the host, a man of some shrewdness and
experience, who had served as a soldier in the British army.
Amongst others was the officer who commanded at the gate.
After a few observations, this gentleman, who was a goodlooking
young man of five-and-twenty, began to burst forth in
violent declamation against the English nation and government,
who, he said, had at all times proved themselves selfish and
deceitful, but that their present conduct in respect to Spain
was particularly infamous, for though it was in their power to
put an end to the war at once, by sending a large army thither,
they preferred sending a handful of troops, in order that the
war might be prolonged, for no other reason than that it was of
advantage to them. Having paid him an ironical compliment for
his politeness and urbanity, I asked whether he reckoned
amongst the selfish actions of the English government and
nation, their having expended hundreds of millions of pounds
sterling, and an ocean of precious blood, in fighting the
battles of Spain and Portugal against Napoleon. "Surely," said
I, "the fort of Elvas above our heads, and still more the
castle of Badajoz over the water, speak volumes respecting
English selfishness, and must, every time you view them,
confirm you in the opinion which you have just expressed. And
then, with respect to the present combat in Spain, the
gratitude which that country evinced to England after the
French, by means of English armies, had been expelled, -
gratitude evinced by discouraging the trade of England on all
occasions, and by offering up masses in thanksgiving when the
English heretics quitted the Spanish shores, - ought now to
induce England to exhaust and ruin herself, for the sake of
hunting Don Carlos out of his mountains. In deference to your
superior judgment," continued I to the officer, "I will
endeavour to believe that it would be for the advantage of
England were the war prolonged for an indefinite period;
nevertheless, you would do me a particular favour by explaining
by what process in chemistry blood shed in Spain will find its
way into the English treasury in the shape of gold."
As he was not ready with his answer, I took up a plate of
fruit which stood on the table beside me, and said, "What do
you call these fruits?" "Pomegranates and bolotas," he
replied. "Right," said I, "a home-bred Englishman could not
have given me that answer; yet he is as much acquainted with
pomegranates and bolotas as your lordship is with the line of
conduct which it is incumbent upon England to pursue in her
foreign and domestic policy."
This answer of mine, I confess, was not that of a
Christian, and proved to me how much of the leaven of the
ancient man still pervaded me; yet I must be permitted to add,
that I believe no other provocation would have elicited from me
a reply so full of angry feeling: but I could not command
myself when I heard my own glorious land traduced in this
unmerited manner. By whom? A Portuguese! A native of a
country which has been twice liberated from horrid and
detestable thraldom by the hands of Englishmen. But for
Wellington and his heroes, Portugal would have been French at
this day; but for Napier and his mariners, Miguel would now be
lording it in Lisbon. To return, however, to the officer;
every one laughed at him, and he presently went away.
The next day I became acquainted with a respectable
tradesman of the name of Almeida, a man of talent, though
rather rough in his manners. He expressed great abhorrence of
the papal system, which had so long spread a darkness like that
of death over his unfortunate country, and I had no sooner
informed him that I had brought with me a certain quantity of
Testaments, which it was my intention to leave for sale at
Elvas, than he expressed a great desire to undertake the
charge, and said that he would do the utmost in his power to
procure a sale for them amongst his numerous customers. Upon
showing him a copy, I remarked, your name is upon the title
page; the Portuguese version of the Holy Scriptures, circulated
by the Bible Society, having been executed by a Protestant of
the name of Almeida, and first published in the year 1712;
whereupon he smiled, and observed that he esteemed it an honour
to be connected in name at least with such a man. He scoffed
at the idea of receiving any remuneration, and assured me that
the feeling of being permitted to co-operate in so holy and
useful a cause as the circulation of the Scriptures was quite a
sufficient reward.
After having accomplished this matter, I proceeded to
survey the environs of the place, and strolled up the hill to
the fort on the north side of the town. The lower part of the
hill is planted with azinheiras, which give it a picturesque
appearance, and at the bottom is a small brook, which I crossed
by means of stepping stones. Arrived at the gate of the fort,
I was stopped by the sentry, who, however, civilly told me,
that if I sent in my name to the commanding officer he would
make no objection to my visiting the interior. I accordingly
sent in my card by a soldier who was lounging about, and,
sitting down on a stone, waited his return. He presently
appeared, and inquired whether I was an Englishman; to which,
having replied in the affirmative, he said, "In that case, sir,
you cannot enter; indeed, it is not the custom to permit any
foreigners to visit the fort." I answered that it was
perfectly indifferent to me whether I visited it or not; and,
having taken a survey of Badajoz from the eastern side of the
hill, descended by the way I came.
This is one of the beneficial results of protecting a
nation and squandering blood and treasure in its defence. The
English, who have never been at war with Portugal, who have
fought for its independence on land and sea, and always with
success, who have forced themselves by a treaty of commerce to
drink its coarse and filthy wines, which no other nation cares
to taste, are the most unpopular people who visit Portugal.
The French have ravaged the country with fire and sword, and
shed the blood of its sons like water; the French buy not its
fruits and loathe its wines, yet there is no bad spirit in
Portugal towards the French. The reason of this is no mystery;
it is the nature not of the Portuguese only, but of corrupt and
unregenerate man, to dislike his benefactors, who, by
conferring benefits upon him, mortify in the most generous
manner his miserable vanity.
There is no country in which the English are so popular
as in France; but, though the French have been frequently
roughly handled by the English, and have seen their capital
occupied by an English army, they have never been subjected to
the supposed ignominy of receiving assistance from them.
The fortifications of Elvas are models of their kind,
and, at the first view, it would seem that the town, if well
garrisoned, might bid defiance to any hostile power; but it has
its weak point: the western side is commanded by a hill, at the
distance of half a mile, from which an experienced general
would cannonade it, and probably with success. It is the last
town in this part of Portugal, the distance to the Spanish
frontier being barely two leagues. It was evidently built as a
rival to Badajoz, upon which it looks down from its height
across a sandy plain and over the sullen waters of the
Guadiana; but, though a strong town, it can scarcely be called
a defence to the frontier, which is open on all sides, so that
there would not be the slightest necessity for an invading army
to approach within a dozen leagues of its walls, should it be
disposed to avoid them. Its fortifications are so extensive
that ten thousand men at least would be required to man them,
who, in the event of an invasion, might be far better employed
in meeting the enemy in the open field. The French, during
their occupation of Portugal, kept a small force in this place,
who, at the approach of the British, retreated to the fort,
where they shortly after capitulated.
Having nothing farther to detain me at Elvas, I proceeded
to cross the frontier into Spain. My idiot guide was on his
way back to Aldea Gallega; and, on the fifth of January, I
mounted a sorry mule without bridle or stirrups, which I guided
by a species of halter, and followed by a lad who was to attend
me on another, I spurred down the hill of Elvas to the plain,
eager to arrive in old chivalrous romantic Spain. But I soon
found that I had no need to quicken the beast which bore me,
for though covered with sores, wall-eyed, and with a kind of
halt in its gait, it cantered along like the wind.
In little more than half an hour we arrived at a brook,
whose waters ran vigorously between steep banks. A man who was
standing on the side directed me to the ford in the squeaking
dialect of Portugal; but whilst I was yet splashing through the
water, a voice from the other bank hailed me, in the
magnificent language of Spain, in this guise: "O SENOR
(Charity, Sir Cavalier, for the love of God, bestow an alms
upon me, that I may purchase a mouthful of red wine). In a
moment I was on Spanish ground, as the brook, which is called
Acaia, is the boundary here of the two kingdoms, and having
flung the beggar a small piece of silver, I cried in ecstasy
"SANTIAGO Y CIERRA ESPANA!" and scoured on my way with more
speed than before, paying, as Gil Blas says, little heed to the
torrent of blessings which the mendicant poured forth in my
rear: yet never was charity more unwisely bestowed, for I was
subsequently informed that the fellow was a confirmed drunkard,
who took his station every morning at the ford, where he
remained the whole day for the purpose of extorting money from
the passengers, which he regularly spent every night in the
wine-shops of Badajoz. To those who gave him money he returned
blessings, and to those who refused, curses; being equally
skilled and fluent in the use of either.
Badajoz was now in view, at the distance of little more
than half a league. We soon took a turn to the left, towards a
bridge of many arches across the Guadiana, which, though so
famed in song and ballad, is a very unpicturesque stream,
shallow and sluggish, though tolerably wide; its banks were
white with linen which the washer- women had spread out to dry
in the sun, which was shining brightly; I heard their singing
at a great distance, and the theme seemed to be the praises of
the river where they were toiling, for as I approached, I could
distinguish Guadiana, Guadiana, which reverberated far and
wide, pronounced by the clear and strong voices of many a darkchecked
maid and matron. I thought there was some analogy
between their employment and my own: I was about to tan my
northern complexion by exposing myself to the hot sun of Spain,
in the humble hope of being able to cleanse some of the foul
stains of Popery from the minds of its children, with whom I
had little acquaintance, whilst they were bronzing themselves
on the banks of the river in order to make white the garments
of strangers: the words of an eastern poet returned forcibly to
my mind.
"I'll weary myself each night and each day,
To aid my unfortunate brothers;
As the laundress tans her own face in the ray,
To cleanse the garments of others."
Having crossed the bridge, we arrived at the northern
gate, when out rushed from a species of sentry box a fellow
wearing on his head a high-peaked Andalusian hat, with his
figure wrapped up in one of those immense cloaks so well known
to those who have travelled in Spain, and which none but a
Spaniard can wear in a becoming manner: without saying a word,
he laid hold of the halter of the mule, and began to lead it
through the gate up a dirty street, crowded with long-cloaked
people like himself. I asked him what he meant, but he deigned
not to return an answer, the boy, however, who waited upon me
said that it was one of the gate-keepers, and that he was
conducting us to the Custom House or Alfandega, where the
baggage would be examined. Having arrived there, the fellow,
who still maintained a dogged silence, began to pull the trunks
off the sumpter mule, and commenced uncording them. I was
about to give him a severe reproof for his brutality, but
before I could open my mouth a stout elderly personage appeared
at the door, who I soon found was the principal officer. He
looked at me for a moment and then asked me, in the English
language, if I was an Englishman. On my replying in the
affirmative, he demanded of the fellow how he dared to have the
insolence to touch the baggage, without orders, and sternly
bade him cord up the trunks again and place them on the mule,
which he performed without uttering a word. The gentleman then
asked what the trunks contained: I answered clothes and linen;
when he begged pardon for the insolence of the subordinate, and
informed him that I was at liberty to proceed where I thought
proper. I thanked him for his exceeding politeness, and, under
guidance of the boy, made the best of my way to the Inn of the
Three Nations, to which I had been recommended at Elvas.
Badajoz - Antonio the Gypsy - Antonio's Proposal - The Proposal Accepted -
Gypsy Breakfast - Departure from Badajoz - The Gypsy Donkey - Merida -
The Ruined Wall - The Crone - The Land of the Moor - The Black Men -
Life in the Desert - The Supper.
I was now at Badajoz in Spain, a country which for the
next four years was destined to be the scene of my labour: but
I will not anticipate. The neighbourhood of Badajoz did not
prepossess me much in favour of the country which I had just
entered; it consists chiefly of brown moors, which bear little
but a species of brushwood, called in Spanish CARRASCO; blue
mountains are however seen towering up in the far distance,
which relieve the scene from the monotony which would otherwise
pervade it.
It was at this town of Badajoz, the capital of
Estremadura, that I first fell in with those singular people,
the Zincali, Gitanos, or Spanish gypsies. It was here I met
with the wild Paco, the man with the withered arm, who wielded
the cachas (SHEARS) with his left hand; his shrewd wife,
Antonia, skilled in hokkano baro, or the great trick; the
fierce gypsy, Antonio Lopez, their father-in-law; and many
other almost equally singular individuals of the Errate, or
gypsy blood. It was here that I first preached the gospel to
the gypsy people, and commenced that translation of the New
Testament in the Spanish gypsy tongue, a portion of which I
subsequently printed at Madrid.
After a stay of three weeks at Badajoz, I prepared to
depart for Madrid: late one afternoon, as I was arranging my
scanty baggage, the gypsy Antonio entered my apartment, dressed
in his zamarra and high-peaked Andalusian hat.
ANTONIO. - Good evening, brother; they tell me that on
the callicaste (DAY AFTER TO-MORROW) you intend to set out for
MYSELF. - Such is my intention; I can stay here no
ANTONIO. - The way is far to Madrilati: there are,
moreover, wars in the land and many chories (THIEVES) walk
about; are you not afraid to journey?
MYSELF. - I have no fears; every man must accomplish his
destiny: what befalls my body or soul was written in a gabicote
(BOOK) a thousand years before the foundation of the world.
ANTONIO. - I have no fears myself, brother; the dark
night is the same to me as the fair day, and the wild carrascal
as the market-place or the chardy (FAIR); I have got the bar
lachi in my bosom, the precious stone to which sticks the
MYSELF. - You mean the loadstone, I suppose. Do you
believe that a lifeless stone can preserve you from the dangers
which occasionally threaten your life?
ANTONIO. - Brother, I am fifty years old, and you see me
standing before you in life and strength; how could that be
unless the bar lachi had power? I have been soldier and
contrabandista, and I have likewise slain and robbed the Busne.
The bullets of the Gabine (FRENCH) and of the jara canallis
(REVENUE OFFICERS) have hissed about my ears without injuring
me, for I carried the bar lachi. I have twenty times done that
which by Busnee law should have brought me to the filimicha
(GALLOWS), yet my neck has never yet been squeezed by the cold
garrote. Brother, I trust in the bar lachi, like the Calore of
old: were I in the midst of the gulph of Bombardo (LYONS),
without a plank to float upon, I should feel no fear; for if I
carried the precious stone, it would bring me safe to shore:
the bar lachi has power, brother.
MYSELF. - I shall not dispute the matter with you, more
especially as I am about to depart from Badajoz: I must
speedily bid you farewell, and we shall see each other no more.
ANTONIO. - Brother, do you know what brings me hither?
MYSELF. - I cannot tell, unless it be to wish me a happy
journey: I am not gypsy enough to interpret the thoughts of
other people.
ANTONIO. - All last night I lay awake, thinking of the
affairs of Egypt; and when I arose in the morning I took the
bar lachi from my bosom, and scraping it with a knife,
swallowed some of the dust in aguardiente, as I am in the habit
of doing when I have made up my mind; and I said to myself, I
am wanted on the frontiers of Castumba (CASTILE) on a certain
matter. The strange Caloro is about to proceed to Madrilati;
the journey is long, and he may fall into evil hands,
peradventure into those of his own blood; for let me tell you,
brother, the Cales are leaving their towns and villages, and
forming themselves into troops to plunder the Busne, for there
is now but little law in the land, and now or never is the time
for the Calore to become once more what they were in former
times; so I said, the strange Caloro may fall into the hands of
his own blood and be ill-treated by them, which were shame: I
will therefore go with him through the Chim del Manro
(ESTREMADURA) as far as the frontiers of Castumba, and upon the
frontiers of Castumba I will leave the London Caloro to find
his own way to Madrilati, for there is less danger in Castumba
than in the Chim del Manro, and I will then betake me to the
affairs of Egypt which call me from hence.
MYSELF. - This is a very hopeful plan of yours, my
friend; and in what manner do you propose that we shall travel?
ANTONIO. - I will tell you, brother; I have a gras in the
stall, even the one which I purchased at Olivencas, as I told
you on a former occasion; it is good and fleet, and cost me,
who am a gypsy, fifty chule (DOLLARS); upon that gras you shall
ride. As for myself, I will journey upon the macho.
MYSELF. - Before I answer you, I shall wish you to inform
me what business it is which renders your presence necessary in
Castumba; your son-in-law, Paco, told me that it was no longer
the custom of the gypsies to wander.
ANTONIO. - It is an affair of Egypt, brother, and I shall
not acquaint you with it; peradventure it relates to a horse or
an ass, or peradventure it relates to a mule or a macho; it
does not relate to yourself, therefore I advise you not to
inquire about it - Dosta (ENOUGH). With respect to my offer,
you are free to decline it; there is a drungruje (ROYAL ROAD)
between here and Madrilati, and you can travel it in the
birdoche (STAGE-COACH) or with the dromale (MULETEERS); but I
tell you, as a brother, that there are chories upon the drun,
and some of them are of the Errate.
Certainly few people in my situation would have accepted
the offer of this singular gypsy. It was not, however, without
its allurements for me; I was fond of adventure, and what more
ready means of gratifying my love of it than by putting myself
under the hands of such a guide. There are many who would have
been afraid of treachery, but I had no fears on this point, as
I did not believe that the fellow harboured the slightest ill
intention towards me; I saw that he was fully convinced that I
was one of the Errate, and his affection for his own race, and
his hatred for the Busne, were his strongest characteristics.
I wished, moreover, to lay hold of every opportunity of making
myself acquainted with the ways of the Spanish gypsies, and an
excellent one here presented itself on my first entrance into
Spain. In a word, I determined to accompany the gypsy. "I
will go with you," I exclaimed; "as for my baggage, I will
despatch it to Madrid by the birdoche." "Do so, brother," he
replied, "and the gras will go lighter. Baggage, indeed! -
what need of baggage have you? How the Busne on the road would
laugh if they saw two Cales with baggage behind them."
During my stay at Badajoz, I had but little intercourse
with the Spaniards, my time being chiefly devoted to the
gypsies, with whom, from long intercourse with various sections
of their race in different parts of the world, I felt myself
much more at home than with the silent, reserved men of Spain,
with whom a foreigner might mingle for half a century without
having half a dozen words addressed to him, unless he himself
made the first advances to intimacy, which, after all, might be
rejected with a shrug and a NO INTENDO; for, among the many
deeply rooted prejudices of these people, is the strange idea
that no foreigner can speak their language; an idea to which
they will still cling though they hear him conversing with
perfect ease; for in that case the utmost that they will
concede to his attainments is, HABLA QUATRO PALABRAS Y NADA MAS
(he can speak four words, and no more).
Early one morning, before sunrise, I found myself at the
house of Antonio; it was a small mean building, situated in a
dirty street. The morning was quite dark; the street, however,
was partially illumined by a heap of lighted straw, round which
two or three men were busily engaged, apparently holding an
object over the flames. Presently the gypsy's door opened, and
Antonio made his appearance; and, casting his eye in the
direction of the light, exclaimed, "The swine have killed their
brother; would that every Busno was served as yonder hog is.
Come in, brother, and we will eat the heart of that hog." I
scarcely understood his words, but, following him, he led me
into a low room in which was a brasero, or small pan full of
lighted charcoal; beside it was a rude table, spread with a
coarse linen cloth, upon which was bread and a large pipkin
full of a mess which emitted no disagreeable savour. "The
heart of the balichow is in that puchera," said Antonio; "eat,
brother." We both sat down and ate, Antonio voraciously. When
we had concluded he arose:- "Have you got your LI?" he
demanded. "Here it is," said I, showing him my passport.
"Good," said he, "you may want it; I want none, my passport is
the bar lachi. Now for a glass of repani, and then for the
We left the room, the door of which he locked, hiding the
key beneath a loose brick in a corner of the passage. "Go into
the street, brother, whilst I fetch the caballerias from the
stable." I obeyed him. The sun had not yet risen, and the air
was piercingly cold; the grey light, however, of dawn enabled
me to distinguish objects with tolerable accuracy; I soon heard
the clattering of the animals' feet, and Antonio presently
stepped forth leading the horse by the bridle; the macho
followed behind. I looked at the horse and shrugged my
shoulders: as far as I could scan it, it appeared the most
uncouth animal I had ever beheld. It was of a spectral white,
short in the body, but with remarkably long legs. I observed
that it was particularly high in the cruz or withers. "You are
looking at the grasti," said Antonio; "it is eighteen years
old, but it is the very best in the Chim del Manro; I have long
had my eye upon it; I bought it for my own use for the affairs
of Egypt. Mount, brother, mount and let us leave the foros -
the gate is about being opened."
He locked the door, and deposited the key in his faja.
In less than a quarter of an hour we had left the town behind
us. "This does not appear to be a very good horse," said I to
Antonio, as we proceeded over the plain. "It is with
difficulty that I can make him move."
"He is the swiftest horse in the Chim del Manro,
brother," said Antonio; "at the gallop and at the speedy trot
there is no one to match him; but he is eighteen years old, and
his joints are stiff, especially of a morning; but let him once
become heated and the genio del viejo (SPIRIT OF THE OLD MAN)
comes upon him and there is no holding him in with bit or
bridle. I bought that horse for the affairs of Egypt,
About noon we arrived at a small village in the
neighbourhood of a high lumpy hill. "There is no Calo house in
this place," said Antonio; "we will therefore go to the posada
of the Busne, and refresh ourselves, man and beast." We
entered the kitchen and sat down at the boards, calling for
wine and bread. There were two ill-looking fellows in the
kitchen, smoking cigars; I said something to Antonio in the
Calo language.
"What is that I hear?" said one of the fellows, who was
distinguished by an immense pair of moustaches. "What is that
I hear? is it in Calo that you are speaking before me, and I a
Chalan and national? Accursed gypsy, how dare you enter this
posada and speak before me in that speech? Is it not forbidden
by the law of the land in which we are, even as it is forbidden
for a gypsy to enter the mercado? I tell you what, friend, if
I hear another word of Calo come from your mouth, I will cudgel
your bones and send you flying over the house-tops with a kick
of my foot."
"You would do right," said his companion; "the insolence
of these gypsies is no longer to be borne. When I am at Merida
or Badajoz I go to the mercado, and there in a corner stand the
accursed gypsies jabbering to each other in a speech which I
understand not. `Gypsy gentleman,' say I to one of them, `what
will you have for that donkey?' `I will have ten dollars for
it, Caballero nacional,' says the gypsy; `it is the best donkey
in all Spain.' `I should like to see its paces,' say I. `That
you shall, most valorous!' says the gypsy, and jumping upon its
back, he puts it to its paces, first of all whispering
something into its ears in Calo, and truly the paces of the
donkey are most wonderful, such as I have never seen before.
`I think it will just suit me,' and after looking at it awhile,
I take out the money and pay for it. `I shall go to my house,'
says the gypsy; and off he runs. `I shall go to my village,'
say I, and I mount the donkey. `Vamonos,' say I, but the
donkey won't move. I give him a switch, but I don't get on the
better for that. `How is this?' say I, and I fall to spurring
him. What happens then, brother? The wizard no sooner feels
the prick than he bucks down, and flings me over his head into
the mire. I get up and look about me; there stands the donkey
staring at me, and there stand the whole gypsy canaille
squinting at me with their filmy eyes. `Where is the scamp who
has sold me this piece of furniture?' I shout. `He is gone to
Granada, Valorous,' says one. `He is gone to see his kindred
among the Moors,' says another. `I just saw him running over
the field, in the direction of -, with the devil close behind
him,' says a third. In a word, I am tricked. I wish to
dispose of the donkey; no one, however, will buy him; he is a
Calo donkey, and every person avoids him. At last the gypsies
offer thirty rials for him; and after much chaffering I am glad
to get rid of him at two dollars. It is all a trick, however;
he returns to his master, and the brotherhood share the spoil
amongst them. All which villainy would be prevented, in my
opinion, were the Calo language not spoken; for what but the
word of Calo could have induced the donkey to behave in such an
unaccountable manner?"
Both seemed perfectly satisfied with the justness of this
conclusion, and continued smoking till their cigars were burnt
to stumps, when they arose, twitched their whiskers, looked at
us with fierce disdain, and dashing the tobacco-ends to the
ground, strode out of the apartment.
"Those people seem no friends to the gypsies," said I to
Antonio, when the two bullies had departed, "nor to the Calo
language either."
"May evil glanders seize their nostrils," said Antonio;
"they have been jonjabadoed by our people. However, brother,
you did wrong to speak to me in Calo, in a posada like this; it
is a forbidden language; for, as I have often told you, the
king has destroyed the law of the Cales. Let us away, brother,
or those juntunes (SNEAKING SCOUNDRELS) may set the justicia
upon us."
Towards evening we drew near to a large town or village.
"That is Merida," said Antonio, "formerly, as the Busne say, a
mighty city of the Corahai. We shall stay here to-night, and
perhaps for a day or two, for I have some business of Egypt to
transact in this place. Now, brother, step aside with the
horse, and wait for me beneath yonder wall. I must go before
and see in what condition matters stand."
I dismounted from the horse, and sat down on a stone
beneath the ruined wall to which Antonio had motioned me; the
sun went down, and the air was exceedingly keen; I drew close
around me an old tattered gypsy cloak with which my companion
had provided me, and being somewhat fatigued, fell into a doze
which lasted for nearly an hour.
"Is your worship the London Caloro?" said a strange voice
close beside me.
I started and beheld the face of a woman peering under my
hat. Notwithstanding the dusk, I could see that the features
were hideously ugly and almost black; they belonged, in fact,
to a gypsy crone, at least seventy years of age, leaning upon a
"Is your worship the London Caloro?" repeated she.
"I am he whom you seek," said I; "where is Antonio?"
said the crone: "come with me, Caloro of my garlochin, come
with me to my little ker, he will be there anon."
* Doing business, doing business - he has much business
to do.
I followed the crone, who led the way into the town,
which was ruinous and seemingly half deserted; we went up the
street, from which she turned into a narrow and dark lane, and
presently opened the gate of a large dilapidated house; "Come
in," said she.
"And the gras?" I demanded.
"Bring the gras in too, my chabo, bring the gras in too;
there is room for the gras in my little stable." We entered a
large court, across which we proceeded till we came to a wide
doorway. "Go in, my child of Egypt," said the hag; "go in,
that is my little stable."
"The place is as dark as pitch," said I, "and may be a
well for what I know; bring a light or I will not enter."
"Give me the solabarri (BRIDLE)," said the hag, "and I
will lead your horse in, my chabo of Egypt, yes, and tether him
to my little manger." She led the horse through the doorway,
and I heard her busy in the darkness; presently the horse shook
himself: "GRASTI TERELAMOS," said the hag, who now made her
appearance with the bridle in her hand; "the horse has shaken
himself, he is not harmed by his day's journey; now let us go
in, my Caloro, into my little room."
We entered the house and found ourselves in a vast room,
which would have been quite dark but for a faint glow which
appeared at the farther end; it proceeded from a brasero,
beside which were squatted two dusky figures.
"These are Callees," said the hag; "one is my daughter
and the other is her chabi; sit down, my London Caloro, and let
us hear you speak."
I looked about for a chair, but could see none; at a
short distance, however, I perceived the end of a broken pillar
lying on the floor; this I rolled to the brasero and sat down
upon it.
"This is a fine house, mother of the gypsies," said I to
the hag, willing to gratify the desire she had expressed of
hearing me speak; "a fine house is this of yours, rather cold
and damp, though; it appears large enough to be a barrack for
"Plenty of houses in this foros, plenty of houses in
Merida, my London Caloro, some of them just as they were left
by the Corahanoes; ah, a fine people are the Corahanoes; I
often wish myself in their chim once more."
"How is this, mother," said I, "have you been in the land
of the Moors?"
"Twice have I been in their country, my Caloro, - twice
have I been in the land of the Corahai; the first time is more
than fifty years ago, I was then with the Sese (SPANIARDS), for
my husband was a soldier of the Crallis of Spain, and Oran at
that time belonged to Spain."
"You were not then with the real Moors," said I, "but
only with the Spaniards who occupied part of their country."
"I have been with the real Moors, my London Caloro. Who
knows more of the real Moors than myself? About forty years
ago I was with my ro in Ceuta, for he was still a soldier of
the king, and he said to me one day, `I am tired of this place
where there is no bread and less water, I will escape and turn
Corahano; this night I will kill my sergeant and flee to the
camp of the Moor.' `Do so,' said I, `my chabo, and as soon as
may be I will follow you and become a Corahani.' That same
night he killed his sergeant, who five years before had called
him Calo and cursed him, then running to the wall he dropped
from it, and amidst many shots he escaped to the land of the
Corahai, as for myself, I remained in the presidio of Ceuta as
a suttler, selling wine and repani to the soldiers. Two years
passed by and I neither saw nor heard from my ro; one day there
came a strange man to my cachimani (WINE-SHOP), he was dressed
like a Corahano, and yet he did not look like one, he looked
like more a callardo (BLACK), and yet he was not a callardo
either, though he was almost black, and as I looked upon him I
thought he looked something like the Errate, and he said to me,
`Zincali; chachipe!' and then he whispered to me in queer
language, which I could scarcely understand, `Your ro is
waiting, come with me, my little sister, and I will take you
unto him.' `Where is he?' said I, and he pointed to the west,
to the land of the Corahai, and said, `He is yonder away; come
with me, little sister, the ro is waiting.' For a moment I was
afraid, but I bethought me of my husband and I wished to be
amongst the Corahai; so I took the little parne (MONEY) I had,
and locking up the cachimani went with the strange man; the
sentinel challenged us at the gate, but I gave him repani
(BRANDY) and he let us pass; in a moment we were in the land of
the Corahai. About a league from the town beneath a hill we
found four people, men and women, all very black like the
strange man, and we joined ourselves with them and they all
saluted me and called me little sister. That was all I
understood of their discourse, which was very crabbed; and they
took away my dress and gave me other clothes, and I looked like
a Corahani, and away we marched for many days amidst deserts
and small villages, and more than once it seemed to me that I
was amongst the Errate, for their ways were the same: the men
would hokkawar (CHEAT) with mules and asses, and the women told
baji, and after many days we came before a large town, and the
black man said, `Go in there, little sister, and there you will
find your ro;' and I went to the gate, and an armed Corahano
stood within the gate, and I looked in his face, and lo! it was
my ro.
"O what a strange town it was that I found myself in,
full of people who had once been Candore (CHRISTIANS) but had
renegaded and become Corahai. There were Sese and Lalore
(PORTUGUESE), and men of other nations, and amongst them were
some of the Errate from my own country; all were now soldiers
of the Crallis of the Corahai and followed him to his wars; and
in that town I remained with my ro a long time, occasionally
going out with him to the wars, and I often asked him about the
black men who had brought me thither, and he told me that he
had had dealings with them, and that he believed them to be of
the Errate. Well, brother, to be short, my ro was killed in
the wars, before a town to which the king of the Corahai laid
siege, and I became a piuli (WIDOW), and I returned to the
village of the renegades, as it was called, and supported
myself as well as I could; and one day as I was sitting
weeping, the black man, whom I had never seen since the day he
brought me to my ro, again stood before me, and he said, `Come
with me, little sister, come with me, the ro is at hand'; and I
went with him, and beyond the gate in the desert was the same
party of black men and women which I had seen before. `Where
is my ro?' said I. `Here he is, little sister,' said the black
man, `here he is; from this day I am the ro and you the romi;
come, let us go, for there is business to be done.'
"And I went with him, and he was my ro, and we lived
amongst the deserts, and hokkawar'd and choried and told baji;
and I said to myself, this is good, sure I am amongst the
Errate in a better chim than my own; and I often said that they
were of the Errate, and then they would laugh and say that it
might be so, and that they were not Corahai, but they could
give no account of themselves.
"Well, things went on in this way for years, and I had
three chai by the black man, two of them died, but the
youngest, who is the Calli who sits by the brasero, was spared;
so we roamed about and choried and told baji; and it came to
pass that once in the winter time our company attempted to pass
a wide and deep river, of which there are many in the Chim del
Corahai, and the boat overset with the rapidity of the current
and all our people were drowned, all but myself and my chabi,
whom I bore in my bosom. I had now no friends amongst the
Corahai, and I wandered about the despoblados howling and
lamenting till I became half lili (MAD), and in this manner I
found my way to the coast, where I made friends with the
captain of a ship and returned to this land of Spain. And now
I am here, I often wish myself back again amongst the Corahai."
Here she commenced laughing loud and long, and when she
had ceased, her daughter and grandchild took up the laugh,
which they continued so long that I concluded they were all
Hour succeeded hour, and still we sat crouching over the
brasero, from which, by this time, all warmth had departed; the
glow had long since disappeared, and only a few dying sparks
were to be distinguished. The room or hall was now involved in
utter darkness; the women were motionless and still; I shivered
and began to feel uneasy. "Will Antonio be here to-night?" at
length I demanded.
"NO TENGA USTED CUIDAO, my London Caloro," said the Gypsy
mother, in an unearthly tone; "Pepindorio * has been here some
* THE Gypsy word for Antonio.
I was about to rise from my seat and attempt to escape
from the house, when I felt a hand laid upon my shoulder, and
in a moment I heard the voice of Antonio.
"Be not afraid, `tis I, brother; we will have a light
anon, and then supper."
The supper was rude enough, consisting of bread, cheese,
and olives. Antonio, however, produced a leathern bottle of
excellent wine; we despatched these viands by the light of an
earthen lamp which was placed upon the floor.
"Now," said Antonio to the youngest female, "bring me the
pajandi, and I will sing a gachapla."
The girl brought the guitar, which, with some difficulty,
the Gypsy tuned, and then strumming it vigorously, he sang:
"I stole a plump and bonny fowl,
But ere I well had dined,
The master came with scowl and growl,
And me would captive bind.
"My hat and mantle off I threw,
And scour'd across the lea,
Then cried the beng * with loud halloo,
Where does the Gypsy flee?"
* Devil.
He continued playing and singing for a considerable time,
the two younger females dancing in the meanwhile with unwearied
diligence, whilst the aged mother occasionally snapped her
fingers or beat time on the ground with her stick. At last
Antonio suddenly laid down the instrument:-
"I see the London Caloro is weary; enough, enough, tomorrow
more thereof - we will now to the charipe (BED)."
"With all my heart," said I; "where are we to sleep?"
"In the stable," said he, "in the manger; however cold
the stable may be we shall be warm enough in the bufa."
The Gypsy's Granddaughter - Proposed Marriage - The Algnazil -
The Assault - Speedy Trot - Arrival at Trujillo - Night and Rain -
The Forest - The Bivouac - Mount and Away! - Jaraicejo - The National -
The Cavalier Balmerson - Among the Thicket - Serious Discourse -
What is Truth? - Unexpected Intelligence.
We remained three days at the Gypsies' house, Antonio
departing early every morning, on his mule, and returning late
at night. The house was large and ruinous, the only habitable
part of it, with the exception of the stable, being the hall,
where we had supped, and there the Gypsy females slept at
night, on some mats and mattresses in a corner.
"A strange house is this," said I to Antonio, one morning
as he was on the point of saddling his mule and departing, as I
supposed, on the affairs of Egypt; "a strange house and strange
people; that Gypsy grandmother has all the appearance of a
sowanee (SORCERESS)."
"All the appearance of one!" said Antonio; "and is she
not really one? She knows more crabbed things and crabbed
words than all the Errate betwixt here and Catalonia. She has
been amongst the wild Moors, and can make more drows, poisons,
and philtres than any one alive. She once made a kind of
paste, and persuaded me to taste, and shortly after I had done
so my soul departed from my body, and wandered through horrid
forests and mountains, amidst monsters and duendes, during one
entire night. She learned many things amidst the Corahai which
I should be glad to know."
"Have you been long acquainted with her?" said I; "you
appear to be quite at home in this house."
"Acquainted with her!" said Antonio. "Did not my own
brother marry the black Calli, her daughter, who bore him the
chabi, sixteen years ago, just before he was hanged by the
In the afternoon I was seated with the Gypsy mother in
the hall, the two Callees were absent telling fortunes about
the town and neighbourhood, which was their principal
occupation. "Are you married, my London Caloro?" said the old
woman to me. "Are you a ro?"
MYSELF. - Wherefore do you ask, O Dai de los Cales?
GYPSY MOTHER. - It is high time that the lacha of the
chabi were taken from her, and that she had a ro. You can do
no better than take her for romi, my London Caloro.
MYSELF. - I am a stranger in this land, O mother of the
Gypsies, and scarcely know how to provide for myself, much less
for a romi.
GYPSY MOTHER. - She wants no one to provide for her, my
London Caloro, she can at any time provide for herself and her
ro. She can hokkawar, tell baji, and there are few to equal
her at stealing a pastesas. Were she once at Madrilati, where
they tell me you are going, she would make much treasure;
therefore take her thither, for in this foros she is nahi
(LOST), as it were, for there is nothing to be gained; but in
the foros baro it would be another matter; she would go dressed
in lachipi and sonacai (SILK AND GOLD), whilst you would ride
about on your black-tailed gra; and when you had got much
treasure, you might return hither and live like a Crallis, and
all the Errate of the Chim del Manro should bow down their
heads to you. What, say you, my London Caloro, what say you to
my plan?
Myself. - Your plan is a plausible one, mother, or at
least some people would think so; but I am, as you are aware,
of another chim, and have no inclination to pass my life in
this country.
GYPSY MOTHER. - Then return to your own country, my
Caloro, the chabi can cross the pani. Would she not do
business in London with the rest of the Calore? Or why not go
to the land of the Corahai? In which case I would accompany
you; I and my daughter, the mother of the chabi.
MYSELF. - And what should we do in the land of the
Corahai? It is a poor and wild country, I believe.
GYPSY MOTHER. - The London Caloro asks me what we could
do in the land of the Corahai! Aromali! I almost think that I
am speaking to a lilipendi (SIMPLETON). Are there not horses
to chore? Yes, I trow there are, and better ones than in this
land, and asses and mules. In the land of the Corahai you must
hokkawar and chore even as you must here, or in your own
country, or else you are no Caloro. Can you not join
yourselves with the black people who live in the despoblados?
Yes, surely; and glad they would be to have among them the
Errate from Spain and London. I am seventy years of age, but I
wish not to die in this chim, but yonder, far away, where both
my roms are sleeping. Take the chabi, therefore, and go to
Madrilati to win the parne, and when you have got it, return,
and we will give a banquet to all the Busne in Merida, and in
their food I will mix drow, and they shall eat and burst like
poisoned sheep. . . . And when they have eaten we will leave
them, and away to the land of the Moor, my London Caloro.
During the whole time that I remained at Merida I stirred
not once from the house; following the advice of Antonio, who
informed me that it would not be convenient. My time lay
rather heavily on my hands, my only source of amusement
consisting in the conversation of the women, and in that of
Antonio when he made his appearance at night. In these
tertulias the grandmother was the principal spokeswoman, and
astonished my ears with wonderful tales of the Land of the
Moors, prison escapes, thievish feats, and one or two poisoning
adventures, in which she had been engaged, as she informed me,
in her early youth.
There was occasionally something very wild in her
gestures and demeanour; more than once I observed her, in the
midst of much declamation, to stop short, stare in vacancy, and
thrust out her palms as if endeavouring to push away some
invisible substance; she goggled frightfully with her eyes, and
once sank back in convulsions, of which her children took no
farther notice than observing that she was only lili, and would
soon come to herself.
Late in the afternoon of the third day, as the three
women and myself sat conversing as usual over the brasero, a
shabby looking fellow in an old rusty cloak walked into the
room: he came straight up to the place where we were sitting,
produced a paper cigar, which he lighted at a coal, and taking
a whiff or two, looked at me: "Carracho," said he, "who is this
I saw at once that the fellow was no Gypsy: the women
said nothing, but I could hear the grandmother growling to
herself, something after the manner of an old grimalkin when
"Carracho," reiterated the fellow, "how came this
companion here?"
"NO LE PENELA CHI MIN CHABORO," said the black Callee to
me, in an undertone; "SIN UN BALICHO DE LOS CHINELES *;" then
looking up to the interrogator she said aloud, "he is one of
our people from Portugal, come on the smuggling lay, and to see
his poor sisters here."
* "Say nothing to him, my lad, he is a hog of an
"Then let him give me some tobacco," said the fellow, "I
suppose he has brought some with him."
"He has no tobacco," said the black Callee, "he has
nothing but old iron. This cigar is the only tobacco there is
in the house; take it, smoke it, and go away!"
Thereupon she produced a cigar from out her shoe, which
she presented to the alguazil.
"This will not do," said the fellow, taking the cigar, "I
must have something better; it is now three months since I
received anything from you; the last present was a
handkerchief, which was good for nothing; therefore hand me
over something worth taking, or I will carry you all to the
"The Busno will take us to prison," said the black
Callee, "ha! ha! ha!"
"The Chinel will take us to prison," giggled the young
girl "he! he! he!"
"The Bengui will carry us all to the estaripel," grunted
the Gypsy grandmother, "ho! ho! ho!"
The three females arose and walked slowly round the
fellow, fixing their eyes steadfastly on his face; he appeared
frightened, and evidently wished to get away. Suddenly the two
youngest seized his hands, and whilst he struggled to release
himself, the old woman exclaimed: "You want tobacco, hijo - you
come to the Gypsy house to frighten the Callees and the strange
Caloro out of their plako - truly, hijo, we have none for you,
and right sorry I am; we have, however, plenty of the dust A SU
Here, thrusting her hand into her pocket, she discharged
a handful of some kind of dust or snuff into the fellow's eyes;
he stamped and roared, but was for some time held fast by the
two Callees; he extricated himself, however, and attempted to
unsheath a knife which he bore at his girdle; but the two
younger females flung themselves upon him like furies, while
the old woman increased his disorder by thrusting her stick
into his face; he was soon glad to give up the contest, and
retreated, leaving behind him his hat and cloak, which the
chabi gathered up and flung after him into the street.
"This is a bad business," said I, "the fellow will of
course bring the rest of the justicia upon us, and we shall all
be cast into the estaripel."
"Ca!" said the black Callee, biting her thumb nail, "he
has more reason to fear us than we him, we could bring him to
the filimicha; we have, moreover, friends in this town, plenty,
"Yes," mumbled the grandmother, "the daughters of the
baji have friends, my London Caloro, friends among the Busnees,
baributre, baribu (PLENTY, PLENTY)."
Nothing farther of any account occurred in the Gypsy
house; the next day, Antonio and myself were again in the
saddle, we travelled at least thirteen leagues before we
reached the Venta, where we passed the night; we rose early in
the morning, my guide informing me that we had a long day's
journey to make. "Where are we bound to?" I demanded. "To
Trujillo," he replied.
When the sun arose, which it did gloomily and amidst
threatening rain-clouds, we found ourselves in the
neighbourhood of a range of mountains which lay on our left,
and which, Antonio informed me, were called the Sierra of San
Selvan; our route, however, lay over wide plains, scantily
clothed with brushwood, with here and there a melancholy
village, with its old and dilapidated church. Throughout the
greater part of the day, a drizzling rain was falling, which
turned the dust of the roads into mud and mire, considerably
impeding our progress. Towards evening we reached a moor, a
wild place enough, strewn with enormous stones and rocks.
Before us, at some distance, rose a strange conical hill, rough
and shaggy, which appeared to be neither more nor less than an
immense assemblage of the same kind of rocks which lay upon the
moor. The rain had now ceased, but a strong wind rose and
howled at our backs. Throughout the journey, I had experienced
considerable difficulty in keeping up with the mule of Antonio;
the walk of the horse was slow, and I could discover no vestige
of the spirit which the Gypsy had assured me lurked within him.
We were now upon a tolerably clear spot of the moor: "I am
about to see," I said, "whether this horse has any of the
quality which you have described." "Do so," said Antonio, and
spurred his beast onward, speedily leaving me far behind. I
jerked the horse with the bit, endeavouring to arouse his
dormant spirit, whereupon he stopped, reared, and refused to
proceed. "Hold the bridle loose and touch him with your whip,"
shouted Antonio from before. I obeyed, and forthwith the
animal set off at a trot, which gradually increased in
swiftness till it became a downright furious speedy trot; his
limbs were now thoroughly lithy, and he brandished his fore
legs in a manner perfectly wondrous; the mule of Antonio, which
was a spirited animal of excellent paces, would fain have
competed with him, but was passed in a twinkling. This
tremendous trot endured for about a mile, when the animal,
becoming yet more heated, broke suddenly into a gallop.
Hurrah! no hare ever ran so wildly or blindly; it was,
literally, VENTRE A TERRE; and I had considerable difficulty in
keeping him clear of rocks, against which he would have rushed
in his savage fury, and dashed himself and rider to atoms.
This race brought me to the foot of the hill, where I
waited till the Gypsy rejoined me: we left the hill, which
seemed quite inaccessible, on our right, passing through a
small and wretched village. The sun went down, and dark night
presently came upon us; we proceeded on, however, for nearly
three hours, until we heard the barking of dogs, and perceived
a light or two in the distance. "That is Trujillo," said
Antonio, who had not spoken for a long time. "I am glad of
it," I replied; "I am thoroughly tired; I shall sleep soundly
in Trujillo." "That is as it may be," said the Gypsy, and
spurred his mule to a brisker pace. We soon entered the town,
which appeared dark and gloomy enough; I followed close behind
the Gypsy, who led the way I knew not whither, through dismal
streets and dark places, where cats were squalling. "Here is
the house," said he at last, dismounting before a low mean hut;
he knocked, no answer was returned; - he knocked again, but
still there was no reply; he shook the door and essayed to open
it, but it appeared firmly locked and bolted. "Caramba!" said
he, "they are out - I feared it might be so. Now what are we
to do?"
"There can be no difficulty," said I, "with respect to
what we have to do; if your friends are gone out, it is easy
enough to go to a posada."
"You know not what you say," replied the Gypsy, "I dare
not go to the mesuna, nor enter any house in Trujillo save
this, and this is shut; well, there is no remedy, we must move
on, and, between ourselves, the sooner we leave this place the
better; my own planoro (BROTHER) was garroted at Trujillo."
He lighted a cigar, by means of a steel and yesca, sprang
on his mule, and proceeded through streets and lanes equally
dismal as those which we had already traversed till we again
found ourselves out of the, town.
I confess I did not much like this decision of the Gypsy;
I felt very slight inclination to leave the town behind and to
venture into unknown places in the dark night: amidst rain and
mist, for the wind had now dropped, and the rain began again to
fall briskly. I was, moreover, much fatigued, and wished for
nothing better than to deposit myself in some comfortable
manger, where I might sink to sleep, lulled by the pleasant
sound of horses and mules despatching their provender. I had,
however, put myself under the direction of the Gypsy, and I was
too old a traveller to quarrel with my guide under the present
circumstances. I therefore followed close at his crupper; our
only light being the glow emitted from the Gypsy's cigar; at
last he flung it from his mouth into a puddle, and we were then
in darkness.
We proceeded in this manner for a long time; the Gypsy
was silent; I myself was equally so; the rain descended more
and more. I sometimes thought I heard doleful noises,
something like the hooting of owls. "This is a strange night
to be wandering abroad in," I at length said to Antonio.
"It is, brother," said he, "but I would sooner be abroad
in such a night, and in such places, than in the estaripel of
We wandered at least a league farther, and appeared now
to be near a wood, for I could occasionally distinguish the
trunks of immense trees. Suddenly Antonio stopped his mule;
"Look, brother," said he, "to the left, and tell me if you do
not see a light; your eyes are sharper than mine." I did as he
commanded me. At first I could see nothing, but moving a
little farther on I plainly saw a large light at some distance,
seemingly amongst the trees. "Yonder cannot be a lamp or
candle," said I; "it is more like the blaze of a fire." "Very
likely," said Antonio. "There are no queres (HOUSES) in this
place; it is doubtless a fire made by durotunes (SHEPHERDS);
let us go and join them, for, as you say, it is doleful work
wandering about at night amidst rain and mire."
We dismounted and entered what I now saw was a forest,
leading the animals cautiously amongst the trees and brushwood.
In about five minutes we reached a small open space, at the
farther side of which, at the foot of a large cork tree, a fire
was burning, and by it stood or sat two or three figures; they
had heard our approach, and one of them now exclaimed Quien
Vive? "I know that voice," said Antonio, and leaving the horse
with me, rapidly advanced towards the fire: presently I heard
an Ola! and a laugh, and soon the voice of Antonio summoned me
to advance. On reaching the fire I found two dark lads, and a
still darker woman of about forty; the latter seated on what
appeared to be horse or mule furniture. I likewise saw a horse
and two donkeys tethered to the neighbouring trees. It was in
fact a Gypsy bivouac. . . . "Come forward, brother, and show
yourself," said Antonio to me; "you are amongst friends; these
are of the Errate, the very people whom I expected to find at
Trujillo, and in whose house we should have slept."
"And what," said I, "could have induced them to leave
their house in Trujillo and come into this dark forest in the
midst of wind and rain, to pass the night?"
"They come on business of Egypt, brother, doubtless,"
replied Antonio; "and that business is none of ours, Calla
boca! It is lucky we have found them here, else we should have
had no supper, and our horses no corn."
"My ro is prisoner at the village yonder," said the
woman, pointing with her hand in a particular direction; "he is
prisoner yonder for choring a mailla (STEALING A DONKEY); we
are come to see what we can do in his behalf; and where can we
lodge better than in this forest, where there is nothing to
pay? It is not the first time, I trow, that Calore have slept
at the root of a tree."
One of the striplings now gave us barley for our animals
in a large bag, into which we successively introduced their
heads, allowing the famished creatures to regale themselves
till we conceived that they had satisfied their hunger. There
was a puchero simmering at the fire, half full of bacon,
garbanzos, and other provisions; this was emptied into a large
wooden platter, and out of this Antonio and myself supped; the
other Gypsies refused to join us, giving us to understand that
they had eaten before our arrival; they all, however, did
justice to the leathern bottle of Antonio, which, before his
departure from Merida, he had the precaution to fill.
I was by this time completely overcome with fatigue and
sleep. Antonio flung me an immense horse-cloth, of which he
bore more than one beneath the huge cushion on which he rode;
in this I wrapped myself, and placing my head upon a bundle,
and my feet as near as possible to the fire, I lay down.
Antonio and the other Gypsies remained seated by the fire
conversing. I listened for a moment to what they said, but I
did not perfectly understand it, and what I did understand by
no means interested me: the rain still drizzled, but I heeded
it not, and was soon asleep.
The sun was just appearing as I awoke. I made several
efforts before I could rise from the ground; my limbs were
quite stiff, and my hair was covered with rime; for the rain
had ceased and a rather severe frost set in. I looked around
me, but could see neither Antonio nor the Gypsies; the animals
of the latter had likewise disappeared, so had the horse which
I had hitherto rode; the mule, however, of Antonio still
remained fastened to the tree! this latter circumstance quieted
some apprehensions which were beginning to arise in my mind.
"They are gone on some business of Egypt," I said to myself,
"and will return anon." I gathered together the embers of the
fire, and heaping upon them sticks and branches, soon succeeded
in calling forth a blaze, beside which I placed the puchero,
with what remained of the provision of last night. I waited
for a considerable time in expectation of the return of my
companions, but as they did not appear, I sat down and
breakfasted. Before I had well finished I heard the noise of a
horse approaching rapidly, and presently Antonio made his
appearance amongst the trees, with some agitation in his
countenance. He sprang from the horse, and instantly proceeded
to untie the mule. "Mount, brother, mount!" said he, pointing
to the horse; "I went with the Callee and her chabes to the
village where the ro is in trouble; the chinobaro, however,
seized them at once with their cattle, and would have laid
hands also on me, but I set spurs to the grasti, gave him the
bridle, and was soon far away. Mount, brother, mount, or we
shall have the whole rustic canaille upon us in a twinkling."
I did as he commanded: we were presently in the road
which we had left the night before. Along this we hurried at a
great rate, the horse displaying his best speedy trot; whilst
the mule, with its ears pricked up, galloped gallantly at his
side. "What place is that on the hill yonder?" said I to
Antonio, at the expiration of an hour, as we prepared to
descend a deep valley.
"That is Jaraicejo," said Antonio; "a bad place it is and
a bad place it has ever been for the Calo people."
"If it is such a bad place," said I, "I hope we shall not
have to pass through it."
"We must pass through it," said Antonio, "for more
reasons than one: first, forasmuch is the road lies through
Jaraicejo; and second, forasmuch as it will be necessary to
purchase provisions there, both for ourselves and horses. On
the other side of Jaraicejo there is a wild desert, a
despoblado, where we shall find nothing."
We crossed the valley, and ascended the hill, and as we
drew near to the town the Gypsy said, "Brother, we had best
pass through that town singly. I will go in advance; follow
slowly, and when there purchase bread and barley; you have
nothing to fear. I will await you on the despoblado."
Without waiting for my answer he hastened forward, and
was speedily out of sight.
I followed slowly behind, and entered the gate of the
town; an old dilapidated place, consisting of little more than
one street. Along this street I was advancing, when a man with
a dirty foraging cap on his head, and holding a gun in his
hand, came running up to me: "Who are you?" said he, in rather
rough accents, "from whence do you come?"
"From Badajoz and Trujillo," I replied; "why do you ask?"
"I am one of the national guard," said the man, "and am
placed here to inspect strangers; I am told that a Gypsy fellow
just now rode through the town; it is well for him that I had
stepped into my house. Do you come in his company?"
"Do I look a person," said I, "likely to keep company
with Gypsies?"
The national measured me from top to toe, and then looked
me full in the face with an expression which seemed to say,
"likely enough." In fact, my appearance was by no means
calculated to prepossess people in my favour. Upon my head I
wore an old Andalusian hat, which, from its condition, appeared
to have been trodden under foot; a rusty cloak, which had
perhaps served half a dozen generations, enwrapped my body. My
nether garments were by no means of the finest description; and
as far as could be seen were covered with mud, with which my
face was likewise plentifully bespattered, and upon my chin was
a beard of a week's growth.
"Have you a passport?" at length demanded the national.
I remembered having read that the best way to win a
Spaniard's heart is to treat him with ceremonious civility. I
therefore dismounted, and taking off my hat, made a low bow to
the constitutional soldier, saying, "Senor nacional, you must
know that I am an English gentleman, travelling in this country
for my pleasure; I bear a passport, which, on inspecting, you
will find to be perfectly regular; it was given me by the great
Lord Palmerston, minister of England, whom you of course have
heard of here; at the bottom you will see his own handwriting;
look at it and rejoice; perhaps you will never have another
opportunity. As I put unbounded confidence in the honour of
every gentleman, I leave the passport in your hands whilst I
repair to the posada to refresh myself. When you have
inspected it, you will perhaps oblige me so far as to bring it
to me. Cavalier, I kiss your hands."
I then made him another low bow, which he returned with
one still lower, and leaving him now staring at the passport
and now looking at myself, I went into a posada, to which I was
directed by a beggar whom I met.
I fed the horse, and procured some bread and barley, as
the Gypsy had directed me; I likewise purchased three fine
partridges of a fowler, who was drinking wine in the posada.
He was satisfied with the price I gave him, and offered to
treat me with a copita, to which I made no objection. As we
sat discoursing at the table, the national entered with the
passport in his hand, and sat down by us.
NATIONAL. - Caballero! I return you your passport, it is
quite in form; I rejoice much to have made your acquaintance; I
have no doubt that you can give me some information respecting
the present war.
MYSELF. - I shall be very happy to afford so polite and
honourable a gentleman any information in my power.
NATIONAL. - What is England doing, - is she about to
afford any assistance to this country? If she pleased she
could put down the war in three months.
MYSELF. - Be under no apprehension, Senor nacional; the
war will be put down, don't doubt. You have heard of the
English legion, which my Lord Palmerston has sent over? Leave
the matter in their hands, and you will soon see the result.
NATIONAL. - It appears to me that this Caballero
Balmerson must be a very honest man.
MYSELF. - There can be no doubt of it.
NATIONAL. - I have heard that he is a great general.
MYSELF. - There can be no doubt of it. In some things
neither Napoleon nor the sawyer * would stand a chance with him
for a moment. ES MUCHO HOMBRE.
* El Serrador, a Carlist partisan, who about this period
was much talked of in Spain.
NATIONAL. - I am glad to hear it. Does he intend to head
the legion himself?
MYSELF. - I believe not; but he has sent over, to head
the fighting men, a friend of his, who is thought to be nearly
as much versed in military matters as himself.
NATIONAL. - I am rejoiced to hear it. I see that the war
will soon be over. Caballero, I thank you for your politeness,
and for the information which you have afforded me. I hope you
will have a pleasant journey. I confess that I am surprised to
see a gentleman of your country travelling alone, and in this
manner, through such regions as these. The roads are at
present very bad; there have of late been many accidents, and
more than two deaths in this neighbourhood. The despoblado out
yonder has a particularly evil name; be on your guard,
Caballero. I am sorry that Gypsy was permitted to pass; should
you meet him and not like his looks, shoot him at once, stab
him, or ride him down. He is a well known thief,
contrabandista, and murderer, and has committed more
assassinations than he has fingers on his hands. Caballero, if
you please, we will allow you a guard to the other side of the
pass. You do not wish it? Then, farewell. Stay, before I go
I should wish to see once more the signature of the Caballero
I showed him the signature, which he looked upon with
profound reverence, uncovering his head for a moment; we then
embraced and parted.
I mounted the horse and rode from the town, at first
proceeding very slowly; I had no sooner, however, reached the
moor, than I put the animal to his speedy trot, and proceeded
at a tremendous rate for some time, expecting every moment to
overtake the Gypsy. I, however, saw nothing of him, nor did I
meet with a single human being. The road along which I sped
was narrow and sandy, winding amidst thickets of broom and
brushwood, with which the despoblado was overgrown, and which
in some places were as high as a man's head. Across the moor,
in the direction in which I was proceeding, rose a lofty
eminence, naked and bare. The moor extended for at least three
leagues; I had nearly crossed it, and reached the foot of the
ascent. I was becoming very uneasy, conceiving that I might
have passed the Gypsy amongst the thickets, when I suddenly
heard his well known Ola! and his black savage head and staring
eyes suddenly appeared from amidst a clump of broom.
"You have tarried long, brother," said he; "I almost
thought you had played me false."
He bade me dismount, and then proceeded to lead the horse
behind the thicket, where I found the route picqueted to the
ground. I gave him the barley and provisions, and then
proceeded to relate to him my adventure with the national.
"I would I had him here," said the Gypsy, on hearing the
epithets which the former had lavished upon him. "I would I
had him here, then should my chulee and his carlo become better
"And what are you doing here yourself," I demanded, "in
this wild place, amidst these thickets?"
"I am expecting a messenger down yon pass," said the
Gypsy; "and till that messenger arrive I can neither go forward
nor return. It is on business of Egypt, brother, that I am
As he invariably used this last expression when he wished
to evade my inquiries, I held my peace, and said no more; the
animals were fed, and we proceeded to make a frugal repast on
bread and wine.
"Why do you not cook the game which I brought?" I
demanded; "in this place there is plenty of materials for a
"The smoke might discover us, brother," said Antonio, "I
am desirous of lying escondido in this place until the arrival
of the messenger."
It was now considerably past noon; the gypsy lay behind
the thicket, raising himself up occasionally and looking
anxiously towards the hill which lay over against us; at last,
with an exclamation of disappointment and impatience, he flung
himself on the ground, where he lay a considerable time,
apparently ruminating; at last he lifted up his head and looked
me in the face.
ANTONIO. - Brother, I cannot imagine what business
brought you to this country.
MYSELF. - Perhaps the same which brings you to this moor
- business of Egypt.
ANTONIO. - Not so, brother; you speak the language of
Egypt, it is true, but your ways and words are neither those of
the Cales nor of the Busne.
MYSELF. - Did you not hear me speak in the foros about
God and Tebleque? It was to declare his glory to the Cales and
Gentiles that I came to the land of Spain.
ANTONIO. - And who sent you on this errand?
MYSELF. - You would scarcely understand me were I to
inform you. Know, however, that there are many in foreign
lands who lament the darkness which envelops Spain, and the
scenes of cruelty, robbery, and murder which deform it.
ANTONIO. - Are they Calore or Busne?
MYSELF. - What matters it? Both Calore and Busne are
sons of the same God.
ANTONIO. - You lie, brother, they are not of one father
nor of one Errate. You speak of robbery, cruelty, and murder.
There are too many Busne, brother; if there were no Busne there
would be neither robbery nor murder. The Calore neither rob
nor murder each other, the Busno do; nor are they cruel to
their animals, their law forbids them. When I was a child I
was beating a burra, but my father stopped my hand, and chided
me. "Hurt not the animal," said he; "for within it is the soul
of your own sister!"
MYSELF. - And do you believe in this wild doctrine, O
ANTONIO. - Sometimes I do, sometimes I do not. There are
some who believe in nothing; not even that they live! Long
since, I knew an old Caloro, he was old, very old, upwards of a
hundred years, - and I once heard him say, that all we thought
we saw was a lie; that there was no world, no men nor women, no
horses nor mules, no olive trees. But whither are we straying?
I asked what induced you to come to this country - you tell me
the glory of God and Tebleque. Disparate! tell that to the
Busne. You have good reasons for coming, no doubt, else you
would not be here. Some say you are a spy of the Londone,
perhaps you are; I care not. Rise, brother, and tell me
whether any one is coming down the pass."
"I see a distant object," I replied; "like a speck on the
side of the hill."
The Gypsy started up, and we both fixed our eyes on the
object: the distance was so great that it was at first with
difficulty that we could distinguish whether it moved or not.
A quarter of an hour, however, dispelled all doubts, for within
this time it had nearly reached the bottom of the hill, and we
could descry a figure seated on an animal of some kind.
"It is a woman," said I, at length, "mounted on a grey
"Then it is my messenger," said Antonio, "for it can be
no other."
The woman and the donkey were now upon the plain, and for
some time were concealed from us by the copse and brushwood
which intervened. They were not long, however, in making their
appearance at the distance of about a hundred yards. The
donkey was a beautiful creature of a silver grey, and came
frisking along, swinging her tail, and moving her feet so quick
that they scarcely seemed to touch the ground. The animal no
sooner perceived us than she stopped short, turned round, and
attempted to escape by the way she had come; her rider,
however, detained her, whereupon the donkey kicked violently,
and would probably have flung the former, had she not sprung
nimbly to the ground. The form of the woman was entirely
concealed by the large wrapping man's cloak which she wore. I
ran to assist her, when she turned her face full upon me, and I
instantly recognized the sharp clever features of Antonia, whom
I had seen at Badajoz, the daughter of my guide. She said
nothing to me, but advancing to her father, addressed something
to him in a low voice, which I did not hear. He started back,
and vociferated "All!" "Yes," said she in a louder tone,
probably repeating the words which I had not caught before,
"All are captured."
The Gypsy remained for some time like one astounded and,
unwilling to listen to their discourse, which I imagined might
relate to business of Egypt, I walked away amidst the thickets.
I was absent for some time, but could occasionally hear
passionate expressions and oaths. In about half an hour I
returned; they had left the road, but I found then behind the
broom clump, where the animals stood. Both were seated on the
ground; the features of the Gypsy were peculiarly dark and
grim; he held his unsheathed knife in his hand, which he would
occasionally plunge into the earth, exclaiming, "All! All!"
"Brother," said he at last, "I can go no farther with
you; the business which carried me to Castumba is settled; you
must now travel by yourself and trust to your baji (FORTUNE)."
"I trust in Undevel," I replied, "who wrote my fortune
long ago. But how am I to journey? I have no horse, for you
doubtless want your own."
The Gypsy appeared to reflect: "I want the horse, it is
true, brother," he said, "and likewise the macho; but you shall
not go EN PINDRE (on foot); you shall purchase the burra of
Antonia, which I presented her when I sent her upon this
"The burra," I replied, "appears both savage and
"She is both, brother, and on that account I bought her;
a savage and vicious beast has generally four excellent legs.
You are a Calo, brother, and can manage her; you shall
therefore purchase the savage burra, giving my daugher Antonia
a baria of gold. If you think fit, you can sell the beast at
Talavera or Madrid, for Estremenian bestis are highly
considered in Castumba."
In less than an hour I was on the other side of the pass,
mounted on the savage burra.
The Pass of Mirabete - Wolves and Shepherds - Female Subtlety -
Death by Wolves - The Mystery Solved - The Mountains - The Dark Hour -
The Traveller of the Night - Abarbenel - Hoarded Treasure -
Force of Gold - The Archbishop - Arrival at Madrid.
I proceeded down the pass of Mirabete, occasionally
ruminating on the matter which had brought me to Spain, and
occasionally admiring one of the finest prospects in the world;
before me outstretched lay immense plains, bounded in the
distance by huge mountains, whilst at the foot of the hill
which I was now descending, rolled the Tagus, in a deep narrow
stream, between lofty banks; the whole was gilded by the rays
of the setting sun; for the day, though cold and wintry, was
bright and clear. In about an hour I reached the river at a
place where stood the remains of what had once been a
magnificent bridge, which had, however, been blown up in the
Peninsular war and never since repaired.
I crossed the river in a ferry-boat; the passage was
rather difficult, the current very rapid and swollen, owing to
the latter rains.
"Am I in New Castile?" I demanded of the ferryman, on
reaching the further bank. "The raya is many leagues from
hence," replied the ferryman; "you seem a stranger. Whence do
you come?" "From England," I replied, and without waiting for
an answer, I sprang on the burra, and proceeded on my way. The
burra plied her feet most nimbly, and, shortly after nightfall,
brought me to a village at about two leagues' distance from the
river's bank.
I sat down in the venta where I put up; there was a huge
fire, consisting of the greater part of the trunk of an olive
tree; the company was rather miscellaneous: a hunter with his
escopeta; a brace of shepherds with immense dogs, of that
species for which Estremadura is celebrated; a broken soldier,
just returned from the wars; and a beggar, who, after demanding
charity for the seven wounds of Maria Santissima, took a seat
amidst us, and made himself quite comfortable. The hostess was
an active bustling woman, and busied herself in cooking my
supper, which consisted of the game which I had purchased at
Jaraicejo, and which, on my taking leave of the Gypsy, he had
counselled me to take with me. In the meantime, I sat by the
fire listening to the conversation of the company.
"I would I were a wolf," said one of the shepherds; "or,
indeed, anything rather than what I am. A pretty life is this
of ours, out in the campo, among the carascales, suffering heat
and cold for a peseta a day. I would I were a wolf; he fares
better and is more respected than the wretch of a shepherd."
"But he frequently fares scurvily," said I; "the shepherd
and dogs fall upon him, and then he pays for his temerity with
the loss of his head."
"That is not often the case, senor traveller," said the
shepherd; "he watches his opportunity, and seldom runs into
harm's way. And as to attacking him, it is no very pleasant
task; he has both teeth and claws, and dog or man, who has once
felt them, likes not to venture a second time within his reach.
These dogs of mine will seize a bear singly with considerable
alacrity, though he is a most powerful animal, but I have seen
them run howling away from a wolf, even though there were two
or three of us at hand to encourage them."
"A dangerous person is the wolf," said the other
shepherd, "and cunning as dangerous; who knows more than he?
He knows the vulnerable point of every animal; see, for
example, how he flies at the neck of a bullock, tearing open
the veins with his grim teeth and claws. But does he attack a
horse in this manner? I trow not."
"Not he," said the other shepherd, "he is too good a
judge; but he fastens on the haunches, and hamstrings him in a
moment. O the fear of the horse when he comes near the
dwelling of the wolf. My master was the other day riding in
the despoblado, above the pass, on his fine Andalusian steed,
which had cost him five hundred dollars; suddenly the horse
stopped, and sweated and trembled like a woman in the act of
fainting; my master could not conceive the reason, but
presently he heard a squealing and growling in the bushes,
whereupon he fired off his gun and scared the wolves, who
scampered away; but he tells me, that the horse has not yet
recovered from his fright."
"Yet the mares know, occasionally, how to balk him,"
replied his companion; "there is great craft and malice in
mares, as there is in all females; see them feeding in the
campo with their young cria about them; presently the alarm is
given that the wolf is drawing near; they start wildly and run
about for a moment, but it is only for a moment - amain they
gather together, forming themselves into a circle, in the
centre of which they place the foals. Onward comes the wolf,
hoping to make his dinner on horseflesh; he is mistaken,
however, the mares have balked him, and are as cunning as
himself: not a tail is to be seen - not a hinder quarter - but
there stands the whole troop, their fronts towards him ready to
receive him, and as he runs around them barking and howling,
they rise successively on their hind legs, ready to stamp him
to the earth, should he attempt to hurt their cria or
"Worse than the he-wolf," said the soldier, "is the
female, for as the senor pastor has well observed, there is
more malice in women than in males: to see one of these shedemons
with a troop of the males at her heels is truly
surprising: where she turns, they turn, and what she does that
do they; for they appear bewitched, and have no power but to
imitate her actions. I was once travelling with a comrade over
the hills of Galicia, when we heard a howl. `Those are
wolves,' said my companion, `let us get out of the way;' so we
stepped from the path and ascended the side of the hill a
little way, to a terrace, where grew vines, after the manner of
Galicia: presently appeared a large grey she-wolf, DESHONESTA,
snapping and growling at a troop of demons, who followed close
behind, their tails uplifted, and their eyes like fire-brands.
What do you think the perverse brute did? Instead of keeping
to the path, she turned in the very direction in which we were;
there was now no remedy, so we stood still. I was the first
upon the terrace, and by me she passed so close that I felt her
hair brush against my legs; she, however, took no notice of me,
but pushed on, neither looking to the right nor left, and all
the other wolves trotted by me without offering the slightest
injury or even so much as looking at me. Would that I could
say as much for my poor companion, who stood farther on, and
was, I believe, less in the demon's way than I was; she had
nearly passed him, when suddenly she turned half round and
snapped at him. I shall never forget what followed: in a
moment a dozen wolves were upon him, tearing him limb from
limb, with howlings like nothing in this world; in a few
moments he was devoured; nothing remained but a skull and a few
bones; and then they passed on in the same manner as they came.
Good reason had I to be grateful that my lady wolf took less
notice of me than my poor comrade."
Listening to this and similar conversation, I fell into a
doze before the fire, in which I continued for a considerable
time, but was at length aroused by a voice exclaiming in a loud
tone, "All are captured!" These were the exact words which,
when spoken by his daughter, confounded the Gypsy upon the
moor. I looked around me, the company consisted of the same
individuals to whose conversation I had been listening before I
sank into slumber; but the beggar was now the spokesman, and he
was haranguing with considerable vehemence.
"I beg your pardon, Caballero," said I, "but I did not
hear the commencement of your discourse. Who are those who
have been captured?"
"A band of accursed Gitanos, Caballero," replied the
beggar, returning the title of courtesy, which I had bestowed
upon him. "During more than a fortnight they have infested the
roads on the frontier of Castile, and many have been the
gentleman travellers like yourself whom they have robbed and
murdered. It would seem that the Gypsy canaille must needs
take advantage of these troublous times, and form themselves
into a faction. It is said that the fellows of whom I am
speaking expected many more of their brethren to join them,
which is likely enough, for all Gypsies are thieves: but
praised be God, they have been put down before they became too
formidable. I saw them myself conveyed to the prison at -.
Thanks be to God. TODOS ESTAN PRESOS."
"The mystery is now solved," said I to myself, and
proceeded to despatch my supper, which was now ready.
The next day's journey brought me to a considerable town,
the name of which I have forgotten. It is the first in New
Castile, in this direction. I passed the night as usual in the
manger of the stable, close beside the Caballeria; for, as I
travelled upon a donkey, I deemed it incumbent upon me to be
satisfied with a couch in keeping with my manner of journeying,
being averse, by any squeamish and over delicate airs, to
generate a suspicion amongst the people with whom I mingled
that I was aught higher than what my equipage and outward
appearance might lead them to believe. Rising before daylight,
I again proceeded on my way, hoping ere night to be able to
reach Talavera, which I was informed was ten leagues distant.
The way lay entirely over an unbroken level, for the most part
covered with olive trees. On the left, however, at the
distance of a few leagues, rose the mighty mountains which I
have already mentioned. They run eastward in a seemingly
interminable range, parallel with the route which I was
pursuing; their tops and sides were covered with dazzling snow,
and the blasts which came sweeping from them across the wide
and melancholy plains were of bitter keenness.
"What mountains are those?" I inquired of a barbersurgeon,
who, mounted like myself on a grey burra, joined me
about noon, and proceeded in my company for several leagues.
"They have many names, Caballero," replied the barber;
"according to the names of the neighbouring places so they are
called. Yon portion of them is styled the Serrania of
Plasencia; and opposite to Madrid they are termed the Mountains
of Guadarama, from a river of that name, which descends from
them; they run a vast way, Caballero, and separate the two
kingdoms, for on the other side is Old Castile. They are
mighty mountains, and though they generate much cold, I take
pleasure in looking at them, which is not to be wondered at,
seeing that I was born amongst them, though at present, for my
sins, I live in a village of the plain. Caballero, there is
not another such range in Spain; they have their secrets too -
their mysteries - strange tales are told of those hills, and of
what they contain in their deep recesses, for they are a broad
chain, and you may wander days and days amongst them without
coming to any termino. Many have lost themselves on those
hills, and have never again been heard of. Strange things are
told of them: it is said that in certain places there are deep
pools and lakes, in which dwell monsters, huge serpents as long
as a pine tree, and horses of the flood, which sometimes come
out and commit mighty damage. One thing is certain, that
yonder, far away to the west, in the heart of those hills,
there is a wonderful valley, so narrow that only at midday is
the face of the sun to be descried from it. That valley lay
undiscovered and unknown for thousands of years; no person
dreamed of its existence, but at last, a long time ago, certain
hunters entered it by chance, and then what do you think they
found, Caballero? They found a small nation or tribe of
unknown people, speaking an unknown language, who, perhaps, had
lived there since the creation of the world, without
intercourse with the rest of their fellow creatures, and
without knowing that other beings besides themselves existed!
Caballero, did you never hear of the valley of the Batuecas?
Many books have been written about that valley and those
people. Caballero, I am proud of yonder hills; and were I
independent, and without wife or children, I would purchase a
burra like that of your own, which I see is an excellent one,
and far superior to mine, and travel amongst them till I knew
all their mysteries, and had seen all the wondrous things which
they contain."
Throughout the day I pressed the burra forward, only
stopping once in order to feed the animal; but, notwithstanding
that she played her part very well, night came on, and I was
still about two leagues from Talavera. As the sun went down,
the cold became intense; I drew the old Gypsy cloak, which I
still wore, closer around me, but I found it quite inadequate
to protect me from the inclemency of the atmosphere. The road,
which lay over a plain, was not very distinctly traced, and
became in the dusk rather difficult to find, more especially as
cross roads leading to different places were of frequent
occurrence. I, however, proceeded in the best manner I could,
and when I became dubious as to the course which I should take,
I invariably allowed the animal on which I was mounted to
decide. At length the moon shone out faintly, when suddenly by
its beams I beheld a figure moving before me at a slight
distance. I quickened the pace of the burra, and was soon
close at its side. It went on, neither altering its pace nor
looking round for a moment. It was the figure of a man, the
tallest and bulkiest that I had hitherto seen in Spain, dressed
in a manner strange and singular for the country. On his head
was a hat with a low crown and broad brim, very much resembling
that of an English waggoner; about his body was a long loose
tunic or slop, seemingly of coarse ticken, open in front, so as
to allow the interior garments to be occasionally seen; these
appeared to consist of a jerkin and short velveteen pantaloons.
I have said that the brim of the hat was broad, but broad as it
was, it was insufficient to cover an immense bush of coal-black
hair, which, thick and curly, projected on either side; over
the left shoulder was flung a kind of satchel, and in the right
hand was held a long staff or pole.
There was something peculiarly strange about the figure,
but what struck me the most was the tranquillity with which it
moved along, taking no heed of me, though of course aware of my
proximity, but looking straight forward along the road, save
when it occasionally raised a huge face and large eyes towards
the moon, which was now shining forth in the eastern quarter.
"A cold night," said I at last. "Is this the way to
"It is the way to Talavera, and the night is cold."
"I am going to Talavera," said I, "as I suppose you are
"I am going thither, so are you, BUENO."
The tones of the voice which delivered these words were
in their way quite as strange and singular as the figure to
which the voice belonged; they were not exactly the tones of a
Spanish voice, and yet there was something in them that could
hardly be foreign; the pronunciation also was correct; and the
language, though singular, faultless. But I was most struck
with the manner in which the last word, BUENO, was spoken. I
had heard something like it before, but where or when I could
by no means remember. A pause now ensued; the figure stalking
on as before with the most perfect indifference, and seemingly
with no disposition either to seek or avoid conversation.
"Are you not afraid," said I at last, "to travel these
roads in the dark? It is said that there are robbers abroad."
"Are you not rather afraid," replied the figure, "to
travel these roads in the dark? - you who are ignorant of the
country, who are a foreigner, an Englishman!"
"How is it that you know me to be an Englishman?"
demanded I, much surprised.
"That is no difficult matter," replied the figure; "the
sound of your voice was enough to tell me that."
"You speak of voices," said I; "suppose the tone of your
own voice were to tell me who you are?"
"That it will not do," replied my companion; "you know
nothing about me - you can know nothing about me."
"Be not sure of that, my friend; I am acquainted with
many things of which you have little idea."
"Por exemplo," said the figure.
"For example," said I; "you speak two languages."
The figure moved on, seemed to consider a moment, and
then said slowly BUENO.
"You have two names," I continued; "one for the house and
the other for the street; both are good, but the one by which
you are called at home is the one which you like best."
The man walked on about ten paces, in the same manner as
he had previously done; all of a sudden he turned, and taking
the bridle of the burra gently in his hand, stopped her. I had
now a full view of his face and figure, and those huge features
and Herculean form still occasionally revisit me in my dreams.
I see him standing in the moonshine, staring me in the face
with his deep calm eyes. At last he said:
"Are you then one of us?"
* * * *
It was late at night when we arrived at Talavera. We
went to a large gloomy house, which my companion informed me
was the principal posada of the town. We entered the kitchen,
at the extremity of which a large fire was blazing. "Pepita,"
said my companion to a handsome girl, who advanced smiling
towards us; "a brasero and a private apartment; this cavalier
is a friend of mine, and we shall sup together." We were shown
to an apartment in which were two alcoves containing beds.
After supper, which consisted of the very best, by the order of
my companion, we sat over the brasero and commenced talking.
MYSELF. - Of course you have conversed with Englishmen
before, else you could not have recognized me by the tone of my
ABARBENEL. - I was a young lad when the war of the
Independence broke out, and there came to the village in which
our family lived an English officer in order to teach
discipline to the new levies. He was quartered in my father's
house, where he conceived a great affection for me. On his
departure, with the consent of my father, I attended him
through the Castiles, partly as companion, partly as domestic.
I was with him nearly a year, when he was suddenly summoned to
return to his own country. He would fain have taken me with
him, but to that my father would by no means consent. It is
now five-and-twenty years since I last saw an Englishman; but
you have seen how I recognized you even in the dark night.
MYSELF. - And what kind of life do you pursue, and by
what means do you obtain support?
ABARBENEL. - I experience no difficulty. I live much in
the same way as I believe my forefathers lived; certainly as my
father did, for his course has been mine. At his death I took
possession of the herencia, for I was his only child. It was
not requisite that I should follow any business, for my wealth
was great; yet, to avoid remark, I followed that of my father,
who was a longanizero. I have occasionally dealt in wool: but
lazily, lazily - as I had no stimulus for exertion. I was,
however, successful in many instances, strangely so; much more
than many others who toiled day and night, and whose whole soul
was in the trade.
MYSELF. - Have you any children? Are you married?
ABARBENEL. - I have no children though I am married. I
have a wife and an amiga, or I should rather say two wives, for
I am wedded to both. I however call one my amiga, for
appearance sake, for I wish to live in quiet, and am unwilling
to offend the prejudices of the surrounding people.
MYSELF. - You say you are wealthy. In what does your
wealth consist?
ABARBENEL. - In gold and silver, and stones of price; for
I have inherited all the hoards of my forefathers. The greater
part is buried under ground; indeed, I have never examined the
tenth part of it. I have coins of silver and gold older than
the times of Ferdinand the Accursed and Jezebel; I have also
large sums employed in usury. We keep ourselves close,
however, and pretend to be poor, miserably so; but on certain
occasions, at our festivals, when our gates are barred, and our
savage dogs are let loose in the court, we eat our food off
services such as the Queen of Spain cannot boast of, and wash
our feet in ewers of silver, fashioned and wrought before the
Americas were discovered, though our garments are at all times
coarse, and our food for the most part of the plainest
MYSELF. - Are there more of you than yourself and your
two wives?
ABARBENEL. - There are my two servants, who are likewise
of us; the one is a youth, and is about to leave, being
betrothed to one at some distance; the other is old; he is now
upon the road, following me with a mule and car.
MYSELF. - And whither are you bound at present?
ABARBENEL. - To Toledo, where I ply my trade occasionally
of longanizero. I love to wander about, though I seldom stray
far from home. Since I left the Englishman my feet have never
once stepped beyond the bounds of New Castile. I love to visit
Toledo, and to think of the times which have long since
departed; I should establish myself there, were there not so
many accursed ones, who look upon me with an evil eye.
MYSELF. - Are you known for what you are? Do the
authorities molest you?
ABARBENEL. - People of course suspect me to be what I am;
but as I conform outwardly in most respects to their ways, they
do not interfere with me. True it is that sometimes, when I
enter the church to hear the mass, they glare at me over the
left shoulder, as much as to say - "What do you here?" And
sometimes they cross themselves as I pass by; but as they go no
further, I do not trouble myself on that account. With respect
to the authorities, they are not bad friends of mine. Many of
the higher class have borrowed money from me on usury, so that
I have them to a certain extent in my power, and as for the low
alguazils and corchetes, they would do any thing to oblige me
in consideration of a few dollars, which I occasionally give
them; so that matters upon the whole go on remarkably well. Of
old, indeed, it was far otherwise; yet, I know not how it was,
though other families suffered much, ours always enjoyed a
tolerable share of tranquillity. The truth is, that our family
has always known how to guide itself wonderfully. I may say
there is much of the wisdom of the snake amongst us. We have
always possessed friends; and with respect to enemies, it is by
no means safe to meddle with us; for it is a rule of our house
never to forgive an injury, and to spare neither trouble nor
expense in bringing ruin and destruction upon the heads of our
evil doers.
MYSELF. - Do the priests interfere with you?
ABARBENEL. - They let me alone, especially in our own
neighbourhood. Shortly after the death of my father, one hotheaded
individual endeavoured to do me an evil turn, but I soon
requited him, causing him to be imprisoned on a charge of
blasphemy, and in prison he remained a long time, till he went
mad and died.
MYSELF. - Have you a head in Spain, in whom is rested the
chief authority?
ABARBENEL. - Not exactly. There are, however, certain
holy families who enjoy much consideration; my own is one of
these - the chiefest, I may say. My grandsire was a
particularly holy man; and I have heard my father say, that one
night an archbishop came to his house secretly, merely to have
the satisfaction of kissing his head.
MYSELF. - How can that be; what reverence could an
archbishop entertain for one like yourself or your grandsire?
ABARBENEL. - More than you imagine. He was one of us, at
least his father was, and he could never forget what he had
learned with reverence in his infancy. He said he had tried to
forget it, but he could not; that the RUAH was continually upon
him, and that even from his childhood he had borne its terrors
with a troubled mind, till at last he could bear himself no
longer; so he went to my grandsire, with whom he remained one
whole night; he then returned to his diocese, where he shortly
afterwards died, in much renown for sanctity.
MYSELF. - What you say surprises me. Have you reason to
suppose that many of you are to be found amongst the
ABARBENEL. - Not to suppose, but to know it. There are
many such as I amongst the priesthood, and not amongst the
inferior priesthood either; some of the most learned and famed
of them in Spain have been of us, or of our blood at least, and
many of them at this day think as I do. There is one
particular festival of the year at which four dignified
ecclesiastics are sure to visit me; and then, when all is made
close and secure, and the fitting ceremonies have been gone
through, they sit down upon the floor and curse.
MYSELF. - Are you numerous in the large towns?
ABARBENEL. - By no means; our places of abode are seldom
the large towns; we prefer the villages, and rarely enter the
large towns but on business. Indeed we are not a numerous
people, and there are few provinces of Spain which contain more
than twenty families. None of us are poor, and those among us
who serve, do so more from choice than necessity, for by
serving each other we acquire different trades. Not
unfrequently the time of service is that of courtship also, and
the servants eventually marry the daughters of the house.
We continued in discourse the greater part of the night;
the next morning I prepared to depart. My companion, however,
advised me to remain where I was for that day. "And if you
respect my counsel," said he, "you will not proceed farther in
this manner. To-night the diligence will arrive from
Estremadura, on its way to Madrid. Deposit yourself therein;
it is the safest and most speedy mode of travelling. As for
your animal, I will myself purchase her. My servant is here,
and has informed me that she will be of service to us. Let us,
therefore, pass the day together in communion, like brothers,
and then proceed on our separate journeys." We did pass the
day together; and when the diligence arrived I deposited myself
within, and on the morning of the second day arrived at Madrid.
Lodging at Madrid - My Hostess - British Ambassador -
Mendizabal - Baltasar - Duties of a National - Young Blood -
The Execution - Population of Madrid - The Higher Orders -
The Lower Classes - The Bull-fighter - The Crabbed Gitano.
It was the commencement of February when I reached
Madrid. After staying a few days at a posada, I removed to a
lodging which I engaged at No. 3, in the Calle de la Zarza, a
dark dirty street, which, however, was close to the Puerta del
Sol, the most central point of Madrid, into which four or five
of the principal streets debouche, and which is, at all times
of the year, the great place of assemblage for the idlers of
the capital, poor or rich.
It was rather a singular house in which I had taken up my
abode. I occupied the front part of the first floor; my
apartments consisted of an immense parlour, and a small chamber
on one side in which I slept; the parlour, notwithstanding its
size, contained very little furniture: a few chairs, a table,
and a species of sofa, constituted the whole. It was very cold
and airy, owing to the draughts which poured in from three
large windows, and from sundry doors. The mistress of the
house, attended by her two daughters, ushered me in. "Did you
ever see a more magnificent apartment?" demanded the former;
"is it not fit for a king's son? Last winter it was occupied
by the great General Espartero."
The hostess was an exceedingly fat woman, a native of
Valladolid, in Old Castile. "Have you any other family," I
demanded, "besides these daughters?" "Two sons," she replied;
"one of them an officer in the army, father of this urchin,"
pointing to a wicked but clever looking boy of about twelve,
who at that moment bounded into the room; "the other is the
most celebrated national in Madrid: he is a tailor by trade,
and his name is Baltasar. He has much influence with the other
nationals, on account of the liberality of his opinions, and a
word from him is sufficient to bring them all out armed and
furious to the Puerta del Sol. He is, however, at present
confined to his bed, for he is very dissipated and fond of the
company of bull-fighters and people still worse."
As my principal motive for visiting the Spanish capital
was the hope of obtaining permission from the government to
print the New Testament in the Castilian language, for
circulation in Spain, I lost no time, upon my arrival, in
taking what I considered to be the necessary steps.
I was an entire stranger at Madrid, and bore no letters
of introduction to any persons of influence, who might have
assisted me in this undertaking, so that, notwithstanding I
entertained a hope of success, relying on the assistance of the
Almighty, this hope was not at all times very vivid, but was
frequently overcast with the clouds of despondency.
Mendizabal was at this time prime minister of Spain, and
was considered as a man of almost unbounded power, in whose
hands were placed the destinies of the country. I therefore
considered that if I could by any means induce him to favour my
views, I should have no reason to fear interruption from other
quarters, and I determined upon applying to him.
Before talking this step, however, I deemed it advisable
to wait upon Mr. Villiers, the British ambassador at Madrid;
and with the freedom permitted to a British subject, to ask his
advice in this affair. I was received with great kindness, and
enjoyed a conversation with him on various subjects before I
introduced the matter which I had most at heart. He said that
if I wished for an interview with Mendizabal, he would
endeavour to procure me one, but, at the same time, told me
frankly that he could not hope that any good would arise from
it, as he knew him to be violently prejudiced against the
British and Foreign Bible Society, and was far more likely to
discountenance than encourage any efforts which they might be
disposed to make for introducing the Gospel into Spain. I,
however, remained resolute in my desire to make the trial, and
before I left him, obtained a letter of introduction to
Early one morning I repaired to the palace, in a wing of
which was the office of the Prime Minister; it was bitterly
cold, and the Guadarama, of which there is a noble view from
the palace-plain, was covered with snow. For at least three
hours I remained shivering with cold in an ante-room, with
several other aspirants for an interview with the man of power.
At last his private secretary made his appearance, and after
putting various questions to the others, addressed himself to
me, asking who I was and what I wanted. I told him that I was
an Englishman, and the bearer of a letter from the British
Minister. "If you have no objection, I will myself deliver it
to His Excellency," said he; whereupon I handed it to him and
he withdrew. Several individuals were admitted before me; at
last, however, my own turn came, and I was ushered into the
presence of Mendizabal.
He stood behind a table covered with papers, on which his
eyes were intently fixed. He took not the slightest notice
when I entered, and I had leisure enough to survey him: he was
a huge athletic man, somewhat taller than myself, who measure
six feet two without my shoes; his complexion was florid, his
features fine and regular, his nose quite aquiline, and his
teeth splendidly white: though scarcely fifty years of age, his
hair was remarkably grey; he was dressed in a rich morning
gown, with a gold chain round his neck, and morocco slippers on
his feet.
His secretary, a fine intellectual looking man, who, as I
was subsequently informed, had acquired a name both in English
and Spanish literature, stood at one end of the table with
papers in his hands.
After I had been standing about a quarter of an hour,
Mendizabal suddenly lifted up a pair of sharp eyes, and fixed
them upon me with a peculiarly scrutinizing glance.
"I have seen a glance very similar to that amongst the
Beni Israel," thought I to myself. . . .
My interview with him lasted nearly an hour. Some
singular discourse passed between us: I found him, as I had
been informed, a bitter enemy to the Bible Society, of which he
spoke in terms of hatred and contempt, and by no means a friend
to the Christian religion, which I could easily account for. I
was not discouraged, however, and pressed upon him the matter
which brought me thither, and was eventually so far successful,
as to obtain a promise, that at the expiration of a few months,
when he hoped the country would be in a more tranquil state, I
should be allowed to print the Scriptures.
As I was going away he said, "Yours is not the first
application I have had; ever since I have held the reins of
government I have been pestered in this manner, by English
calling themselves Evangelical Christians, who have of late
come flocking over into Spain. Only last week a hunchbacked
fellow found his way into my cabinet whilst I was engaged in
important business, and told me that Christ was coming. . . .
And now you have made your appearance, and almost persuaded me
to embroil myself yet more with the priesthood, as if they did
not abhor me enough already. What a strange infatuation is
this which drives you over lands and waters with Bibles in your
hands. My good sir, it is not Bibles we want, but rather guns
and gunpowder, to put the rebels down with, and above all,
money, that we may pay the troops; whenever you come with these
three things you shall have a hearty welcome, if not, we really
can dispense with your visits, however great the honour."
MYSELF. - There will be no end to the troubles of this
afflicted country until the gospel have free circulation.
MENDIZABAL. - I expected that answer, for I have not
lived thirteen years in England without forming some
acquaintance with the phraseology of you good folks. Now, now,
pray go; you see how engaged I am. Come again whenever you
please, but let it not be within the next three months.
"Don Jorge," said my hostess, coming into my apartment
one morning, whilst I sat at breakfast with my feet upon the
brasero, "here is my son Baltasarito, the national; he has
risen from his bed, and hearing that there is an Englishman in
the house, he has begged me to introduce him, for he loves
Englishmen on account of the liberality of their opinions;
there he is, what do you think of him?"
I did not state to his mother what I thought; it appeared
to me, however, that she was quite right calling him
Baltasarito, which is the diminutive of Baltasar, forasmuch as
that ancient and sonorous name had certainly never been
bestowed on a more diminutive personage: he might measure about
five feet one inch, though he was rather corpulent for his
height; his face looked yellow and sickly, he had, however, a
kind of fanfaronading air, and his eyes, which were of dark
brown, were both sharp and brilliant. His dress, or rather his
undress, was somewhat shabby: he had a foraging cap on his
head, and in lieu of a morning gown, he wore a sentinel's old
great coat.
"I am glad to make your acquaintance, senor nacional,"
said I to him, after his mother had departed, and Baltasar had
taken his seat, and of course lighted a paper cigar at the
brasero. "I am glad to have made your acquaintance, more
especially as your lady mother has informed me that you have
great influence with the nationals. I am a stranger in Spain,
and may want a friend; fortune has been kind to me in procuring
me one who is a member of so powerful a body."
BALTASAR. - Yes, I have a great deal to say with the
other nationals; there is none in Madrid better known than
Baltasar, or more dreaded by the Carlists. You say you may
stand in need of a friend; there is no fear of my failing you
in any emergency. Both myself and any of the other nationals
will be proud to go out with you as padrinos, should you have
any affair of honour on your hands. But why do you not become
one of us? We would gladly receive you into our body.
MYSELF. - Is the duty of a national particularly hard?
BALTASAR. - By no means; we have to do duty about once
every fifteen days, and then there is occasionally a review,
which does not last long. No! the duties of a national are by
no means onerous, and the privileges are great. I have seen
three of my brother nationals walk up and down the Prado of a
Sunday, with sticks in their hands, cudgelling all the
suspicious characters, and it is our common practice to scour
the streets at night, and then if we meet any person who is
obnoxious to us, we fall upon him, and with a knife or a
bayonet generally leave him wallowing in his blood on the
pavement: no one but a national would be permitted to do that.
MYSELF. - Of course none but persons of liberal opinions
are to be found amongst the nationals?
BALTASAR. - Would it were so! There are some amongst us,
Don Jorge, who are no better than they should be; they are few,
however, and for the most part well known. Theirs is no
pleasant life, for when they mount guard with the rest they are
scouted, and not unfrequently cudgelled. The law compels all
of a certain age either to serve in the army or to become
national soldiers on which account some of these Godos are to
be found amongst us.
MYSELF. - Are there many in Madrid of the Carlist
BALTASAR. - Not among the young people; the greater part
of the Madrilenian Carlists capable of bearing arms departed
long ago to join the ranks of the factious in the Basque
provinces. Those who remain are for the most part grey-beards
and priests, good for nothing but to assemble in private
coffee-houses, and to prate treason together. Let them prate,
Don Jorge; let them prate; the destinies of Spain do not depend
on the wishes of ojalateros and pasteleros, but on the hands of
stout gallant nationals like myself and friends, Don Jorge.
MYSELF. - I am sorry to learn from your lady mother, that
you are strangely dissipated.
BALTASAR. - Ho, ho, Don Jorge, she has told you that, has
she; what would you have, Don Jorge? I am young, and young
blood will have its course. I am called Baltasar the gay by
all the other nationals, and it is on account of my gaiety and
the liberality of my opinions that I am so popular among them.
When I mount guard I invariably carry my guitar with me, and
then there is sure to be a function at the guardhouse. We send
for wine, Don Jorge, and the nationals become wild, Don Jorge,
dancing and drinking through the night, whilst Baltasarito
strums the guitar and sings them songs of Germania:
"Una romi sin pachi
Le peno a su chindomar," &c., &c.
That is Gitano, Don Jorge; I learnt it from the toreros
of Andalusia, who all speak Gitano, and are mostly of Gypsy
blood. I learnt it from them; they are all friends of mine,
Montes Sevilla and Poquito Pan. I never miss a function of
bulls, Don Jorge. Baltasar is sure to be there with his amiga.
Don Jorge, there are no bull-functions in the winter, or I
would carry you to one, but happily to-morrow there is an
execution, a funcion de la horca; and there we will go, Don
We did go to see this execution, which I shall long
remember. The criminals were two young men, brothers; they
suffered for a most atrocious murder, having in the dead of
night broke open the house of an aged man, whom they put to
death, and whose property they stole. Criminals in Spain are
not hanged as they are in England, or guillotined as in France,
but strangled upon a wooden stage. They sit down on a kind of
chair with a post behind, to which is affixed an iron collar
with a screw; this iron collar is made to clasp the neck of the
prisoner, and on a certain signal it is drawn tighter and
tighter by means of the screw, until life becomes extinct.
After we had waited amongst the assembled multitude a
considerable time, the first of the culprits appeared; he was
mounted on an ass, without saddle or stirrups, his legs being
allowed to dangle nearly to the ground. He was dressed in
yellow sulphur-coloured robes, with a high-peaked conical red
hat on his head, which was shaven. Between his hands he held a
parchment, on which was written something, I believe the
confession of faith. Two priests led the animal by the bridle;
two others walked on either side, chanting litanies, amongst
which I distinguished the words of heavenly peace and
tranquillity, for the culprit had been reconciled to the
church, had confessed and received absolution, and had been
promised admission to heaven. He did not exhibit the least
symptom of fear, but dismounted from the animal and was led,
not supported, up the scaffold, where he was placed on the
chair, and the fatal collar put round his neck. One of the
priests then in a loud voice commenced saying the Belief, and
the culprit repeated the words after him. On a sudden, the
executioner, who stood behind, commenced turning the screw,
which was of prodigious force, and the wretched man - was
almost instantly a corpse; but, as the screw went round, the
and still as he shouted, his voice became louder and louder,
till the lofty walls of Madrid rang with it: then stooping
down, he placed his mouth close to the culprit's ear, still
shouting, just as if he would pursue the spirit through its
course to eternity, cheering it on its way. The effect was
tremendous. I myself was so excited that I involuntarily
shouted "MISERICORDIA," and so did many others. God was not
thought of; Christ was not thought of; only the priest was
thought of, for he seemed at that moment to be the first being
in existence, and to have the power of opening and shutting the
gates of heaven or of hell, just as he should think proper. A
striking instance of the successful working of the Popish
system, whose grand aim has ever been to keep people's minds as
far as possible from God, and to centre their hopes and fears
in the priesthood. The execution of the second culprit was
precisely similar; he ascended the scaffold a few minutes after
his brother had breathed his last.
I have visited most of the principal capitals of the
world, but upon the whole none has ever so interested me as
this city of Madrid, in which I now found myself. I will not
dwell upon its streets, its edifices, its public squares, its
fountains, though some of these are remarkable enough: but
Petersburg has finer streets, Paris and Edinburgh more stately
edifices, London far nobler squares, whilst Shiraz can boast of
more costly fountains, though not cooler waters. But the
population! Within a mud wall, scarcely one league and a half
in circuit, are contained two hundred thousand human beings,
certainly forming the most extraordinary vital mass to be found
in the entire world; and be it always remembered that this mass
is strictly Spanish. The population of Constantinople is
extraordinary enough, but to form it twenty nations have
contributed; Greeks, Armenians, Persians, Poles, Jews, the
latter, by the by, of Spanish origin, and speaking amongst
themselves the old Spanish language; but the huge population of
Madrid, with the exception of a sprinkling of foreigners,
chiefly French tailors, glove-makers and peruquiers, is
strictly Spanish, though a considerable portion are not natives
of the place. Here are no colonies of Germans, as at Saint
Petersburg; no English factories, as at Lisbon; no multitudes
of insolent Yankees lounging through the streets as at the
Havannah, with an air which seems to say, the land is our own
whenever we choose to take it; but a population which, however
strange and wild, and composed of various elements, is Spanish,
and will remain so as long as the city itself shall exist.
Hail, ye aguadores of Asturia! who, in your dress of coarse
duffel and leathern skull-caps, are seen seated in hundreds by
the fountain sides, upon your empty water-casks, or staggering
with them filled to the topmost stories of lofty houses. Hail,
ye caleseros of Valencia! who, lolling lazily against your
vehicles, rasp tobacco for your paper cigars whilst waiting for
a fare. Hail to you, beggars of La Mancha! men and women, who,
wrapped in coarse blankets, demand charity indifferently at the
gate of the palace or the prison. Hail to you, valets from the
mountains, mayordomos and secretaries from Biscay and
Guipuscoa, toreros from Andalusia, riposteros from Galicia,
shopkeepers from Catalonia! Hail to ye, Castilians,
Estremenians and Aragonese, of whatever calling! And lastly,
genuine sons of the capital, rabble of Madrid, ye twenty
thousand manolos, whose terrible knifes, on the second morning
of May, worked such grim havoc amongst the legions of Murat!
And the higher orders - the ladies and gentlemen, the
cavaliers and senoras; shall I pass them by in silence? The
truth is I have little to say about them; I mingled but little
in their society, and what I saw of them by no means tended to
exalt them in my imagination. I am not one of those who,
wherever they go, make it a constant practice to disparage the
higher orders, and to exalt the populace at their expense.
There are many capitals in which the high aristocracy, the
lords and ladies, the sons and daughters of nobility,
constitute the most remarkable and the most interesting part of
the population. This is the case at Vienna, and more
especially at London. Who can rival the English aristocrat in
lofty stature, in dignified bearing, in strength of hand, and
valour of heart? Who rides a nobler horse? Who has a firmer
seat? And who more lovely than his wife, or sister, or
daughter? But with respect to the Spanish aristocracy, the
ladies and gentlemen, the cavaliers and senoras, I believe the
less that is said of them on the points to which I have just
alluded the better. I confess, however, that I know little
about them; they have, perhaps, their admirers, and to the pens
of such I leave their panegyric. Le Sage has described them as
they were nearly two centuries ago. His description is
anything but captivating, and I do not think that they have
improved since the period of the sketches of the immortal
Frenchman. I would sooner talk of the lower class, not only of
Madrid but of all Spain. The Spaniard of the lower class has
much more interest for me, whether manolo, labourer, or
muleteer. He is not a common being; he is an extraordinary
man. He has not, it is true, the amiability and generosity of
the Russian mujik, who will give his only rouble rather than
the stranger shall want; nor his placid courage, which renders
him insensible to fear, and at the command of his Tsar, sends
him singing to certain death. * There is more hardness and less
self-devotion in the disposition of the Spaniard; he possesses,
however, a spirit of proud independence, which it is impossible
but to admire. He is ignorant, of course; but it is singular
that I have invariably found amongst the low and slightly
educated classes far more liberality of sentiment than amongst
the upper. It has long been the fashion to talk of the bigotry
of the Spaniards, and their mean jealousy of foreigners. This
is true to a certain extent: but it chiefly holds good with
respect to the upper classes. If foreign valour or talent has
never received its proper meed in Spain, the great body of the
Spaniards are certainly not in fault. I have heard Wellington
calumniated in this proud scene of his triumphs, but never by
the old soldiers of Aragon and the Asturias, who assisted to
vanquish the French at Salamanca and the Pyrenees. I have
heard the manner of riding of an English jockey criticized, but
it was by the idiotic heir of Medina Celi, and not by a picador
of the Madrilenian bull ring.
* At the last attack on Warsaw, when the loss of the
Russians amounted to upwards of twenty thousand men, the
soldiery mounted the breach, repeating in measured chant, one
of their popular songs: "Come, let us cut the cabbage," &c.
Apropos of bull-fighters:- Shortly after my arrival, I
one day entered a low tavern in a neighbourhood notorious for
robbery and murder, and in which for the last two hours I had
been wandering on a voyage of discovery. I was fatigued, and
required refreshment. I found the place thronged with people,
who had all the appearance of ruffians. I saluted them, upon
which they made way for me to the bar, taking off their
sombreros with great ceremony. I emptied a glass of val de
penas, and was about to pay for it and depart, when a horrible
looking fellow, dressed in a buff jerkin, leather breeches, and
jackboots, which came half way up his thighs, and having on his
head a white hat, the rims of which were at least a yard and a
half in circumference, pushed through the crowd, and
confronting me, roared:-
"Thank you, my good sir, you are very kind, you appear to
know me, but I have not the honour of knowing you."
"Not know me!" replied the being. "I am Sevilla, the
torero. I know you well; you are the friend of Baltasarito,
the national, who is a friend of mine, and a very good
Then turning to the company, he said in a sonorous tone,
laying a strong emphasis on the last syllable of every word,
according to the custom of the gente rufianesca throughout
"Cavaliers, and strong men, this cavalier is the friend
of a friend of mine. ES MUCHO HOMBRE. There is none like him
in Spain. He speaks the crabbed Gitano though he is an
"We do not believe it," replied several grave voices.
"It is not possible."
"It is not possible, say you? I tell you it is. Come
forward, Balseiro, you who have been in prison all your life,
and are always boasting that you can speak the crabbed Gitano,
though I say you know nothing of it - come forward and speak to
his worship in the crabbed Gitano."
A low, slight, but active figure stepped forward. He was
in his shirt sleeves, and wore a montero cap; his features were
handsome, but they were those of a demon.
He spoke a few words in the broken Gypsy slang of the
prison, inquiring of me whether I had ever been in the
condemned cell, and whether I knew what a Gitana * was?
* Twelve ounces of bread, small pound, as given in the
"Vamos Inglesito," shouted Sevilla in a voice of thunder;
"answer the monro in the crabbed Gitano."
I answered the robber, for such he was, and one, too,
whose name will live for many a year in the ruffian histories
of Madrid; I answered him in a speech of some length, in the
dialect of the Estremenian Gypsies.
"I believe it is the crabbed Gitano," muttered Balseiro.
"It is either that or English, for I understand not a word of
"Did I not say to you," cried the bull-fighter, "that you
knew nothing of the crabbed Gitano? But this Inglesito does.
I understood all he said. Vaya, there is none like him for the
crabbed Gitano. He is a good ginete, too; next to myself,
there is none like him, only he rides with stirrup leathers too
short. Inglesito, if you have need of money, I will lend you
my purse. All I have is at your service, and that is not a
little; I have just gained four thousand chules by the lottery.
Courage, Englishman! Another cup. I will pay all. I,
And he clapped his hand repeatedly on his breast,
reiterating "I, Sevilla! I - "
Intrigues at Court - Quesada and Galiano - Dissolution of the Cortes -
The Secretary - Aragonese Pertinacity - The Council of Trent -
The Asturian - The Three Thieves - Benedict Mol - The Men of Lucerne -
The Treasure
Mendizabal had told me to call upon him again at the end
of three months, giving me hopes that he would not then oppose
himself to the publication of the New Testament; before,
however, the three months had elapsed, he had fallen into
disgrace, and had ceased to be prime minister.
An intrigue had been formed against him, at the head of
which were two quondam friends of his, and fellow-townsmen,
Gaditanians, Isturitz and Alcala Galiano; both of them had been
egregious liberals in their day, and indeed principal members
of those cortes which, on the Angouleme invasion, had hurried
Ferdinand from Madrid to Cadiz, and kept him prisoner there
until that impregnable town thought proper to surrender, and
both of them had been subsequently refugees in England, where
they had spent a considerable number of years.
These gentlemen, however, finding themselves about this
time exceedingly poor, and not seeing any immediate prospect of
advantage from supporting Mendizabal; considering themselves,
moreover, quite as good men as he, and as capable of governing
Spain in the present emergency; determined to secede from the
party of their friend, whom they had hitherto supported, and to
set up for themselves.
They therefore formed an opposition to Mendizabal in the
cortes; the members of this opposition assumed the name of
moderados, in contra-distinction to Mendizabal and his
followers, who were ultra liberals. The moderados were
encouraged by the Queen Regent Christina, who aimed at a little
more power than the liberals were disposed to allow her, and
who had a personal dislike to the minister. They were likewise
encouraged by Cordova, who at that time commanded the army, and
was displeased with Mendizabal, inasmuch as the latter did not
supply the pecuniary demands of the general with sufficient
alacrity, though it is said that the greater part of what was
sent for the payment of the troops was not devoted to that
purpose, but, was invested in the French funds in the name and
for the use and behoof of the said Cordova.
It is, however, by no means my intention to write an
account of the political events which were passing around me at
this period; suffice it to say, that Mendizabal finding himself
thwarted in all his projects by the regent and the general, the
former of whom would adopt no measure which he recommended,
whilst the latter remained inactive and refused to engage the
enemy, which by this time had recovered from the check caused
by the death of Zumalacarregui, and was making considerable
progress, resigned and left the field for the time open to his
adversaries, though he possessed an immense majority in the
cortes, and had the voice of the nation, at least the liberal
part of it, in his favour.
Thereupon, Isturitz became head of the cabinet, Galiano
minister of marine, and a certain Duke of Rivas minister of the
interior. These were the heads of the moderado government, but
as they were by no means popular at Madrid, and feared the
nationals, they associated with themselves one who hated the
latter body and feared nothing, a man of the name of Quesada, a
very stupid individual, but a great fighter, who, at one period
of his life, had commanded a legion or body of men called the
Army of the Faith, whose exploits both on the French and
Spanish side of the Pyrenees are too well known to require
recapitulation. This person was made captain general of
By far the most clever member of this government was
Galiano, whose acquaintance I had formed shortly after my
arrival. He was a man of considerable literature, and
particularly well versed in that of his own country. He was,
moreover, a fluent, elegant, and forcible speaker, and was to
the moderado party within the cortes what Quesada was without,
namely, their horses and chariots. Why he was made minister of
marine is difficult to say, as Spain did not possess any;
perhaps, however, from his knowledge of the English language,
which he spoke and wrote nearly as well as his own tongue,
having indeed during his sojourn in England chiefly supported
himself by writing for reviews and journals, an honourable
occupation, but to which few foreign exiles in England would be
qualified to devote themselves.
He was a very small and irritable man, and a bitter enemy
to every person who stood in the way of his advancement. He
hated Mendizabal with undisguised rancour, and never spoke of
him but in terms of unmeasured contempt. "I am afraid that I
shall have some difficulty in inducing Mendizabal to give me
permission to print the Testament," said I to him one day.
"Mendizabal is a jackass," replied Galiano. "Caligula made his
horse consul, which I suppose induced Lord - to send over this
huge burro of the Stock Exchange to be our minister."
It would be very ungrateful on my part were I not to
confess my great obligations to Galiano, who assisted me to the
utmost of his power in the business which had brought me to
Spain. Shortly after the ministry was formed, I went to him
and said, "that now or never was the time to mike an effort in
my behalf." "I will do so," said he, in a waspish tone; for he
always spoke waspishly whether to friend or foe; "but you must
have patience for a few days, we are very much occupied at
present. We have been outvoted in the cortes, and this
afternoon we intend to dissolve them. It is believed that the
rascals will refuse to depart, but Quesada will stand at the
door ready to turn them out, should they prove refractory.
Come along, and you will perhaps see a funcion."
After an hour's debate, the cortes were dissolved without
it being necessary to call in the aid of the redoubtable
Quesada, and Galiano forthwith gave me a letter to his
colleague the Duke of Rivas, in whose department he told me was
vested the power either of giving or refusing the permission to
print the book in question. The duke was a very handsome young
man, of about thirty, an Andalusian by birth, like his two
colleagues. He had published several works, tragedies, I
believe, and enjoyed a certain kind of literary reputation. He
received me with the greatest affability; and having heard what
I had to say, he replied with a most captivating bow, and a
genuine Andalusian grimace: "Go to my secretary; go to my
secretary - EL HARA POR USTED EL GUSIO." So I went to the
secretary, whose name was Oliban, an Aragonese, who was not
handsome, and whose manners were neither elegant nor affable.
"You want permission to print the Testament?" "I do," said I.
"And you have come to His Excellency about it," continued
Oliban. "Very true," I replied. "I suppose you intend to
print it without notes." "Yes." "Then His Excellency cannot
give you permission," said the Aragonese secretary: "it was
determined by the Council of Trent that no part of the
Scripture should be printed in any Christian country without
the notes of the church." "How many years was that ago?" I
demanded. "I do not know how many years ago it was," said
Oliban; "but such was the decree of the Council of Trent." "Is
Spain at present governed according to the decrees of the
Council of Trent?" I inquired. "In some points she is,"
answered the Aragonese, "and this is one. But tell me who are
you? Are you known to the British minister?" "O yes, and he
takes a great interest in the matter." "Does he?" said Oliban;
"that indeed alters the case: if you can show me that His
Excellency takes in interest in this business, I certainly
shall not oppose myself to it."
The British minister performed all I could wish, and much
more than I could expect; he had an interview with the Duke of
Rivas, with whom he had much discourse upon my affair: the duke
was all smiles and courtesy. He moreover wrote a private
letter to the duke, which he advised me to present when I next
paid him a visit, and, to crown all, he wrote a letter directed
to myself, in which he did me the honour to say that he had a
regard for me, and that nothing would afford him greater
pleasure than to hear that I had obtained the permission which
I was seeking. So I went to the duke, and delivered the
letter. He was ten times more kind and affable than before: he
read the letter, smiled most sweetly, and then, as if seized
with sudden enthusiasm, he extended his arms in a manner almost
theatrical, exclaiming, "AL SECRETARIO, EL HARA POR USTED EL
GUSTO." Away I hurried to the secretary, who received me with
all the coolness of an icicle: I related to him the words of
his principal, and then put into his hand the letter of the
British minister to myself. The secretary read it very
deliberately, and then said that it was evident His Excellency
did take an interest in the matter. He then asked me my name,
and taking a sheet of paper, sat down as if for the purpose of
writing the permission. I was in ecstasy - all of a sudden,
however, he stopped, lifted up his head, seemed to consider a
moment, and then putting his pen behind his ear, he said,
"Amongst the decrees of the Council of Trent is one to the
effect" . . . .
"Oh dear!" said I.
"A singular person is this Oliban," said I to Galiano;
"you cannot imagine what trouble he gives me: he is continually
talking about the Council of Trent."
"I wish he was in the Trent up to the middle," said
Galiano, who, as I have observed already, spoke excellent
English; "I wish he was there for talking such nonsense.
However," said he, "we must not offend Oliban, he is one of us,
and has done us much service; he is, moreover, a very clever
man, but he is an Aragonese, and when one of that nation once
gets an idea into his head, it is the most difficult thing in
the world to dislodge it; however, we will go to him; he is an
old friend of mine, and I have no doubt but that we shall be
able to make him listen to reason." So the next day I called
upon Galiano, at his marine or admiralty office (what shall I
call it?), and from thence we proceeded to the bureau of the
interior, a magnificent edifice, which had formerly been the
casa of the Inquisition, where we had an interview with Oliban,
whom Galiano took aside to the window, and there held with him
a long conversation, which, as they spoke in whispers, and the
room was immensely large, I did not hear. At length Galiano
came to me and said, "There is some difficulty with respect to
this business of yours, but I have told Oliban that you are a
friend of mine, and he says that that is sufficient; remain
with him now, and he will do anything to oblige you; your
affair is settled - farewell"; whereupon he departed and I
remained with Oliban, who proceeded forthwith to write
something, which having concluded, he took out a box of cigars,
and having lighted one and offered me another, which I declined
as I do not smoke, he placed his feet against the table, and
thus proceeded to address me, speaking in the French language.
"It is with great pleasure that I see you in this
capital, and, I may say, upon this business. I consider it a
disgrace to Spain that there is no edition of the Gospel in
circulation, at least such a one as would be within the reach
of all classes of society, the highest or poorest; one
unencumbered with notes and commentaries, human devices,
swelling it to an unwieldy bulk. I have no doubt that such an
edition as you propose to print, would have a most beneficial
influence on the minds of the people, who, between ourselves,
know nothing of pure religion; how should they? seeing that the
Gospel has always been sedulously kept from them, just as if
civilization could exist where the light of the Gospel beameth
not. The moral regeneration of Spain depends upon the free
circulation of the Scriptures; to which alone England, your own
happy country, is indebted for its high state of civilization,
and the unmatched prosperity which it at present enjoys; all
this I admit, in fact, reason compels me to do so, but - "
"Now for it," thought I.
"But" - and then he began to talk once more of the
wearisome Council of Trent, and I found that his writing in the
paper, the offer of the cigar, and the long and prosy harangue
were - what shall I call it? - mere [Greek word which cannot be
By this time the spring was far advanced, the sides
though not the tops of the Guadarama hills had long since lost
their snows; the trees of the Prado had donned their full
foliage, and all the Campina in the neighbourhood of Madrid
smiled and was happy: the summer heats had not commenced, and
the weather was truly delicious.
Towards the west, at the foot of the hill on which stands
Madrid, is a canal running parallel with the Manzanares for
some leagues, from which it is separated by pleasant and
fertile meadows. The banks of this canal, which was begun by
Carlos Tercero, and has never been completed, are planted with
beautiful trees, and form the most delightful walk in the
neighbourhood of the capital. Here I would loiter for hours
looking at the shoals of gold and silver fish which basked on
the surface of the green sunny waters, or listening, not to the
warbling of birds - for Spain is not the land of feathered
choristers - but to the prattle of the narangero or man who
sold oranges and water by a little deserted watch tower just
opposite the wooden bridge that crosses the canal, which
situation he had chosen as favourable for his trade, and there
had placed his stall. He was an Asturian by birth, about fifty
years of age, and about five feet high. As I purchased freely
of his fruit, he soon conceived a great friendship for me, and
told me his history; it contained, however, nothing very
remarkable, the leading incident being an adventure which had
befallen him amidst the mountains of Granada, where, falling
into the hands of certain Gypsies, they stripped him naked, and
then dismissed him with a sound cudgelling. "I have wandered
throughout Spain," said he, "and I have come to the conclusion
that there are but two places worth living in, Malaga and
Madrid. At Malaga everything is very cheap, and there is such
an abundance of fish, that I have frequently seen them piled in
heaps on the sea-shore: and as for Madrid, money is always
stirring at the Corte, and I never go supperless to bed; my
only care is to sell my oranges, and my only hope that when I
die I shall be buried yonder."
And he pointed across the Manzanares, where, on the
declivity of a gentle hill, at about a league's distance, shone
brightly in the sunshine the white walls of the Campo Santo, or
common burying ground of Madrid.
He was a fellow of infinite drollery, and, though he
could scarcely read or write, by no means ignorant of the ways
of the world; his knowledge of individuals was curious and
extensive, few people passing his stall with whose names,
character, and history he was not acquainted. "Those two
gentry," said he, pointing to a magnificently dressed cavalier
and lady, who had dismounted from a carriage, and arm in arm
were coming across the wooden bridge, followed by two
attendants; "those gentry are the Infante Francisco Paulo, and
his wife the Neapolitana, sister of our Christina; he is a very
good subject, but as for his wife - vaya - the veriest scold in
Madrid; she can say carrajo with the most ill-conditioned
carrier of La Mancha, giving the true emphasis and genuine
pronunciation. Don't take off your hat to her, amigo - she has
neither formality nor politeness - I once saluted her, and she
took no more notice of me than if I had not been what I am, an
Asturian and a gentleman, of better blood than herself. Good
day, Senor Don Francisco. Que tal (HOW GOES IT)? very fine
weather this - VAYA SU MERCED CON DIOS. Those three fellows
who just stopped to drink water are great thieves, true sons of
the prison; I am always civil to them, for it would not do to
be on ill terms; they pay me or not, just as they think proper.
I have been in some trouble on their account: about a year ago
they robbed a man a little farther on beyond the second bridge.
By the way, I counsel you, brother, not to go there, as I
believe you often do - it is a dangerous place. They robbed a
gentleman and ill-treated him, but his brother, who was an
escribano, was soon upon their trail, and had them arrested;
but he wanted someone to identify them, and it chanced that
they had stopped to drink water at my stall, just as they did
now. This the escribano heard of, and forthwith had me away to
the prison to confront me with them. I knew them well enough,
but I had learnt in my travels when to close my eyes and when
to open them; so I told the escribano that I could not say that
I had ever seen them before. He was in a great rage and
threatened to imprison me; I told him he might and that I cared
not. Vaya, I was not going to expose myself to the resentment
of those three and to that of their friends; I live too near
the Hay Market for that. Good day, my young masters. - Murcian
oranges, as you see; the genuine dragon's blood. Water sweet
and cold. Those two boys are the children of Gabiria,
comptroller of the queen's household, and the richest man in
Madrid; they are nice boys, and buy much fruit. It is said
their father loves them more than all his possessions. The old
woman who is lying beneath yon tree is the Tia Lucilla; she has
committed murders, and as she owes me money, I hope one day to
see her executed. This man was of the Walloon guard; - Senor
Don Benito Mol, how do you do?"
This last named personage instantly engrossed my
attention; he was a bulky old man, somewhat above the middle
height, with white hair and ruddy features; his eyes were large
and blue, and whenever he fixed them on any one's countenance,
were full of an expression of great eagerness, as if he were
expecting the communication of some important tidings. He was
dressed commonly enough, in a jacket and trousers of coarse
cloth of a russet colour, on his head was an immense sombrero,
the brim of which had been much cut and mutilated, so as in
some places to resemble the jags or denticles of a saw. He
returned the salutation of the orange-man, and bowing to me,
forthwith produced two scented wash-balls which he offered for
sale in a rough dissonant jargon, intended for Spanish, but
which seemed more like the Valencian or Catalan.
Upon my asking him who he was, the following conversation
ensued between us:
"I am a Swiss of Lucerne, Benedict Mol by name, once a
soldier in the Walloon guard, and now a soap-boiler, at your
"You speak the language of Spain very imperfectly," said
I; "how long have you been in the country?"
"Forty-five years," replied Benedict; "but when the guard
was broken up, I went to Minorca, where I lost the Spanish
language without acquiring the Catalan."
"You have been a soldier of the king of Spain," said I;
"how did you like the service?"
"Not so well, but that I should have been glad to leave
it forty years ago; the pay was bad, and the treatment worse.
I will now speak Swiss to you, for, if I am not much mistaken,
you are a German man, and understand the speech of Lucerne; I
should soon have deserted from the service of Spain, as I did
from that of the Pope, whose soldier I was in my early youth
before I came here; but I had married a woman of Minorca, by
whom I had two children; it was this that detained me in those
parts so long; before, however, I left Minorca, my wife died,
and as for my children, one went east, the other west, and I
know not what became of them; I intend shortly to return to
Lucerne, and live there like a duke."
"Have you, then, realized a large capital in Spain?" said
I, glancing at his hat and the rest of his apparel.
"Not a cuart, not a cuart; these two wash-balls are all
that I possess."
"Perhaps you are the son of good parents, and have lands
and money in your own country wherewith to support yourself."
"Not a heller, not a heller; my father was hangman of
Lucerne, and when he died, his body was seized to pay his
"Then doubtless," said I, "you intend to ply your trade
of soap-boiling at Lucerne; you are quite right, my friend, I
know of no occupation more honourable or useful."
"I have no thoughts of plying my trade at Lucerne,"
replied Bennet; "and now, as I see you are a German man, Lieber
Herr, and as I like your countenance and your manner of
speaking, I will tell you in confidence that I know very little
of my trade, and have already been turned out of several
fabriques as an evil workman; the two wash-balls that I carry
in my pocket are not of my own making. IN KURTZEN, I know
little more of soap-boiling than I do of tailoring, horsefarriery,
or shoe-making, all of which I have practised."
"Then I know not how you can hope to live like a hertzog
in your native canton, unless you expect that the men of
Lucerne, in consideration of your services to the Pope and to
the king of Spain, will maintain you in splendour at the public
"Lieber Herr," said Benedict, "the men of Lucerne are by
no means fond of maintaining the soldiers of the Pope and the
king of Spain at their own expense; many of the guard who have
returned thither beg their bread in the streets, but when I go,
it shall be in a coach drawn by six mules, with a treasure, a
mighty schatz which lies in the church of Saint James of
Compostella, in Galicia."
"I hope you do not intend to rob the church," said I; "
if you do, however, I believe you will be disappointed.
Mendizabal and the liberals have been beforehand with you. I
am informed that at present no other treasure is to be found in
the cathedrals of Spain than a few paltry ornaments and plated
"My good German Herr," said Benedict, "it is no church
schatz, and no person living, save myself, knows of its
existence: nearly thirty years ago, amongst the sick soldiers
who were brought to Madrid, was one of my comrades of the
Walloon Guard, who had accompanied the French to Portugal; he
was very sick and shortly died. Before, however, he breathed
his last, he sent for me, and upon his deathbed told me that
himself and two other soldiers, both of whom had since been
killed, had buried in a certain church at Compostella a great
booty which they had made in Portugal: it consisted of gold
moidores and of a packet of huge diamonds from the Brazils; the
whole was contained in a large copper kettle. I listened with
greedy ears, and from that moment, I may say, I have known no
rest, neither by day nor night, thinking of the schatz. It is
very easy to find, for the dying man was so exact in his
description of the place where it lies, that were I once at
Compostella, I should have no difficulty in putting my hand
upon it; several times I have been on the point of setting out
on the journey, but something has always happened to stop me.
When my wife died, I left Minorca with a determination to go to
Saint James, but on reaching Madrid, I fell into the hands of a
Basque woman, who persuaded me to live with her, which I have
done for several years; she is a great hax, * and says that if
I desert her she will breathe a spell which shall cling to me
for ever. DEM GOT SEY DANK, - she is now in the hospital, and
daily expected to die. This is my history, Lieber Herr."
* Witch. Ger. Hexe.
I have been the more careful in relating the above
conversation, as I shall have frequent occasion to mention the
Swiss in the course of these journals; his subsequent
adventures were highly extraordinary, and the closing one
caused a great sensation in Spain.
State of Spain - Isturitz - Revolution of the Granja - The Disturbance -
Signs of Mischief - Newspaper Reporters - Quesada's Onslaught -
The Closing Scene - Flight of the Moderados - The Coffee Bowl.
In the meantime the affairs of the moderados did not
proceed in a very satisfactory manner; they were unpopular at
Madrid, and still more so in the other large towns of Spain, in
most of which juntas had been formed, which, taking the local
administration into their own hands, declared themselves
independent of the queen and her ministers, and refused to pay
taxes; so that the government was within a short time reduced
to great straits for money; the army was unpaid, and the war
languished; I mean on the part of the Christinos, for the
Carlists were pushing it on with considerable vigour; parties
of their guerillas scouring the country in all directions,
whilst a large division, under the celebrated Gomez, was making
the entire circuit of Spain. To crown the whole, an
insurrection was daily expected at Madrid, to prevent which the
nationals were disarmed, which measure tended greatly to
increase their hatred against the moderado government, and
especially against Quesada, with whom it was supposed to have
With respect to my own matters, I lost no opportunity of
pushing forward my application; the Aragonese secretary,
however, still harped upon the Council of Trent, and succeeded
in baffling all my efforts. He appeared to have inoculated his
principal with his own ideas upon the subject, for the duke,
when he beheld me at his levees, took no farther notice of me
than by a contemptuous glance; and once, when I stepped up for
the purpose of addressing him, disappeared through a side door,
and I never saw him again, for I was disgusted with the
treatment which I had received, and forebore paying any more
visits at the Casa de la Inquisicion. Poor Galiano still
proved himself my unshaken friend, but candidly informed me
that there was no hope of my succeeding in the above quarter.
"The duke," said he, "says that your request cannot be granted;
and the other day, when I myself mentioned it in the council,
began to talk of the decision of Trent, and spoke of yourself
as a plaguy pestilent fellow; whereupon I answered him with
some acrimony, and there ensued a bit of a function between us,
at which Isturitz laughed heartily. By the by," continued he,
"what need have you of a regular permission, which it does not
appear that any one has authority to grant. The best thing
that you can do under all circumstances is to commit the work
to the press, with an understanding that you shall not be
interfered with when you attempt to distribute it. I strongly
advise you to see Isturitz himself upon the matter. I will
prepare him for the interview, and will answer that he receives
you civilly."
In fact, a few days afterwards, I had an interview with
Isturitz at the palace, and for the sake of brevity I shall
content myself with saying that I found him perfectly well
disposed to favour my views. "I have lived long in England,"
said he; "the Bible is free there, and I see no reason why it
should not be free in Spain also. I am not prepared to say
that England is indebted for her prosperity to the knowledge
which all her children, more or less, possess of the sacred
writings; but of one thing I am sure, namely, that the Bible
has done no harm in that country, nor do I believe that it will
effect any in Spain; print it, therefore, by all means, and
circulate it as extensively as possible." I retired, highly
satisfied with my interview, having obtained, if not a written
permission to print the sacred volume, what, under all
circumstances, I considered as almost equivalent, an
understanding that my biblical pursuits would be tolerated in
Spain; and I had fervent hope that whatever was the fate of the
present ministry, no future one, particularly a liberal one,
would venture to interfere with me, more especially as the
English ambassador was my friend, and was privy to all the
steps I had taken throughout the whole affair.
Two or three things connected with the above interview
with Isturitz struck me as being highly remarkable. First of
all, the extreme facility with which I obtained admission to
the presence of the prime minister of Spain. I had not to
wait, or indeed to send in my name, but was introduced at once
by the door-keeper. Secondly, the air of loneliness which
pervaded the place, so unlike the bustle, noise, and activity
which I observed when I waited on Mendizabal. In this
instance, there were no eager candidates for an interview with
the great man; indeed, I did not behold a single individual,
with the exception of Isturitz and the official. But that
which made the most profound impression upon me, was the manner
of the minister himself, who, when I entered, sat upon a sofa,
with his arms folded, and his eyes directed to the ground.
When he spoke there was extreme depression in the tones of his
voice, his dark features wore an air of melancholy, and he
exhibited all the appearance of a person meditating to escape
from the miseries of this life by the most desperate of all
acts - suicide.
And a few days showed that he had, indeed, cause for much
melancholy meditation: in less than a week occurred the
revolution of the Granja, as it is called. The Granja, or
Grange, is a royal country seat, situated amongst pine forests,
on the other side of the Guadarama hills, about twelve leagues
distant from Madrid. To this place the queen regent Christina
had retired, in order to be aloof from the discontent of the
capital, and to enjoy rural air and amusements in this
celebrated retreat, a monument of the taste and magnificence of
the first Bourbon who ascended the throne of Spain. She was
not, however, permitted to remain long in tranquillity; her own
guards were disaffected, and more inclined to the principles of
the constitution of 1823 than to those of absolute monarchy,
which the moderados were attempting to revive again in the
government of Spain. Early one morning, a party of these
soldiers, headed by a certain Sergeant Garcia, entered her
apartment, and proposed that she should subscribe her hand to
this constitution, and swear solemnly to abide by it.
Christina, however, who was a woman of considerable spirit,
refused to comply with this proposal, and ordered them to
withdraw. A scene of violence and tumult ensued, but the
regent still continuing firm, the soldiers at length led her
down to one of the courts of the palace, where stood her wellknown
paramour, Munos, bound and blindfolded. "Swear to the
constitution, you she-rogue," vociferated the swarthy sergeant.
"Never!" said the spirited daughter of the Neapolitan Bourbons.
"Then your cortejo shall die!" replied the sergeant. "Ho! ho!
my lads; get ready your arms, and send four bullets through the
fellow's brain." Munos was forthwith led to the wall, and
compelled to kneel down, the soldiers levelled their muskets
and another moment would have consigned the unfortunate wight
to eternity, when Christina, forgetting everything but the
feelings of her woman's heart, suddenly started forward with a
shriek, exclaiming: "Hold, hold! I sign, I sign!"
The day after this event I entered the Puerta del Sol at
about noon. There is always a crowd there about this hour, but
it is generally a very quiet motionless crowd, consisting of
listless idlers calmly smoking their cigars, or listening to or
retailing the - in general - very dull news of the capital; but
on the day of which I am speaking the mass was no longer inert.
There was much gesticulation and vociferation, and several
people were running about shouting, "VIVA LA CONSTITUCION!" - a
cry which, a few days previously, would have been visited on
the utterer with death, the city having for some weeks past
been subjected to the rigour of martial law. I occasionally
heard the words, "LA GRANJA! LA GRANJA!" Which words were
sure to be succeeded by the shout of "VIVA LA CONSTITUCION!"
Opposite the Casa de Postas were drawn up in a line about a
dozen mounted dragoons, some of whom were continually waving
their caps in the air and joining the common cry, in which they
were encouraged by their commander, a handsome young officer,
who flourished his sword, and more than once cried out with
great glee, "Long live the constitutional queen! Long live the
The crowd was rapidly increasing, and several nationals
made their appearance in their uniforms, but without their
arms, of which they had been deprived, as I have already
stated. "What has become of the moderado government?" said I
to Baltasar, whom I suddenly observed amongst the crowd,
dressed as when I had first seen him, in his old regimental
great coat and foraging cap; "have the ministers been deposed
and others put in their place?"
"Not yet, Don Jorge," said the little soldier-tailor;
"not yet; the scoundrels still hold out, relying on the brute
bull Quesada and a few infantry, who still continue true to
them; but there is no fear, Don Jorge; the queen is ours,
thanks to the courage of my friend Garcia, and if the brute
bull should make his appearance - ho! ho! Don Jorge, you shall
see something - I am prepared for him, ho! ho!" and thereupon
he half opened his great coat, and showed me a small gun, which
he bore beneath it in a sling, and then moving away with a wink
and a nod, disappeared amongst the crowd.
Presently I perceived a small body of soldiers advancing
up the Calle Mayor, or principal street which runs from the
Puerta del Sol in the direction of the palace; they might be
about twenty in number, and an officer marched at their head
with a drawn sword; the men appeared to have been collected in
a hurry, many of them being in fatigue dress, with foraging
caps on their heads. On they came, slowly marching; neither
their officer nor themselves paying the slightest attention to
the cries of the crowd which thronged about them, shouting
"Long live the constitution!" save and except by an occasional
surly side glance: on they marched with contracted brows and
set teeth, till they came in front of the cavalry, where they
halted and drew up in a rank.
"Those men mean mischief," said I to my friend D-, of the
MORNING CHRONICLE, who at this moment joined me; "and depend
upon it, that if they are ordered they will commence firing,
caring nothing whom they hit, - but what can those cavalry
fellows behind them mean, who are evidently of the other
opinion by their shouting, why don't they charge at once this
handful of foot people and overturn them? Once down, the crowd
would wrest from them their muskets in a moment. You are a
liberal, which I am not; why do you not go to that silly young
man who commands the horse and give him a word of counsel in
D - turned upon me his broad red good-humoured English
countenance, with a peculiarly arch look, as much as to say -
(whatever you think most applicable, gentle reader), then
taking me by the arm, "Let us get," said he, "out of this crowd
and mount to some window, where I can write down what is about
to take place, for I agree with you that mischief is meant."
Just opposite the post office was a large house, in the topmost
story of which we beheld a paper displayed, importing that
apartments were to let; whereupon we instantly ascended the
common stair, and having agreed with the mistress of the etage
for the use of the front room for the day, we bolted the door,
and the reporter, producing his pocket-book and pencil,
prepared to take notes of the coming events, which were already
casting their shadow before.
What most extraordinary men are these reporters of
newspapers in general, I mean English newspapers; surely if
there be any class of individuals who are entitled to the
appellation of cosmopolites, it is these; who pursue their
avocation in all countries indifferently, and accommodate
themselves at will to the manners of all classes of society:
their fluency of style as writers is only surpassed by their
facility of language in conversation, and their attainments in
classical and polite literature only by their profound
knowledge of the world, acquired by an early introduction into
its bustling scenes. The activity, energy, and courage which
they occasionally display in the pursuit of information are
truly remarkable. I saw them during the three days at Paris,
mingled with canaille and gamins behind the barriers, whilst
the mitraille was flying in all directions, and the desperate
cuirassiers were dashing their fierce horses against these
seemingly feeble bulwarks. There stood they, dotting down
their observations in their pocket-books as unconcernedly as if
reporting the proceedings of a reform meeting in Covent Garden
or Finsbury Square; whilst in Spain, several of them
accompanied the Carlist and Christino guerillas in some of
their most desperate raids and expeditions, exposing themselves
to the danger of hostile bullets, the inclemency of winter, and
the fierce heat of the summer sun.
We had scarcely been five minutes at the window, when we
suddenly heard the clattering of horses' feet hastening down
the street called the Calle de Carretas. The house in which we
had stationed ourselves was, as I have already observed, just
opposite to the post office, at the left of which this street
debouches from the north into the Puerta del Sol: as the sounds
became louder and louder, the cries of the crowd below
diminished, and a species of panic seemed to have fallen upon
all: once or twice, however, I could distinguish the words
Quesada! Quesada! The foot soldiers stood calm and motionless,
but I observed that the cavalry, with the young officer who
commanded them, displayed both confusion and fear, exchanging
with each other some hurried words; all of a sudden that part
of the crowd which stood near the mouth of the Calle de
Carretas fell back in great disorder, leaving a considerable
space unoccupied, and the next moment Quesada, in complete
general's uniform, and mounted on a bright bay thorough bred
English horse, with a drawn sword in his hand, dashed at full
gallop into the area, in much the same manner as I have seen a
Manchegan bull rush into the amphitheatre when the gates of his
pen are suddenly flung open.
He was closely followed by two mounted officers, and at a
short distance by as many dragoons. In almost less time than
is sufficient to relate it, several individuals in the crowd
were knocked down and lay sprawling upon the ground, beneath
the horses of Quesada and his two friends, for as to the
dragoons, they halted as soon as they had entered the Puerta
del Sol. It was a fine sight to see three men, by dint of
valour and good horsemanship, strike terror into at least as
many thousands: I saw Quesada spur his horse repeatedly into
the dense masses of the crowd, and then extricate himself in
the most masterly manner. The rabble were completely awed and
gave way, retiring by the Calle del Comercio and the street of
Alcala. All at once, Quesada singled out two nationals, who
were attempting to escape, and setting spurs to his horse,
turned them in a moment, and drove them in another direction,
striking them in a contemptuous manner with the flat of his
sabre. He was crying out, "Long live the absolute queen!"
when, just beneath me, amidst a portion of the crowd which had
still maintained its ground, perhaps from not having the means
of escaping, I saw a small gun glitter for a moment, then there
was a sharp report, and a bullet had nearly sent Quesada to his
long account, passing so near to the countenance of the general
as to graze his hat. I had an indistinct view for a moment of
a well-known foraging cap just about the spot from whence the
gun had been discharged, then there was a rush of the crowd,
and the shooter, whoever he was, escaped discovery amidst the
confusion which arose.
As for Quesada, he seemed to treat the danger from which
he had escaped with the utmost contempt. He glared about him
fiercely for a moment, then leaving the two nationals, who
sneaked away like whipped hounds, he went up to the young
officer who commanded the cavalry, and who had been active in
raising the cry of the constitution, and to him he addressed a
few words with an air of stern menace; the youth evidently
quailed before him, and probably in obedience to his orders,
resigned the command of the party, and rode slowly away with a
discomfited air; whereupon Quesada dismounted and walked slowly
backwards and forwards before the Casa de Postas with a mien
which seemed to bid defiance to mankind.
This was the glorious day of Quesada's existence, his
glorious and last day. I call it the day of his glory, for he
certainly never before appeared under such brilliant
circumstances, and he never lived to see another sun set. No
action of any conqueror or hero on record is to be compared
with this closing scene of the life of Quesada, for who, by his
single desperate courage and impetuosity, ever before stopped a
revolution in full course? Quesada did: he stopped the
revolution at Madrid for one entire day, and brought back the
uproarious and hostile mob of a huge city to perfect order and
quiet. His burst into the Puerta del Sol was the most
tremendous and successful piece of daring ever witnessed. I
admired so much the spirit of the "brute bull" that I
frequently, during his wild onset, shouted "Viva Quesada!" for
I wished him well. Not that I am of any political party or
system. No, no! I have lived too long with Rommany Chals and
Petulengres * to be of any politics save Gypsy politics; and it
is well known that, during elections, the children of Roma side
with both parties so long as the event is doubtful, promising
success to each; and then when the fight is done, and the
battle won, invariably range themselves in the ranks of the
victorious. But I repeat that I wished well to Quesada,
witnessing, as I did, his stout heart and good horsemanship.
Tranquillity was restored to Madrid throughout the remainder of
the day; the handful of infantry bivouacked in the Puerta del
Sol. No more cries of long live the constitution were heard;
and the revolution in the capital seemed to have been
effectually put down. It is probable, indeed, that had the
chiefs of the moderado party but continued true to themselves
for forty-eight hours longer, their cause would have triumphed,
and the revolutionary soldiers at the Granja would have been
glad to restore the Queen Regent to liberty, and to have come
to terms, as it was well known that several regiments, who
still continued loyal, were marching upon Madrid. The
moderados, however, were not true to themselves; that very
night their hearts failed them, and they fled in various
directions. Isturitz and Galiano to France; and the Duke of
Rivas to Gibraltar: the panic of his colleagues even infected
Quesada, who, disguised as a civilian, took to flight. He was
not, however, so successful as the rest, but was recognised at
a village about three leagues from Madrid, and cast into prison
by some friends of the constitution. Intelligence of his
capture was instantly transmitted to the capital, and a vast
mob of the nationals, some on foot, some on horseback, and
others in cabriolets, instantly set out. "The nationals are
coming," said a paisano to Quesada. "Then," said he, "I am
lost," and forthwith prepared himself for death.
* A compound of the modern Greek [Greek word which cannot
be reproduced], and the Sanskrit KARA, the literal meaning
being LORD of the horse-shoe (i.e. MAKER); it is one of the
private cognominations of "The Smiths," an English Gypsy clan.
There is a celebrated coffee-house in the Calle d'Alcala
at Madrid, capable of holding several hundred individuals. On
the evening of the day in question, I was seated there, sipping
a cup of the brown beverage, when I heard a prodigious noise
and clamour in the street; it proceeded from the nationals, who
were returning from their expedition. In a few minutes I saw a
body of them enter the coffee-house marching arm in arm, two by
two, stamping on the ground with their feet in a kind of
measure, and repeating in loud chorus as they walked round the
spacious apartment, the following grisly stanza:-
"Que es lo que abaja
Por aquel cerro?
Ta ra ra ra ra.
Son los huesos de Quesada,
Que los trae un perro -
Ta ra ra ra ra." *
* Of these lines the following translation, in the style
of the old English ballad, will, perhaps, not be unacceptable:-
"What down the hill comes hurrying there? -
With a hey, with a ho, a sword, and a gun!
Quesada's bones, which a hound doth bear. -
Hurrah, brave brothers! - the work is done."
A huge bowl of coffee was then called for, which was
placed upon a table, around which gathered the national
soldiers: there was silence for a moment, which was interrupted
by a voice roaring out, "EL PANUELO!" A blue kerchief was
forthwith produced, which appeared to contain a substance of
some kind; it was untied, and a gory hand and three or four
dissevered fingers made their appearance, and with these the
contents of the bowl were stirred up. "Cups! cups!" cried the
"Ho, ho, Don Jorge," cried Baltasarito, coming up to me
with a cup of coffee, "pray do me the favour to drink upon this
glorious occasion. This is a pleasant day for Spain, and for
the gallant nationals of Madrid. I have seen many a bull
funcion, but none which has given me so much pleasure as this.
Yesterday the brute had it all his own way, but to-day the
toreros have prevailed, as you see, Don Jorge. Pray drink; for
I must now run home to fetch my pajandi to play my brethren a
tune, and sing a copla. What shall it be? Something in
"Una noche sinava en tucue."
You shake your head, Don Jorge. Ha, ha; I am young, and
youth is the time for pleasure; well, well, out of compliment
to you, who are an Englishman and a monro, it shall not be
that, but something liberal, something patriotic, the Hymn of
Riego - Hasta despues, Don Jorge!"
The Steamer - Cape Finisterre - The Storm - Arrival at Cadiz -
The New Testament - Seville - Italica - The Amphitheatre -
The Prisoners - The Encounter - Baron Taylor - The Street and Desert.
At the commencement of November, I again found myself on
the salt water, on my way to Spain. I had returned to England
shortly after the events which have been narrated in the last
chapter, for the purpose of consulting with my friends, and for
planning the opening of a biblical campaign in Spain. It was
now determined by us to print the New Testament, with as little
delay as possible, at Madrid; and I was to be entrusted with
the somewhat arduous task of its distribution. My stay in
England was very short, for time was precious, and I was eager
to return to the field of action.
I embarked in the Thames, on board the M- steamer. We
had a most unpleasant passage to Falmouth; the ship was crowded
with passengers, most of them poor consumptive individuals, and
other invalids fleeing from the cold blasts of England's winter
to the sunny shores of Portugal and Madeira. In a more
uncomfortable vessel, especially steam ship, it has never been
my fate to make a voyage. The berths were small and
insupportably close, and of these wretched holes mine was
amongst the worst, the rest having been bespoken before I
arrived on board; so that to avoid the suffocation which seemed
to threaten me should I enter it, I lay upon the floor of one
of the cabins throughout the voyage. We remained at Falmouth
twenty-four hours, taking in coal, and repairing the engine,
which had sustained considerable damage.
On Monday, the seventh, we again started, and made for
the Bay of Biscay. The sea was high and the wind strong and
contrary; nevertheless, on the morning of the fourth day, we
were in sight of the rocky coast to the north of Cape
Finisterre. I must here observe, that this was the first
voyage that the captain who commanded the vessel had ever made
on board of her, and that he knew little or nothing of the
coast towards which we were bearing. He was a person picked up
in a hurry, the former captain having resigned his command on
the ground that the ship was not seaworthy, and that the
engines were frequently unserviceable. I was not acquainted
with these circumstances at the time, or perhaps I should have
felt more alarmed than I did, when I saw the vessel approaching
nearer and nearer the shore, till at last we were only a few
hundred yards distant. As it was, however, I felt very much
surprised; for having passed it twice before, both times in
steam vessels, and having seen with what care the captains
endeavoured to maintain a wide offing, I could not conceive the
reason of our being now so near this dangerous region. The
wind was blowing hard towards the shore, if that can be called
a shore which consists of steep abrupt precipices, on which the
surf was breaking with the noise of thunder, tossing up clouds
of spray and foam to the height of a cathedral. We coasted
slowly along, rounding several tall forelands, some of them
piled up by the hand of nature in the most fantastic shapes.
About nightfall Cape Finisterre was not far ahead, - a bluff,
brown, granite mountain, whose frowning head may be seen far
away by those who traverse the ocean. The stream which poured
round its breast was terrific, and though our engines plied
with all their force, we made little or no way.
By about eight o'clock at night the wind had increased to
a hurricane, the thunder rolled frightfully, and the only light
which we had to guide us on our way was the red forked
lightning, which burst at times from the bosom of the big black
clouds which lowered over our heads. We were exerting
ourselves to the utmost to weather the cape, which we could
descry by the lightning on our lee, its brow being frequently
brilliantly lighted up by the flashes which quivered around it,
when suddenly, with a great crash, the engine broke, and the
paddles, on which depended our lives, ceased to play.
I will not attempt to depict the scene of horror and
confusion which ensued; it may be imagined, but never
described. The captain, to give him his due, displayed the
utmost coolness and intrepidity; he and the whole crew made the
greatest exertions to repair the engine, and when they found
their labour in vain, endeavoured, by hoisting the sails, and
by practising all possible manoeuvres, to preserve the ship
from impending destruction; but all was of no avail, we were
hard on a lee shore, to which the howling tempest was impelling
us. About this time I was standing near the helm, and I asked
the steersman if there was any hope of saving the vessel, or
our lives. He replied, "Sir, it is a bad affair, no boat could
live for a minute in this sea, and in less than an hour the
ship will have her broadside on Finisterre, where the strongest
man-of-war ever built must go to shivers instantly - none of us
will see the morning." The captain, likewise, informed the
other passengers in the cabin to the same effect, telling them
to prepare themselves; and having done so, he ordered the door
to be fastened, and none to be permitted to come on deck. I,
however, kept my station, though almost drowned with water,
immense waves continually breaking over our windward side and
flooding the ship. The water casks broke from their lashings,
and one of them struck me down, and crushed the foot of the
unfortunate man at the helm, whose place was instantly taken by
the captain. We were now close to the rocks, when a horrid
convulsion of the elements took place. The lightning enveloped
us as with a mantle, the thunders were louder than the roar of
a million cannon, the dregs of the ocean seemed to be cast up,
and in the midst of all this turmoil, the wind, without the
slightest intimation, VEERED RIGHT ABOUT, and pushed us from
the horrible coast faster than it had previously driven us
towards it.
The oldest sailors on board acknowledged that they had
never witnessed so providential an escape. I said, from the
bottom of my heart, "Our Father - hallowed be thy name."
The next day we were near foundering, for the sea was
exceedingly high, and our vessel, which was not intended for
sailing, laboured terribly, and leaked much. The pumps were
continually working. She likewise took fire, but the flames
were extinguished. In the evening the steam-engine was
partially repaired, and we reached Lisbon on the thirteenth,
where in a few days we completed our repairs.
I found my excellent friend W- in good health. During my
absence he had been doing everything in his power to further
the sale of the sacred volume in Portuguese: his zeal and
devotedness were quite admirable. The distracted state of the
country, however, during the last six months, had sadly impeded
his efforts. The minds of the people had been so engrossed
with politics, that they found scarcely any time to think of
the welfare of their souls. The political history of Portugal
had of late afforded a striking parallel to that of the
neighbouring country. In both a struggle for supremacy had
arisen between the court and the democratic party; in both the
latter had triumphed, whilst two distinguished individuals had
fallen a sacrifice to the popular fury - Freire in Portugal,
and Quesada in Spain. The news which reached me at Lisbon from
the latter country was rather startling. The hordes of Gomez
were ravaging Andalusia, which I was about to visit on my way
to Madrid; Cordova had been sacked and abandoned after a three
days' occupation by the Carlists. I was told that if I
persisted in my attempt to enter Spain in the direction which I
proposed, I should probably fall into their hands at Seville.
I had, however, no fears, and had full confidence that the Lord
would open the path before me to Madrid.
The vessel being repaired, we again embarked, and in two
days arrived in safety at Cadiz. I found great confusion
reigning there; numerous bands of the factious were reported to
be hovering in the neighbourhood. An attack was not deemed
improbable, and the place had just been declared in a state of
siege. I took up my abode at the French hotel in the Calle de
la Niveria, and was allotted a species of cockloft, or garret,
to sleep in, for the house was filled with guests, being a
place of much resort, on account of the excellent table d'hote
which is kept there. I dressed myself and walked about the
town. I entered several coffee-houses: the din of tongues in
all was deafening. In one no less than six orators were
haranguing at the same time on the state of the country, and
the probability of an intervention on the part of England and
France. As I was listening to one of them, he suddenly called
upon me for my opinion, as I was a foreigner, and seemingly
just arrived. I replied that I could not venture to guess what
steps the two governments would pursue under the present
circumstances, but thought that it would be as well if the
Spaniards would exert themselves more and call less on Jupiter.
As I did not wish to engage in any political conversation, I
instantly quitted the house, and sought those parts of the town
where the lower classes principally reside.
I entered into discourse with several individuals, but
found them very ignorant; none could read or write, and their
ideas respecting religion were anything but satisfactory, -
most professing a perfect indifference. I afterwards went into
a bookseller's shop and made inquiries respecting the demand
for literature, which, he informed me, was small. I produced a
London edition of the New Testament in Spanish, and asked the
bookseller whether he thought a book of that description would
sell in Cadiz. He said that both the type and paper were
exceedingly beautiful, but that it was a work not sought after,
and very little known. I did not pursue my inquiries in other
shops, for I reflected that I was not likely to receive a very
favourable opinion from booksellers respecting a publication in
which they had no interest. I had, moreover, but two or three
copies of the New Testament with me, and could not have
supplied them had they even given me an order.
Early on the twenty-fourth, I embarked for Seville in the
small Spanish steamer the BETIS: the morning was wet, and the
aspect of nature was enveloped in a dense mist, which prevented
my observing surrounding objects. After proceeding about six
leagues, we reached the north-eastern extremity of the Bay of
Cadiz, and passed by Saint Lucar, an ancient town near to the
spot where the Guadalquivir disembogues itself. The mist
suddenly disappeared, and the sun of Spain burst forth in full
brilliancy, enlivening all around, and particularly myself, who
had till then been lying on the deck in a dull melancholy
stupor. We entered the mouth of "The Great River," for that is
the English translation of Oued al Kiber, as the Moors
designated the ancient Betis. We came to anchor for a few
minutes at a little village called Bonanca, at the extremity of
the first reach of the river, where we received several
passengers, and again proceeded. There is not much in the
appearance of the Guadalquivir to interest the traveller: the
banks are low and destitute of trees, the adjacent country is
flat, and only in the distance is seen a range of tall blue
sierras. The water is turbid and muddy, and in colour closely
resembling the contents of a duck-pool; the average width of
the stream is from a hundred and fifty to two hundred yards,
but it is impossible to move along this river without
remembering that it has borne the Roman, the Vandal, and the
Arab, and has been the witness of deeds which have resounded
through the world and been the themes of immortal songs. I
repeated Latin verses and fragments of old Spanish ballads till
we reached Seville, at about nine o'clock of a lovely moonlight
Seville contains ninety thousand inhabitants, and is
situated on the eastern bank of the Guadalquivir, about
eighteen leagues from its mouth; it is surrounded with high
Moorish walls, in a good state of preservation, and built of
such durable materials that it is probable they will for many
centuries still bid defiance to the encroachments of time. The
most remarkable edifices are the cathedral and Alcazar, or
palace of the Moorish kings; the tower of the former, called La
Giralda, belongs to the period of the Moors, and formed part of
the grand mosque of Seville: it is computed to be one hundred
ells in height, and is ascended not by stairs or ladders but by
a vaulted pathway, in the manner of an inclined plane: this
path is by no means steep, so that a cavalier might ride up to
the top, a feat which Ferdinand the Seventh is said to have
accomplished. The view from the summit is very extensive, and
on a fine clear day the mountain ridge, called the Sierra de
Ronda, may be discovered, though upwards of twenty leagues
distant. The cathedral itself is a noble Gothic structure,
reputed the finest of the kind in Spain. In the chapels
allotted to the various saints are some of the most magnificent
paintings which Spanish art has produced; indeed the Cathedral
of Seville is at the present time far more rich in splendid
paintings than at any former period; possessing many very
recently removed from some of the suppressed convents,
particularly from the Capuchin and San Francisco.
No one should visit Seville without paying particular
attention to the Alcazar, that splendid specimen of Moorish
architecture. It contains many magnificent halls, particularly
that of the ambassadors, so called, which is in every respect
more magnificent than the one of the same name within the
Alhambra of Granada. This palace was a favourite residence of
Peter the Cruel, who carefully repaired it without altering its
Moorish character and appearance. It probably remains in much
the same state as at the time of his death.
On the right side of the river is a large suburb, called
Triana, communicating with Seville by means of a bridge of
boats; for there is no permanent bridge across the
Guadalquivir, owing to the violent inundations to which it is
subject. This suburb is inhabited by the dregs of the
populace, and abounds with Gitanos or Gypsies. About a league
and a half to the north-west stands the village of Santo Ponce:
at the foot and on the side of some elevated ground higher up
are to be seen vestiges of ruined walls and edifices, which
once formed part of Italica, the birth-place of Silius Italicus
and Trajan, from which latter personage Triana derives its
One fine morning I walked thither, and having ascended
the hill, I directed my course northward. I soon reached what
had once been bagnios, and a little farther on, in a kind of
valley between two gentle declivities, the amphitheatre. This
latter object is by far the most considerable relic of ancient
Italica; it is oval in its form, with two gateways fronting the
east and west.
On all sides are to be seen the time-worn broken granite
benches, from whence myriads of human beings once gazed down on
the area below, where the gladiator shouted, and the lion and
the leopard yelled: all around, beneath these flights of
benches, are vaulted excavations from whence the combatants,
part human part bestial, darted forth by their several doors. I
spent many hours in this singular place, forcing my way through
the wild fennel and brushwood into the caverns, now the haunts
of adders and other reptiles, whose hissings I heard. Having
sated my curiosity, I left the ruins, and returning by another
way, reached a place where lay the carcass of a horse half
devoured; upon it, with lustrous eyes, stood an enormous
vulture, who, as I approached, slowly soared aloft till he
alighted on the eastern gate of the amphitheatre, from whence
he uttered a hoarse cry, as if in anger that I had disturbed
him from his feast of carrion.
Gomez had not hitherto paid a visit to Seville: when I
arrived he was said to be in the neighbourhood of Ronda. The
city was under watch and ward: several gates had been blocked
up with masonry, trenches dug, and redoubts erected, but I am
convinced that the place would not have held out six hours
against a resolute attack. Gomez had proved himself to be a
most extraordinary man, and with his small army of Aragonese
and Basques had, within the last four months, made the tour of
Spain. He had very frequently been hemmed in by forces three
times the number of his own, in places whence escape appeared
impossible, but he had always battled his enemies, whom he
seemed to laugh at. The most absurd accounts of victories
gained over him were continually issuing from the press at
Seville; amongst others, it was stated that his army had been
utterly defeated, himself killed, and that twelve hundred
prisoners were on their way to Saville. I saw these prisoners:
instead of twelve hundred desperadoes, they consisted of about
twenty poor lame ragged wretches, many of them boys from
fourteen to sixteen years of age. They were evidently camp
followers, who, unable to keep up with the army, had been
picked up straggling in the plains and amongst the hills.
It subsequently appeared that no battle had occurred, and
that the death of Gomez was a fiction. The grand defect of
Gomez consisted in not knowing how to take advantage of
circumstances: after defeating Lopez, he might have marched to
Madrid and proclaimed Don Carlos there, and after sacking
Cordova he might have captured Seville.
There were several booksellers' shops at Seville, in two
of which I found copies of the New Testament in Spanish, which
had been obtained from Gibraltar about two years before, since
which time six copies had been sold in one shop and four in the
other. The person who generally accompanied me in my walks
about the town and the neighbourhood, was an elderly Genoese,
who officiated as a kind of valet de place in the Posada del
Turco, where I had taken up my residence. On learning from me
that it was my intention to bring out an edition of the New
Testament at Madrid, he observed that copies of the work might
be extensively circulated in Andalusia. "I have been
accustomed to bookselling," he continued, "and at one time
possessed a small shop of my own in this place. Once having
occasion to go to Gibraltar, I procured several copies of the
Scriptures; some, it is true, were seized by the officers of
the customs, but the rest I sold at a high price, and with
considerable profit to myself."
I had returned from a walk in the country, on a glorious
sunshiny morning of the Andalusian winter, and was directing my
steps towards my lodging: as I was passing by the portal of a
large gloomy house near the gate of Xeres, two individuals
dressed in zamarras emerged from the archway, and were about to
cross my path, when one, looking in my face, suddenly started
back, exclaiming in the purest and most melodious French: "What
do I see? If my eyes do not deceive me - it is himself. Yes,
the very same as I saw him first at Bayonne; then long
subsequently beneath the brick wall at Novogorod; then beside
the Bosphorus; and last at - at - Oh, my respectable and
cherished friend, where was it that I had last the felicity of
seeing your well-remembered and most remarkable physiognomy?"
MYSELF. - It was in the south of Ireland, if I mistake
not. Was it not there that I introduced you to the sorcerer
who tamed the savage horses by a single whisper into their ear?
But tell me what brings you to Spain and Andalusia, the last
place where I should have expected to find you?
BARON TAYLOR. - And wherefore, my most respectable B-?
Is not Spain the land of the arts; and is not Andalusia of all
Spain that portion which has produced the noblest monuments of
artistic excellence and inspiration? Surely you know enough of
me to be aware that the arts are my passion; that I am
incapable of imagining a more exalted enjoyment than to gaze in
adoration on a noble picture. O come with me! for you too have
a soul capable of appreciating what is lovely and exalted; a
soul delicate and sensitive. Come with me, and I will show you
a Murillo, such as -. But first allow me to introduce you to
your compatriot. My dear Monsieur W., turning to his companion
(an English gentleman from whom and from his family I
subsequently experienced unbounded kindness and hospitality on
various occasions, and at different periods at Seville), allow
me to introduce to you my most cherished and respectable
friend, one who is better acquainted with Gypsy ways than the
Chef des Bohemiens a Triana, one who is an expert whisperer and
horse-sorcerer, and who, to his honour I say it, can wield
hammer and tongs, and handle a horse-shoe with the best of the
smiths amongst the Alpujarras of Granada.
In the course of my travels I have formed various
friendships and acquaintances, but no one has more interested
me than Baron Taylor, and there is no one for whom I entertain
a greater esteem and regard. To personal and mental
accomplishments of the highest order he unites a kindness of
heart rarely to be met with, and which is continually inducing
him to seek for opportunities of doing good to his fellow
creatures, and of contributing to their happiness; perhaps no
person in existence has seen more of the world and life in its
various phases than himself. His manners are naturally to the
highest degree courtly, yet he nevertheless possesses a
disposition so pliable that he finds no difficulty in
accommodating himself to all kinds of company, in consequence
of which he is a universal favourite. There is a mystery about
him, which, wherever he goes, serves not a little to increase
the sensation naturally created by his appearance and manner.
Who he is, no one pretends to assert with downright
positiveness: it is whispered, however, that he is a scion of
royalty; and who can gaze for a moment upon that most graceful
figure, that most intelligent but singularly moulded
countenance, and those large and expressive eyes, without
feeling as equally convinced that he is of no common lineage,
as that he is no common man. Though possessed of talents and
eloquence which would speedily have enabled him to attain to an
illustrious position in the state, he has hitherto, and perhaps
wisely, contented himself with comparative obscurity, chiefly
devoting himself to the study of the arts and of literature, of
both of which he is a most bounteous patron.
He has, notwithstanding, been employed by the illustrious
house to which he is said to be related in more than one
delicate and important mission, both in the East and the West,
in which his efforts have uniformly been crowned with complete
success. He was now collecting masterpieces of the Spanish
school of painting, which were destined to adorn the saloons of
the Tuileries.
He has visited most portions of the earth, and it is
remarkable enough that we are continually encountering each
other in strange places and under singular circumstances.
Whenever he descries me, whether in the street or the desert,
the brilliant hall or amongst Bedouin haimas, at Novogorod or
Stambul, he flings up his arms and exclaims, "O ciel! I have
again the felicity of seeing my cherished and most respectable
Departure for Cordova - Carmona - German Colonies - Language -
The Sluggish Horse - Nocturnal Welcome - Carlist Landlord -
Good Advice - Gomez - The Old Genoese - The Two Opinions.
After a sojourn of about fourteen days at Seville, I
departed for Cordova. The diligence had for some time past
ceased running, owing to the disturbed state of the province.
I had therefore no resource but to proceed thither on horseback.
I hired a couple of horses, and engaged the old Genoese,
of whom I have already had occasion to speak, to attend me as
far as Cordova, and to bring them back. Notwithstanding we
were now in the depths of winter, the weather was beautiful,
the days sunny and brilliant, though the nights were rather
keen. We passed by the little town of Alcala, celebrated for
the ruins of an immense Moorish castle, which stand on a rocky
hill, overhanging a picturesque river. The first night we
slept at Carmona, another Moorish town, distant about seven
leagues from Seville. Early in the morning we again mounted
and departed. Perhaps in the whole of Spain there is scarcely
a finer Moorish monument of antiquity than the eastern side of
this town of Carmona, which occupies the brow of a lofty hill,
and frowns over an extensive vega or plain, which extends for
leagues unplanted and uncultivated, producing nothing but
brushwood and carasco. Here rise tall and dusky walls, with
square towers at short distances, of so massive a structure
that they would seem to bid defiance alike to the tooth of time
and the hand of man. This town, in the time of the Moors, was
considered the key to Seville, and did not submit to the
Christian arms till after a long and desperate siege: the
capture of Seville followed speedily after. The vega upon
which we now entered forms a part of the grand despoblado or
desert of Andalusia, once a smiling garden, but which became
what it now is on the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, when
it was drained almost entirely of its population. The towns
and villages from hence to the Sierra Morena, which divides
Andalusia from La Mancha, are few and far between, and even of
these several date from the middle of the last century, when an
attempt was made by a Spanish minister to people this
wilderness with the children of a foreign land.
At about midday we arrived at a place called Moncloa,
which consisted of a venta, and a desolate-looking edifice
which had something of the appearance of a chateau: a solitary
palm tree raised its head over the outer wall. We entered the
venta, tied our horses to the manger, and having ordered barley
for them, we sat down before a large fire, which burned in the
middle of the venta. The host and hostess also came and sat
down beside us. "They are evil people," said the old Genoese
to me in Italian, "and this is an evil house; it is a
harbouring place for thieves, and murders have been committed
here, if all tales be true." I looked at these two people
attentively; they were both young, the man apparently about
twenty-five years of age. He was a short thick-made churl,
evidently of prodigious strength; his features were rather
handsome, but with a gloomy expression, and his eyes were full
of sullen fire. His wife somewhat resembled him, but had a
countenance more open and better tempered; but what struck me
as most singular in connexion with these people, was the colour
of their hair and complexion; the latter was fair and ruddy,
and the former of a bright auburn, both in striking contrast to
the black hair and swarthy visages which in general distinguish
the natives of this province. "Are you an Andalusian?" said I
to the hostess. "I should almost conclude you to be a German."
HOSTESS. - And your worship would not be very wrong. It
is true that I am a Spaniard, being born in Spain, but it is
equally true that I am of German blood, for my grandparents
came from Germany, even like those of this gentleman, my lord
and husband.
MYSELF. - And what chance brought your grandparents into
this country?
HOSTESS. - Did your worship never hear of the German
colonies? There are many of them in these parts. In old times
the land was nearly deserted, and it was very dangerous for
travellers to journey along the waste, owing to the robbers.
So along time ago, nearly a hundred years, as I am told, some
potent lord sent messengers to Germany, to tell the people
there what a goodly land there was in these parts uncultivated
for want of hands, and to promise every labourer who would
consent to come and till it, a house and a yoke of oxen, with
food and provision for one year. And in consequence of this
invitation a great many poor families left the German land and
came hither, and settled down in certain towns and villages
which had been prepared for them, which places were called
German colonies, and this name they still retain.
MYSELF. - And how many of these colonies may there be?
HOSTESS. - There are several, both on this side of
Cordova and the other. The nearest is Luisiana, about two
leagues from hence, from which place both my husband and myself
come; the next is Carlota, which is some ten leagues distant,
and these are the only colonies of our people which I have
seen; but there are others farther on, and some, as I have
heard say, in the very heart of the Sierra Morena.
MYSELF. - And do the colonists still retain the language
of their forefathers?
HOSTESS. - We speak Spanish, or rather Andalusian, and no
other language. A few, indeed, amongst the very old people,
retain a few words of German, which they acquired from their
fathers, who were born in the other country: but the last
person amongst the colonists who could understand a
conversation in German, was the aunt of my mother, who came
over when a girl. When I was a child I remember her conversing
with a foreign traveller, a countryman of hers, in a language
which I was told was German, and they understood each other,
though the old woman confessed that she had lost many words:
she has now been dead several years.
MYSELF. - Of what religion are the colonists?
HOSTESS. - They are Christians, like the Spaniards, and
so were their fathers before them. Indeed, I have heard that
they came from a part of Germany where the Christian religion
is as much practised as in Spain itself.
MYSELF. - The Germans are the most honest people in the
world: being their legitimate descendants you have of course no
thieves amongst you.
The hostess glanced at me for a moment, then looked at
her husband and smiled: the latter, who had hitherto been
smoking without uttering a word, though with a peculiarly surly
and dissatisfied countenance, now flung the remainder of his
cigar amongst the embers, then springing up he muttered
"Disparate!" and "Conversacion!" and went abroad.
"You touched them in the sore place, Signor," said the
Genoese, after we had left Moncloa some way behind us. "Were
they honest people they would not keep that venta; and as for
the colonists, I know not what kind of people they might be
when they first came over, but at present their ways are not a
bit better than those of the Andalusians, but rather worse, if
there is any difference at all."
A short time before sunset of the third day after our
departure from Seville, we found ourselves at the Cuesta del
Espinal, or hill of the thorn tree, at about two leagues from
Cordova; - we could just descry the walls of the city, upon
which the last beams of the descending luminary were resting.
As the neighbourhood in which we were was, according to the
account of my guide, generally infested with robbers, we used
our best endeavours to reach the town before the night should
have entirely closed in. We did not succeed, however, and
before we had proceeded half the distance, pitchy darkness
overtook us. Throughout the journey we had been considerably
delayed by the badness of our horses, especially that of my
attendant, which appeared to pay no regard to whip or spur; his
rider also was no horseman, it being thirty years, as he at
length confessed to me, since he last mounted in a saddle.
Horses soon become aware of the powers of their riders, and the
brute in question was disposed to take great advantage of the
fears and weakness of the old man. There is a remedy, however,
for most things in this world. I became so wearied at last at
the snail's pace at which we were proceeding, that I fastened
the bridle of the sluggish horse to the crupper of mine, then
sparing neither spur nor cudgel, I soon forced my own horse
into a kind of trot, which compelled the other to make some use
of his legs. He twice attempted to fling himself down, to the
great terror of his aged rider, who frequently entreated me to
stop and permit him to dismount. I, however, took no notice of
what he said, but continued spurring and cudgelling with
unabated activity, and with such success, that in less than
half an hour we saw lights close before us, and presently came
to a river and a bridge, which crossing, we found ourselves at
the gate of Cordova, without having broken either our horses'
knees or our own necks.
We passed through the entire length of the town ere we
reached the posada; the streets were dark and almost entirely
deserted. The posada was a large building, the windows of
which were well fenced with rejas, or iron grating: no light
gleamed from them, and the silence of death not only seemed to
pervade the house, but the street in which it was situated. We
knocked for a long time at the gate without receiving any
answer; we then raised our voices and shouted. At last some
one from within inquired what we wanted. "Open the door and
you will see," we replied. "I shall do no such thing,"
answered the individual from within, "until I know who you
are." "We are travellers," said I, "from Seville."
"Travellers, are you," said the voice; "why did you not tell me
so before? I am not porter at this house to keep out
travellers. Jesus Maria knows we have not so many of them that
we need repulse any. Enter, cavalier, and welcome, you and
your company."
He opened the gate and admitted us into a spacious
courtyard, and then forthwith again secured the gate with
various bolts and bars. "Are you afraid that the Carlists
should pay you a visit," I demanded, "that you take so much
precaution?" "It is not the Carlists we are afraid of,"
replied the porter; "they have been here already, and did us no
damage whatever. It is certain scoundrels of this town that we
are afraid of, who have a spite against the master of the
house, and would murder both him and his family, could they but
find an opportunity."
I was about to inquire the cause of this enmity, when a
thick bulky man, bearing a light in his hand, came running down
a stone staircase, which led into the interior of the building.
Two or three females, also bearing lights, followed him. He
stopped on the lowest stair. "Whom have we here?" he
exclaimed; then advancing the lamp which he bore, the light
fell full upon my face. "Ola!" he exclaimed; "Is it you? Only
think," said he, turning to the female who stood next him, a
dark-featured person, stout as himself, and about his own age,
which might border upon fifty; "Only think, my dear, that at
the very moment we were wishing for a guest an Englishman
should be standing before our doors; for I should know an
Englishman at a mile's distance, even in the dark. Juanito,"
cried he to the porter, "open not the gate any more to-night,
whoever may ask for admission. Should the nationals come to
make any disturbance, tell them that the son of Belington
(WELLINGTON) is in the house ready to attack them sword in hand
unless they retire; and should other travellers arrive, which
is not likely, inasmuch as we have seen none for a month past,
say that we have no room, all our apartments being occupied by
an English gentleman and his company."
I soon found that my friend the posadero was a most
egregious Carlist. Before I had finished supper - during which
both himself and all his family were present, surrounding the
little table at which I sat, and observing my every motion,
particularly the manner in which I handled my knife and fork
and conveyed the food to my mouth - he commenced talking
politics: "I am of no particular opinion, Don Jorge," said he,
for he had inquired my name in order that he might address me
in a suitable manner; "I am of no particular opinion, and I
hold neither for King Carlos nor for the Chica Isabel:
nevertheless, I lead the life of a dog in this accursed
Christino town, which I would have left long ago, had it not
been the place of my birth, and did I but know whither to
betake myself. Ever since the troubles have commenced, I have
been afraid to stir into the street, for no sooner do the
canaille of the town see me turning round a corner, than they
forthwith exclaim, `Halloo, the Carlist!' and then there is a
run and a rush, and stones and cudgels are in great
requisition: so that unless I can escape home, which is no easy
matter, seeing that I weigh eighteen stone, my life is poured
out in the street, which is neither decent nor convenient, as I
think you will acknowledge, Don Jorge! You see that young
man," he continued, pointing to a tall swarthy youth who stood
behind my chair, officiating as waiter; "he is my fourth son,
is married, and does not live in the house, but about a hundred
yards down the street. He was summoned in a hurry to wait upon
your worship, as is his duty: know, however, that he has come
at the peril of his life: before he leaves this house he must
peep into the street to see if the coast is clear, and then he
must run like a partridge to his own door. Carlists! why
should they call my family and myself Carlists? It is true
that my eldest son was a friar, and when the convents were
suppressed betook himself to the royal ranks, in which he has
been fighting upwards of three years; could I help that? Nor
was it my fault, I trow, that my second son enlisted the other
day with Gomez and the royalists when they entered Cordova.
God prosper him, I say; but I did not bid him go! So far from
being a Carlist, it was I who persuaded this very lad who is
present to remain here, though he would fain have gone with his
brother, for he is a brave lad and a true Christian. Stay at
home, said I, for what can I do without you? Who is to wait
upon the guests when it pleases God to send them. Stay at
home, at least till your brother, my third son, comes back,
for, to my shame be it spoken, Don Jorge, I have a son a
soldier and a sergeant in the Christino armies, sorely against
his own inclination, poor fellow, for he likes not the military
life, and I have been soliciting his discharge for years;
indeed, I have counselled him to maim himself, in order that he
might procure his liberty forthwith; so I said to this lad,
Stay at home, my child, till your brother comes to take your
place and prevent our bread being eaten by strangers, who would
perhaps sell me and betray me; so my son staid at home as you
see, Don Jorge, at my request, and yet they call me a Carlist?"
"Gomez and his bands have lately been in Cordova," said
I; "of course you were present at all that occurred: how did
they comport themselves?"
"Bravely well," replied the innkeeper, "bravely well, and
I wish they were here still. I hold with neither side, as I
told you before, Don Jorge, but I confess I never felt greater
pleasure in my life than when they entered the gate; and then
to see the dogs of nationals flying through the streets to save
their lives - that was a sight, Don Jorge - those who met me
then at the corner forgot to shout `Halloo, Carlista!' and I
heard not a word about cudgelling; some jumped from the wall
and ran no one knows where, whilst the rest retired to the
house of the Inquisition, which they had fortified, and there
they shut themselves up. Now you must know, Don Jorge, that
all the Carlist chiefs lodged at my house, Gomez, Cabrera, and
the Sawyer; and it chanced that I was talking to my Lord Gomez
in this very room in which we are now, when in came Cabrera in
a mighty fury - he is a small man, Don Jorge, but he is as
active as a wild cat and as fierce. `The canaille,' said he,
`in the Casa of the Inquisition refuse to surrender; give but
the order, General, and I will scale the walls with my men and
put them all to the sword'; but Gomez said, `No, we must not
spill blood if we can avoid it; order a few muskets to be fired
at them, that will be sufficient!' And so it proved, Don
Jorge, for after a few discharges their hearts failed them, and
they surrendered at discretion: whereupon their arms were taken
from them and they were permitted to return to their own
houses; but as soon as ever the Carlists departed, these
fellows became as bold as ever, and it is now once more,
`Halloo, Carlista!' when they see me turning the corner, and it
is for fear of them that my son must run like a partridge to
his own home, now that he has done waiting on your worship,
lest they meet him in the street and kill him with their
"You tell me that you were acquainted with Gomez: what
kind of man might he be?"
"A middle-sized man," replied the innkeeper; "grave and
dark. But the most remarkable personage in appearance of them
all was the Sawyer: he is a kind of giant, so tall, that when
he entered the doorway he invariably struck his head against
the lintel. The one I liked least of all was one Palillos, who
is a gloomy savage ruffian whom I knew when he was a
postillion. Many is the time that he has been at my house of
old; he is now captain of the Manchegan thieves, for though he
calls himself a royalist, he is neither more nor less than a
thief: it is a disgrace to the cause that such as he should be
permitted to mix with honourable and brave men; I hate that
fellow, Don Jorge: it is owing to him that I have so few
customers. Travellers are, at present, afraid to pass through
La Mancha, lest they fall into his hands. I wish he were
hanged, Don Jorge, and whether by Christinos or Royalists, I
care not."
"You recognized me at once for an Englishman," said I,
"do many of my countrymen visit Cordova?"
"TOMA!" said the landlord, "they are my best customers; I
have had Englishmen in this house of all grades, from the son
of Belington to a young medico, who cured my daughter, the
chica here, of the ear-ache. How should I not know an
Englishman? There were two with Gomez, serving as volunteers.
VAYA QUE GENTE; what noble horses they rode, and how they
scattered their gold about; they brought with them a
Portuguese, who was much of a gentleman but very poor; it was
said that he was one of Don Miguel's people, and that these
Englishmen supported him for the love they bore to royalty; he
was continually singing
`El Rey chegou - El Rey chegou,
E en Belem desembarcou!' *
Those were merry days, Don Jorge. By the by, I forgot to
ask your worship of what opinion you are?"
* "The king arrived, the king arrived, and disembarked at
The next morning, whilst I was dressing, the old Genoese
entered my room: "Signore," said he, "I am come to bid you
farewell. I am about to return to Seville forthwith with the
"Wherefore in such a hurry," I replied; "assuredly you
had better tarry till to-morrow; both the animals and yourself
require rest; repose yourselves to-day and I will defray the
"Thank you, Signore, but we will depart forthwith, for
there is no tarrying in this house."
"What is the matter with the house?" I inquired.
"I find no fault with the house," replied the Genoese,
"it is the people who keep it of whom I complain. About an
hour since, I went down to get my breakfast, and there, in the
kitchen, I found the master and all his family: well, I sat
down and called for chocolate, which they brought me, but ere I
could dispatch it, the master fell to talking politics. He
commenced by telling me that he held with neither side, but he
is as rank a Carlist as Carlos Quinto: for no sooner did he
find that I was of the other opinion, than he glared at me like
a wild beast. You must know, Signore, that in the time of the
old constitution I kept a coffee-house at Seville, which was
frequented by all the principal liberals, and was, indeed, the
cause of my ruin: for as I admired their opinions, I gave my
customers whatever credit they required, both with regard to
coffee and liqueurs, so that by the time the constitution was
put down and despotism re-established, I had trusted them with
all I had. It is possible that many of them would have paid
me, for I believe they harboured no evil intention; but the
persecution came, the liberals took to flight, and, as was
natural enough, thought more of providing for their own safety
than of paying me for my coffee and liqueurs; nevertheless, I
am a friend to their system, and never hesitate to say so. So
the landlord, as I told your worship before, when he found that
I was of this opinion, glared at me like a wild beast: `Get out
of my house,' said he, `for I will have no spies here,' and
thereupon he spoke disrespectfully of the young Queen Isabel
and of Christina, who, notwithstanding she is a Neapolitan, I
consider as my countrywoman. Hearing this, your worship, I
confess that I lost my temper and returned the compliment, by
saying that Carlos was a knave and the Princess of Beira no
better than she should be. I then prepared to swallow the
chocolate, but ere I could bring it to my lips, the woman of
the house, who is a still ranker Carlist than her husband, if
that be possible, coming up to me struck the cup into the air
as high as the ceiling, exclaiming, `Begone, dog of a negro,
you shall taste nothing more in my house; may you be hanged
even as a swine is hanged.' So your worship sees that it is
impossible for me to remain here any longer. I forgot to say
that the knave of a landlord told me that you had confessed
yourself to be of the same politics as himself, or he would not
have harboured you."
"My good man," said I, "I am invariably of the politics
of the people at whose table I sit, or beneath whose roof I
sleep, at least I never say anything which can lead them to
suspect the contrary; by pursuing which system I have more than
once escaped a bloody pillow, and having the wine I drank
spiced with sublimate."
Cordova - Moors of Barbary - The English - An Old Priest -
The Roman Breviary - The Dovecote - The Holy Office - Judaism -
Desecration of Dovecotes - The Innkeeper's Proposal.
Little can be said with respect to the town of Cordova,
which is a mean dark gloomy place, full of narrow streets and
alleys, without squares or public buildings worthy of
attention, save and except its far-famed cathedral; its
situation, however, is beautiful and picturesque. Before it
runs the Guadalquivir, which, though in this part shallow and
full of sandbanks, is still a delightful stream; whilst behind
it rise the steep sides of the Sierra Morena, planted up to the
top with olive groves. The town or city is surrounded on all
sides by lofty Moorish walls, which may measure about three
quarters of a league in circumference; unlike Seville, and most
other towns in Spain, it has no suburbs.
I have said that Cordova has no remarkable edifices, save
its cathedral; yet this is perhaps the most extraordinary place
of worship in the world. It was originally, as is well known,
a mosque, built in the brightest days of Arabian dominion in
Spain; in shape it was quadrangular, with a low roof, supported
by an infinity of small and delicately rounded marble pillars,
many of which still remain, and present at first sight the
appearance of a marble grove; the greater part, however, were
removed when the Christians, after the expulsion of the
Moslems, essayed to convert the mosque into a cathedral, which
they effected in part by the erection of a dome, and by
clearing an open space for a choir. As it at present exists,
the temple appears to belong partly to Mahomet, and partly to
the Nazarene; and though this jumbling together of massive
Gothic architecture with the light and delicate style of the
Arabians produces an effect somewhat bizarre, it still remains
a magnificent and glorious edifice, and well calculated to
excite feelings of awe and veneration within the bosoms of
those who enter it.
The Moors of Barbary seem to care but little for the
exploits of their ancestors: their minds are centred in the
things of the present day, and only so far as those things
regard themselves individually. Disinterested enthusiasm, that
truly distinguishing mark of a noble mind, and admiration for
what is great, good, and grand, they appear to be totally
incapable of feeling. It is astonishing with what indifference
they stray amongst the relics of ancient Moorish grandeur in
Spain. No feelings of exultation seem to be excited by the
proof of what the Moor once was, nor of regret at the
consciousness of what he now is. More interesting to them are
their perfumes, their papouches, their dates, and their silks
of Fez and Maraks, to dispose of which they visit Andalusia;
and yet the generality of these men are far from being
ignorant, and have both heard and read of what was passing in
Spain in the old time. I was once conversing with a Moor at
Madrid, with whom I was very intimate, about the Alhambra of
Granada, which he had visited. "Did you not weep," said I,
"when you passed through the courts, and thought of the,
Abencerrages?" "No," said he, "I did not weep; wherefore
should I weep?" "And why did you visit the Alhambra?" I
demanded. "I visited it," he replied, "because being at
Granada on my own affairs, one of your countrymen requested me
to accompany him thither, that I might explain some of the
inscriptions. I should certainly not have gone of my own
accord, for the hill on which it stands is steep." And yet
this man could compose verses, and was by no means a
contemptible poet. Once at Cordova, whilst I was in the
cathedral, three Moors entered it, and proceeded slowly across
its floor in the direction of a gate, which stood at the
opposite side; they took no farther notice of what was around
them than by slightly glancing once or twice at the pillars,
one of them exclaiming, "HUAIJE DEL MSELMEEN, HUAIJE DEL
MSELMEEN" (things of the Moors, things of the Moors); and
showed no other respect for the place where Abderrahman the
Magnificent prostrated himself of old, than facing about on
arriving at the farther door and making their egress backwards;
yet these men were hajis and talebs, men likewise of much gold
and silver, men who had read, who had travelled, who had seen
Mecca, and the great city of Negroland.
I remained in Cordova much longer than I had originally
intended, owing to the accounts which I was continually hearing
of the unsafe state of the roads to Madrid. I soon ransacked
every nook and cranny of this ancient town, formed various
acquaintances amongst the populace, which is my general
practice on arriving at a strange place. I more than once
ascended the side of the Sierra Morena, in which excursions I
was accompanied by the son of my host, - the tall lad of whom I
have already spoken. The people of the house, who had imbibed
the idea that I was of the same way of thinking as themselves,
were exceedingly courteous; it is true, that in return I was
compelled to listen to a vast deal of Carlism, in other words,
high treason against the ruling powers in Spain, to which,
however, I submitted with patience. "Don Jorgito," said the
landlord to me one day, "I love the English; they are my best
customers. It is a pity that there is not greater union
between Spain and England, and that more English do not visit
us. Why should there not be a marriage? The king will
speedily be at Madrid. Why should there not be bodas between
the son of Don Carlos and the heiress of England?"
"It would certainly tend to bring a considerable number
of English to Spain," said I, "and it would not be the first
time that the son of a Carlos has married a Princess of
The host mused for a moment, and then exclaimed,
"Carracho, Don Jorgito, if this marriage could be brought
about, both the king and myself should have cause to fling our
caps in the air."
The house or posada in which I had taken up my abode was
exceedingly spacious, containing an infinity of apartments,
both large and small, the greater part of which were, however,
unfurnished. The chamber in which I was lodged stood at the
end of an immensely long corridor, of the kind so admirably
described in the wondrous tale of Udolfo. For a day or two
after my arrival I believed myself to be the only lodger in the
house. One morning, however, I beheld a strange-looking old
man seated in the corridor, by one of the windows, reading
intently in a small thick volume. He was clad in garments of
coarse blue cloth, and wore a loose spencer over a waistcoat
adorned with various rows of small buttons of mother of pearl;
he had spectacles upon his nose. I could perceive,
notwithstanding he was seated, that his stature bordered upon
the gigantic. "Who is that person?" said I to the landlord,
whom I presently met; "is he also a guest of yours?" "Not
exactly, Don Jorge de mi alma," replied he, "I can scarcely
call him a guest, inasmuch as I gain nothing by him, though he
is staying at my house. You must know, Don Jorge, that he is
one of two priests who officiate at a large village at some
slight distance from this place. So it came to pass, that when
the soldiers of Gomez entered the village, his reverence went
to meet them, dressed in full canonicals, with a book in his
hand, and he, at their bidding, proclaimed Carlos Quinto in the
market-place. The other priest, however, was a desperate
liberal, a downright negro, and upon him the royalists laid
their hands, and were proceeding to hang him. His reverence,
however, interfered, and obtained mercy for his colleague, on
condition that he should cry VIVA CARLOS QUINTO! which the
latter did in order to save his life. Well; no sooner had the
royalists departed from these parts than the black priest
mounts his mule, comes to Cordova, and informs against his
reverence, notwithstanding that he had saved his life. So his
reverence was seized and brought hither to Cordova, and would
assuredly have been thrown into the common prison as a Carlist,
had I not stepped forward and offered to be surety that he
should not quit the place, but should come forward at any time
to answer whatever charge might be brought against him; and he
is now in my house, though guest I cannot call him, for he is
not of the slightest advantage to me, as his very food is daily
brought from the country, and that consists only of a few eggs
and a little milk and bread. As for his money, I have never
seen the colour of it, notwithstanding they tell me that he has
buenas pesetas. However, he is a holy man, is continually
reading and praying and is, moreover, of the right opinion. I
therefore keep him in my house, and would be bail for him were
he twenty times more of a skinflint than he seems to be."
The next day, as I was again passing through the
corridor, I observed the old man in the same place, and saluted
him. He returned my salutation with much courtesy, and closing
the book, placed it upon his knee as if willing to enter into
conversation. After exchanging a word or two, I took up the
book for the purpose of inspecting it.
"You will hardly derive much instruction from that book,
Don Jorge," said the old man; "you cannot understand it, for it
is not written in English."
"Nor in Spanish," I replied. "But with respect to
understanding the book, I cannot see what difficulty there can
be in a thing so simple; it is only the Roman breviary written
in the Latin tongue."
"Do the English understand Latin?" exclaimed he. "Vaya!
Who would have thought that it was possible for Lutherans to
understand the language of the church? Vaya! the longer one
lives the more one learns."
"How old may your reverence be?" I inquired.
"I am eighty years, Don Jorge; eighty years, and somewhat
Such was the first conversation which passed between his
reverence and myself. He soon conceived no inconsiderable
liking for me, and favoured me with no little of his company.
Unlike our friend the landlord, I found him by no means
inclined to talk politics, which the more surprised me,
knowing, as I did, the decided and hazardous part which he had
taken on the late Carlist irruption into the neighbourhood. He
took, however, great delight in discoursing on ecclesiastical
subjects and the writings of the fathers.
"I have got a small library at home, Don Jorge, which
consists of all the volumes of the fathers which I have been
able to pick up, and I find the perusal of them a source of
great amusement and comfort. Should these dark days pass by,
Don Jorge, and you should be in these parts, I hope you will
look in upon me, and I will show you my little library of the
fathers, and likewise my dovecote, where I rear numerous broods
of pigeons, which are also a source of much solace and at the
same time of profit."
"I suppose by your dovecote," said I, "you mean your
parish, and by rearing broods of pigeons, you allude to the
care you take of the souls of your people, instilling therein
the fear of God, and obedience to his revealed law, which
occupation must of course afford you much solace and spiritual
"I was not speaking metaphorically, Don Jorge," replied
my companion; "and by rearing doves, I mean neither more nor
less than that I supply the market of Cordova with pigeons, and
occasionally that of Seville; for my birds are very celebrated,
and plumper or fatter flesh than theirs I believe cannot be
found in the whole kingdom. Should you come into my village,
you will doubtless taste them, Don Jorge, at the venta where
you will put up, for I suffer no dovecotes but my own within my
district. With respect to the souls of my parishioners, I
trust I do my duty - I trust I do, as far as in my power lies.
I always took great pleasure in these spiritual matters, and it
was on that account that I attached myself to the Santa Casa of
Cordova, the duties of which I assisted to perform for a long
"Your reverence has been an inquisitor?" I exclaimed,
somewhat startled.
"From my thirtieth year until the time of the suppression
of the holy office in these afflicted kingdoms."
"You both surprise and delight me," I exclaimed.
"Nothing could have afforded me greater pleasure than to find
myself conversing with a father formerly attached to the holy
house of Cordova."
The old man looked at me steadfastly; "I understand you,
Don Jorge. I have long seen that you are one of us. You are a
learned and holy man; and though you think fit to call yourself
a Lutheran and an Englishman, I have dived into your real
condition. No Lutheran would take the interest in church
matters which you do, and with respect to your being an
Englishman, none of that nation can speak Castilian, much less
Latin. I believe you to be one of us - a missionary priest,
and I am especially confirmed in that idea by your frequent
conversations and interviews with the Gitanos; you appear to be
labouring among them. Be, however, on your guard, Don Jorge,
trust not to Egyptian faith; they are evil penitents, whom I
like not. I would not advise you to trust them."
"I do not intend," I replied; "especially with money.
But to return to more important matters: - of what crimes did
this holy house of Cordova take cognizance?"
"You are of course aware of the matters on which the holy
office exercises its functions. I need scarcely mention
sorcery, Judaism, and certain carnal misdemeanours."
"With respect to sorcery," said I, "what is your opinion
of it? Is there in reality such a crime?"
"QUE SE IO *?" said the old man, shrugging up his
shoulders. "How should I know? The church has power, Don
Jorge, or at least it had power, to punish for anything, real
or unreal; and as it was necessary to punish in order to prove
that it had the power of punishing, of what consequence whether
it punished for sorcery or any other crime."
* "How should I know?"
"Did many cases of sorcery occur within your own sphere
of knowledge?"
"One or two, Don Jorge; they were by no means frequent.
The last that I remember was a case which occurred in a convent
at Seville: a certain nun was in the habit of flying through
the windows and about the garden over the tops of the orange
trees; declarations of various witnesses were taken, and the
process was arranged with much formality; the fact, I believe,
was satisfactorily proved: of one thing I am certain, that the
nun was punished."
"Were you troubled with much Judaism in these parts?"
"Wooh! Nothing gave so much trouble to the Santa Casa as
this same Judaism. Its shoots and ramifications are numerous,
not only in these parts, but in all Spain; and it is singular
enough, that even among the priesthood, instances of Judaism of
both kinds were continually coming to our knowledge, which it
was of course our duty to punish."
"Is there more than one species of Judaism?" I demanded.
"I have always arranged Judaism under two heads," said
the old man, "the black and the white: by the black, I mean the
observance of the law of Moses in preference to the precepts of
the church; then there is the white Judaism, which includes all
kinds of heresy, such as Lutheranism, freemasonry, and the
"I can easily conceive," said I, "that many of the
priesthood favoured the principles of the reformation, and that
the minds of not a few had been led astray by the deceitful
lights of modern philosophy, but it is almost inconceivable to
me that there should be Jews amongst the priesthood who follow
in secret the rites and observances of the old law, though I
confess that I have been assured of the fact ere now."
"Plenty of Judaism amongst the priesthood, whether of the
black or white species; no lack of it, I assure you, Don Jorge;
I remember once searching the house of an ecclesiastic who was
accused of the black Judaism, and after much investigation, we
discovered beneath the floor a wooden chest, in which was a
small shrine of silver, inclosing three books in black hogskin,
which, on being opened, were found to be books of Jewish
devotion, written in Hebrew characters, and of great antiquity;
and on being questioned, the culprit made no secret of his
guilt, but rather gloried in it, saying that there was no God
but one, and denouncing the adoration of Maria Santissima as
rank idolatry."
"And between ourselves, what is your own opinion of the
adoration of this same Maria Santissima?"
"What is my opinion! QUE SE IO?" said the old man,
shrugging up his shoulders still higher than on the former
occasion; "but I will tell you; I think, on consideration, that
it is quite right and proper; why not? Let any one pay a visit
to my church, and look at her as she stands there, TAN BONITA,
TAN GUAPITA - so well dressed and so genteel - with such pretty
colours, such red and white, and he would scarcely ask me why
Maria Santissima should not be adored. Moreover, Don Jorgito
mio, this is a church matter and forms an important part of the
church system."
"And now, with respect to carnal misdemeanours. Did you
take much cognizance of them?"
"Amongst the laity, not much; we, however, kept a
vigilant eye upon our own body, but, upon the whole, were
rather tolerant in these matters, knowing that the infirmities
of human nature are very great indeed: we rarely punished, save
in cases where the glory of the church and loyalty to Maria
Santissima made punishment absolutely imperative."
"And what cases might those be?" I demanded.
"I allude to the desecration of dovecotes, Don Jorge, and
the introduction therein of strange flesh, for purposes neither
seemly nor convenient."
"Your reverence will excuse me for not yet perfectly
"I mean, Don Jorge, certain acts of flagitiousness
practised by the clergy in lone and remote palomares
(DOVECOTES) in olive grounds and gardens; actions denounced, I
believe, by the holy Pablo in his first letter to Pope Sixtus.
* You understand me now, Don Jorge, for you are learned in
church matters."
* Qu. The Epistle to the Romans.
"I think I understand you," I replied.
After remaining several days more at Cordova, I
determined to proceed on my journey to Madrid, though the roads
were still said to be highly insecure. I, however, saw but
little utility in tarrying and awaiting a more tranquil state
of affairs, which might never arrive. I therefore consulted
with the landlord respecting the best means of making the
journey. "Don Jorgito," he replied, "I think I can tell you.
You say you are anxious to depart, and I never wish to keep
guests in my house longer than is agreeable to them; to do so,
would not become a Christian inn-keeper: I leave such conduct
to Moors, Christinos, and Negroes. I will further you on your
journey, Don Jorge: I have a plan in my head, which I had
resolved to propose to you before you questioned me. There is
my wife's brother, who has two horses which he occasionally
lets out for hire; you shall hire them, Don Jorge, and he
himself shall attend you to take care of you, and to comfort
you, and to talk to you, and you shall pay him forty dollars
for the journey. Moreover, as there are thieves upon the
route, and MALOS SUJETOS, such as Palillos and his family, you
shall make an engagement and a covenant, Don Jorge, that
provided you are robbed and stripped on the route, and the
horses of my wife's brother are taken from him by the thieves,
you shall, on arriving at Madrid, make good any losses to which
my wife's brother may be subject in following you. This is my
plan, Don Jorge, which no doubt will meet with your worship's
approbation, as it is devised solely for your benefit, and not
with any view of lucre or interest either to me or mine. You
will find my wife's brother pleasant company on the route: he
is a very respectable man, and one of the right opinion, and
has likewise travelled much; for between ourselves, Don Jorge,
he is something of a Contrabandista and frequently smuggles
diamonds and precious stones from Portugal, which he disposes
of sometimes in Cordova and sometimes at Madrid. He is
acquainted with all the short cuts, all the atajos, Don Jorge,
and is much respected in all the ventas and posadas on the way;
so now give me your hand upon the bargain, and I will forthwith
repair to my wife's brother to tell him to get ready to set out
with your worship the day after to-morrow."
Departure from Cordova - The Contrabandista - Jewish Cunning -
Arrival at Madrid.
One fine morning, I departed from Cordova, in company
with the Contrabandista; the latter was mounted on a handsome
animal, something between a horse and a pony, which he called a
jaca, of that breed for which Cordova is celebrated. It was of
a bright bay colour, with a star in its forehead, with strong
but elegant limbs, and a long black tail, which swept the
ground. The other animal, which was destined to carry me to
Madrid, was not quite so prepossessing in its appearance: in
more than one respect it closely resembled a hog, particularly
in the curving of its back, the shortness of its neck, and the
manner in which it kept its head nearly in contact with the
ground: it had also the tail of a hog, and meandered over the
ground much like one. Its coat more resembled coarse bristles
than hair, and with respect to size, I have seen many a
Westphalian hog quite as tall. I was not altogether satisfied
with the idea of exhibiting myself on the back of this most
extraordinary quadruped, and looked wistfully on the
respectable animal on which my guide had thought proper to
place himself; he interpreted my glances, and gave me to
understand that as he was destined to carry the baggage, he was
entitled to the best horse; a plea too well grounded on reason
for me to make any objection to it.
I found the Contrabandista by no means such pleasant
company on the road as I had been led to suppose he would prove
from the representation of my host of Cordova. Throughout the
day he sat sullen and silent, and rarely replied to my
questions, save by a monosyllable; at night, however, after
having eaten well and drank proportionably at my expense, he
would occasionally become more sociable and communicative. "I
have given up smuggling," said he, on one of these occasions,
"owing to a trick which was played upon me the last time that I
was at Lisbon: a Jew whom I had been long acquainted with
palmed upon me a false brilliant for a real stone. He effected
it in the most extraordinary manner, for I am not such a novice
as not to know a true diamond when I see one; but the Jew
appears to have had two, with which he played most adroitly,
keeping the valuable one for which I bargained, and
substituting therefor another which, though an excellent
imitation, was not worth four dollars. I did not discover the
trick until I was across the border, and upon my hurrying back,
the culprit was not to be found; his priest, however, told me
that he was just dead and buried, which was of course false, as
I saw him laughing in the corners of his eyes. I renounced the
contraband trade from that moment."
It is not my intention to describe minutely the various
incidents of this journey. Leaving at our right the mountains
of Jaen, we passed through Andujar and Bailen, and on the third
day reached Carolina, a small but beautiful town on the skirts
of the Sierra Morena, inhabited by the descendants of German
colonists. Two leagues from this place, we entered the defile
of Despena Perros, which, even in quiet times, has an evil
name, on account of the robberies which are continually being
perpetrated within its recesses, but at the period of which I
am speaking, it was said to be swarming with banditti. We of
course expected to be robbed, perhaps stripped and otherwise
ill-treated; but Providence here manifested itself. It
appeared that, the day before our arrival, the banditti of the
pass had committed a dreadful robbery and murder, by which they
gained forty thousand rials. This booty probably contented
them for a time; certain it is that we were not interrupted: we
did not even see a single individual in the pass, though we
occasionally heard whistles and loud cries. We entered La
Mancha, where I expected to fall into the hands of Palillos and
Orejita. Providence again showed itself. It had been
delicious weather, suddenly the Lord breathed forth a frozen
blast, the severity of which was almost intolerable; no human
beings but ourselves ventured forth. We traversed snow-covered
plains, and passed through villages and towns to all appearance
deserted. The robbers kept close in their caves and hovels,
but the cold nearly killed us. We reached Aranjuez late on
Christmas Day, and I got into the house of an Englishman, where
I swallowed nearly a pint of brandy; it affected me no more
than warm water.
On the following day we arrived at Madrid, where we had
the good fortune to find everything tranquil and quiet. The
Contrabandista continued with me for two days, at the end of
which time he returned to Cordova upon the uncouth animal on
which I had ridden throughout the journey. I had myself
purchased the jaca, whose capabilities I had seen on the route,
and which I imagined might prove useful in future journeys.
The Contrabandista was so satisfied with the price which I gave
him for his beast, and the general treatment which he had
experienced at my hands during the time of his attendance upon
me, that he would fain have persuaded me to retain him as a
servant, assuring me that, in the event of my compliance, he
would forget his wife and children and follow me through the
world. I declined, however, to accede to his request, though I
was in need of a domestic; I therefore sent him back to
Cordova, where, as I subsequently learned, he died suddenly,
about a week after his return.
The manner of his death was singular: one day he took out
his purse, and, after counting his money, said to his wife, "I
have made ninety-five dollars by this journey with the
Englishman and by the sale of the jaca; this I could easily
double by one successful venture in the smuggling lay. Tomorrow
I will depart for Lisbon to buy diamonds. I wonder if
the beast requires to be shod?" He then started up and made
for the door, with the intention of going to the stable; ere,
however, his foot had crossed the threshold, he fell dead on
the floor. Such is the course of the world. Well said the
wise king: Let no one boast of the morrow.
Arrival at Madrid - Maria Diaz - Printing of the Testament -
My Project - Andalusian Steed - Servant Wanted - An Application -
Antonio Buchini - General Cordova - Principles of Honour.
On my arrival at Madrid I did not repair to my former
lodgings in the Calle de la Zarza, but took others in the Calle
de Santiago, in the vicinity of the palace. The name of the
hostess (for there was, properly speaking, no host) was Maria
Diaz, of whom I shall take the present opportunity of saying
something in particular.
She was a woman of about thirty-five years of age, rather
good-looking, and with a physiognomy every lineament of which
bespoke intelligence of no common order. Her eyes were keen
and penetrating, though occasionally clouded with a somewhat
melancholy expression. There was a particular calmness and
quiet in her general demeanour, beneath which, however,
slumbered a firmness of spirit and an energy of action which
were instantly displayed whenever necessary. A Spaniard and,
of course, a Catholic, she was possessed of a spirit of
toleration and liberality which would have done honour to
individuals much her superior in station. In this woman,
during the remainder of my sojourn in Spain, I found a firm and
constant friend, and occasionally a most discreet adviser: she
entered into all my plans, I will not say with enthusiasm,
which, indeed, formed no part of her character, but with
cordiality and sincerity, forwarding them to the utmost of her
ability. She never shrank from me in the hour of danger and
persecution, but stood my friend, notwithstanding the many
inducements which were held out to her by my enemies to desert
or betray me. Her motives were of the noblest kind, friendship
and a proper feeling of the duties of hospitality; no prospect,
no hope of self-interest, however remote, influenced this
admirable woman in her conduct towards me. Honour to Maria
Diaz, the quiet, dauntless, clever Castilian female. I were an
ingrate not to speak well of her, for richly has she deserved
an eulogy in the humble pages of THE BIBLE IN SPAIN.
She was a native of Villa Seca, a hamlet of New Castile,
situated in what is called the Sagra, at about three leagues'
distance from Toledo: her father was an architect of some
celebrity, particularly skilled in erecting bridges. At a very
early age she married a respectable yeoman of Villa Seca, Lopez
by name, by whom she had three sons. On the death of her
father, which occurred about five years previous to the time of
which I am speaking, she removed to Madrid, partly for the
purpose of educating her children, and partly in the hope of
obtaining from the government a considerable sum of money for
which it stood indebted to her father, at the time of his
decease, for various useful and ornamental works, principally
in the neighbourhood of Aranjuez. The justness of her claim
was at once acknowledged; but, alas! no money was forthcoming,
the royal treasury being empty. Her hopes of earthly happiness
were now concentrated in her children. The two youngest were
still of a very tender age; but the eldest, Juan Jose Lopez, a
lad of about sixteen, was bidding fair to realize the warmest
hopes of his affectionate mother; he had devoted himself to the
arts, in which he made such progress that he had already become
the favourite pupil of his celebrated namesake Lopez, the best
painter of modern Spain. Such was Maria Diaz, who, according
to a custom formerly universal in Spain, and still very
prevalent, retained the name of her maidenhood though married.
Such was Maria Diaz and her family.
One of my first cares was to wait on Mr. Villiers, who
received me with his usual kindness. I asked him whether he
considered that I might venture to commence printing the
Scriptures without any more applications to government. His
reply was satisfactory: "You obtained the permission of the
government of Isturitz," said he, "which was a much less
liberal one than the present. I am a witness to the promise
made to you by the former ministers, which I consider
sufficient. You had best commence and complete the work as
soon as possible, without any fresh application; and should any
one attempt to interrupt you, you have only to come to me, whom
you may command at any time." So I went away with a light
heart, and forthwith made preparation for the execution of the
object which had brought me to Spain.
I shall not enter here into unnecessary details, which
could possess but little interest for the reader; suffice it to
say that, within three months from this time, an edition of the
New Testament, consisting of five thousand copies, was
published at Madrid. The work was printed at the establishment
of Mr. Borrego, a well-known writer on political economy, and
proprietor and editor of an influential newspaper called El
Espanol. To this gentleman I had been recommended by Isturitz
himself, on the day of my interview with him. That unfortunate
minister had, indeed, the highest esteem for Borrego, and had
intended raising him to the station of minister of finance,
when the revolution of the Granja occurring, of course rendered
abortive this project, with perhaps many others of a similar
kind which he might have formed.
The Spanish version of the New Testament which was thus
published, had been made many years before by a certain Padre
Filipe Scio, confessor of Ferdinand the Seventh, and had even
been printed, but so encumbered by notes and commentaries as to
be unfitted for general circulation, for which, indeed, it was
never intended. In the present edition, the notes were of
course omitted, and the inspired word, and that alone, offered
to the public. It was brought out in a handsome octavo volume,
and presented, upon the whole, a rather favourable specimen of
Spanish typography.
The mere printing, however, of the New Testament at
Madrid could be attended with no utility whatever, unless
measures, and energetic ones, were taken for the circulation of
the sacred volume.
In the case of the New Testament, it would not do to
follow the usual plan of publication in Spain, namely, to
entrust the work to the booksellers of the capital, and rest
content with the sale which they and their agents in the
provincial towns might be able to obtain for it, in the common
routine of business; the result generally being, the
circulation of a few dozen copies in the course of the year; as
the demand for literature of every kind in Spain was miserably
The Christians of England had already made considerable
sacrifices in the hope of disseminating the word of God largely
amongst the Spaniards, and it was now necessary to spare no
exertion to prevent that hope becoming abortive. Before the
book was ready, I had begun to make preparations for putting a
plan into execution, which had occupied my thoughts
occasionally during my former visit to Spain, and which I had
never subsequently abandoned. I had mused on it when off Cape
Finisterre in the tempest; in the cut-throat passes of the
Morena; and on the plains of La Mancha, as I jogged along a
little way ahead of the Contrabandista.
I had determined, after depositing a certain number of
copies in the shops of the booksellers of Madrid, to ride
forth, Testament in hand, and endeavour to circulate the word
of God amongst the Spaniards, not only of the towns but of the
villages; amongst the children not only of the plains but of
the hills and mountains. I intended to visit Old Castile, and
to traverse the whole of Galicia and the Asturias, - to
establish Scripture depots in the principal towns, and to visit
the people in secret and secluded spots, - to talk to them of
Christ, to explain to them the nature of his book, and to place
that book in the hands of those whom I should deem capable of
deriving benefit from it. I was aware that such a journey
would be attended with considerable danger, and very possibly
the fate of St. Stephen might overtake me; but does the man
deserve the name of a follower of Christ who would shrink from
danger of any kind in the cause of Him whom he calls his
Master? "He who loses his life for my sake, shall find it,"
are words which the Lord himself uttered. These words were
fraught with consolation to me, as they doubtless are to every
one engaged in propagating the gospel in sincerity of heart, in
savage and barbarian lands.
I now purchased another horse; for these animals, at the
time of which I am speaking, were exceedingly cheap. A royal
requisition was about to be issued for five thousand, the
consequence being, that an immense number were for sale, for,
by virtue of this requisition, the horses of any person not a
foreigner could be seized for the benefit of the service. It
was probable that, when the number was made up, the price of
horses would be treble what it then was, which consideration
induced me to purchase this animal before I exactly wanted him.
He was a black Andalusian stallion of great power and strength,
and capable of performing a journey of a hundred leagues in a
week's time, but he was unbroke, savage, and furious. A cargo
of Bibles, however, which I hoped occasionally to put on his
back, would, I had no doubt, thoroughly tame him, especially
when labouring up the flinty hills of the north of Spain. I
wished to have purchased a mule, but, though I offered thirty
pounds for a sorry one, I could not obtain her; whereas the
cost of both the horses, tall powerful stately animals,
scarcely amounted to that sum.
The state of the surrounding country at this time was not
very favourable for venturing forth: Cabrera was within nine
leagues of Madrid, with an army nearly ten thousand strong; he
had beaten several small detachments of the queen's troops, and
had ravaged La Mancha with fire and sword, burning several
towns; bands of affrighted fugitives were arriving every hour,
bringing tidings of woe and disaster, and I was only surprised
that the enemy did not appear, and by taking Madrid, which was
almost at his mercy, put an end to the war at once. But the
truth is, that the Carlist generals did not wish the war to
cease, for as long as the country was involved in bloodshed and
anarchy, they could plunder and exercise that lawless authority
so dear to men of fierce and brutal passions. Cabrera,
moreover, was a dastardly wretch, whose limited mind was
incapable of harbouring a single conception approaching to
grandeur; whose heroic deeds were confined to cutting down
defenceless men, and to forcing and disembowelling unhappy
women; and yet I have seen this wretched fellow termed by
French journals (Carlist of course) the young, the heroic
general. Infamy on the cowardly assassin! The shabbiest
corporal of Napoleon would have laughed at his generalship, and
half a battalion of Austrian grenadiers would have driven him
and his rabble army headlong into the Ebro.
I now made preparations for my journey into the north. I
was already provided with horses well calculated to support the
fatigues of the road and the burdens which I might deem
necessary to impose upon them. One thing, however, was still
lacking, indispensable to a person about to engage on an
expedition of this description; I mean a servant to attend me.
Perhaps there is no place in the world where servants more
abound than at Madrid, or at least fellows eager to proffer
their services in the expectation of receiving food and wages,
though, with respect to the actual service which they are
capable of performing, not much can be said; but I was in want
of a servant of no common description, a shrewd active fellow,
of whose advice, in cases of emergency, I could occasionally
avail myself; courageous withal, for it certainly required some
degree of courage to follow a master bent on exploring the
greater part of Spain, and who intended to travel, not under
the protection of muleteers and carmen, but on his own
cabalgaduras. Such a servant, perhaps, I might have sought for
years without finding; chance, however, brought one to my hand
at the very time I wanted him, without it being necessary for
me to make any laborious perquisitions. I was one day
mentioning the subject to Mr. Borrego, at whose establishment I
had printed the New Testament, and inquiring whether he thought
that such an individual was to be found in Madrid, adding that
I was particularly anxious to obtain a servant who, besides
Spanish, could speak some other language, that occasionally we
might discourse without being understood by those who might
overhear us. "The very description of person," he replied,
"that you appear to be in need of, quitted me about half an
hour ago, and, it is singular enough, came to me in the hope
that I might be able to recommend him to a master. He has been
twice in my service: for his talent and courage I will answer;
and I believe him to be trustworthy, at least to masters who
may chime in with his humour, for I must inform you that he is
a most extraordinary fellow, full of strange likes and
antipathies, which he will gratify at any expense, either to
himself or others. Perhaps he will attach himself to you, in
which case you will find him highly valuable; for if he please
he can turn his hand to any thing, and is not only acquainted
with two but half a dozen languages."
"Is he a Spaniard?" I inquired.
"I will send him to you to-morrow," said Borrego, "you
will best learn from his own mouth who and what he is."
The next day, as I had just sat down to my "sopa," my
hostess informed me that a man wished to speak to me. "Admit
him," said I, and he almost instantly made his appearance. He
was dressed respectably in the French fashion, and had rather a
juvenile look, though I subsequently learned that he was
considerably above forty. He was somewhat above the middle
stature, and might have been called well made, had it not been
for his meagreness, which was rather remarkable. His arms were
long and bony, and his whole form conveyed an idea of great
activity united with no slight degree of strength: his hair was
wiry, but of jetty blackness; his forehead low; his eyes small
and grey, expressive of much subtlety and no less malice,
strangely relieved by a strong dash of humour; the nose was
handsome, but the mouth was immensely wide, and his under jaw
projected considerably. A more singular physiognomy I had
never seen, and I continued staring at him for some time in
silence. "Who are you?" I at last demanded.
"Domestic in search of a master," answered the man in
good French, but in a strange accent. "I come recommended to
you, my Lor, by Monsieur B."
MYSELF. - Of what nation may you be? Are you French or Spanish?
MAN. - God forbid that I should be either, mi Lor, J'AI
Buchini, native of Pera the Belle near to Constantinople.
MYSELF. - And what brought you to Spain?
COMMENCEMENT JUSQU'ICI: - my father was a native of Sceira in
Greece, from whence at an early age he repaired to Pera, where
he served as janitor in the hotels of various ambassadors, by
whom he was much respected for his fidelity. Amongst others of
these gentlemen, he served him of your own nation: this
occurred at the time that there was war between England and the
Porte. * Monsieur the Ambassador had to escape for his life,
leaving the greater part of his valuables to the care of my
father, who concealed them at his own great risk, and when the
dispute was settled, restored them to Monsieur, even to the
most inconsiderable trinket. I mention this circumstance to
show you that I am of a family which cherishes principles of
honour, and in which confidence may be placed. My father
married a daughter of Pera, ET MOI JE SUIS L'UNIQUE FRUIT DE CE
MARIAGE. Of my mother I know nothing, as she died shortly
after my birth. A family of wealthy Jews took pity on my
forlorn condition and offered to bring me up, to which my
father gladly consented; and with them I continued several
years, until I was a BEAU GARCON; they were very fond of me,
and at last offered to adopt me, and at their death to bequeath
me all they had, on condition of my becoming a Jew. MAIS LA
Jews, for I am a Greek, am proud, and have principles of
honour. I quitted them, therefore, saying that if ever I
allowed myself to be converted, it should be to the faith of
the Turks, for they are men, are proud, and have principles of
honour like myself. I then returned to my father, who procured
me various situations, none of which were to my liking, until I
was placed in the house of Monsieur Zea.
* This was possibly the period when Admiral Duckworth
attempted to force the passage of the Dardanelles.
MYSELF. - You mean, I suppose, Zea Bermudez, who chanced
to be at Constantinople.
BUCHINI. - Just so, mi Lor, and with him I continued
during his stay. He put great confidence in me, more
especially as I spoke the pure Spanish language, which I
acquired amongst the Jews, who, as I have heard Monsieur Zea
say, speak it better than the present natives of Spain.
I shall not follow the Greek step by step throughout his
history, which was rather lengthy: suffice it to say, that he
was brought by Zea Bermudez from Constantinople to Spain, where
he continued in his service for many years, and from whose
house he was expelled for marrying a Guipuscoan damsel, who was
fille de chambre to Madame Zea; since which time it appeared
that he had served an infinity of masters; sometimes as valet,
sometimes as cook, but generally in the last capacity. He
confessed, however, that he had seldom continued more than
three days in the same service, on account of the disputes
which were sure to arise in the house almost immediately after
his admission, and for which he could assign no other reason
than his being a Greek, and having principles of honour.
Amongst other persons whom he had served was General Cordova,
who he said was a bad paymaster, and was in the habit of
maltreating his domestics. "But he found his match in me,"
said Antonio, "for I was prepared for him; and once, when he
drew his sword against me, I pulled out a pistol and pointed it
in his face. He grew pale as death, and from that hour treated
me with all kinds of condescension. It was only pretence,
however, for the affair rankled in his mind; he had determined
upon revenge, and on being appointed to the command of the
army, he was particularly anxious that I should attend him to
the camp. MAIS JE LUI RIS AU NEZ, made the sign of the
cortamanga - asked for my wages, and left him; and well it was
that I did so, for the very domestic whom he took with him he
caused to be shot upon a charge of mutiny."
"I am afraid," said I, "that you are of a turbulent
disposition, and that the disputes to which you have alluded
are solely to be attributed to the badness of your temper."
"What would you have, Monsieur? MOI JE SUIS GREC, JE
treated with a certain consideration, though I confess that my
temper is none of the best, and that at times I am tempted to
quarrel with the pots and pans in the kitchen. I think, upon
the whole, that it will be for your advantage to engage me, and
I promise you to be on my guard. There is one thing that
pleases me relating to you, you are unmarried. Now, I would
rather serve a young unmarried man for love and friendship,
than a Benedict for fifty dollars per month. Madame is sure to
hate me, and so is her waiting woman; and more particularly the
latter, because I am a married man. I see that mi Lor is
willing to engage me."
"But you say you are a married man," I replied; "how can
you desert your wife, for I am about to leave Madrid, and to
travel into the remote and mountainous parts of Spain."
"My wife will receive the moiety of my wages, while I am
absent, mi Lor, and therefore will have no reason to complain
of being deserted. Complain! did I say; my wife is at present
too well instructed to complain. She never speaks nor sits in
my presence unless I give her permission. Am I not a Greek,
and do I not know how to govern my own house? Engage me, mi
Lor, I am a man of many capacities: a discreet valet, an
excellent cook, a good groom and light rider; in a word, I am
[Greek word which cannot be reproduced]. What would you more?"
I asked him his terms, which were extravagant,
notwithstanding his PRINCIPES D'HONNEUR. I found, however,
that he was willing to take one half.
I had no sooner engaged him, than seizing the tureen of
soup, which had by this time become quite cold, he placed it on
the top of his forefinger, or rather on the nail thereof,
causing it to make various circumvolutions over his head, to my
great astonishment, without spilling a drop, then springing
with it to the door, he vanished, and in another moment made
his appearance with the puchera, which, after a similar bound
and flourish, he deposited on the table; then suffering his
hands to sink before him, he put one over the other and stood
at his ease with half-shut eyes, for all the world as if he had
been in my service twenty years.
And in this manner Antonio Buchini entered upon his
duties. Many was the wild spot to which he subsequently
accompanied me; many the wild adventure of which he was the
sharer. His behaviour was frequently in the highest degree
extraordinary, but he served me courageously and faithfully:
such a valet, take him for all in all,
"His like I ne'er expect to see again."
Illness - Nocturnal Visit - A Master Mind - The Whisper - Salamanca -
Irish Hospitality - Spanish Soldiers - The Scriptures advertised.
But I am anxious to enter upon the narrative of my
journey, and shall therefore abstain from relating to my
readers a great many circumstances which occurred previously to
my leaving Madrid on this expedition. About the middle of May
I had got everything in readiness, and I bade farewell to my
friends. Salamanca was the first place which I intended to
Some days previous to my departure I was very much
indisposed, owing to the state of the weather, for violent and
biting winds had long prevailed. I had been attacked with a
severe cold, which terminated in a disagreeable cough, which
the many remedies I successively tried seemed unable to subdue.
I had made preparations for departing on a particular day, but,
owing to the state of my health, I was apprehensive that I
should be compelled to defer my journey for a time. The last
day of my stay in Madrid, finding myself scarcely able to
stand, I was fain to submit to a somewhat desperate experiment,
and by the advice of the barber-surgeon who visited me, I
determined to be bled. Late on the night of that same day he
took from me sixteen ounces of blood, and having received his
fee left me, wishing me a pleasant journey, and assuring me,
upon his reputation, that by noon the next day I should be
perfectly recovered.
A few minutes after his departure, whilst I was sitting
alone, meditating on the journey which I was about to
undertake, and on the ricketty state of my health, I heard a
loud knock at the street door of the house, on the third floor
of which I was lodged. In another minute Mr. S- of the British
Embassy entered my apartment. After a little conversation, he
informed me that Mr. Villiers had desired him to wait upon me
to communicate a resolution which he had come to. Being
apprehensive that, alone and unassisted, I should experience
great difficulty in propagating the gospel of God to any
considerable extent in Spain, he was bent upon exerting to the
utmost his own credit and influence to further my views, which
he himself considered, if carried into proper effect, extremely
well calculated to operate beneficially on the political and
moral state of the country. To this end it was his intention
to purchase a very considerable number of copies of the New
Testament, and to dispatch them forthwith to the various
British consuls established in different parts of Spain, with
strict and positive orders to employ all the means which their
official situation should afford them to circulate the books in
question and to assure their being noticed. They were,
moreover, to be charged to afford me, whenever I should appear
in their respective districts, all the protection,
encouragement, and assistance which I should stand in need of.
I was of course much rejoiced on receiving this
information, for though I had long been aware that Mr. Villiers
was at all times willing to assist me, he having frequently
given me sufficient proof, I could never expect that he would
come forward in so noble, and, to say the least of it,
considering his high diplomatic situation, so bold and decided
a manner. I believe that this was the first instance of a
British ambassador having made the cause of the Bible Society a
national one, or indeed of having favoured it directly or
indirectly. What renders the case of Mr. Villiers more
remarkable is, that on my first arrival at Madrid I found him
by no means well disposed towards the Society. The Holy Spirit
had probably illumined his mind on this point. I hoped that by
his means our institution would shortly possess many agents in
Spain, who, with far more power and better opportunities than I
myself could ever expect to possess, would scatter abroad the
seed of the gospel, and make of a barren and thirsty wilderness
a green and smiling corn-field.
A word or two about the gentleman who paid me this
nocturnal visit. Though he has probably long since forgotten
the humble circulator of the Bible in Spain, I still bear in
mind numerous acts of kindness which I experienced at his
hands. Endowed with an intellect of the highest order, master
of the lore of all Europe, profoundly versed in the ancient
tongues, and speaking most of the modern dialects with
remarkable facility, - possessed, moreover, of a thorough
knowledge of mankind, - he brought with him into the diplomatic
career advantages such as few, even the most highly gifted, can
boast of. During his sojourn in Spain he performed many
eminent services for the government which employed him;
services which, I believe, it had sufficient discernment to
see, and gratitude to reward. He had to encounter, however,
the full brunt of the low and stupid malignity of the party
who, shortly after the time of which I am speaking, usurped the
management of the affairs of Spain. This party, whose foolish
manoeuvres he was continually discomfiting, feared and hated
him as its evil genius, taking every opportunity of showering
on his head calumnies the most improbable and absurd. Amongst
other things, he was accused of having acted as an agent to the
English government in the affair of the Granja, bringing about
that revolution by bribing the mutinous soldiers, and more
particularly the notorious Sergeant Garcia. Such an accusation
will of course merely extract a smile from those who are at all
acquainted with the English character, and the general line of
conduct pursued by the English government. It was a charge,
however, universally believed in Spain, and was even preferred
in print by a certain journal, the official organ of the silly
Duke of Frias, one of the many prime ministers of the moderado
party who followed each other in rapid succession towards the
latter period of the Carlist and Christino struggle. But when
did a calumnious report ever fall to the ground in Spain by the
weight of its own absurdity? Unhappy land, not until the pure
light of the Gospel has illumined thee wilt thou learn that the
greatest of all gifts is charity.
The next day verified the prediction of the Spanish
surgeon; I had to a considerable degree lost my cough and
fever, though, owing to the loss of blood, I was somewhat
feeble. Precisely at twelve o'clock the horses were led forth
before the door of my lodging in the Calle de Santiago, and I
prepared to mount: but my black entero of Andalusia would not
permit me to approach his side, and whenever I made the
attempt, commenced wheeling round with great rapidity.
"C'EST UN MAUVAIS SIGNE, MON MAITRE," said Antonio, who,
dressed in a green jerkin, a Montero cap, booted and spurred,
stood ready to attend me, holding by the bridle the horse which
I had purchased from the contrabandista. "It is a bad sign,
and in my country they would defer the journey till to-morrow."
"Are there whisperers in your country?" I demanded; and
taking the horse by the mane, I performed the ceremony after
the most approved fashion: the animal stood still, and I
mounted the saddle, exclaiming -
"The Rommany Chal to his horse did cry,
As he placed the bit in his horse's jaw;
Kosko gry! Rommany gry!
Muk man kistur tute knaw."
We then rode forth from Madrid by the gate of San
Vincente, directing our course to the lofty mountains which
separate Old from New Castile. That night we rested at
Guadarama, a large village at their foot, distant from Madrid
about seven leagues. Rising early on the following morning, we
ascended the pass and entered into Old Castile.
After crossing the mountains, the route to Salamanca lies
almost entirely over sandy and arid plains, interspersed here
and there with thin and scanty groves of pine. No adventure
worth relating occurred during this journey. We sold a few
Testaments in the villages through which we passed, more
especially at Penaranda. About noon of the third day, on
reaching the brow of a hillock, we saw a huge dome before us,
upon which the fierce rays of the sun striking, produced the
appearance of burnished gold. It belonged to the cathedral of
Salamanca, and we flattered ourselves that we were already at
our journey's end; we were deceived, however, being still four
leagues distant from the town, whose churches and convents,
towering up in gigantic masses, can be distinguished at an
immense distance, flattering the traveller with an idea of
propinquity which does not in reality exist. It was not till
long after nightfall that we arrived at the city gate, which we
found closed and guarded, in apprehension of a Carlist attack;
and having obtained admission with some difficulty, we led our
horses along dark, silent, and deserted streets, till we found
an individual who directed us to a large, gloomy, and
comfortless posada, that of the Bull, which we, however,
subsequently found was the best which the town afforded.
A melancholy town is Salamanca; the days of its
collegiate glory are long since past by, never more to return:
a circumstance, however, which is little to be regretted; for
what benefit did the world ever derive from scholastic
philosophy? And for that alone was Salamanca ever famous. Its
halls are now almost silent, and grass is growing in its
courts, which were once daily thronged by at least eight
thousand students; a number to which, at the present day, the
entire population of the city does not amount. Yet, with all
its melancholy, what an interesting, nay, what a magnificent
place is Salamanca! How glorious are its churches, how
stupendous are its deserted convents, and with what sublime but
sullen grandeur do its huge and crumbling walls, which crown
the precipitous bank of the Tormes, look down upon the lovely
river and its venerable bridge.
What a pity that, of the many rivers in Spain, scarcely
one is navigable. The beautiful but shallow Tormes, instead of
proving a source of blessing and wealth to this part of
Castile, is of no further utility than to turn the wheels of
various small water mills, standing upon weirs of stone, which
at certain distances traverse the river.
My sojourn at Salamanca was rendered particularly
pleasant by the kind attentions and continual acts of
hospitality which I experienced from the inmates of the Irish
College, to the rector of which I bore a letter of
recommendation from my kind and excellent friend Mr. O'Shea,
the celebrated banker of Madrid. It will be long before I
forget these Irish, more especially their head, Dr. Gartland, a
genuine scion of the good Hibernian tree, an accomplished
scholar, and a courteous and high-minded gentleman. Though
fully aware who I was, he held out the hand of friendship to
the wandering heretic missionary, although by so doing he
exposed himself to the rancorous remarks of the narrow-minded
native clergy, who, in their ugly shovel hats and long cloaks,
glared at me askance as I passed by their whispering groups
beneath the piazzas of the Plaza. But when did the fear of
consequences cause an Irishman to shrink from the exercise of
the duties of hospitality? However attached to his religion -
and who is so attached to the Romish creed as the Irishman? - I
am convinced that not all the authority of the Pope or the
Cardinals would induce him to close his doors on Luther
himself, were that respectable personage at present alive and
in need of food and refuge.
Honour to Ireland and her "hundred thousand welcomes!"
Her fields have long been the greenest in the world; her
daughters the fairest; her sons the bravest and most eloquent.
May they never cease to be so.
The posada where I had put up was a good specimen of the
old Spanish inn, being much the same as those described in the
time of Philip the Third or Fourth. The rooms were many and
large, floored with either brick or stone, generally with an
alcove at the end, in which stood a wretched flock bed. Behind
the house was a court, and in the rear of this a stable, full
of horses, ponies, mules, machos, and donkeys, for there was no
lack of guests, who, however, for the most part slept in the
stable with their caballerias, being either arrieros or small
peddling merchants who travelled the country with coarse cloth
or linen. Opposite to my room in the corridor lodged a wounded
officer, who had just arrived from San Sebastian on a galled
broken-kneed pony; he was an Estrimenian, and was returning to
his own village to be cured. He was attended by three broken
soldiers, lame or maimed, and unfit for service: they told me
that they were of the same village as his worship, and on that
account he permitted them to travel with him. They slept
amongst the litter, and throughout the day lounged about the
house smoking paper cigars. I never saw them eating, though
they frequently went to a dark cool corner, where stood a bota
or kind of water pitcher, which they held about six inches from
their black filmy lips, permitting the liquid to trickle down
their throats. They said they had no pay, and were quite
destitute of money, that SU MERCED the officer occasionally
gave them a piece of bread, but that he himself was poor and
had only a few dollars. Brave guests for an inn, thought I;
yet, to the honour of Spain be it spoken, it is one of the few
countries in Europe where poverty is never insulted nor looked
upon with contempt. Even at an inn, the poor man is never
spurned from the door, and if not harboured, is at least
dismissed with fair words, and consigned to the mercies of God
and his mother. This is as it should be. I laugh at the
bigotry and prejudices of Spain; I abhor the cruelty and
ferocity which have cast a stain of eternal infamy on her
history; but I will say for the Spaniards, that in their social
intercourse no people in the world exhibit a juster feeling of
what is due to the dignity of human nature, or better
understand the behaviour which it behoves a man to adopt
towards his fellow beings. I have said that it is one of the
few countries in Europe where poverty is not treated with
contempt, and I may add, where the wealthy are not blindly
idolized. In Spain the very beggar does not feel himself a
degraded being, for he kisses no one's feet, and knows not what
it is to be cuffed or spitten upon; and in Spain the duke or
the marquis can scarcely entertain a very overweening opinion
of his own consequence, as he finds no one, with perhaps the
exception of his French valet, to fawn upon or flatter him.
During my stay at Salamanca, I took measures that the
word of God might become generally known in this celebrated
city. The principal bookseller of the town, Blanco, a man of
great wealth and respectability, consented to become my agent
here, and I in consequence deposited in his shop a certain
number of New Testaments. He was the proprietor of a small
printing press, where the official bulletin of the place was
published. For this bulletin I prepared an advertisement of
the work, in which, amongst other things, I said that the New
Testament was the only guide to salvation; I also spoke of the
Bible Society, and the great pecuniary sacrifices which it was
making with the view of proclaiming Christ crucified, and of
making his doctrine known. This step will perhaps be
considered by some as too bold, but I was not aware that I
could take any more calculated to arouse the attention of the
people - a considerable point. I also ordered numbers of the
same advertisement to be struck off in the shape of bills,
which I caused to be stuck up in various parts of the town. I
had great hope that by means of these a considerable number of
New Testaments would be sold. I intended to repeat this
experiment in Valladolid, Leon, St. Jago, and all the principal
towns which I visited, and to distribute them likewise as I
rode along: the children of Spain would thus be brought to know
that such a work as the New Testament is in existence, a fact
of which not five in one hundred were then aware,
notwithstanding their so frequently-repeated boasts of their
Catholicity and Christianity.
Departure from Salamanca - Reception at Pitiegua - The Dilemma -
Sudden Inspiration - The Good Presbyter - Combat of Quadrupeds -
Irish Christians - Plains of Spain - The Catalans - Tha Fatal Pool -
Valladolid - Circulation of the Scriptures - Philippine Missions -
English College - A Conversation - The Gaoleress.
On Saturday, the tenth of June, I left Salamanca for
Valladolid. As the village where we intended to rest was only
five leagues distant, we did not sally forth till midday was
past. There was a haze in the heavens which overcast the sun,
nearly hiding his countenance from our view. My friend, Mr.
Patrick Cantwell, of the Irish College, was kind enough to ride
with me part of the way. He was mounted on a most sorrylooking
hired mule, which, I expected would be unable to keep
pace with the spirited horses of myself and man, for he seemed
to be twin brother of the mule of Gil Perez, on which his
nephew made his celebrated journey from Oviedo to Penaflor. I
was, however, very much mistaken. The creature on being
mounted instantly set off at that rapid walk which I have so
often admired in Spanish mules, and which no horse can emulate.
Our more stately animals were speedily left in the rear, and we
were continually obliged to break into a trot to follow the
singular quadruped, who, ever and anon, would lift his head
high in the air, curl up his lip, and show his yellow teeth, as
if he were laughing at us, as perhaps he was. It chanced that
none of us was well acquainted with the road; indeed, I could
see nothing which was fairly entitled to that appellation. The
way from Salamanca to Valladolid is amongst a medley of bridlepaths
and drift-ways, where discrimination is very difficult.
It was not long before we were bewildered, and travelled over
more ground than was strictly necessary. However, as men and
women frequently passed on donkeys and little ponies, we were
not too proud to be set right by them, and by dint of diligent
inquiry we at length arrived at Pitiegua, four leagues from
Salamanca, a small village, containing about fifty families,
consisting of mud huts, and situated in the midst of dusty
plains, where corn was growing in abundance. We asked for the
house of the cura, an old man whom I had seen the day before at
the Irish College, and who, on being informed that I was about
to depart for Valladolid, had exacted from me a promise that I
would not pass through his village without paying him a visit
and partaking of his hospitality.
A woman directed us to a cottage somewhat superior in
appearance to those contiguous. It had a small portico, which,
if I remember well, was overgrown with a vine. We knocked loud
and long at the door, but received no answer; the voice of man
was silent, and not even a dog barked. The truth was, that the
old curate was taking his siesta, and so were his whole family,
which consisted of one ancient female and a cat. The good man
was at last disturbed by our noise and vociferation, for we
were hungry, and consequently impatient. Leaping from his
couch, he came running to the door in great hurry and
confusion, and perceiving us, he made many apologies for being
asleep at a period when, he said, he ought to have been on the
lookout for his invited guest. He embraced me very
affectionately and conducted me into his parlour, an apartment
of tolerable size, hung round with shelves, which were crowded
with books. At one end there was a kind of table or desk
covered with black leather, with a large easy chair, into which
he pushed me, as I, with the true eagerness of a bibliomaniac,
was about to inspect his shelves; saying, with considerable
vehemence, that there was nothing there worthy of the attention
of an Englishman, for that his whole stock consisted of
breviaries and dry Catholic treatises on divinity.
His care now was to furnish us with refreshments. In a
twinkling, with the assistance of his old attendant, he placed
on the table several plates of cakes and confectionery, and a
number of large uncouth glass bottles, which I thought bore a
strong resemblance to those of Schiedam, and indeed they were
the very same. "There," said he, rubbing his hands; "I thank
God that it is in my power to treat you in a way which will be
agreeable to you. In those bottles there is Hollands thirty
years old"; and producing two large tumblers, he continued,
"fill, my friends, and drink, drink it every drop if you
please, for it is of little use to myself, who seldom drink
aught but water. I know that you islanders love it, and cannot
live without it; therefore, since it does you good, I am only
sorry that there is no more."
Observing that we contented ourselves with merely tasting
it, he looked at us with astonishment, and inquired the reason
of our not drinking. We told him that we seldom drank ardent
spirits; and I added, that as for myself, I seldom tasted even
wine, but like himself, was content with the use of water. He
appeared somewhat incredulous, but told us to do exactly what
we pleased, and to ask for what was agreeable to us. We told
him that we had not dined, and should be glad of some
substantial refreshment. "I am afraid," said he, "that I have
nothing in the house which will suit you; however, we will go
and see."
Thereupon he led us through a small yard at the back part
of his house, which might have been called a garden, or
orchard, if it had displayed either trees or flowers; but it
produced nothing but grass, which was growing in luxuriance.
At one end was a large pigeon-house, which we all entered:
"for," said the curate, "if we could find some nice delicate
pigeons they would afford you an excellent dinner." We were,
however, disappointed; for after rummaging the nests, we only
found very young ones, unfitted for our purpose. The good man
became very melancholy, and said he had some misgivings that we
should have to depart dinnerless. Leaving the pigeon-house, he
conducted us to a place where there were several skeps of bees,
round which multitudes of the busy insects were hovering,
filling the air with their music. "Next to my fellow
creatures," said he, "there is nothing which I love so dearly
as these bees; it is one of my delights to sit watching them,
and listening to their murmur." We next went to several
unfurnished rooms, fronting the yard, in one of which were
hanging several flitches of bacon, beneath which he stopped,
and looking up, gazed intently upon them. We told him that if
he had nothing better to offer, we should be very glad to eat
some slices of this bacon, especially if some eggs were added.
"To tell the truth," said he, "I have nothing better, and if
you can content yourselves with such fare I shall be very
happy; as for eggs you can have as many as you wish, and
perfectly fresh, for my hens lay every day."
So, after every thing was prepared and arranged to our
satisfaction, we sat down to dine on the bacon and eggs, in a
small room, not the one to which he had ushered us at first,
but on the other side of the doorway. The good curate, though
he ate nothing, having taken his meal long before, sat at the
head of the table, and the repast was enlivened by his chat.
"There, my friends," said he, "where you are now seated, once
sat Wellington and Crawford, after they had beat the French at
Arapiles, and rescued us from the thraldom of those wicked
people. I never respected my house so much as I have done
since they honoured it with their presence. They were heroes,
and one was a demigod." He then burst into a most eloquent
panegyric of El Gran Lord, as he termed him, which I should be
very happy to translate, were my pen capable of rendering into
English the robust thundering sentences of his powerful
Castilian. I had till then considered him a plain uninformed
old man, almost simple, and as incapable of much emotion as a
tortoise within its shell; but he had become at once inspired:
his eyes were replete with a bright fire, and every muscle of
his face was quivering. The little silk skull-cap which he
wore, according to the custom of the Catholic clergy, moved up
and down with his agitation, and I soon saw that I was in the
presence of one of those remarkable men who so frequently
spring up in the bosom of the Romish church, and who to a
child-like simplicity unite immense energy and power of mind, -
equally adapted to guide a scanty flock of ignorant rustics in
some obscure village in Italy or Spain, as to convert millions
of heathens on the shores of Japan, China, and Paraguay.
He was a thin spare man, of about sixty-five, and was
dressed in a black cloak of very coarse materials, nor were his
other garments of superior quality. This plainness, however,
in the appearance of his outward man was by no means the result
of poverty; quite the contrary. The benefice was a very
plentiful one, and placed at his disposal annually a sum of at
least eight hundred dollars, of which the eighth part was more
than sufficient to defray the expenses of his house and
himself; the rest was devoted entirely to the purest acts of
charity. He fed the hungry wanderer, and dispatched him
singing on his way, with meat in his wallet and a peseta in his
purse, and his parishioners, when in need of money, had only to
repair to his study and were sure of an immediate supply. He
was, indeed, the banker of the village, and what he lent he
neither expected nor wished to be returned. Though under the
necessity of making frequent journeys to Salamanca, he kept no
mule, but contented himself with an ass, borrowed from the
neighbouring miller. "I once kept a mule," said he, "but some
years since it was removed without my permission by a traveller
whom I had housed for the night: for in that alcove I keep two
clean beds for the use of the wayfaring, and I shall be very
much pleased if yourself and friend will occupy them, and tarry
with me till the morning."
But I was eager to continue my journey, and my friend was
no less anxious to return to Salamanca. Upon taking leave of
the hospitable curate, I presented him with a copy of the New
Testament. He received it without uttering a single word, and
placed it on one of the shelves of his study; but I observed
him nodding significantly to the Irish student, perhaps as much
as to say, "Your friend loses no opportunity of propagating his
book"; for he was well aware who I was. I shall not speedily
forget the truly good presbyter, Anthonio Garcia de Aguilar,
Cura of Pitiegua.
We reached Pedroso shortly before nightfall. It was a
small village containing about thirty houses, and intersected
by a rivulet, or as it is called a regata. On its banks women
and maidens were washing their linen and singing couplets; the
church stood lone and solitary on the farther side. We
inquired for the posada, and were shown a cottage differing
nothing from the rest in general appearance. We called at the
door in vain, as it is not the custom of Castile for the people
of these halting places to go out to welcome their visitors: at
last we dismounted and entered the house, demanding of a
sullen-looking woman where we were to place the horses. She
said there was a stable within the house, but we could not put
the animals there as it contained malos machos (SAVAGE MULES)
belonging to two travellers who would certainly fight with our
horses, and then there would be a funcion, which would tear the
house down. She then pointed to an outhouse across the way,
saying that we could stable them there. We entered this place,
which we found full of filth and swine, with a door without a
lock. I thought of the fate of the cura's mule, and was
unwilling to trust the horses in such a place, abandoning them
to the mercy of any robber in the neighbourhood. I therefore
entered the house, and said resolutely, that I was determined
to place them in the stable. Two men were squatted on the
ground, with an immense bowl of stewed hare before them, on
which they were supping; these were the travelling merchants,
the masters of the mutes. I passed on to the stable, one of
the men saying softly, "Yes, yes, go in and see what will
befall." I had no sooner entered the stable than I heard a
horrid discordant cry, something between a bray and a yell, and
the largest of the machos, tearing his head from the manger to
which he was fastened, his eyes shooting flames, and breathing
a whirlwind from his nostrils, flung himself on my stallion.
The horse, as savage as himself, reared on his hind legs, and
after the fashion of an English pugilist, repaid the other with
a pat on the forehead, which nearly felled him. A combat
instantly ensued, and I thought that the words of the sullen
woman would be verified by the house being torn to pieces. It
ended by my seizing the mute by the halter, at the risk of my
limbs, and hanging upon him with all my weight, whilst Antonio,
with much difficulty, removed the horse. The man who had been
standing at the entrance now came forward, saying, "This would
not have happened if you had taken good advice." Upon my
stating to him the unreasonableness of expecting that I would
risk horses in a place where they would probably be stolen
before the morning, he replied, "True, true, you have perhaps
done right." He then refastened his macho, adding for
additional security a piece of whipcord, which he said rendered
escape impossible.
After supper I roamed about the village. I addressed two
or three labourers whom I found standing at their doors; they
appeared, however, exceedingly reserved, and with a gruff
"BUENAS NOCHES" turned into their houses without inviting me to
enter. I at last found my way to the church porch, where I
continued some time in meditation. At last I bethought myself
of retiring to rest; before departing, however, I took out and
affixed to the porch of the church an advertisement to the
effect that the New Testament was to be purchased at Salamanca.
On returning to the house, I found the two travelling merchants
enjoying profound slumber on various mantas or mule-cloths
stretched on the floor. "You are a French merchant, I suppose,
Caballero," said a man, who it seemed was the master of the
house, and whom I had not before seen. "You are a French
merchant, I suppose, and are on the way to the fair of Medina."
"I am neither Frenchman nor merchant," I replied, "and though I
purpose passing through Medina, it is not with the view of
attending the fair." "Then you are one of the Irish Christians
from Salamanca, Caballero," said the man; "I hear you come from
that town." "Why do you call them IRISH CHRISTIANS?" I
replied. "Are there pagans in their country?" "We call them
Christians," said the man, "to distinguish them from the Irish
English, who are worse than pagans, who are Jews and heretics."
I made no answer, but passed on to the room which had been
prepared for me, and from which, the door being ajar, I heard
the following conversation passing between the innkeeper and
his wife:-
INNKEEPER. - Muger, it appears to me that we have evil
guests in the house.
WIFE. - You mean the last comers, the Caballero and his
servant. Yes, I never saw worse countenances in my life.
INNKEEPER. - I do not like the servant, and still less
the master. He has neither formality nor politeness: he tells
me that he is not French, and when I spoke to him of the Irish
Christians, he did not seem to belong to them. I more than
suspect that he is a heretic or a Jew at least.
WIFE. - Perhaps they are both. Maria Santissima! what
shall we do to purify the house when they are gone?
INNKEEPER. - O, as for that matter, we must of course
charge it in the cuenta.
I slept soundly, and rather late in the morning arose and
breakfasted, and paid the bill, in which, by its extravagance,
I found the purification had not been forgotten. The
travelling merchants had departed at daybreak. We now led
forth the horses, and mounted; there were several people at the
door staring at us. "What is the meaning of this?" said I to
"It is whispered that we are no Christians," said
Antonio; "they have come to cross themselves at our departure."
In effect, the moment that we rode forward a dozen hands
at least were busied in this evil-averting ceremony. Antonio
instantly turned and crossed himself in the Greek fashion, -
much more complex and difficult than the Catholic.
exclaimed many voices, whilst for fear of consequences we
hastened away.
* "See the crossing! see what devilish crossing!"
The day was exceedingly hot, and we wended our way slowly
along the plains of Old Castile. With all that pertains to
Spain, vastness and sublimity are associated: grand are its
mountains, and no less grand are its plains, which seem of
boundless extent, but which are not tame unbroken flats, like
the steppes of Russia. Rough and uneven ground is continually
occurring: here a deep ravine and gully worn by the wintry
torrent; yonder an eminence not unfrequently craggy and savage,
at whose top appears the lone solitary village. There is
little that is blithesome and cheerful, but much that is
melancholy. A few solitary rustics are occasionally seen
toiling in the fields - fields without limit or boundary, where
the green oak, the elm or the ash are unknown; where only the
sad and desolate pine displays its pyramid-like form, and where
no grass is to be found. And who are the travellers of these
districts? For the most part arrieros, with their long trains
of mules hung with monotonous tinkling bells. Behold them with
their brown faces, brown dresses, and broad slouched hats; -
the arrieros, the true lords of the roads of Spain, and to whom
more respect is paid in these dusty ways than to dukes and
condes; - the arrieros, sullen, proud, and rarely courteous,
whose deep voices may be sometimes heard at the distance of a
mile, either cheering the sluggish animals, or shortening the
dreary way with savage and dissonant songs.
Late in the afternoon, we reached Medina del Campo,
formerly one of the principal cities of Spain, though at
present an inconsiderable place. Immense ruins surround it in
every direction, attesting the former grandeur of this "city of
the plain." The great square or market-place is a remarkable
spot, surrounded by a heavy massive piazza, over which rise
black buildings of great antiquity. We found the town crowded
with people awaiting the fair, which was to be held in a day or
two. We experienced some difficulty in obtaining admission
into the posada, which was chiefly occupied by Catalans from
Valladolid. These people not only brought with them their
merchandise but their wives and children. Some of them
appeared to be people of the worst description: there was one
in particular, a burly savage-looking fellow, of about forty,
whose conduct was atrocious; he sat with his wife, or perhaps
concubine, at the door of a room which opened upon the court:
he was continually venting horrible and obscene oaths, both in
Spanish and Catalan. The woman was remarkably handsome, but
robust and seemingly as savage as himself; her conversation
likewise was as frightful as his own. Both seemed to be under
the influence of an incomprehensible fury. At last, upon some
observation from the woman, he started up, and drawing a long
knife from his girdle, stabbed at her naked bosom; she,
however, interposed the palm of her hand, which was much cut.
He stood for a moment viewing the blood trickling upon the
ground, whilst she held up her wounded hand, then with an
astounding oath he hurried up the court to the Plaza. I went
up to the woman and said, "What is the cause of this? I hope
the ruffian has not seriously injured you." She turned her
countenance upon me with the glance of a demon, and at last
with a sneer of contempt exclaimed, "CARALS, QUE ES ESO?
Cannot a Catalan gentleman be conversing with his lady upon
their own private affairs without being interrupted by you?"
She then bound up her hand with a handkerchief, and going into
the room brought a small table to the door, on which she placed
several things as if for the evening's repast, and then sat
down on a stool: presently returned the Catalan, and without a
word took his seat on the threshold; then, as if nothing had
occurred, the extraordinary couple commenced eating and
drinking, interlarding their meal with oaths and jests.
We spent the night at Medina, and departing early next
morning, passed through much the same country as the day
before, until about noon we reached a small venta, distant half
a league from the Duero; here we reposed ourselves during the
heat of the day, and then remounting, crossed the river by a
handsome stone bridge, and directed our course to Valladolid.
The banks of the Duero in this place have much beauty: they
abound with trees and brushwood, amongst which, as we passed
along, various birds were singing melodiously. A delicious
coolness proceeded from the water, which in some parts brawled
over stones or rippled fleetly over white sand, and in others
glided softly over blue pools of considerable depth. By the
side of one of these last, sat a woman of about thirty, neatly
dressed as a peasant; she was gazing upon the water into which
she occasionally flung flowers and twigs of trees. I stopped
for a moment to ask a question; she, however, neither looked up
nor answered, but continued gazing at the water as if lost to
consciousness of all beside. "Who is that woman?" said I to a
shepherd, whom I met the moment after. "She is mad, LA
POBRECITA," said he; "she lost her child about a month ago in
that pool, and she has been mad ever since; they are going to
send her to Valladolid, to the Casa de los Locos. There are
many who perish every year in the eddies of the Duero; it is a
through the pinares, or thin scanty pine forests, which skirt
the way to Valladolid in this direction.
Valladolid is seated in the midst of an immense valley,
or rather hollow which seems to have been scooped by some
mighty convulsion out of the plain ground of Castile. The
eminences which appear in the neighbourhood are not properly
high grounds, but are rather the sides of this hollow. They
are jagged and precipitous, and exhibit a strange and uncouth
appearance. Volcanic force seems at some distant period to
have been busy in these districts. Valladolid abounds with
convents, at present deserted, which afford some of the finest
specimens of architecture in Spain. The principal church,
though rather ancient, is unfinished: it was intended to be a
building of vast size, but the means of the founders were
insufficient to carry out their plan: it is built of rough
granite. Valladolid is a manufacturing town, but the commerce
is chiefly in the hands of the Catalans, of whom there is a
colony of nearly three hundred established here. It possesses
a beautiful alameda, or public walk, through which flows the
river Escurva. The population is said to amount to sixty
thousand souls.
We put up at the Posada de las Diligencias, a very
magnificent edifice: this posada, however, we were glad to quit
on the second day after our arrival, the accommodation being of
the most wretched description, and the incivility of the people
great; the master of the house, an immense tall fellow, with
huge moustaches and an assumed military air, being far too high
a cavalier to attend to the wants of his guests, with whom, it
is true, he did not appear to be overburdened, as I saw no one
but Antonio and myself. He was a leading man amongst the
national guards of Valladolid, and delighted in parading about
the city on a clumsy steed, which he kept in a subterranean
Our next quarters were at the Trojan Horse, an ancient
posada, kept by a native of the Basque provinces, who at least
was not above his business. We found everything in confusion
at Valladolid, a visit from the factious being speedily
expected. All the gates were blockaded, and various forts had
been built to cover the approaches to the city. Shortly after
our departure the Carlists actually did arrive, under the
command of the Biscayan chief, Zariategui. They experienced no
opposition; the staunchest nationals retiring to the principal
fort, which they, however, speedily surrendered, not a gun
being fired throughout the affair. As for my friend the hero
of the inn, on the first rumour of the approach of the enemy,
he mounted his horse and rode off, and was never subsequently
heard of. On our return to Valladolid, we found the inn in
other and better hands, those of a Frenchman from Bayonne, from
whom we received as much civility as we had experienced
rudeness from his predecessor.
In a few days I formed the acquaintance of the bookseller
of the place, a kind-hearted simple man, who willingly
undertook the charge of vending the Testaments which I brought.
I found literature of every description at the lowest ebb
at Valladolid. My newly-acquired friend merely carried on
bookselling in connexion with other business; it being, as he
assured me, in itself quite insufficient to afford him a
livelihood. During the week, however, that I continued in this
city, a considerable number of copies were disposed of, and a
fair prospect opened that many more would be demanded. To call
attention to my books, I had recourse to the same plan which I
had adopted at Salamanca, the affixing of advertisements to the
walls. Before leaving the city, I gave orders that these
should be renewed every week; from pursuing which course I
expected that much manifold good would accrue, as the people
would have continual opportunities of learning that a book
which contains the living word was in existence, and within
their reach, which might induce them to secure it and consult
it even unto salvation.
In Valladolid I found both an English and Scotch College.
From my obliging friends, the Irish at Salamanca, I bore a
letter of introduction to the rector of the latter. I found
this college an old gloomy edifice, situated in a retired
street. The rector was dressed in the habiliments of a Spanish
ecclesiastic, a character which he was evidently ambitious of
assuming. There was something dry and cold in his manner, and
nothing of that generous warmth and eager hospitality which had
so captivated me in the fine Irish rector of Salamanca; he was,
however, civil and polite, and offered to show me the
curiosities of the place. He evidently knew who I was, and on
that account was, perhaps, more reserved than he otherwise
would have been: not a word passed between us on religious
matters, which we seemed to avoid by common consent. Under the
auspices of this gentleman, I visited the college of the
Philippine Missions, which stands beyond the gate of the city,
where I was introduced to the superior, a fine old man of
seventy, very stout, in the habiliments of a friar. There was
an air of placid benignity on his countenance which highly
interested me: his words were few and simple, and he seemed to
have bid adieu to all worldly passions. One little weakness
was, however, still clinging to him.
MYSELF. - This is a noble edifice in which you dwell,
Father; I should think it would contain at least two hundred
RECTOR. - More, my son; it is intended for more hundreds
than it now contains single individuals.
MYSELF. - I observe that some rude attempts have been
made to fortify it; the walls are pierced with loopholes in
every direction.
RECTOR. - The nationals of Valladolid visited us a few
days ago, and committed much useless damage; they were rather
rude, and threatened me with their clubs: poor men, poor men.
MYSELF. - I suppose that even these missions, which are
certainly intended for a noble end, experience the sad effects
of the present convulsed state of Spain?
RECTOR. - But too true: we at present receive no
assistance from the government, and are left to the Lord and
MYSELF. - How many aspirants for the mission are you at
present instructing?
RECTOR. - Not one, my son; not one. They are all fled.
The flock is scattered and the shepherd left alone.
MYSELF. - Your reverence has doubtless taken an active
part in the mission abroad?
RECTOR. - I was forty years in the Philippines, my son,
forty years amongst the Indians. Ah me! how I love those
Indians of the Philippines.
MYSELF. - Can your reverence discourse in the language of
the Indians?
RECTOR. - No, my son. We teach the Indians Castilian.
There is no better language, I believe. We teach them
Castilian, and the adoration of the Virgin. What more need
they know?
MYSELF. - And what did your reverence think of the
Philippines as a country?
RECTOR. - I was forty years in the Philippines, but I
know little of the country. I do not like the country. I love
the Indians. The country is not very bad; it is, however, not
worth Castile.
MYSELF. - Is your reverence a Castilian?
RECTOR. - I am an OLD Castilian, my son.
From the house of the Philippine Missions my friend
conducted me to the English college; this establishment seemed
in every respect to be on a more magnificent scale than its
Scottish sister. In the latter there were few pupils, scarcely
six or seven, I believe, whilst in the English seminary I was
informed that between thirty and forty were receiving their
education. It is a beautiful building, with a small but
splendid church, and a handsome library. The situation is
light and airy: it stands by itself in an unfrequented part of
the city, and, with genuine English exclusiveness, is
surrounded by a high wall, which encloses a delicious garden.
This is by far the most remarkable establishment of the kind in
the Peninsula, and I believe the most prosperous. From the
cursory view which I enjoyed of its interior, I of course
cannot be expected to know much of its economy. I could not,
however, fall to be struck with the order, neatness, and system
which pervaded it. There was, however, an air of severe
monastic discipline, though I am far from asserting that such
actually existed. We were attended throughout by the subrector,
the principal being absent. Of all the curiosities of
this college, the most remarkable is the picture gallery, which
contains neither more nor less than the portraits of a variety
of scholars of this house who eventually suffered martyrdom in
England, in the exercise of their vocation in the angry times
of the Sixth Edward and fierce Elizabeth. Yes, in this very
house were many of those pale smiling half-foreign priests
educated, who, like stealthy grimalkins, traversed green
England in all directions; crept into old halls beneath
umbrageous rookeries, fanning the dying embers of Popery, with
no other hope nor perhaps wish than to perish disembowelled by
the bloody hands of the executioner, amongst the yells of a
rabble as bigoted as themselves: priests like Bedingfield and
Garnet, and many others who have left a name in English story.
Doubtless many a history, only the more wonderful for being
true, could be wrought out of the archives of the English
Popish seminary at Valladolid.
There was no lack of guests at the Trojan Horse, where we
had taken up our abode at Valladolid. Amongst others who
arrived during my sojourn was a robust buxom dame, exceedingly
well dressed in black silk, with a costly mantilla. She was
accompanied by a very handsome, but sullen and maliciouslooking
urchin of about fifteen, who appeared to be her son.
She came from Toro, a place about a day's journey from
Valladolid, and celebrated for its wine. One night, as we were
seated in the court of the inn enjoying the fresco, the
following conversation ensued between us.
LADY. - Vaya, vaya, what a tiresome place is Valladolid!
How different from Toro.
MYSELF. - I should have thought that it is at least as
agreeable as Toro, which is not a third part so large.
LADY. - As agreeable as Toro! Vaya, vaya! Were you ever
in the prison of Toro, Sir Cavalier?
MYSELF. - I have never had that honour; the prison is
generally the last place which I think of visiting.
LADY. - See the difference of tastes: I have been to see
the prison of Valladolid, and it seems as tiresome as the town.
MYSELF. - Of course, if grief and tediousness exist
anywhere, you will find them in the prison.
LADY. - Not in that of Toro.
MYSELF. - What does that of Toro possess to distinguish
it from all others?
LADY. - What does it possess? Vaya! Am I not the
carcelera? Is not my husband the alcayde? Is not that son of
mine a child of the prison?
MYSELF. - I beg your pardon, I was not aware of that
circumstance; it of course makes much difference.
LADY. - I believe you. I am a daughter of that prison,
my father was alcayde, and my son might hope to be so, were he
not a fool.
MYSELF. - His countenance then belies him strangely: I
should be loth to purchase that youngster for a fool.
GAOLERESS. - You would have a fine bargain if you did; he
has more picardias than any Calabozero in Toro. What I mean
is, that he does not take to the prison as he ought to do,
considering what his fathers were before him. He has too much
pride - too many fancies; and he has at length persuaded me to
bring him to Valladolid, where I have arranged with a merchant
who lives in the Plaza to take him on trial. I wish he may not
find his way to the prison: if he do, he will find that being a
prisoner is a very different thing from being a son of the
MYSELF. - As there is so much merriment at Toro, you of
course attend to the comfort of your prisoners.
GAOLERESS. - Yes, we are very kind to them; I mean to
those who are caballeros; but as for those with vermin and
miseria, what can we do? It is a merry prison that of Toro; we
allow as much wine to enter as the prisoners can purchase and
pay duty for. This of Valladolid is not half so gay: there is
no prison like Toro. I learned there to play on the guitar.
An Andalusian cavalier taught me to touch the guitar and to
sing a la Gitana. Poor fellow, he was my first novio.
Juanito, bring me the guitar, that I may play this gentleman a
tune of Andalusia.
The carcelera had a fine voice, and touched the favourite
instrument of the Spaniards in a truly masterly manner. I
remained listening to her performance for nearly an hour, when
I retired to my apartment and my repose. I believe that she
continued playing and singing during the greater part of the
night, for as I occasionally awoke I could still hear her; and,
even in my slumbers, the strings were ringing in my ears.
Duenas - Children of Egypt - Jockeyism - The Baggage Pony -
The Fall - Palencia - Carlist Priests - The Lookout -
Priestly Sincerity - Leon - Antonio alarmed - Heat and Dust.
After a sojourn of about ten days at Valladolid, we
directed our course towards Leon. We arrived about noon at
Duenas, a town at the distance of six short leagues from
Valladolid. It is in every respect a singular place: it stands
on a rising ground, and directly above it towers a steep
conical mountain of calcareous earth, crowned by a ruined
castle. Around Duenas are seen a multitude of caves scooped in
the high banks and secured with strong doors. These are
cellars, in which is deposited the wine, of which abundance is
grown in the neighbourhood, and which is chiefly sold to the
Navarrese and the mountaineers of Santander, who arrive in cars
drawn by oxen, and convey it away in large quantities. We put
up at a mean posada in the suburb for the purpose of refreshing
our horses. Several cavalry soldiers were quartered there, who
instantly came forth, and began, with the eyes of connoisseurs,
to inspect my Andalusian entero. "A capital horse that would
be for our troop," said the corporal; "what a chest he has. By
what right do you travel with that horse, Senor, when so many
are wanted for the Queen's service? He belongs to the
requiso." "I travel with him by right of purchase, and being
an Englishman," I replied. "Oh, your worship is an
Englishman," answered the corporal; "that, indeed, alters the
matter; the English in Spain are allowed to do what they please
with their own, which is more than the Spaniards are.
Cavalier, I have seen your countrymen in the Basque provinces;
Vaya, what riders! what horses! They do not fight badly
either. But their chief skill is in riding: I have seen them
dash over barrancos to get at the factious, who thought
themselves quite secure, and then they would fall upon them on
a sudden and kill them to a man. In truth, your worship, this
is a fine horse, I must look at his teeth."
I looked at the corporal - his nose and eyes were in the
horse's mouth: the rest of the party, who might amount to six
or seven, were not less busily engaged. One was examining his
forefeet, another his hind; one fellow was pulling at his tail
with all his might, while another pinched the windpipe, for the
purpose of discovering whether the animal was at all touched
there. At last perceiving that the corporal was about to
remove the saddle that he might examine the back of the animal,
I exclaimed:-
"Stay, ye chabes of Egypt, ye forget that ye are
hundunares, and are no longer paruguing grastes in the chardy."
The corporal at these words turned his face full upon me,
and so did all the rest. Yes, sure enough, there were the
countenances of Egypt, and the fixed filmy stare of eye. We
continued looking at each other for a minute at least, when the
corporal, a villainous-looking fellow, at last said, in the
richest gypsy whine imaginable, "the erray know us, the poor
Calore! And he an Englishman! Bullati! I should not have
thought that there was e'er a Busno would know us in these
parts, where Gitanos are never seen. Yes, your worship is
right; we are all here of the blood of the Calore; we are from
Melegrana (Granada), your worship; they took us from thence and
sent us to the wars. Your worship is right, the sight of that
horse made us believe we were at home again in the mercado of
Granada; he is a countryman of ours, a real Andalou. Por dios,
your worship, sell us that horse; we are poor Calore, but we
can buy him."
"You forget that you are soldiers," said I. "How should
you buy my horse?"
"We are soldiers, your worship," said the corporal, "but
we are still Calore; we buy and sell bestis; the captain of our
troop is in league with us. We have been to the wars, but not
to fight; we left that to the Busne. We have kept together,
and like true Calore, have stood back to back. We have made
money in the wars, your worship. NO TENGA USTED CUIDAO (be
under no apprehension). We can buy your horse."
Here he pulled out a purse, which contained at least ten
ounces of gold.
"If I were willing to sell," I replied, "what would you
give me for that horse?"
"Then your worship wishes to sell your horse - that
alters the matter. We will give ten dollars for your worship's
horse. He is good for nothing."
"How is this?" said I. "You this moment told me he was a
fine horse - an Andalusian, and a countryman of yours."
"No, Senor! we did not say that he was an Andalou. We
said he was an Estremou, and the worst of his kind. He is
eighteen years old, your worship, short-winded and galled."
"I do not wish to sell my horse," said I; "quite the
contrary; I had rather buy than sell."
"Your worship does not wish to sell your horse," said the
Gypsy. "Stay, your worship, we will give sixty dollars for
your worship's horse."
"I would not sell him for two hundred and sixty. Meclis!
Meclis! say no more. I know your Gypsy tricks. I will have no
dealings with you."
"Did I not hear your worship say that you wished to buy a
horse?" said the Gypsy.
"I do not want to buy a horse," said I; "if I need any
thing, it is a pony to carry our baggage; but it is getting
late. Antonio, pay the reckoning."
"Stay, your worship, do not be in a hurry," said the
Gypsy: "I have got the very pony which will suit you."
Without waiting for my answer, he hurried into the
stable, from whence he presently returned, leading an animal by
a halter. It was a pony of about thirteen hands high, of a
dark red colour; it was very much galled all over, the marks of
ropes and thongs being visible on its hide. The figure,
however, was good, and there was an extraordinary brightness in
its eye.
"There, your worship," said the Gypsy; "there is the best
pony in all Spain."
"What do you mean by showing me this wretched creature?"
said I.
"This wretched creature," said the Gypsy, "is a better
horse than your Andalou!"
"Perhaps you would not exchange," said I, smiling.
"Senor, what I say is, that he shall run with your
Andalou, and beat him!"
"He looks feeble," said I; "his work is well nigh done."
"Feeble as he is, Senor, you could not manage him; no,
nor any Englishman in Spain."
I looked at the creature again, and was still more struck
with its figure. I was in need of a pony to relieve
occasionally the horse of Antonio in carrying the baggage which
we had brought from Madrid, and though the condition of this
was wretched, I thought that by kind treatment I might possibly
soon bring him round.
"May I mount this animal?" I demanded.
"He is a baggage pony, Senor, and is ill to mount. He
will suffer none but myself to mount him, who am his master.
When he once commences running, nothing will stop him but the
sea. He springs over hills and mountains, and leaves them
behind in a moment. If you will mount him, Senor, suffer me to
fetch a bridle, for you can never hold him in with the halter."
"This is nonsense," said I. "You pretend that he is
spirited in order to enhance the price. I tell you his work is
I took the halter in my hand and mounted. I was no
sooner on his back than the creature, who had before stood
stone still, without displaying the slightest inclination to
move, and who in fact gave no farther indication of existence
than occasionally rolling his eyes and pricking up an ear,
sprang forward like a racehorse, at a most desperate gallop. I
had expected that he might kick or fling himself down on the
ground, in order to get rid of his burden, but for this
escapade I was quite unprepared. I had no difficulty, however,
in keeping on his back, having been accustomed from my
childhood to ride without a saddle. To stop him, however,
baffled all my endeavours, and I almost began to pay credit to
the words of the Gypsy, who had said that he would run on until
he reached the sea. I had, however, a strong arm, and I tugged
at the halter until I compelled him to turn slightly his neck,
which from its stiffness might almost have been of wood; he,
however, did not abate his speed for a moment. On the left
side of the road down which he was dashing was a deep trench,
just where the road took a turn towards the right, and over
this he sprang in a sideward direction; the halter broke with
the effort, the pony shot forward like an arrow, whilst I fell
back into the dust.
"Senor!" said the Gypsy, coming up with the most serious
countenance in the world, "I told you not to mount that animal
unless well bridled and bitted. He is a baggage pony, and will
suffer none to mount his back, with the exception of myself who
feed him." (Here he whistled, and the animal, who was scurring
over the field, and occasionally kicking up his heels,
instantly returned with a gentle neigh.) "Now, your worship,
see how gentle he is. He is a capital baggage pony, and will
carry all you have over the hills of Galicia."
"What do you ask for him?" said I.
"Senor, as your worship is an Englishman, and a good
ginete, and, moreover, understands the ways of the Calore, and
their tricks and their language also, I will sell him to you a
bargain. I will take two hundred and sixty dollars for him and
no less."
"That is a large sum," said I.
"No, Senor, not at all, considering that he is a baggage
pony, and belongs to the troop, and is not mine to sell."
Two hours' ride brought us to Palencia, a fine old town,
beautifully situated on the Carrion, and famous for its trade
in wool. We put up at the best posada which the place
afforded, and I forthwith proceeded to visit one of the
principal merchants of the town, to whom I was recommended by
my banker in Madrid. I was told, however, that he was taking
his siesta. "Then I had better take my own," said I, and
returned to the posada. In the evening I went again, when I
saw him. He was a short bulky man about thirty, and received
me at first with some degree of bluntness; his manner, however,
presently became more kind, and at last he scarcely appeared to
know how to show me sufficient civility. His brother had just
arrived from Santander, and to him he introduced me. This last
was a highly-intelligent person, and had passed many years of
his life in England. They both insisted upon showing me the
town, and, indeed, led me all over it, and about the
neighbourhood. I particularly admired the cathedral, a light,
elegant, but ancient Gothic edifice. Whilst we walked about
the aisles, the evening sun, pouring its mellow rays through
the arched windows, illumined some beautiful paintings of
Murillo, with which the sacred edifice is adorned. From the
church my friends conducted me to a fulling mill in the
neighbourhood, by a picturesque walk. There was no lack either
of trees or water, and I remarked, that the environs of
Palencia were amongst the most pleasant places that I had ever
Tired at last with rambling, we repaired to a coffeehouse,
where they regaled me with chocolate and sweet-meats.
Such was their hospitality; and of hospitality of this simple
and agreeable kind there is much in Spain.
On the next day we pursued our journey, a dreary one, for
the most part, over bleak and barren plains, interspersed with
silent and cheerless towns and villages, which stood at the
distance of two or three leagues from each other. About midday
we obtained a dim and distant view of an immense range of
mountains, which are in fact those which bound Castile on the
north. The day, however, became dim and obscure, and we
speedily lost sight of them. A hollow wind now arose and blew
over these desolate plains with violence, wafting clouds of
dust into our faces; the rays of the sun were few, and those
red and angry. I was tired of my journey, and when about four
we reached -, a large village, half way between Palencia and
Leon, I declared my intention of stopping for the night. I
scarcely ever saw a more desolate place than this same town or
village of -. The houses were for the most part large, but the
walls were of mud, like those of barns. We saw no person in
the long winding street to direct us to the venta, or posada,
till at last, at the farther end of the place, we descried two
black figures standing at a door, of whom, on making inquiry,
we learned that the door at which they stood was that of the
house we were in quest of. There was something strange in the
appearance of these two beings, who seemed the genii of the
place. One was a small slim man, about fifty, with sharp, illnatured
features. He was dressed in coarse black worsted
stockings, black breeches, and an ample black coat with long
trailing skirts. I should at once have taken him for an
ecclesiastic, but for his hat, which had nothing clerical about
it, being a pinched diminutive beaver. His companion was of
low stature, and a much younger man. He was dressed in similar
fashion, save that he wore a dark blue cloak. Both carried
walking sticks in their hands, and kept hovering about the
door, now within and now without, occasionally looking up the
road, as if they expected some one.
"Trust me, mon maitre," said Antonio to me, in French,
"those two fellows are Carlist priests, and are awaiting the
arrival of the Pretender. LES IMBECILES!"
We conducted our horses to the stable, to which we were
shown by the woman of the house. "Who are those men?" said I
to her.
"The eldest is head curate to our pueblo," said she; "the
other is brother to my husband. Pobrecito! he was a friar in
our convent before it was shut up and the brethren driven
We returned to the door. "I suppose, gentlemen," said
the curate, "that you are Catalans. Do you bring any news from
that kingdom?"
"Why do you suppose we are Catalans?" I demanded.
"Because I heard you this moment conversing in that
"I bring no news from Catalonia," said I. "I believe,
however, that the greater part of that principality is in the
hands of the Carlists."
"Ahem, brother Pedro! This gentleman says that the
greater part of Catalonia is in the hands of the royalists.
Pray, sir, where may Don Carlos be at present with his army?"
"He may be coming down the road this moment," said I,
"for what I know;" and, stepping out, I looked up the way.
The two figures were at my side in a moment; Antonio
followed, and we all four looked intently up the road.
"Do you see anything?" said I at last to Antonio.
"Do you see anything, sir?" said I to the curate.
"I see nothing," said the curate, stretching out his
"I see nothing," said Pedro, the ex-friar; "I see nothing
but the dust, which is becoming every moment more blinding."
"I shall go in, then," said I. "Indeed, it is scarcely
prudent to be standing here looking out for the Pretender:
should the nationals of the town hear of it, they might perhaps
shoot us."
"Ahem," said the curate, following me; "there are no
nationals in this place: I would fain see what inhabitant would
dare become a national. When the inhabitants of this place
were ordered to take up arms as nationals, they refused to a
man, and on that account we had to pay a mulet; therefore,
friend, you may speak out if you have anything to communicate;
we are all of your opinion here."
"I am of no opinion at all," said I, "save that I want my
supper. I am neither for Rey nor Roque. You say that I am a
Catalan, and you know that Catalans think only of their own
In the evening I strolled by myself about the village,
which I found still more forlorn and melancholy than it at
first appeared; perhaps, however, it had been a place of
consequence in its time. In one corner of it I found the ruins
of a large clumsy castle, chiefly built of flint stones: into
these ruins I attempted to penetrate, but the entrance was
secured by a gate. From the castle I found my way to the
convent, a sad desolate place, formerly the residence of
mendicant brothers of the order of St. Francis. I was about to
return to the inn, when I heard a loud buzz of voices, and,
following the sound, presently reached a kind of meadow, where,
upon a small knoll, sat a priest in full canonicals, reading in
a loud voice a newspaper, while around him, either erect or
seated on the grass, were assembled about fifty vecinos, for
the most part dressed in long cloaks, amongst whom I discovered
my two friends the curate and friar. A fine knot of Carlist
quid-nuncs, said I to myself, and turned away to another part
of the meadow, where the cattle of the village were grazing.
The curate, on observing me, detached himself instantly from
the group, and followed. "I am told you want a pony," said he;
"there now is mine feeding amongst those horses, the best in
all the kingdom of Leon." He then began with all the
volubility of a chalan to descant on the points of the animal.
Presently the friar joined us, who, observing his opportunity,
pulled me by the sleeve and whispered, "Have nothing to do with
the curate, master, he is the greatest thief in the
neighbourhood; if you want a pony, my brother has a much
better, which he will dispose of cheaper." "I shall wait till
I arrive at Leon," I exclaimed, and walked away, musing on
priestly friendship and sincerity.
From - to Leon, a distance of eight leagues, the country
rapidly improved: we passed over several small streams, and
occasionally found ourselves amongst meadows in which grass was
growing in the richest luxuriance. The sun shone out brightly,
and I hailed his reappearance with joy, though the heat of his
beams was oppressive. On arriving within two leagues of Leon,
we passed numerous cars and waggons, and bands of people with
horses and mules, all hastening to the celebrated fair which is
held in the city on St. John's or Mid-summer day, and which
took place within three days after our arrival. This fair,
though principally intended for the sale of horses, is
frequented by merchants from many parts of Spain, who attend
with goods of various kinds, and amongst them I remarked many
of the Catalans whom I had previously seen at Medina and
There is nothing remarkable in Leon, which is an old
gloomy town, with the exception of its cathedral, in many
respects a counterpart of the church of Palencia, exhibiting
the same light and elegant architecture, but, unlike its
beautiful sister, unadorned with splendid paintings. The
situation of Leon is highly pleasant, in the midst of a
blooming country, abounding with trees, and watered by many
streams, which have their source in the mighty mountains in the
neighbourhood. It is, however, by no means a healthy place,
especially in summer, when the heats raise noxious exhalations
from the waters, generating many kinds of disorders, especially
I had scarcely been at Leon three days when I was seized
with a fever, against which I thought the strength even of my
constitution would have yielded, for it wore me almost to a
skeleton, and when it departed, at the end of about a week,
left me in such a deplorable state of weakness that I was
scarcely able to make the slightest exertion. I had, however,
previously persuaded a bookseller to undertake the charge of
vending the Testaments, and had published my advertisements as
usual, though without very sanguine hope of success, as Leon is
a place where the inhabitants, with very few exceptions, are
furious Carlists, and ignorant and blinded followers of the old
papal church. It is, moreover, a bishop's see, which was once
enjoyed by the prime counsellor of Don Carlos, whose fierce and
bigoted spirit still seems to pervade the place. Scarcely had
the advertisements appeared, when the clergy were in motion.
They went from house to house, banning and cursing, and
denouncing misery to whomsoever should either purchase or read
"the accursed books," which had been sent into the country by
heretics for the purpose of perverting the innocent minds of
the population. They did more; they commenced a process
against the bookseller in the ecclesiastical court.
Fortunately this court is not at present in the possession of
much authority; and the bookseller, a bold and determined man,
set them at defiance, and went so far as to affix an
advertisement to the gate of the very cathedral.
Notwithstanding the cry raised against the book, several copies
were sold at Leon: two were purchased by ex-friars, and the
same number by parochial priests from neighbouring villages. I
believe the whole number disposed of during my stay amounted to
fifteen; so that my visit to this dark corner was not
altogether in vain, as the seed of the gospel has been sown,
though sparingly. But the palpable darkness which envelops
Leon is truly lamentable, and the ignorance of the people is so
great, that printed charms and incantations against Satan and
his host, and against every kind of misfortune, are publicly
sold in the shops, and are in great demand. Such are the
results of Popery, a delusion which, more than any other, has
tended to debase and brutalize the human mind.
I had scarcely risen from my bed where the fever had cast
me, when I found that Antonio had become alarmed. He informed
me that he had seen several soldiers in the uniform of Don
Carlos lurking at the door of the posada, and that they had
been making inquiries concerning me.
It was indeed a singular fact connected with Leon, that
upwards of fifty of these fellows, who had on various accounts
left the ranks of the Pretender, were walking about the streets
dressed in his livery, and with all the confidence which the
certainty of protection from the local authorities could afford
them should any one be disposed to interrupt them.
I learned moreover from Antonio, that the person in whose
house we were living was a notorious "alcahuete," or spy to the
robbers in the neighbourhood, and that unless we took our
departure speedily and unexpectedly, we should to a certainty
be plundered on the road. I did not pay much attention to
these hints, but my desire to quit Leon was great, as I was
convinced that as long as I continued there I should be unable
to regain my health and vigour.
Accordingly, at three in the morning, we departed for
Galicia. We had scarcely proceeded half a league when we were
overtaken by a thunder-storm of tremendous violence. We were
at that time in the midst of a wood which extends to some
distance in the direction in which we were going. The trees
were bowed almost to the ground by the wind or torn up by the
roots, whilst the earth was ploughed up by the lightning, which
burst all around and nearly blinded us. The spirited
Andalusian on which I rode became furious, and bounded into the
air as if possessed. Owing to my state of weakness, I had the
greatest difficulty in maintaining my seat, and avoiding a fall
which might have been fatal. A tremendous discharge of rain
followed the storm, which swelled the brooks and streams and
flooded the surrounding country, causing much damage amongst
the corn. After riding about five leagues, we began to enter
the mountainous district which surrounds Astorga: the heat now
became almost suffocating; swarms of flies began to make their
appearance, and settling down upon the horses, stung them
almost to madness, whilst the road was very flinty and trying.
It was with great difficulty that we reached Astorga, covered
with mud and dust, our tongues cleaving to our palates with
Astorga - The Inn - The Maragatos - The Habits of the Maragatos -
The Statue.
We went to a posada in the suburbs, the only one, indeed,
which the place afforded. The courtyard was full of arrieros
and carriers, brawling loudly; the master of the house was
fighting with two of his customers, and universal confusion
reigned around. As I dismounted I received the contents of a
wineglass in my face, of which greeting, as it was probably
intended for another, I took no notice. Antonio, however, was
not so patient, for on being struck with a cudgel, he instantly
returned the salute with his whip, scarifying the countenance
of a carman. In my endeavours to separate these two
antagonists, my horse broke loose, and rushing amongst the
promiscuous crowd, overturned several individuals and committed
no little damage. It was a long time before peace was
restored: at last we were shown to a tolerably decent chamber.
We had, however, no sooner taken possession of it, than the
waggon from Madrid arrived on its way to Coruna, filled with
dusty travellers, consisting of women, children, invalid
officers and the like. We were now forthwith dislodged, and
our baggage flung into the yard. On our complaining of this
treatment, we were told that we were two vagabonds whom nobody
knew; who had come without an arriero, and had already set the
whole house in confusion. As a great favour, however, we were
at length permitted to take up our abode in a ruinous building
down the yard, adjoining the stable, and filled with rats and
vermin. Here there was an old bed with a tester, and with this
wretched accommodation we were glad to content ourselves, for I
could proceed no farther, and was burnt with fever. The heat
of the place was intolerable, and I sat on the staircase with
my head between my hands, gasping for breath: soon appeared
Antonio with vinegar and water, which I drank and felt
We continued in this suburb three days, during the
greatest part of which time I was stretched on the tester bed.
I once or twice contrived to make my way into the town, but
found no bookseller, nor any person willing to undertake the
charge of disposing of my Testaments. The people were brutal,
stupid, and uncivil, and I returned to my tester bed fatigued
and dispirited. Here I lay listening from time to time to the
sweet chimes which rang from the clock of the old cathedral.
The master of the house never came near me, nor indeed, once
inquired about me. Beneath the care of Antonio, however, I
speedily waxed stronger. "MON MAITRE," said he to me one
evening, "I see you are better; let us quit this bad town and
worse posada to-morrow morning. ALLONS, MON MAITRE! IL EST
Before proceeding, however, to narrate what befell us in
this journey to Lugo and Galicia, it will perhaps not be amiss
to say a few words concerning Astorga and its vicinity. It is
a walled town, containing about five or six thousand
inhabitants, with a cathedral and college, which last is,
however, at present deserted. It is situated on the confines,
and may be called the capital of a tract of land called the
country of the Maragatos, which occupies about three square
leagues, and has for its north-western boundary a mountain
called Telleno, the loftiest of a chain of hills which have
their origin near the mouth of the river Minho, and are
connected with the immense range which constitutes the frontier
of the Asturias and Guipuscoa.
The land is ungrateful and barren, and niggardly repays
the toil of the cultivator, being for the most part rocky, with
a slight sprinkling of red brick earth.
The Maragatos are perhaps the most singular caste to be
found amongst the chequered population of Spain. They have
their own peculiar customs and dress, and never intermarry with
the Spaniards. Their name is a clue to their origin, as it
signifies, "Moorish Goths," and at the present day their garb
differs but little from that of the Moors of Barbary, as it
consists of a long tight jacket, secured at the waist by a
broad girdle, loose short trousers which terminate at the knee,
and boots and gaiters. Their heads are shaven, a slight fringe
of hair being only left at the lower part. If they wore the
turban or barret, they could scarcely be distinguished from the
Moors in dress, but in lieu thereof they wear the sombrero, or
broad slouching hat of Spain. There can be little doubt that
they are a remnant of those Goths who sided with the Moors on
their invasion of Spain, and who adopted their religion,
customs, and manner of dress, which, with the exception of the
first, are still to a considerable degree retained by them. It
is, however, evident that their blood has at no time mingled
with that of the wild children of the desert, for scarcely
amongst the hills of Norway would you find figures and faces
more essentially Gothic than those of the Maragatos. They are
strong athletic men, but loutish and heavy, and their features,
though for the most part well formed, are vacant and devoid of
expression. They are slow and plain of speech, and those
eloquent and imaginative sallies so common in the conversation
of other Spaniards, seldom or never escape them; they have,
moreover, a coarse thick pronunciation, and when you hear them
speak, you almost imagine that it is some German or English
peasant attempting to express himself in the language of the
Peninsula. They are constitutionally phlegmatic, and it is
very difficult to arouse their anger; but they are dangerous
and desperate when once incensed; and a person who knew them
well, told me that he would rather face ten Valencians, people
infamous for their ferocity and blood-thirstiness, than
confront one angry Maragato, sluggish and stupid though he be
on other occasions.
The men scarcely ever occupy themselves in husbandry,
which they abandon to the women, who plough the flinty fields
and gather in the scanty harvests. Their husbands and sons are
far differently employed: for they are a nation of arrieros or
carriers, and almost esteem it a disgrace to follow any other
profession. On every road of Spain, particularly those north
of the mountains which divide the two Castiles, may be seen
gangs of fives and sixes of these people lolling or sleeping
beneath the broiling sun, on gigantic and heavily laden mutes
and mules. In a word, almost the entire commerce of nearly one
half of Spain passes through the hands of the Maragatos, whose
fidelity to their trust is such, that no one accustomed to
employ them would hesitate to confide to them the transport of
a ton of treasure from the sea of Biscay to Madrid; knowing
well that it would not be their fault were it not delivered
safe and undiminished, even of a grain, and that bold must be
the thieves who would seek to wrest it from the far feared
Maragatos, who would cling to it whilst they could stand, and
would cover it with their bodies when they fell in the act of
loading or discharging their long carbines.
But they are far from being disinterested, and if they
are the most trustworthy of all the arrieros of Spain, they in
general demand for the transport of articles a sum at least
double to what others of the trade would esteem a reasonable
recompense: by this means they accumulate large sums of money,
notwithstanding that they indulge themselves in far superior
fare to that which contents in general the parsimonious
Spaniard; - another argument in favour of their pure Gothic
descent; for the Maragatos, like true men of the north, delight
in swilling liquors and battening upon gross and luscious
meats, which help to swell out their tall and goodly figures.
Many of them have died possessed of considerable riches, part
of which they have not unfrequently bequeathed to the erection
or embellishment of religious houses.
On the east end of the cathedral of Astorga, which towers
over the lofty and precipitous wall, a colossal figure of lead
may be seen on the roof. It is the statue of a Maragato
carrier who endowed the cathedral with a large sum. He is in
his national dress, but his head is averted from the lands of
his fathers, and whilst he waves in his hand a species of flag,
he seems to be summoning his race from their unfruitful region
to other climes, where a richer field is open to their industry
and enterprise.
I spoke to several of these men respecting the allimportant
subject of religion; but I found "their hearts gross,
and their ears dull of hearing, and their eyes closed." There
was one in particular to whom I showed the New Testament, and
whom I addressed for a considerable time. He listened or
seemed to listen patiently, taking occasionally copious
draughts from an immense jug of whitish wine which stood
between his knees. After I had concluded he said, "To-morrow I
set out for Lugo, whither, I am told, yourself are going. If
you wish to send your chest, I have no objection to take it at
so much (naming an extravagant price). As for what you have
told me, I understand little of it, and believe not a word of
it; but in respect to the books which you have shown me, I will
take three or four. I shall not read them, it is true, but I
have no doubt that I can sell them at a higher price than you
So much for the Maragatos.
Departure from Astorga - The Venta - The By-path - Narrow Escape -
The Cup of Water - Sun and Shade - Bembibre - Convent of the Rocks -
Sunset - Cacabelos - Midnight Adventure - Villafrancs.
It was four o'clock of a beautiful morning when we
sallied from Astorga, or rather from its suburbs, in which we
had been lodged: we directed our course to the north, in the
direction of Galicia. Leaving the mountain Telleno on our
left, we passed along the eastern skirts of the land of the
Maragatos, over broken uneven ground, enlivened here and there
by small green valleys and runnels of water. Several of the
Maragatan women, mounted on donkeys, passed us on their way to
Astorga, whither they were carrying vegetables. We saw others
in the fields handling their rude ploughs, drawn by lean oxen.
We likewise passed through a small village, in which we,
however, saw no living soul. Near this village we entered the
high road which leads direct from Madrid to Coruna, and at
last, having travelled near four leagues, we came to a species
of pass, formed on our left by a huge lumpish hill (one of
those which descend from the great mountain Telleno), and on
our right by one of much less altitude. In the middle of this
pass, which was of considerable breadth, a noble view opened
itself to us. Before us, at the distance of about a league and
a half, rose the mighty frontier chain, of which I have spoken
before; its blue sides and broken and picturesque peaks still
wearing a thin veil of the morning mist, which the fierce rays
of the sun were fast dispelling. It seemed an enormous
barrier, threatening to oppose our farther progress, and it
reminded me of the fables respecting the children of Magog, who
are said to reside in remotest Tartary, behind a gigantic wall
of rocks, which can only be passed by a gate of steel a
thousand cubits in height.
We shortly after arrived at Manzanal, a village
consisting of wretched huts, and exhibiting every sign of
poverty and misery. It was now time to refresh ourselves and
horses, and we accordingly put up at a venta, the last
habitation in the village, where, though we found barley for
the animals, we had much difficulty in procuring anything for
ourselves. I was at length fortunate enough to obtain a large
jug of milk, for there were plenty of cows in the
neighbourhood, feeding in a picturesque valley which we had
passed by, where was abundance of grass, and trees, and a
rivulet broken by tiny cascades. The jug might contain about
half a gallon, but I emptied it in a few minutes, for the
thirst of fever was still burning within me, though I was
destitute of appetite. The venta had something the appearance
of a German baiting-house. It consisted of an immense stable,
from which was partitioned a kind of kitchen and a place where
the family slept. The master, a robust young man, lolled on a
large solid stone bench, which stood within the door. He was
very inquisitive respecting news, but I could afford him none;
whereupon he became communicative, and gave me the history of
his life, the sum of which was, that he had been a courier in
the Basque provinces, but about a year since had been
dispatched to this village, where he kept the post-house. He
was an enthusiastic liberal, and spoke in bitter terms of the
surrounding population, who, he said, were all Carlists and
friends of the friars. I paid little attention to his
discourse, for I was looking at a Maragato lad of about
fourteen, who served in the house as a kind of ostler. I asked
the master if we were still in the land of the Maragatos; but
he told me that we had left it behind nearly a league, and that
the lad was an orphan and was serving until he could rake up a
sufficient capital to become an arriero. I addressed several
questions to the boy, but the urchin looked sullenly in my
face, and either answered by monosyllables or was doggedly
silent. I asked him if he could read. "Yes," said he, "as
much as that brute of yours who is tearing down the manger."
Quitting Manzanal, we continued our course. We soon
arrived at the verge of a deep valley amongst mountains, not
those of the chain which we had seen before us, and which we
now left to the right, but those of the Telleno range, just
before they unite with that chain. Round the sides of this
valley, which exhibited something of the appearance of a horseshoe,
wound the road in a circuitous manner; just before us,
however, and diverging from the road, lay a footpath which
seemed, by a gradual descent, to lead across the valley, and to
rejoin the road on the other side, at the distance of about a
furlong; and into this we struck in order to avoid the circuit.
We had not gone far before we met two Galicians, on their
way to cut the harvests of Castile. One of them shouted,
"Cavalier, turn back: in a moment you will be amongst
precipices, where your horses will break their necks, for we
ourselves could scarcely climb them on foot." The other cried,
"Cavalier, proceed, but be careful, and your horses, if surefooted,
will run no great danger: my comrade is a fool." A
violent dispute instantly ensued between the two mountaineers,
each supporting his opinion with loud oaths and curses; but
without stopping to see the result, I passed on, but the path
was now filled with stones and huge slaty rocks, on which my
horse was continually slipping. I likewise heard the sound of
water in a deep gorge, which I had hitherto not perceived, and
I soon saw that it would be worse than madness to proceed. I
turned my horse, and was hastening to regain the path which I
had left, when Antonio, my faithful Greek, pointed out to me a
meadow by which, he said, we might regain the high road much
lower down than if we returned on our steps. The meadow was
brilliant with short green grass, and in the middle there was a
small rivulet of water. I spurred my horse on, expecting to be
in the high road in a moment; the horse, however, snorted and
stared wildly, and was evidently unwilling to cross the
seemingly inviting spot. I thought that the scent of a wolf,
or some other wild animal might have disturbed him, but was
soon undeceived by his sinking up to the knees in a bog. The
animal uttered a shrill sharp neigh, and exhibited every sign
of the greatest terror, making at the same time great efforts
to extricate himself, and plunging forward, but every moment
sinking deeper. At last he arrived where a small vein of rock
showed itself: on this he placed his fore feet, and with one
tremendous exertion freed himself, from the deceitful soil,
springing over the rivulet and alighting on comparatively firm
ground, where he stood panting, his heaving sides covered with
a foamy sweat. Antonio, who had observed the whole scene,
afraid to venture forward, returned by the path by which we
came, and shortly afterwards rejoined me. This adventure
brought to my recollection the meadow with its footpath which
tempted Christian from the straight road to heaven, and finally
conducted him to the dominions of the giant Despair.
We now began to descend the valley by a broad and
excellent carretera or carriage road, which was cut out of the
steep side of the mountain on our right. On our left was the
gorge, down which tumbled the runnel of water which I have
before mentioned. The road was tortuous, and at every turn the
scene became more picturesque. The gorge gradually widened,
and the brook at its bottom, fed by a multitude of springs,
increased in volume and in sound, but it was soon far beneath
us, pursuing its headlong course till it reached level ground,
where it flowed in the midst of a beautiful but confined
prairie. There was something sylvan and savage in the
mountains on the farther side, clad from foot to pinnacle with
trees, so closely growing that the eye was unable to obtain a
glimpse of the hill sides, which were uneven with ravines and
gulleys, the haunts of the wolf, the wild boar, and the corso,
or mountain-stag; the latter of which, as I was informed by a
peasant who was driving a car of oxen, frequently descended to
feed in the prairie, and were there shot for the sake of their
skins, for their flesh, being strong and disagreeable, is held
in no account.
But notwithstanding the wildness of these regions, the
handiworks of man were visible. The sides of the gorge, though
precipitous, were yellow with little fields of barley, and we
saw a hamlet and church down in the prairie below, whilst merry
songs ascended to our ears from where the mowers were toiling
with their scythes, cutting the luxuriant and abundant grass.
I could scarcely believe that I was in Spain, in general so
brown, so arid and cheerless, and I almost fancied myself in
Greece, in that land of ancient glory, whose mountain and
forest scenery Theocritus has so well described.
At the bottom of the valley we entered a small village,
washed by the brook, which had now swelled almost to a stream.
A more romantic situation I had never witnessed. It was
surrounded, and almost overhung by mountains, and embowered in
trees of various kinds; waters sounded, nightingales sang, and
the cuckoo's full note boomed from the distant branches, but
the village was miserable. The huts were built of slate
stones, of which the neighbouring hills seemed to be
principally composed, and roofed with the same, but not in the
neat tidy manner of English houses, for the slates were of all
sizes, and seemed to be flung on in confusion. We were spent
with heat and thirst, and sitting down on a stone bench, I
entreated a woman to give me a little water. The woman said
she would, but added that she expected to be paid for it.
Antonio, on hearing this, became highly incensed, and speaking
Greek, Turkish, and Spanish, invoked the vengeance of the
Panhagia on the heartless woman, saying, "If I were to offer a
Mahometan gold for a draught of water he would dash it in my
face; and you are a Catholic, with the stream running at your
door." I told him to be silent, and giving the woman two
cuartos, repeated my request, whereupon she took a pitcher, and
going to the stream filled it with water. It tasted muddy and
disagreeable, but it drowned the fever which was devouring me.
We again remounted and proceeded on our way, which, for a
considerable distance, lay along the margin of the stream,
which now fell in small cataracts, now brawled over stones, and
at other times ran dark and silent through deep pools overhung
with tall willows, - pools which seemed to abound with the
finny tribe, for large trout frequently sprang from the water,
catching the brilliant fly which skimmed along its deceitful
surface. The scene was delightful. The sun was rolling high
in the firmament, casting from its orb of fire the most
glorious rays, so that the atmosphere was flickering with their
splendour, but their fierceness was either warded off by the
shadow of the trees or rendered innocuous by the refreshing
coolness which rose from the waters, or by the gentle breezes
which murmured at intervals over the meadows, "fanning the
cheek or raising the hair" of the wanderer. The hills
gradually receded, till at last we entered a plain where tall
grass was waving, and mighty chestnut trees, in full blossom,
spread out their giant and umbrageous boughs. Beneath many
stood cars, the tired oxen prostrate on the ground, the
crossbar of the poll which they support pressing heavily on
their heads, whilst their drivers were either employed in
cooking, or were enjoying a delicious siesta in the grass and
shade. I went up to one of the largest of these groups and
demanded of the individuals whether they were in need of the
Testament of Jesus Christ. They stared at one another, and
then at me, till at last a young man, who was dangling a long
gun in his hands as he reclined, demanded of me what it was, at
the same time inquiring whether I was a Catalan, "for you speak
hoarse," said he, "and are tall and fair like that family." I
sat down amongst them and said that I was no Catalan, but that
I came from a spot in the Western Sea, many leagues distant, to
sell that book at half the price it cost; and that their souls'
welfare depended on their being acquainted with it. I then
explained to them the nature of the New Testament, and read to
them the parable of the Sower. They stared at each other
again, but said that they were poor, and could not buy books.
I rose, mounted, and was going away, saying to them: "Peace
bide with you." Whereupon the young man with the gun rose, and
saying, "CASPITA! this is odd," snatched the book from my hand
and gave me the price I had demanded.
Perhaps the whole world might be searched in vain for a
spot whose natural charms could rival those of this plain or
valley of Bembibre, as it is called, with its wall of mighty
mountains, its spreading chestnut trees, and its groves of oaks
and willows, which clothe the banks of its stream, a tributary
to the Minho. True it is, that when I passed through it, the
candle of heaven was blazing in full splendour, and everything
lighted by its rays looked gay, glad, and blessed. Whether it
would have filled me with the same feelings of admiration if
viewed beneath another sky, I will not pretend to determine;
but it certainly possesses advantages which at no time could
fail to delight, for it exhibits all the peaceful beauties of
an English landscape blended with something wild and grand, and
I thought within myself that he must be a restless dissatisfied
man, who, born amongst those scenes, would wish to quit them.
At the time I would have desired no better fate than that of a
shepherd on the prairies, or a hunter in the hills of Bembibre.
Three hours passed away and we were in another situation.
We had halted and refreshed ourselves and horses at Bembibre, a
village of mud and slate, and which possessed little to attract
attention: we were now ascending, for the road was over one of
the extreme ledges of those frontier hills which I have before
so often mentioned; but the aspect of heaven had blackened,
clouds were rolling rapidly from the west over the mountains,
and a cold wind was moaning dismally. "There is a storm
travelling through the air," said a peasant, whom we overtook,
mounted on a wretched mule; "and the Asturians had better be on
the look-out, for it is speeding in their direction." He had
scarce spoken, when a light, so vivid and dazzling that it
seemed as if the whole lustre of the fiery element were
concentrated in it, broke around us, filling the whole
atmosphere, and covering rock, tree and mountain with a glare
not to be described. The mule of the peasant tumbled
prostrate, while the horse I rode reared himself
perpendicularly, and turning round, dashed down the hill at
headlong speed, which for some time it was impossible to cheek.
The lightning was followed by a peal almost as terrible, but
distant, for it sounded hollow and deep; the hills, however,
caught up its voice, seemingly repeating it from summit to
summit, till it was lost in interminable space. Other flashes
and peals succeeded, but slight in comparison, and a few drops
of rain descended. The body of the tempest seemed to be over
another region. "A hundred families are weeping where that
bolt fell," said the peasant when I rejoined him, "for its
blaze has blinded my mule at six leagues' distance." He was
leading the animal by the bridle, as its sight was evidently
affected. "Were the friars still in their nest above there,"
he continued, "I should say that this was their doing, for they
are the cause of all the miseries of the land."
I raised my eyes in the direction in which he pointed.
Half way up the mountain, over whose foot we were wending,
jutted forth a black frightful crag, which at an immense
altitude overhung the road, and seemed to threaten destruction.
It resembled one of those ledges of the rocky mountains in the
picture of the Deluge, up to which the terrified fugitives have
scrambled from the eager pursuit of the savage and tremendous
billows, and from whence they gaze down in horror, whilst above
them rise still higher and giddier heights, to which they seem
unable to climb. Built on the very edge of this crag, stood an
edifice, seemingly devoted to the purposes of religion, as I
could discern the spire of a church rearing itself high over
wall and roof. "That is the house of the Virgin of the Rocks,"
said the peasant, "and it was lately full of friars, but they
have been thrust out, and the only inmates now are owls and
ravens." I replied, that their life in such a bleak exposed
abode could not have been very enviable, as in winter they must
have incurred great risk of perishing with cold. "By no
means," said he; "they had the best of wood for their braseros
and chimneys, and the best of wine to warm them at their meals,
which were not the most sparing. Moreover, they had another
convent down in the vale yonder, to which they could retire at
their pleasure." On my asking him the reason of his antipathy
to the friars, he replied, that he had been their vassal, and
that they had deprived him every year of the flower of what he
possessed. Discoursing in this manner, we reached a village
just below the convent, where he left me, having first pointed
out to me a house of stone, with an image over the door, which,
he said, once also belonged to the canalla (RABBLE) above.
The sun was setting fast, and eager to reach Villafranca,
where I had determined on resting, and which was still distant
three leagues and a half, I made no halt at this place. The
road was now down a rapid and crooked descent, which terminated
in a valley, at the bottom of which was a long and narrow
bridge; beneath it rolled a river, descending from a wide pass
between two mountains, for the chain was here cleft, probably
by some convulsion of nature. I looked up the pass, and on the
hills on both sides. Far above, on my right, but standing
forth bold and clear, and catching the last rays of the sun,
was the Convent of the Precipices, whilst directly over against
it, on the farther side of the valley, rose the perpendicular
side of the rival hill, which, to a considerable extent
intercepting the light, flung its black shadow over the upper
end of the pass, involving it in mysterious darkness. Emerging
from the centre of this gloom, with thundering sound, dashed a
river, white with foam, and bearing along with it huge stones
and branches of trees, for it was the wild Sil hurrying to the
ocean from its cradle in the heart of the Asturian hills, and
probably swollen by the recent rains.
Hours again passed away. It was now night, and we were
in the midst of woodlands, feeling our way, for the darkness
was so great that I could scarcely see the length of a yard
before my horse's head. The animal seemed uneasy, and would
frequently stop short, prick up his ears, and utter a low
mournful whine. Flashes of sheet lightning frequently
illumined the black sky, and flung a momentary glare over our
path. No sound interrupted the stillness of the night, except
the slow tramp of the horses' hoofs, and occasionally the
croaking of frogs from some pool or morass. I now bethought me
that I was in Spain, the chosen land of the two fiends,
assassination and plunder, and how easily two tired and unarmed
wanderers might become their victims.
We at last cleared the woodlands, and after proceeding a
short distance, the horse gave a joyous neigh, and broke into a
smart trot. A barking of dogs speedily reached my ears, and we
seemed to be approaching some town or village. In effect we
were close to Cacabelos, a town about five miles distant from
It was near eleven at night, and I reflected that it
would be far more expedient to tarry in this place till the
morning than to attempt at present to reach Villafranca,
exposing ourselves to all the horrors of darkness in a lonely
and unknown road. My mind was soon made up on this point; but
I reckoned without my host, for at the first posada which I
attempted to enter, I was told that we could not be
accommodated, and still less our horses, as the stable was full
of water. At the second, and there were but two, I was
answered from the window by a gruff voice, nearly in the words
of the Scripture: "Trouble me not; the door is now shut, and my
children are with me in bed; I cannot arise to let you in."
Indeed, we had no particular desire to enter, as it appeared a
wretched hovel, though the poor horses pawed piteously against
the door, and seemed to crave admittance.
We had now no choice but to resume our doleful way to
Villafranca, which, we were told, was a short league distant,
though it proved a league and a half. We found it no easy
matter to quit the town, for we were bewildered amongst its
labyrinths, and could not find the outlet. A lad about
eighteen was, however, persuaded, by the promise of a peseta,
to guide us: whereupon he led us by many turnings to a bridge,
which he told us to cross, and to follow the road, which was
that of Villafranca; he then, having received his fee, hastened
from us.
We followed his directions, not, however, without a
suspicion that he might be deceiving us. The night had settled
darker down upon us, so that it was impossible to distinguish
any object, however nigh. The lightning had become more faint
and rare. We heard the rustling of trees, and occasionally the
barking of dogs, which last sound, however, soon ceased, and we
were in the midst of night and silence. My horse, either from
weariness, or the badness of the road, frequently stumbled;
whereupon I dismounted, and leading him by the bridle, soon
left Antonio far in the rear.
I had proceeded in this manner a considerable way, when a
circumstance occurred of a character well suited to the time
and place.
I was again amidst trees and bushes, when the horse
stopping short, nearly pulled me back. I know not how it was,
but fear suddenly came over me, which, though in darkness and
in solitude, I had not felt before. I was about to urge the
animal forward, when I heard a noise at my right hand, and
listened attentively. It seemed to be that of a person or
persons forcing their way through branches and brushwood. It
soon ceased, and I heard feet on the road. It was the short
staggering kind of tread of people carrying a very heavy
substance, nearly too much for their strength, and I thought I
heard the hurried breathing of men over-fatigued. There was a
short pause, during which I conceived they were resting in the
middle of the road; then the stamping recommenced, until it
reached the other side, when I again heard a similar rustling
amidst branches; it continued for some time and died gradually
I continued my road, musing on what had just occurred,
and forming conjectures as to the cause. The lightning resumed
its flashing, and I saw that I was approaching tall black
This nocturnal journey endured so long that I almost lost
all hope of reaching the town, and had closed my eyes in a
doze, though I still trudged on mechanically, leading the
horse. Suddenly a voice at a slight distance before me roared
out, "QUIEN VIVE?" for I had at last found my way to
Villafranca. It proceeded from the sentry in the suburb, one
of those singular half soldiers half guerillas, called
Miguelets, who are in general employed by the Spanish
government to clear the roads of robbers. I gave the usual
answer, "ESPANA," and went up to the place where he stood.
After a little conversation, I sat down on a stone, awaiting
the arrival of Antonio, who was long in making his appearance.
On his arrival, I asked if any one had passed him on the road,
but he replied that he had seen nothing. The night, or rather
the morning, was still very dark, though a small corner of the
moon was occasionally visible. On our inquiring the way to the
gate, the Miguelet directed us down a street to the left, which
we followed. The street was steep, we could see no gate, and
our progress was soon stopped by houses and wall. We knocked
at the gates of two or three of these houses (in the upper
stories of which lights were burning), for the purpose of being
set right, but we were either disregarded or not heard. A
horrid squalling of cats, from the tops of the houses and dark
corners, saluted our ears, and I thought of the night arrival
of Don Quixote and his squire at Toboso, and their vain search
amongst the deserted streets for the palace of Dulcinea. At
length we saw light and heard voices in a cottage at the other
side of a kind of ditch. Leading the horses over, we called at
the door, which was opened by an aged man, who appeared by his
dress to be a baker, as indeed he proved, which accounted for
his being up at so late an hour. On begging him to show us the
way into the town, he led us up a very narrow alley at the end
of his cottage, saying that he would likewise conduct us to the
The alley led directly to what appeared to be the marketplace,
at a corner house of which our guide stopped and
knocked. After a long pause an upper window was opened, and a
female voice demanded who we were. The old man replied, that
two travellers had arrived who were in need of lodging. "I
cannot be disturbed at this time of night," said the woman;
"they will be wanting supper, and there is nothing in the
house; they must go elsewhere." She was going to shut the
window, but I cried that we wanted no supper, but merely
resting place for ourselves and horses - that we had come that
day from Astorga, and were dying with fatigue. "Who is that
speaking?" cried the woman. "Surely that is the voice of Gil,
the German clockmaker from Pontevedra. Welcome, old companion;
you are come at the right time, for my own is out of order. I
am sorry I have kept you waiting, but I will admit you in a
The window was slammed to, presently a light shone
through the crevices of the door, a key turned in the lock, and
we were admitted.
Villafranca - The Pass - Gallegan Simplicity - The Frontier Guard -
The Horse-shoe - Gallegan Peculiarities - A Word on Language -
The Courier - Wretched Cabins - Host and Guests - Andalusians.
"Ave Maria," said the woman; "whom have we here? This is
not Gil the clock-maker." "Whether it be Gil or Juan," said I,
"we are in need of your hospitality, and can pay for it." Our
first care was to stable the horses, who were much exhausted.
We then went in search of some accommodation for ourselves.
The house was large and commodious, and having tasted a little
water, I stretched myself on the floor of one of the rooms on
some mattresses which the woman produced, and in less than a
minute was sound asleep.
The sun was shining bright when I awoke. I walked forth
into the market-place, which was crowded with people, I looked
up, and could see the peaks of tall black mountains peeping
over the tops of the houses. The town lay in a deep hollow,
and appeared to be surrounded by hills on almost every side.
"QUEL PAYS BARBARE!" said Antonio, who now joined me; "the
farther we go, my master, the wilder everything looks. I am
half afraid to venture into Galicia; they tell me that to get
to it we must clamber up those hills: the horses will founder."
Leaving the market-place I ascended the wall of the town, and
endeavoured to discover the gate by which we should have
entered the preceding night; but I was not more successful in
the bright sunshine than in the darkness. The town in the
direction of Astorga appeared to be hermetically sealed.
I was eager to enter Galicia, and finding that the horses
were to a certain extent recovered from the fatigue of the
journey of the preceding day, we again mounted and proceeded on
our way. Crossing a bridge, we presently found ourselves in a
deep gorge amongst the mountains, down which rushed an
impetuous rivulet, overhung by the high road which leads into
Galicia. We were in the far-famed pass of Fuencebadon.
It is impossible to describe this pass or the
circumjacent region, which contains some of the most
extraordinary scenery in all Spain; a feeble and imperfect
outline is all that I can hope to effect. The traveller who
ascends it follows for nearly a league the course of the
torrent, whose banks are in some places precipitous, and in
others slope down to the waters, and are covered with lofty
trees, oaks, poplars, and chestnuts. Small villages are at
first continually seen, with low walls, and roofs formed of
immense slates, the eaves nearly touching the ground; these
hamlets, however, gradually become less frequent as the path
grows more steep and narrow, until they finally cease at a
short distance before the spot is attained where the rivulet is
abandoned, and is no more seen, though its tributaries may yet
be heard in many a gully, or descried in tiny rills dashing
down the steeps. Everything here is wild, strange, and
beautiful: the hill up which winds the path towers above on the
right, whilst on the farther side of a profound ravine rises an
immense mountain, to whose extreme altitudes the eye is
scarcely able to attain; but the most singular feature of this
pass are the hanging fields or meadows which cover its sides.
In these, as I passed, the grass was growing luxuriantly, and
in many the mowers were plying their scythes, though it seemed
scarcely possible that their feet could find support on ground
so precipitous: above and below were drift-ways, so small as to
seem threads along the mountain side. A car, drawn by oxen, is
creeping round yon airy eminence; the nearer wheel is actually
hanging over the horrid descent; giddiness seizes the brain,
and the eye is rapidly withdrawn. A cloud intervenes, and when
again you turn to watch their progress, the objects of your
anxiety have disappeared. Still more narrow becomes the path
along which you yourself are toiling, and its turns more
frequent. You have already come a distance of two leagues, and
still one-third of the ascent remains unsurmounted. You are
not yet in Galicia; and you still hear Castilian, coarse and
unpolished, it is true, spoken in the miserable cabins placed
in the sequestered nooks which you pass by in your route.
Shortly before we reached the summit of the pass thick
mists began to envelop the tops of the hills, and a drizzling
rain descended. "These mists," said Antonio, "are what the
Gallegans call bretima; and it is said there is never any lack
of them in their country." "Have you ever visited the country
before?" I demanded. "Non, mon maitre; but I have frequently
lived in houses where the domestics were in part Gallegans, on
which account I know not a little of their ways, and even
something of their language." "Is the opinion which you have
formed of them at all in their favour?" I inquired. "By no
means, mon maitre; the men in general seem clownish and simple,
yet they are capable of deceiving the most clever filou of
Paris; and as for the women, it is impossible to live in the
same house with them, more especially if they are Camareras,
and wait upon the Senora; they are continually breeding
dissensions and disputes in the house, and telling tales of the
other domestics. I have already lost two or three excellent
situations in Madrid, solely owing to these Gallegan
chambermaids. We have now come to the frontier, mon maitre,
for such I conceive this village to be."
We entered the village, which stood on the summit of the
mountain, and as our horses and ourselves were by this time
much fatigued, we looked round for a place in which to obtain
refreshment. Close by the gate stood a building which, from
the circumstance of a mule or two and a wretched pony standing
before it, we concluded was the posada, as in effect it proved
to be. We entered: several soldiers were lolling on heaps of
coarse hay, with which the place, which much resembled a
stable, was half filled. All were exceedingly ill-looking
fellows, and very dirty. They were conversing with each other
in a strange-sounding dialect, which I supposed to be Gallegan.
Scarcely did they perceive us when two or three of them,
starting from their couch, ran up to Antonio, whom they
welcomed with much affection, calling him COMPANHEIRO. "How
came you to know these men?" I demanded in French. "CES
almost all robbers and assassins. That fellow, with one eye,
who is the corporal, escaped a little time ago from Madrid,
more than suspected of being concerned in an affair of
poisoning; but he is safe enough here in his own country, and
is placed to guard the frontier, as you see; but we must treat
them civilly, mon maitre; we must give them wine, or they will
be offended. I know them, mon maitre - I know them. Here,
hostess, bring an azumbre of wine."
Whilst Antonio was engaged in treating his friends, I led
the horses to the stable; this was through the house, inn, or
whatever it might be called. The stable was a wretched shed,
in which the horses sank to their fetlocks in mud and puddle.
On inquiring for barley, I was told that I was now in Galicia,
where barley was not used for provender, and was very rare. I
was offered in lieu of it Indian corn, which, however, the
horses ate without hesitation. There was no straw to be had;
coarse hay, half green, being the substitute. By trampling
about in the mud of the stable my horse soon lost a shoe, for
which I searched in vain. "Is there a blacksmith in the
village?" I demanded of a shock-headed fellow who officiated as
OSTLER. - Si, Senhor; but I suppose you have brought
horse-shoes with you, or that large beast of yours cannot be
shod in this village.
MYSELF. - What do you mean? Is the blacksmith unequal to
his trade? Cannot he put on a horse-shoe?
OSTLER. - Si, Senhor; he can put on a horse-shoe if you
give it him; but there are no horse-shoes in Galicia, at least
in these parts.
MYSELF. - Is it not customary then to shoe the horses in
OSTLER. - Senhor, there are no horses in Galicia, there
are only ponies; and those who bring horses to Galicia, and
none but madmen ever do, must bring shoes to fit them; only
shoes of ponies are to be found here.
MYSELF. - What do you mean by saying that only madmen
bring horses to Galicia?
OSTLER. - Senhor, no horse can stand the food of Galicia
and the mountains of Galicia long, without falling sick; and
then if he does not die at once, he will cost you in farriers
more than he is worth; besides, a horse is of no use here, and
cannot perform amongst the broken ground the tenth part of the
service which a little pony mare can. By the by, Senhor, I
perceive that yours is an entire horse; now out of twenty
ponies that you see on the roads of Galicia, nineteen are
mares; the males are sent down into Castile to be sold.
Senhor, your horse will become heated on our roads, and will
catch the bad glanders, for which there is no remedy. Senhor,
a man must be mad to bring any horse to Galicia, but twice mad
to bring an entero, as you have done.
"A strange country this of Galicia," said I, and went to
consult with Antonio.
It appeared that the information of the ostler was
literally true with regard to the horse-shoe; at least the
blacksmith of the village, to whom we conducted the animal,
confessed his inability to shoe him, having none that would fit
his hoof: he said it was very probable that we should be
obliged to lead the animal to Lugo, which, being a cavalry
station, we might perhaps find there what we wanted. He added,
however, that the greatest part of the cavalry soldiers were
mounted on the ponies of the country, the mortality amongst the
horses brought from the level ground into Galicia being
frightful. Lugo was ten leagues distant: there seemed,
however, to be no remedy at hand but patience, and, having
refreshed ourselves, we proceeded, leading our horses by the
We were now on level ground, being upon the very top of
one of the highest mountains in Galicia. This level continued
for about a league, when we began to descend. Before we had
crossed the plain, which was overgrown with furze and
brushwood, we came suddenly upon half a dozen fellows armed
with muskets and wearing a tattered uniform. We at first
supposed them to be banditti: they were, however, only a party
of soldiers who had been detached from the station we had just
quitted to escort one of the provincial posts or couriers.
They were clamorous for cigars, but offered us no farther
incivility. Having no cigars to bestow, I gave them in lieu
thereof a small piece of silver. Two of the worst looking were
very eager to be permitted to escort us to Nogales, the village
where we proposed to spend the night. "By no means permit
them, mon maitre," said Antonio, "they are two famous assassins
of my acquaintance; I have known them at Madrid: in the first
ravine they will shoot and plunder us." I therefore civilly
declined their offer and departed. "You seem to be acquainted
with all the cut-throats in Galicia," said I to Antonio, as we
descended the hill.
"With respect to those two fellows," he replied, "I knew
them when I lived as cook in the family of General Q-, who is a
Gallegan: they were sworn friends of the repostero. All the
Gallegans in Madrid know each other, whether high or low makes
no difference; there, at least, they are all good friends, and
assist each other on all imaginable occasions; and if there be
a Gallegan domestic in a house, the kitchen is sure to be
filled with his countrymen, as the cook frequently knows to his
cost, for they generally contrive to eat up any little
perquisites which he may have reserved for himself and family."
Somewhat less than half way down the mountain we reached
a small village. On observing a blacksmith's shop, we stopped,
in the faint hope of finding a shoe for the horse, who, for
want of one, was rapidly becoming lame. To our great joy we
found that the smith was in possession of one single horseshoe,
which some time previously he had found upon the way.
This, after undergoing much hammering and alteration, was
pronounced by the Gallegan vulcan to be capable of serving in
lieu of a better; whereupon we again mounted, and slowly
continued our descent.
Shortly ere sunset we arrived at Nogales, a hamlet
situate in a narrow valley at the foot of the mountain, in
traversing which we had spent the day. Nothing could be more
picturesque than the appearance of this spot: steep hills,
thickly clad with groves and forests of chestnuts, surrounded
it on every side; the village itself was almost embowered in
trees, and close beside it ran a purling brook. Here we found
a tolerably large and commodious posada.
I was languid and fatigued, but felt little desire to
sleep. Antonio cooked our supper, or rather his own, for I had
no appetite. I sat by the door, gazing on the wood-covered
heights above me, or on the waters of the rivulet, occasionally
listening to the people who lounged about the house, conversing
in the country dialect. What a strange tongue is the Gallegan,
with its half singing half whining accent, and with its
confused jumble of words from many languages, but chiefly from
the Spanish and Portuguese. "Can you understand this
conversation?" I demanded of Antonio, who had by this time
rejoined me. "I cannot, mon maitre," he replied; "I have
acquired at various times a great many words amongst the
Gallegan domestics in the kitchens where I have officiated as
cook, but am quite unable to understand any long conversation.
I have heard the Gallegans say that in no two villages is it
spoken in one and the same manner, and that very frequently
they do not understand each other. The worst of this language
is, that everybody on first hearing it thinks that nothing is
more easy than to understand it, as words are continually
occurring which he has heard before: but these merely serve to
bewilder and puzzle him, causing him to misunderstand
everything that is said; whereas, if he were totally ignorant
of the tongue, he would occasionally give a shrewd guess at
what was meant, as I myself frequently do when I hear Basque
spoken, though the only word which I know of that language is
As the night closed in I retired to bed, where I remained
four or five hours, restless and tossing about; the fever of
Leon still clinging to my system. It was considerably past
midnight when, just as I was sinking into a slumber, I was
aroused by a confused noise in the village, and the glare of
lights through the lattice of the window of the room where I
lay; presently entered Antonio, half dressed. "Mon maitre,"
said he, "the grand post from Madrid to Coruna has just arrived
in the village, attended by a considerable escort, and an
immense number of travellers. The road they say, between here
and Lugo, is infested with robbers and Carlists, who are
committing all kinds of atrocities; let us, therefore, avail
ourselves of the opportunity, and by midday to-morrow we shall
find ourselves safe in Lugo." On hearing these words, I
instantly sprang out of bed and dressed myself, telling Antonio
to prepare the horses with all speed.
We were soon mounted and in the street, amidst a confused
throng of men and quadrupeds. The light of a couple of
flambeaux, which were borne before the courier, shone on the
arms of several soldiers, seemingly drawn up on either side of
the road; the darkness, however, prevented me from
distinguishing objects very clearly. The courier himself was
mounted on a little shaggy pony; before and behind him were two
immense portmanteaux, or leather sacks, the ends of which
nearly touched the ground. For about a quarter of an hour
there was much hubbub, shouting, and trampling, at the end of
which period the order was given to proceed. Scarcely had we
left the village when the flambeaux were extinguished, and we
were left in almost total darkness; for some time we were
amongst woods and trees, as was evident from the rustling of
leaves on every side. My horse was very uneasy and neighed
fearfully, occasionally raising himself bolt upright. "If your
horse is not more quiet, cavalier, we shall be obliged to shoot
him," said a voice in an Andalusian accent; "he disturbs the
whole cavalcade." "That would be a pity, sergeant," I replied,
"for he is a Cordovese by the four sides; he is not used to the
ways of this barbarous country." "Oh, he is a Cordovese," said
the voice, "vaya, I did not know that; I am from Cordova
myself. Pobrecito! let me pat him - yes, I know by his coat
that he is my countryman - shoot him, indeed! vaya, I would
fain see the Gallegan devil who would dare to harm him.
Barbarous country, IO LO CREO: neither oil nor olives, bread
nor barley. You have been at Cordova. Vaya; oblige me,
cavalier, by taking this cigar."
In this manner we proceeded for several hours, up hill
and down dale, but generally at a very slow pace. The soldiers
who escorted us from time to time sang patriotic songs,
breathing love and attachment to the young Queen Isabel, and
detestation of the grim tyrant Carlos. One of the stanzas
which reached my ears, ran something in the following style:-
"Don Carlos is a hoary churl,
Of cruel heart and cold;
But Isabel's a harmless girl,
Of only six years old."
At last the day began to break, and I found myself amidst
a train of two or three hundred people, some on foot, but the
greater part mounted, either on mules or the pony mares: I
could not distinguish a single horse except my own and
Antonio's. A few soldiers were thinly scattered along the
road. The country was hilly, but less mountainous and
picturesque than the one which we had traversed the preceding
day; it was for the most part partitioned into small fields,
which were planted with maize. At the distance of every two or
three leagues we changed our escort, at some village where was
stationed a detachment. The villages were mostly an assemblage
of wretched cabins; the roofs were thatched, dank, and moist,
and not unfrequently covered with rank vegetation. There were
dunghills before the doors, and no lack of pools and puddles.
Immense swine were stalking about, intermingled with naked
children. The interior of the cabins corresponded with their
external appearance: they were filled with filth and misery.
We reached Lugo about two hours past noon: during the
last two or three leagues, I became so overpowered with
weariness, the result of want of sleep and my late illness,
that I was continually dozing in my saddle, so that I took but
little notice of what was passing. We put up at a large posada
without the wall of the town, built upon a steep bank, and
commanding an extensive view of the country towards the east.
Shortly after our arrival, the rain began to descend in
torrents, and continued without intermission during the next
two days, which was, however, to me but a slight source of
regret, as I passed the entire time in bed, and I may almost
say in slumber. On the evening of the third day I arose.
There was much bustle in the house, caused by the arrival
of a family from Coruna; they came in a large jaunting car,
escorted by four carabineers. The family was rather numerous,
consisting of a father, son, and eleven daughters, the eldest
of whom might be about eighteen. A shabby-looking fellow,
dressed in a jerkin and wearing a high-crowned hat, attended as
domestic. They arrived very wet and shivering, and all seemed
very disconsolate, especially the father, who was a welllooking
middle-aged man. "Can we be accommodated?" he demanded
in a gentle voice of the man of the house; "can we be
accommodated in this fonda?"
"Certainly, your worship," replied the other; "our house
is large. How many apartments does your worship require for
your family?"
"One will be sufficient," replied the stranger.
The host, who was a gouty personage and leaned upon a
stick, looked for a moment at the traveller, then at every
member of his family, not forgetting the domestic, and, without
any farther comment than a slight shrug, led the way to the
door of an apartment containing two or three flock beds, and
which on my arrival I had objected to as being small, dark, and
incommodious; this he flung open, and demanded whether it would
"It is rather small," replied the gentleman; "I think,
however, that it will do."
"I am glad of it," replied the host. "Shall we make any
preparations for the supper of your worship and family?"
"No, I thank you," replied the stranger, "my own domestic
will prepare the slight refreshment we are in need of."
The key was delivered to the domestic, and the whole
family ensconced themselves in their apartment: before,
however, this was effected, the escort were dismissed, the
principal carabineer being presented with a peseta. The man
stood surveying the gratuity for about half a minute, as it
glittered in the palm of his hand; then with an abrupt VAMOS!
he turned upon his heel, and without a word of salutation to
any person, departed with the men under his command.
"Who can these strangers be?" said I to the host, as we
sat together in a large corridor open on one side, and which
occupied the entire front of the house.
"I know not," he replied, "but by their escort I suppose
they are people holding some official situation. They are not
of this province, however, and I more than suspect them to be
In a few minutes the door of the apartment occupied by
the strangers was opened, and the domestic appeared bearing a
cruse in his hand. "Pray, Senor Patron," demanded he, "where
can I buy some oil?"
"There is oil in the house," replied the host, "if you
want to purchase any; but if, as is probable, you suppose that
we shall gain a cuarto by selling it, you will find some over
the way. It is as I suspected," continued the host, when the
man had departed on his errand, "they are Andalusians, and are
about to make what they call gaspacho, on which they will all
sup. Oh, the meanness of these Andalusians! they are come here
to suck the vitals of Galicia, and yet envy the poor innkeeper
the gain of a cuarto in the oil which they require for their
gaspacho. I tell you one thing, master, when that fellow
returns, and demands bread and garlic to mix with the oil, I
will tell him there is none in the house: as he has bought the
oil abroad, so he may the bread and garlic; aye, and the water
too for that matter."
Lugo - The Baths - A Family History - Miguelets - The Three Heads -
A Farrier - English Squadron - Sale of Testaments - Coruna -
The Recognition - Luigi Piozzi - The Speculation - A Blank Prospect -
John Moore.
At Lugo I found a wealthy bookseller, to whom I brought a
letter of recommendation from Madrid. He willingly undertook
the sale of my books. The Lord deigned to favour my feeble
exertions in his cause at Lugo. I brought thither thirty
Testaments, all of which were disposed of in one day; the
bishop of the place, for Lugo is an episcopal see, purchasing
two copies for himself, whilst several priests and ex-friars,
instead of following the example of their brethren at Leon, by
persecuting the work, spoke well of it and recommended its
perusal. I was much grieved that my stock of these holy books
was exhausted, there being a great demand; and had I been able
to supply them, quadruple the quantity might have been sold
during the few days that I continued at Lugo.
Lugo contains about six thousand inhabitants. It is
situated on lofty ground, and is defended by ancient walls. It
possesses no very remarkable edifice, and the cathedral church
itself is a small mean building. In the centre of the town is
the principal square, a light cheerful place, not surrounded by
those heavy cumbrous buildings with which the Spaniards both in
ancient and modern times have encircled their plazas. It is
singular enough that Lugo, at present a place of very little
importance, should at one period have been the capital of
Spain: yet such it was in the time of the Romans, who, as they
were a people not much guided by caprice, had doubtless very
excellent reasons for the preference which they gave to the
There are many Roman remains in the vicinity of this
place, the most remarkable of which are the ruins of the
ancient medicinal baths, which stand on the southern side of
the river Minho, which creeps through the valley beneath the
town. The Minho in this place is a dark and sullen stream,
with high, precipitous, and thickly wooded banks.
One evening I visited the baths, accompanied by my friend
the bookseller. They had been built over warm springs which
flow into the river. Notwithstanding their ruinous condition,
they were crowded with sick, hoping to derive benefit from the
waters, which are still famed for their sanative power. These
patients exhibited a strange spectacle as, wrapped in flannel
gowns much resembling shrouds, they lay immersed in the tepid
waters amongst disjointed stones, and overhung with steam and
Three or four days after my arrival I was seated in the
corridor which, as I have already observed, occupied the entire
front of the house. The sky was unclouded, and the sun shone
most gloriously, enlivening every object around. Presently the
door of the apartment in which the strangers were lodged
opened, and forth walked the whole family, with the exception
of the father, who, I presumed, was absent on business. The
shabby domestic brought up the rear, and on leaving the
apartment, carefully locked the door, and secured the key in
his pocket. The one son and the eleven daughters were all
dressed remarkably well: the boy something after the English
fashion, in jacket and trousers, the young ladies in spotless
white: they were, upon the whole, a very good-looking family,
with dark eyes and olive complexions, but the eldest daughter
was remarkably handsome. They arranged themselves upon the
benches of the corridor, the shabby domestic sitting down
amongst them without any ceremony whatever. They continued for
some time in silence, gazing with disconsolate looks upon the
houses of the suburb and the dark walls of the town, until the
eldest daughter, or senorita as she was called, broke silence
with an "AY DIOS MIO!"
DOMESTIC. - AY DIOS MIO! we have found our way to a
pretty country.
MYSELF. - I really can see nothing so very bad in the
country, which is by nature the richest in all Spain, and the
most abundant. True it is that the generality of the
inhabitants are wretchedly poor, but they themselves are to
blame, and not the country.
DOMESTIC. - Cavalier, the country is a horrible one, say
nothing to the contrary. We are all frightened, the young
ladies, the young gentleman, and myself; even his worship is
frightened, and says that we are come to this country for our
sins. It rains every day, and this is almost the first time
that we have seen the sun since our arrival, it rains
continually, and one cannot step out without being up to the
ankles in fango; and then, again, there is not a house to be
MYSELF. - I scarcely understand you. There appears to be
no lack of houses in this neighbourhood.
DOMESTIC. - Excuse me, sir. His worship hired yesterday
a house, for which he engaged to pay fourteen pence daily; but
when the senorita saw it, she wept, and said it was no house,
but a hog-sty, so his worship paid one day's rent and renounced
his bargain. Fourteen pence a day! why, in our country, we can
have a palace for that money.
MYSELF. - From what country do you come?
DOMESTIC. - Cavalier, you appear to be a decent
gentleman, and I will tell you our history. We are from
Andalusia, and his worship was last year receiver-general for
Granada: his salary was fourteen thousand rials, with which we
contrived to live very commodiously - attending the bull
funcions regularly, or if there were no bulls, we went to see
the novillos, and now and then to the opera. In a word, sir,
we had our diversions and felt at our ease; so much so, that
his worship was actually thinking of purchasing a pony for the
young gentleman, who is fourteen, and must learn to ride now or
never. Cavalier, the ministry was changed, and the new
corners, who were no friends to his worship, deprived him of
his situation. Cavalier, they removed us from that blessed
country of Granada, where our salary was fourteen thousand
rials, and sent us to Galicia, to this fatal town of Lugo,
where his worship is compelled to serve for ten thousand, which
is quite insufficient to maintain us in our former comforts.
Good-bye, I trow, to bull funcions, and novillos, and the
opera. Good-bye to the hope of a horse for the young
gentleman. Cavalier, I grow desperate: hold your tongue, for
God's sake! for I can talk no more."
On hearing this history I no longer wondered that the
receiver-general was eager to save a cuarto in the purchase of
the oil for the gaspacho of himself and family of eleven
daughters, one son, and a domestic.
We staid one week at Lugo, and then directed our steps to
Coruna, about twelve leagues distant. We arose before daybreak
in order to avail ourselves of the escort of the general post,
in whose company we travelled upwards of six leagues. There
was much talk of robbers, and flying parties of the factious,
on which account our escort was considerable. At the distance
of five or six leagues from Lugo, our guard, in lieu of regular
soldiers, consisted of a body of about fifty Miguelets. They
had all the appearance of banditti, but a finer body of
ferocious fellows I never saw. They were all men in the prime
of life, mostly of tall stature, and of Herculean brawn and
limbs. They wore huge whiskers, and walked with a
fanfaronading air, as if they courted danger, and despised it.
In every respect they stood in contrast to the soldiers who had
hitherto escorted us, who were mere feeble boys from sixteen to
eighteen years of age, and possessed of neither energy nor
activity. The proper dress of the Miguelet, if it resembles
anything military, is something akin to that anciently used by
the English marines. They wear a peculiar kind of hat, and
generally leggings, or gaiters, and their arms are the gun and
bayonet. The colour of their dress is mostly dark brown. They
observe little or no discipline whether on a march or in the
field of action. They are excellent irregular troops, and when
on actual service are particularly useful as skirmishers.
Their proper duty, however, is to officiate as a species of
police, and to clear the roads of robbers, for which duty they
are in one respect admirably calculated, having been generally
robbers themselves at one period of their lives. Why these
people are called Miguelets it is not easy to say, but it is
probable that they have derived this appellation from the name
of their original leader. I regret that the paucity of my own
information will not allow me to enter into farther particulars
with respect to this corps, concerning which I have little
doubt that many remarkable things might be said.
Becoming weary of the slow travelling of the post, I
determined to brave all risk, and to push forward. In this,
however, I was guilty of no slight imprudence, as by so doing I
was near falling into the hands of robbers. Two fellows
suddenly confronted me with presented carbines, which they
probably intended to discharge into my body, but they took
fright at the noise of Antonio's horse, who was following a
little way behind. The affair occurred at the bridge of
Castellanos, a spot notorious for robbery and murder, and well
adapted for both, for it stands at the bottom of a deep dell
surrounded by wild desolate hills. Only a quarter of an hour
previous I had passed three ghastly heads stuck on poles
standing by the way-side; they were those of a captain of
banditti and two of his accomplices, who had been seized and
executed about two months before. Their principal haunt was
the vicinity of the bridge, and it was their practice to cast
the bodies of the murdered into the deep black water which runs
rapidly beneath. Those three heads will always live in my
remembrance, particularly that of the captain, which stood on a
higher pole than the other two: the long hair was waving in the
wind, and the blackened, distorted features were grinning in
the sun. The fellows whom I met wore the relics of the band.
We arrived at Betanzos late in the afternoon. This town
stands on a creek at some distance from the sea, and about
three leagues from Coruna. It is surrounded on three sides by
lofty hills. The weather during the greater part of the day
had been dull and lowering, and we found the atmosphere of
Betanzos insupportably close and heavy. Sour and disagreeable
odours assailed our olfactory organs from all sides. The
streets were filthy - so were the houses, and especially the
posada. We entered the stable; it was strewed with rotten seaweeds
and other rubbish, in which pigs were wallowing; huge and
loathsome flies were buzzing around. "What a pest-house!" I
exclaimed. But we could find no other stable, and were
therefore obliged to tether the unhappy animals to the filthy
mangers. The only provender that could be obtained was Indian
corn. At nightfall I led them to drink at a small river which
passes through Betanzos. My entero swallowed the water
greedily; but as we returned towards the inn, I observed that
he was sad, and that his head drooped. He had scarcely reached
the stall, when a deep hoarse cough assailed him. I remembered
the words of the ostler in the mountains, "the man must be mad
who brings a horse to Galicia, and doubly so he who brings an
entero." During the greater part of the day the animal had
been much heated, walking amidst a throng of at least a hundred
pony mares. He now began to shiver violently. I procured a
quart of anise brandy, with which, assisted by Antonio, I
rubbed his body for nearly an hour, till his coat was covered
with a white foam; but his cough increased perceptibly, his
eyes were becoming fixed, and his members rigid. "There is no
remedy but bleeding," said I. "Run for a farrier." The
farrier came. "You must bleed the horse," I shouted; "take
from him an azumbre of blood." The farrier looked at the
animal, and made for the door. "Where are you going?" I
demanded. "Home," he replied. "But we want you here." "I
know you do," was his answer; "and on that account I am going."
"But you must bleed the horse, or he will die." "I know he
will," said the farrier, "but I will not bleed him." "Why?" I
demanded. "I will not bleed him, but under one condition."
"What is that?" "What is it! - that you pay me an ounce of
gold." "Run for the red morocco case," said I to Antonio. It
was brought; I took out a large fleam, and with the assistance
of a stone, drove it into the principal artery horse's leg.
The blood at first refused to flow; with much rubbing, it began
to trickle, and then to stream; it continued so for half an
hour. "The horse is fainting, mon maitre," said Antonio.
"Hold him up," said I, "and in another ten minutes we will stop
the vein."
I closed the vein, and whilst doing so I looked up into
the farrier's face, arching my eyebrows.
"Carracho! what an evil wizard," muttered the farrier, as
he walked away. "If I had my knife here I would stick him."
We bled the horse again, during the night, which second
bleeding I believe saved him. Towards morning he began to eat
his food.
The next day we departed for Coruna, leading our horses
by the bridle: the day was magnificent, and our walk
delightful. We passed along beneath tall umbrageous trees,
which skirted the road from Betanzos to within a short distance
of Coruna. Nothing could be more smiling and cheerful than the
appearance of the country around. Vines were growing in
abundance in the vicinity of the villages through which we
passed, whilst millions of maize plants upreared their tall
stalks and displayed their broad green leaves in the fields.
After walking about three hours, we obtained a view of the bay
of Coruna, in which, even at the distance of a league, we could
distinguish three or four immense ships riding at anchor. "Can
these vessels belong to Spain?" I demanded of myself. In the
very next village, however, we were informed that the preceding
evening an English squadron had arrived, for what reason nobody
could say. "However," continued our informant, "they have
doubtless some design upon Galicia. These foreigners are the
ruin of Spain."
We put up in what is called the Calle Real, in an
excellent fonda, or posada, kept by a short, thick, comicallooking
person, a Genoese by birth. He was married to a tall,
ugly, but good-tempered Basque woman, by whom he had been
blessed with a son and daughter. His wife, however, had it
seems of late summoned all her female relations from Guipuscoa,
who now filled the house to the number of nine, officiating as
chambermaids, cooks, and scullions: they were all very ugly,
but good-natured, and of immense volubility of tongue.
Throughout the whole day the house resounded with their
excellent Basque and very bad Castilian. The Genoese, on the
contrary, spoke little, for which he might have assigned a good
reason; he had lived thirty years in Spain, and had forgotten
his own language without acquiring Spanish, which he spoke very
We found Coruna full of bustle and life, owing to the
arrival of the English squadron. On the following day,
however, it departed, being bound for the Mediterranean on a
short cruise, whereupon matters instantly returned to their
usual course.
I had a depot of five hundred Testaments at Coruna, from
which it was my intention to supply the principal towns of
Galicia. Immediately on my arrival I published advertisements,
according to my usual practice, and the book obtained a
tolerable sale - seven or eight copies per day on the average.
Some people, perhaps, on perusing these details, will be
tempted to exclaim, "These are small matters, and scarcely
worthy of being mentioned." But let such bethink them, that
till within a few months previous to the time of which I am
speaking, the very existence of the gospel was almost unknown
in Spain, and that it must necessarily be a difficult task to
induce a people like the Spaniards, who read very little, to
purchase a work like the New Testament, which, though of
paramount importance to the soul, affords but slight prospect
of amusement to the frivolous and carnally minded. I hoped
that the present was the dawning of better and more enlightened
times, and rejoiced in the idea that Testaments, though but few
in number, were being sold in unfortunate benighted Spain, from
Madrid to the furthermost parts of Galicia, a distance of
nearly four hundred miles.
Coruna stands on a peninsula, having on one side the sea,
and on the other the celebrated bay, generally called the
Groyne. It is divided into the old and new town, the latter of
which was at one time probably a mere suburb. The old town is
a desolate ruinous place, separated from the new by a wide
moat. The modern town is a much more agreeable spot, and
contains one magnificent street, the Calle Real, where the
principal merchants reside. One singular feature of this
street is, that it is laid entirely with flags of marble, along
which troop ponies and cars as if it were a common pavement.
It is a saying amongst the inhabitants of Coruna, that in
their town there is a street so clean, that puchera may be
eaten off it without the slightest inconvenience. This may
certainly be the fact after one of those rains which so
frequently drench Galicia, when the appearance of the pavement
of the street is particularly brilliant. Coruna was at one
time a place of considerable commerce, the greater part of
which has latterly departed to Santander, a town which stands a
considerable distance down the Bay of Biscay.
"Are you going to Saint James, Giorgio? If so, you will
perhaps convey a message to my poor countryman," said a voice
to me one morning in broken English, as I was standing at the
door of my posada, in the royal street of Coruna.
I looked round and perceived a man standing near me at
the door of a shop contiguous to the inn. He appeared to be
about sixty-five, with a pale face and remarkably red nose. He
was dressed in a loose green great coat, in his mouth was a
long clay pipe, in his hand a long painted stick.
"Who are you, and who is your countryman?" I demanded; "I
do not know you."
"I know you, however," replied the man; "you purchased
the first knife that I ever sold in the marketplace of N-."
MYSELF. - Ah, I remember you now, Luigi Piozzi; and well
do I remember also, how, when a boy, twenty years ago, I used
to repair to your stall, and listen to you and your countrymen
discoursing in Milanese.
LUIGI. - Ah, those were happy times to me. Oh, how they
rushed back on my remembrance when I saw you ride up to the
door of the posada. I instantly went in, closed my shop, lay
down upon my bed and wept.
MYSELF. - I see no reason why you should so much regret
those times. I knew you formerly in England as an itinerant
pedlar, and occasionally as master of a stall in the marketplace
of a country town. I now find you in a seaport of Spain,
the proprietor, seemingly, of a considerable shop. I cannot
see why you should regret the difference.
LUIGI (dashing his pipe on the ground). - Regret the
difference! Do you know one thing? England is the heaven of
the Piedmontese and Milanese, and especially those of Como. We
never lie down to rest but we dream of it, whether we are in
our own country or in a foreign land, as I am now. Regret the
difference, Giorgio! Do I hear such words from your lips, and
you an Englishman? I would rather be the poorest tramper on
the roads of England, than lord of all within ten leagues of
the shore of the lake of Como, and much the same say all my
countrymen who have visited England, wherever they now be.
Regret the difference! I have ten letters, from as many
countrymen in America, who say they are rich and thriving, and
principal men and merchants; but every night, when their heads
are reposing on their pillows, their souls AUSLANDRA, hurrying
away to England, and its green lanes and farm-yards. And there
they are with their boxes on the ground, displaying their
looking-glasses and other goods to the honest rustics and their
dames and their daughters, and selling away and chaffering and
laughing just as of old. And there they are again at nightfall
in the hedge alehouses, eating their toasted cheese and their
bread, and drinking the Suffolk ale, and listening to the
roaring song and merry jest of the labourers. Now, if they
regret England so who are in America, which they own to be a
happy country, and good for those of Piedmont and of Como, how
much more must I regret it, when, after the lapse of so many
years, I find myself in Spain, in this frightful town of
Coruna, driving a ruinous trade, and where months pass by
without my seeing a single English face, or hearing a word of
the blessed English tongue.
MYSELF. - With such a predilection for England, what
could have induced you to leave it and come to Spain?
LUIGI. - I will tell you: about sixteen years ago a
universal desire seized our people in England to become
something more than they had hitherto been, pedlars and
trampers; they wished, moreover, for mankind are never
satisfied, to see other countries: so the greater part forsook
England. Where formerly there had been ten, at present
scarcely lingers one. Almost all went to America, which, as I
told you before, is a happy country, and specially good for us
men of Como. Well, all my comrades and relations passed over
the sea to the West. I, too, was bent on travelling; but
whither? Instead of going towards the West with the rest, to a
country where they have all thriven, I must needs come by
myself to this land of Spain; a country in which no foreigner
settles without dying of a broken heart sooner or later. I had
an idea in my head that I could make a fortune at once, by
bringing a cargo of common English goods, like those which I
had been in the habit of selling amongst the villagers of
England. So I freighted half a ship with such goods, for I had
been successful in England in my little speculations, and I
arrived at Coruna. Here at once my vexations began:
disappointment followed disappointment. It was with the utmost
difficulty that I could obtain permission to land my goods, and
this only at a considerable sacrifice in bribes and the like;
and when I had established myself here, I found that the place
was one of no trade, and that my goods went off very slowly,
and scarcely at prime cost. I wished to remove to another
place, but was informed that, in that case, I must leave my
goods behind, unless I offered fresh bribes, which would have
ruined me; and in this way I have gone on for fourteen years,
selling scarcely enough to pay for my shop and to support
myself. And so I shall doubtless continue till I die, or my
goods are exhausted. In an evil day I left England and came to
MYSELF. - Did you not say that you had a countryman at
St. James?
LUIGI. - Yes, a poor honest fellow, who, like myself, by
some strange chance found his way to Galicia. I sometimes
contrive to send him a few goods, which he sells at St. James
at a greater profit than I can here. He is a happy fellow, for
he has never been in England, and knows not the difference
between the two countries. Oh, the green English hedgerows!
and the alehouses! and, what is much more, the fair dealing and
security. I have travelled all over England and never met with
ill usage, except once down in the north amongst the Papists,
upon my telling them to leave all their mummeries and go to the
parish church as I did, and as all my countrymen in England
did; for know one thing, Signor Giorgio, not one of us who have
lived in England, whether Piedmontese or men of Como, but
wished well to the Protestant religion, if he had not actually
become a member of it.
MYSELF. - What do you propose to do at present, Luigi?
What are your prospects?
LUIGI. - My prospects are a blank, Giorgio; my prospects
are a blank. I propose nothing but to die in Coruna, perhaps
in the hospital, if they will admit me. Years ago I thought of
fleeing, even if I left all behind me, and either returning to
England, or betaking myself to America; but it is too late now,
Giorgio, it is too late. When I first lost all hope, I took to
drinking, to which I was never before inclined, and I am now
what I suppose you see.
"There is hope in the Gospel," said I, "even for you. I
will send you one."
There is a small battery of the old town which fronts the
east, and whose wall is washed by the waters of the bay. It is
a sweet spot, and the prospect which opens from it is
extensive. The battery itself may be about eighty yards
square; some young trees are springing up about it, and it is
rather a favourite resort of the people of Coruna.
In the centre of this battery stands the tomb of Moore,
built by the chivalrous French, in commemoration of the fall of
their heroic antagonist. It is oblong and surmounted by a
slab, and on either side bears one of the simple and sublime
epitaphs for which our rivals are celebrated, and which stand
in such powerful contrast with the bloated and bombastic
inscriptions which deform the walls of Westminster Abbey:
The tomb itself is of marble, and around it is a
quadrangular wall, breast high, of rough Gallegan granite;
close to each corner rises from the earth the breech of an
immense brass cannon, intended to keep the wall compact and
close. These outer erections are, however, not the work of the
French, but of the English government.
Yes, there lies the hero, almost within sight of the
glorious hill where he turned upon his pursuers like a lion at
bay and terminated his career. Many acquire immortality
without seeking it, and die before its first ray has gilded
their name; of these was Moore. The harassed general, flying
through Castile with his dispirited troops before a fierce and
terrible enemy, little dreamed that he was on the point of
attaining that for which many a better, greater, though
certainly not braver man, had sighed in vain. His very
misfortunes were the means which secured him immortal fame; his
disastrous route, bloody death, and finally his tomb on a
foreign strand, far from kin and friends. There is scarcely a
Spaniard but has heard of this tomb, and speaks of it with a
strange kind of awe. Immense treasures are said to have been
buried with the heretic general, though for what purpose no one
pretends to guess. The demons of the clouds, if we may trust
the Gallegans, followed the English in their flight, and
assailed them with water-spouts as they toiled up the steep
winding paths of Fuencebadon; whilst legends the most wild are
related of the manner in which the stout soldier fell. Yes,
even in Spain, immortality has already crowned the head of
Moore; - Spain, the land of oblivion, where the Guadalete *
* The ancient LETHE.
Compostella - Rey Romero - The Treasure-seeker - Hopeful Project -
The Church of Refuge - Hidden Riches - The Canon - Spirit of Localism -
The Leper - Bones of St. James.
At the commencement of August, I found myself at St.
James of Compostella. To this place I travelled from Coruna
with the courier or weekly post, who was escorted by a strong
party of soldiers, in consequence of the distracted state of
the country, which was overrun with banditti. From Coruna to
St. James, the distance is but ten leagues; the journey,
however, endured for a day and a half. It was a pleasant one,
through a most beautiful country, with a rich variety of hill
and dale; the road was in many places shaded with various kinds
of trees clad in most luxuriant foliage. Hundreds of
travellers, both on foot and on horseback, availed themselves
of the security which the escort afforded: the dread of
banditti was strong. During the journey two or three alarms
were given; we, however, reached Saint James without having
been attacked.
Saint James stands on a pleasant level amidst mountains:
the most extraordinary of these is a conical hill, called the
Pico Sacro, or Sacred Peak, connected with which are many
wonderful legends. A beautiful old town is Saint James,
containing about twenty thousand inhabitants. Time has been
when, with the single exception of Rome, it was the most
celebrated resort of pilgrims in the world; its cathedral being
said to contain the bones of Saint James the elder, the child
of the thunder, who, according to the legend of the Romish
church, first preached the Gospel in Spain. Its glory,
however, as a place of pilgrimage is rapidly passing away.
The cathedral, though a work of various periods, and
exhibiting various styles of architecture, is a majestic
venerable pile, in every respect calculated to excite awe and
admiration; indeed, it is almost impossible to walk its long
dusky aisles, and hear the solemn music and the noble chanting,
and inhale the incense of the mighty censers, which are at
times swung so high by machinery as to smite the vaulted roof,
whilst gigantic tapers glitter here and there amongst the
gloom, from the shrine of many a saint, before which the
worshippers are kneeling, breathing forth their prayers and
petitions for help, love, and mercy, and entertain a doubt that
we are treading the floor of a house where God delighteth to
dwell. Yet the Lord is distant from that house; he hears not,
he sees not, or if he do, it is with anger. What availeth that
solemn music, that noble chanting, that incense of sweet
savour? What availeth kneeling before that grand altar of
silver, surmounted by that figure with its silver hat and
breast-plate, the emblem of one who, though an apostle and
confessor, was at best an unprofitable servant? What availeth
hoping for remission of sin by trusting in the merits of one
who possessed none, or by paying homage to others who were born
and nurtured in sin, and who alone, by the exercise of a lively
faith granted from above, could hope to preserve themselves
from the wrath of the Almighty?
Rise from your knees, ye children of Compostella, or if
ye bend, let it be to the Almighty alone, and no longer on the
eve of your patron's day address him in the following strain,
however sublime it may sound:
"Thou shield of that faith which in Spain we revere,
Thou scourge of each foeman who dares to draw near;
Whom the Son of that God who the elements tames,
Called child of the thunder, immortal Saint James!
"From the blessed asylum of glory intense,
Upon us thy sovereign influence dispense;
And list to the praises our gratitude aims
To offer up worthily, mighty Saint James.
"To thee fervent thanks Spain shall ever outpour;
In thy name though she glory, she glories yet more
In thy thrice-hallowed corse, which the sanctuary claims
Of high Compostella, O, blessed Saint James.
"When heathen impiety, loathsome and dread,
With a chaos of darkness our Spain overspread,
Thou wast the first light which dispell'd with its flames
The hell-born obscurity, glorious Saint James!
"And when terrible wars had nigh wasted our force,
All bright `midst the battle we saw thee on horse,
Fierce scattering the hosts, whom their fury proclaims
To be warriors of Islam, victorious Saint James.
"Beneath thy direction, stretch'd prone at thy feet,
With hearts low and humble, this day we intreat
Thou wilt strengthen the hope which enlivens our frames,
The hope of thy favour and presence, Saint James.
"Then praise to the Son and the Father above,
And to that Holy Spirit which springs from their love;
To that bright emanation whose vividness shames
The sun's burst of splendour, and praise to Saint James."
At Saint James I met with a kind and cordial coadjutor in
my biblical labours in the bookseller of the place, Rey Romero,
a man of about sixty. This excellent individual, who was both
wealthy and respected, took up the matter with an enthusiasm
which doubtless emanated from on high, losing no opportunity of
recommending my book to those who entered his shop, which was
in the Azabacheria, and was a very splendid and commodious
establishment. In many instances, when the peasants of the
neighbourhood came with an intention of purchasing some of the
foolish popular story-books of Spain, he persuaded them to
carry home Testaments instead, assuring them that the sacred
volume was a better, more instructive, and even far more
entertaining book than those they came in quest of. He
speedily conceived a great fancy for me, and regularly came to
visit me every evening at my posada, and accompanied me in my
walks about the town and the environs. He was a man of
considerable information, and though of much simplicity,
possessed a kind of good-natured humour which was frequently
highly diverting.
I was walking late one night alone in the Alameda of
Saint James, considering in what direction I should next bend
my course, for I had been already ten days in this place; the
moon was shining gloriously, and illumined every object around
to a considerable distance. The Alameda was quite deserted;
everybody, with the exception of myself, having for some time
retired. I sat down on a bench and continued my reflections,
which were suddenly interrupted by a heavy stumping sound.
Turning my eyes in the direction from which it proceeded, I
perceived what at first appeared a shapeless bulk slowly
advancing: nearer and nearer it drew, and I could now
distinguish the outline of a man dressed in coarse brown
garments, a kind of Andalusian hat, and using as a staff the
long peeled branch of a tree. He had now arrived opposite the
bench where I was seated, when, stopping, he took off his hat
and demanded charity in uncouth tones and in a strange jargon,
which had some resemblance to the Catalan. The moon shone on
grey locks and on a ruddy weather-beaten countenance which I at
once recognized: "Benedict Mol," said I, "is it possible that I
see you at Compostella?"
"Och, mein Gott, es ist der Herr!" replied Benedict.
"Och, what good fortune, that the Herr is the first person I
meet at Compostella."
MYSELF. - I can scarcely believe my eyes. Do you mean to
say that you have just arrived at this place?
BENEDICT. - Ow yes, I am this moment arrived. I have
walked all the long way from Madrid.
MYSELF. - What motive could possibly bring you such a
BENEDICT. - Ow, I am come for the schatz - the treasure.
I told you at Madrid that I was coming; and now I have met you
here, I have no doubt that I shall find it, the schatz.
MYSELF. - In what manner did you support yourself by the
BENEDICT. - Ow, I begged, I bettled, and so contrived to
pick up some cuartos; and when I reached Toro, I worked at my
trade of soap-making for a time, till the people said I knew
nothing about it, and drove me out of the town. So I went on
and begged and bettled till I arrived at Orense, which is in
this country of Galicia. Ow, I do not like this country of
Galicia at all.
MYSELF. - Why not?
BENEDICT. - Why! because here they all beg and bettle,
and have scarce anything for themselves, much less for me whom
they know to be a foreign man. O the misery of Galicia. When
I arrive at night at one of their pigsties, which they call
posadas, and ask for bread to eat in the name of God, and straw
to lie down in, they curse me, and say there is neither bread
nor straw in Galicia; and sure enough, since I have been here I
have seen neither, only something that they call broa, and a
kind of reedy rubbish with which they litter the horses: all my
bones are sore since I entered Galicia.
MYSELF. - And yet you have come to this country, which
you call so miserable, in search of treasure?
BENEDICT. - Ow yaw, but the schatz is buried; it is not
above ground; there is no money above ground in Galicia. I
must dig it up; and when I have dug it up I will purchase a
coach with six mules, and ride out of Galicia to Lucerne; and
if the Herr pleases to go with me, he shall be welcome to go
with me and the schatz.
MYSELF. - I am afraid that you have come on a desperate
errand. What do you propose to do? Have you any money?
BENEDICT. - Not a cuart; but I do not care now I have
arrived at Saint James. The schatz is nigh; and I have,
moreover, seen you, which is a good sign; it tells me that the
schatz is still here. I shall go to the best posada in the
place, and live like a duke till I have an opportunity of
digging up the schatz, when I will pay all scores.
"Do nothing of the kind," I replied; "find out some place
in which to sleep, and endeavour to seek some employment. In
the mean time, here is a trifle with which to support yourself;
but as for the treasure which you have come to seek, I believe
it only exists in your own imagination." I gave him a dollar
and departed.
I have never enjoyed more charming walks than in the
neighbourhood of Saint James. In these I was almost invariably
accompanied by my friend the good old bookseller. The streams
are numerous, and along their wooded banks we were in the habit
of straying and enjoying the delicious summer evenings of this
part of Spain. Religion generally formed the topic of our
conversation, but we not unfrequently talked of the foreign
lands which I had visited, and at other times of matters which
related particularly to my companion. "We booksellers of
Spain," said he, "are all liberals; we are no friends to the
monkish system. How indeed should we be friends to it? It
fosters darkness, whilst we live by disseminating light. We
love our profession, and have all more or less suffered for it;
many of us, in the times of terror, were hanged for selling an
innocent translation from the French or English. Shortly after
the Constitution was put down by Angouleme and the French
bayonets, I was obliged to flee from Saint James and take
refuge in the wildest part of Galicia, near Corcuvion. Had I
not possessed good friends, I should not have been alive now;
as it was, it cost me a considerable sum of money to arrange
matters. Whilst I was away, my shop was in charge of the
ecclesiastical officers. They frequently told my wife that I
ought to be burnt for the books which I had sold. Thanks be to
God, those times are past, and I hope they will never return."
Once, as we were walking through the streets of Saint
James, he stopped before a church and looked at it attentively.
As there was nothing remarkable in the appearance of this
edifice, I asked him what motive he had for taking such notice
of it. "In the days of the friars," said he, "this church was
one of refuge, to which if the worst criminals escaped, they
were safe. All were protected there save the negros, as they
called us liberals." "Even murderers, I suppose?" said I.
"Murderers!" he answered, "far worse criminals than they. By
the by, I have heard that you English entertain the utmost
abhorrence of murder. Do you in reality consider it a crime of
very great magnitude?" "How should we not," I replied; "for
every other crime some reparation can be made; but if we take
away life, we take away all. A ray of hope with respect to
this world may occasionally enliven the bosom of any other
criminal, but how can the murderer hope?" "The friars were of
another way of thinking," replied the old man; "they always
looked upon murder as a friolera; but not so the crime of
marrying your first cousin without dispensation, for which, if
we believe them, there is scarcely any atonement either in this
world or the next."
Two or three days after this, as we were seated in my
apartment in the posada, engaged in conversation, the door was
opened by Antonio, who, with a smile on his countenance, said
that there was a foreign GENTLEMAN below, who desired to speak
with me. "Show him up," I replied; whereupon almost instantly
appeared Benedict Mol.
"This is a most extraordinary person," said I to the
bookseller. "You Galicians, in general, leave your country in
quest of money; he, on the contrary, is come hither to find
REY ROMERO. - And he is right. Galicia is by nature the
richest province in Spain, but the inhabitants are very stupid,
and know not how to turn the blessings which surround them to
any account; but as a proof of what may be made out of Galicia,
see how rich the Catalans become who have settled down here and
formed establishments. There are riches all around us, upon
the earth and in the earth.
BENEDICT. - Ow yaw, in the earth, that is what I say.
There is much more treasure below the earth than above it.
MYSELF. - Since I last saw you, have you discovered the
place in which you say the treasure is deposited?
BENEDICT. - O yes, I know all about it now. It is buried
`neath the sacristy in the church of San Roque.
Myself. - How have you been able to make that discovery?
BENEDICT. - I will tell you: the day after my arrival I
walked about all the city in quest of the church, but could
find none which at all answered to the signs which my comrade
who died in the hospital gave me. I entered several, and
looked about, but all in vain; I could not find the place which
I had in my mind's eye. At last the people with whom I lodge,
and to whom I told my business, advised me to send for a meiga.
MYSELF. - A meiga! What is that?
BENEDICT. - Ow! a haxweib, a witch; the Gallegos call
them so in their jargon, of which I can scarcely understand a
word. So I consented, and they sent for the meiga. Och! what
a weib is that meiga! I never saw such a woman; she is as
large as myself, and has a face as round and red as the sun.
She asked me a great many questions in her Gallegan, and when I
had told her all she wanted to know, she pulled out a pack of
cards and laid them on the table in a particular manner, and
then she said that the treasure was in the church of San Roque;
and sure enough, when I went to that church, it answered in
every respect to the signs of my comrade who died in the
hospital. O she is a powerful hax, that meiga; she is well
known in the neighbourhood, and has done much harm to the
cattle. I gave her half the dollar I had from you for her
MYSELF. - Then you acted like a simpleton; she has
grossly deceived you. But even suppose that the treasure is
really deposited in the church you mention, it is not probable
that you will be permitted to remove the floor of the sacristy
to search for it.
BENEDICT. - Ow, the matter is already well advanced.
Yesterday I went to one of the canons to confess myself and to
receive absolution and benediction; not that I regard these
things much, but I thought this would be the best means of
broaching the matter, so I confessed myself, and then I spoke
of my travels to the canon, and at last I told him of the
treasure, and proposed that if he assisted me we should share
it between us. Ow, I wish you had seen him; he entered at once
into the affair, and said that it might turn out a very
profitable speculation: and he shook me by the hand, and said
that I was an honest Swiss and a good Catholic. And I then
proposed that he should take me into his house and keep me
there till we had an opportunity of digging up the treasure
together. This he refused to do.
REY ROMERO. - Of that I have no doubt: trust one of our
canons for not committing himself so far until he sees very
good reason. These tales of treasure are at present rather too
stale: we have heard of them ever since the time of the Moors.
BENEDICT. - He advised me to go to the Captain General
and obtain permission to make excavations, in which case he
promised to assist me to the utmost of his power.
Thereupon the Swiss departed, and I neither saw nor heard
anything farther of him during the time that I continued at
Saint James.
The bookseller was never weary of showing me about his
native town, of which he was enthusiastically fond. Indeed, I
have never seen the spirit of localism, which is so prevalent
throughout Spain, more strong than at Saint James. If their
town did but flourish, the Santiagians seemed to care but
little if all others in Galicia perished. Their antipathy to
the town of Coruna was unbounded, and this feeling had of late
been not a little increased from the circumstance that the seat
of the provincial government had been removed from Saint James
to Coruna. Whether this change was advisable or not, it is not
for me, who am a foreigner, to say; my private opinion,
however, is by no means favourable to the alteration. Saint
James is one of the most central towns in Galicia, with large
and populous communities on every side of it, whereas Coruna
stands in a corner, at a considerable distance from the rest.
"It is a pity that the vecinos of Coruna cannot contrive to
steal away from us our cathedral, even as they have done our
government," said a Santiagian; "then, indeed, they would be
able to cut some figure. As it is, they have not a church fit
to say mass in." "A great pity, too, that they cannot remove
our hospital," would another exclaim; "as it is, they are
obliged to send us their sick, poor wretches. I always think
that the sick of Coruna have more ill-favoured countenances
than those from other places; but what good can come from
Accompanied by the bookseller, I visited this hospital,
in which, however, I did not remain long; the wretchedness and
uncleanliness which I observed speedily driving me away. Saint
James, indeed, is the grand lazar-house for all the rest of
Galicia, which accounts for the prodigious number of horrible
objects to be seen in its streets, who have for the most part
arrived in the hope of procuring medical assistance, which,
from what I could learn, is very scantily and inefficiently
administered. Amongst these unhappy wretches I occasionally
observed the terrible leper, and instantly fled from him with a
"God help thee," as if I had been a Jew of old. Galicia is the
only province of Spain where cases of leprosy are still
frequent; a convincing proof this, that the disease is the
result of foul feeding, and an inattention to cleanliness, as
the Gallegans, with regard to the comforts of life and
civilized habits, are confessedly far behind all the other
natives of Spain.
"Besides a general hospital we have likewise a leperhouse,"
said the bookseller. "Shall I show it you? We have
everything at Saint James. There is nothing lacking; the very
leper finds an inn here." "I have no objection to your showing
me the house," I replied, "but it must be at a distance, for
enter it I will not." Thereupon he conducted me down the road
which leads towards Padron and Vigo, and pointing to two or
three huts, exclaimed "That is our leper-house." "It appears a
miserable place," I replied: "what accommodation may there be
for the patients, and who attends to their wants?" "They are
left to themselves," answered the bookseller, "and probably
sometimes perish from neglect: the place at one time was
endowed and had rents which were appropriated to its support,
but even these have been sequestered during the late troubles.
At present, the least unclean of the lepers generally takes his
station by the road side, and begs for the rest. See there he
is now."
And sure enough the leper in his shining scales, and half
naked, was seated beneath a ruined wall. We dropped money into
the hat of the unhappy being, and passed on.
"A bad disorder that," said my friend. "I confess that
I, who have seen so many of them, am by no means fond of the
company of lepers. Indeed, I wish that they would never enter
my shop, as they occasionally do to beg. Nothing is more
infectious, as I have heard, than leprosy: there is one very
virulent species, however, which is particularly dreaded here,
the elephantine: those who die of it should, according to law,
be burnt, and their ashes scattered to the winds: for if the
body of such a leper be interred in the field of the dead, the
disorder is forthwith communicated to all the corses even below
the earth. Such, at least, is our idea in these parts.
Lawsuits are at present pending from the circumstance of
elephantides having been buried with the other dead. Sad is
leprosy in all its forms, but most so when elephantine."
"Talking of corses," said I, "do you believe that the
bones of St. James are veritably interred at Compostella?"
"What can I say," replied the old man; "you know as much
of the matter as myself. Beneath the high altar is a large
stone slab or lid, which is said to cover the mouth of a
profound well, at the bottom of which it is believed that the
bones of the saint are interred; though why they should be
placed at the bottom of a well, is a mystery which I cannot
fathom. One of the officers of the church told me that at one
time he and another kept watch in the church during the night,
one of the chapels having shortly before been broken open and a
sacrilege committed. At the dead of night, finding the time
hang heavy on their hands, they took a crowbar and removed the
slab and looked down into the abyss below; it was dark as the
grave; whereupon they affixed a weight to the end of a long
rope and lowered it down. At a very great depth it seemed to
strike against something dull and solid like lead: they
supposed it might be a coffin; perhaps it was, but whose is the
Skippers of Padron - Caldas de los Reyes - Pontevedra - The Notary Public -
Insane Barber - An Introduction - Gallegan Language - Afternoon Ride -
Vigo - The Stranger - Jews of the Desert - Bay of Vigo -
Sudden Interruption - The Governor.
After a stay of about a fortnight at Saint James, we
again mounted our horses and proceeded in the direction of
Vigo. As we did not leave Saint James till late in the
afternoon, we travelled that day no farther than Padron, a
distance of only three leagues. This place is a small port,
situate at the extremity of a firth which communicates with the
sea. It is called for brevity's sake, Padron, but its proper
appellation is Villa del Padron, or the town of the patron
saint; it having been, according to the legend, the principal
residence of Saint James during his stay in Galicia. By the
Romans it was termed Iria Flavia. It is a flourishing little
town, and carries on rather an extensive commerce, some of its
tiny barks occasionally finding their way across the Bay of
Biscay, and even so far as the Thames and London.
There is a curious anecdote connected with the skippers
of Padron, which can scarcely be considered as out of place
here, as it relates to the circulation of the Scriptures. I
was one day in the shop of my friend the bookseller at Saint
James, when a stout good-humoured-looking priest entered. He
took up one of my Testaments, and forthwith burst into a
violent fit of laughter. "What is the matter?" demanded the
bookseller. "The sight of this book reminds me of a
circumstance": replied the other, "about twenty years ago, when
the English first took it into their heads to be very zealous
in converting us Spaniards to their own way of thinking, they
distributed a great number of books of this kind amongst the
Spaniards who chanced to be in London; some of them fell into
the hands of certain skippers of Padron, and these good folks,
on their return to Galicia, were observed to have become on a
sudden exceedingly opinionated and fond of dispute. It was
scarcely possible to make an assertion in their hearing without
receiving a flat contradiction, especially when religious
subjects were brought on the carpet. `It is false,' they would
say; `Saint Paul, in such a chapter and in such a verse, says
exactly the contrary.' `What can you know concerning what
Saint Paul or any other saint has written?' the priests would
ask them. `Much more than you think,' they replied; `we are no
longer to be kept in darkness and ignorance respecting these
matters:' and then they would produce their books and read
paragraphs, making such comments that every person was
scandalized; they cared nothing about the Pope, and even spoke
with irreverence of the bones of Saint James. However, the
matter was soon bruited about, and a commission was dispatched
from our see to collect the books and burn them. This was
effected, and the skippers were either punished or reprimanded,
since which I have heard nothing more of them. I could not
forbear laughing when I saw these books; they instantly brought
to my mind the skippers of Padron and their religious
Our next day's journey brought us to Pontevedra. As
there was no talk of robbers in these parts, we travelled
without any escort and alone. The road was beautiful and
picturesque, though somewhat solitary, especially after we had
left behind us the small town of Caldas. There is more than
one place of this name in Spain; the one of which I am speaking
is distinguished from the rest by being called Caldas de los
Reyes, or the warm baths of the kings. It will not be amiss to
observe that the Spanish CALDAS is synonymous with the Moorish
ALHAMA, a word of frequent occurrence both in Spanish and
African topography. Caldas seemed by no means undeserving of
its name: it stands on a confluence of springs, and the place
when we arrived was crowded with people who had come to enjoy
the benefit of the waters. In the course of my travels I have
observed that wherever warm springs are found, vestiges of
volcanoes are sure to be nigh; the smooth black precipice, the
divided mountain, or huge rocks standing by themselves on the
plain or on the hill side, as if Titans had been playing at
bowls. This last feature occurs near Caldas de los Reyes, the
side of the mountain which overhangs it in the direction of the
south being covered with immense granite stones, apparently at
some ancient period eructed from the bowels of the earth. From
Caldas to Pontevedra the route was hilly and fatiguing, the
heat was intense, and those clouds of flies, which constitute
one of the pests of Galicia, annoyed our horses to such a
degree that we were obliged to cut down branches from the trees
to protect their heads and necks from the tormenting stings of
these bloodthirsty insects. Whilst travelling in Galicia at
this period of the year on horseback, it is always advisable to
carry a fine net for the protection of the animal, a sure and
commodious means of defence, which appears, however, to be
utterly unknown in Galicia, where, perhaps, it is more wanted
than in any other part of the world.
Pontevedra, upon the whole, is certainly entitled to the
appellation of a magnificent town, some of its public edifices,
especially the convents, being such as are nowhere to be found
but in Spain and Italy. It is surrounded by a wall of hewn
stone, and stands at the end of a creek into which the river
Levroz disembogues. It is said to have been founded by a
colony of Greeks, whose captain was no less a personage than
Teucer the Telemonian. It was in former times a place of
considerable commerce; and near its port are to be seen the
ruins of a farol, or lighthouse, said to be of great antiquity.
The port, however, is at a considerable distance from the town,
and is shallow and incommodious. The whole country in the
neighbourhood of Pontevedra is inconceivably delicious,
abounding with fruits of every description, especially grapes,
which in the proper season are seen hanging from the "parras"
in luscious luxuriance. An old Andalusian author has said that
it produces as many oranges and citron trees as the
neighbourhood of Cordova. Its oranges are, however, by no
means good, and cannot compete with those of Andalusia. The
Pontevedrians boast that their land produces two crops every
year, and that whilst they are gathering in one they may be
seen ploughing and sowing another. They may well be proud of
their country, which is certainly a highly favoured spot.
The town itself is in a state of great decay, and
notwithstanding the magnificence of its public edifices, we
found more than the usual amount of Galician filth and misery.
The posada was one of the most wretched description, and to
mend the matter, the hostess was a most intolerable scold and
shrew. Antonio having found fault with the quality of some
provision which she produced, she cursed him most immoderately
in the country language, which was the only one she spoke, and
threatened, if he attempted to breed any disturbance in her
house, to turn the horses, himself, and his master forthwith
out of doors. Socrates himself, however, could not have
conducted himself on this occasion with greater forbearance
than Antonio, who shrugged his shoulders, muttered something in
Greek, and then was silent.
"Where does the notary public live?" I demanded. Now the
notary public vended books, and to this personage I was
recommended by my friend at Saint James. A boy conducted me to
the house of Senor Garcia, for such was his name. I found him
a brisk, active, talkative little man of forty. He undertook
with great alacrity the sale of my Testaments, and in a
twinkling sold two to a client who was waiting in the office,
and appeared to be from the country. He was an enthusiastic
patriot, but of course in a local sense, for he cared for no
other country than Pontevedra.
"Those fellows of Vigo," said he, "say their town is a
better one than ours, and that it is more deserving to be the
capital of this part of Galicia. Did you ever hear such folly?
I tell you what, friend, I should not care if Vigo were burnt,
and all the fools and rascals within it. Would you ever think
of comparing Vigo with Pontevedra?"
"I don't know," I replied; "I have never been at Vigo,
but I have heard say that the bay of Vigo is the finest in the
"Bay! my good sir. Bay! yes, the rascals have a bay, and
it is that bay of theirs which has robbed us all our commerce.
But what needs the capital of a district with a bay? It is
public edifices that it wants, where the provincial deputies
can meet to transact their business; now, so far from there
being a commodious public edifice, there is not a decent house
in all Vigo. Bay! yes, they have a bay, but have they water
fit to drink? Have they a fountain? Yes, they have, and the
water is so brackish that it would burst the stomach of a
horse. I hope, my dear sir, that you have not come all this
distance to take the part of such a gang of pirates as those of
"I am not come to take their part," I replied; "indeed, I
was not aware that they wanted my assistance in this dispute.
I am merely carrying to them the New Testament, of which they
evidently stand in much need, if they are such knaves and
scoundrels as you represent them."
"Represent them, my dear sir. Does not the matter speak
for itself? Do they not say that their town is better than
ours, more fit to be the capital of a district, QUE DISPARATE!
QUE BRIBONERIA! (what folly! what rascality!)"
"Is there a bookseller's shop at Vigo?" I inquired.
"There was one," he replied, "kept by an insane barber.
I am glad, for your sake, that it is broken up, and the fellow
vanished; he would have played you one of two tricks; he would
either have cut your throat with his razor, under pretence of
shaving you, or have taken your books and never have accounted
to you for the proceeds. Bay! I never could see what right
such an owl's nest as Vigo has to a bay."
No person could exhibit greater kindness to another, than
did the notary public to myself, as soon as I had convinced him
that I had no intention of siding with the men of Vigo against
Pontevedra. It was now six o'clock in the evening, and he
forthwith conducted me to a confectioner's shop, where he
treated me with an iced cream and a small cup of chocolate.
From hence we walked about the city, the notary showing the
various edifices, especially, the Convent of the Jesuits: "See
that front," said he, "what do you think of it?"
I expressed to him the admiration which I really felt,
and by so doing entirely won the good notary's heart: "I
suppose there is nothing like that at Vigo?" said I. He looked
at me for a moment, winked, gave a short triumphant chuckle,
and then proceeded on his way, walking at a tremendous rate.
The Senor Garcia was dressed in all respects as an English
notary might be: he wore a white hat, brown frock coat, drab
breeches buttoned at the knees, white stockings, and well
blacked shoes. But I never saw an English notary walk so fast:
it could scarcely be called walking: it seemed more like a
succession of galvanic leaps and bounds. I found it impossible
to keep up with him: "Where are you conducting me?" I at last
demanded, quite breathless.
"To the house of the cleverest man in Spain," he replied,
"to whom I intend to introduce you; for you must not think that
Pontevedra has nothing to boast of but its splendid edifices
and its beautiful country; it produces more illustrious minds
than any other town in Spain. Did you ever hear of the grand
"Oh, yes," said I, "but he did not come from Pontevedra
or its neighbourhood: he came from the steppes of Tartary, near
the river Oxus."
"I know he did," replied the notary, "but what I mean to
say is, that when Enrique the Third wanted an ambassador to
send to that African, the only man he could find suited to the
enterprise was a knight of Pontevedra, Don - by name. Let the
men of Vigo contradict that fact if they can."
We entered a large portal and ascended a splendid
staircase, at the top of which the notary knocked at a small
door: "Who is the gentleman to whom you are about to introduce
me?" demanded I.
"It is the advocate -," replied Garcia; "he is the
cleverest man in Spain, and understands all languages and
We were admitted by a respectable-looking female, to all
appearance a housekeeper, who, on being questioned, informed us
that the Advocate was at home, and forthwith conducted us to an
immense room, or rather library, the walls being covered with
books, except in two or three places, where hung some fine
pictures of the ancient Spanish school. There was a rich
mellow light in the apartment, streaming through a window of
stained glass, which looked to the west. Behind the table sat
the Advocate, on whom I looked with no little interest: his
forehead was high and wrinkled, and there was much gravity on
his features, which were quite Spanish. He was dressed in a
long robe, and might be about sixty; he sat reading behind a
large table, and on our entrance half raised himself and bowed
The notary public saluted him most profoundly, and, in an
under voice, hoped that he might be permitted to introduce a
friend of his, an English gentleman, who was travelling through
"I am very glad to see him," said the Advocate, "but I
hope he speaks Castilian, else we can have but little
communication; for, although I can read both French and Latin,
I cannot speak them."
"He speaks, sir, almost as good Spanish," said the
notary, "as a native of Pontevedra."
"The natives of Pontevedra," I replied, "appear to be
better versed in Gallegan than in Castilian, for the greater
part of the conversation which I hear in the streets is carried
on in the former dialect."
"The last gentleman which my friend Garcia introduced to
me," said the Advocate, "was a Portuguese, who spoke little or
no Spanish. It is said that the Gallegan and Portuguese are
very similar, but when we attempted to converse in the two
languages, we found it impossible. I understood little of what
he said, whilst my Gallegan was quite unintelligible to him.
Can you understand our country dialect?" he continued.
"Very little of it," I replied; "which I believe chiefly
proceeds from the peculiar accent and uncouth enunciation of
the Gallegans, for their language is certainly almost entirely
composed of Spanish and Portuguese words."
"So you are an Englishman," said the Advocate. "Your
countrymen have committed much damage in times past in these
regions, if we may trust our histories."
"Yes," said I, "they sank your galleons and burnt your
finest men-of-war in Vigo Bay, and, under old Cobham, levied a
contribution of forty thousand pounds sterling on this very
town of Pontevedra."
"Any foreign power," interrupted the notary public, "has
a clear right to attack Vigo, but I cannot conceive what plea
your countrymen could urge for distressing Pontevedra, which is
a respectable town, and could never have offended them."
"Senor Cavalier," said the Advocate, "I will show you my
library. Here is a curious work, a collection of poems,
written mostly in Gallegan, by the curate of Fruime. He is our
national poet, and we are very proud of him."
We stopped upwards of an hour with the Advocate, whose
conversation, if it did not convince me that he was the
cleverest man in Spain, was, upon the whole, highly
interesting, and who certainly possessed an extensive store of
general information, though he was by no means the profound
philologist which the notary had represented him to be.
When I was about to depart from Pontevedra in the
afternoon of the next day, the Senor Garcia stood by the side
of my horse, and having embraced me, thrust a small pamphlet
into my hand: "This book," said he, "contains a description of
Pontevedra. Wherever you go, speak well of Pontevedra." I
nodded. "Stay," said he, "my dear friend, I have heard of your
society, and will do my best to further its views. I am quite
disinterested, but if at any future time you should have an
opportunity of speaking in print of Senor Garcia, the notary
public of Pontevedra, - you understand me, - I wish you would
do so."
"I will," said I.
It was a pleasant afternoon's ride from Pontevedra to
Vigo, the distance being only four leagues. As we approached
the latter town, the country became exceedingly mountainous,
though scarcely anything could exceed the beauty of the
surrounding scenery. The sides of the hills were for the most
part clothed with luxuriant forests, even to the very summits,
though occasionally a flinty and naked peak would present
itself, rising to the clouds. As the evening came on, the
route along which we advanced became very gloomy, the hills and
forests enwrapping it in deep shade. It appeared, however, to
be well frequented: numerous cars were creaking along it, and
both horsemen and pedestrians were continually passing us. The
villages were frequent. Vines, supported on parras, were
growing, if possible, in still greater abundance than in the
neighbourhood of Pontevedra. Life and activity seemed to
pervade everything. The hum of insects, the cheerful bark of
dogs, the rude songs of Galicia, were blended together in
pleasant symphony. So delicious was my ride, that I almost
regretted when we entered the gate of Vigo.
The town occupies the lower part of a lofty hill, which,
as it ascends, becomes extremely steep and precipitous, and the
top of which is crowned with a strong fort or castle. It is a
small compact place, surrounded with low walls, the streets are
narrow, steep, and winding, and in the middle of the town is a
small square.
There is rather an extensive faubourg extending along the
shore of the bay. We found an excellent posada, kept by a man
and woman from the Basque provinces, who were both civil and
intelligent. The town seemed to be crowded, and resounded with
noise and merriment. The people were making a wretched attempt
at an illumination, in consequence of some victory lately
gained, or pretended to have been gained, over the forces of
the Pretender. Military uniforms were glancing about in every
direction. To increase the bustle, a troop of Portuguese
players had lately arrived from Oporto, and their first
representation was to take place this evening. "Is the play to
be performed in Spanish?" I demanded. "No," was the reply;
"and on that account every person is so eager to go; which
would not be the case if it were in a language which they could
On the morning of the next day I was seated at breakfast
in a large apartment which looked out upon the Plaza Mayor, or
great square of the good town of Vigo. The sun was shining
very brilliantly, and all around looked lively and gay.
Presently a stranger entered, and bowing profoundly, stationed
himself at the window, where he remained a considerable time in
silence. He was a man of very remarkable appearance, of about
thirty-five. His features were of perfect symmetry, and I may
almost say, of perfect beauty. His hair was the darkest I had
ever seen, glossy and shining; his eyes large, black, and
melancholy; but that which most struck me was his complexion.
It might be called olive, it is true, but it was a livid olive.
He was dressed in the very first style of French fashion.
Around his neck was a massive gold chain, while upon his
fingers were large rings, in one of which was set a magnificent
ruby. Who can that man be? thought I; - Spaniard or
Portuguese, perhaps a Creole. I asked him an indifferent
question in Spanish, to which he forthwith replied in that
language, but his accent convinced me that he was neither
Spaniard nor Portuguese.
"I presume I am speaking to an Englishman, sir?" said he,
in as good English as it was possible for one not an Englishman
to speak.
MYSELF. - You know me to be an Englishman; but I should
find some difficulty in guessing to what country you belong.
STRANGER. - May I take a seat?
MYSELF. - A singular question. Have you not as much
right to sit in the public apartment of an inn as myself?
STRANGER. - I am not certain of that. The people here
are not in general very gratified at seeing me seated by their
MYSELF. - Perhaps owing to your political opinions, or to
some crime which it may have been your misfortune to commit?
STRANGER. - I have no political opinions, and I am not
aware that I ever committed any particular crime, - I am hated
for my country and my religion.
MYSELF. - Perhaps I am speaking to a Protestant, like
STRANGER. - I am no Protestant. If I were, they would be
cautious here of showing their dislike, for I should then have
a government and a consul to protect me. I am a Jew - a
Barbary Jew, a subject of Abderrahman.
MYSELF. - If that be the case, you can scarcely complain
of being looked upon with dislike in this country, since in
Barbary the Jews are slaves.
STRANGER. - In most parts, I grant you, but not where I
was born, which was far up the country, near the deserts.
There the Jews are free, and are feared, and are as valiant men
as the Moslems themselves; as able to tame the steed, or to
fire the gun. The Jews of our tribe are not slaves, and I like
not to be treated as a slave either by Christian or Moor.
MYSELF. - Your history must be a curious one, I would
fain hear it.
STRANGER. - My history I shall tell to no one. I have
travelled much, I have been in commerce and have thriven. I am
at present established in Portugal, but I love not the people
of Catholic countries, and least of all these of Spain. I have
lately experienced the most shameful injustice in the Aduana of
this town, and when I complained, they laughed at me and called
me Jew. Wherever he turns, the Jew is reviled, save in your
country, and on that account my blood always warms when I see
an Englishman. You are a stranger here. Can I do aught for
you? You may command me.
MYSELF. - I thank you heartily, but I am in need of no
STRANGER. - Have you any bills, I will accept them if you
MYSELF. - I have no need of assistance; but you may do me
a favour by accepting of a book.
STRANGER. - I will receive it with thanks. I know what
it is. What a singular people? The same dress, the same look,
the same book. Pelham gave me one in Egypt. Farewell! Your
Jesus was a good man, perhaps a prophet; but . . . farewell!
Well may the people of Pontevedra envy the natives of
Vigo their bay, with which, in many respects, none other in the
world can compare. On every side it is defended by steep and
sublime hills, save on the part of the west, where is the
outlet to the Atlantic; but in the midst of this outlet, up
towers a huge rocky wall, or island, which breaks the swell,
and prevents the billows of the western sea from pouring
through in full violence. On either side of this island is a
passage, so broad, that navies might pass through at all times
in safety. The bay itself is oblong, running far into the
land, and so capacious, that a thousand sail of the line might
ride in it uncrowded. The waters are dark, still, and deep,
without quicksands or shallows, so that the proudest man-of-war
might lie within a stone's throw of the town ramparts without
any fear of injuring her keel.
Of many a strange event, and of many a mighty preparation
has this bay been the scene. It was here that the bulky
dragons of the grand armada were mustered, and it was from
hence that, fraught with the pomp, power, and terror of old
Spain, the monster fleet, spreading its enormous sails to the
wind, and bent on the ruin of the Lutheran isle, proudly
steered; - that fleet, to build and man which half the forests
of Galicia had been felled, and all the mariners impressed from
the thousand bays and creeks of the stern Cantabrian shore. It
was here that the united flags of Holland and England triumphed
over the pride of Spain and France; when the burning timbers of
exploded war-ships soared above the tops of the Gallegan hills,
and blazing galleons sank with their treasure chests whilst
drifting in the direction of Sampayo. It was on the shores of
this bay that the English guards first emptied Spanish bodegas,
whilst the bombs of Cobham were crushing the roofs of the
castle of Castro, and the vecinos of Pontevedra buried their
doubloons in cellars, and flying posts were conveying to Lugo
and Orensee the news of the heretic invasion and the disaster
of Vigo. All these events occurred to my mind as I stood far
up the hill, at a short distance from the fort, surveying the
"What are you doing there, Cavalier?" roared several
voices. "Stay, Carracho! if you attempt to run we will shoot
you!" I looked round and saw three or four fellows in dirty
uniforms, to all appearance soldiers, just above me, on a
winding path, which led up the hill. Their muskets were
pointed at me. "What am I doing? Nothing, as you see," said
I, "save looking at the bay; and as for running, this is by no
means ground for a course." "You are our prisoner," said they,
"and you must come with us to the fort." "I was just thinking
of going there," I replied, "before you thus kindly invited me.
The fort is the very spot I was desirous of seeing." I
thereupon climbed up to the place where they stood, when they
instantly surrounded me, and with this escort I was marched
into the fort, which might have been a strong place in its
time, but was now rather ruinous. "You are suspected of being
a spy," said the corporal, who walked in front. "Indeed," said
I. "Yes," replied the corporal, "and several spies have lately
been taken and shot."
Upon one of the parapets of the fort stood a young man,
dressed as a subaltern officer, and to this personage I was
introduced. "We have been watching you this half hour," said
he, "as you were taking observations." "Then you gave
yourselves much useless trouble," said I. "I am an Englishman,
and was merely looking at the bay. Have the kindness now to
show me the fort." . . .
After some conversation, he said, "I wish to be civil to
people of your nation, you may therefore consider yourself at
liberty." I bowed, made my exit, and proceeded down the hill.
Just before I entered the town, however, the corporal, who had
followed me unperceived, tapped me on the shoulder. "You must
go with me to the governor," said he. "With all my heart," I
replied. The governor was shaving, when we were shown up to
him. He was in his shirt sleeves, and held a razor in his
hand. He looked very ill-natured, which was perhaps owing to
his being thus interrupted in his toilet. He asked me two or
three questions, and on learning that I had a passport, and was
the bearer of a letter to the English consul, he told me that I
was at liberty to depart. So I bowed to the governor of the
town, as I had done to the governor of the fort, and making my
exit proceeded to my inn.
At Vigo I accomplished but little in the way of
distribution, and after a sojourn of a few days, I returned in
the direction of Saint James.
Arrival at Padron - Projected Enterprise - The Alquilador
- Breach of Promise - An Odd Companion - A Plain Story -
Rugged Paths - The Desertion - The Pony - A Dialogue -
Unpleasant Situation - The Estadea - Benighted -
The Hut - The Traveller's Pillow.
I arrived at Padron late in the evening, on my return
from Pontevedra and Vigo. It was my intention at this place to
send my servant and horses forward to Santiago, and to hire a
guide to Cape Finisterra. It would be difficult to assign any
plausible reason for the ardent desire which I entertained to
visit this place; but I remembered that last year I had escaped
almost by a miracle from shipwreck and death on the rocky sides
of this extreme point of the Old World, and I thought that to
convey the Gospel to a place so wild and remote, might perhaps
be considered an acceptable pilgrimage in the eyes of my Maker.
True it is that but one copy remained of those which I had
brought with me on this last journey, but this reflection, far
from discouraging me in my projected enterprise, produced the
contrary effect, as I called to mind that ever since the Lord
revealed himself to man, it has seemed good to him to
accomplish the greatest ends by apparently the most
insufficient means; and I reflected that this one copy might
serve as an instrument of more good than the four thousand nine
hundred and ninety-nine copies of the edition of Madrid.
I was aware that my own horses were quite incompetent to
reach Finisterra, as the roads or paths lie through stony
ravines, and over rough and shaggy hills, and therefore
determined to leave them behind with Antonio, whom I was
unwilling to expose to the fatigues of such a journey. I lost
no time in sending for an alquilador, or person who lets out
horses, and informing him of my intention. He said he had an
excellent mountain pony at my disposal, and that he himself
would accompany me, but at the same time observed, that it was
a terrible journey for man and horse, and that he expected to
be paid accordingly. I consented to give him what he demanded,
but on the express condition that he would perform his promise
of attending me himself, as I was unwilling to trust myself
four or five days amongst the hills with any low fellow of the
town whom he might select, and who it was very possible might
play me some evil turn. He replied by the term invariably used
by the Spaniards when they see doubt or distrust exhibited.
"NO TENGA USTED CUIDAO," I will go myself. Having thus
arranged the matter perfectly satisfactorily, as I thought, I
partook of a slight supper, and shortly afterwards retired to
I had requested the alquilador to call me the next
morning at three o'clock; he however did not make his
appearance till five, having, I suppose, overslept himself,
which was indeed my own case. I arose in a hurry, dressed, put
a few things in a bag, not forgetting the Testament which I had
resolved to present to the inhabitants of Finisterra. I then
sallied forth and saw my friend the alquilador, who was holding
by the bridle the pony or jaco which was destined to carry me
in my expedition. It was a beautiful little animal, apparently
strong and full of life, without one single white hair in its
whole body, which was black as the plumage of the crow.
Behind it stood a strange-looking figure of the biped
species, to whom, however, at the moment, I paid little
attention, but of whom I shall have plenty to say in the
Having asked the horse-lender whether he was ready to
proceed, and being answered in the affirmative, I bade adieu to
Antonio, and putting the pony in motion, we hastened out of the
town, taking at first the road which leads towards Santiago.
Observing that the figure which I have previously alluded to
was following close at our heels, I asked the alquilador who it
was, and the reason of its following us; to which he replied
that it was a servant of his, who would proceed a little way
with us and then return. So on we went at a rapid rate, till
we were within a quarter of a mile of the Convent of the
Esclavitud, a little beyond which he had informed me that we
should have to turn off from the high road; but here he
suddenly stopped short, and in a moment we were all at a
standstill. I questioned the guide as to the reason of this,
but received no answer. The fellow's eyes were directed to the
ground, and he seemed to be counting with the most intense
solicitude the prints of the hoofs of the oxen, mules, and
horses in the dust of the road. I repeated my demand in a
louder voice; when, after a considerable pause, he somewhat
elevated his eyes, without however looking me in the face, and
said that he believed that I entertained the idea that he
himself was to guide me to Finisterra, which if I did, he was
very sorry for, the thing being quite impossible, as he was
perfectly ignorant of the way, and, moreover, incapable of
performing such a journey over rough and difficult ground, as
he was no longer the man he had been, and over and above all
that, he was engaged that day to accompany a gentleman to
Pontevedra, who was at that moment expecting him. "But,"
continued he, "as I am always desirous of behaving like a
caballero to everybody, I have taken measures to prevent your
being disappointed. This person," pointing to the figure, "I
have engaged to accompany you. He is a most trustworthy
person, and is well acquainted with the route to Finisterra,
having been thither several times with this very jaco on which
you are mounted. He will, besides, be an agreeable companion
to you on the way, as he speaks French and English very well,
and has been all over the world." The fellow ceased speaking
at last; and I was so struck with his craft, impudence, and
villainy, that some time elapsed before I could find an answer.
I then reproached him in the bitterest terms for his breach of
promise, and said that I was much tempted to return to the town
instantly, complain of him to the alcalde, and have him
punished at any expense. To which he replied, "Sir Cavalier,
by so doing you will be nothing nearer Finisterra, to which you
seem so eager to get. Take my advice, spur on the jaco, for
you see it is getting late, and it is twelve long leagues from
hence to Corcuvion, where you must pass the night; and from
thence to Finisterra is no trifle. As for the man, NO TENGA
USTED CUIDAO, he is the best guide in all Galicia, speaks
English and French, and will bear you pleasant company."
By this time I had reflected that by returning to Padron
I should indeed be only wasting time, and that by endeavouring
to have the fellow punished, no benefit would accrue to me;
moreover, as he seemed to be a scoundrel in every sense of the
word, I might as well proceed in the company of any person as
in his. I therefore signified my intention of proceeding, and
told him to go back in the Lord's name, and repent of his sins.
But having gained one point, he thought he had best attempt
another; so placing himself about a yard before the jaco, he
said that the price which I had agreed to pay him for the loan
of his horse (which by the by was the full sum he had demanded)
was by no means sufficient, and that before I proceeded I must
promise him two dollars more, adding that he was either drunk
or mad when he had made such a bargain. I was now thoroughly
incensed, and without a moment's reflection, spurred the jaco,
which flung him down in the dust, and passed over him. Looking
back at the distance of a hundred yards, I saw him standing in
the same place, his hat on the ground, gazing after us, and
crossing himself most devoutly. His servant, or whatever he
was, far from offering any assistance to his principal, no
sooner saw the jaco in motion than he ran on by its side,
without word or comment, farther than striking himself lustily
on the thigh with his right palm. We soon passed the
Esclavitud, and presently afterwards turned to the left into a
stony broken path leading to fields of maze. We passed by
several farm-houses, and at last arrived at a dingle, the sides
of which were plentifully overgrown with dwarf oaks, and which
slanted down to a small dark river shaded with trees, which we
crossed by a rude bridge. By this time I had had sufficient
time to scan my odd companion from head to foot. His utmost
height, had he made the most of himself, might perhaps have
amounted to five feet one inch; but he seemed somewhat inclined
to stoop. Nature had gifted him with an immense head and
placed it clean upon his shoulders, for amongst the items of
his composition it did not appear that a neck had been
included. Arms long and brawny swung at his sides, and the
whole of his frame was as strong built and powerful as a
wrestler's; his body was supported by a pair of short but very
nimble legs. His face was very long, and would have borne some
slight resemblance to a human countenance, had the nose been
more visible, for its place seemed to have been entirely
occupied by a wry mouth and large staring eyes. His dress
consisted of three articles: an old and tattered hat of the
Portuguese kind, broad at the crown and narrow at the eaves,
something which appeared to be a shirt, and dirty canvas
trousers. Willing to enter into conversation with him, and
remembering that the alquilador had informed me that he spoke
languages, I asked him, in English, if he had always acted in
the capacity of guide? Whereupon he turned his eyes with a
singular expression upon my face, gave a loud laugh, a long
leap, and clapped his hands thrice above his head. Perceiving
that he did not understand me, I repeated my demand in French,
and was again answered by the laugh, leap, and clapping. At
last he said in broken Spanish, "Master mine, speak Spanish in
God's name, and I can understand you, and still better if you
speak Gallegan, but I can promise no more. I heard what the
alquilador told you, but he is the greatest embustero in the
whole land, and deceived you then as he did when he promised to
accompany you. I serve him for my sins; but it was an evil
hour when I left the deep sea and turned guide." He then
informed me that he was a native of Padron, and a mariner by
profession, having spent the greater part of his life in the
Spanish navy, in which service he had visited Cuba and many
parts of the Spanish Americas, adding, "when my master told you
that I should bear you pleasant company by the way, it was the
only word of truth that has come from his mouth for a month;
and long before you reach Finisterra you will have rejoiced
that the servant, and not the master, went with you: he is dull
and heavy, but I am what you see." He then gave two or three
first-rate summersets, again laughed loudly, and clapped his
hands. "You would scarcely think," he continued, "that I drove
that little pony yesterday heavily laden all the way from
Coruna. We arrived at Padron at two o'clock this morning; but
we are nevertheless both willing and able to undertake a fresh
journey. NO TENGA USTED CUIDAO, as my master said, no one ever
complains of that pony or of me." In this kind of discourse we
proceeded a considerable way through a very picturesque
country, until we reached a beautiful village at the skirt of a
mountain. "This village," said my guide, "is called Los
Angeles, because its church was built long since by the angels;
they placed a beam of gold beneath it, which they brought down
from heaven, and which was once a rafter of God's own house.
It runs all the way under the ground from hence to the
cathedral of Compostella."
Passing through the village, which he likewise informed
me possessed baths, and was much visited by the people of
Santiago, we shaped our course to the north-west, and by so
doing doubled a mountain which rose majestically over our
heads, its top crowned with bare and broken rocks, whilst on
our right, on the other side of a spacious valley, was a high
range, connected with the mountains to the northward of Saint
James. On the summit of this range rose high embattled towers,
which my guide informed me were those of Altamira, an ancient
and ruined castle, formerly the principal residence in this
province of the counts of that name. Turning now due west, we
were soon at the bottom of a steep and rugged pass, which led
to more elevated regions. The ascent cost us nearly half an
hour, and the difficulties of the ground were such, that I more
than once congratulated myself on having left my own horses
behind, and being mounted on the gallant little pony which,
accustomed to such paths, scrambled bravely forward, and
eventually brought us in safety to the top of the ascent.
Here we entered a Gallegan cabin, or choza, for the
purpose of refreshing the animal and ourselves. The quadruped
ate some maize, whilst we two bipeds regaled ourselves on some
broa and aguardiente, which a woman whom we found in the hut
placed before us. I walked out for a few minutes to observe
the aspect of the country, and on my return found my guide fast
asleep on the bench where I had left him. He sat bolt upright,
his back supported against the wall, and his legs pendulous,
within three inches of the ground, being too short to reach it.
I remained gazing upon him for at least five minutes, whilst he
enjoyed slumbers seemingly as quiet and profound as those of
death itself. His face brought powerfully to my mind some of
those uncouth visages of saints and abbots which are
occasionally seen in the niches of the walls of ruined
convents. There was not the slightest gleam of vitality in his
countenance, which for colour and rigidity might have been of
stone, and which was as rude and battered as one of the stone
heads at Icolmkill, which have braved the winds of twelve
hundred years. I continued gazing on his face till I became
almost alarmed, concluding that life might have departed from
its harassed and fatigued tenement. On my shaking him rather
roughly by the shoulder he slowly awoke, opening his eyes with
a stare and then closing them again. For a few moments he was
evidently unconscious of where he was. On my shouting to him,
however, and inquiring whether he intended to sleep all day
instead of conducting me to Finisterra, he dropped upon his
legs, snatched up his hat, which lay on the table, and
instantly ran out of the door, exclaiming, "Yes, yes, I
remember - follow me, captain, and I will lead you to
Finisterra in no time." I looked after him, and perceived that
he was hurrying at a considerable pace in the direction in
which we had hitherto been proceeding. "Stop," said I, "stop!
will you leave me here with the pony? Stop, we have not paid
the reckoning. Stop!" He, however, never turned his head for
a moment, and in less than a minute was out of sight. The
pony, which was tied to a crib at one end of the cabin, began
now to neigh terrifically, to plunge, and to erect its tail and
mane in a most singular manner. It tore and strained at the
halter till I was apprehensive that strangulation would ensue.
"Woman," I exclaimed, "where are you, and what is the meaning
of all this?" But the hostess had likewise disappeared, and
though I ran about the choza, shouting myself hoarse, no answer
was returned. The pony still continued to scream and to strain
at the halter more violently than ever. "Am I beset with
lunatics?" I cried, and flinging down a peseta on the table,
unloosed the halter, and attempted to introduce the bit into
the mouth of the animal. This, however, I found impossible to
effect. Released from the halter, the pony made at once for
the door, in spite of all the efforts which I could make to
detain it. "If you abandon me," said I, "I am in a pretty
situation; but there is a remedy for everything!" with which
words I sprang into the saddle, and in a moment more the
creature was bearing me at a rapid gallop in the direction, as
I supposed, of Finisterra. My position, however diverting to
the reader, was rather critical to myself. I was on the back
of a spirited animal, over which I had no control, dashing
along a dangerous and unknown path. I could not discover the
slightest vestige of my guide, nor did I pass anyone from whom
I could derive any information. Indeed, the speed of the
animal was so great, that even in the event of my meeting or
overtaking a passenger, I could scarcely have hoped to exchange
a word with him. "Is the pony trained to this work?" said I
mentally. "Is he carrying me to some den of banditti, where my
throat will be cut, or does he follow his master by instinct?"
Both of these suspicions I however soon abandoned; the pony's
speed relaxed, he appeared to have lost the road. He looked
about uneasily: at last, coming to a sandy spot, he put his
nostrils to the ground, and then suddenly flung himself down,
and wallowed in true pony fashion. I was not hurt, and
instantly made use of this opportunity to slip the bit into his
mouth, which previously had been dangling beneath his neck; I
then remounted in quest of the road.
This I soon found, and continued my way for a
considerable time. The path lay over a moor, patched heath and
furze, and here and there strewn with large stones, or rather
rocks. The sun had risen high in the firmament, and burned
fiercely. I passed several people, men and women, who gazed at
me with surprise, wondering, probably, what a person of my
appearance could be about without a guide in so strange a
place. I inquired of two females whom I met whether they had
seen my guide; but they either did not or would not understand
me, and exchanging a few words with each other, in one of the
hundred dialects of the Gallegan, passed on. Having crossed
the moor, I came rather abruptly upon a convent, overhanging a
deep ravine, at the bottom of which brawled a rapid stream.
It was a beautiful and picturesque spot: the sides of the
ravine were thickly clothed with wood, and on the other side a
tall, black hill uplifted itself. The edifice was large, and
apparently deserted. Passing by it, I presently reached a
small village, as deserted, to all appearance, as the convent,
for I saw not a single individual, nor so much as a dog to
welcome me with his bark. I proceeded, however, until I
reached a fountain, the waters of which gushed from a stone
pillar into a trough. Seated upon this last, his arms folded,
and his eyes fixed upon the neighbouring mountain, I beheld a
figure which still frequently recurs to my thoughts, especially
when asleep and oppressed by the nightmare. This figure was my
runaway guide.
MYSELF. - Good day to you, my gentleman. The weather is
hot, and yonder water appears delicious. I am almost tempted
to dismount and regale myself with a slight draught.
GUIDE. - Your worship can do no better. The day is, as
you say, hot; you can do no better than drink a little of this
water. I have myself just drunk. I would not, however, advise
you to give that pony any, it appears heated and blown.
MYSELF. - It may well be so. I have been galloping at
least two leagues in pursuit of a fellow who engaged to guide
me to Finisterra, but who deserted me in a most singular
manner, so much so, that I almost believe him to be a thief,
and no true man. You do not happen to have seen him?
GUIDE. - What kind of a man might he be?
MYSELF. - A short, thick fellow, very much like yourself,
with a hump upon his back, and, excuse me, of a very illfavoured
GUIDE. - Ha, ha! I know him. He ran with me to this
fountain, where he has just left me. That man, Sir Cavalier,
is no thief. If he is any thing at all, he is a Nuveiro, - a
fellow who rides upon the clouds, and is occasionally whisked
away by a gust of wind. Should you ever travel with that man
again, never allow him more than one glass of anise at a time,
or he will infallibly mount into the clouds and leave you, and
then he will ride and run till he comes to a water brook, or
knocks his head against a fountain - then one draught, and he
is himself again. So you are going to Finisterra, Sir
Cavalier. Now it is singular enough, that a cavalier much of
your appearance engaged me to conduct him there this morning.
I however lost him on the way. So it appears to me our best
plan to travel together until you find your own guide and I
find my own master.
It might be about two o'clock in the afternoon, that we
reached a long and ruinous bridge, seemingly of great
antiquity, and which, as I was informed by my guide, was called
the bridge of Don Alonzo. It crossed a species of creek, or
rather frith, for the sea was at no considerable distance, and
the small town of Noyo lay at our right. "When we have crossed
that bridge, captain," said my guide, "we shall be in an
unknown country, for I have never been farther than Noyo, and
as for Finisterra, so far from having been there, I never heard
of such a place; and though I have inquired of two or three
people since we have been upon this expedition, they know as
little about it as I do. Taking all things, however, into
consideration, it appears to me that the best thing we can do
is to push forward to Corcuvion, which is five mad leagues from
hence, and which we may perhaps reach ere nightfall, if we can
find the way or get any one to direct us; for, as I told you
before, I know nothing about it." "To fine hands have I
confided myself," said I: "however, we had best, as you say,
push forward to Corcuvion, where, peradventure, we may hear
something of Finisterra, and find a guide to conduct us."
Whereupon, with a hop, skip, and a jump, he again set forward
at a rapid pace, stopping occasionally at a choza, for the
purpose, I suppose, of making inquiries, though I understood
scarcely anything of the jargon in which he addressed the
people, and in which they answered him.
We were soon in an extremely wild and hilly country,
scrambling up and down ravines, wading brooks, and scratching
our hands and faces with brambles, on which grew a plentiful
crop of wild mulberries, to gather some of which we
occasionally made a stop. Owing to the roughness of the way we
made no great progress. The pony followed close at the back of
the guide, so near, indeed, that its nose almost touched his
shoulder. The country grew wilder and wilder, and since we had
passed a water mill, we had lost all trace of human habitation.
The mill stood at the bottom of a valley shaded by large trees,
and its wheels were turning with a dismal and monotonous noise.
"Do you think we shall reach Corcuvion to-night?" said I to the
guide, as we emerged from this valley to a savage moor, which
appeared of almost boundless extent.
GUIDE. - I do not, I do not. We shall in no manner reach
Corcuvion to-night, and I by no means like the appearance of
this moor. The sun is rapidly sinking, and then, if there come
on a haze, we shall meet the Estadea.
MYSELF. - What do you mean by the Estadea?
GUIDE. - What do I mean by the Estadea? My master asks
me what I mean by the Estadinha. * I have met the Estadinha but
once, and it was upon a moor something like this. I was in
company with several women, and a thick haze came on, and
suddenly a thousand lights shone above our heads in the haze,
and there was a wild cry, and the women fell to the ground
screaming Estadea! Estadea! and I myself fell to the ground
crying out Estadinha! The Estadea are the spirits of the dead
which ride upon the haze, bearing candles in their hands. I
tell you frankly, my master, that if we meet the assembly of
the souls, I shall leave you at once, and then I shall run and
run till I drown myself in the sea, somewhere about Muros. We
shall not reach Corcuvion this night; my only hope is that we
may find some choza upon these moors, where we may hide our
heads from the Estadinha.
* INHA, when affixed to words, serves as a diminutive.
It is much in use amongst the Gallegans.
The night overtook us ere we had traversed the moor;
there was, however, no haze, to the great joy of my guide, and
a corner of the moon partially illumined our steps. Our
situation, however, was dreary enough: we were upon the wildest
heath of the wildest province of Spain, ignorant of our way,
and directing our course we scarcely knew whither, for my guide
repeatedly declared to me, that he did not believe that such a
place as Finisterra existed, or if it did exist, it was some
bleak mountain pointed out in a map. When I reflected on the
character of this guide, I derived but little comfort or
encouragement: he was at best evidently half witted, and was by
his own confession occasionally seized with paroxysms which
differed from madness in no essential respect; his wild
escapade in the morning of nearly three leagues, without any
apparent cause, and lastly his superstitious and frantic fears
of meeting the souls of the dead upon this heath, in which
event he intended, as he himself said, to desert me and make
for the sea, operated rather powerfully upon my nerves. I
likewise considered that it was quite possible that we might be
in the route neither of Finisterra nor Corcuvion, and I
therefore determined to enter the first cabin at which we
should arrive, in preference to running the risk of breaking
our necks by tumbling down some pit or precipice. No cabin,
however, appeared in sight: the moor seemed interminable, and
we wandered on until the moon disappeared, and we were left in
almost total darkness.
At length we arrived at the foot of a steep ascent, up
which a rough and broken pathway appeared to lead.
"Can this be our way?" said I to the guide.
"There appears to be no other for us, captain," replied
the man; "let us ascend it by all means, and when we are it the
top, if the sea be in the neighbourhood we shall see it."
I then dismounted, for to ride up such a pass in such
darkness would have been madness. We clambered up in a line,
first the guide, next the pony, with his nose as usual on his
master's shoulder, of whom he seemed passionately fond, and I
bringing up the rear, with my left hand grasping the animal's
tail. We had many a stumble, and more than one fall: once,
indeed, we were all rolling down the side of the hill together.
In about twenty minutes we reached the summit, and looked
around us, but no sea was visible: a black moor, indistinctly
seen, seemed to spread on every side.
"We shall have to take up our quarters here till
morning," said I.
Suddenly my guide seized me by the hand: "There is lume,
Senhor," said he, "there is lume." I looked in the direction
in which he pointed, and, after straining my eyes for some
time, imagined that I perceived, far below and at some
distance, a faint glow. "That is lume," shouted the guide,
"and it proceeds from the chimney of a choza."
On descending the eminence, we roamed about for a
considerable time, until we at last found ourselves in the
midst of about six or eight black huts. "Knock at the door of
one of these," said I to the guide, "and inquire of the people
whether they can shelter us for the night." He did so, and a
man presently made his appearance, bearing in his hand a
lighted firebrand.
"Can you shelter a Cavalheiro from the night and the
Estadea?" said my guide.
"From both, I thank God," said the man, who was an
athletic figure, without shoes and stockings, and who, upon the
whole, put me much in mind of a Munster peasant from the bogs.
"Pray enter, gentlemen, we can accommodate you both and your
cavalgadura besides."
We entered the choza, which consisted of three
compartments; in the first we found straw, in the second cattle
and ponies, and in the third the family, consisting of the
father and mother of the man who admitted us, and his wife and
"You are a Catalan, sir Cavalier, and are going to your
countryman at Corcuvion," said the man in tolerable Spanish.
"Ah, you are brave people, you Catalans, and fine
establishments you have on the Gallegan shores; pity that you
take all the money out of the country."
Now, under all circumstances, I had not the slightest
objection to pass for a Catalan; and I rather rejoiced that
these wild people should suppose that I had powerful friends
and countrymen in the neighbourhood who were, perhaps,
expecting me. I therefore favoured their mistake, and began
with a harsh Catalan accent to talk of the fish of Galicia, and
the high duties on salt. The eye of my guide was upon me for
an instant, with a singular expression, half serious, half
droll; he however said nothing, but slapped his thigh as usual,
and with a spring nearly touched the roof of the cabin with his
grotesque head. Upon inquiry, I discovered that we were still
two long leagues distant from Corcuvion, and that the road lay
over moor and hill, and was hard to find. Our host now
demanded whether we were hungry, and upon being answered in the
affirmative, produced about a dozen eggs and some bacon.
Whilst our supper was cooking, a long conversation ensued
between my guide and the family, but as it was carried on in
Gallegan, I tried in vain to understand it. I believe,
however, that it principally related to witches and witchcraft,
as the Estadea was frequently mentioned. After supper I
demanded where I could rest: whereupon the host pointed to a
trap-door in the roof, saying that above there was a loft where
I could sleep by myself, and have clean straw. For curiosity's
sake, I asked whether there was such a thing as a bed in the
"No," replied the man; "nor nearer than Corcuvion. I
never entered one in my life, nor any one of my family: we
sleep around the hearth, or among the straw with the cattle."
I was too old a traveller to complain, but forthwith
ascended by a ladder into a species of loft, tolerably large
and nearly empty, where I placed my cloak beneath my head, and
lay down on the boards, which I preferred to the straw, for
more reasons than one. I heard the people below talking in
Gallegan for a considerable time, and could see the gleams of
the fire through the interstices of the floor. The voices,
however, gradually died away, the fire sank low and could no
longer be distinguished. I dozed, started, dozed again, and
dropped finally into a profound sleep, from which I was only
roused by the crowing of the second cock.
Autumnal Morning - The World's End - Corcuvion - Duyo -
The Cape - A Whale - The Outer Bay - The Arrest - The Fisher-
Magistrate - Calros Rey - Hard of Belief - Where is your Passport? -
The Beach - A Mighty Liberal - The Handmaid - The Grand Baintham -
Eccentric Book - Hospitality.
It was a beautiful autumnal morning when we left the
choza and pursued our way to Corcuvion. I satisfied our host
by presenting him with a couple of pesetas, and he requested as
a favour, that if on our return we passed that way, and were
overtaken by the night, we would again take up our abode
beneath his roof. This I promised, at the same time
determining to do my best to guard against the contingency; as
sleeping in the loft of a Gallegan hut, though preferable to
passing the night on a moor or mountain, is anything but
So we again started at a rapid pace along rough bridleways
and footpaths, amidst furze and brushwood. In about an
hour we obtained a view of the sea, and directed by a lad, whom
we found on the moor employed in tending a few miserable sheep,
we bent our course to the north-west, and at length reached the
brow of an eminence, where we stopped for some time to survey
the prospect which opened before us.
It was not without reason that the Latins gave the name
of Finnisterrae to this district. We had arrived exactly at
such a place as in my boyhood I had pictured to myself as the
termination of the world, beyond which there was a wild sea, or
abyss, or chaos. I now saw far before me an immense ocean, and
below me a long and irregular line of lofty and precipitous
coast. Certainly in the whole world there is no bolder coast
than the Gallegan shore, from the debouchement of the Minho to
Cape Finisterra. It consists of a granite wall of savage
mountains, for the most part serrated at the top, and
occasionally broken, where bays and firths like those of Vigo
and Pontevedra intervene, running deep into the land. These
bays and firths are invariably of an immense depth, and
sufficiently capacious to shelter the navies of the proudest
maritime nations.
There is an air of stern and savage grandeur in
everything around, which strongly captivates the imagination.
This savage coast is the first glimpse of Spain which the
voyager from the north catches, or he who has ploughed his way
across the wide Atlantic: and well does it seem to realize all
his visions of this strange land. "Yes," he exclaims, "this is
indeed Spain - stern flinty Spain - land emblematic of those
spirits to which she has given birth. From what land but that
before me could have proceeded those portentous beings, who
astounded the Old World and filled the New with horror and
blood: Alba and Philip, Cortez and Pizarro: stern colossal
spectres looming through the gloom of bygone years, like yonder
granite mountains through the haze, upon the eye of the
mariner. Yes, yonder is indeed Spain; flinty, indomitable
Spain; land emblematic of its sons!"
As for myself, when I viewed that wide ocean and its
savage shore, I cried, "Such is the grave, and such are its
terrific sides; those moors and wilds, over which I have
passed, are the rough and dreary journey of life. Cheered with
hope, we struggle along through all the difficulties of moor,
bog, and mountain, to arrive at - what? The grave and its
dreary sides. Oh, may hope not desert us in the last hour:
hope in the Redeemer and in God!"
We descended from the eminence, and again lost sight of
the sea amidst ravines and dingles, amongst which patches of
pine were occasionally seen. Continuing to descend, we at last
came, not to the sea, but to the extremity of a long narrow
firth, where stood a village or hamlet; whilst at a small
distance, on the Western side of the firth, appeared one
considerably larger, which was indeed almost entitled to the
appellation of town. This last was Corcuvion; the first, if I
forget not, was called Ria de Silla. We hastened on to
Corcuvion, where I bade my guide make inquiries respecting
Finisterra. He entered the door of a wine-house, from which
proceeded much noise and vociferation, and presently returned,
informing me that the village of Finisterra was distant about a
league and a half. A man, evidently in a state of
intoxication, followed him to the door: "Are you bound for
Finisterra, Cavalheiros?" he shouted.
"Yes, my friend," I replied, "we are going thither."
"Then you are going amongst a flock of drunkards (FATO DE
BARRACHOS)," he answered. "Take care that they do not play you
a trick."
We passed on, and striking across a sandy peninsula at
the back of the town, soon reached the shore of an immense bay,
the north-westernmost end of which was formed by the far-famed
cape of Finisterra, which we now saw before us stretching far
into the sea.
Along a beach of dazzling white sand, we advanced towards
the cape, the bourne of our journey. The sun was shining
brightly, and every object was illumined by his beams. The sea
lay before us like a vast mirror, and the waves which broke
upon the shore were so tiny as scarcely to produce a murmur.
On we sped along the deep winding bay, overhung by gigantic
hills and mountains. Strange recollections began to throng
upon my mind. It was upon this beach that, according to the
tradition of all ancient Christendom, Saint James, the patron
saint of Spain, preached the Gospel to the heathen Spaniards.
Upon this beach had once stood an immense commercial city, the
proudest in all Spain. This now desolate bay had once
resounded with the voices of myriads, when the keels and
commerce of all the then known world were wafted to Duyo.
"What is the name of this village?" said I to a woman, as
we passed by five or six ruinous houses at the bend of the bay,
ere we entered upon the peninsula of Finisterra.
"This is no village," said the Gallegan, "this is no
village, Sir Cavalier, this is a city, this is Duyo."
So much for the glory of the world! These huts were all
that the roaring sea and the tooth of time had left of Duyo,
the great city! Onward now to Finisterra.
It was midday when we reached the village of Finisterra,
consisting of about one hundred houses, and built on the
southern side of the peninsula, just before it rises into the
huge bluff head which is called the Cape. We sought in vain
for an inn or venta, where we might stable our beast; at one
moment we thought that we had found one, and had even tied the
animal to the manger. Upon our going out, however, he was
instantly untied and driven forth into the street. The few
people whom we saw appeared to gaze upon us in a singular
manner. We, however, took little notice of these
circumstances, and proceeded along the straggling street until
we found shelter in the house of a Castilian shopkeeper, whom
some chance had brought to this corner of Galicia, - this end
of the world. Our first care was to feed the animal, who now
began to exhibit considerable symptoms of fatigue. We then
requested some refreshment for ourselves; and in about an hour
a tolerably savoury fish, weighing about three pounds, and
fresh from the bay, was prepared for us by an old woman who
appeared to officiate as house-keeper. Having finished our
meal, I and my uncouth companion went forth and prepared to
ascend the mountain.
We stopped to examine a small dismantled fort or battery
facing the bay; and whilst engaged in this examination, it more
than once occurred to me that we were ourselves the objects of
scrutiny and investigation: indeed I caught a glimpse of more
than one countenance peering upon us through the holes and
chasms of the walls. We now commenced ascending Finisterra;
and making numerous and long detours, we wound our way up its
flinty sides. The sun had reached the top of heaven, whence he
showered upon us perpendicularly his brightest and fiercest
rays. My boots were torn, my feet cut, and the perspiration
streamed from my brow. To my guide, however, the ascent
appeared to be neither toilsome nor difficult. The heat of the
day for him had no terrors, no moisture was wrung from his
tanned countenance; he drew not one short breath; and hopped
upon the stones and rocks with all the provoking agility of a
mountain goat. Before we had accomplished one half of the
ascent, I felt myself quite exhausted. I reeled and staggered.
"Cheer up, master mine, be of good cheer, and have no care,"
said the guide. "Yonder I see a wall of stones; lie down
beneath it in the shade." He put his long and strong arm round
my waist, and though his stature compared with mine was that of
a dwarf, he supported me, as if I had been a child, to a rude
wall which seemed to traverse the greatest part of the hill,
and served probably as a kind of boundary. It was difficult to
find a shady spot: at last he perceived a small chasm, perhaps
scooped by some shepherd as a couch, in which to enjoy his
siesta. In this he laid me gently down, and taking off his
enormous hat, commenced farming me with great assiduity. By
degrees I revived, and after having rested for a considerable
time, I again attempted the ascent, which, with the assistance
of my guide, I at length accomplished.
We were now standing at a great altitude between two
bays: the wilderness of waters before us. Of all the ten
thousand barks which annually plough those seas in sight of
that old cape, not one was to be descried. It was a blue shiny
waste, broken by no object save the black head of a spermaceti
whale, which would occasionally show itself at the top, casting
up thin jets of brine. The principal bay, that of Finisterra,
as far as the entrance, was beautifully variegated by an
immense shoal of sardinhas, on whose extreme skirts the monster
was probably feasting. From the northern side of the cape we
looked down upon a smaller bay, the shore of which was overhung
by rocks of various and grotesque shapes; this is called the
outer bay, or, in the language of the country, PRAIA DO MAR DE
FORA: a fearful place in seasons of wind and tempest, when the
long swell of the Atlantic pouring in, is broken into surf and
foam by the sunken rocks with which it abounds. Even in the
calmest day there is a rumbling and a hollow roar in that bay
which fill the heart with uneasy sensations.
On all sides there was grandeur and sublimity. After
gazing from the summit of the Cape for nearly an hour we
On reaching the house where we had taken up our temporary
habitation, we perceived that the portal was occupied by
several men, some of whom were reclining on the floor drinking
wine out of small earthen pans, which are much used in this
part of Galicia. With a civil salutation I passed on, and
ascended the staircase to the room in which we had taken our
repast. Here there was a rude and dirty bed, on which I flung
myself, exhausted with fatigue. I determined to take a little
repose, and in the evening to call the people of the place
together, to read a few chapters of the Scripture, and then to
address them with a little Christian exhortation. I was soon
asleep, but my slumbers were by no means tranquil. I thought I
was surrounded with difficulties of various kinds amongst rocks
and ravines, vainly endeavouring to extricate myself; uncouth
visages showed themselves amidst the trees and in the hollows,
thrusting out cloven tongues and uttering angry cries. I
looked around for my guide, but could not find him; methought,
however, that I heard his voice down a deep dingle. He
appeared to be talking of me. How long I might have continued
in these wild dreams I know not. I was suddenly, however,
seized roughly by the shoulder and nearly dragged from the bed.
I looked up in amazement, and by the light of the descending
sun I beheld hanging over me a wild and uncouth figure; it was
that of an elderly man, built as strong as a giant, with much
beard and whiskers, and huge bushy eyebrows, dressed in the
habiliments of a fisherman; in his hand was a rusty musket.
MYSELF. - Who are you and what do you want?
FIGURE. - Who I am matters but little. Get up and follow
me; it is you I want.
MYSELF. - By what authority do you thus presume to
interfere with me?
FIGURE. - By the authority of the justicia of Finisterra.
Follow me peaceably, Calros, or it will be the worse for you.
"Calros," said I, "what does the person mean?" I thought
it, however, most prudent to obey his command, and followed him
down the staircase. The shop and the portal were now thronged
with the inhabitants of Finisterra, men, women, and children;
the latter for the most part in a state of nudity, and with
bodies wet and dripping, having been probably summoned in haste
from their gambols in the brine. Through this crowd the figure
whom I have attempted to describe pushed his way with an air of
On arriving in the street, he laid his heavy hand upon my
arm, not roughly however. "It is Calros! it is Calros!" said a
hundred voices; "he has come to Finisterra at last, and the
justicia have now got hold of him." Wondering what all this
could mean, I attended my strange conductor down the street.
As we proceeded, the crowd increased every moment, following
and vociferating. Even the sick were brought to the door to
obtain a view of what was going forward and a glance at the
redoubtable Calros. I was particularly struck by the eagerness
displayed by one man, a cripple, who, in spite of the
entreaties of his wife, mixed with the crowd, and having lost
his crutch, hopped forward on one leg, exclaiming, - "CARRACHO!
We at last reached a house of rather larger size than the
rest; my guide having led me into a long low room, placed me in
the middle of the floor, and then hurrying to the door, he
endeavoured to repulse the crowd who strove to enter with us.
This he effected, though not without considerable difficulty,
being once or twice compelled to have recourse to the butt of
his musket, to drive back unauthorized intruders. I now looked
round the room. It was rather scantily furnished: I could see
nothing but some tubs and barrels, the mast of a boat, and a
sail or two. Seated upon the tubs were three or four men
coarsely dressed, like fishermen or shipwrights. The principal
personage was a surly ill-tempered-looking fellow of about
thirty-five, whom eventually I discovered to be the alcalde of
Finisterra, and lord of the house in which we now were. In a
corner I caught a glimpse of my guide, who was evidently in
durance, two stout fishermen standing before him, one with a
musket and the other with a boat-hook. After I had looked
about me for a minute, the alcalde, giving his whiskers a
twist, thus addressed me:-
"Who are you, where is your passport, and what brings you
to Finisterra?"
MYSELF. - I am an Englishman. Here is my passport, and I
came to see Finisterra.
This reply seemed to discomfit them for a moment. They
looked at each other, then at my passport. At length the
alcalde, striking it with his finger, bellowed forth:
"This is no Spanish passport; it appears to be written in
MYSELF. - I have already told you that I am a foreigner.
I of course carry a foreign passport.
ALCALDE. - Then you mean to assert that you are not
Calros Rey.
MYSELF. - I never heard before of such a king, nor indeed
of such a name.
ALCALDE. - Hark to the fellow: he has the audacity to say
that he has never heard of Calros the pretender, who calls
himself king.
MYSELF. - If you mean by Calros, the pretender Don
Carlos, all I can reply is, that you can scarcely be serious.
You might as well assert that yonder poor fellow, my guide,
whom I see you have made prisoner, is his nephew, the infante
Don Sebastian.
ALCALDE. - See, you have betrayed yourself; that is the
very person we suppose him to be.
MYSELF. - It is true that they are both hunchbacks. But
how can I be like Don Carlos? I have nothing the appearance of
a Spaniard, and am nearly a foot taller than the pretender.
ALCALDE. - That makes no difference; you of course carry
many waistcoats about you, by means of which you disguise
yourself, and appear tall or low according to your pleasure.
This last was so conclusive an argument that I had of
course nothing to reply to it. The alcalde looked around him
in triumph, as if he had made some notable discovery. "Yes, it
is Calros; it is Calros," said the crowd at the door. "It will
be as well to have these men shot instantly," continued the
alcalde; "if they are not the two pretenders, they are at any
rate two of the factious."
"I am by no means certain that they are either one or the
other," said a gruff voice.
The justicia of Finisterra turned their eyes in the
direction from which these words proceeded, and so did I. Our
glances rested upon the figure who held watch at the door. He
had planted the barrel of his musket on the floor, and was now
leaning his chin against the butt.
"I am by no means certain that they are either one or the
other," repeated he, advancing forward. "I have been examining
this man," pointing to myself, "and listening whilst he spoke,
and it appears to me that after all he may prove an Englishman;
he has their very look and voice. Who knows the English better
than Antonio de la Trava, and who has a better right? Has he
not sailed in their ships; has he not eaten their biscuit; and
did he not stand by Nelson when he was shot dead?"
Here the alcalde became violently incensed. "He is no
more an Englishman than yourself," he exclaimed; "if he were an
Englishman would he have come in this manner, skulking across
the land? Not so I trow. He would have come in a ship,
recommended to some of us, or to the Catalans. He would have
come to trade, to buy; but nobody knows him in Finisterra, nor
does he know anybody: and the first thing, moreover, that he
does when he reaches this place is to inspect the fort, and to
ascend the mountain where, no doubt, he has been marking out a
camp. What brings him to Finisterra if he is neither Calros
nor a bribon of a faccioso?"
I felt that there was a good deal of justice in some of
these remarks, and I was aware, for the first time, that I had,
indeed, committed a great imprudence in coming to this wild
place, and among these barbarous people, without being able to
assign any motive which could appear at all valid in their
eyes. I endeavoured to convince the alcalde that I had come
across the country for the purpose of making myself acquainted
with the many remarkable objects which it contained, and of
obtaining information respecting the character and condition of
the inhabitants. He could understand no such motives. "What
did you ascend the mountain for?" "To see prospects."
"Disparate! I have lived at Finisterra forty years and never
ascended that mountain. I would not do it in a day like this
for two ounces of gold. You went to take altitudes, and to
mark out a camp." I had, however, a staunch friend in old
Antonio, who insisted, from his knowledge of the English, that
all I had said might very possibly be true. "The English,"
said he, "have more money than they know what to do with, and
on that account they wander all over the world, paying dearly
for what no other people care a groat for." He then proceeded,
notwithstanding the frowns of the alcalde, to examine me in the
English language. His own entire knowledge of this tongue was
confined to two words - KNIFE and FORK, which words I rendered
into Spanish by their equivalents, and was forthwith pronounced
an Englishman by the old fellow, who, brandishing his musket,
"This man is not Calros; he is what he declares himself
to be, an Englishman, and whosoever seeks to injure him, shall
have to do with Antonio de la Trava el valiente de Finisterra."
No person sought to impugn this verdict, and it was at length
determined that I should be sent to Corcuvion, to be examined
by the alcalde mayor of the district. "But," said the alcalde
of Finisterra, "what is to be done with the other fellow? He
at least is no Englishman. Bring him forward, and let us hear
what he has to say for himself. Now, fellow, who are you, and
what is your master?"
GUIDE. - I am Sebastianillo, a poor broken mariner of
Padron, and my master for the present is the gentleman whom you
see, the most valiant and wealthy of all the English. He has
two ships at Vigo laden with riches. I told you so when you
first seized me up there in our posada.
ALCALDE. - Where is your passport?
GUIDE. - I have no passport. Who would think of bringing
a passport to such a place as this, where I don't suppose there
are two individuals who can read? I have no passport; my
master's passport of course includes me.
ALCALDE. - It does not. And since you have no passport,
and have confessed that your name is Sebastian, you shall be
shot. Antonio de la Trava, do you and the musketeers lead this
Sebastianillo forth, and shoot him before the door.
ANTONIO DE LA TRAVA. - With much pleasure, Senor Alcalde,
since you order it. With respect to this fellow, I shall not
trouble myself to interfere. He at least is no Englishman. He
has more the look of a wizard or nuveiro; one of those devils
who raise storms and sink launches. Moreover, he says he is
from Padron, and those of that place are all thieves and
drunkards. They once played me a trick, and I would gladly be
at the shooting of the whole pueblo.
I now interfered, and said that if they shot the guide
they must shoot me too; expatiating at the same time on the
cruelty and barbarity of taking away the life of a poor
unfortunate fellow who, as might be seen at the first glance,
was only half witted; adding, moreover, that if any person was
guilty in this case it was myself, as the other could only be
considered in the light of a servant acting under my orders.
"The safest plan after all," said the alcalde, "appears
to be, to send you both prisoners to Corcuvion, where the head
alcalde can dispose of you as he thinks proper. You must,
however, pay for your escort; for it is not to be supposed that
the housekeepers of Finisterra have nothing else to do than to
ramble about the country with every chance fellow who finds his
way to this town." "As for that matter," said Antonio, "I will
take charge of them both. I am the valiente of Finisterra, and
fear no two men living. Moreover, I am sure that the captain
here will make it worth my while, else he is no Englishman.
Therefore let us be quick and set out for Corcuvion at once, as
it is getting late. First of all, however, captain, I must
search you and your baggage. You have no arms, of course? But
it is best to make all sure."
Long ere it was dark I found myself again on the pony, in
company with my guide, wending our way along the beach in the
direction of Corcuvion. Antonio de la Trava tramped heavily on
before, his musket on his shoulder.
MYSELF. - Are you not afraid, Antonio, to be thus alone
with two prisoners, one of whom is on horseback? If we were to
try, I think we could overpower you.
ANTONIO DE LA TRAVA. - I am the valiente do Finisterra,
and I fear no odds.
MYSELF. - Why do you call yourself the valiente of
ANTONIO DE LA TRAVA. - The whole district call me so.
When the French came to Finisterra, and demolished the fort,
three perished by my hand. I stood on the mountain, up where I
saw you scrambling to-day. I continued firing at the enemy,
until three detached themselves in pursuit of me. The fools!
two perished amongst the rocks by the fire of this musket, and
as for the third, I beat his head to pieces with the stock. It
is on that account that they call me the valiente of
MYSELF. - How came you to serve with the English fleet?
I think I heard you say that you were present when Nelson fell.
ANTONIO DE LA TRAVA. - I was captured by your countrymen,
captain; and as I had been a sailor from my childhood, they
were glad of my services. I was nine months with them, and
assisted at Trafalgar. I saw the English admiral die. You
have something of his face, and your voice, when you spoke,
sounded in my ears like his own. I love the English, and on
that account I saved you. Think not that I would toil along
these sands with you if you were one of my own countrymen.
Here we are at Duyo, captain. Shall we refresh?
We did refresh, or rather Antonio de la Trava refreshed,
swallowing pan after pan of wine, with a thirst which seemed
unquenchable. "That man was a greater wizard than myself,"
whispered Sebastian, my guide, "who told us that the drunkards
of Finisterra would play us a trick." At length the old hero
of the Cape slowly rose, saying, that we must hasten on to
Corcuvion, or the night would overtake us by the way.
"What kind of person is the alcalde to whom you are
conducting me?" said I.
"Oh, very different from him of Finisterra," replied
Antonio. "This is a young Senorito, lately arrived from
Madrid. He is not even a Gallegan. He is a mighty liberal,
and it is owing chiefly to his orders that we have lately been
so much on the alert. It is said that the Carlists are
meditating a descent on these parts of Galicia. Let them only
come to Finisterra, we are liberals there to a man, and the old
valiente is ready to play the same part as in the time of the
French. But, as I was telling you before, the alcalde to whom
I am conducting you is a young man, and very learned, and if he
thinks proper, he can speak English to you, even better than
myself, notwithstanding I was a friend of Nelson, and fought by
his side at Trafalgar."
It was dark night before we reached Corcuvion. Antonio
again stopped to refresh at a wine-shop, after which he
conducted us to the house of the alcalde. His steps were by
this time not particularly steady, and on arriving at the gate
of the house, he stumbled over the threshold and fell. He got
up with an oath, and instantly commenced thundering at the door
with the stock of his musket. "Who is it?" at length demanded
a soft female voice in Gallegan. "The valiente of Finisterra,"
replied Antonio; whereupon the gate was unlocked, and we beheld
before us a very pretty female with a candle in her hand.
"What brings you here so late, Antonio?" she inquired. "I
bring two prisoners, mi pulida," replied Antonio. "Ave Maria!"
she exclaimed, "I hope they will do no harm." "I will answer
for one," replied the old man; "but, as for the other, he is a
nuveiro, and has sunk more ships than all his brethren in
Galicia. But be not afraid, my beauty," he continued, as the
female made the sign of the cross: "first lock the gate, and
then show me the way to the alcalde. I have much to tell him."
The gate was locked, and bidding us stay below in the courtyard,
Antonio followed the young woman up a stone stair, whilst
we remained in darkness below.
After the lapse of about a quarter of an hour we again
saw the candle gleam upon the staircase, and the young female
appeared. Coming up to me, she advanced the candle to my
features, on which she gazed very intently. After a long
scrutiny she went to my guide, and having surveyed him still
more fixedly, she turned to me, and said, in her best Spanish,
"Senhor Cavalier, I congratulate you on your servant. He is
the best-looking mozo in all Galicia. Vaya! if he had but a
coat to his back, and did not go barefoot, I would accept him
at once as a novio; but I have unfortunately made a vow never
to marry a poor man, but only one who has got a heavy purse and
can buy me fine clothes. So you are a Carlist, I suppose?
Vaya! I do not like you the worse for that. But, being so, how
went you to Finisterra, where they are all Christinos and
negros? Why did you not go to my village? None would have
meddled with you there. Those of my village are of a different
stamp to the drunkards of Finisterra. Those of my village
never interfere with honest people. Vaya! how I hate that
drunkard of Finisterra who brought you, he is so old and ugly;
were it not for the love which I bear to the Senhor Alcalde, I
would at once unlock the gate and bid you go forth, you and
your servant, the buen mozo."
Antonio now descended. "Follow me," said he; "his
worship the alcalde will be ready to receive you in a moment."
Sebastian and myself followed him upstairs to a room where,
seated behind a table, we beheld a young man of low stature but
handsome features and very fashionably dressed. He appeared to
be inditing a letter, which, when he had concluded, he
delivered to a secretary to be transcribed. He then looked at
me for a moment fixedly, and the following conversation ensued
between us:-
ALCALDE. - I see that you are an Englishman, and my
friend Antonio here informs me that you have been arrested at
MYSELF. - He tells you true; and but for him I believe
that I should have fallen by the hands of those savage
ALCALDE. - The inhabitants of Finisterra are brave, and
are all liberals. Allow me to look at your passport? Yes, all
in form. Truly it was very ridiculous that they should have
arrested you as a Carlist.
MYSELF. - Not only as a Carlist, but as Don Carlos
ALCALDE. - Oh! most ridiculous; mistake a countryman of
the grand Baintham for such a Goth!
MYSELF. - Excuse me, Sir, you speak of the grand
ALCALDE. - The grand Baintham. He who has invented laws
for all the world. I hope shortly to see them adopted in this
unhappy country of ours.
MYSELF. - Oh! you mean Jeremy Bentham. Yes! a very
remarkable man in his way.
ALCALDE. - In his way! In all ways. The most universal
genius which the world ever produced:- a Solon, a Plato, and a
Lope de Vega.
MYSELF. - I have never read his writings. I have no
doubt that he was a Solon; and as you say, a Plato. I should
scarcely have thought, however, that he could be ranked as a
poet with Lope de Vega.
ALCALDE. - How surprising! I see, indeed, that you know
nothing of his writings, though an Englishman. Now, here am I,
a simple alcalde of Galicia, yet I possess all the writings of
Baintham on that shelf, and I study them day and night.
MYSELF. - You doubtless, Sir, possess the English
ALCALDE. - I do. I mean that part of it which is
contained in the writings of Baintham. I am most truly glad to
see a countryman of his in these Gothic wildernesses. I
understand and appreciate your motives for visiting them:
excuse the incivility and rudeness which you have experienced.
But we will endeavour to make you reparation. You are this
moment free: but it is late; I must find you a lodging for the
night. I know one close by which will just suit you. Let us
repair thither this moment. Stay, I think I see a book in your
MYSELF. - The New Testament.
ALCALDE. - What book is that?
MYSELF. - A portion of the sacred writings, the Bible.
ALCALDE. - Why do you carry such a book with you?
MYSELF. - One of my principal motives in visiting
Finisterra was to carry this book to that wild place.
ALCALDE. - Ha, ha! how very singular. Yes, I remember.
I have heard that the English highly prize this eccentric book.
How very singular that the countrymen of the grand Baintham
should set any value upon that old monkish book.
It was now late at night, and my new friend attended me
to the lodging which he had destined for me, and which was at
the house of a respectable old female, where I found a clean
and comfortable room. On the way I slipped a gratuity into the
hand of Antonio, and on my arrival, formally, and in the
presence of the alcalde, presented him with the Testament,
which I requested he would carry back to Finisterra, and keep
in remembrance of the Englishman in whose behalf he had so
effectually interposed.
ANTONIO. - I will do so, your worship; and when the winds
blow from the north-west, preventing our launches from putting
to sea, I will read your present. Farewell, my captain, and
when you next come to Finisterra I hope it will be in a valiant
English bark, with plenty of contrabando on board, and not
across the country on a pony, in company with nuveiros and men
of Padron.
Presently arrived the handmaid of the alcalde with a
basket, which she took into the kitchen, where she prepared an
excellent supper for her master's friend. On its being served
up the alcalde bade me farewell, having first demanded whether
he could in any way forward my plans.
"I return to Saint James to-morrow," I replied, "and I
sincerely hope that some occasion will occur which will enable
me to acquaint the world with the hospitality which I have
experienced from so accomplished a scholar as the Alcalde of
Coruna - Crossing the Bay - Ferrol - The Dockyard - Where are we now? -
Greek Ambassador - Lantern-light - The Ravine - Viveiro - Evening -
Marsh and Quagmire - Fair Words and Fair Money - The Leathern Girth -
Eyes of Lynx - The Knavish Guide.
From Corcuvion I returned to Saint James and Coruna, and
now began to make preparation for directing my course to the
Asturias. In the first place I parted with my Andalusian
horse, which I considered unfit for the long and mountainous
journey I was about to undertake; his constitution having
become much debilitated from his Gallegan travels. Owing to
horses being exceedingly scarce at Coruna, I had no difficulty
in disposing of him at a far higher price than he originally
cost me. A young and wealthy merchant of Coruna, who was a
national guardsman, became enamoured of his glossy skin and
long mane and tail. For my own part, I was glad to part with
him for more reasons than one; he was both vicious and savage,
and was continually getting me into scrapes in the stables of
the posadas where we slept or baited. An old Castilian
peasant, whose pony he had maltreated, once said to me, "Sir
Cavalier, if you have any love or respect for yourself, get rid
I beseech you of that beast, who is capable of proving the ruin
of a kingdom." So I left him behind at Coruna, where I
subsequently learned that he became glandered and died. Peace
to his memory!
From Coruna I crossed the bay to Ferrol, whilst Antonio
with our remaining horse followed by land, a rather toilsome
and circuitous journey, although the distance by water is
scarcely three leagues. I was very sea-sick during the
passage, and lay almost senseless at the bottom of the small
launch in which I had embarked, and which was crowded with
people. The wind was adverse, and the water rough. We could
make no sail, but were impelled along by the oars of five or
six stout mariners, who sang all the while Gallegan ditties.
Suddenly the sea appeared to have become quite smooth, and my
sickness at once deserted me. I rose upon my feet and looked
around. We were in one of the strangest places imaginable. A
long and narrow passage overhung on either side by a stupendous
barrier of black and threatening rocks. The line of the coast
was here divided by a natural cleft, yet so straight and
regular that it seemed not the work of chance but design. The
water was dark and sullen, and of immense depth. This passage,
which is about a mile in length, is the entrance to a broad
basin, at whose farther extremity stands the town of Ferrol.
Sadness came upon me as soon as I entered this place.
Grass was growing in the streets, and misery and distress
stared me in the face on every side. Ferrol is the grand naval
arsenal of Spain, and has shared in the ruin of the once
splendid Spanish navy: it is no longer thronged with those
thousand shipwrights who prepared for sea the tremendous threedeckers
and long frigates, the greater part of which were
destroyed at Trafalgar. Only a few ill-paid and half-starved
workmen still linger about, scarcely sufficient to repair any
guarda costa which may put in dismantled by the fire of some
English smuggling schooner from Gibraltar. Half the
inhabitants of Ferrol beg their bread; and amongst these, as it
is said, are not unfrequently found retired naval officers,
many of them maimed or otherwise wounded, who are left to pine
in indigence; their pensions or salaries having been allowed to
run three or four years in arrear, owing to the exigencies of
the times. A crowd of importunate beggars followed me to the
posada, and even attempted to penetrate to the apartment to
which I was conducted. "Who are you?" said I to a woman who
flung herself at my feet, and who bore in her countenance
evident marks of former gentility. "A widow, sir," she
replied, in very good French; "a widow of a brave officer, once
admiral of this port." The misery and degradation of modern
Spain are nowhere so strikingly manifested as at Ferrol.
Yet even here there is still much to admire.
Notwithstanding its present state of desolation, it contains
some good streets, and abounds with handsome houses. The
alameda is planted with nearly a thousand elms, of which almost
all are magnificent trees, and the poor Ferrolese, with the
genuine spirit of localism so prevalent in Spain, boast that
their town contains a better public walk than Madrid, of whose
prado, when they compare the two, they speak in terms of
unmitigated contempt. At one end of this alameda stands the
church, the only one in Ferrol. To this church I repaired the
day after my arrival, which was Sunday. I found it quite
insufficient to contain the number of worshippers who, chiefly
from the country, not only crowded the interior, but, bareheaded,
were upon their knees before the door to a considerable
distance down the walk.
Parallel with the alameda extends the wall of the naval
arsenal and dock. I spent several hours in walking about these
places, to visit which it is necessary to procure a written
permission from the captain-general of Ferrol. They filled me
with astonishment. I have seen the royal dockyards of Russia
and England, but for grandeur of design and costliness of
execution, they cannot for a moment compare with these
wonderful monuments of the bygone naval pomp of Spain. I shall
not attempt to describe them, but content myself with
observing, that the oblong basin, which is surrounded with a
granite mole, is capacious enough to permit a hundred firstrates
to lie conveniently in ordinary: but instead of such a
force, I saw only a sixty-gun frigate and two brigs lying in
this basin, and to this inconsiderable number of vessels is the
present war marine of Spain reduced.
I waited for the arrival of Antonio two or three days at
Ferrol, and still he came not: late one evening, however, as I
was looking down the street, I perceived him advancing, leading
our only horse by the bridle. He informed me that, at about
three leagues from Coruna, the heat of the weather and the
flies had so distressed the animal that it had fallen down in a
kind of fit, from which it had been only relieved by copious
bleeding, on which account he had been compelled to halt for a
day upon the road. The horse was evidently in a very feeble
state; and had a strange rattling in its throat, which alarmed
me it first. I however administered some remedies, and in a
few days deemed him sufficiently recovered to proceed.
We accordingly started from Ferrol; having first hired a
pony for myself, and a guide who was to attend us as far as
Rivadeo, twenty leagues from Ferrol, and on the confines of the
Asturias. The day at first was fine, but ere we reached
Novales, a distance of three leagues, the sky became overcast,
and a mist descended, accompanied by a drizzling rain. The
country through which we passed was very picturesque. At about
two in the afternoon we could descry through the mist the small
fishing town of Santa Marta on our left, with its beautiful
bay. Travelling along the summit of a line of hills, we
presently entered a chestnut forest, which appeared to be
without limit: the rain still descended, and kept up a
ceaseless pattering among the broad green leaves. "This is the
commencement of the autumnal rains," said the guide. "Many is
the wetting that you will get, my masters, before you reach
Oviedo." "Have you ever been as far as Oviedo?" I demanded.
"No," he replied, "and once only to Rivadeo, the place to which
I am now conducting you, and I tell you frankly that we shall
soon be in wildernesses where the way is hard to find,
especially at night, and amidst rain and waters. I wish I were
fairly back to Ferrol, for I like not this route, which is the
worst in Galicia, in more respects than one; but where my
master's pony goes, there must I go too; such is the life of us
guides." I shrugged my shoulders at this intelligence, which
was by no means cheering, but made no answer. At length, about
nightfall, we emerged from the forest, and presently descended
into a deep valley at the foot of lofty hills.
"Where are we now?" I demanded of the guide, as we
crossed a rude bridge at the bottom of the valley, down which a
rivulet swollen by the rain foamed and roared. "In the valley
of Coisa doiro," he replied; "and it is my advice that we stay
here for the night, and do not venture among those hills,
through which lies the path to Viveiro; for as soon as we get
there, adios! I shall be bewildered, which will prove the
destruction of us all." "Is there a village nigh?" "Yes, the
village is right before us, and we shall be there in a moment."
We soon reached the village, which stood amongst some tall
trees at the entrance of a pass which led up amongst the hills.
Antonio dismounted and entered two or three of the cabins, but
presently came to me, saying, "We cannot stay here, mon maitre,
without being devoured by vermin; we had better be amongst the
hills than in this place; there is neither fire nor light in
these cabins, and the rain is streaming through the roofs."
The guide, however, refused to proceed: "I could scarcely find
my way amongst those hills by daylight," he cried, surlily,
"much less at night, midst storm and bretima." We procured
some wine and maize bread from one of the cottages. Whilst we
were partaking of these, Antonio said, "Mon maitre, the best
thing we can do in our present situation, is to hire some
fellow of this village to conduct us through the hills to
Viveiro. There are no beds in this place, and if we lie down
in the litter in our damp clothes we shall catch a tertian of
Galicia. Our present guide is of no service, we must therefore
find another to do his duty." Without waiting for a reply, he
flung down the crust of broa which he was munching and
disappeared. I subsequently learned that he went to the
cottage of the alcalde, and demanded, in the Queen's name, a
guide for the Greek ambassador, who was benighted on his way to
the Asturias. In about ten minutes I again saw him, attended
by the local functionary, who, to my surprise, made me a
profound bow, and stood bareheaded in the rain. "His
excellency," shouted Antonio, "is in need of a guide to
Viveiro. People of our description are not compelled to pay
for any service which they may require; however, as his
excellency has bowels of compassion, he is willing to give
three pesetas to any competent person who will accompany him to
Viveiro, and as much bread and wine as he can eat and drink on
his arrival." "His excellency shall be served," said the
alcalde; "however, as the way is long and the path is bad, and
there is much bretima amongst the hills, it appears to me that,
besides the bread and wine, his excellency can do no less than
offer four pesetas to the guide who may be willing to accompany
him to Viveiro; and I know no one better than my own son-inlaw,
Juanito." "Content, senor alcalde," I replied; "produce
the guide, and the extra peseta shall be forthcoming in due
Soon appeared Juanito with a lantern in his hand. We
instantly set forward. The two guides began conversing in
Gallegan. "Mon maitre," said Antonio, "this new scoundrel is
asking the old one what he thinks we have got in our
portmanteaus." Then, without awaiting my answer, he shouted,
"Pistols, ye barbarians! Pistols, as ye shall learn to your
cost, if you do not cease speaking in that gibberish and
converse in Castilian." The Gallegans were silent, and
presently the first guide dropped behind, whilst the other with
the lantern moved before. "Keep in the rear," said Antonio to
the former, "and at a distance: know one thing moreover, that I
can see behind as well as before. Mon maitre," said he to me,
"I don't suppose these fellows will attempt to do us any harm,
more especially as they do not know each other; it is well,
however, to separate them, for this is a time and place which
might tempt any one to commit robbery and murder too."
The rain still continued to fall uninterruptedly, the
path was rugged and precipitous, and the night was so dark that
we could only see indistinctly the hills which surrounded us.
Once or twice our guide seemed to have lost his way: he
stopped, muttered to himself, raised his lantern on high, and
would then walk slowly and hesitatingly forward. In this
manner we proceeded for three or four hours, when I asked the
guide how far we were from Viveiro. "I do not know exactly
where we are, your worship," he replied, "though I believe we
are in the route. We can scarcely, however, be less than two
mad leagues from Viveiro." "Then we shall not arrive there
before morning," interrupted Antonio, "for a mad league of
Galicia means at least two of Castile; and perhaps we are
doomed never to arrive there, if the way thither leads down
this precipice." As he spoke, the guide seemed to descend into
the bowels of the earth. "Stop," said I, "where are you
going?" "To Viveiro, Senhor," replied the fellow; "this is the
way to Viveiro, there is no other; I now know where we are."
The light of the lantern shone upon the dark red features of
the guide, who had turned round to reply, as he stood some
yards down the side of a dingle or ravine overgrown with thick
trees, beneath whose leafy branches a frightfully steep path
descended. I dismounted from the pony, and delivering the
bridle to the other guide, said, "Here is your master's horse,
if you please you may load him down that abyss, but as for
myself I wash my hands of the matter." The fellow, without a
word of reply, vaulted into the saddle, and with A VAMOS,
PERICO! to the pony, impelled the creature to the descent.
"Come, Senhor," said he with the lantern, "there is no time to
be lost, my light will be presently extinguished, and this is
the worst bit in the whole road." I thought it very probable
that he was about to lead us to some den of cut-throats, where
we might be sacrificed; but taking courage, I seized our own
horse by the bridle, and followed the fellow down the ravine
amidst rocks and brambles. The descent lasted nearly ten
minutes, and ere we had entirely accomplished it, the light in
the lantern went out, and we remained in nearly total darkness.
Encouraged, however, by the guide, who assured us there
was no danger, we at length reached the bottom of the ravine;
here we encountered a rill of water, through which we were
compelled to wade as high as the knee. In the midst of the
water I looked up and caught a glimpse of the heavens through
the branches of the trees, which all around clothed the
shelving sides of the ravine and completely embowered the
channel of the stream: to a place more strange and replete with
gloom and horror no benighted traveller ever found his way.
After a short pause we commenced scaling the opposite bank,
which we did not find so steep as the other, and a few minutes'
exertion brought us to the top.
Shortly afterwards the rain abated, and the moon arising
cast a dim light through the watery mists; the way had become
less precipitous, and in about two hours we descended to the
shore of an extensive creek, along which we proceeded till we
reached a spot where many boats and barges lay with their keels
upward upon the sand. Presently we beheld before us the walls
of Viveiro, upon which the moon was shedding its sickly lustre.
We entered by a lofty and seemingly ruinous archway, and the
guide conducted us at once to the posada.
Every person in Viveiro appeared to be buried in profound
slumber; not so much as a dog saluted us with his bark. After
much knocking we were admitted into the posada, a large and
dilapidated edifice. We had scarcely housed ourselves and
horses when the rain began to fall with yet more violence than
before, attended with much thunder and lightning. Antonio and
I, exhausted with fatigue, betook ourselves to flock beds in a
ruinous chamber, into which the rain penetrated through many a
cranny, whilst the guides ate bread and drank wine till the
When I arose I was gladdened by the sight of a fine day.
Antonio forthwith prepared a savoury breakfast of stewed fowl,
of which we stood in much need after the ten league journey of
the preceding day over the ways which I have attempted to
describe. I then walked out to view the town, which consists
of little more than one long street, on the side of a steep
mountain thickly clad with forests and fruit trees. At about
ten we continued our journey, accompanied by our first guide,
the other having returned to Coisa doiro some hours previously.
Our route throughout this day was almost constantly
within sight of the shores of the Cantabrian sea, whose
windings we followed. The country was barren, and in many
parts covered with huge stones: cultivated spots, however, were
to be seen, where vines were growing. We met with but few
human habitations. We however journeyed on cheerfully, for the
sun was once more shining in full brightness, gilding the wild
moors, and shining upon the waters of the distant sea, which
lay in unruffled calmness.
At evening fall we were in the neighbourhood of the
shore, with a range of wood-covered hills on our right. Our
guide led us towards a creek bordered by a marsh, but he soon
stopped and declared that he did not know whither he was
conducting us.
"Mon maitre," said Antonio, "let us be our own guides; it
is, as you see, of no use to depend upon this fellow, whose
whole science consists in leading people into quagmires."
We therefore turned aside and proceeded along the marsh
for a considerable distance, till we reached a narrow path
which led us into a thick wood, where we soon became completely
bewildered. On a sudden, after wandering about a considerable
time, we heard the noise of water, and presently the clack of a
wheel. Following the sound, we arrived at a low stone mill,
built over a brook; here we stopped and shouted, but no answer
was returned. "The place is deserted," said Antonio; "here,
however, is a path, which, if we follow it, will doubtless lead
us to some human habitation." So we went along the path,
which, in about ten minutes, brought us to the door of a cabin,
in which we saw lights. Antonio dismounted and opened the
door: "Is there any one here who can conduct us to Rivadeo?" he
"Senhor," answered a voice, "Rivadeo is more than five
leagues from here, and, moreover, there is a river to cross!"
"Then to the next village," continued Antonio.
"I am a vecino of the next village, which is on the way
to Rivadeo," said another voice, "and I will lead you thither,
if you will give me fair words, and, what is better, fair
A man now came forth, holding in his hand a large stick.
He strode sturdily before us, and in less than half an hour led
us out of the wood. In another half hour he brought us to a
group of cabins situated near the sea; he pointed to one of
these, and having received a peseta, bade us farewell.
The people of the cottage willingly consented to receive
us for the night: it was much more cleanly and commodious than
the wretched huts of the Gallegan peasantry in general. The
ground floor consisted of a keeping room and stable, whilst
above was a long loft, in which were some neat and comfortable
flock beds. I observed several masts and sails of boats. The
family consisted of two brothers with their wives and families;
one was a fisherman, but the other, who appeared to be the
principal person, informed me that he had resided for many
years in service at Madrid, and having amassed a small sum, he
had at length returned to his native village, where he had
purchased some land which he farmed. All the family used the
Castilian language in their common discourse, and on inquiry I
learned that the Gallegan was not much spoken in that
neighbourhood. I have forgotten the name of this village,
which is situated on the estuary of the Foz, which rolls down
from Mondonedo. In the morning we crossed this estuary in a
large boat with our horses, and about noon arrived at Rivadeo.
"Now, your worship," said the guide who had accompanied
us from Ferrol, "I have brought you as far as I bargained, and
a hard journey it has been; I therefore hope you will suffer
Perico and myself to remain here to-night at your expense, and
to-morrow we will go back; at present we are both sorely
"I never mounted a better pony than Perico," said I, "and
never met with a worse guide than yourself. You appear to be
perfectly ignorant of the country, and have done nothing but
bring us into difficulties. You may, however, stay here for
the night, as you say you are tired, and to-morrow you may
return to Ferrol, where I counsel you to adopt some other
trade." This was said at the door of the posada of Rivadeo.
"Shall I lead the horses to a stable?" said the fellow.
"As you please," said I.
Antonio looked after him for a moment, as he was leading
the animals away, and then shaking his head followed slowly
after. In about a quarter of an hour he returned, laden with
the furniture of our own horse, and with a smile upon his
countenance: "Mon maitre," said he, "I have throughout the
journey had a bad opinion of this fellow, and now I have
detected him: his motive in requesting permission to stay, was
a desire to purloin something from us. He was very officious
in the stable about our horse, and I now miss the new leathern
girth which secured the saddle, and which I observed him
looking at frequently on the road. He has by this time
doubtless hid it somewhere; we are quite secure of him,
however, for he has not yet received the hire for the pony, nor
the gratuity for himself."
The guide returned just as he had concluded speaking.
Dishonesty is always suspicious. The fellow cast a glance upon
us, and probably beholding in our countenances something which
he did not like, he suddenly said, "Give me the horse-hire and
my own propina, for Perico and I wish to be off instantly."
"How is this?" said I; "I thought you and Perico were
both fatigued, and wished to rest here for the night; you have
soon recovered from your weariness."
"I have thought over the matter," said the fellow, "and
my master will be angry if I loiter here: pay us, therefore,
and let us go."
"Certainly," said I, "if you wish it. Is the horse
furniture all right?"
"Quite so," said he; "I delivered it all to your
"It is all here," said Antonio, "with the exception of
the leathern girth."
"I have not got it," said the guide.
"Of course not," said I. "Let us proceed to the stable,
we shall perhaps find it there."
To the stable we went, which we searched through: no
girth, however, was forthcoming. "He has got it buckled round
his middle beneath his pantaloons, mon maitre," said Antonio,
whose eyes were moving about like those of a lynx; "I saw the
protuberance as he stooped down. However, let us take no
notice: he is here surrounded by his countrymen, who, if we
were to seize him, might perhaps take his part. As I said
before, he is in our power, as we have not paid him."
The fellow now began to talk in Gallegan to the bystanders
(several persons having collected), wishing the Denho
to take him if he knew anything of the missing property.
Nobody, however, seemed inclined to take his part; and those
who listened, only shrugged their shoulders. We returned to
the portal of the posada, the fellow following us, clamouring
for the horse-hire and propina. We made him no answer, and at
length he went away, threatening to apply to the justicia; in
about ten minutes, however, he came running back with the girth
in his hand: "I have just found it," said he, "in the street:
your servant dropped it."
I took the leather and proceeded very deliberately to
count out the sum to which the horse-hire amounted, and having
delivered it to him in the presence of witnesses, I said,
"During the whole journey you have been of no service to us
whatever; nevertheless, you have fared like ourselves, and have
had all you could desire to eat and drink. I intended, on your
leaving us, to present you, moreover, with a propina of two
dollars; but since, notwithstanding our kind treatment, you
endeavoured to pillage us, I will not give you a cuarto: go,
therefore, about your business."
All the audience expressed their satisfaction at this
sentence, and told him that he had been rightly served, and
that he was a disgrace to Galicia. Two or three women crossed
themselves, and asked him if he was not afraid that the Denho,
whom he had invoked, would take him away. At last, a
respectable-looking man said to him: "Are you not ashamed to
have attempted to rob two innocent strangers?"
"Strangers!" roared the fellow, who was by this time
foaming with rage; "Innocent strangers, carracho! they know
more of Spain and Galicia too than the whole of us. Oh, Denho,
that servant is no man but a wizard, a nuveiro. - Where is
He mounted Perico, and proceeded forthwith to another
posada. The tale, however, of his dishonesty had gone before
him, and no person would house him; whereupon he returned on
his steps, and seeing me looking out of the window of the
house, he gave a savage shout, and shaking his fist at me,
galloped out of the town, the people pursuing him with hootings
and revilings.
Martin of Rivadeo - The Factious Mare - Asturians -
Luarca - The Seven Bellotas - Hermits - The Asturian's Tale -
Strange Guests - The Big Servant - Batuschca
"What may your business be?" said I to a short, thick,
merry-faced fellow in a velveteen jerkin and canvas pantaloons,
who made his way into my apartment, in the dusk of the evening.
"I am Martin of Rivadeo, your worship," replied the man,
"an alquilador by profession; I am told that you want a horse
for your journey into the Asturias tomorrow, and of course a
guide: now, if that be the case, I counsel you to hire myself
and mare."
"I am become tired of guides," I replied; "so much so
that I was thinking of purchasing a pony, and proceeding
without any guide at all. The last which we had was an
infamous character."
"So I have been told, your worship, and it was well for
the bribon that I was not in Rivadeo when the affair to which
you allude occurred. But he was gone with the pony Perico
before I came back, or I would have bled the fellow to a
certainty with my knife. He is a disgrace to the profession,
which is one of the most honourable and ancient in the world.
Perico himself must have been ashamed of him, for Perico,
though a pony, is a gentleman, one of many capacities, and well
known upon the roads. He is only inferior to my mare."
"Are you well acquainted with the road to Oviedo?" I
"I am not, your worship; that is, no farther than Luarca,
which is the first day's journey. I do not wish to deceive
you, therefore let me go with you no farther than that place;
though perhaps I might serve for the whole journey, for though
I am unacquainted with the country, I have a tongue in my head,
and nimble feet to run and ask questions. I will, however,
answer for myself no farther than Luarca, where you can please
yourselves. Your being strangers is what makes me wish to
accompany you, for I like the conversation of strangers, from
whom I am sure to gain information both entertaining and
profitable. I wish, moreover, to convince you that we guides
of Galicia are not all thieves, which I am sure you will not
suppose if you only permit me to accompany you as far as
I was so much struck with the fellow's good humour and
frankness, and more especially by the originality of character
displayed in almost every sentence which he uttered, that I
readily engaged him to guide us to Luarca; whereupon he left
me, promising to be ready with his mare at eight next morning.
Rivadeo is one of the principal seaports of Galicia, and
is admirably situated for commerce, on a deep firth, into which
the river Mirando debouches. It contains many magnificent
buildings, and an extensive square or plaza, which is planted
with trees. I observed several vessels in the harbour; and the
population, which is rather numerous, exhibited none of those
marks of misery and dejection which I had lately observed among
the Ferrolese.
On the morrow Martin of Rivadeo made his appearance at
the appointed hour with his mare. It was a lean haggard
animal, not much larger than a pony; it had good points,
however, and was very clean in its hinder legs, and Martin
insisted that it was the best animal of its kind in all Spain.
"It is a factious mare," said he, "and I believe an Alavese.
When the Carlists came here it fell lame, and they left it
behind, and I purchased it for a dollar. It is not lame now,
however, as you shall soon see."
We had now reached the firth which divides Galicia from
the Asturias. A kind of barge was lying about two yards from
the side of the quay, waiting to take us over. Towards this
Martin led his mare, and giving an encouraging shout, the
creature without any hesitation sprang over the intervening
space into the barge. "I told you she was a facciosa," said
Martin; "none but a factious animal would have taken such a
We all embarked in the barge and crossed over the firth,
which is in this place nearly a mile broad, to Castro Pol, the
first town in the Asturias. I now mounted the factious mare,
whilst Antonio followed on my own horse. Martin led the way,
exchanging jests with every person whom he met on the road, and
occasionally enlivening the way with an extemporaneous song.
We were now in the Asturias, and about noon we reached
Navias, a small fishing town, situate on a ria or firth; in the
neighbourhood are ragged mountains, called the Sierra de Buron,
which stand in the shape of a semi-circle. We saw a small
vessel in the harbour, which we subsequently learned was from
the Basque provinces, come for a cargo of cider or sagadua, the
beverage so dearly loved by the Basques. As we passed along
the narrow street, Antonio was hailed with an "Ola" from a
species of shop in which three men, apparently shoemakers, were
seated. He stopped for some time to converse with them, and
when he joined us at the posada where we halted, I asked him
who they were: "Mon maitre," said he, "CE SONT DES MESSIEURS DE
MA CONNOISSANCE. I have been fellow servant at different times
with all three; and I tell you beforehand, that we shall
scarcely pass through a village in this country where I shall
not find an acquaintance. All the Asturians, at some period of
their lives, make a journey to Madrid, where, if they can
obtain a situation, they remain until they have scraped up
sufficient to turn to advantage in their own country; and as I
have served in all the great houses in Madrid, I am acquainted
with the greatest part of them. I have nothing to say against
the Asturians, save that they are close and penurious whilst at
service; but they are not thieves, neither at home nor abroad,
and though we must have our wits about us in their country, I
have heard we may travel from one end of it to the other
without the slightest fear of being either robbed or ill
treated, which is not the case in Galicia, where we were always
in danger of having our throats cut."
Leaving Navias, we proceeded through a wild desolate
country, till we reached the pass of Baralla, which lies up the
side of a huge wall of rocks, which at a distance appear of a
light green colour, though perfectly bare of herbage or plants
of any description.
"This pass," said Martin of Rivadeo, "bears a very evil
reputation, and I should not like to travel it after sunset.
It is not infested by robbers, but by things much worse, the
duendes of two friars of Saint Francis. It is said that in the
old time, long before the convents were suppressed, two friars
of the order of Saint Francis left their convent to beg; it
chanced that they were very successful, but as they were
returning at nightfall, by this pass, they had a quarrel about
what they had collected, each insisting that he had done his
duty better than the other; at last, from high words they fell
to abuse, and from abuse to blows. What do you think these
demons of friars did? They took off their cloaks, and at the
end of each they made a knot, in which they placed a large
stone, and with these they thrashed and belaboured each other
till both fell dead. Master, I know not which are the worst
plagues, friars, curates, or sparrows:
"May the Lord God preserve us from evil birds three:
From all friars and curates and sparrows that be;
For the sparrows eat up all the corn that we sow,
The friars drink down all the wine that we grow,
Whilst the curates have all the fair dames at their nod:
From these three evil curses preserve us, Lord God."
In about two hours from this time we reached Luarca, the
situation of which is most singular. It stands in a deep
hollow, whose sides are so precipitous that it is impossible to
descry the town until you stand just above it. At the northern
extremity of this hollow is a small harbour, the sea entering
it by a narrow cleft. We found a large and comfortable posada,
and by the advice of Martin, made inquiry for a fresh guide and
horse; we were informed, however, that all the horses of the
place were absent, and that if we waited for their return, we
must tarry for two days. "I had a presentiment," said Martin,
"when we entered Luarca, that we were not doomed to part at
present. You must now hire my mare and me as far as Giyon,
from whence there is a conveyance to Oviedo. To tell you the
truth, I am by no means sorry that the guides are absent, for I
am pleased with your company, as I make no doubt you are with
mine. I will now go and write a letter to my wife at Rivadeo,
informing her that she must not expect to see me back for
several days." He then went out of the room singing the
following stanza:
"A handless man a letter did write,
A dumb dictated it word for word:
The person who read it had lost his sight,
And deaf was he who listened and heard."
Early the next morning we emerged from the hollow of
Luarca; about an hour's riding brought us to Caneiro, a deep
and romantic valley of rocks, shaded by tall chestnut trees.
Through the midst of this valley rushes a rapid stream, which
we crossed in a boat. "There is not such a stream for trout in
all the Asturias," said the ferryman; "look down into the
waters and observe the large stones over which it flows; now in
the proper season and in fine weather, you cannot see those
stones for the multitude of fish which cover them."
Leaving the valley behind us, we entered into a wild and
dreary country, stony and mountainous. The day was dull and
gloomy, and all around looked sad and melancholy. "Are we in
the way for Giyon and Oviedo?" demanded Martin of an ancient
female, who stood at the door of a cottage.
"For Giyon and Oviedo!" replied the crone; "many is the
weary step you will have to make before you reach Giyon and
Oviedo. You must first of all crack the bellotas: you are just
below them."
"What does she mean by cracking the bellotas?" demanded I
of Martin of Rivadeo.
"Did your worship never hear of the seven bellotas?"
replied our guide. "I can scarcely tell you what they are, as
I have never seen them; I believe they are seven hills which we
have to cross, and are called bellotas from some resemblance to
acorns which it is fancied they bear. I have often heard of
these acorns, and am not sorry that I have now an opportunity
of seeing them, though it is said that they are rather hard
things for horses to digest."
The Asturian mountains in this part rise to a
considerable altitude. They consist for the most part of dark
granite, covered here and there with a thin layer of earth.
They approach very near to the sea, to which they slope down in
broken ridges, between which are deep and precipitous defiles,
each with its rivulet, the tribute of the hills to the salt
flood. The road traverses these defiles. There are seven of
them, which are called, in the language of the country, LAS
SIETE BELLOTAS. Of all these, the most terrible is the
midmost, down which rolls an impetuous torrent. At the upper
end of it rises a precipitous wall of rock, black as soot, to
the height of several hundred yards; its top, as we passed, was
enveloped with a veil of bretima. From this gorge branch off,
on either side, small dingles or glens, some of them so
overgrown with trees and copse-wood, that the eye is unable to
penetrate the obscurity beyond a few yards.
"Fine places would some of these dingles prove for
hermitages," said I to Martin of Rivadeo. "Holy men might lead
a happy life there on roots and water, and pass many years
absorbed in heavenly contemplation, without ever being
disturbed by the noise and turmoil of the world."
"True, your worship," replied Martin; "and perhaps on
that very account there are no hermitages in the barrancos of
the seven bellotas. Our hermits had little inclination for
roots and water, and had no kind of objection to be
occasionally disturbed in their meditations. Vaya! I never yet
saw a hermitage that was not hard by some rich town or village,
or was not a regular resort for all the idle people in the
neighbourhood. Hermits are not fond of living in dingles,
amongst wolves and foxes; for how in that case could they
dispose of their poultry? A hermit of my acquaintance left,
when he died, a fortune of seven hundred dollars to his niece,
the greatest part of which he scraped up by fattening turkeys."
At the top of this bellota we found a wretched venta,
where we refreshed ourselves, and then continued our journey.
Late in the afternoon we cleared the last of these difficult
passes. The wind began now to rise, bearing on its wings a
drizzling rain. We passed by Soto Luino, and shaping our
course through a wild but picturesque country, we found
ourselves about nightfall at the foot of a steep hill, up which
led a narrow bridle-way, amidst a grove of lofty trees. Long
before we had reached the top it had become quite dark, and the
rain had increased considerably. We stumbled along in the
obscurity, leading our horses, which were occasionally down on
their knees, owing to the slipperiness of the path. At last we
accomplished the ascent in safety, and pushing briskly forward,
we found ourselves, in about half an hour, at the entrance of
Muros, a large village situated just on the declivity of the
farther side of the hill.
A blazing fire in the posada soon dried our wet garments,
and in some degree recompensed us for the fatigues which we had
undergone in scrambling up the bellotas. A rather singular
place was this same posada of Muros. It was a large rambling
house, with a spacious kitchen, or common room, on the ground
floor. Above stairs was a large dining-apartment, with an
immense oak table, and furnished with cumbrous leathern chairs
with high backs, apparently three centuries old at least.
Communicating with this apartment was a wooden gallery, open to
the air, which led to a small chamber, in which I was destined
to sleep, and which contained an old-fashioned tester-bed with
curtains. It was just one of those inns which romance writers
are so fond of introducing in their descriptions, especially
when the scene of adventure lies in Spain. The host was a
talkative Asturian.
The wind still howled, and the rain descended in
torrents. I sat before the fire in a very drowsy state, from
which I was presently aroused by the conversation of the host.
"Senor," said he, "it is now three years since I beheld
foreigners in my house. I remember it was about this time of
the year, and just such a night as this, that two men on
horseback arrived here. What was singular, they came without
any guide. Two more strange-looking individuals I never yet
beheld with eye-sight. I shall never forget them. The one was
as tall as a giant, with much tawny moustache, like the coat of
a badger, growing about his mouth. He had a huge ruddy face,
and looked dull and stupid, as he no doubt was, for when I
spoke to him, he did not seem to understand, and answered in a
jabber, valgame Dios! so wild and strange, that I remained
staring at him with mouth and eyes open. The other was neither
tall nor red-faced, nor had he hair about his mouth, and,
indeed, he had very little upon his head. He was very
diminutive, and looked like a jorobado (HUNCHBACK); but,
valgame Dios! such eyes, like wild cats', so sharp and full of
malice. He spoke as good Spanish as I myself do, and yet he
was no Spaniard. A Spaniard never looked like that man. He
was dressed in a zamarra, with much silver and embroidery, and
wore an Andalusian hat, and I soon found that he was master,
and that the other was servant.
"Valgame Dios! what an evil disposition had that same
foreign jorobado, and yet he had much grace, much humour, and
said occasionally to me such comical things, that I was fit to
die of laughter. So he sat down to supper in the room above,
and I may as well tell you here, that he slept in the same
chamber where your worship will sleep to-night, and his servant
waited behind his chair. Well, I had curiosity, so I sat
myself down at the table too, without asking leave. Why should
I? I was in my own house, and an Asturian is fit company for a
king, and is often of better blood. Oh, what a strange supper
was that. If the servant made the slightest mistake in helping
him, up would start the jorobado, jump upon his chair, and
seizing the big giant by the hair, would cuff him on both sides
of the face, till I was afraid his teeth would have fallen out.
The giant, however, did not seem to care about it much. He was
used to it, I suppose. Valgame Dios! if he had been a
Spaniard, he would not have submitted to it so patiently. But
what surprised me most was, that after beating his servant, the
master would sit down, and the next moment would begin
conversing and laughing with him as if nothing had happened,
and the giant also would laugh and converse with his master,
for all the world as if he had not been beaten.
"You may well suppose, Senor, that I understood nothing
of their discourse, for it was all in that strange unchristian
tongue in which the giant answered me when I spoke to him; the
sound of it is still ringing in my ears. It was nothing like
other languages. Not like Bascuen, not like the language in
which your worship speaks to my namesake Signor Antonio here.
Valgame Dios! I can compare it to nothing but the sound a
person makes when he rinses his mouth with water. There is one
word which I think I still remember, for it was continually
proceeding from the giant's lips, but his master never used it.
"But the strangest part of the story is yet to be told.
The supper was ended, and the night was rather advanced, the
rain still beat against the windows, even as it does at this
moment. Suddenly the jorobado pulled out his watch. Valgame
Dios! such a watch! I will tell you one thing, Senor, that I
could purchase all the Asturias, and Muros besides, with the
brilliants which shone about the sides of that same watch: the
room wanted no lamp, I trow, so great was the splendour which
they cast. So the jorobado looked at his watch, and then said
to me, I shall go to rest. He then took the lamp and went
through the gallery to his room, followed by his big servant.
Well, Senor, I cleared away the things, and then waited below
for the servant, for whom I had prepared a comfortable bed,
close by my own. Senor, I waited patiently for an hour, till
at last my patience was exhausted, and I ascended to the supper
apartment, and passed through the gallery till I came to the
door of the strange guest. Senor, what do you think I saw at
the door?"
"How should I know?" I replied. "His riding boots
"No, Senor, I did not see his riding boots; but,
stretched on the floor with his head against the door, so that
it was impossible to open it without disturbing him, lay the
big servant fast asleep, his immense legs reaching nearly the
whole length of the gallery. I crossed myself, as well I
might, for the wind was howling even as it is now, and the rain
was rushing down into the gallery in torrents; yet there lay
the big servant fast asleep, without any covering, without any
pillow, not even a log, stretched out before his master's door.
"Senor, I got little rest that night, for I said to
myself, I have evil wizards in my house, folks who are not
human. Once or twice I went up and peeped into the gallery,
but there still lay the big servant fast asleep, so I crossed
myself and returned to my bed again."
"Well," said I, "and what occurred next day?"
"Nothing particular occurred next day: the jorobado came
down and said comical things to me in good Spanish, and the big
servant came down, but whatever he said, and he did not say
much, I understood not, for it was in that disastrous jabber.
They stayed with me throughout the day till after supper-time,
and then the jorobado gave me a gold ounce, and mounting their
horses, they both departed as strangely as they had come, in
the dark night, I know not whither."
"Is that all?" I demanded.
"No, Senor, it is not all; for I was right in supposing
them evil brujos: the very next day an express arrived and a
great search was made after them, and I was arrested for having
harboured them. This occurred just after the present wars had
commenced. It was said they were spies and emissaries of I
don't know what nation, and that they had been in all parts of
the Asturias, holding conferences with some of the disaffected.
They escaped, however, and were never heard of more, though the
animals which they rode were found without their riders,
wandering amongst the hills; they were common ponies, and were
of no value. As for the brujos, it is believed that they
embarked in some small vessel which was lying concealed in one
of the rias of the coast."
MYSELF. - What was the word which you continually heard
proceeding from the lips of the big servant, and which you
think you can remember?
HOST. - Senor, it is now three years since I heard it,
and at times I can remember it and at others not; sometimes I
have started up in my sleep repeating it. Stay, Senor, I have
it now at the point of my tongue: it was Patusca.
MYSELF. - Batuschca, you mean; the men were Russians.
Oviedo - The Ten Gentlemen - The Swiss again - Modest Request -
The Robbers - Episcopal Benevolence - The Cathedral - Portrait of Feijoo.
I must now take a considerable stride in my journey, no
less than from Muros to Oviedo, contenting myself with
observing, that we proceeded from Muros to Velez, and from
thence to Giyon, where our guide Martin bade us farewell, and
returned with his mare to Rivadeo. The honest fellow did not
part without many expressions of regret, indeed he even
expressed a desire that I should take him and his mare into my
service; "for," said he, "I have a great desire to run through
all Spain, and even the world; and I am sure I shall never have
a better opportunity than by attaching myself to your worship's
skirts." On my reminding him, however, of his wife and family,
for he had both, he said, "True, true, I had forgotten them:
happy the guide whose only wife and family are a mare and
Oviedo is about three leagues from Giyon. Antonio rode
the horse, whilst I proceeded thither in a kind of diligence
which runs daily between the two towns. The road is good, but
mountainous. I arrived safely at the capital of the Asturias,
although at a rather unpropitious season, for the din of war
was at the gate, and there was the cry of the captains and the
shouting. Castile, at the time of which I am writing, was in
the hands of the Carlists, who had captured and plundered
Valladolid in much the same manner as they had Segovia some
time before. They were every day expected to march on Oviedo,
in which case they might perhaps have experienced some
resistance, a considerable body of troops being stationed
there, who had erected some redoubts, and strongly fortified
several of the convents, especially that of Santa Clara de la
Vega. All minds were in a state of feverish anxiety and
suspense, more especially as no intelligence arrived from
Madrid, which by the last accounts was said to be occupied by
the bands of Cabrera and Palillos.
So it came to pass that one night I found myself in the
ancient town of Oviedo, in a very large, scantily-furnished,
and remote room in an ancient posada, formerly a palace of the
counts of Santa Cruz. It was past ten, and the rain was
descending in torrents. I was writing, but suddenly ceased on
hearing numerous footsteps ascending the creaking stairs which
led to my apartment. The door was flung open, and in walked
nine men of tall stature, marshalled by a little hunchbacked
personage. They were all muffled in the long cloaks of Spain,
but I instantly knew by their demeanour that they were
caballeros, or gentlemen. They placed themselves in a rank
before the table where I was sitting. Suddenly and
simultaneously they all flung back their cloaks, and I
perceived that every one bore a book in his hand; a book which
I knew full well. After a pause, which I was unable to break,
for I sat lost in astonishment, and almost conceived myself to
be visited by apparitions, the hunchback, advancing somewhat
before the rest, said in soft silvery tones, "Senor Cavalier,
was it you who brought this book to the Asturias?" I now
supposed that they were the civil authorities of the place come
to take me into custody, and, rising from my seat, I exclaimed,
"It certainly was I, and it is my glory to have done so; the
book is the New Testament of God: I wish it was in my power to
bring a million." "I heartily wish so too," said the little
personage with a sigh. "Be under no apprehension, Sir
Cavalier, these gentlemen are my friends; we have just
purchased these books in the shop where you placed them for
sale, and have taken the liberty of calling upon you, in order
to return you our thanks for the treasure you have brought us.
I hope you can furnish us with the Old Testament also." I
replied that I was sorry to inform him that at present it was
entirely out of my power to comply with his wish, as I had no
Old Testaments in my possession, but did not despair of
procuring some speedily from England. He then asked me a great
many questions concerning my biblical travels in Spain, and my
success, and the views entertained by the Society, with respect
to Spain, adding that he hoped we should pay particular
attention to the Asturias, which he assured me was the best
ground in the Peninsula for our labour. After about half an
hour's conversation, he suddenly said, in the English language,
"Good night, Sir," wrapped his cloak around him, and walked out
as he had come. His companions, who had hitherto not uttered a
word, all repeated "Good night, Sir," and, adjusting their
cloaks, followed him.
In order to explain this strange scene, I must state that
in the morning I had visited the petty bookseller of the place,
Longoria, and having arranged preliminaries with him, I sent
him in the evening a package of forty Testaments, all I
possessed, with some advertisements. At the time he assured me
that, though he was willing to undertake the sale, there was,
nevertheless, not a prospect of success, as a whole month had
elapsed since he had sold a book of any description, on account
of the uncertainty of the times, and the poverty which pervaded
the land; I therefore felt much dispirited. This incident,
however, admonished me not to be cast down when things look
gloomiest, as the hand of the Lord is generally then most busy;
that men may learn to perceive, that whatever good is
accomplished is not their work but his.
Two or three days after this adventure, I was once more
seated in my large scantily-furnished room; it was about ten,
of a dark melancholy morning, and the autumnal rain was again
falling. I had just breakfasted, and was about to sit down to
my journal, when the door was flung open and in bounded
"Mon maitre," said he, quite breathless, "who do you
think has arrived?"
"The pretender, I suppose," said I, in some trepidation;
"if so, we are prisoners."
"Bah, bah!" said Antonio, "it is not the pretender, but
one worth twenty of him; it is the Swiss of Saint James."
"Benedict Mol, the Swiss!" said I, "What! has he found
the treasure? But how did he come? How is he dressed?"
"Mon maitre," said Antonio, "he came on foot if we may
judge by his shoes, through which his toes are sticking; and as
for his dress, he is in most villainous apparel."
"There must be some mystery in this," said I; "where is
he at present?"
"Below, mon maitre," replied Antonio; "he came in quest
of us. But I no sooner saw him, than I hurried away to let you
In a few minutes Benedict Mol found his way up stairs; he
was, as Antonio had remarked, in most villainous apparel, and
nearly barefooted; his old Andalusian hat was dripping with
"Och, lieber herr," said Benedict, "how rejoiced I am to
see you again. Oh, the sight of your countenance almost repays
me for all the miseries I have undergone since I parted with
you at Saint James."
MYSELF. - I can scarcely believe that I really see you
here at Oviedo. What motive can have induced you to come to
such an out-of-the-way place from such an immense distance?
BENEDICT. - Lieber herr, I will sit down and tell you all
that has befallen me. Some few days after I saw you last, the
canonigo persuaded me to go to the captain-general to apply for
permission to disinter the schatz, and also to crave
assistance. So I saw the captain-general, who at first
received me very kindly, asked me several questions, and told
me to come again. So I continued visiting him till he would
see me no longer, and do what I might I could not obtain a
glance of him. The canon now became impatient, more especially
as he had given me a few pesetas out of the charities of the
church. He frequently called me a bribon and impostor. At
last, one morning I went to him, and said that I had proposed
to return to Madrid, in order to lay the matter before the
government, and requested that he would give me a certificate
to the effect that I had performed a pilgrimage to Saint James,
which I imagined would be of assistance to me upon the way, as
it would enable me to beg with some colour of authority. He no
sooner heard this request, than, without saying a word or
allowing me a moment to put myself on my defence, he sprang
upon me like a tiger, grasping my throat so hard that I thought
he would have strangled me. I am a Swiss, however, and a man
of Lucerne, and when I had recovered myself a little, I had no
difficulty in flinging him off; I then threatened him with my
staff and went away. He followed me to the gate with the most
horrid curses, saying that if I presumed to return again, he
would have me thrown at once into prison as a thief and a
heretic. So I went in quest of yourself, lieber herr, but they
told me that you were departed for Coruna; I then set out for
Coruna after you.
MYSELF. - And what befell you on the road?
BENEDICT. - I will tell you: about half-way between Saint
James and Coruna, as I was walking along, thinking of the
schatz, I heard a loud galloping, and looking around me I saw
two men on horseback coming across the field with the swiftness
of the wind, and making directly for me. Lieber Gott, said I,
these are thieves, these are factious; and so they were. They
came up to me in a moment and bade me stand, so I flung down my
staff, took off my hat and saluted them. "Good day,
caballeros," said I to them. "Good day, countryman," said they
to me, and then we stood staring at each other for more than a
minute. Lieber himmel, I never saw such robbers; so finely
dressed, so well armed, and mounted so bravely on two fiery
little hakkas, that looked as if they could have taken wing and
flown up into the clouds! So we continued staring at each
other, till at last one asked me who I was, whence I came, and
where I was going. "Gentlemen," said I, "I am a Swiss, I have
been to Saint James to perform a religious vow, and am now
returning to my own country." I said not a word about the
treasure, for I was afraid that they would have shot me at
once, conceiving that I carried part of it about me. "Have you
any money?" they demanded. "Gentlemen," I replied, "you see
how I travel on foot, with my shoes torn to pieces; I should
not do so if I had money. I will not deceive you, however, I
have a peseta and a few cuartos," and thereupon I took out what
I had and offered it to them. "Fellow," said they, "we are
caballeros of Galicia, and do not take pesetas, much less
cuartos. Of what opinion are you? Are you for the queen?"
"No, gentlemen," said I, "I am not for the queen, but, at the
same time, allow me to tell you that I am not for the king
either; I know nothing about the matter; I am a Swiss, and
fight neither for nor against anybody unless I am paid." This
made them laugh, and then they questioned me about Saint James,
and the troops there, and the captain-general; and not to
disoblige them, I told them all I knew and much more. Then one
of them, who looked the fiercest and most determined, took his
trombone in his hand, and pointing it at me, said, "Had you
been a Spaniard, we would have blown your head to shivers, for
we should have thought you a spy, but we see you are a
foreigner, and believe what you have said; take, therefore,
this peseta and go your way, but beware that you tell nobody
any thing about us, for if you do, carracho!" He then
discharged his trombone just over my head, so that for a moment
I thought myself shot, and then with an awful shout, they both
galloped away, their horses leaping over the barrancos, as if
possessed with many devils.
MYSELF. - And what happened to you on your arrival at
BENEDICT. - When I arrived at Coruna, I inquired after
yourself, lieber herr, and they informed me that, only the day
before my arrival, you had departed for Oviedo: and when I
heard that, my heart died within me, for I was now at the far
end of Galicia, without a friend to help me. For a day or two
I knew not what to do; at last I determined to make for the
frontier of France, passing through Oviedo in the way, where I
hoped to see you and ask counsel of you. So I begged and
bettled among the Germans of Coruna. I, however, got very
little from them, only a few cuarts, less than the thieves had
given me on the road from Saint James, and with these I
departed for the Asturias by the way of Mondonedo. Och, what a
town is that, full of canons, priests, and pfaffen, all of them
more Carlist than Carlos himself.
One day I went to the bishop's palace and spoke to him,
telling him I was a pilgrim from Saint James, and requesting
assistance. He told me, however, that he could not relieve me,
and as for my being a pilgrim from Saint James, he was glad of
it, and hoped that it would be of service to my soul. So I
left Mondonedo, and got amongst the wild mountains, begging and
betting at the door of every choza that I passed, telling all I
saw that I was a pilgrim from Saint James, and showing my
passport in proof that I had been there. Lieber herr, no
person gave me a cuart, nor even a piece of broa, and both
Gallegans and Asturians laughed at Saint James, and told me
that his name was no longer a passport in Spain. I should have
starved if I had not sometimes plucked an ear or two out of the
maize fields; I likewise gathered grapes from the parras and
berries from the brambles, and in this manner I subsisted till
I arrived at the bellotas, where I slaughtered a stray kid
which I met, and devoured part of the flesh raw, so great was
my hunger. It made me, however, very ill, and for two days I
lay in a barranco half dead and unable to help myself; it was a
mercy that I was not devoured by the wolves. I then struck
across the country for Oviedo: how I reached it I do not know;
I was like one walking in a dream. Last night I slept in an
empty hogsty about two leagues from here, and ere I left it, I
fell down on my knees and prayed to God that I might find you,
lieber herr, for you were my last hope.
MYSELF. - And what do you propose to do at present?
BENEDICT. - What can I say, lieber herr? I know not what
to do. I will be guided in everything by your counsel.
MYSELF. - I shall remain at Oviedo a few days longer,
during which time you can lodge at this posada, and endeavour
to recover from the fatigue of your disastrous journeys;
perhaps before I depart, we may hit on some plan to extricate
you from your present difficulties.
Oviedo contains about fifteen thousand inhabitants. It
is picturesquely situated between two mountains, Morcin and
Naranco; the former is very high and rugged, and during the
greater part of the year is covered with snow; the sides of the
latter are cultivated and planted with vines. The principal
ornament of the town is the cathedral, the tower of which is
exceedingly lofty, and is perhaps one of the purest specimens
of Gothic architecture at present in existence. The interior
of the cathedral is neat and appropriate, but simple and
unadorned. I observed but one picture, the Conversion of Saint
Paul. One of the chapels is a cemetery, in which rest the
bones of eleven Gothic kings; to whose souls be peace.
I bore a letter of recommendation from Coruna to a
merchant of Oviedo. This person received me very courteously,
and generally devoted some portion of every day to showing me
the remarkable things of Oviedo.
One morning he thus addressed me: "You have doubtless
heard of Feijoo, the celebrated philosophic monk of the order
of Saint Benedict, whose writings have so much tended to remove
the popular fallacies and superstitions so long cherished in
Spain; he is buried in one of our convents, where he passed a
considerable portion of his life. Come with me and I will show
you his portrait. Carlos Tercero, our great king, sent his own
painter from Madrid to execute it. It is now in the possession
of a friend of mine, Don Ramon Valdez, an advocate."
Thereupon he led me to the house of Don Ramon Valdez, who
very politely exhibited the portrait of Feijoo. It was
circular in shape, about a foot in diameter, and was surrounded
by a little brass frame, something like the rim of a barber's
basin. The countenance was large and massive but fine, the
eyebrows knit, the eyes sharp and penetrating, nose aquiline.
On the head was a silken skull-cap; the collar of the coat or
vest was just perceptible. The painting was decidedly good,
and struck me as being one of the very best specimens of modern
Spanish art which I had hitherto seen.
A day or two after this I said to Benedict Mol, "tomorrow
I start from hence for Santander. It is therefore high
time that you decide upon some course, whether to return to
Madrid or to make the best of your way to France, and from
thence proceed to your own country."
"Lieber herr," said Benedict, "I will follow you to
Santander by short journeys, for I am unable to make long ones
amongst these hills; and when I am there, peradventure I may
find some means of passing into France. It is a great comfort,
in my horrible journeys, to think that I am travelling over the
ground which yourself have trodden, and to hope that I am
proceeding to rejoin you once more. This hope kept me alive in
the bellotas, and without it I should never have reached
Oviedo. I will quit Spain as soon as possible, and betake me
to Lucerne, though it is a hard thing to leave the schatz
behind me in the land of the Gallegans."
Thereupon I presented him with a few dollars.
"A strange man is this Benedict," said Antonio to me next
morning, as, accompanied by a guide, we sallied forth from
Oviedo; "a strange man, mon maitre, is this same Benedict. A
strange life has he led, and a strange death he will die, - it
is written on his countenance. That he will leave Spain I do
not believe, or if he leave it, it will be only to return, for
he is bewitched about this treasure. Last night he sent for a
sorciere, whom he consulted in my presence; and she told him
that he was doomed to possess it, but that first of all he must
cross water. She cautioned him likewise against an enemy,
which he supposes must be the canon of Saint James. I have
often heard people speak of the avidity of the Swiss for money,
and here is a proof of it. I would not undergo what Benedict
has suffered in these last journeys of his, to possess all the
treasures in Spain."
Departure from Oviedo - Villa Viciosa - The Young Man of the Inn -
Antonio's Tale - The General and his Family - Woful Tidings -
To-morrow we Die - San Vincente - Santander - An Harangue -
Flinter the Irishman.
So we left Oviedo and directed our course towards
Santander. The man who accompanied us as guide, and from whom
I hired the pony on which I rode, had been recommended to me by
my friend the merchant of Oviedo. He proved, however, a lazy
indolent fellow; he was generally loitering two or three
hundred yards in our rear, and instead of enlivening the way
with song and tale, like our late guide, Martin of Rivadeo, he
scarcely ever opened his lips, save to tell us not to go so
fast, or that I should burst his pony if I spurred him so. He
was thievish withal, and though he had engaged to make the
journey SECO, that is, to defray the charges of himself and
beast, he contrived throughout to keep both at our expense.
When journeying in Spain, it is invariably the cheapest plan to
agree to maintain the guide and his horse or mule, for by so
doing the hire is diminished at least one third, and the bills
upon the road are seldom increased: whereas, in the other case,
he pockets the difference, and yet goes shot free, and at the
expense of the traveller, through the connivance of the
innkeepers, who have a kind of fellow feeling with the guides.
Late in the afternoon we reached Villa Viciosa, a small
dirty town, at the distance of eight leagues from Oviedo: it
stands beside a creek which communicates with the Bay of
Biscay. It is sometimes called La Capital de las Avellanas, or
the capital of the Filberts, from the immense quantity of this
fruit which is grown in the neighbourhood; and the greatest
part of which is exported to England. As we drew nigh we
overtook numerous cars laden with avellanas proceeding in the
direction of the town. I was informed that several small
English vessels were lying in the harbour. Singular as it may
seem, however, notwithstanding we were in the capital of the
Avellanas, it was with the utmost difficulty that I procured a
scanty handful for my dessert, and of these more than one half
were decayed. The people of the house informed me that the
nuts were intended for exportation, and that they never dreamt
either of partaking of them themselves or of offering them to
their guests.
At an early hour on the following day we reached Colunga,
a beautiful village on a rising ground, thickly planted with
chestnut trees. It is celebrated, at least in the Asturias, as
being the birthplace of Arguelles, the father of the Spanish
As we dismounted at the door of the posada, where we
intended to refresh ourselves, a person who was leaning out of
an upper window uttered an exclamation and disappeared. We
were yet at the door, when the same individual came running
forth and cast himself on the neck of Antonio. He was a goodlooking
young man, apparently about five and twenty, genteelly
dressed, with a Montero cap on his head. Antonio looked at him
for a moment, and then with a AH, MONSIEUR, EST CE BIEN VOUS?
shook him affectionately by the hand. The stranger then
motioned him to follow him, and they forthwith proceeded to the
room above.
Wondering what this could mean, I sat down to my morning
repast. Nearly an hour elapsed, and still Antonio did not make
his appearance; through the boards, however, which composed the
ceiling of the kitchen where I sat, I could hear the voices of
himself and his acquaintance, and thought that I could
occasionally distinguish the sound of broken sobs and groans;
at last there was a long pause. I became impatient, and was
about to summon Antonio, when he made his appearance, but
unaccompanied by the stranger. "What, in the name of all that
is singular," I demanded, "have you been about? Who is that
man?" "Mon maitre," said Antonio, "C'EST UN MONSIEUR DE MA
CONNOISSANCE. With your permission I will now take a mouthful,
and as we journey along I will tell you all that I know of
"Monsieur," said Antonio, as we rode out of Colunga, "you
are anxious to know the history of the gentleman whom you saw
embrace me at the inn. Know, mon maitre, that these Carlist
and Christino wars have been the cause of much misery and
misfortune in this country, but a being so thoroughly
unfortunate as that poor young gentleman of the inn, I do not
believe is to be found in Spain, and his misfortunes proceed
entirely from the spirit of party and faction which for some
time past has been so prevalent.
"Mon maitre, as I have often told you, I have lived in
many houses and served many masters, and it chanced that about
ten years ago I served the father of this gentleman, who was
then a mere boy. It was a very high family, for monsieur the
father was a general in the army, and a man of large
possessions. The family consisted of the general, his lady,
and two sons; the youngest of whom is the person you have just
seen, the other was several years older. Pardieu! I felt
myself very comfortable in that house, and every individual of
the family had all kind of complaisance for me. It is singular
enough, that though I have been turned out of so many families,
I was never turned out of that; and though I left it thrice, it
was of my own free will. I became dissatisfied with the other
servants or with the dog or the cat. The last time I left was
on account of the quail which was hung out of the window of
madame, and which waked me in the morning with its call. EH
BIEN, MON MAITRE, things went on in this way during the three
years that I continued in the family, out and in; at the end of
which time it was determined that the young gentleman should
travel, and it was proposed that I should attend him as valet;
this I wished very much to do. However, par malheur, I was at
this time very much dissatisfied with madame his mother about
the quail, and I insisted that before I accompanied him the
bird should be slaughtered for the kitchen. To this madame
would by no means consent; and even the young gentleman, who
had always taken my part on other occasions, said that I was
unreasonable: so I left the house in a huff, and never entered
it again.
"EH BIEN, MON MAITRE, the young gentleman went upon his
travels, and continued abroad several years; and from the time
of his departure until we met him at Colunga, I have not set
eyes upon, nor indeed heard of him. I have heard enough,
however, of his family; of monsieur the father, of madame, and
of the brother, who was an officer of cavalry. A short time
before the troubles, I mean before the death of Ferdinand,
monsieur the father was appointed captain-general of Coruna.
Now monsieur, though a good master, was rather a proud man, and
fond of discipline and all that kind of thing, and of
obedience. He was, moreover, no friend to the populace, to the
canaille, and he had a particular aversion to the nationals.
So when Ferdinand died, it was whispered about at Coruna, that
the general was no liberal, and that he was a better friend to
Carlos than to Christina. EH BIEN, it chanced that there was a
grand fete, or festival at Coruna, on the water; and the
nationals were there, and the soldiers. And I know not how it
befell, but there was an emeute, and the nationals laid hands
on monsieur the general, and tying a rope round his neck, flung
him overboard from the barge in which he was, and then dragged
him astern about the harbour until he was drowned. They then
went to his house and pillaged it, and so ill-treated madame,
who at that time happened to be enceinte, that in a few hours
she expired.
"I tell you what, mon maitre, when I heard of the
misfortune of madame and the general, you would scarcely
believe it, but I actually shed tears, and was sorry that I had
parted with them in unkindness on account of that pernicious
The eldest son, as I told you before, was a cavalry officer and
a man of resolution, and when he heard of the death of his
father and mother, he vowed revenge. Poor fellow! but what
does he do but desert, with two or three discontented spirits
of his troop, and going to the frontier of Galicia, he raised a
small faction, and proclaimed Don Carlos. For some little time
he did considerable damage to the liberals, burning and
destroying their possessions, and putting to death several
nationals that fell into his hands. However, this did not last
long, his faction was soon dispersed, and he himself taken and
hanged, and his head stuck on a pole.
the inn, the young man took me above, as you saw, and there for
some time he could do nothing but weep and sob. His story is
soon told:- he returned from his travels, and the first
intelligence which awaited him on his arrival in Spain was,
that his father was drowned, his mother dead, and his brother
hanged, and, moreover, all the possessions of his family
confiscated. This was not all: wherever he went, he found
himself considered in the light of a factious and discontented
person, and was frequently assailed by the nationals with blows
of sabres and cudgels. He applied to his relations, and some
of these, who were of the Carlist persuasion, advised him to
betake himself to the army of Don Carlos, and the Pretender
himself, who was a friend of his father, and remembered the
services of his brother, offered to give him a command in his
army. But, mon maitre, as I told you before, he was a pacific
young gentleman, and as mild as a lamb, and hated the idea of
shedding blood. He was, moreover, not of the Carlist opinion,
for during his studies he had read books written a long time
ago by countrymen of mine, all about republics and liberties,
and the rights of man, so that he was much more inclined to the
liberal than the Carlist system; he therefore declined the
offer of Don Carlos, whereupon all his relations deserted him,
whilst the liberals hunted him from one place to another like a
wild beast. At last, he sold some little property which still
remained to him, and with the proceeds he came to this remote
place of Colunga, where no one knew him, and where he has been
residing for several months, in a most melancholy manner, with
no other amusement than that which he derives from a book or
two, or occasionally hunting a leveret with his spaniel.
"He asked me for counsel, but I had none to give him, and
could only weep with him. At last he said, `Dear Antonio, I
see there is no remedy. You say your master is below, beg him,
I pray, to stay till to-morrow, and we will send for the
maidens of the neighbourhood, and for a violin and a bagpipe,
and we will dance and cast away care for a moment.' And then
he said something in old Greek, which I scarcely understood,
but which I think was equivalent to, `Let us eat, drink, and be
merry, for to-morrow we die!'
"EH BIEN, MON MAITRE, I told him that you were a serious
gentleman who never took any amusement, and that you were in a
hurry. Whereupon he wept again, and embraced me and bade me
farewell. And now, mon maitre, I have told you the history of
the young man of the inn."
We slept at Ribida de Sela, and the next day, at noon,
arrived at Llanes. Our route lay between the coast and an
immense range of mountains, which rose up like huge ramparts at
about a league's distance from the sea. The ground over which
we passed was tolerably level, and seemingly well cultivated.
There was no lack of vines and trees, whilst at short intervals
rose the cortijos of the proprietors, - square stone buildings
surrounded with an outer wall. Llanes is an old town, formerly
of considerable strength. In its neighbourhood is the convent
of San Cilorio, one of the largest monastic edifices in all
Spain. It is now deserted, and stands lone and desolate upon
one of the peninsulas of the Cantabrian shore. Leaving Llanes,
we soon entered one of the most dreary and barren regions
imaginable, a region of rock and stone, where neither grass nor
trees were to be seen. Night overtook us in these places. We
wandered on, however, until we reached a small village, termed
Santo Colombo. Here we passed the night, in the house of a
carabineer of the revenue, a tall athletic figure who met us at
the gate armed with a gun. He was a Castilian, and with all
that ceremonious formality and grave politeness for which his
countrymen were at one time so celebrated. He chid his wife
for conversing with her handmaid about the concerns of the
house before us. "Barbara," said he, "this is not conversation
calculated to interest the strange cavaliers; hold your peace,
or go aside with the muchacha." In the morning he refused any
remuneration for his hospitality. "I am a caballero," said he,
"even as yourselves. It is not my custom to admit people into
my house for the sake of lucre. I received you because you
were benighted and the posada distant."
Rising early in the morning, we pursued our way through a
country equally stony and dreary as that which we had entered
upon the preceding day. In about four hours we reached San
Vincente, a large dilapidated town, chiefly inhabited by
miserable fishermen. It retains, however, many remarkable
relics of former magnificence: the bridge, which bestrides the
broad and deep firth, on which stands the town, has no less
than thirty-two arches, and is built of grey granite. It is
very ancient, and in some part in so ruinous a condition as to
be dangerous.
Leaving San Vincente behind us, we travelled for some
leagues on the sea-shore, crossing occasionally a narrow inlet
or firth. The country at last began to improve, and in the
neighbourhood of Santillana was both beautiful and fertile.
About a league before we reached the country of Gil Blas, we
passed through an extensive wood, in which were rocks and
precipices; it was exactly such a place as that in which the
cave of Rolando was situated, as described in the novel. This
wood has an evil name, and our guide informed us that robberies
were occasionally committed in it. No adventure, however,
befell us, and we reached Santillana at about six in the
We did not enter the town, but halted at a large venta or
posada at the entrance, before which stood an immense ash tree.
We had scarcely housed ourselves when a tremendous storm of
rain and wind commenced, accompanied with thunder and
lightning, which continued without much interruption for
several hours, and the effects of which were visible in our
journey of the following day, the streams over which we passed
being much swollen, and several trees lying uptorn by the
wayside. Santillana contains four thousand inhabitants, and is
six short leagues' distance from Santander, where we arrived
early the next day.
Nothing could exhibit a stronger contrast to the desolate
tracts and the half ruined towns through which we had lately
passed, than the bustle and activity of Santander, which,
though it stands on the confines of the Basque provinces, the
stronghold of the Pretender, is almost the only city in Spain
which has not suffered by the Carlist wars. Till the close of
the last century it was little better than an obscure fishing
town, but it has of late years almost entirely engrossed the
commerce of the Spanish transatlantic possessions, especially
of the Havannah. The consequence of which has been, that
whilst Santander has rapidly increased in wealth and
magnificence, both Coruna and Cadiz have been as rapidly
hastening to decay. At present it possesses a noble quay, on
which stands a line of stately edifices, far exceeding in
splendour the palaces of the aristocracy at Madrid. These are
built in the French style, and are chiefly occupied by the
merchants. The population of Santander is estimated at sixty
thousand souls.
On the day of my arrival I dined at the table d'hote of
the principal inn, kept by a Genoese. The company was very
miscellaneous, French, Germans, and Spaniards, all speaking in
their respective languages, whilst at the ends of the table,
confronting each other, sat two Catalan merchants, one of whom
weighed nearly twenty stone, grunting across the board in their
harsh dialect. Long, however, before dinner was concluded, the
conversation was entirely engrossed and the attention of all
present directed to an individual who sat on one side of the
bulky Catalan. He was a thin man of about the middle height,
with a remarkably red face, and something in his eyes which, if
not a squint, bore a striking resemblance to it. He was
dressed in a blue military frock, and seemed to take much more
pleasure in haranguing than in the fare which was set before
him. He spoke perfectly good Spanish, yet his voice betrayed
something of a foreign accent. For a long time he descanted
with immense volubility on war and all its circumstances,
freely criticising the conduct of the generals, both Carlists
and Christinos, in the present struggle, till at last he
exclaimed, "Had I but twenty thousand men allowed me by the
government, I would bring the war to a conclusion in six
"Pardon me, Sir," said a Spaniard who sat at the table,
"the curiosity which induces me to request the favour of your
distinguished name."
"I am Flinter," replied the individual in the military
frock, "a name which is in the mouth of every man, woman, and
child in Spain. I am Flinter the Irishman, just escaped from
the Basque provinces and the claws of Don Carlos. On the
decease of Ferdinand I declared for Isabella, esteeming it the
duty of every good cavalier and Irishman in the Spanish service
to do so. You have all heard of my exploits, and permit me to
tell you they would have been yet more glorious had not
jealousy been at work and cramped my means. Two years ago I
was despatched to Estremadura, to organize the militias. The
bands of Gomez and Cabrera entered the province and spread
devastation around. They found me, however, at my post; and
had I been properly seconded by those under my command, the two
rebels would never have returned to their master to boast of
their success. I stood behind my intrenchments. A man
advanced and summoned us to surrender. `Who are you?' I
demanded. `I am Cabrera,' he replied; `and I am Flinter,' I
retorted, flourishing my sabre; `retire to your battalions or
you will forthwith die the death.' He was awed and did as I
commanded. In an hour we surrendered. I was led a prisoner to
the Basque provinces; and the Carlists rejoiced in the capture
they had made, for the name of Flinter had long sounded amongst
the Carlist ranks. I was flung into a loathsome dungeon, where
I remained twenty months. I was cold; I was naked; but I did
not on that account despond, my spirit was too indomitable for
such weakness. My keeper at last pitied my misfortunes. He
said that `it grieved him to see so valiant a man perish in
inglorious confinement.' We laid a plan to escape together;
disguises were provided, and we made the attempt. We passed
unobserved till we arrived at the Carlist lines above Bilbao;
there we were stopped. My presence of mind, however, did not
desert me. I was disguised as a carman, as a Catalan, and the
coolness of my answers deceived my interrogators. We were
permitted to pass, and soon were safe within the walls of
Bilbao. There was an illumination that night in the town, for
the lion had burst his toils, Flinter had escaped, and was once
more returned to re-animate a drooping cause. I have just
arrived at Santander on my way to Madrid, where I intend to ask
of the government a command, with twenty thousand men."
Poor Flinter! a braver heart and a move gasconading mouth
were surely never united in the same body. He proceeded to
Madrid, and through the influence of the British ambassador,
who was his friend, he obtained the command of a small
division, with which he contrived to surprise and defeat, in
the neighbourhood of Toledo, a body of the Carlists, commanded
by Orejita, whose numbers more than trebled his own. In reward
for this exploit he was persecuted by the government, which, at
that time, was the moderado or juste milieu, with the most
relentless animosity; the prime minister, Ofalia, supporting
with all his influence numerous and ridiculous accusations of
plunder and robbery brought against the too-successful general
by the Carlist canons of Toledo. He was likewise charged with
a dereliction of duty, in having permitted, after the battle of
Valdepenas, which he likewise won in the most gallant manner,
the Carlist force to take possession of the mines of Almaden,
although the government, who were bent on his ruin, had done
all in their power to prevent him from following up his
successes by denying him the slightest supplies and
reinforcements. The fruits of victory thus wrested from him,
his hopes blighted, a morbid melancholy seized upon the
Irishman; he resigned his command, and in less than ten months
from the period when I saw him at Santander, afforded his
dastardly and malignant enemies a triumph which satisfied even
them, by cutting his own throat with a razor.
Ardent spirits of foreign climes, who hope to distinguish
yourselves in the service of Spain, and to earn honours and
rewards, remember the fate of Columbus, and of another as brave
and as ardent - Flinter!
Departure from Santander - The Night Alarm - The Black Pass.
I had ordered two hundred Testaments to be sent to
Santander from Madrid: I found, however, to my great sorrow,
that they had not arrived, and I supposed that they had either
been seized on the way by the Carlists, or that my letter had
miscarried. I then thought of applying to England for a
supply, but I abandoned the idea for two reasons. In the first
place, I should have to remain idly loitering, at least a
month, before I could receive them, at a place where every
article was excessively dear; and, secondly, I was very unwell,
and unable to procure medical advice at Santander. Ever since
I left Coruna, I had been afflicted with a terrible dysentery,
and latterly with an ophthalmia, the result of the other
malady. I therefore determined on returning to Madrid. To
effect this, however, seemed no very easy task. Parties of the
army of Don Carlos, which, in a partial degree, had been routed
in Castile, were hovering about the country through which I
should have to pass, more especially in that part called "The
Mountains," so that all communication had ceased between
Santander and the southern districts. Nevertheless, I
determined to trust as usual in the Almighty and to risk the
danger. I purchased, therefore, a small horse, and sallied
forth with Antonio.
Before departing, however, I entered into conference with
the booksellers as to what they should do in the event of my
finding an opportunity of sending them a stock of Testaments
from Madrid; and, having arranged matters to my satisfaction, I
committed myself to Providence. I will not dwell long on this
journey of three hundred miles. We were in the midst of the
fire, yet, strange to say, escaped without a hair of our heads
being singed. Robberies, murders, and all kinds of atrocities
were perpetrated before, behind, and on both sides of us, but
not so much as a dog barked at us, though in one instance a
plan had been laid to intercept us. About four leagues from
Santander, whilst we were baiting our horses at a village
hostelry, I saw a fellow run off after having held a whispering
conversation with a boy who was dealing out barley to us. I
instantly inquired of the latter what the man had said to him,
but only obtained an evasive answer. It appeared afterwards
that the conversation was about ourselves. Two or three
leagues farther there was an inn and village where we had
proposed staying, and indeed had expressed our intention of
doing so; but on arriving there, finding that the sun was still
far from its bourne, I determined to proceed farther, expecting
to meet with a resting-place at the distance of a league;
though I was mistaken, as we found none until we reached
Montaneda, nine leagues and a half from Santander, where was
stationed a small detachment of soldiers. At the dead of night
we were aroused from our sleep by a cry that the factious were
not far off. A messenger had arrived from the alcalde of the
village where we had previously intended staying, who stated
that a party of Carlists had just surprised that place, and
were searching for an English spy, whom they supposed to be at
the inn. The officer commanding the soldiers upon hearing
this, not deeming his own situation a safe one, instantly drew
off his men, falling back on a stronger party stationed in a
fortified village near at hand. As for ourselves, we saddled
our horses and continued our way in the dark. Had the Carlists
succeeded in apprehending me, I should instantly have been
shot, and my body cast on the rocks to feed the vultures and
wolves. But "it was not so written," said Antonio, who, like
many of his countrymen, was a fatalist. The next night we had
another singular escape: we had arrived near the entrance of a
horrible pass called "El puerto de la puente de las tablas," or
the pass of the bridge of planks, which wound through a black
and frightful mountain, on the farther side of which was the
town of Onas, where we meant to tarry for the night. The sun
had set about a quarter of an hour. Suddenly a man, with his
face covered with blood, rushed out of the pass. "Turn back,
sir," he said, "in the name of God; there are murderers in that
pass; they have just robbed me of my mule and all I possess,
and I have hardly escaped with life from their hands." I
scarcely know why, but I made him no answer and proceeded;
indeed I was so weary and unwell that I cared not what became
of me. We entered; the rocks rose perpendicularly, right and
left, entirely intercepting the scanty twilight, so that the
darkness of the grave, or rather the blackness of the valley of
the shadow of death reigned around us, and we knew not where we
went, but trusted to the instinct of the horses, who moved on
with their heads close to the ground. The only sound which we
heard was the plash of a stream, which tumbled down the pass.
I expected every moment to feel a knife at my throat, but "IT
WAS NOT SO WRITTEN." We threaded the pass without meeting a
human being, and within three quarters of an hour after the
time we entered it, we found ourselves within the posada of the
town of Onas, which was filled with troops and armed peasants
expecting an attack from the grand Carlist army, which was near
at hand.
Well, we reached Burgos in safety; we reached Valladolid
in safety; we passed the Guadarama in safety; and were at
length safely housed in Madrid. People said we had been very
lucky; Antonio said, "It was so written"; but I say, Glory be
to the Lord for his mercies vouchsafed to us.
State of Affairs at Madrid - The New Ministry - Pope of Rome -
The Bookseller of Toledo - Sword Blades - Houses of Toledo -
The Forlorn Gypsy - Proceedings at Madrid - Another Servant.
During my journey in the northern provinces of Spain,
which occupied a considerable portion of the year 1837, I had
accomplished but a slight portion of what I proposed to myself
to effect in the outset. Insignificant are the results of
man's labours compared with the swelling ideas of his
presumption; something, however, had been effected by the
journey, which I had just concluded. The New Testament of
Christ was now enjoying a quiet sale in the principal towns of
the north, and I had secured the friendly interest and cooperation
of the booksellers of those parts, particularly of
him the most considerable of them all, old Rey of Compostella.
I had, moreover, disposed of a considerable number of
Testaments with my own hands, to private individuals, entirely
of the lower class, namely, muleteers, carmen, contrabandistas,
etc., so that upon the whole I had abundant cause for gratitude
and thanksgiving.
I did not find our affairs in a very prosperous state at
Madrid, few copies having been sold in the booksellers' shops,
yet what could be rationally expected during these latter
times? Don Carlos, with a large army, had been at the gates;
plunder and massacre had been expected; so that people were too
much occupied in forming plans to secure their lives and
property, to give much attention to reading of any description.
The enemy, however, had now retired to his strongholds in
Alava and Guipuscoa. I hoped that brighter days were dawning,
and that the work, under my own superintendence, would, with
God's blessing, prosper in the capital of Spain. How far the
result corresponded with my expectations will be seen in the
sequel. During my absence in the north, a total change of
ministers had occurred. The liberal party had been ousted from
the cabinet, and in their place had entered individuals
attached to the moderado or court party: unfortunately,
however, for my prospects, they consisted of persons with whom
I had no acquaintance whatever, and with whom my former
friends, Galiano and Isturitz, had little or no influence.
These gentlemen were now regularly laid on the shelf, and their
political career appeared to be terminated for ever.
From the present ministry I could expect but little; they
consisted of men, the greater part of whom had been either
courtiers or employes of the deceased King Ferdinand, who were
friends to absolutism, and by no means inclined to do or to
favour anything calculated to give offence to the court of
Rome, which they were anxious to conciliate, hoping that
eventually it might be induced to recognize the young queen,
not as the constitutional but as the absolute Queen Isabella
the Second.
Such was the party which continued in power throughout
the remainder of my sojourn in Spain, and which persecuted me
less from rancour and malice than from policy. It was not
until the conclusion of the war of the succession that it lost
the ascendancy, when it sank to the ground with its patroness
the queen-mother, before the dictatorship of Espartero.
The first step which I took after my return to Madrid,
towards circulating the Scriptures, was a very bold one. It
was neither more nor less than the establishment of a shop for
the sale of Testaments. This shop was situated in the Calle
del Principe, a respectable and well-frequented street in the
neighbourhood of the Square of Cervantes. I furnished it
handsomely with glass cases and chandeliers, and procured an
acute Gallegan of the name of Pepe Calzado, to superintend the
business, who gave me weekly a faithful account of the copies
"How strangely times alter," said I, the second day
subsequent to the opening of my establishment, as I stood on
the opposite side of the street, leaning against the wall with
folded arms, surveying my shop, on the windows of which were
painted in large yellow characters, DESPACHO DE LA SOCIEDAD
BIBLICA Y ESTRANGERA; "how strangely times alter; here have I
been during the last eight months running about old Popish
Spain, distributing Testaments, as agent of what the Papists
call an heretical society, and have neither been stoned nor
burnt; and here am I now in the capital, doing that which one
would think were enough to cause all the dead inquisitors and
officials buried within the circuit of the walls to rise from
their graves and cry abomination; and yet no one interferes
with me. Pope of Rome! Pope of Rome! look to thyself. That
shop may be closed; but oh! what a sign of the times, that it
has been permitted to exist for one day. It appears to me, my
Father, that the days of your sway are numbered in Spain; that
you will not be permitted much longer to plunder her, to scoff
at her, and to scourge her with scorpions, as in bygone
periods. See I not the hand on the wall? See I not in yonder
letters a `Mene, mene, Tekel, Upharsin'? Look to thyself,
And I remained for two hours, leaning against the wall,
staring at the shop.
A short time after the establishment of the despacho at
Madrid, I once more mounted the saddle, and, attended by
Antonio, rode over to Toledo, for the purpose of circulating
the Scriptures, sending beforehand by a muleteer a cargo of one
hundred Testaments. I instantly addressed myself to the
principal bookseller of the place, whom from the circumstance
of his living in a town so abounding with canons, priests, and
ex-friars as Toledo, I expected to find a Carlist, or a SERVILE
at least. I was never more mistaken in my life; on entering
the shop, which was very large and commodious, I beheld a stout
athletic man, dressed in a kind of cavalry uniform, with a
helmet on his head, and an immense sabre in his hand: this was
the bookseller himself, who I soon found was an officer in the
national cavalry. Upon learning who I was, he shook me
heartily by the hand, and said that nothing would give him
greater pleasure than taking charge of the books, which he
would endeavour to circulate to the utmost of his ability.
"Will not your doing so bring you into odium with the
"Ca!" said he; "who cares? I am rich, and so was my
father before me. I do not depend on them, they cannot hate me
more than they do already, for I make no secret of my opinions.
I have just returned from an expedition," said he; "my brother
nationals and myself have, for the last three days, been
occupied in hunting down the factious and thieves of the
neighbourhood; we have killed three and brought in several
prisoners. Who cares for the cowardly priests? I am a
liberal, Don Jorge, and a friend of your countryman, Flinter.
Many is the Carlist guerilla-curate and robber-friar whom I
have assisted him to catch. I am rejoiced to hear that he has
just been appointed captain-general of Toledo; there will be
fine doings here when he arrives, Don Jorge. We will make the
clergy shake between us, I assure you."
Toledo was formerly the capital of Spain. Its population
at present is barely fifteen thousand souls, though, in the
time of the Romans, and also during the Middle Ages, it is said
to have amounted to between two and three hundred thousand. It
is situated about twelve leagues (forty miles) westward of
Madrid, and is built upon a steep rocky hill, round which flows
the Tagus, on all sides but the north. It still possesses a
great many remarkable edifices, notwithstanding that it has
long since fallen into decay. Its cathedral is the most
magnificent of Spain, and is the see of the primate. In the
tower of this cathedral is the famous bell of Toledo, the
largest in the world with the exception of the monster bell of
Moscow, which I have also seen. It weighs 1,543 arrobes, or
37,032 pounds. It has, however, a disagreeable sound, owing to
a cleft in its side. Toledo could once boast the finest
pictures in Spain, but many were stolen or destroyed by the
French during the Peninsular war, and still more have lately
been removed by order of the government. Perhaps the most
remarkable one still remains; I allude to that which represents
the burial of the Count of Orgaz, the masterpiece of Domenico,
the Greek, a most extraordinary genius, some of whose
productions possess merit of a very high order. The picture in
question is in the little parish church of San Tome, at the
bottom of the aisle, on the left side of the altar. Could it
be purchased, I should say it would be cheap at five thousand
Amongst the many remarkable things which meet the eye of
the curious observer at Toledo, is the manufactory of arms,
where are wrought the swords, spears, and other weapons
intended for the army, with the exception of fire-arms, which
mostly come from abroad.
In old times, as is well known, the sword-blades of
Toledo were held in great estimation, and were transmitted as
merchandise throughout Christendom. The present manufactory,
or fabrica, as it is called, is a handsome modern edifice,
situated without the wall of the city, on a plain contiguous to
the river, with which it communicates by a small canal. It is
said that the water and the sand of the Tagus are essential for
the proper tempering of the swords. I asked some of the
principal workmen whether, at the present day, they could
manufacture weapons of equal value to those of former days, and
whether the secret had been lost.
"Ca!" said they, "the swords of Toledo were never so good
as those which we are daily making. It is ridiculous enough to
see strangers coming here to purchase old swords, the greater
part of which are mere rubbish, and never made at Toledo, yet
for such they will give a large price, whilst they would grudge
two dollars for this jewel, which was made but yesterday";
thereupon putting into my hand a middle-sized rapier. "Your
worship," said they, "seems to have a strong arm, prove its
temper against the stone wall; - thrust boldly and fear not."
I HAVE a strong arm and dashed the point with my utmost
force against the solid granite: my arm was numbed to the
shoulder from the violence of the concussion, and continued so
for nearly a week, but the sword appeared not to be at all
blunted, or to have suffered in any respect.
"A better sword than that," said an ancient workman, a
native of Old Castile, "never transfixed Moor out yonder on the
During my stay at Toledo, I lodged at the Posada de los
Caballeros, which signifies the inn of the gentlemen, which
name, in some respects, is certainly well deserved, for there
are many palaces far less magnificent than this inn of Toledo.
By magnificence it must not be supposed, however, that I allude
to costliness of furniture, or any kind of luxury which
pervaded the culinary department. The rooms were as empty as
those of Spanish inns generally are, and the fare, though good
in its kind, was plain and homely; but I have seldom seen a
more imposing edifice. It was of immense size, consisting of
several stories, and was built something in the Moorish taste,
with a quadrangular court in the centre, beneath which was an
immense algibe or tank, serving as a reservoir for rain-water.
All the houses in Toledo are supplied with tanks of this
description, into which the waters in the rainy season flow
from the roofs through pipes. No other water is used for
drinking; that of the Tagus, not being considered salubrious,
is only used for purposes of cleanliness, being conveyed up the
steep narrow streets on donkeys in large stone jars. The city,
standing on a rocky mountain, has no wells. As for the rainwater,
it deposits a sediment in the tank, and becomes very
sweet and potable: these tanks are cleaned out: twice every
year. During the summer, at which time the heat in this part
of Spain is intense, the families spend the greater part of the
day in the courts, which are overhung with a linen awning, the
heat of the atmosphere being tempered by the coolness arising
from the tank below, which answers the same purpose as the
fountain in the southern provinces of Spain.
I spent about a week at Toledo, during which time several
copies of the Testament were disposed of in the shop of my
friend the bookseller. Several priests took it up from the
mostrador on which it lay, examined it, but made no remarks;
none of them purchased it. My friend showed me through his
house, almost every apartment of which was lined from roof to
floor with books, many of which were highly valuable. He told
me that he possessed the best collection in Spain of the
ancient literature of the country. He was, however, less proud
of his library than his stud; finding that I had some
acquaintance with horses, his liking for me and also his
respect considerably increased. "All I have," said he, "is at
your service; I see you are a man after my own heart. When you
are disposed to ride out upon the sagra, you have only to apply
to my groom, who will forthwith saddle you my famed Cordovese
entero; I purchased him from the stables at Aranjuez, when the
royal stud was broken up. There is but one other man to whom I
would lend him, and that man is Flinter."
At Toledo I met with a forlorn Gypsy woman and her son, a
lad of about fourteen years of age; she was not a native of the
place, but had come from La Mancha, her husband having been
cast into the prison of Toledo on a charge of mule-stealing:
the crime had been proved against him, and in a few days he was
to depart for Malaga, with the chain of galley slaves. He was
quite destitute of money, and his wife was now in Toledo,
earning a few cuartos by telling fortunes about the streets, to
support him in prison. She told me that it was her intention
to follow him to Malaga, where she hoped to be able to effect
his escape. What an instance of conjugal affection; and yet
the affection here was all on one side, as is too frequently
the case. Her husband was a worthless scoundrel, who had
previously abandoned her and betaken himself to Madrid, where
he had long lived in concubinage with the notorious she-thug
Aurora, at whose instigation he had committed the robbery for
which he was now held in durance. "Should your husband escape
from Malaga, in what direction will he fly?" I demanded.
"To the chim of the Corahai, my son; to the land of the
Moors, to be a soldier of the Moorish king."
"And what will become of yourself?" I inquired; "think
you that he will take you with him?"
"He will leave me on the shore, my son, and as soon as he
has crossed the black pawnee, he will forget me and never think
of me more."
"And knowing his ingratitude, why should you give
yourself so much trouble about him?"
"Am I not his romi, my son, and am I not bound by the law
of the Cales to assist him to the last? Should he return from
the land of the Corahai at the end of a hundred years, and
should find me alive, and should say, I am hungry, little wife,
go forth and steal or tell bahi, I must do it, for he is the
rom and I the romi."
On my return to Madrid, I found the despacho still open:
various Testaments had been sold, though the number was by no
means considerable: the work had to labour under great
disadvantage, from the ignorance of the people at large with
respect to its tenor and contents. It was no wonder, then,
that little interest was felt respecting it. To call, however,
public attention to the despacho, I printed three thousand
advertisements on paper, yellow, blue, and crimson, with which
I almost covered the sides of the streets, and besides this,
inserted an account of it in all the journals and periodicals;
the consequence was, that in a short time almost every person
in Madrid was aware of its existence. Such exertions in London
or Paris would probably have ensured the sale of the entire
edition of the New Testament within a few days. In Madrid,
however, the result was not quite so flattering; for after the
establishment had been open an entire month, the copies
disposed of barely amounted to one hundred.
These proceedings of mine did not fail to cause a great
sensation: the priests and their partisans were teeming with
malice and fury, which, for some time, however, they thought
proper to exhibit only in words; it being their opinion that I
was favoured by the ambassador and by the British government;
but there was no attempt, however atrocious, that might not be
expected from their malignity; and were it right and seemly for
me, the most insignificant of worms, to make such a comparison,
I might say, like Paul at Ephesus, I was fighting with wild
On the last day of the year 1837, my servant Antonio thus
addressed me: "Mon maitre, it is necessary that I leave you for
a time. Ever since we have returned from our journeys, I have
become unsettled and dissatisfied with the house, the
furniture, and with Donna Marequita. I have therefore engaged
myself as cook in the house of the Count of -, where I am to
receive four dollars per month less than what your worship
gives me. I am fond of change, though it be for the worse.
Adieu, mon maitre, may you be as well served as you deserve;
should you chance, however, to have any pressing need DE MES
SOINS, send for me without hesitation, and I will at once give
my new master warning, if I am still with him, and come to
Thus was I deprived for a time of the services of
Antonio. I continued for a few days without a domestic, at the
end of which time I hired a certain Cantabrian or Basque, a
native of the village of Hernani, in Guipuscoa, who was
strongly recommended to me.
Euscarra - Basque not Irish - Sanskrit and Tartar Dialects -
A Vowel Language - Popular Poetry - The Basques - Their Persons -
Basque Women.
I now entered upon the year 1838, perhaps the most
eventful of all those which I passed in Spain. The despacho
still continued open, with a somewhat increasing sale. Having
at this time little of particular moment with which to occupy
myself, I committed to the press two works, which for some time
past had been in the course of preparation. These were the
Gospel of St. Luke in the Spanish Gypsy and the Euscarra
With respect to the Gypsy Gospel I have little to say,
having already spoken of it in a former work (THE ZINCALI): it
was translated by myself, together with the greater part of the
New Testament, during my long intercourse with the Spanish
Gypsies. Concerning the Luke in Euscarra, however, it will be
as well to be more particular, and to avail myself of the
present opportunity to say a few words concerning the language
in which it was written, and the people for whom it was
The Euscarra, then, is the proper term for a certain
speech or language, supposed to have been at one time prevalent
throughout Spain, but which is at present confined to certain
districts, both on the French and Spanish side of the Pyrenees,
which are laved by the waters of the Cantabrian Gulf or Bay of
Biscay. This language is commonly known as the Basque or
Biscayan, which words are mere modifications of the word
Euscarra, the consonant B having been prefixed for the sake of
euphony. Much that is vague, erroneous, and hypothetical, has
been said and written concerning this tongue. The Basques
assert that it was not only the original language of Spain, but
also of the world, and that from it all other languages are
derived; but the Basques are a very ignorant people, and know
nothing of the philosophy of language. Very little importance,
therefore, need be attached to any opinion of theirs on such a
subject. A few amongst them, however, who affect some degree
of learning, contend, that it is neither more nor less than a
dialect of the Phoenician, and, that the Basques are the
descendants of a Phoenician colony, established at the foot of
the Pyrenees at a very remote period. Of this theory, or
rather conjecture, as it is unsubstantiated by the slightest
proof, it is needless to take further notice than to observe
that, provided the Phoenician language, as many of the TRULY
LEARNED have supposed and almost proved, was a dialect of the
Hebrew, or closely allied to it, it were as unreasonable to
suppose that the Basque is derived from it, as that the
Kamschatdale and Cherokee are dialects of the Greek or Latin.
There is, however, another opinion with respect to the
Basque which deserves more especial notice, from the
circumstance of its being extensively entertained amongst the
literati of various countries of Europe, more especially
England. I allude to the Celtic origin of this tongue, and its
close connexion with the most cultivated of all the Celtic
dialects, the Irish. People who pretend to be well conversant
with the subject, have even gone so far as to assert, that so
little difference exists between the Basque and Irish tongues,
that individuals of the two nations, when they meet together,
find no difficulty in understanding each other, with no other
means of communication than their respective languages; in a
word, that there is scarcely a greater difference between the
two than between the French and the Spanish Basque. Such
similarity, however, though so strongly insisted upon, by no
means exists in fact, and perhaps in the whole of Europe it
would be difficult to discover two languages which exhibit
fewer points of mutual resemblance than the Basque and Irish.
The Irish, like most other European languages, is a
dialect of the Sanskrit, a REMOTE one, as may well be supposed.
The corner of the western world in which it is still preserved
being, of all countries in Europe, the most distant from the
proper home of the parent tongue. It is still, however, a
dialect of that venerable and most original speech, not so
closely resembling it, it is true, as the English, Danish, and
those which belong to what is called the Gothic family, and far
less than those of the Sclavonian; for, the nearer we approach
to the East, in equal degree the assimilation of languages to
this parent stock becomes more clear and distinct; but still a
dialect, agreeing with the Sanskrit in structure, in the
arrangement of words, and in many instances in the words
themselves, which, however modified, may still be recognized as
Sanskrit. But what is the Basque, and to what family does it
properly pertain?
To two great Asiatic languages, all the dialects spoken
at present in Europe may be traced. These two, if not now
spoken, still exist in books, and are, moreover, the languages
of two of the principal religions of the East. I allude to the
Tibetian and Sanskrit - the sacred languages of the followers
of Buddh and Bramah. These tongues, though they possess many
words in common, which is easily to be accounted for by their
close proximity, are properly distinct, being widely different
in structure. In what this difference consists, I have neither
time nor inclination to state; suffice it to say that the
Celtic, Gothic, and Sclavonian dialects in Europe belong to the
Sanskrit family, even as in the East the Persian, and to a less
degree the Arabic, Hebrew, etc.; whilst to the Tibetian or
Tartar family in Asia pertain the Mandchou and Mongolian, the
Calmuc and the Turkish of the Caspian Sea; and in Europe, the
Hungarian and the Basque PARTIALLY.
Indeed this latter language is a strange anomaly, so that
upon the whole it is less difficult to say what it is not, than
what it is. It abounds with Sanskrit words to such a degree
that its surface seems strewn with them. Yet would it be wrong
to term it a Sanskrit dialect, for in the collocation of these
words the Tartar form is most decidedly observable. A
considerable proportion of Tartar words is likewise to be found
in this language, though perhaps not in equal number to the
terms derived from the Sanskrit. Of these Tartar etymons I
shall at present content myself with citing one, though, if
necessary, it were easy to adduce hundreds. This word is
JAUNA, or as it is pronounced, KHAUNA, a word in constant use
amongst the Basques, and which is the KHAN of the Mongols and
Mandchous, and of the same signification - Lord.
Having closely examined the subject in all its various
bearings, and having weighed what is to be said on one side
against what is to be advanced on the other, I am inclined to
rank the Basque rather amongst the Tartar than the Sanskrit
dialects. Whoever should have an opportunity of comparing the
enunciation of the Basques and Tartars would, from that alone,
even if he understood them not, come to the conclusion that
their respective languages were formed on the same principles.
In both occur periods seemingly interminable, during which the
voice gradually ascends to a climax, and then gradually sinks
I have spoken of the surprising number of Sanskrit words
contained in the Basque language, specimens of some of which
will be found below. It is remarkable enough, that in the
greater part of the derivatives from the Sanskrit the Basque
has dropped the initial consonant, so that the word commences
with a vowel. The Basque, indeed, may be said to be almost a
vowel language; the number of consonants employed being
comparatively few: perhaps eight words out of ten commence and
terminate with a vowel, owing to which it is a language to the
highest degree soft and melodious, far excelling in this
respect any other language in Europe, not even excepting the
Here follow a few specimens of Basque words with the
Sanskrit roots in juxtaposition:-
Ardoa Sandhana WINE.
Arratsa Ratri NIGHT.
Beguia Akshi EYE.
Choria Chiria BIRD.
Chacurra Cucura DOG.
Erreguina Rani QUEEN.
Icusi Iksha TO SEE.
Iru Treya THREE.
Jan (Khan) Khana TO EAT.
Uria Puri CITY.
Urruti Dura FAR.
Such is the tongue in which I brought out Saint Luke's
Gospel at Madrid. The translation I procured originally from a
Basque physician of the name of Oteiza. Previous to being sent
to the press, the version had lain nearly two years in my
possession, during which time, and particularly during my
travels, I lost no opportunity of submitting it to the
inspection of those who were considered competent scholars in
the Euscarra. It did not entirely please me; but it was in
vain to seek for a better translation.
In my early youth I had obtained a slight acquaintance
with the Euscarra, as it exists in books. This acquaintance I
considerably increased during my stay in Spain; and by
occasionally mingling with Basques, was enabled to understand
the spoken language to a certain extent, and even to speak it,
but always with considerable hesitation; for to speak Basque,
even tolerably, it is necessary to have lived in the country
from a very early period. So great are the difficulties
attending it, and so strange are its peculiarities, that it is
very rare to find a foreigner possessed of any considerable
skill in the oral language, and the Spaniards consider the
obstacles so formidable that they have a proverb to the effect
that Satan once lived seven years in Biscay, and then departed,
finding himself unable either to understand or to make himself
There are few inducements to the study of this language.
In the first place, the acquisition of it is by no means
necessary even to those who reside in the countries where it is
spoken; the Spanish being generally understood throughout the
Basque provinces pertaining to Spain, and the French in those
pertaining to France.
In the second place, neither dialect is in possession of
any peculiar literature capable of repaying the toil of the
student. There are various books extant both in French and
Spanish Basque, but these consist entirely of Popish devotion,
and are for the most part translations.
It will, perhaps, here be asked whether the Basques do
not possess popular poetry, like most other nations, however
small and inconsiderable. They have certainly no lack of
songs, ballads, and stanzas, but of a character by no means
entitled to the appellation of poetry. I have noted down from
recitation a considerable portion of what they call their
poetry, but the only tolerable specimen of verse which I ever
discovered amongst them was the following stanza, which, after
all, is not entitled to very high praise:-
"Ichasoa urac aundi,
Estu ondoric agueri -
Pasaco ninsaqueni andic
Maitea icustea gatic."
I.E. "The waters of the sea are vast, and their bottom
cannot be seen: but over them I will pass, that I may behold my
The Basques are a singing rather than a poetical people.
Notwithstanding the facility with which their tongue lends
itself to the composition of verse, they have never produced
among them a poet with the slightest pretensions to reputation;
but their voices are singularly sweet, and they are known to
excel in musical composition. It is the opinion of a certain
author, the Abbe D'Ilharce, who has written about them, that
they derived the name CANTABRI, by which they were known to the
Romans, from KHANTOR-BER, signifying sweet singers. They
possess much music of their own, some of which is said to be
exceedingly ancient. Of this music specimens were published at
Donostian (San Sebastian) in the year 1826, edited by a certain
Juan Ignacio Iztueta. These consist of wild and thrilling
marches, to the sound of which it is believed that the ancient
Basques were in the habit of descending from their mountains to
combat with the Romans, and subsequently with the Moors.
Whilst listening to them it is easy to suppose oneself in the
close vicinity of some desperate encounter. We seem to hear
the charge of cavalry on the sounding plain, the clash of
swords, and the rushing of men down the gorges of hills. This
music is accompanied with words, but such words! Nothing can
be imagined more stupid, commonplace, and uninteresting. So
far from being martial, they relate to every-day incidents and
appear to have no connexion whatever with the music. They are
evidently of modern date.
In person the Basques are of the middle size, and are
active and athletic. They are in general of fair complexions
and handsome features, and in appearance bear no slight
resemblance to certain Tartar tribes of the Caucasus. Their
bravery is unquestionable, and they are considered as the best
soldiery belonging to the Spanish crown: a fact highly
corroborative of the supposition that they are of Tartar
origin, the Tartars being of all races the most warlike, and
amongst whom the most remarkable conquerors have been produced.
They are faithful and honest, and capable of much disinterested
attachment; kind and hospitable to strangers; all of which
points are far from being at variance with the Tartan
character. But they are somewhat dull, and their capacities
are by no means of a high order, and in these respects they
again resemble the Tartars.
No people on earth are prouder than the Basques, but
theirs is a kind of republican pride. They have no nobility
amongst them, and no one will acknowledge a superior. The
poorest carman is as proud as the governor of Tolosa. "He is
more powerful than I," he will say, "but I am of as good blood;
perhaps hereafter I may become a governor myself." They abhor
servitude, at least out of their own country; and though
circumstances frequently oblige them to seek masters, it is
very rare to find them filling the places of common domestics;
they are stewards, secretaries, accountants, etc. True it is,
that it was my own fortune to obtain a Basque domestic; but
then he always treated me more as an equal than a master, would
sit down in my presence, give me his advice unasked, and enter
into conversation with me at all times and occasions. Did I
check him! Certainly not! For in that case he would have left
me, and a more faithful creature I never knew. His fate was a
mournful one, as will appear in the sequel.
I have said that the Basques abhor servitude, and are
rarely to be found serving as domestics amongst the Spaniards.
I allude, however, merely to the males. The females, on the
contrary, have no objection whatever to enter houses as
servants. Women, indeed, amongst the Basques are not looked
upon with all the esteem which they deserve, and are considered
as fitted for little else than to perform menial offices, even
as in the East, where they are viewed in the light of servants
and slaves. The Basque females differ widely in character from
the men; they are quick and vivacious, and have in general much
more talent. They are famous for their skill as cooks, and in
most respectable houses of Madrid a Biscayan female may be
found in the kitchen, queen supreme of the culinary department.
The Prohibition - Gospel Persecuted - Charge of Sorcery - Ofalia.
About the middle of January a swoop was made upon me by
my enemies, in the shape of a peremptory prohibition from the
political governor of Madrid to sell any more New Testaments.
This measure by no means took me by surprise, as I had for some
time previously been expecting something of the kind, on
account of the political sentiments of the ministers then in
power. I forthwith paid a visit to Sir George Villiers,
informing him of what had occurred. He promised to do all he
could to cause the prohibition to be withdrawn. Unfortunately
at this time he had not much influence, having opposed with all
his might the entrance of the moderado ministry to power, and
the nomination of Ofalia to the presidency of the cabinet. I,
however, never lost confidence in the Almighty, in whose cause
I was engaged.
Matters were going on very well before this check. The
demand for Testaments was becoming considerable, so much so,
that the clergy were alarmed, and this step was the
consequence. But they had previously recourse to another, well
worthy of them, they attempted to act upon my fears. One of
the ruffians of Madrid, called Manolos, came up to me one
night, in a dark street, and told me that unless I discontinued
selling my "Jewish books," I should have a knife "NAILED IN MY
HEART"; but I told him to go home, say his prayers, and tell
his employers that I pitied them; whereupon he turned away with
an oath. A few days after, I received an order to send two
copies of the Testament to the office of the political
governor, with which I complied, and in less than twenty-four
hours an alguazil arrived at the shop with a notice prohibiting
the further sale of the work.
One circumstance rejoiced me. Singular as it may appear,
the authorities took no measures to cause my little despacho to
be closed, and I received no prohibition respecting the sale of
any work but the New Testament, and as the Gospel of Saint
Luke, in Romany and Basque, would within a short time be ready
for delivery, I hoped to carry on matters in a small way till
better times should arrive.
I was advised to erase from the shop windows the words
"Despacho of the British and Foreign Bible Society." This,
however, I refused to do. Those words had tended very much to
call attention, which was my grand object. Had I attempted to
conduct things in an underhand manner, I should, at the time of
which I am speaking, scarcely have sold thirty copies in
Madrid, instead of nearly three hundred. People who know me
not, may be disposed to call me rash; but I am far from being
so, as I never adopt a venturous course when any other is open
to me. I am not, however, a person to be terrified by any
danger, when I see that braving it is the only way to achieve
an object.
The booksellers were unwilling to sell my work; I was
compelled to establish a shop of my own. Every shop in Madrid
has a name. What name could I give it but the true one? I was
not ashamed of my cause or my colours. I hoisted them, and
fought beneath them not without success.
The priestly party in Madrid, in the meantime, spared no
effort to vilify me. They started a publication called THE
FRIEND OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, in which a stupid but furious
attack upon me appeared, which I, however, treated with the
contempt it deserved. But not satisfied with this, they
endeavoured to incite the populace against me, by telling them
that I was a sorcerer, and a companion of Gypsies and witches,
and their agents even called me so in the streets. That I was
an associate of Gypsies and fortune-tellers I do not deny. Why
should I be ashamed of their company when my Master mingled
with publicans and thieves? Many of the Gypsy race came
frequently to visit me; received instruction, and heard parts
of the Gospel read to them in their own language, and when they
were hungry and faint, I gave them to eat and drink. This
might be deemed sorcery in Spain, but I am not without hope
that it will be otherwise estimated in England, and had I
perished at this period, I think there are some who would have
been disposed to acknowledge that I had not lived altogether in
vain (always as an instrument of the "Most Highest"), having
been permitted to turn one of the most valuable books of God
into the speech of the most degraded of his creatures.
In the meantime I endeavoured to enter into negotiations
with the ministry, for the purpose of obtaining permission to
sell the New Testament in Madrid, and the nullification of the
prohibition. I experienced, however, great opposition, which I
was unable to surmount. Several of the ultra-popish bishops,
then resident in Madrid, had denounced the Bible, the Bible
Society, and myself. Nevertheless, notwithstanding their
powerful and united efforts, they were unable to effect their
principal object, namely, my expulsion from Madrid and Spain.
The Count Ofalia, notwithstanding he had permitted himself to
be made the instrument, to a certain extent, of these people,
would not consent to be pushed to such a length. Throughout
this affair, I cannot find words sufficiently strong to do
justice to the zeal and interest which Sir George Villiers
displayed in the cause of the Testament. He had various
interviews with Ofalia on the subject, and in these he
expressed to him his sense of the injustice and tyranny which
had been practised in this instance towards his countryman.
Ofalia had been moved by these remonstrances, and more
than once promised to do all in his power to oblige Sir George;
but then the bishops again beset him, and playing upon his
political if not religious fears, prevented him from acting a
just, honest, and honourable part. At the desire of Sir George
Villiers, I drew up a brief account of the Bible Society, and
an exposition of its views, especially in respect to Spain,
which he presented with his own hands to the Count. I shall
not trouble the reader by inserting this memorial, but content
myself with observing, that I made no attempts to flatter and
cajole, but expressed myself honestly and frankly, as a
Christian ought. Ofalia, on reading it, said, "What a pity
that this is a Protestant society, and that all its members are
not Catholics."
A few days subsequently, to my great astonishment, he
sent a message to me by a friend, requesting that I would send
him a copy of my Gypsy Gospel. I may as well here state, that
the fame of this work, though not yet published, had already
spread like wildfire through Madrid, and every person was
passionately eager to possess a copy; indeed, several grandees
of Spain sent messages with similar requests, all of which I
however denied. I instantly resolved to take advantage of this
overture on the part of Count Ofalia, and to call on him
myself. I therefore caused a copy of the Gospel to be
handsomely bound, and proceeding to the palace, was instantly
admitted to him. He was a dusky, diminutive person, between
fifty and sixty years of age, with false hair and teeth, but
exceedingly gentlemanly manners. He received me with great
affability, and thanked me for my present; but on my proceeding
to speak of the New Testament, he told me that the subject was
surrounded with difficulties, and that the great body of the
clergy had taken up the matter against me; he conjured me,
however, to be patient and peaceable, in which case he said he
would endeavour to devise some plan to satisfy me. Amongst
other things, he observed that the bishops hated a sectarian
more than an Atheist. Whereupon I replied, that, like the
Pharisees of old, they cared more for the gold of the temple
than the temple itself. Throughout the whole of our interview
he evidently laboured under great fear, and was continually

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