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Title: Rosinante to the Road Again
Author: Dos Passos, John, 1896-1970
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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ROSINANTE TO THE ROAD AGAIN

by

JOHN DOS PASSOS

                     *      *      *      *      *

Books by John Dos Passos

_NOVELS:_
    _Three Soldiers_
    _One Man's Initiation_

_ESSAYS:_
    _Rosinante to the Road Again_

_POEMS:_
    _A Pushcart at the Curb_
        (_In Preparation_)

                     *      *      *      *      *


ROSINANTE TO THE ROAD AGAIN

by

JOHN DOS PASSOS



George H. Doran Company
Publishers New York

Copyright, 1922,
By George H. Doran Company

Printed in the United States of America



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

   I: _A Gesture and a Quest_,                             9
  II: _The Donkey Boy_,                                   24
 III: _The Baker of Almorox_,                             47
  IV: _Talk by the Road_,                                 71
   V: _A Novelist of Revolution_,                         80
  VI: _Talk by the Road_,                                101
 VII: _Cordova No Longer of the Caliphs_,                104
VIII: _Talk by the Road_,                                115
  IX: _An Inverted Midas_,                               120
   X: _Talk by the Road_,                                133
  XI: _Antonio Machado; Poet of Castile_,                140
 XII: _A Catalan Poet_,                                  159
XIII: _Talk by the Road_,                                176
 XIV: _Benavente's Madrid_,                              182
  XV: _Talk by the Road_,                                196
 XVI: _A Funeral in Madrid_,                             202
XVII: _Toledo_,                                          230



ROSINANTE TO THE ROAD AGAIN



_I: A Gesture and a Quest_


Telemachus had wandered so far in search of his father he had quite
forgotten what he was looking for. He sat on a yellow plush bench in
the café El Oro del Rhin, Plaza Santa Ana, Madrid, swabbing up with a
bit of bread the last smudges of brown sauce off a plate of which the
edges were piled with the dismembered skeleton of a pigeon. Opposite
his plate was a similar plate his companion had already polished.
Telemachus put the last piece of bread into his mouth, drank down a
glass of beer at one spasmodic gulp, sighed, leaned across the table
and said:

"I wonder why I'm here."

"Why anywhere else than here?" said Lyaeus, a young man with hollow
cheeks and slow-moving hands, about whose mouth a faint pained smile
was continually hovering, and he too drank down his beer.

At the end of a perspective of white marble tables, faces thrust
forward over yellow plush cushions under twining veils of tobacco
smoke, four German women on a little dais were playing _Tannhauser_.
Smells of beer, sawdust, shrimps, roast pigeon.

"Do you know Jorge Manrique? That's one reason, Tel," the other man
continued slowly. With one hand he gestured to the waiter for more
beer, the other he waved across his face as if to brush away the music;
then he recited, pronouncing the words haltingly:

    'Recuerde el alma dormida,
    Avive el seso y despierte
    Contemplando
    Cómo se pasa la vida,
    Cómo se viene la muerte
    Tan callando:
    Cuán presto se va el placer,
    Cómo después de acordado
    Da dolor,
    Cómo a nuestro parecer
    Cualquier tiempo pasado
    Fué mejor.'

"It's always death," said Telemachus, "but we must go on."

It had been raining. Lights rippled red and orange and yellow and green
on the clean paving-stones. A cold wind off the Sierra shrilled through
clattering streets. As they walked, the other man was telling how this
Castilian nobleman, courtier, man-at-arms, had shut himself up when his
father, the Master of Santiago, died and had written this poem, created
this tremendous rhythm of death sweeping like a wind over the world. He
had never written anything else. They thought of him in the court of
his great dust-colored mansion at Ocaña, where the broad eaves were
full of a cooing of pigeons and the wide halls had dark rafters painted
with arabesques in vermilion, in a suit of black velvet, writing at a
table under a lemon tree. Down the sun-scarred street, in the cathedral
that was building in those days, full of a smell of scaffolding and
stone dust, there must have stood a tremendous catafalque where lay
with his arms around him the Master of Santiago; in the carved seats of
the choirs the stout canons intoned an endless growling litany; at the
sacristy door, the flare of the candles flashing occasionally on the
jewels of his mitre, the bishop fingered his crosier restlessly, asking
his favorite choir-boy from time to time why Don Jorge had not arrived.
And messengers must have come running to Don Jorge, telling him the
service was on the point of beginning, and he must have waved them away
with a grave gesture of a long white hand, while in his mind the
distant sound of chanting, the jingle of the silver bit of his roan
horse stamping nervously where he was tied to a twined Moorish column,
memories of cavalcades filing with braying of trumpets and flutter of
crimson damask into conquered towns, of court ladies dancing, and the
noise of pigeons in the eaves, drew together like strings plucked in
succession on a guitar into a great wave of rhythm in which his life
was sucked away into this one poem in praise of death.

    Nuestras vidas son los ríos
    Que van a dar en la mar,
    Que es el morir....

Telemachus was saying the words over softly to himself as they went
into the theatre. The orchestra was playing a Sevillana; as they found
their seats they caught glimpses beyond people's heads and shoulders of
a huge woman with a comb that pushed the tip of her mantilla a foot and
a half above her head, dancing with ponderous dignity. Her dress was
pink flounced with lace; under it the bulge of breasts and belly and
three chins quaked with every thump of her tiny heels on the stage. As
they sat down she retreated bowing like a full-rigged ship in a squall.
The curtain fell, the theatre became very still; next was Pastora.

Strumming of a guitar, whirring fast, dry like locusts in a hedge on a
summer day. Pauses that catch your blood and freeze it suddenly still
like the rustling of a branch in silent woods at night. A gipsy in a
red sash is playing, slouched into a cheap cane chair, behind him a
faded crimson curtain. Off stage heels beaten on the floor catch up the
rhythm with tentative interest, drowsily; then suddenly added, sharp
click of fingers snapped in time; the rhythm slows, hovers like a bee
over a clover flower. A little taut sound of air sucked in suddenly
goes down the rows of seats. With faintest tapping of heels, faintest
snapping of the fingers of a brown hand held over her head, erect,
wrapped tight in yellow shawl where the embroidered flowers make a
splotch of maroon over one breast, a flecking of green and purple over
shoulders and thighs, Pastora Imperio comes across the stage, quietly,
unhurriedly.

In the mind of Telemachus the words return:

    Cómo se viene la muerte
    Tan callando.

Her face is brown, with a pointed chin; her eyebrows that nearly meet
over her nose rise in a flattened "A" towards the fervid black gleam of
her hair; her lips are pursed in a half-smile as if she were stifling a
secret. She walks round the stage slowly, one hand at her waist, the
shawl tight over her elbow, her thighs lithe and restless, a panther in
a cage. At the back of the stage she turns suddenly, advances; the
snapping of her fingers gets loud, insistent; a thrill whirrs through
the guitar like a covey of partridges scared in a field. Red heels tap
threateningly.

    Decidme: la hermosura,
    La gentil frescura y tez
    De la cara
    El color y la blancura,
    Cuando viene la viejez
    Cuál se para?

She is right at the footlights; her face, brows drawn together into a
frown, has gone into shadow; the shawl flames, the maroon flower over
her breast glows like a coal. The guitar is silent, her fingers go on
snapping at intervals with dreadful foreboding. Then she draws herself
up with a deep breath, the muscles of her belly go taut under the tight
silk wrinkles of the shawl, and she is off again, light, joyful,
turning indulgent glances towards the audience, as a nurse might look
in the eyes of a child she has unintentionally frightened with a too
dreadful fairy story.

The rhythm of the guitar has changed again; her shawl is loose about
her, the long fringe flutters; she walks with slow steps, in pomp, a
ship decked out for a festival, a queen in plumes and brocade....

    ¿Qué se hicieron las damas,
    Sus tocados, sus vestidos,
    Sus olores?
    ¿Qué se hicieron las llamas
    De los fuegos encendidos
    De amadores?

And she has gone, and the gipsy guitar-player is scratching his neck
with a hand the color of tobacco, while the guitar rests against his
legs. He shows all his teeth in a world-engulfing yawn.

When they came out of the theatre, the streets were dry and the stars
blinked in the cold wind above the houses. At the curb old women sold
chestnuts and little ragged boys shouted the newspapers.

"And now do you wonder, Tel, why you are here?"

They went into a café and mechanically ordered beer. The seats were red
plush this time and much worn. All about them groups of whiskered men
leaning over tables, astride chairs, talking.

"It's the gesture that's so overpowering; don't you feel it in your
arms? Something sudden and tremendously muscular."

"When Belmonte turned his back suddenly on the bull and walked away
dragging the red cloak on the ground behind him I felt it," said
Lyaeus.

"That gesture, a yellow flame against maroon and purple cadences ... an
instant swagger of defiance in the midst of a litany to death the
all-powerful. That is Spain.... Castile at any rate."

"Is 'swagger' the right word?"

"Find a better."

"For the gesture a medieval knight made when he threw his mailed glove
at his enemy's feet or a rose in his lady's window, that a mule-driver
makes when he tosses off a glass of aguardiente, that Pastora Imperio
makes dancing.... Word! Rubbish!" And Lyaeus burst out laughing. He
laughed deep in his throat with his head thrown back.

Telemachus was inclined to be offended.

"Did you notice how extraordinarily near she kept to the rhythm of
Jorge Manrique?" he asked coldly.

"Of course. Of course," shouted Lyaeus, still laughing.

The waiter came with two mugs of beer.

"Take it away," shouted Lyaeus. "Who ordered beer? Bring something
strong, champagne. Drink the beer yourself."

The waiter was scrawny and yellow, with bilious eyes, but he could not
resist the laughter of Lyaeus. He made a pretense of drinking the beer.

Telemachus was now very angry. Though he had forgotten his quest and
the maxims of Penelope, there hovered in his mind a disquieting thought
of an eventual accounting for his actions before a dimly imagined group
of women with inquisitive eyes. This Lyaeus, he thought to himself, was
too free and easy. Then there came suddenly to his mind the dancer
standing tense as a caryatid before the footlights, her face in shadow,
her shawl flaming yellow; the strong modulations of her torso seemed
burned in his flesh. He drew a deep breath. His body tightened like a
catapult.

"Oh to recapture that gesture," he muttered. The vague inquisitorial
woman-figures had sunk fathoms deep in his mind.

Lyaeus handed him a shallow tinkling glass.

"There are all gestures," he said.

Outside the plate-glass window a countryman passed singing. His voice
dwelt on a deep trembling note, rose high, faltered, skidded down the
scale, then rose suddenly, frighteningly like a skyrocket, into a new
burst of singing.

"There it is again," Telemachus cried. He jumped up and ran out on the
street. The broad pavement was empty. A bitter wind shrilled among
arc-lights white like dead eyes.

"Idiot," Lyaeus said between gusts of laughter when Telemachus sat down
again. "Idiot Tel. Here you'll find it." And despite Telemachus's
protestations he filled up the glasses. A great change had come over
Lyaeus. His face looked fuller and flushed. His lips were moist and
very red. There was an occasional crisp curl in the black hair about
his temples.

And so they sat drinking a long while.

At last Telemachus got unsteadily to his feet.

"I can't help it.... I must catch that gesture, formulate it, do it. It
is tremendously, inconceivably, unendingly important to me."

"Now you know why you're here," said Lyaeus quietly.

"Why are you here?"

"To drink," said Lyaeus.

"Let's go."

"Why?"

"To catch that gesture, Lyaeus," said Telemachus in an over-solemn
voice.

"Like a comedy professor with a butterfly-net," roared Lyaeus. His
laughter so filled the café that people at far-away tables smiled
without knowing it.

"It's burned into my blood. It must be formulated, made permanent."

"Killed," said Lyaeus with sudden seriousness; "better drink it with
your wine."

Silent they strode down an arcaded street. Cupolas, voluted baroque
façades, a square tower, the bulge of a market building, tile roofs,
chimneypots, ate into the star-dusted sky to the right and left of
them, until in a great gust of wind they came out on an empty square,
where were few gas-lamps; in front of them was a heavy arch full of
stars, and Orion sprawling above it. Under the arch a pile of rags
asked for alms whiningly. The jingle of money was crisp in the cold
air.

"Where does this road go?"

"Toledo," said the beggar, and got to his feet. He was an old man,
bearded, evil-smelling.

"Thank you.... We have just seen Pastora," said Lyaeus jauntily.

"Ah, Pastora!... The last of the great dancers," said the beggar, and
for some reason he crossed himself.

The road was frosty and crunched silkily underfoot.

Lyaeus walked along shouting lines from the poem of Jorge Manrique.

    'Cómo se pasa la vida
    Cómo se viene la muerte
    Tan callando:
    Cuán presto se va el placer
    Cómo después de acordado
    Da dolor,
    Cómo a nuestro parecer
    Cualquier tiempo pasado
    Fué mejor.'

"I bet you, Tel, they have good wine in Toledo."

The road hunched over a hill. They turned and saw Madrid cut out of
darkness against the starlight. Before them sown plains, gulches full
of mist, and the tremulous lights on many carts that jogged along, each
behind three jingling slow mules. A cock crowed. All at once a voice
burst suddenly in swaggering tremolo out of the darkness of the road
beneath them, rising, rising, then fading off, then flaring up hotly
like a red scarf waved on a windy day, like the swoop of a hawk, like a
rocket intruding among the stars.

"Butterfly net, you old fool!" Lyaeus's laughter volleyed across the
frozen fields.

Telemachus answered in a low voice:

"Let's walk faster."

He walked with his eyes on the road. He could see in the darkness,
Pastora, wrapped in the yellow shawl with the splotch of maroon-colored
embroidery moulding one breast, stand tremulous with foreboding before
the footlights, suddenly draw in her breath, and turn with a great
exultant gesture back into the rhythm of her dance. Only the victorious
culminating instant of the gesture was blurred to him. He walked with
long strides along the crackling road, his muscles aching for memory of
it.



_II: The Donkey Boy_

    _Where the husbandman's toil and strife_
    _Little varies to strife and toil:_
    _But the milky kernel of life,_
    _With her numbered: corn, wine, fruit, oil!_


The path zigzagged down through the olive trees between thin chortling
glitter of irrigation ditches that occasionally widened into green
pools, reed-fringed, froggy, about which bristled scrub oleanders.
Through the shimmer of olive leaves all about I could see the great
ruddy heave of the mountains streaked with the emerald of
millet-fields, and above, snowy shoulders against a vault of indigo,
patches of wood cut out hard as metal in the streaming noon light.
Tinkle of a donkey-bell below me, then at the turn of a path the
donkey's hindquarters, mauve-grey, neatly clipped in a pattern of
diamonds and lozenges, and a tail meditatively swishing as he picked
his way among the stones, the head as yet hidden by the osier baskets
of the pack. At the next turn I skipped ahead of the donkey and walked
with the _arriero_, a dark boy in tight blue pants and short grey tunic
cut to the waist, who had the strong cheek-bones, hawk nose and slender
hips of an Arab, who spoke an aspirated Andalusian that sounded like
Arabic.

We greeted each other cordially as travellers do in mountainous places
where the paths are narrow. We talked about the weather and the wind
and the sugar mills at Motril and women and travel and the vintage,
struggling all the while like drowning men to understand each other's
lingo. When it came out that I was an American and had been in the war,
he became suddenly interested; of course, I was a deserter, he said,
clever to get away. There'd been two deserters in his town a year ago,
_Alemanes_; perhaps friends of mine. It was pointed out that I and
the _Alemanes_ had been at different ends of the gunbarrel. He
laughed. What did that matter? Then he said several times, "Qué burro
la guerra, qué burro la guerra." I remonstrated, pointing to the donkey
that was following us with dainty steps, looking at us with a quizzical
air from under his long eyelashes. Could anything be wiser than a
burro?

He laughed again, twitching back his full lips to show the brilliance
of tightly serried teeth, stopped in his tracks, and turned to look at
the mountains. He swept a long brown hand across them. "Look," he said,
"up there is the Alpujarras, the last refuge of the kings of the Moors;
there are bandits up there sometimes. You have come to the right place;
here we are free men."

The donkey scuttled past us with a derisive glance out of the corner of
an eye and started skipping from side to side of the path, cropping
here and there a bit of dry grass. We followed, the _arriero_ telling
how his brother would have been conscripted if the family had not got
together a thousand pesetas to buy him out. That was no life for a man.
He spat on a red stone. They'd never catch him, he was sure of that.
The army was no life for a man.

In the bottom of the valley was a wide stream, which we forded after
some dispute as to who should ride the donkey, the donkey all the while
wrinkling his nose with disgust at the coldness of the speeding water
and the sliminess of the stones. When we came out on the broad moraine
of pebbles the other side of the stream we met a lean blackish man with
yellow horse-teeth, who was much excited when he heard I was an
American.

"America is the world of the future," he cried and gave me such a slap
on the back I nearly tumbled off the donkey on whose rump I was at that
moment astride.

"_En América no se divierte_," muttered the _arriero_, kicking his feet
that were cold from the ford into the burning saffron dust of the road.

The donkey ran ahead kicking at pebbles, bucking, trying to shake off
the big pear-shaped baskets of osier he had either side of his pack
saddle, delighted with smooth dryness after so much water and such
tenuous stony roads. The three of us followed arguing, the sunlight
beating wings of white flame about us.

"In America there is freedom," said the blackish man, "there are no
rural guards; roadmenders work eight hours and wear silk shirts and
earn ... un dineral." The blackish man stopped, quite out of breath
from his grappling with infinity. Then he went on: "Your children are
educated free, no priests, and at forty every man-jack owns an
automobile."

"_Ca_," said the _arriero_.

"_Sí, hombre_," said the blackish man.

For a long while the _arriero_ walked along in silence, watching his
toes bury themselves in dust at each step. Then he burst out, spacing
his words with conviction: "_Ca, en América no se hase na' a que
trabahar y de'cansar...._ Not on your life, in America they don't do
anything except work and rest so's to get ready to work again. That's
no life for a man. People don't enjoy themselves there. An old sailor
from Malaga who used to fish for sponges told me, and he knew. It's not
gold people need, but bread and wine and ... life. They don't do
anything there except work and rest so they'll be ready to work
again...."

Two thoughts jostled in my mind as he spoke; I seemed to see red-faced
gentlemen in knee breeches, dog's-ear wigs askew over broad foreheads,
reading out loud with unction the phrases, "inalienable rights ...
pursuit of happiness," and to hear the cadence out of Meredith's _The
Day of the Daughter of Hades_:

    Where the husbandman's toil and strife
    Little varies to strife and toil:
    But the milky kernel of life,
    With her numbered: corn, wine, fruit, oil!

The donkey stopped in front of a little wineshop under a trellis where
dusty gourd-leaves shut out the blue and gold dazzle of sun and sky.

"He wants to say, 'Have a little drink, gentlemen,'" said the blackish
man.

In the greenish shadow of the wineshop a smell of anise and a sound of
water dripping. When he had smacked his lips over a small cup of thick
yellow wine he pointed at the _arriero_. "He says people don't enjoy
life in America."

"But in America people are very rich," shouted the barkeeper, a
beet-faced man whose huge girth was bound in a red cotton sash, and he
made a gesture suggestive of coins, rubbing thumb and forefinger
together.

Everybody roared derision at the _arriero_. But he persisted and went
out shaking his head and muttering "That's no life for a man."

As we left the wineshop where the blackish man was painting with broad
strokes the legend of the West, the _arriero_ explained to me almost
tearfully that he had not meant to speak ill of my country, but to
explain why he did not want to emigrate. While he was speaking we
passed a cartload of yellow grapes that drenched us in jingle of
mulebells and in dizzying sweetness of bubbling ferment. A sombre man
with beetling brows strode at the mule's head; in the cart, brown feet
firmly planted in the steaming slush of grapes, flushed face tilted
towards the ferocious white sun, a small child with a black curly pate
rode in triumph, shouting, teeth flashing as if to bite into the sun.

"What you mean is," said I to the _arriero_, "that this is the life for
a man."

He tossed his head back in a laugh of approval.

"Something that's neither work nor getting ready to work?"

"That's it," he answered, and cried, "_arrh he_" to the donkey.

We hastened our steps. My sweaty shirt bellied suddenly in the back as
a cool wind frisked about us at the corner of the road.

"Ah, it smells of the sea," said the _arriero_. "We'll see the sea from
the next hill."

That night as I stumbled out of the inn door in Motril, overfull of
food and drink, the full moon bulged through the arches of the cupola
of the pink and saffron church. Everywhere steel-green shadows striped
with tangible moonlight. As I sat beside my knapsack in the plaza,
groping for a thought in the bewildering dazzle of the night, three
disconnected mules, egged on by a hoarse shouting, jingled out of the
shadow. When they stopped with a jerk in the full moon-glare beside the
fountain, it became evident that they were attached to a coach, a
spidery coach tilted forward as if it were perpetually going down hill;
from inside smothered voices like the strangled clucking of fowls being
shipped to market in a coop.

On the driver's seat one's feet were on the shafts and one had a view
of every rag and shoelace the harness was patched with. Creaking,
groaning, with wabbling of wheels, grumble of inside passengers,
cracking of whip and long strings of oaths from the driver, the coach
lurched out of town and across a fat plain full of gurgle of irrigation
ditches, shrilling of toads, falsetto rustle of broad leaves of the
sugar cane. Occasionally the gleam of the soaring moon on banana leaves
and a broad silver path on the sea. Landwards the hills like piles of
ash in the moonlight, and far away a cloudy inkling of mountains.

Beside me, mouth open, shouting rich pedigrees at the leading mule,
Cordovan hat on the back of his head, from under which sprouted a lock
of black hair that hung between his eyes over his nose and made him
look like a goblin, the driver bounced and squirmed and kicked at the
flanks of the mules that roamed drunkenly from side to side of the
uneven road. Down into a gulch, across a shingle, up over a plank
bridge, then down again into the bed of the river I had forded that
morning with my friend the _arriero_, along a beach with fishing boats
and little huts where the fishermen slept; then barking of dogs,
another bridge and we roared and crackled up a steep village street to
come to a stop suddenly, catastrophically, in front of a tavern in the
main square.

"We are late," said the goblin driver, turning to me suddenly, "I have
not slept for four nights, dancing, every night dancing."

He sucked the air in through his teeth and stretched out his arms and
legs in the moonlight. "Ah, women ... women," he added philosophically.
"Have you a cigarette?"

"_Ah, la juventud_," said the old man who had brought the mailbag. He
looked up at us scratching his head. "It's to enjoy. A moment, a
_momentito_, and it's gone! Old men work in the day time, but young men
work at night.... _Ay de mí_," and he burst into a peal of laughter.

And as if some one were whispering them, the words of Jorge Manrique
sifted out of the night:

    ¿Qué se hizo el Rey Don Juan?
    Los infantes de Aragón
    ¿Qué se hicieron?
    Qué fué de tanto galán,
    Qué fué de tanta invención,
    Cómo truxeron?

Everybody went into the tavern, from which came a sound of singing and
of clapping in time, and as hearty a tinkle of glasses and banging on
tables as might have come out of the _Mermaid_ in the days of the
Virgin Queen. Outside the moon soared, soared brilliant, a greenish
blotch on it like the time-stain on a chased silver bowl on an altar.
The broken lion's head of the fountain dribbled one tinkling stream of
quicksilver. On the seawind came smells of rotting garbage and thyme
burning in hearths and jessamine flowers. Down the street geraniums in
a window smouldered in the moonlight; in the dark above them the merest
contour of a face, once the gleam of two eyes; opposite against the
white wall standing very quiet a man looking up with dilated
nostrils--_el amor_.

As the coach jangled its lumbering unsteady way out of town, our ears
still throbbed with the rhythm of the tavern, of hard brown hands
clapped in time, of heels thumping on oak floors. From the last house
of the village a man hallooed. With its noise of cupboards of china
overturned the coach crashed to stillness. A wiry, white-faced man with
a little waxed moustache like the springs of a mousetrap climbed on the
front seat, while burly people heaved quantities of corded trunks on
behind.

"How late, two hours late," the man spluttered, jerking his checked cap
from side to side. "Since this morning nothing to eat but two boiled
eggs.... Think of that. _¡Qué incultura! ¡Qué pueblo indecente!_ All
day only two boiled eggs."

"I had business in Motril, Don Antonio," said the goblin driver
grinning.

"Business!" cried Don Antonio, laughing squeakily, "and after all what
a night!"

Something impelled me to tell Don Antonio the story of King Mycerinus
of Egypt that Herodotus tells, how hearing from an oracle he would only
live ten years, the king called for torches and would not sleep, so
crammed twenty years' living into ten. The goblin driver listened in
intervals between his hoarse investigations of the private life of the
grandmother of the leading mule.

Don Antonio slapped his thigh and lit a cigarette and cried, "In
Andalusia we all do that, don't we, Paco?"

"Yes, sir," said the goblin driver, nodding his head vigorously.

"That is _lo flamenco_," cried Don Antonio. "The life of Andalusia is
_lo flamenco_."

The moon has begun to lose foothold in the black slippery zenith. We
are hurtling along a road at the top of a cliff; below the sea full of
unexpected glitters, lace-edged, swishing like the silk dress of a
dancer. The goblin driver rolls from side to side asleep. The check cap
is down over the little man's face so that not even his moustaches are
to be seen. All at once the leading mule, taken with suicidal mania,
makes a sidewise leap for the cliff-edge. Crumbling of gravel, snap of
traces, shouts, uproar inside. Some one has managed to yank the mule
back on her hind quarters. In the sea below the shadow of a coach
totters at the edge of the cliff's shadow.

"_Hija de puta_," cries the goblin driver, jumping to the ground.

Don Antonio awakes with a grunt and begins to explain querulously that
he has had nothing to eat all day but two boiled eggs. The teeth of the
goblin driver flash white flame as he hangs wreath upon wreath of
profanity about the trembling, tugging mules. With a terrific rattling
jerk the coach sways to the safe side of the road. From inside angry
heads are poked out like the heads of hens out of an overturned coop.
Don Antonio turns to me and shouts in tones of triumph: "_¿Qué
flamenco, eh?_"

When we got to Almuñecar Don Antonio, the goblin driver, and I sat at a
little table outside the empty Casino. A waiter appeared from somewhere
with wine and coffee and tough purple ham and stale bread and
cigarettes. Over our heads dusty palm-fronds trembled in occasional
faint gusts off the sea. The rings on Don Antonio's thin fingers
glistened in the light of the one tired electric light bulb that shone
among palpitating mottoes above us as he explained to me the
significance of _lo flamenco_.

The tough swaggering gesture, the quavering song well sung, the couplet
neatly capped, the back turned to the charging bull, the mantilla
draped with exquisite provocativeness; all that was _lo flamenco_.
"On this coast, _señor inglés_, we don't work much, we are dirty and
uninstructed, but by God we live. Why the poor people of the towns,
d'you know what they do in summer? They hire a fig-tree and go and live
under it with their dogs and their cats and their babies, and they eat
the figs as they ripen and drink the cold water from the mountains,
and man-alive they are happy. They fear no one and they are dependent
on no one; when they are young they make love and sing to the guitar,
and when they are old they tell stories and bring up their children.
You have travelled much; I have travelled little--Madrid, never
further,--but I swear to you that nowhere in the world are the women
lovelier or is the land richer or the cookery more perfect than in this
vega of Almuñecar.... If only the wine weren't quite so heavy...."

"Then you don't want to go to America?"

"_¡Hombre por dios!_ Sing us a song, Paco.... He's a Galician, you
see."

The goblin driver grinned and threw back his head.

"Go to the end of the world, you'll find a Gallego," he said. Then he
drank down his wine, rubbed his mouth on the back of his hand, and
started droningly:

    'Si quieres qu'el carro cante
    mójale y dejel'en río
    que después de buen moja'o
    canta com'un silbi'o.'

    (If you want a cart to sing, wet it and soak it in the river, for
    when it's well soaked it'll sing like a locust.)

"Hola," cried Don Antonio, "go on."

    'A mí me gusta el blanco,
    ¡viva lo blanco! ¡muera lo negro!
    porque el negro es muy triste.
    Yo soy alegre. Yo no lo quiero.'

    (I like white; hooray for white, death to black. Because black is
    very sad, and I am happy, I don't like it.)

"That's it," cried Don Antonio excitedly. "You people from the north,
English, Americans, Germans, whatnot, you like black. You like to be
sad. I don't."

"'Yo soy alegre. Yo no lo quiero.'"

The moon had sunk into the west, flushed and swollen. The east was
beginning to bleach before the oncoming sun. Birds started chirping
above our heads. I left them, but as I lay in bed, I could hear the
hoarse voice of the goblin driver roaring out:

    'A mí me gusta el blanco,
    ¡viva lo blanco! ¡muera lo negro!'

At Nerja in an arbor of purple ipomoeas on a red jutting cliff over the
beach where brown children were bathing, there was talk again of _lo
flamenco_.

"In Spain," my friend Don Diego was saying, "we live from the belly and
loins, or else from the head and heart: between Don Quixote the mystic
and Sancho Panza the sensualist there is no middle ground. The lowest
Panza is _lo flamenco_."

"But you do live."

"In dirt, disease, lack of education, bestiality.... Half of us are
always dying of excess of food or the lack of it."

"What do you want?"

"Education, organization, energy, the modern world."

I told him what the donkey-boy had said of America on the road down
from the Alpujarras, that in America they did nothing but work and rest
so as to be able to work again. And America was the modern world.

And _lo flamenco_ is neither work nor getting ready to work.

That evening San Miguel went out to fetch the Virgin of Sorrows from a
roadside oratory and brought her back into town in procession with
candles and skyrockets and much chanting, and as the swaying
cone-shaped figure carried on the shoulders of six sweating men stood
poised at the entrance to the plaza where all the girls wore jessamine
flowers in the blackness of their hair, all waved their hats and cried,
"_¡Viva la Vírgen de las Angustias!_" And the Virgin and San Miguel
both had to bow their heads to get in the church door, and the people
followed them into the church crying "_¡Viva!_" so that the old vaults
shivered in the tremulous candlelight and the shouting. Some people
cried for water, as rain was about due and everything was very dry, and
when they came out of the church they saw a thin cloud like a mantilla
of white lace over the moon, so they went home happy.

Wherever they went through the narrow well-swept streets, lit by an
occasional path of orange light from a window, the women left behind
them long trails of fragrance from the jessamine flowers in their hair.

Don Diego and I walked a long while on the seashore talking of America
and the Virgin and a certain soup called _ajo blanco_ and Don Quixote
and _lo flamenco_. We were trying to decide what was the peculiar
quality of the life of the people in that rich plain (_vega_ they
call it) between the mountains of the sea. Walking about the country
elevated on the small grass-grown levees of irrigation ditches, the
owners of the fields we crossed used, simply because we were strangers,
to offer us a glass of wine or a slice of watermelon. I had explained
to my friend that in his modern world of America these same people
would come out after us with shotguns loaded with rock salt. He
answered that even so, the old order was changing, and that as there
was nothing else but to follow the procession of industrialism it
behooved Spaniards to see that their country forged ahead instead of
being, as heretofore, dragged at the tail of the parade.

"And do you think it's leading anywhere, this endless complicating of
life?"

"Of course," he answered.

"Where?"

"Where does anything lead? At least it leads further than _lo
flamenco_."

"But couldn't the point be to make the way significant?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Work," he said.

We had come to a little nook in the cliffs where fishing boats were
drawn up with folded wings like ducks asleep. We climbed a winding path
up the cliff. Pebbles scuttled underfoot; our hands were torn by thorny
aromatic shrubs. Then we came out in a glen that cut far into the
mountains, full of the laughter of falling water and the rustle of
sappy foliage. Seven stilted arches of an aqueduct showed white through
the canebrakes inland. Fragrances thronged about us; the smell of dry
thyme-grown uplands, of rich wet fields, of goats, and jessamine and
heliotrope, and of water cold from the snowfields running fast in
ditches. Somewhere far off a donkey was braying. Then, as the last
groan of the donkey faded, a man's voice rose suddenly out of the dark
fields, soaring, yearning on taut throat-cords, then slipped down
through notes, like a small boat sliding sideways down a wave, then
unrolled a great slow scroll of rhythm on the night and ceased suddenly
in an upward cadence as a guttering candle flares to extinction.

"Something that's neither work nor getting ready to work," and I
thought of the _arriero_ on whose donkey I had forded the stream on the
way down from the Alpujarras, and his saying: "_Ca, en América no se
hose na'a que trabahar y dé'cansar._"

I had left him at his home village, a little cluster of red and yellow
roofs about a fat tower the Moors had built and a gaunt church that
hunched by itself in a square of trampled dust. We had rested awhile
before going into town, under a fig tree, while he had put white canvas
shoes on his lean brown feet. The broad leaves had rustled in the wind,
and the smell of the fruit that hung purple bursting to crimson against
the intense sky had been like warm stroking velvet all about us. And
the _arriero_ had discoursed on the merits of his donkey and the joys
of going from town to town with merchandise, up into the mountains for
chestnuts and firewood, down to the sea for fish, to Malaga for
tinware, to Motril for sugar from the refineries. Nights of dancing and
guitar-playing at vintage-time, _fiestas_ of the Virgin, where older,
realer gods were worshipped than Jehovah and the dolorous Mother of the
pale Christ, the _toros_, blood and embroidered silks aflame in the
sunlight, words whispered through barred windows at night, long days of
travel on stony roads in the mountains.... And I had lain back with my
eyes closed and the hum of little fig-bees in my ears, and wished that
my life were his life. After a while we had jumped to our feet and I
had shouldered my knapsack with its books and pencils and silly pads of
paper and trudged off up an unshaded road, and had thought with a sort
of bitter merriment of that prig Christian and his damned burden.

"Something that is neither work nor getting ready to work, to make the
road so significant that one needs no destination, that is _lo
flamenco_," said I to Don Diego, as we stood in the glen looking at the
seven white arches of the aqueduct.

He nodded unconvinced.



_III: The Baker of Almorox_


I

The _señores_ were from Madrid? Indeed! The man's voice was full of an
awe of great distances. He was the village baker of Almorox, where we
had gone on a Sunday excursion from Madrid; and we were standing on the
scrubbed tile floor of his house, ceremoniously receiving wine and figs
from his wife. The father of the friend who accompanied me had once
lived in the same village as the baker's father, and bought bread of
him; hence the entertainment. This baker of Almorox was a tall man,
with a soft moustache very black against his ash-pale face, who stood
with his large head thrust far forward. He was smiling with pleasure at
the presence of strangers in his house, while in a tone of shy
deprecating courtesy he asked after my friend's family. Don Fernando
and Doña Ana and the Señorita were well? And little Carlos? Carlos was
no longer little, answered my friend, and Doña Ana was dead.

The baker's wife had stood in the shadow looking from one face to
another with a sort of wondering pleasure as we talked, but at this she
came forward suddenly into the pale greenish-gold light that streamed
through the door, holding a dark wine-bottle before her. There were
tears in her eyes. No; she had never known any of them, she explained
hastily--she had never been away from Almorox--but she had heard so
much of their kindness and was sorry.... It was terrible to lose a
father or a mother. The tall baker shifted his feet uneasily,
embarrassed by the sadness that seemed slipping over his guests, and
suggested that we walk up the hill to the Hermitage; he would show the
way.

"But your work?" we asked. Ah, it did not matter. Strangers did not
come every day to Almorox. He strode out of the door, wrapping a woolen
muffler about his bare strongly moulded throat, and we followed him up
the devious street of whitewashed houses that gave us glimpses through
wide doors of dark tiled rooms with great black rafters overhead and
courtyards where chickens pecked at the manure lodged between smooth
worn flagstones. Still between white-washed walls we struck out of the
village into the deep black mud of the high road, and at last burst
suddenly into the open country, where patches of sprouting grass shone
vivid green against the gray and russet of broad rolling lands. At the
top of the first hill stood the Hermitage--a small whitewashed chapel
with a square three-storied tower; over the door was a relief of the
Virgin, crowned, in worn lichened stone. The interior was very plain
with a single heavily gilt altar, over which was a painted statue,
stiff but full of a certain erect disdainful grace--again of the
Virgin. The figure was dressed in a long lace gown, full of frills and
ruffles, grey with dust and age.

"_La Vírgen de la Cima_," said the baker, pointing reverently with his
thumb, after he had bent his knee before the altar. And as I glanced at
the image a sudden resemblance struck me: the gown gave the Virgin a
curiously conical look that somehow made me think of that conical black
stone, the Bona Dea, that the Romans brought from Asia Minor. Here
again was a good goddess, a bountiful one, more mother than virgin,
despite her prudish frills.... But the man was ushering us out.

"And there is no finer view than this in all Spain." With a broad sweep
of his arm he took in the village below, with its waves of roofs that
merged from green to maroon and deep crimson, broken suddenly by the
open square in front of the church; and the gray towering church,
scowling with strong lights and shadows on buttresses and pointed
windows; and the brown fields faintly sheened with green, which gave
place to the deep maroon of the turned earth of vineyards, and the
shining silver where the wind ruffled the olive-orchards; and beyond,
the rolling hills that grew gradually flatter until they sank into the
yellowish plain of Castile. As he made the gesture his fingers were
stretched wide as if to grasp all this land he was showing. His flaccid
cheeks were flushed as he turned to us; but we should see it in May, he
was saying, in May when the wheat was thick in the fields, and there
were flowers on the hills. Then the lands were beautiful and rich, in
May. And he went on to tell us of the local feast, and the great
processions of the Virgin. This year there were to be four days of the
_toros_. So many bullfights were unusual in such a small village, he
assured us. But they were rich in Almorox; the wine was the best in
Castile. Four days of _toros_, he said again; and all the people of the
country around would come to the _fiestas_, and there would be a great
pilgrimage to this Hermitage of the Virgin.... As he talked in his slow
deferential way, a little conscious of his volubility before strangers,
there began to grow in my mind a picture of his view of the world.

First came his family, the wife whose body lay beside his at night, who
bore him children, the old withered parents who sat in the sun at his
door, his memories of them when they had had strong rounded limbs like
his, and of their parents sitting old and withered in the sun. Then his
work, the heat of his ovens, the smell of bread cooking, the faces of
neighbors who came to buy; and, outside, in the dim penumbra of things
half real, of travellers' tales, lay Madrid, where the king lived and
where politicians wrote in the newspapers,--and _Francia_--and all that
was not Almorox.... In him I seemed to see the generations wax and
wane, like the years, strung on the thread of labor, of unending sweat
and strain of muscles against the earth. It was all so mellow, so
strangely aloof from the modern world of feverish change, this life of
the peasants of Almorox. Everywhere roots striking into the infinite
past. For before the Revolution, before the Moors, before the Romans,
before the dark furtive traders, the Phoenicians, they were much the
same, these Iberian village communities. Far away things changed,
cities were founded, hard roads built, armies marched and fought and
passed away; but in Almorox the foundations of life remained unchanged
up to the present. New names and new languages had come. The Virgin had
taken over the festivals and rituals of the old earth goddesses, and
the deep mystical fervor of devotion. But always remained the love for
the place, the strong anarchistic reliance on the individual man, the
walking, consciously or not, of the way beaten by generations of men
who had tilled and loved and lain in the cherishing sun with no feeling
of a reality outside of themselves, outside of the bare encompassing
hills of their commune, except the God which was the synthesis of their
souls and of their lives.

Here lies the strength and the weakness of Spain. This intense
individualism, born of a history whose fundamentals lie in isolated
village communities--_pueblos_, as the Spaniards call them--over the
changeless face of which, like grass over a field, events spring and
mature and die, is the basic fact of Spanish life. No revolution has
been strong enough to shake it. Invasion after invasion, of Goths, of
Moors, of Christian ideas, of the fads and convictions of the
Renaissance, have swept over the country, changing surface customs and
modes of thought and speech, only to be metamorphosed into keeping with
the changeless Iberian mind.

And predominant in the Iberian mind is the thought _La vida es sueño_:
"Life is a dream." Only the individual, or that part of life which is
in the firm grasp of the individual, is real. The supreme expression of
this lies in the two great figures that typify Spain for all time: Don
Quixote and Sancho Panza; Don Quixote, the individualist who believed
in the power of man's soul over all things, whose desire included the
whole world in himself; Sancho, the individualist to whom all the world
was food for his belly. On the one hand we have the ecstatic figures
for whom the power of the individual soul has no limits, in whose minds
the universe is but one man standing before his reflection, God. These
are the Loyolas, the Philip Seconds, the fervid ascetics like Juan de
la Cruz, the originals of the glowing tortured faces in the portraits
of El Greco. On the other hand are the jovial materialists like the
Archpriest of Hita, culminating in the frantic, mystical sensuality of
such an epic figure as Don Juan Tenorio. Through all Spanish history
and art the threads of these two complementary characters can be
traced, changing, combining, branching out, but ever in substance the
same. Of this warp and woof have all the strange patterns of Spanish
life been woven.


II

In trying to hammer some sort of unified impression out of the
scattered pictures of Spain in my mind, one of the first things I
realize is that there are many Spains. Indeed, every village hidden in
the folds of the great barren hills, or shadowed by its massive church
in the middle of one of the upland plains, every fertile _huerta_ of
the seacoast, is a Spain. Iberia exists, and the strong Iberian
characteristics; but Spain as a modern centralized nation is an
illusion, a very unfortunate one; for the present atrophy, the
desolating resultlessness of a century of revolution, may very well be
due in large measure to the artificial imposition of centralized
government on a land essentially centrifugal.

In the first place, there is the matter of language. Roughly, four
distinct languages are at present spoken in Spain: Castilian, the
language of Madrid and the central uplands, the official language,
spoken in the south in its Andalusian form; Gallego-Portuguese, spoken
on the west coast; Basque, which does not even share the Latin descent
of the others; and Catalan, a form of Provençal which, with its
dialect, Valencian, is spoken on the upper Mediterranean coast and in
the Balearic Isles. Of course, under the influence of rail
communication and a conscious effort to spread Castilian, the other
languages, with the exception of Portuguese and Catalan, have lost
vitality and died out in the larger towns; but the problem remains far
different from that of the Italian dialects, since the Spanish
languages have all, except Basque, a strong literary tradition.

Added to the variety of language, there is an immense variety of
topography in the different parts of Spain. The central plateaux,
dominant in modern history (history being taken to mean the births and
breedings of kings and queens and the doings of generals in armor)
probably approximate the warmer Russian steppes in climate and
vegetation. The west coast is in most respects a warmer and more
fertile Wales. The southern _huertas_ (arable river valleys) have
rather the aspect of Egypt. The east coast from Valencia up is a
continuation of the Mediterranean coast of France. It follows that, in
this country where an hour's train ride will take you from Siberian
snow into African desert, unity of population is hardly to be expected.

Here is probably the root of the tendency in Spanish art and thought to
emphasize the differences between things. In painting, where the mind
of a people is often more tangibly represented than anywhere else, we
find one supreme example. El Greco, almost the caricature in his art of
the Don Quixote type of mind, who, though a Greek by birth and a
Venetian by training, became more Spanish than the Spaniards during his
long life at Toledo, strove constantly to express the difference
between the world of flesh and the world of spirit, between the body
and the soul of man. More recently, the extreme characterization of
Goya's sketches and portraits, the intensifying of national types found
in Zuloaga and the other painters who have been exploiting with such
success the peculiarities--the picturesqueness--of Spanish faces and
landscapes, seem to spring from this powerful sense of the separateness
of things.

In another way you can express this constant attempt to differentiate
one individual from another as caricature. Spanish art is constantly
on the edge of caricature. Given the ebullient fertility of the
Spanish mind and its intense individualism, a constant slipping over
into the grotesque is inevitable. And so it comes to be that the
conscious or unconscious aim of their art is rather self-expression
than beauty. Their image of reality is sharp and clear, but distorted.
Burlesque and satire are never far away in their most serious moments.
Not even the calmest and best ordered of Spanish minds can resist a
tendency to excess of all sorts, to over-elaboration, to grotesquerie,
to deadening mannerism. All that is greatest in their art, indeed,
lies on the borderland of the extravagant, where sublime things skim
the thin ice of absurdity. The great epic, _Don Quixote_, such plays
as Calderon's _La Vida es Sueño_, such paintings as El Greco's
_Resurrección_ and Velasquez's dwarfs, such buildings as the Escorial
and the Alhambra--all among the universal masterpieces--are far indeed
from the middle term of reasonable beauty. Hence their supreme
strength. And for our generation, to which excess is a synonym for
beauty, is added argumentative significance to the long tradition of
Spanish art.

Another characteristic, springing from the same fervid abundance, that
links the Spanish tradition to ours of the present day is the strangely
impromptu character of much Spanish art production. The slightly
ridiculous proverb that genius consists of an infinite capacity for
taking pains is well controverted. The creative flow of Spanish artists
has always been so strong, so full of vitality, that there has been no
time for taking pains. Lope de Vega, with his two thousand-odd
plays--or was it twelve thousand?--is by no means an isolated instance.
Perhaps the strong sense of individual validity, which makes Spain the
most democratic country in Europe, sanctions the constant
improvisation, and accounts for the confident planlessness as common in
Spanish architecture as in Spanish political thought.

Here we meet the old stock characteristic, Spanish pride. This is a
very real thing, and is merely the external shell of the fundamental
trust in the individual and in nothing outside of him. Again El Greco
is an example. As his painting progressed, grew more and more personal,
he drew away from tangible reality, and, with all the dogmatic
conviction of one whose faith in his own reality can sweep away the
mountains of the visible world, expressed his own restless, almost
sensual, spirituality in forms that flickered like white flames toward
God. For the Spaniard, moreover, God is always, in essence, the
proudest sublimation of man's soul. The same spirit runs through the
preachers of the early church and the works of Santa Teresa, a disguise
of the frantic desire to express the self, the self, changeless and
eternal, at all costs. From this comes the hard cruelty that flares
forth luridly at times. A recent book by Miguel de Unamuno, _Del
Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida_, expresses this fierce clinging to
separateness from the universe by the phrase _el hambre de
inmortalidad_, the hunger of immortality. This is the core of the
individualism that lurks in all Spanish ideas, the conviction that only
the individual soul is real.


III

In the Spain of to-day these things are seen as through a glass,
darkly. Since the famous and much gloated-over entrance of Ferdinand
and Isabella into Granada, the history of Spain has been that of an
attempt to fit a square peg in a round hole. In the great flare of the
golden age, the age of ingots of Peru and of men of even greater worth,
the disease worked beneath the surface. Since then the conflict has
corroded into futility all the buoyant energies of the country. I mean
the persistent attempt to centralize in thought, in art, in government,
in religion, a nation whose every energy lies in the other direction.
The result has been a deadlock, and the ensuing rust and numbing of all
life and thought, so that a century of revolution seems to have brought
Spain no nearer a solution of its problems. At the present day, when
all is ripe for a new attempt to throw off the atrophy, a sort of
despairing inaction causes the Spaniards to remain under a government
of unbelievably corrupt and inefficient politicians. There seems no
solution to the problem of a nation in which the centralized power and
the separate communities work only to nullify each other.

Spaniards in face of their traditions are rather in the position of the
archæologists before the problem of Iberian sculpture. For near the
Cerro de los Santos, bare hill where from the ruins of a sanctuary has
been dug an endless series of native sculptures of men and women,
goddesses and gods, there lived a little watchmaker. The first statues
to be dug up were thought by the pious country people to be saints, and
saints they were, according to an earlier dispensation than that of
Rome; with the result that much Kudos accompanied the discovery of
those draped women with high head-dresses and fixed solemn eyes and
those fragmentary bull-necked men hewn roughly out of grey stone; they
were freed from the caked clay of two thousand years and reverently set
up in the churches. So probably the motives that started the watchmaker
on his career of sculpturing and falsifying were pious and reverential.

However it began, when it was discovered that the saints were mere
horrid heathen he-gods and she-gods and that the foreign gentlemen with
spectacles who appeared from all the ends of Europe to investigate,
would pay money for them, the watchmaker began to thrive as a mighty
man in his village and generation. He began to study archaeology and
the style of his cumbersome forged divinities improved. For a number of
years the statues from the Cerro de los Santos were swallowed whole by
all learned Europe. But the watchmaker's imagination began to get the
better of him; forms became more and more fantastic, Egyptian,
Assyrian, _art-nouveau_ influences began to be noted by the discerning,
until at last someone whispered forgery and all the scientists scuttled
to cover shouting that there had never been any native Iberian
sculpture after all.

The little watchmaker succumbed before his imagining of heathen gods
and died in a madhouse. To this day when you stand in the middle of the
room devoted to the Cerro de los Santos in the Madrid, and see the
statues of Iberian goddesses clustered about you in their high
head-dresses like those of dancers, you cannot tell which were made by
the watchmaker in 1880, and which by the image-maker of the
hill-sanctuary at a time when the first red-eyed ships of the
Phoenician traders were founding trading posts among the barbarians of
the coast of Valencia. And there they stand on their shelves, the real
and the false inextricably muddled, and stare at the enigma with stone
eyes.

So with the traditions: the tradition of Catholic Spain, the tradition
of military grandeur, the tradition of fighting the Moors, of
suspecting the foreigner, of hospitality, of truculence, of sobriety,
of chivalry, of Don Quixote and Tenorio.

The Spanish-American war, to the United States merely an opportunity
for a patriotic-capitalist demonstration of sanitary engineering,
heroism and canned-meat scandals, was to Spain the first whispered word
that many among the traditions were false. The young men of that time
called themselves the generation of ninety-eight. According to
temperament they rejected all or part of the museum of traditions they
had been taught to believe was the real Spain; each took up a separate
road in search of a Spain which should suit his yearnings for beauty,
gentleness, humaneness, or else vigor, force, modernity.

The problem of our day is whether Spaniards evolving locally,
anarchically, without centralization in anything but repression, will
work out new ways of life for themselves, or whether they will be drawn
into the festering tumult of a Europe where the system that is dying is
only strong enough to kill in its death-throes all new growth in which
there was hope for the future. The Pyrenees are high.


IV

It was after a lecture at an exhibition of Basque painters in Madrid,
where we had heard Valle-Melan, with eyes that burned out from under
shaggy grizzled eyebrows, denounce in bitter stinging irony what he
called the Europeanization of Spain. What they called progress, he had
said, was merely an aping of the stupid commercialism of modern Europe.
Better no education for the masses than education that would turn
healthy peasants into crafty putty-skinned merchants; better a Spain
swooning in her age-old apathy than a Spain awakened to the brutal
soulless trade-war of modern life.... I was walking with a young
student of philosophy I had met by chance across the noisy board of a
Spanish _pensión_, discussing the exhibition we had just seen as a
strangely meek setting for the fiery reactionary speech. I had remarked
on the very "primitive" look much of the work of these young Basque
painters had, shown by some in the almost affectionate technique, in
the dainty caressing brush-work, in others by that inadequacy of the
means at the painter's disposal to express his idea, which made of so
many of the pictures rather gloriously impressive failures. My friend
was insisting, however, that the primitiveness, rather than the
birth-pangs of a new view of the world, was nothing but "the last
affectation of an over-civilized tradition."

"Spain," he said, "is the most civilized country in Europe. The growth
of our civilization has never been interrupted by outside influence.
The Phoenicians, the Romans--Spain's influence on Rome was, I imagine,
fully as great as Rome's on Spain; think of the five Spanish
emperors;--the Goths, the Moors;--all incidents, absorbed by the
changeless Iberian spirit.... Even Spanish Christianity," he continued,
smiling, "is far more Spanish than it is Christian. Our life is one
vast ritual. Our religion is part of it, that is all. And so are the
bull-fights that so shock the English and Americans,--are they any more
brutal, though, than fox-hunting and prize-fights? And how full of
tradition are they, our _fiestas de toros_; their ceremony reaches
back to the hecatombs of the Homeric heroes, to the bull-worship of the
Cretans and of so many of the Mediterranean cults, to the Roman games.
Can civilization go farther than to ritualize death as we have done?
But our culture is too perfect, too stable. Life is choked by it."

We stood still a moment in the shade of a yellowed lime tree. My friend
had stopped talking and was looking with his usual bitter smile at a
group of little boys with brown, bare dusty legs who were intently
playing bull-fight with sticks for swords and a piece of newspaper for
the toreador's scarlet cape.

"It is you in America," he went on suddenly, "to whom the future
belongs; you are so vigorous and vulgar and uncultured. Life has become
once more the primal fight for bread. Of course the dollar is a
complicated form of the food the cave man killed for and slunk after,
and the means of combat are different, but it is as brutal. From that
crude animal brutality comes all the vigor of life. We have none of it;
we are too tired to have any thoughts; we have lived so much so long
ago that now we are content with the very simple things,--the warmth of
the sun and the colors of the hills and the flavor of bread and wine.
All the rest is automatic, ritual."

"But what about the strike?" I asked, referring to the one-day's
general strike that had just been carried out with fair success
throughout Spain, as a protest against the government's apathy
regarding the dangerous rise in the prices of food and fuel.

He shrugged his shoulders.

"That, and more," he said, "is new Spain, a prophecy, rather than a
fact. Old Spain is still all-powerful."

Later in the day I was walking through the main street of one of the
clustered adobe villages that lie in the folds of the Castilian plain
not far from Madrid. The lamps were just being lit in the little shops
where the people lived and worked and sold their goods, and women with
beautifully shaped pottery jars on their heads were coming home with
water from the well. Suddenly I came out on an open _plaza_ with
trees from which the last leaves were falling through the greenish
sunset light. The place was filled with the lilting music of a
grind-organ and with a crunch of steps on the gravel as people danced.
There were soldiers and servant-girls, and red-cheeked apprentice-boys
with their sweethearts, and respectable shop-keepers, and their wives
with mantillas over their gleaming black hair. All were dancing in and
out among the slim tree-trunks, and the air was noisy with laughter and
little cries of childlike unfeigned enjoyment. Here was the gospel of
Sancho Panza, I thought, the easy acceptance of life, the unashamed joy
in food and color and the softness of women's hair. But as I walked out
of the village across the harsh plain of Castile, grey-green and violet
under the deepening night, the memory came to me of the knight of the
sorrowful countenance, Don Quixote, blunderingly trying to remould the
world, pitifully sure of the power of his own ideal. And in these two
Spain seemed to be manifest. Far indeed were they from the restless
industrial world of joyless enforced labor and incessant goading war.
And I wondered to what purpose it would be, should Don Quixote again
saddle Rosinante, and what the good baker of Almorox would say to his
wife when he looked up from his kneading trough, holding out hands
white with dough, to see the knight errant ride by on his lean steed
upon a new quest.



_IV: Talk by the Road_


Telemachus and Lyaeus had walked all night. The sky to the east of them
was rosy when they came out of a village at the crest of a hill. Cocks
crowed behind stucco walls. The road dropped from their feet through an
avenue of pollarded poplars ghostly with frost. Far away into the brown
west stretched reach upon reach of lake-like glimmer; here and there a
few trees pushed jagged arms out of drowned lands. They stood still
breathing hard.

"It's the Tagus overflowed its banks," said Telemachus.

Lyaeus shook his head.

"It's mist."

They stood with thumping hearts on the hilltop looking over
inexplicable shimmering plains of mist hemmed by mountains jagged like
coals that as they looked began to smoulder with dawn. The light all
about was lemon yellow. The walls of the village behind them were
fervid primrose color splotched with shadows of sheer cobalt. Above the
houses uncurled green spirals of wood-smoke.

Lyaeus raised his hands above his head and shouted and ran like mad
down the hill. A little voice was whispering in Telemachus's ear that
he must save his strength, so he followed sedately.

When he caught up to Lyaeus they were walking among twining wraiths of
mist rose-shot from a rim of the sun that poked up behind hills of
bright madder purple. A sudden cold wind-gust whined across the plain,
making the mist writhe in a delirium of crumbling shapes. Ahead of them
casting gigantic blue shadows over the furrowed fields rode a man on a
donkey and a man on a horse. It was a grey sway-backed horse that
joggled in a little trot with much switching of a ragged tail; its
rider wore a curious peaked cap and sat straight and lean in the
saddle. Over one shoulder rested a long bamboo pole that in the
exaggerating sunlight cast a shadow like the shadow of a lance. The man
on the donkey was shaped like a dumpling and rode with his toes turned
out.

Telemachus and Lyaeus walked behind them a long while without catching
up, staring curiously after these two silent riders.

Eventually getting as far as the tails of the horse and the donkey,
they called out: "_Buenos días_."

There turned to greet them a red, round face, full of little lines like
an over-ripe tomato and a long bloodless face drawn into a point at the
chin by a grizzled beard.

"How early you are, gentlemen," said the tall man on the grey horse.
His voice was deep and sepulchral, with an occasional flutter of
tenderness like a glint of light in a black river.

"Late," said Lyaeus. "We come from Madrid on foot."

The dumpling man crossed himself.

"They are mad," he said to his companion.

"That," said the man on the grey horse, "is always the answer of
ignorance when confronted with the unusual. These gentlemen undoubtedly
have very good reason for doing as they do; and besides the night is
the time for long strides and deep thoughts, is it not, gentlemen? The
habit of vigil is one we sorely need in this distracted modern world.
If more men walked and thought the night through there would be less
miseries under the sun."

"But, such a cold night!" exclaimed the dumpling man.

"On colder nights than this I have seen children asleep in doorways in
the streets of Madrid."

"Is there much poverty in these parts? asked Telemachus stiffly,
wanting to show that he too had the social consciousness.

"There are people--thousands--who from the day they are born till the
day they die never have enough to eat."

"They have wine," said Lyaeus.

"One little cup on Sundays, and they are so starved that it makes them
as drunk as if it were a hogshead."

"I have heard," said Lyaeus, "that the sensations of starving are very
interesting--people have visions more vivid than life."

"One needs very few sensations to lead life humbly and beautifully,"
said the man on the grey horse in a gentle tone of reproof.

Lyaeus frowned.

"Perhaps," said the man on the grey horse turning towards Telemachus
his lean face, where under scraggly eyebrows glowered eyes of soft dark
green, "it is that I have brooded too much on the injustice done in the
world--all society one great wrong. Many years ago I should have set
out to right wrong--for no one but a man, an individual alone, can
right a wrong; organization merely substitutes one wrong for
another--but now ... I am too old. You see, I go fishing instead."

"Why, it's a fishing pole," cried Lyaeus. "When I first saw it I
thought it was a lance." And he let out his roaring laugh.

"And such trout," cried the dumpling man. "The trout there are in that
little stream above Illescas! That's why we got up so early, to fish
for trout."

"I like to see the dawn," said the man on the grey horse.

"Is that Illescas?" asked Telemachus, and pointed to a dun brown tower
topped by a cap of blue slate that stood guard over a cluster of roofs
ahead of them. Telemachus had a map torn from Baedecker in his pocket
that he had been peeping at secretly.

"That, gentlemen, is Illescas," said the man on the grey horse. "And if
you will allow me to offer you a cup of coffee, I shall be most
pleased. You must excuse me, for I never take anything before midday. I
am a recluse, have been for many years and rarely stir abroad. I do not
intend to return to the world unless I can bring something with me
worth having." A wistful smile twisted a little the corners of his
mouth.

"I could guzzle a hogshead of coffee accompanied by vast processions of
toasted rolls in columns of four," shouted Lyaeus.

"We are on our way to Toledo," Telemachus broke in, not wanting to give
the impression that food was their only thought.

"You will see the paintings of Dominico Theotocopoulos, the only one
who ever depicted the soul of Castile."

"This man," said Lyaeus, with a slap at Telemachus's shoulder, "is
looking for a gesture."

"The gesture of Castile."

The man on the grey horse rode along silently for some time. The sun
had already burnt up the hoar-frost along the sides of the road; only
an occasional streak remained glistening in the shadow of a ditch. A
few larks sang in the sky. Two men in brown corduroy with hoes on their
shoulders passed on their way to the fields.

"Who shall say what is the gesture of Castile?... I am from La Mancha
myself." The man on the grey horse started speaking gravely while with
a bony hand, very white, he stroked his beard. "Something cold and
haughty and aloof ... men concentrated, converging breathlessly on the
single flame of their spirit.... Torquemada, Loyola, Jorge Manrique,
Cortés, Santa Teresa.... Rapacity, cruelty, straightforwardness....
Every man's life a lonely ruthless quest."

Lyaeus broke in:

"Remember the infinite gentleness of the saints lowering the Conde de
Orgaz into the grave in the picture in San Tomás...."

"Ah, that is what I was trying to think of.... These generations, my
generation, my son's generation, are working to bury with infinite
tenderness the gorgeously dressed corpse of the old Spain....
Gentlemen, it is a little ridiculous to say so, but we have set out
once more with lance and helmet of knight-errantry to free the
enslaved, to right the wrongs of the oppressed."

They had come into town. In the high square tower church-bells were
ringing for morning mass. Down the broad main street scampered a flock
of goats herded by a lean man with fangs like a dog who strode along in
a snuff-colored cloak with a broad black felt hat on his head.

"How do you do, Don Alonso?" he cried; "Good luck to you, gentlemen."
And he swept the hat off his head in a wide curving gesture as might a
courtier of the Rey Don Juan.

The hot smell of the goats was all about them as they sat before the
café in the sun under a bare acacia tree, looking at the tightly
proportioned brick arcades of the mudéjar apse of the church opposite.
Don Alonso was in the café ordering; the dumpling-man had disappeared.
Telemachus got up on his numbed feet and stretched his legs. "Ouf," he
said, "I'm tired." Then he walked over to the grey horse that stood
with hanging head and drooping knees hitched to one of the acacias.

"I wonder what his name is." He stroked the horse's scrawny face. "Is
it Rosinante?"

The horse twitched his ears, straightened his back and legs and pulled
back black lips to show yellow teeth.

"Of course it's Rosinante!"

The horse's sides heaved. He threw back his head and whinnied shrilly,
exultantly.



_V: A Novelist of Revolution_


I

Much as G. B. S. refuses to be called an Englishman, Pío Baroja refuses
to be called a Spaniard. He is a Basque. Reluctantly he admits having
been born in San Sebastián, outpost of Cosmopolis on the mountainous
coast of Guipuzcoa, where a stern-featured race of mountaineers and
fishermen, whose prominent noses, high ruddy cheek-bones and square
jowls are gradually becoming known to the world through the paintings
of the Zubiaurre, clings to its ancient un-Aryan language and its
ancient song and customs with the hard-headedness of hill people the
world over.

From the first Spanish discoveries in America till the time of our own
New England clipper ships, the Basque coast was the backbone of Spanish
trade. The three provinces were the only ones which kept their
privileges and their municipal liberties all through the process of the
centralizing of the Spanish monarchy with cross and faggot, which
historians call the great period of Spain. The rocky inlets in the
mountains were full of shipyards that turned out privateers and
merchantmen manned by lanky broad-shouldered men with hard red-beaked
faces and huge hands coarsened by generations of straining on heavy
oars and halyards,--men who feared only God and the sea-spirits of
their strange mythology and were a law unto themselves, adventurers and
bigots.

It was not till the Nineteenth century that the Carlist wars and the
passing of sailing ships broke the prosperous independence of the
Basque provinces and threw them once for all into the main current of
Spanish life. Now papermills take the place of shipyards, and instead
of the great fleet that went off every year to fish the Newfoundland
and Iceland banks, a few steam trawlers harry the sardines in the Bay
of Biscay. The world war, too, did much to make Bilboa one of the
industrial centers of Spain, even restoring in some measure the ancient
prosperity of its shipping.

Pío Baroja spent his childhood on this rainy coast between green
mountains and green sea. There were old aunts who filled his ears up
with legends of former mercantile glory, with talk of sea captains and
slavers and shipwrecks. Born in the late seventies, Baroja left the
mist-filled inlets of Guipuzcoa to study medicine in Madrid, febrile
capital full of the artificial scurry of government, on the dry upland
plateau of New Castile. He even practiced, reluctantly enough, in a
town near Valencia, where he must have acquired his distaste for the
Mediterranean and the Latin genius, and, later, in his own province at
Cestons, where he boarded with the woman who baked the sacramental
wafers for the parish church, and, so he claims, felt the spirit of
racial solidarity glow within him for the first time. But he was too
timid in the face of pain and too sceptical of science as of everything
else to acquire the cocksure brutality of a country doctor. He gave up
medicine and returned to Madrid, where he became a baker. In
_Juventud-Egolatria_ ("Youth-Selfworship") a book of delightfully
shameless self-revelations, he says that he ran a bakery for six years
before starting to write. And he still runs a bakery.

You can see it any day, walking towards the Royal Theatre from the
great focus of Madrid life, the Puerta del Sol. It has a most enticing
window. On one side are hams and red sausages and purple sausages and
white sausages, some plump to the bursting like Rubens's "Graces,"
others as weazened and smoked as saints by Ribera. In the middle are
oblong plates with patés and sliced bologna and things in jelly; then
come ranks of cakes, creamcakes and fruitcakes, everything from obscene
jam-rolls to celestial cornucopias of white cream. Through the door you
see a counter with round loaves of bread on it, and a basketful of
brown rolls. If someone comes out a dense sweet smell of fresh bread
and pastry swirls about the sidewalk.

So, by meeting commerce squarely in its own field, he has freed himself
from any compromise with Mammon. While his bread remains sweet, his
novels may be as bitter as he likes.


II

The moon shines coldly out of an intense blue sky where a few stars
glisten faint as mica. Shadow fills half the street, etching a
silhouette of roofs and chimneypots and cornices on the cobblestones,
leaving the rest very white with moonlight. The façades of the houses,
with their blank windows, might be carved out of ice. In the dark of a
doorway a woman sits hunched under a brown shawl. Her head nods, but
still she jerks a tune that sways and dances through the silent street
out of the accordion on her lap. A little saucer for pennies is on the
step beside her. In the next doorway two guttersnipes are huddled
together asleep. The moonlight points out with mocking interest their
skinny dirt-crusted feet and legs stretched out over the icy pavement,
and the filthy rags that barely cover their bodies. Two men stumble out
of a wineshop arm in arm, poor men in corduroy, who walk along
unsteadily in their worn canvas shoes, making grandiloquent gestures of
pity, tearing down the cold hard façades with drunken generous phrases,
buoyed up by the warmth of the wine in their veins.

That is Baroja's world: dismal, ironic, the streets of towns where
industrial life sits heavy on the neck of a race as little adapted to
it as any in Europe. No one has ever described better the shaggy
badlands and cabbage-patches round the edges of a city, where the
debris of civilization piles up ramshackle suburbs in which starve and
scheme all manner of human detritus. Back lots where men and women live
fantastically in shelters patched out of rotten boards, of old tin cans
and bits of chairs and tables that have stood for years in bright
pleasant rooms. Grassy patches behind crumbling walls where on sunny
days starving children spread their fleshless limbs and run about in
the sun. Miserable wineshops where the wind whines through broken panes
to chill men with ever-empty stomachs who sit about gambling and
finding furious drunkenness in a sip of _aguardiente_. Courtyards
of barracks where painters who have not a cent in the world mix with
beggars and guttersnipes to cajole a little hot food out of
soft-hearted soldiers at mess-time. Convent doors where ragged lines
shiver for hours in the shrill wind that blows across the bare
Castilian plain waiting for the nuns to throw out bread for them to
fight over like dogs. And through it all moves the great crowd of the
outcast, sneak-thieves, burglars, beggars of every description,--rich
beggars and poor devils who have given up the struggle to
exist,--homeless children, prostitutes, people who live a half-honest
existence selling knicknacks, penniless students, inventors who while
away the time they are dying of starvation telling all they meet of the
riches they might have had; all who have failed on the daily treadmill
of bread-making, or who have never had a chance even to enjoy the
privilege of industrial slavery. Outside of Russia there has never been
a novelist so taken up with all that society and respectability reject.

Not that the interest in outcasts is anything new in Spanish
literature. Spain is the home of that type of novel which the
pigeonhole-makers have named picaresque. These loafers and wanderers of
Baroja's, like his artists and grotesque dreamers and fanatics, all are
the descendants of the people in the _Quijote_ and the _Novelas
Ejemplares_, of the rogues and bandits of the Lazarillo de Tormes, who
through _Gil Blas_ invaded France and England, where they rollicked
through the novel until Mrs. Grundy and George Eliot packed them off to
the reform school. But the rogues of the seventeenth century were jolly
rogues. They always had their tongues in their cheeks, and success
rewarded their ingenious audacities. The moulds of society had not
hardened as they have now; there was less pressure of hungry
generations. Or, more probably, pity had not come in to undermine the
foundations.

The corrosive of pity, which had attacked the steel girders of our
civilization even before the work of building was completed, has
brought about what Gilbert Murray in speaking of Greek thought calls
the failure of nerve. In the seventeenth century men still had the
courage of their egoism. The world was a bad job to be made the best
of, all hope lay in driving a good bargain with the conductors of life
everlasting. By the end of the nineteenth century the life everlasting
had grown cobwebby, the French Revolution had filled men up with
extravagant hopes of the perfectibility of this world, humanitarianism
had instilled an abnormal sensitiveness to pain,--to one's own pain,
and to the pain of one's neighbors. Baroja's outcasts are no longer
jolly knaves who will murder a man for a nickel and go on their road
singing "Over the hills and far away"; they are men who have not had
the willpower to continue in the fight for bread, they are men whose
nerve has failed, who live furtively on the outskirts, snatching a
little joy here and there, drugging their hunger with gorgeous mirages.

One often thinks of Gorki in reading Baroja, mainly because of the
contrast. Instead of the tumultuous spring freshet of a new race that
drones behind every page of the Russian, there is the cold despair of
an old race, of a race that lived long under a formula of life to which
it has sacrificed much, only to discover in the end that the formula
does not hold.

These are the last paragraphs of _Mala Hierba_ ("Wild Grass"), the
middle volume of Baroja's trilogy on the life of the very poor in
Madrid.

"They talked. Manuel felt irritation against the whole world, hatred,
up to that moment pent up within him against society, against man....

"'Honestly,' he ended by saying, 'I wish it would rain dynamite for a
week, and that the Eternal Father would come tumbling down in cinders.'

"He invoked crazily all the destructive powers to reduce to ashes this
miserable society.

"Jesús listened with attention.

"'You are an anarchist,' he told him.

"'I?'

"'Yes. So am I.'

"'Since when?'

"'Since I have seen the infamies committed in the world; since I have
seen how coldly they give to death a bit of human flesh; since I have
seen how men die abandoned in the streets and hospitals,' answered
Jesús with a certain solemnity.

"Manuel was silent. The friends walked without speaking round the Ronda
de Segovia, and sat down on a bench in the little gardens of the Vírgen
del Puerto.

"The sky was superb, crowded with stars; the Milky Way crossed its
immense blue concavity. The geometric figure of the Great Bear
glittered very high. Arcturus and Vega shone softly in that ocean of
stars.

"In the distance the dark fields, scratched with lines of lights,
seemed the sea in a harbor and the strings of lights the illumination
of a wharf.

"The damp warm air came laden with odors of woodland plants wilted by
the heat.

"'How many stars,' said Manuel. 'What can they be?'

"'They are worlds, endless worlds.'

"'I don't know why it doesn't make me feel better to see this sky so
beautiful, Jesús. Do you think there are men in those worlds?' asked
Manuel.

"'Perhaps; why not?'

"'And are there prisons too, and judges and gambling dens and
police?... Do you think so?'

"Jesús did not answer. After a while he began talking with a calm voice
of his dream of an idyllic humanity, a sweet pitiful dream, noble and
childish.

"In his dream, man, led by a new idea, reached a higher state.

"No more hatreds, no more rancours. Neither judges, nor police, nor
soldiers, nor authority. In the wide fields of the earth free men
worked in the sunlight. The law of love had taken the place of the law
of duty, and the horizons of humanity grew every moment wider, wider
and more azure.

"And Jesús continued talking of a vague ideal of love and justice, of
energy and pity; and those words of his, chaotic, incoherent, fell like
balm on Manuel's ulcerated spirit. Then they were both silent, lost in
their thoughts, looking at the night.

"An august joy shone in the sky, and the vague sensation of space, of
the infinity of those imponderable worlds, filled their spirits with a
delicious calm."


III

Spain is the classic home of the anarchist. A bleak upland country
mostly, with a climate giving all varieties of temperature, from moist
African heat to dry Siberian cold, where people have lived until very
recently,--and do still,--in villages hidden away among the bare ribs
of the mountains, or in the indented coast plains, where every region
is cut off from every other by high passes and defiles of the
mountains, flaming hot in summer and freezing cold in winter, where the
Iberian race has grown up centerless. The pueblo, the village
community, is the only form of social cohesion that really has roots in
the past. On these free towns empires have time and again been imposed
by force. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Catholic
monarchy wielded the sword of the faith to such good effect that
communal feeling was killed and the Spanish genius forced to ingrow
into the mystical realm where every ego expanded itself into the
solitude of God. The eighteenth century reduced God to an abstraction,
and the nineteenth brought pity and the mad hope of righting the wrongs
of society. The Spaniard, like his own Don Quixote, mounted the
warhorse of his idealism and set out to free the oppressed, alone. As a
logical conclusion we have the anarchist who threw a bomb into the
Lyceum Theatre in Barcelona during a performance, wanting to make the
ultimate heroic gesture and only succeeding in a senseless mangling of
human lives.

But that was the reduction to an absurdity of an immensely valuable
mental position. The anarchism of Pío Baroja is of another sort. He
says in one of his books that the only part a man of the middle classes
can play in the reorganization of society is destructive. He has not
undergone the discipline, which can only come from common slavery in
the industrial machine, necessary for a builder. His slavery has been
an isolated slavery which has unfitted him forever from becoming truly
part of a community. He can use the vast power of knowledge which
training has given him only in one way. His great mission is to put the
acid test to existing institutions, and to strip the veils off them. I
don't want to imply that Baroja writes with his social conscience. He
is too much of a novelist for that, too deeply interested in people as
such. But it is certain that a profound sense of the evil of existing
institutions lies behind every page he has written, and that
occasionally, only occasionally, he allows himself to hope that
something better may come out of the turmoil of our age of transition.

Only a man who had felt all this very deeply could be so sensitive to
the new spirit--if the word were not threadbare one would call it
religious--which is shaking the foundations of the world's social
pyramid, perhaps only another example of the failure of nerve, perhaps
the triumphant expression of a new will among mankind.

In _Aurora Roja_ ("Red Dawn"), the last of the Madrid trilogy, about
the same Manuel who is the central figure of _Mala Hierba_, he writes:

"At first it bored him, but later, little by little, he felt himself
carried away by what he was reading. First he was enthusiastic about
Mirabeau; then about the Girondins; Vergniau Petion, Condorcet; then
about Danton; then he began to think that Robespierre was the true
revolutionary; afterwards Saint Just, but in the end it was the
gigantic figure of Danton that thrilled him most....

"Manuel felt great satisfaction at having read that history. Often he
said to himself:

"'What does it matter now if I am a loafer, and good-for-nothing? I've
read the history of the French Revolution; I believe I shall know how
to be worthy....'

"After Michelet, he read a book about '48; then another on the Commune,
by Louise Michel, and all this produced in him a great admiration for
French Revolutionists. What men! After the colossal figures of the
Convention: Babeuf, Proudhon, Blanqui, Bandin, Deleschize, Rochefort,
Félix Pyat, Vallu.... What people!

"'What does it matter now if I am a loafer?... I believe I shall know
how to be worthy.'"

In those two phrases lies all the power of revolutionary faith. And how
like phrases out of the gospels, those older expressions of the hope
and misery of another society in decay. That is the spirit that, for
good or evil, is stirring throughout Europe to-day, among the poor and
the hungry and the oppressed and the outcast, a new affirmation of the
rights and duties of men. Baroja has felt this profoundly, and has
presented it, but without abandoning the function of the novelist,
which is to tell stories about people. He is never a propagandist.


IV

"I have never hidden my admirations in literature. They have been and
are Dickens, Balzac, Poe, Dostoievski and, now, Stendhal...." writes
Baroja in the preface to the Nelson edition of _La Dama Errante_
("The Wandering Lady"). He follows particularly in the footprints of
Balzac in that he is primarily a historian of morals, who has made a
fairly consistent attempt to cover the world he lived in. With
Dostoievski there is a kinship in the passionate hatred of cruelty and
stupidity that crops out everywhere in his work. I have never found any
trace of influence of the other three. To be sure there are a few early
sketches in the manner of Poe, but in respect to form he is much more
in the purely chaotic tradition of the picaresque novel he despises
than in that of the American theorist.

Baroja's most important work lies in the four series of novels of the
Spanish life he lived, in Madrid, in the provincial towns where he
practiced medicine, and in the Basque country where he had been brought
up. The foundation of these was laid by _El Arbol de la Ciencia_ ("The
Tree of Knowledge"), a novel half autobiographical describing the life
and death of a doctor, giving a picture of existence in Madrid and then
in two Spanish provincial towns. Its tremendously vivid painting of
inertia and the deadening under its weight of intellectual effort made
a very profound impression in Spain. Two novels about the anarchist
movement followed it, _La Dama Errante_, which describes the state of
mind of forward-looking Spaniards at the time of the famous anarchist
attempt on the lives of the king and queen the day of their marriage,
and _La Ciudad de la Niebla_, about the Spanish colony in London. Then
came the series called _La Busca_ ("The Search"), which to me is
Baroja's best work, and one of the most interesting things published in
Europe in the last decade. It deals with the lowest and most miserable
life in Madrid and is written with a cold acidity which Maupassant
would have envied and is permeated by a human vividness that I do not
think Maupassant could have achieved. All three novels, _La Busca_,
_Mala Hierba_, and _Aurora Roja_, deal with the drifting of a typical
uneducated Spanish boy, son of a maid of all work in a boarding house,
through different strata of Madrid life. They give a sense of unadorned
reality very rare in any literature, and besides their power as novels
are immensely interesting as sheer natural history. The type of the
_golfo_ is a literary discovery comparable with that of Sancho Panza by
Cervántes.

Nothing that Baroja has written since is quite on the same level. The
series _El Pasado_ ("The Past") gives interesting pictures of
provincial life. _Las Inquietudes de Shanti Andia_ ("The Anxieties of
Shanti Andia"), a story of Basque seamen which contains a charming
picture of a childhood in a seaside village in Guipuzcoa, delightful as
it is to read, is too muddled in romantic claptrap to add much to his
fame. _El Mundo es Así_ ("The World is Like That") expresses, rather
lamely it seems to me, the meditations of a disenchanted revolutionist.
The latest series, _Memorias de un Hombre de Acción_, a series of yarns
about the revolutionary period in Spain at the beginning of the
nineteenth century, though entertaining, is more an attempt to escape
in a jolly romantic past the realities of the morose present than
anything else. _César o Nada_, translated into English under the title
of "Aut Cæsar aut Nullus" is also less acid and less effective than his
earlier novels. That is probably why it was chosen for translation into
English. We know how anxious our publishers are to furnish food easily
digestible by weak American stomachs.

It is silly to judge any Spanish novelist from the point of view of
form. Improvisation is the very soul of Spanish writing. In thinking
back over books of Baroja's one has read, one remembers more
descriptions of places and people than anything else. In the end it is
rather natural history than dramatic creation. But a natural history
that gives you the pictures etched with vitriol of Spanish life in the
end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century which
you get in these novels of Baroja's is very near the highest sort of
creation. If we could inject some of the virus of his intense sense of
reality into American writers it would be worth giving up all these
stale conquests of form we inherited from Poe and O. Henry. The
following, again from the preface of _La Dama Errante_, is Baroja's own
statement of his aims. And certainly he has realized them.

"Probably a book like _la Dama Errante_ is not of the sort that lives
very long; it is not a painting with aspirations towards the museum but
an impressionist canvas; perhaps as a work it has too much asperity, is
too hard, not serene enough.

"This ephemeral character of my work does not displease me. We are men
of the day, people in love with the passing moment, with all that is
fugitive and transitory and the lasting quality of our work preoccupies
us little, so little that it can hardly be said to preoccupy us at
all."



_VI: Talk by the Road_


"Spain," said Don Alonso, as he and Telemachus walked out of Illescas,
followed at a little distance by Lyaeus and the dumpling-man, "has
never been swept clean. There have been the Romans and the Visigoths
and the Moors and the French--armed men jingling over mountain roads.
Conquest has warped and sterilised our Iberian mind without changing an
atom of it. An example: we missed the Revolution and suffered from
Napoleon. We virtually had no Reformation, yet the Inquisition was
stronger with us than anywhere."

"Do you think it will have to be swept clean?" asked Telemachus.

"He does." Don Alonso pointed with a sweep of an arm towards a man
working in the field beside the road. It was a short man in a blouse;
he broke the clods the plow had left with a heavy triangular hoe.
Sometimes he raised it only a foot above the ground to poise for a
blow, sometimes he swung it from over his shoulder. Face, clothes,
hands, hoe were brown against the brown hillside where a purple shadow
mocked each heavy gesture with lank gesticulations. In the morning
silence the blows of the hoe beat upon the air with muffled insistence.

"And he is the man who will do the building," went on Don Alonso; "It
is only fair that we should clear the road."

"But you are the thinkers," said Telemachus; his mother Penelope's
maxims on the subject of constructive criticism popped up suddenly in
his mind like tickets from a cash register.

"Thought is the acid that destroys," answered Don Alonso.

Telemachus turned to look once more at the man working in the field.
The hoe rose and fell, rose and fell. At a moment on each stroke a
flash of sunlight came from it. Telemachus saw all at once the whole
earth, plowed fields full of earth-colored men, shoulders thrown back,
bent forward, muscles of arms swelling and slackening, hoes flashing at
the same moment against the sky, at the same moment buried with a thud
in clods. And he felt reassured as a traveller feels, hearing the
continuous hiss and squudge of well oiled engines out at sea.



_VII: Cordova no Longer of the Caliphs_


When we stepped out of the bookshop the narrow street steamed with the
dust of many carriages. Above the swiftly whirling wheels gaudily
dressed men and women sat motionless in attitudes. Over the backs of
the carriages brilliant shawls trailed, triangles of red and purple and
yellow.

"Bread and circuses," muttered the man who was with me, "but not enough
bread."

It was fair-time in Cordova; the carriages were coming back from the
_toros_. We turned into a narrow lane, where the dust was yellow
between high green and lavender-washed walls. From the street we had
left came a sound of cheers and hand-clapping. My friend stopped still
and put his hand on my arm.

"There goes Belmonte," he said; "half the men who are cheering him have
never had enough to eat in their lives. The old Romans knew better; to
keep people quiet they filled their bellies. Those fools--" he jerked
his head backwards with disgust; I thought, of the shawls and the high
combs and the hair gleaming black under lace and the wasp-waists of the
young men and the insolence of black eyes above the flashing wheels of
the carriages, "--those fools give only circuses. Do you people in the
outside world realize that we in Andalusia starve, that we have starved
for generations, that those black bulls for the circuses may graze over
good wheatland ... to make Spain picturesque! The only time we see meat
is in the bullring. Those people who argue all the time as to why
Spain's backward and write books about it, I could tell them in one
word: malnutrition." He laughed despairingly and started walking fast
again. "We have solved the problem of the cost of living. We live on
air and dust and bad smells."

I had gone into his bookshop a few minutes before to ask an address,
and had been taken into the back room with the wonderful enthusiastic
courtesy one finds so often in Spain. There the bookseller, a carpenter
and the bookseller's errand-boy had all talked at once, explaining the
last strike of farm-laborers, when the region had been for months under
martial law, and they, and every one else of socialist or republican
sympathies, had been packed for weeks into overcrowded prisons. They
all regretted they could not take me to the Casa del Pueblo, but, they
explained laughing, the Civil Guard was occupying it at that moment. It
ended by the bookseller's coming out with me to show me the way to
Azorín's.

Azorín was an architect who had supported the strikers; he had just
come back to Cordova from the obscure village where he had been
imprisoned through the care of the military governor who had paid him
the compliment of thinking that even in prison he would be dangerous in
Cordova. He had recently been elected municipal councillor, and when we
reached his office was busy designing a schoolhouse. On the stairs the
bookseller had whispered to me that every workman in Cordova would die
for Azorín. He was a sallow little man with a vaguely sarcastic voice
and an amused air as if he would burst out laughing at any moment. He
put aside his plans and we all went on to see the editor of
_Andalusia_, a regionalist pro-labor weekly.

In that dark little office, over three cups of coffee that appeared
miraculously from somewhere with the pungent smell of ink and fresh
paper in our nostrils, we talked about the past and future of Cordova,
and of all the wide region of northern Andalusia, fertile irrigated
plains, dry olive-land stretching up to the rocky waterless mountains
where the mines are. In Azorín's crisp phrases and in the long ornate
periods of the editor, the serfdom and the squalor and the heroic hope
of these peasants and miners and artisans became vivid to me for the
first time. Occasionally the compositor, a boy of about fifteen with a
brown ink-smudged face, would poke his head in the door and shout:
"It's true what they say, but they don't say enough, they don't say
enough."

The problem in the south of Spain is almost wholly agrarian. From the
Tagus to the Mediterranean stretches a mountainous region of low
rainfall, intersected by several series of broad river-valleys which,
under irrigation, are enormously productive of rice, oranges, and, in
the higher altitudes, of wheat. In the dry hills grow grapes, olives
and almonds. A country on the whole much like southern California.
Under the Moors this region was the richest and most civilised in
Europe.

When the Christian nobles from the north reconquered it, the
ecclesiastics laid hold of the towns and extinguished industry through
the Inquisition, while the land was distributed in huge estates to the
magnates of the court of the Catholic Kings. The agricultural workers
became virtually serfs, and the communal village system of working the
land gradually gave way, Now the province of Jaen, certainly as large
as the State of Rhode Island, is virtually owned by six families. This
process was helped by the fact that all through the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries the liveliest people in all Spain swarmed
overseas to explore and plunder America or went into the church, so
that the tilling of the land was left to the humblest and least
vigorous. And immigration to America has continued the safety valve of
the social order.

It is only comparatively recently that the consciousness has begun to
form among the workers of the soil that it is possible for them to
change their lot. As everywhere else, Russia has been the beacon-flare.
Since 1918 an extraordinary tenseness has come over the lives of the
frugal sinewy peasants who, through centuries of oppression and
starvation, have kept, in spite of almost complete illiteracy, a
curiously vivid sense of personal independence. In the backs of taverns
revolutionary tracts are spelled out by some boy who has had a couple
of years of school to a crowd of men who listen or repeat the words
after him with the fervor of people going through a religious mystery.
Unspeakable faith possesses them in what they call "_la nueva
ley_" ("the new law"), by which the good things a man wrings by his
sweat from the earth shall be his and not the property of a distant
señor in Madrid.

It is this hopefulness that marks the difference between the present
agrarian agitation and the violent and desperate peasant risings of the
past. As early as October, 1918, a congress of agricultural workers was
held to decide on strike methods and, more important, to formulate a
demand for the expropriation of the land. In two months the unions,
("_sociedades de resistencia_") had been welded--at least in the
province of Cordova--into a unified system with more or less central
leadership. The strike which followed was so complete that in many
cases even domestic servants went out. After savage repression and the
military occupation of the whole province, the strike petered out into
compromises which resulted in considerable betterment of working
conditions but left the important issues untouched.

The rise in the cost of living and the growing unrest brought matters
to a head again in the summer of 1919. The military was used with even
more brutality than the previous year. Attempts at compromise, at
parcelling out uncultivated land have proved as unavailing as the
Mausers of the Civil Guard to quell the tumult. The peasants have kept
their organizations and their demands intact. They are even willing to
wait; but they are determined that the land upon which they have worn
out generations and generations shall be theirs without question.

All this time the landlords brandish a redoubtable weapon: starvation.
Already thousands of acres that might be richly fertile lie idle or are
pasture for herds of wild bulls for the arena. The great land-owning
families hold estates all over Spain; if in a given region the workers
become too exigent, they decide to leave the land in fallow for a year
or two. In the villages it becomes a question of starve or emigrate. To
emigrate many certificates are needed. Many officials have to be
placated. For all that money is needed. Men taking to the roads in
search of work are persecuted as vagrants by the civil guards. Arson
becomes the last retort of despair. At night the standing grain burns
mysteriously or the country house of an absent landlord, and from the
parched hills where gnarled almond-trees grow, groups of half starved
men watch the flames with grim exultation.

Meanwhile the press in Madrid laments the _incultura_ of the Andalusian
peasants. The problem of civilization, after all, is often one of food
calories. Fernando de los Ríos, socialist deputy for Granada, recently
published the result of an investigation of the food of the
agricultural populations of Spain in which he showed that only in the
Balkans--out of all Europe--was the working man so under-nourished. The
calories which the diet of the average Cordova workman represented was
something like a fourth of those of the British workman's diet. Even so
the foremen of the big estates complain that as a result of all this
social agitation their workmen have taken to eating more than they did
in the good old times.

How long it will be before the final explosion comes no one can
conjecture. The spring of 1920, when great things were expected, was
completely calm. On the other hand, in the last municipal elections
when six hundred socialist councillors were elected in all Spain--in
contrast to sixty-two in 1915--the vote polled in Andalusia was
unprecedented. Up to this election many of the peasants had never dared
vote, and those that had had been completely under the thumb of the
_caciques_, the bosses that control Spanish local politics. However, in
spite of socialist and syndicalist propaganda, the agrarian problem
will always remain separate from anything else in the minds of the
peasants. This does not mean that they are opposed to communism or
cling as violently as most of the European peasantry to the habit of
private property.

All over Spain one comes upon traces of the old communist village
institutions, by which flocks and mills and bakeries and often land
were held in common. As in all arid countries, where everything depends
upon irrigation, ditches are everywhere built and repaired in common.
And the idea of private property is of necessity feeble where there is
no rain; for what good is land to a man without water? Still, until
there grows up a much stronger community of interest than now exists
between the peasants and the industrial workers, the struggle for the
land and the struggle for the control of industry will be, in Spain, as
I think everywhere, parallel rather than unified. One thing is certain,
however long the fire smoulders before it flares high to make a clean
sweep of Spanish capitalism and Spanish feudalism together, Cordova,
hoary city of the caliphs, where ghosts of old grandeurs flit about the
zigzag ochre-colored lanes, will, when the moment comes, be the center
of organization of the agrarian revolution. When I was leaving Spain I
rode with some young men who were emigrating to America, to make their
fortunes, they said. When I told them I had been to Cordova, their
faces became suddenly bright with admiration.

"Ah, Cordova," one of them cried; "they've got the guts in Cordova."



_VIII: Talk by the Road_


At the first crossroads beyond Illescas the dumpling-man and Don Alonso
turned off in quest of the trout stream. Don Alonso waved solemnly to
Lyaeus and Telemachus.

"Perhaps we shall meet in Toledo," he said.

"Catch a lot of fish," shouted Lyaeus.

"And perhaps a thought," was the last word they heard from Don Alonso.

The sun already high in the sky poured tingling heat on their heads and
shoulders. There was sand in their shoes, an occasional sharp pain in
their shins, in their bellies bitter emptiness.

"At the next village, Tel, I'm going to bed. You can do what you like,"
said Lyaeus in a tearful voice.

"I'll like that all right."

"_Buenos días, señores viajeros_," came a cheerful voice. They found
they were walking in the company of a man who wore a tight-waisted
overcoat of a light blue color, a cream-colored felt hat from under
which protruded long black moustaches with gimlet points, and shoes
with lemon-yellow uppers. They passed the time of day with what
cheerfulness they could muster.

"Ah, Toledo," said the man. "You are going to Toledo, my birthplace.
There I was born in the shadow of the cathedral, there I shall die. I
am a traveller of commerce." He produced two cards as large as
postcards on which was written:

         ANTONIO SILVA Y YEPES
            UNIVERSAL AGENT
    IMPORT EXPORT NATIONAL PRODUCTS

"At your service, gentlemen," he said and handed each of them a card.
"I deal in tinware, ironware, pottery, lead pipes, enameled ware,
kitchen utensils, American toilet articles, French perfumery, cutlery,
linen, sewing machines, saddles, bridles, seeds, fancy poultry,
fighting bantams and objects _de vertu_.... You are foreigners, are you
not? How barbarous Spain, what people, what dirt, what lack of culture,
what impoliteness, what lack of energy!"

The universal agent choked, coughed, spat, produced a handkerchief of
crimson silk with which he wiped his eyes and mouth, twirled his
moustaches and plunged again into a torrent of words, turning on
Telemachus from time to time little red-rimmed eyes full of moist
pathos like a dog's.

"Oh there are times, gentlemen, when it is too much to bear, when I
rejoice to think that it's all up with my lungs and that I shan't live
long anyway.... In America I should have been a Rockefeller, a
Carnegie, a Morgan. I know it, for I am a man of genius. It is true. I
am a man of genius.... And look at me here walking from one of these
cursed tumbledown villages to another because I have not money enough
to hire a cab.... And ill too, dying of consumption! O Spain, Spain,
how do you crush your great men! What you must think of us, you who
come from civilized countries, where life is organized, where commerce
is a gentlemanly, even a noble occupation...."

"But you savor life more...."

"_Ca, ca_," interrupted the universal agent with a downward gesture of
the hand. "To think that they call by the same name living here in a
pen like a pig and living in Paris, London, New York, Biarritz,
Trouville ... luxurious beds, coiffures, toilettes, theatrical
functions, sumptuous automobiles, elegant ladies glittering with
diamonds ... the world of light and enchantment! Oh to think of it! And
Spain could be the richest country in Europe, if we had energy,
organization, culture! Think of the exports: iron, coal, copper,
silver, oranges, hides, mules, olives, food products, woolens, cotton
cloth, sugarcane, raw cotton ... couplets, dancers, gipsy girls...."

The universal agent had quite lost his breath. He coughed for a long
time into his crimson handkerchief, then looked about him over the
rolling dun slopes to which the young grain sprouting gave a sheen of
vivid green like the patina on a Pompeian bronze vase, and shrugged his
shoulders.

"_¡Qué vida!_ What a life!"

For some time a spire had been poking up into the sky at the road's
end; now yellow-tiled roofs were just visible humped out of the
wheatland, with the church standing guard over them, it's buttresses as
bowed as the legs of a bulldog. At the sight of the village a certain
spring came back to Telemachus's fatigue-sodden legs. He noticed with
envy that Lyaeus took little skips as he walked.

"If we properly exploited our exports we should be the richest people
in Europe," the universal agent kept shouting with far-flung gestures
of despair. And the last they heard from him as they left him to turn
into the manure-littered, chicken-noisy courtyard of the Posada de la
Luna was, "_¡Qué pueblo indecente!_... What a beastly town ... yet if
they exploited with energy, with modern energy, their exports...."



_IX: An Inverted Midas_


Every age must have had choice spirits whose golden fingers turned
everything they touched to commonplace. Since we know our own
literature best it seems unreasonably well equipped with these inverted
Midases--though the fact that all Anglo-American writing during the
last century has been so exclusively of the middle classes, by the
middle classes and for the middle classes must count for something.
Still Rome had her Marcus Aurelius, and we may be sure that platitudes
would have obscured the slanting sides of the pyramids had
stone-cutting in the reign of Cheops been as disastrously easy as is
printing to-day. The addition of the typewriter to the printing-press
has given a new and horrible impetus to the spread of half-baked
thought. The labor of graving on stone or of baking tablets of brick or
even of scrawling letters on paper with a pen is no longer a curb on
the dangerous fluency of the inverted Midas. He now lolls in a Morris
chair, sipping iced tea, dictating to four blonde and two dark-haired
stenographers; three novels, a couple of books of travel and a short
story written at once are nothing to a really enterprising universal
genius. Poor Julius Caesar with his letters!

We complain that we have no supermen nowadays, that we can't live as
much or as widely or as fervently or get through so much work as could
Pico della Mirandola or Erasmus or Politian, that the race drifts
towards mental and physical anæmia. I deny it. With the typewriter all
these things shall be added unto us. This age too has its great
universal geniuses. They overrun the seven continents and their
respective seas. Accompanied by mænadic bands of stenographers, and a
music of typewriters deliriously clicking, they go about the world,
catching all the butterflies, rubbing the bloom off all the plums,
tunneling mountains, bridging seas, smoothing the facets off ideas so
that they may be swallowed harmlessly like pills. With true Anglo-Saxon
conceit we had thought that our own Mr. Wells was the most universal of
these universal geniuses. He has so diligently brought science, ethics,
sex, marriage, sociology, God, and everything else--properly
deodorized, of course--to the desk of the ordinary man, that he may
lean back in his swivel-chair and receive faint susuration from the
sense of progress and the complexity of life, without even having to go
to the window to look at the sparrows sitting in rows on the
telephone-wires, so that really it seemed inconceivable that anyone
should be more universal. It was rumored that there lay the ultimate
proof of Anglo-Saxon ascendancy. What other race had produced a great
universal genius?

But all that was before the discovery of Blasco Ibáñez.

On the backs of certain of Blasco Ibáñez's novels published by the Casa
Prometeo in Valencia is this significant advertisement: _Obras de
Vulgarización Popular_ ("Works of Popular Vulgarization"). Under it is
an astounding list of volumes, all either translated or edited or
arranged, if not written from cover to cover, by one tireless pen,--I
mean typewriter. Ten volumes of universal history, three volumes of the
French Revolution translated from Michelet, a universal geography, a
social history, works on science, cookery and house-cleaning, nine
volumes of Blasco Ibáñez's own history of the European war, and a
translation of the Arabian Nights, a thousand and one of them without
an hour missing. "Works of Popular Vulgarization." I admit that in
Spanish the word _vulgarización_ has not yet sunk to its inevitable
meaning, but can it long stand such a strain? Add to that list a round
two dozen novels and some books of travel, and who can deny that Blasco
Ibáñez is a great universal genius? Read his novels and you will find
that he has looked at the stars and knows Lord Kelvin's theory of
vortices and the nebular hypothesis and the direction of ocean currents
and the qualities of kelp and the direction the codfish go in Iceland
waters when the northeast wind blows; that he knows about Gothic
architecture and Byzantine painting, the social movement in Jerez and
the exports of Patagonia, the wall-paper of Paris apartment houses and
the red paste with which countesses polish their fingernails in Monte
Carlo.

The very pattern of a modern major-general. And, like the great
universal geniuses of the Renaissance, he has lived as well as thought
and written. He is said to have been thirty times in prison, six times
deputy; he has been a cowboy in the pampas of Argentina; he has founded
a city in Patagonia with a bullring and a bust of Cervantes in the
middle of it; he has rounded the Horn on a sailing-ship in a hurricane,
and it is whispered that like Victor Hugo he eats lobsters with the
shells on. He hobnobs with the universe.

One must admit, too, that Blasco Ibáñez's universe is a bulkier,
burlier universe than Mr. Wells's. One is strangely certain that the
axle of Mr. Wells's universe is fixed in some suburb of London, say
Putney, where each house has a bit of garden where waddles an asthmatic
pet dog, where people drink tea weak, with milk in it, before a
gas-log, where every bookcase makes a futile effort to impinge on
infinity through the encyclopedia, where life is a monotonous going and
coming, swathed in clothes that must above all be respectable, to
business and from business. But who can say where Blasco Ibáñez's
universe centers? It is in constant progression.

Starting, as Walt Whitman from fish-shaped Paumonauk, from the fierce
green fertility of Valencia, city of another great Spanish conqueror,
the Cid, he had marched on the world in battle array. The whole history
comes out in the series of novels at this moment being translated in
such feverish haste for the edification of the American public. The
beginnings are stories of the peasants of the fertile plain round about
Valencia, of the fishermen and sailors of El Grao, the port, a sturdy
violent people living amid a snappy fury of vegetation unexampled in
Europe. His method is inspired to a certain extent by Zola, taking from
him a little of the newspaper-horror mode of realism, with inevitable
murder and sudden death in the last chapters. Yet he expresses that
life vividly, although even then more given to grand vague ideas than
to a careful scrutiny of men and things. He is at home in the strong
communal feeling, in the individual anarchism, in the passionate
worship of the water that runs through the fields to give life and of
the blades of wheat that give bread and of the wine that gives joy,
which is the moral make-up of the Valencian peasant. He is sincerely
indignant about the agrarian system, about social inequality, and is
full of the revolutionary bravado of his race.

A typical novel of this period is _La Barraca_, a story of a peasant
family that takes up land which has lain vacant for years under the
curse of the community, since the eviction of the tenants, who had held
it for generations, by a landlord who was murdered as a result, on a
lonely road by the father of the family he had turned out. The struggle
of these peasants against their neighbours is told with a good deal of
feeling, and the culmination in a rifle fight in an irrigation ditch is
a splendid bit of blood and thunder. There are many descriptions of
local customs, such as the Tribunal of Water that sits once a week
under one of the portals of Valencia cathedral to settle conflicts of
irrigation rights, a little dragged in by the heels, to be sure, but
still worth reading. Yet even in these early novels one feels over and
over again the force of that phrase "popular vulgarization." Valencia
is being vulgarized for the benefit of the universe. The proletariat is
being vulgarized for the benefit of the people who buy novels.

From Valencia raids seem to have been made on other parts of Spain.
_Sonnica la Cortesana_ gives you antique Saguntum and the usual "Aves,"
wreaths, flute-players and other claptrap of costume novels. In _La
Catedral_ you have Toledo, the church, socialism and the modern world
in the shadow of Gothic spires. _La Bodega_ takes you into the genial
air of the wine vaults of Jerez-de-la-Frontera, with smugglers,
processions blessing the vineyards and agrarian revolt in the
background. Up to now they have been Spanish novels written for
Spaniards; it is only with _Sangre y Arena_ that the virus of a
European reputation shows results.

In _Sangre y Arena_, to be sure, you learn that _toreros_ use scent,
have a home life, and are seduced by passionate Baudelairian ladies of
the smart set who plant white teeth in their brown sinewy arms and
teach them to smoke opium cigarettes. You see _toreros_ taking the
sacraments before going into the ring and you see them tossed by the
bull while the crowd, which a moment before had been crying "hola" as
if it didn't know that something was going wrong, gets very pale and
chilly and begins to think what dreadful things _corridas_ are anyway,
until the arrival of the next bull makes them forget it. All of which
is good fun when not obscured by grand, vague ideas, and incidentally
sells like hot cakes. Thenceforward the Casa Prometeo becomes an
exporting house dealing in the good Spanish products of violence and
sunshine, blood, voluptuousness and death, as another vulgarizer put
it.

Next comes the expedition to South America and _The Argonauts_ appears.
The Atlantic is bridged,--there open up rich veins of picturesqueness
and new grand vague ideas, all in full swing when the war breaks out.
Blasco Ibáñez meets the challenge nobly, and very soon, with _The Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse_, which captures the Allied world and
proves again the mot about prophets. So without honor in its own
country is the _Four Horsemen_ that the English translation rights
are sold for a paltry three thousand pesetas. But the great success in
England and America soon shows that we can appreciate the acumen of a
neutral who came in and rooted for our side; so early in the race too!
While the iron is still hot another four hundred pages of well-sugared
pro-Ally propaganda appears, _Mare Nostrum_, which mingles Ulysses
and scientific information about ocean currents, Amphitrite and
submarines, Circe and a vamping Theda Bara who was really a German Spy,
in one grand chant of praise before the Mumbo-Jumbo of nationalism.

_Los Enemigos de la Mujer_, the latest production, abandons Spain
entirely and plants itself in the midst of princes and countesses, all
elaborately pro-Ally, at Monte Carlo. Forgotten the proletarian tastes
of his youth, the local color he loved to lay on so thickly, the
Habañera atmosphere; only the grand vague ideas subsist in the
cosmopolite, and the fluency, that fatal Latin fluency.

And now the United States, the home of the blonde stenographer and the
typewriter and the press agent. What are we to expect from the
combination of Blasco Ibáñez and Broadway?

At any rate the movies will profit.

Yet one can't help wishing that Blasco Ibáñez had not learnt the
typewriter trick so early. Print so easily spins a web of the
commonplace over the fine outlines of life. And Blasco Ibáñez need not
have been an inverted Midas. His is a superbly Mediterranean type, with
something of Arretino, something of Garibaldi, something of Tartarin of
Tarascon. Blustering, sensual, enthusiastic, living at bottom in a real
world--which can hardly be said of Anglo-Saxon vulgarizers--even if it
is a real world obscured by grand vague ideas, Blasco Ibáñez's mere
energy would have produced interesting things if it had not found such
easy and immediate vent in the typewriter. Bottle up a man like that
for a lifetime without means of expression and he'll produce memoirs
equal to Marco Polo and Casanova, but let his energies flow out evenly
without resistance through a corps of clicking typewriters and all you
have is one more popular novelist.

It is unfortunate too that Blasco Ibáñez and the United States should
have discovered each other at this moment. They will do each other no
good. We have an abundance both of vague grand ideas and of popular
novelists, and we are the favorite breeding place of the inverted
Midas. We need writing that shall be acid, with sharp edges on it,
yeasty to leaven the lump of glucose that the combination of the ideals
of the man in the swivel-chair with decayed puritanism has made of our
national consciousness. Of course Blasco Ibáñez in America will only be
a seven days' marvel. Nothing is ever more than that. But why need we
pretend each time that our seven days' marvels are the great eternal
things?

Then, too, if the American public is bound to take up Spain it might as
well take up the worth-while things instead of the works of popular
vulgarization. They have enough of those in their bookcases as it is.
And in Spain there is a novelist like Baroja, essayists like Unamuno
and Azorín, poets like Valle Inclán and Antonio Machado, ... but I
suppose they will shine with the reflected glory of the author of the
_Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse_.



_X: Talk by the Road_


When they woke up it was dark. They were cold. Their legs were stiff.
They lay each along one edge of a tremendously wide bed, between them a
tangle of narrow sheets and blankets. Telemachus raised himself to a
sitting position and put his feet, that were still swollen, gingerly to
the floor. He drew them up again with a jerk and sat with his teeth
chattering hunched on the edge of the bed. Lyaeus burrowed into the
blankets and went back to sleep. For a long while Telemachus could not
thaw his frozen wits enough to discover what noise had waked him up.
Then it came upon him suddenly that huge rhythms were pounding about
him, sounds of shaken tambourines and castanettes and beaten dish-pans
and roaring voices. Someone was singing in shrill tremolo above the din
a song of which each verse seemed to end with the phrase, "_y mañana
Carnaval_."

"To-morrow's Carnival. Wake up," he cried out to Lyaeus, and pulled on
his trousers.

Lyaeus sat up and rubbed his eyes.

"I smell wine," he said.

Telemachus, through hunger and stiffness and aching feet and the
thought of what his mother Penelope would say about these goings on, if
they ever came to her ears, felt a tremendous elation flare through
him.

"Come on, they're dancing," he cried dragging Lyaeus out on the gallery
that overhung the end of the court.

"Don't forget the butterfly net, Tel."

"What for?"

"To catch your gesture, what do you think?"

Telemachus caught Lyaeus by the shoulders and shook him. As they
wrestled they caught glimpses of the courtyard full of couples bobbing
up and down in a _jota_. In the doorway stood two guitar players and
beside them a table with pitchers and glasses and a glint of spilt
wine. Feeble light came from an occasional little constellation of
olive-oil lamps. When the two of them pitched down stairs together and
shot out reeling among the dancers everybody cried out: "_Hola_," and
shouted that the foreigners must sing a song.

"After dinner," cried Lyaeus as he straightened his necktie. "We
haven't eaten for a year and a half!"

The _padrón_, a red thick-necked individual with a week's white
bristle on his face, came up to them holding out hands as big as hams.

"You are going to Toledo for Carnival? O how lucky the young are,
travelling all over the world." He turned to the company with a
gesture; "I was like that when I was young."

They followed him into the kitchen, where they ensconced themselves on
either side of a cave of a fireplace in which burned a fire all too
small. The hunchbacked woman with a face like tanned leather who was
tending the numerous steaming pots that stood about the hearth,
noticing that they were shivering, heaped dry twigs on it that crackled
and burst into flame and gave out a warm spicy tang.

"To-morrow's Carnival," she said. "We mustn't stint ourselves." Then
she handed them each a plate of soup full of bread in which poached
eggs floated, and the _padrón_ drew the table near the fire and sat
down opposite them, peering with interest into their faces while they
ate.

After a while he began talking. From outside the hand-clapping and the
sound of castanettes continued interrupted by intervals of shouting and
laughter and an occasional snatch from the song that ended every verse
with "_y mañana Carnaval_."

"I travelled when I was your age," he said. "I have been to America ...
Nueva York, Montreal, Buenos Aires, Chicago, San Francisco.... Selling
those little nuts.... Yes, peanuts. What a country! How many laws there
are there, how many policemen. When I was young I did not like it, but
now that I am old and own an inn and daughters and all that, _vamos_, I
understand. You see in Spain we all do just as we like; then, if we are
the sort that goes to church we repent afterwards and fix it up with
God. In European, civilized, modern countries everybody learns what
he's got to do and what he must not do.... That's why they have so many
laws.... Here the police are just to help the government plunder and
steal all it wants.... But that's not so in America...."

"The difference is," broke in Telemachus, "as Butler put it, between
living under the law and living under grace. I should rather live under
gra...." But he thought of the maxims of Penelope and was silent.

"But after all we know how to sing," said the _Padrón_. "Will you have
coffee with cognac?... And poets, man alive, what poets!"

The _padrón_ stuck out his chest, put one hand in the black sash that
held up his trousers and recited, emphasizing the rhythm with the
cognac bottle:

    'Aquí está Don Juan Tenorio;
    no hay hombre para él ...
    Búsquenle los reñidores,
    cérquenle los jugadores,
    quien se précie que le ataje,
    a ver si hay quien le aventaje
    en juego, en lid o en amores.'

He finished with a flourish and poured more cognac into the coffee
cups.

"_¡Que bonito!_ How pretty!" cried the old hunchbacked woman who sat on
her heels in the fireplace.

"That's what we do," said the _padrón_. "We brawl and gamble and
seduce women, and we sing and we dance, and then we repent and the
priest fixes it up with God. In America they live according to law."

Feeling well-toasted by the fire and well-warmed with food and drink,
Lyaeus and Telemachus went to the inn door and looked out on the broad
main street of the village where everything was snowy white under the
cold stare of the moon. The dancing had stopped in the courtyard. A
group of men and boys was moving slowly up the street, each one with a
musical instrument. There were the two guitars, frying pans,
castanettes, cymbals, and a goatskin bottle of wine that kept being
passed from hand to hand. Each time the bottle made a round a new song
started. And so they moved slowly up the street in the moonlight.

"Let's join them," said Lyaeus.

"No, I want to get up early so as...."

"To see the gesture by daylight!" cried Lyaeus jeeringly. Then he went
on: "Tel, you live under the law. Under the law there can be no
gestures, only machine movements."

Then he ran off and joined the group of men and boys who were singing
and drinking. Telemachus went back to bed. On his way upstairs he
cursed the maxims of his mother Penelope. But at any rate to-morrow, in
Carnival-time, he would feel the gesture.



_XI: Antonio Machado: Poet of Castile_


"I spent fifty thousand pesetas in a year at the military school....
_J'aime le chic_," said the young artillery officer of whom I had asked
the way. He was leading me up the steep cobbled hill that led to the
irregular main street of Segovia. A moment before we had passed under
the aqueduct that had soared above us arch upon arch into the crimson
sky. He had snapped tightly gloved fingers and said: "And what's that
good for, I'd like to know. I'd give it all for a puff of gasoline from
a Hispano-Suizo.... D'you know the Hispano-Suizo? And look at this
rotten town! There's not a street in it I can speed on in a motorcycle
without running down some fool old woman or a squalling
brat or other.... Who's this gentleman you are going to see?"

"He's a poet," I said.

"I like poetry too. I write it ... light, elegant, about light elegant
women." He laughed and twirled the tiny waxed spike that stuck out from
each side of his moustache.

He left me at the end of the street I was looking for, and after an
elaborate salute walked off saying:

"To think that you should come here from New York to look for an
address in such a shabby street, and I so want to go to New York. If I
was a poet I wouldn't live here."

The name on the street corner was _Calle de los Desemparados_....
"Street of Abandoned Children."

                     *      *      *      *      *

We sat a long while in the casino, twiddling spoons in coffee-glasses
while a wax-pink fat man played billiards in front of us, being
ponderously beaten by a lean brownish swallow-tail with yellow face and
walrus whiskers that emitted a rasping _Bueno_ after every play. There
was talk of Paris and possible new volumes of verse, homage to Walt
Whitman, Maragall, questioning about Emily Dickinson. About us was a
smell of old horsehair sofas, a buzz of the poignant musty ennui of old
towns left centuries ago high and dry on the beach of history. The
group grew. Talk of painting: Zuloaga had not come yet, the Zubiaurre
brothers had abandoned their Basque coast towns, seduced by the
bronze-colored people and the saffron hills of the province of Segovia.
Sorolla was dying, another had gone mad. At last someone said, "It's
stifling here, let's walk. There is full moon to-night."

There was no sound in the streets but the irregular clatter of our
footsteps. The slanting moonlight cut the street into two triangular
sections, one enormously black, the other bright, engraved like a
silver plate with the lines of doors, roofs, windows, ornaments.
Overhead the sky was white and blue like buttermilk. Blackness cut
across our path, then there was dazzling light through an arch beyond.
Outside the gate we sat in a ring on square fresh-cut stones in which
you could still feel a trace of the warmth of the sun. To one side was
the lime-washed wall of a house, white fire, cut by a wide oaken door
where the moon gave a restless glitter to the spiked nails and the
knocker, and above the door red geraniums hanging out of a pot, their
color insanely bright in the silver-white glare. The other side a deep
glen, the shimmering tops of poplar trees and the sound of a stream. In
the dark above the arch of the gate a trembling oil flame showed up the
green feet of a painted Virgin. Everybody was talking about _El
Buscón_, a story of Quevedo's that takes place mostly in Segovia, a
wandering story of thieves and escapes by night through the back doors
of brothels, of rope ladders dangling from the windows of great ladies,
of secrets overheard in confessionals, and trysts under bridges, and
fingers touching significantly in the holy-water fonts of tall
cathedrals. A ghostlike wraith of dust blew through the gate. The man
next me shivered.

"The dead are stronger than the living," he said. "How little we have;
and they...."

In the quaver of his voice was a remembering of long muletrains
jingling through the gate, queens in litters hung with patchwork
curtains from Samarcand, gold brocades splashed with the clay of deep
roads, stained with the blood of ambuscades, bales of silks from
Valencia, travelling gangs of Moorish artisans, heavy armed Templars on
their way to the Sepulchre, wandering minstrels, sneakthieves, bawds,
rowdy strings of knights and foot-soldiers setting out with wine-skins
at their saddlebows to cross the passes towards the debatable lands of
Extremadura, where there were infidels to kill and cattle to drive off
and village girls to rape, all when the gate was as new and crisply cut
out of clean stone as the blocks we were sitting on. Down in the valley
a donkey brayed long and dismally.

"They too have their nostalgias," said someone sentimentally.

"What they of the old time did not have," came a deep voice from under
a bowler hat, "was the leisure to be sad. The sweetness of
putrefaction, the long remembering of palely colored moods; they had
the sun, we have the colors of its setting. Who shall say which is
worth more?"

The man next to me had got to his feet. "A night like this with a moon
like this," he said, "we should go to the ancient quarter of the
witches."

Gravel crunched under our feet down the road that led out of moonlight
into the darkness of the glen--to _San Millán de las brujas_.

                     *      *      *      *      *

You cannot read any Spanish poet of to-day without thinking now and
then of Rubén Darío, that prodigious Nicaraguan who collected into his
verse all the tendencies of poetry in France and America and the Orient
and poured them in a turgid cataract, full of mud and gold-dust, into
the thought of the new generation in Spain. Overflowing with beauty and
banality, patched out with images and ornaments from Greece and Egypt
and France and Japan and his own Central America, symbolist and
romantic and Parnassian all at once, Rubén Darío's verse is like those
doorways of the Spanish Renaissance where French and Moorish and
Italian motives jostle in headlong arabesques, where the vulgarest
routine stone-chipping is interlocked with designs and forms of rare
beauty and significance. Here and there among the turgid muddle, out of
the impact of unassimilated things, comes a spark of real poetry. And
that spark can be said--as truly as anything of the sort can be
said--to be the motive force of the whole movement of renovation in
Spanish poetry. Of course the poets have not been content to be
influenced by the outside world only through Darío. Baudelaire and
Verlaine had a very large direct influence, once the way was opened,
and their influence succeeded in curbing the lush impromptu manner of
romantic Spanish verse. In Antonio Machado's work--and he is beginning
to be generally considered the central figure--there is a restraint and
terseness of phrase rare in any poetry.

I do not mean to imply that Machado can be called in any real sense a
pupil of either Darío or Verlaine; rather one would say that in a
generation occupied largely in more or less unsuccessful imitation of
these poets, Machado's poetry stands out as particularly original and
personal. In fact, except for the verse of Juan Ramón Jiménez, it would
be in America and England rather than in Spain, in Aldington and Amy
Lowell, that one would find analogous aims and methods. The influence
of the symbolists and the turbulent experimenting of the Nicaraguan
broke down the bombastic romantic style current in Spain, as it was
broken down everywhere else in the middle nineteenth century. In
Machado's work a new method is being built up, that harks back more to
early ballads and the verse of the first moments of the Renaissance
than to anything foreign, but which shows the same enthusiasm for the
rhythms of ordinary speech and for the simple pictorial expression of
undoctored emotion that we find in the renovators of poetry the world
over. _Campos de Castilla_, his first volume to be widely read, marks
an epoch in Spanish poetry.

Antonio Machado's verse is taken up with places. It is obsessed with
the old Spanish towns where he has lived, with the mellow sadness of
tortuous streets and of old houses that have soaked up the lives of
generations upon generations of men, crumbling in the flaming silence
of summer noons or in the icy blast off the mountains in winter. Though
born in Andalusia, the bitter strength of the Castilian plain, where
half-deserted cities stand aloof from the world, shrunken into their
walls, still dreaming of the ages of faith and conquest, has subjected
his imagination, and the purity of Castilian speech has dominated his
writing, until his poems seem as Castilian as Don Quixote.

    "My childhood: memories of a courtyard in Seville,
    and of a bright garden where lemons hung ripening.
    My youth: twenty years in the land of Castile.
    My history: a few events I do not care to remember."

So Machado writes of himself. He was born in the eighties, has been a
teacher of French in government schools in Soria and Baeza and at
present in Segovia--all old Spanish cities very mellow and very
stately--and has made the migration to Paris customary with Spanish
writers and artists. He says in the _Poema de un Día_:

    Here I am, already a teacher
    of modern languages, who yesterday
    was a master of the gai scavoir
    and the nightingale's apprentice.

He has published three volumes of verse, _Soledades_ ("Solitudes"),
_Campos de Castilla_ ("Fields of Castile"), and _Soledades y Galerías_
("Solitudes and Galleries"), and recently a government institution, the
Residencia de Estudiantes, has published his complete works up to date.

The following translations are necessarily inadequate, as the poems
depend very much on modulations of rhythm and on the expressive fitting
together of words impossible to render in a foreign language. He uses
rhyme comparatively little, often substituting assonance in accordance
with the peculiar traditions of Spanish prosody. I have made no attempt
to imitate his form exactly.


I

    Yes, come away with me--fields of Soria,
    quiet evenings, violet mountains,
    aspens of the river, green dreams
    of the grey earth,
    bitter melancholy
    of the crumbling city--
    perhaps it is that you have become
    the background of my life.

    Men of the high Numantine plain,
    who keep God like old--Christians,
    may the sun of Spain fill you
    with joy and light and abundance!


II

    A frail sound of a tunic trailing
    across the infertile earth,
    and the sonorous weeping
    of the old bells.
    The dying embers
    of the horizon smoke.
    White ancestral ghosts
    go lighting the stars.

    --Open the balcony-window. The hour
    of illusion draws near...
    The afternoon has gone to sleep
    and the bells dream.


III

    Figures in the fields against the sky!
    Two slow oxen plough
    on a hillside early in autumn,
    and between the black heads bent down
    under the weight of the yoke,
    hangs and sways a basket of reeds,
    a child's cradle;
    And behind the yoke stride
    a man who leans towards the earth
    and a woman who, into the open furrows,
    throws the seed.
    Under a cloud of carmine and flame,
    in the liquid green gold of the setting,
    their shadows grow monstrous.


IV

    Naked is the earth
    and the soul howls to the wan horizon
    like a hungry she-wolf.
                          What do you seek,
    poet, in the sunset?
    Bitter going, for the path
    weighs one down, the frozen wind,
    and the coming night and the bitterness
    of distance.... On the white path
    the trunks of frustrate trees show black,
    on the distant mountains
    there is gold and blood. The sun dies....

                          What do you seek,
    poet, in the sunset?


V

    Silver hills and grey ploughed lands,
    violet outcroppings of rock
    through which the Duero traces
    its curve like a cross-bow
    about Soria,
    dark oak-wood, wild cliffs,
    bald peaks,
    and the white roads and the aspens of the river.

    Afternoons of Soria, mystic and warlike,
    to-day I am very sad for you,
    sadness of love,
    Fields of Soria,
    where it seems that the rocks dream,
    come with me! Violet rocky outcroppings,
    silver hills and grey ploughed lands.


VI

    We think to create festivals
    of love out of our love,
    to burn new incense
    on untrodden mountains;
    and to keep the secret
    of our pale faces,
    and why in the bacchanals of life
    we carry empty glasses,
    while with tinkling echoes and laughing
    foams the gold must of the grape....

    A hidden bird among the branches
    of the solitary park
    whistles mockery.... We feel
    the shadow of a dream in our wine-glass,
    and something that is earth in our flesh
    feels the dampness of the garden like a caress.


VII

    I have been back to see the golden aspens,
    aspens of the road along the Duero
    between San Polo and San Saturio,
    beyond the old stiff walls
    of Soria, barbican
    towards Aragon of the Castilian lands.

    These poplars of the river, that chime
    when the wind blows their dry leaves
    to the sound of the water,
    have in their bark the names of lovers,
    initials and dates.
    Aspens of love where yesterday
    the branches were full of nightingales,
    aspens that to-morrow will sing
    under the scented wind of the springtime,
    aspens of love by the water
    that speeds and goes by dreaming,
    aspens of the bank of the Duero,
    come away with me.


VIII

    Cold Soria, clear Soria,
    key of the outlands,
    with the warrior castle
    in ruins beside the Duero,
    and the stiff old walls,
    and the blackened houses.

    Dead city of barons
    and soldiers and huntsmen,
    whose portals bear the shields
    of a hundred hidalgos;
    city of hungry greyhounds,
    of lean greyhounds
    that swarm
    among the dirty lanes
    and howl at midnight
    when the crows caw.

    Cold Soria! The clock
    of the Lawcourts has struck one.
    Soria, city of Castile,
    so beautiful under the moon.


IX

AT A FRIEND'S BURIAL

    They put him away in the earth
    a horrible July afternoon
    under a sun of fire.

    A step from the open grave
    grew roses with rotting petals
    among geraniums of bitter fragrance,
    red-flowered. The sky
    a pale blue. A wind
    hard and dry.

    Hanging on the thick ropes,
    the two gravediggers
    let the coffin heavily
    down into the grave.

    It struck the bottom with a sharp sound,
    solemnly, in the silence.

    The sound of a coffin striking the earth
    is something unutterably solemn.

    The heavy clods broke into dust
    over the black coffin.

    A white mist of dust rose in the air
    out of the deep grave.

    And you, without a shadow now, sleep.
    Long peace to your bones.
    For all time
    you sleep a tranquil and a real sleep.


X

THE IBERIAN GOD

    Like the cross-bowman,
    the gambler in the song,
    the Iberian had an arrow for his god
    when he shattered the grain with hail
    and ruined the fruits of autumn;
    and a gloria when he fattened
    the barley and the oats
    that were to make bread to-morrow.
    "God of ruin,
    I worship because I wait and because I fear.
    I bend in prayer to the earth
    a blasphemous heart.

    "Lord, through whom I snatch my bread with pain,
    I know your strength, I know my slavery.
    Lord of the clouds in the east
    that trample the country-side,
    of dry autumns and late frosts
    and of the blasts of heat that scorch the harvests!

    "Lord of the iris in the green meadows
    where the sheep graze,
    Lord of the fruit the worms gnaw
    and of the hut the whirlwind shatters,
    your breath gives life to the fire in the hearth,
    your warmth ripens the tawny grain,
    and your holy hand, St. John's eve,
    hardens the stone of the green olive.

    "Lord of riches and poverty,
    Of fortune and mishap,
    who gives to the rich luck and idleness,
    and pain and hope to the poor!

    "Lord, Lord, in the inconstant wheel
    of the year I have sown my sowing
    that has an equal chance with the coins
    of a gambler sown on the gambling-table!

    "Lord, a father to-day, though stained with yesterday's blood,
    two-faced of love and vengeance,
    to you, dice cast into the wind,
    goes my prayer, blasphemy and praise!"

    This man who insults God in his altars,
    without more care of the frown of fate,
    also dreamed of paths across the seas
    and said: "It is God who walks upon the waters."

    Is it not he who put God above war,
    beyond fate,
    beyond the earth,
    beyond the sea and death?

    Did he not give the greenest bough
    of the dark-green Iberian oak
    for God's holy bonfire,
    and for love flame one with God?

    But to-day ... What does a day matter?
    for the new household gods
    there are plains in forest shade
    and green boughs in the old oak-woods.

    Though long the land waits
    for the curved plough to open the first furrow,
    there is sowing for God's grain
    under thistles and burdocks and nettles.

    What does a day matter? Yesterday waits
    for to-morrow, to-morrow for infinity;
    men of Spain, neither is the past dead,
    nor is to-morrow, nor yesterday, written.

    Who has seen the face of the Iberian God?
    I wait
    for the Iberian man who with strong hands
    will carve out of Castilian oak
    The parched God of the grey land.



_XII: A Catalan Poet_

    _It is time for sailing; the swallow has come chattering and the
    mellow west wind; the meadows are already in bloom; the sea is
    silent and the waves the rough winds pummeled. Up anchors and loose
    the hawsers, sailor, set every stitch of canvas. This I, Priapos
    the harbor god, command you, man, that you may sail for all manner
    of ladings._ (_Leonidas in the Greek Anthology._)


Catalonia like Greece is a country of mountains and harbors, where the
farmers and herdsmen of the hills can hear in the morning the creak of
oars and the crackling of cordage as the great booms of the wing-shaped
sails are hoisted to the tops of the stumpy masts of the fishermen's
boats. Barcelona with its fine harbor nestling under the towering
slopes of Montjuic has been a trading city since most ancient times. In
the middle ages the fleets of its stocky merchants were the economic
scaffolding which underlay the pomp and heraldry of the great sea
kingdom of the Aragonese. To this day you can find on old buildings the
arms of the kings of Aragon and the counts of Barcelona in Mallorca and
Manorca and Ibiza and Sardinia and Sicily and Naples. It follows that
when Catalonia begins to reëmerge as a nucleus of national
consciousness after nearly four centuries of subjection to Castile,
poets speaking Catalan, writing Catalan, shall be poets of the
mountains and of the sea.

Yet this time the motor force is not the sailing of white argosies
towards the east. It is textile mills, stable, motionless, drawing
about them muddled populations, raw towns, fattening to new arrogance
the descendants of those stubborn burghers who gave the kings of Aragon
and of Castile such vexing moments. (There's a story of one king who
was so chagrined by the tight-pursed contrariness of the Cortes of
Barcelona that he died of a broken heart in full parliament assembled.)
This growth of industry during the last century, coupled with the
reawakening of the whole Mediterranean, took form politically in the
Catalan movement for secession from Spain, and in literature in the
resurrection of Catalan thought and Catalan language.

Naturally the first generation was not interested in the manufactures
that were the dynamo that generated the ferment of their lives. They
had first to state the emotions of the mountains and the sea and of
ancient heroic stories that had been bottled up in their race during
centuries of inexpressiveness. For another generation perhaps the
symbols will be the cluck of oiled cogs, the whirring of looms, the
dragon forms of smoke spewed out of tall chimneys, and the substance
will be the painful struggle for freedom, for sunnier, richer life of
the huddled mobs of the slaves of the machines. For the first men
conscious of their status as Catalans the striving was to make
permanent their individual lives in terms of political liberty, of the
mist-capped mountains and the changing sea.

Of this first generation was Juan Maragall who died in 1912, five years
after the shooting of Ferrer, after a life spent almost entirely in
Barcelona writing for newspapers,--as far as one can gather, a
completely peaceful well-married existence, punctuated by a certain
amount of political agitation in the cause of the independence of
Catalonia, the life of a placid and recognized literary figure; "_un
maître_" the French would have called him.

Perhaps six centuries before, in Palma de Mallorca, a young nobleman, a
poet, a skilled player on the lute had stood tiptoe for attainment
before the high-born and very stately lady he had courted through many
moonlight nights, when her eye had chilled his quivering love suddenly
and she had pulled open her bodice with both hands and shown him her
breasts, one white and firm and the other swollen black and purple with
cancer. The horror of the sight of such beauty rotting away before his
eyes had turned all his passion inward and would have made him a saint
had his ideas been more orthodox; as it was the Blessed Ramón Lull
lived to write many mystical works in Catalan and Latin, in which he
sought the love of God in the love of Earth after the manner of the
sufi of Persia. Eventually he attained bloody martyrdom arguing with
the sages in some North African town. Somehow the spirit of the
tortured thirteenth-century mystic was born again in the calm Barcelona
journalist, whose life was untroubled by the impact of events as could
only be a life comprising the last half of the nineteenth century. In
Maragall's writings modulated in the lovely homely language of the
peasants and fishermen of Catalonia, there flames again the passionate
metaphor of Lull.

Here is a rough translation of one of his best known poems:

    At sunset time
    drinking at the spring's edge
    I drank down the secrets
    of mysterious earth.

    Deep in the runnel
    I saw the stainless water
    born out of darkness
    for the delight of my mouth,

    and it poured into my throat
    and with its clear spurting
    there filled me entirely
    mellowness of wisdom.

    When I stood straight and looked,
    mountains and woods and meadows
    seemed to me otherwise,
    everything altered.

    Above the great sunset
    there already shone through the glowing
    carmine contours of the clouds
    the white sliver of the new moon.

    It was a world in flower
    and the soul of it was I.

    I the fragrant soul of the meadows
    that expands at flower-time and reaping-time.

    I the peaceful soul of the herds
    that tinkle half-hidden by the tall grass.

    I the soul of the forest that sways in waves
    like the sea, and has as far horizons.

    And also I was the soul of the willow tree
    that gives every spring its shade.

    I the sheer soul of the cliffs
    where the mist creeps up and scatters.

    And the unquiet soul of the stream
    that shrieks in shining waterfalls.

    I was the blue soul of the pond
    that looks with strange eyes on the wanderer.

    I the soul of the all-moving wind
    and the humble soul of opening flowers.

    I was the height of the high peaks...

    The clouds caressed me with great gestures
    and the wide love of misty spaces
    clove to me, placid.

    I felt the delightfulness of springs
    born in my flanks, gifts of the glaciers;
    and in the ample quietude of horizons
    I felt the reposeful sleep of storms.

    And when the sky opened about me
    and the sun laughed on my green planes
    people, far off, stood still all day
    staring at my sovereign beauty.

    But I, full of the lust
    that makes furious the sea and mountains
    lifted myself up strongly through the sky
    lifted the diversity of my flanks and entrails...

    At sunset time
    drinking at the spring's edge
    I drank down the secrets
    of mysterious earth.

The sea and mountains, mist and cattle and yellow broom-flowers, and
fishing boats with lateen sails like dark wings against the sunrise
towards Mallorca: delight of the nose and the eyes and the ears in all
living perceptions until the poison of other-worldliness wells up
suddenly in him and he is a Christian and a mystic full of echoes of
old soul-torturing. In Maragall's most expressive work, a sequence of
poems called _El Comte Arnau_, all this is synthesized. These are from
the climax.

    All the voices of the earth
    acclaim count Arnold
    because from the dark trial
    he has come back triumphant.

    "Son of the earth, son of the earth,
    count Arnold,
    now ask, now ask
    what cannot you do?"

    "Live, live, live forever,
    I would never die:
    to be like a wheel revolving;
    to live with wine and a sword."

    "Wheels roll, roll,
    but they count the years."

    "Then I would be a rock
    immobile to suns or storms."

    "Rock lives without life
    forever impenetrable."

    "Then the ever-moving sea
    that opens a path for all things."

    "The sea is alone, alone,
    you go accompanied."

    "Then be the air when it flames
    in the light of the deathless sun."

    "But air and sun are loveless,
    ignorant of eternity."

    "Then to be man more than man
    to be earth palpitant."

    "You shall be wheel and rock,
    you shall be the mist-veiled sea
    you shall be the air in flame,
    you shall be the whirling stars,
    you shall be man more than man
    for you have the will for it.
    You shall run the plains and hills,
    all the earth that is so wide,
    mounted on a horse of flame
    you shall be tireless, terrible
    as the tramp of the storms
    All the voices of earth
    will cry out whirling about you.
    They will call you spirit in torment
    call you forever damned."

    Night. All the beauty of Adalaisa
    asleep at the feet of naked Christ.
    Arnold goes pacing a dark path;
    there is silence among the mountains;
    in front of him the rustling lisp of a river,
    a pool.... Then it is lost and soundless.
    Arnold stands under the sheer portal.

    He goes searching the cells for Adalaisa
    and sees her sleeping, beautiful, prone
    at the feet of the naked Christ, without veil
    without kerchief, without cloak, gestureless,
    without any defense, there, sleeping....

    She had a great head of turbulent hair.

    "How like fine silk your hair, Adalaisa,"
    thinks Arnold. But he looks at her silently.
    She sleeps, she sleeps and little by little
    a flush spreads over all her face
    as if a dream had crept through her gently
    until she laughs aloud very softly
    with a tremulous flutter of the lips.

    "What amorous lips, Adalaisa,"
    thinks Arnold. But he looks at her silently.

    A great sigh swells through her, sleeping,
    like a seawave, and fades to stillness.

    "What sighs swell in your breast, Adalaisa,"
    thinks Arnold. But he stares at her silently.

    But when she opens her eyes he, awake,
    tingling, carries her off in his arms.

    When they burst out into the open fields
    it is day.

But the fear of life gushes suddenly to muddy the dear wellspring of
sensation, and the poet, beaten to his knees, writes:

    And when the terror-haunted moment comes
    to close these earthly eyes of mine,
    open for me, Lord, other greater eyes
    to look upon the immensity of your face.

But before that moment comes, through the medium of an extraordinarily
terse and unspoiled language, a language that has not lost its earthy
freshness by mauling and softening at the hands of literary
generations, what a lilting crystal-bright vision of things. It is as
if the air of the Mediterranean itself, thin, brilliant, had been
hammered into cadences. The verse is leaping and free, full of echoes
and refrains. The images are sudden and unlabored like the images in
the Greek anthology: a hermit released from Nebuchadnezzar's spell gets
to his feet "like a bear standing upright"; fishing boats being shoved
off the beach slide into the sea one by one "like village girls joining
a dance"; on a rough day the smacks with reefed sails "skip like goats
at the harbor entrance." There are phrases like "the great asleepness
of the mountains"; "a long sigh like a seawave through her sleep"; "my
speech of her is like a flight of birds that lead your glance into
intense blue sky"; "the disquieting unquiet sea." Perhaps it is that
the eyes are sharpened by the yearning to stare through the brilliant
changing forms of things into some intenser beyond. Perhaps it takes a
hot intoxicating draught of divinity to melt into such white fire the
various colors of the senses. Perhaps earthly joy is intenser for the
beckoning flames of hell.

The daily life, too, to which Maragall aspires seems strangely out of
another age. That came home to me most strongly once, talking to a
Catalan after a mountain scramble in the eastern end of Mallorca. We
sat looking at the sea that was violet with sunset, where the sails of
the homecoming fishing boats were the wan yellow of primroses. Behind
us the hills were sharp pyrites blue. From a window in the adobe hut at
one side of us came a smell of sizzling olive oil and tomatoes and
peppers and the muffled sound of eggs being beaten. We were footsore,
hungry, and we talked about women and love. And after all it was
marriage that counted, he told me at last, women's bodies and souls and
the love of them were all very well, but it was the ordered life of a
family, children, that counted; the family was the immortal chain on
which lives were strung; and he recited this quatrain, saying, in that
proud awefilled tone with which Latins speak of creative achievement,
"By our greatest poet, Juan Maragall":

    Canta esposa, fila i canta
    que el patí em faras suau
    Quan l'esposa canta i fila
    el casal s'adorm en pau.

It was hard explaining how all our desires lay towards the completer
and completer affirming of the individual, that we in Anglo-Saxon
countries felt that the family was dead as a social unit, that new
cohesions were in the making.

"I want my liberty," he broke in, "as much as--as Byron did, liberty of
thought and action." He was silent a moment; then he said simply, "But
I want a wife and children and a family, mine, mine."

Then the girl who was cooking leaned out of the window to tell us in
soft Mallorquin that supper was ready. She had a full brown face
flushed on the cheek-bones and given triangular shape like an El Greco
madonna's face by the bright blue handkerchief knotted under the chin.
Her breasts hung out from her body, solid like a Victory's under the
sleek grey shawl as she leaned from the window. In her eyes that were
sea-grey there was an unimaginable calm. I thought of Penelope sitting
beside her loom in a smoky-raftered hall, grey eyes looking out on a
sailless sea. And for a moment I understood the Catalan's phrase: the
family was the chain on which lives were strung, and all of Maragall's
lyricizing of wifehood,

    When the wife sits singing as she spins
    all the house can sleep in peace.

From the fishermen's huts down the beach came an intense blue smoke of
fires; above the soft rustle of the swell among the boats came the
chatter of many sleepy voices, like the sound of sparrows in a city
park at dusk. The day dissolved slowly in utter timelessness. And when
the last fishing boat came out of the dark sea, the tall slanting sail
folding suddenly as the wings of a sea-gull alighting, the red-brown
face of the man in the bow was the face of returning Odysseus. It was
not the continuity of men's lives I felt, but their oneness. On that
beach, beside that sea, there was no time.

When we were eating in the whitewashed room by the light of three brass
olive oil lamps, I found that my argument had suddenly crumbled. What
could I, who had come out of ragged and barbarous outlands, tell of the
art of living to a man who had taught me both system and revolt? So am
I, to whom the connubial lyrics of Patmore and Ella Wheeler Wilcox have
always seemed inexpressible soiling of possible loveliness, forced to
bow before the rich cadences with which Juan Maragall, Catalan, poet of
the Mediterranean, celebrates the _familia_.

And in Maragall's work it is always the Mediterranean that one feels,
the Mediterranean and the men who sailed on it in black ships with
bright pointed sails. Just as in Homer and Euripides and Pindar and
Theocritus and in that tantalizing kaleidoscope, the Anthology, beyond
the grammar and the footnotes and the desolation of German texts there
is always the rhythm of sea waves and the smell of well-caulked ships
drawn up on dazzling beaches, so in Maragall, beyond the graceful
well-kept literary existence, beyond wife and children and pompous
demonstrations in the cause of abstract freedom, there is the sea
lashing the rocky shins of the Pyrenees,--actual, dangerous, wet.

In this day when we Americans are plundering the earth far and near for
flowers and seeds and ferments of literature in the hope, perhaps vain,
of fallowing our thin soil with manure rich and diverse and promiscuous
so that the somewhat sickly plants of our own culture may burst sappy
and green through the steel and cement and inhibitions of our lives, we
should not forget that northwest corner of the Mediterranean where the
Langue d'Oc is as terse and salty as it was in the days of Pierre
Vidal, whose rhythms of life, intrinsically Mediterranean, are finding
new permanence--poetry richly ordered and lucid.

To the Catalans of the last fifty years has fallen the heritage of the
oar which the cunning sailor Odysseus dedicated to the Sea, the
earth-shaker, on his last voyage. And the first of them is Maragall.



_XIII: Talk by the Road_


On the top step Telemachus found a man sitting with his head in his
hands moaning "_¡Ay de mí!_" over and over again.

"I beg pardon," he said stiffly, trying to slip by.

"Did you see the function this evening, sir?" asked the man looking up
at Telemachus with tears streaming from his eyes. He had a yellow face
with lean blue chin and jowls shaven close and a little waxed moustache
that had lost all its swagger for the moment as he had the ends of it
in his mouth.

"What function?"

"In the theatre.... I am an artist, an actor." He got to his feet and
tried to twirl his ragged moustaches back into shape. Then he stuck out
his chest, straightened his waistcoat so that the large watchchain
clinked, and invited Telemachus to have a cup of coffee with him.

They sat at the black oak table in front of the fire. The actor told
how there had been only twelve people at his show. How was he to be
expected to make his living if only twelve people came to see him? And
the night before Carnival, too, when they usually got such a crowd.
He'd learned a new song especially for the occasion, too good, too
artistic for these pigs of provincials.

"Here in Spain the stage is ruined, ruined!" he cried out finally.

"How ruined?" asked Telemachus.

"The _Zarzuela_ is dead. The days of the great writers of _zarzuela_
have gone never to return. O the music, the lightness, the jollity of
the _zarzuelas_ of my father's time! My father was a great singer, a
tenor whose voice was an enchantment.... I know the princely life of a
great singer of _zarzuela_.... When a small boy I lived it.... And now
look at me!"

Telemachus thought how strangely out of place was the actor's anæmic
wasplike figure in this huge kitchen where everything was dark,
strong-smelling, massive. Black beams with here and there a trace of
red daub on them held up the ceiling and bristled with square iron
spikes from which hung hams and sausages and white strands of garlic.
The table at which they sat was an oak slab, black from smoke and
generations of spillings, firmly straddled on thick trestles. Over the
fire hung a copper pot, sooty, with a glitter of grease on it where the
soup had boiled over. When one leaned to put a bundle of sticks on the
fire one could see up the chimney an oblong patch of blackness spangled
with stars. On the edge of the hearth was the great hunched figure of
the _padrón_, half asleep, a silk handkerchief round his head, watching
the coffee-pot.

"It was an elegant life, full of voyages," went on the actor. "South
America, Naples, Sicily, and all over Spain. There were formal dinners,
receptions, ceremonial dress.... Ladies of high society came to
congratulate us.... I played all the child rôles.... When I was
fourteen a duchess fell in love with me. And now, look at me, ragged,
dying of hunger--not even able to fill a theatre in this hog of a
village. In Spain they have lost all love of the art. All they want is
foreign importations, Viennese musical comedies, smutty farces from
Paris...."

"With cognac or rum?" the _padrón_ roared out suddenly in his deep
voice, swinging the coffee pot up out of the fire.

"Cognac," said the actor. "What rotten coffee!" He gave little petulant
sniffs as he poured sugar into his glass.

The wail of a baby rose up suddenly out of the dark end of the kitchen.

The actor took two handfuls of his hair and yanked at them.

"_Ay_ my nerves!" he shrieked. The baby wailed louder in spasm after
spasm of yelling. The actor jumped to his feet, "¡Dolóres, Dolóres,
_ven acá_!"

After he had called several times a girl came into the room padding
softly on bare feet and stood before him tottering sleepily in the
firelight. Her heavy lids hung over her eyes. A strand of black hair
curled round her full throat and spread raggedly over her breasts. She
had pulled a blanket over her shoulders but through a rent in her
coarse nightgown the fire threw a patch of red glow curved like a rose
petal about one brown thigh.

"_¡Qué desvergonza'a!_... How shameless!" muttered the _padrón_.

The actor was scolding her in a shrill endless whine. The girl stood
still without answering, her teeth clenched to keep them from
chattering. Then she turned without a word and brought the baby from
the packing box in which he lay at the end of the room, and drawing the
blanket about both her and the child crouched on her heels very close
to the flame with her bare feet in the ashes. When the crying had
ceased she turned to the actor with a full-lipped smile and said,
"There's nothing the matter with him, Paco. He's not even hungry. You
woke him up, the poor little angel, talking so loud."

She got to her feet again, and with slow unspeakable dignity walked
back and forth across the end of the room with the child at her breast.
Each time she turned she swung the trailing blanket round with a sudden
twist of her body from the hips.

Telemachus watched her furtively, sniffing the hot aroma of coffee and
cognac from his glass, and whenever she turned the muscles of his body
drew into tight knots from joy.

"_Es buena chica...._ She's a nice kid, from Malaga. I picked her up
there. A little stupid.... But these days...." the actor was saying
with much shrugging of the shoulders. "She dances well, but the public
doesn't like her. _No tiene cara de parisiana._ She hasn't the Parisian
air.... But these days, _vamos_, one can't be too fastidious. This
taste for French plays, French women, French cuisine, it's ruined the
Spanish theatre."

The fire flared crackling. Telemachus sat sipping his coffee waiting
for the unbearable delight of the swing of the girl's body as she
turned to pace back towards him across the room.



_XIV: Benavente's Madrid_


All the gravel paths of the Plaza Santa Ana were encumbered with wicker
chairs. At one corner seven blind musicians all in a row, with violins,
a cello, guitars and a mournful cornet, toodled and wheezed and
twiddled through the "Blue Danube." At another a crumpled old man, with
a monkey dressed in red silk drawers on his shoulder, ground out "_la
Paloma_" from a hurdygurdy. In the middle of the green plot a fountain
sparkled in the yellow light that streamed horizontally from the cafés
fuming with tobacco smoke on two sides of the square, and ragged
guttersnipes dipped their legs in the slimy basin round about it,
splashing one another, rolling like little colts in the grass. From the
cafés and the wicker chairs and tables, clink of glasses and dominoes,
patter of voices, scuttle of waiters with laden trays, shouts of men
selling shrimps, prawns, fried potatoes, watermelon, nuts in little
cornucopias of red, green, or yellow paper. Light gleamed on the
buff-colored disk of a table in front of me, on the rims of two
beer-mugs, in the eyes of a bearded man with an aquiline nose very
slender at the bridge who leaned towards me talking in a deep even
voice, telling me in swift lisping Castilian stories of Madrid. First
of the Madrid of Felipe Cuarto: _corridas_ in the Plaza Mayor, _auto da
fé_, pictures by Velasquez on view under the arcade where now there is
a doughnut and coffee shop, pompous coaches painted vermilion, cobalt,
gilded, stuffed with ladies in vast bulge of damask and brocade, plumed
cavaliers, pert ogling pages, lurching and swaying through the
foot-deep stinking mud of the streets; plays of Calderon and Lope
presented in gardens tinkling with jewels and sword-chains where ladies
of the court flirted behind ostrich fans with stiff lean-faced lovers.
Then Goya's Madrid: riots in the Puerta del Sol, _majas_ leaning from
balconies, the fair of San Isidro by the river, scuttling of ragged
guerrilla bands, brigands and patriots; tramp of the stiffnecked
grenadiers of Napoleon; pompous little men in short-tailed wigs dying
the _dos de Mayo_ with phrases from Mirabeau on their lips under the
brick arch of the arsenal; frantic carnivals of the Burial of the
Sardine; naked backs of flagellants dripping blood, lovers hiding under
the hoop skirts of the queen. Then the romantic Madrid of the thirties,
Larra, Becquer, Espronceda, Byronic gestures, vigils in graveyards,
duels, struttings among the box-alleys of the Retiro, pale young men in
white stocks shooting themselves in attics along the Calle Mayor. "And
now," the voice became suddenly gruff with anger, "look at Madrid. They
closed the Café Suizo, they are building a subway, the Castellana looks
more like the Champs Elysées every day.... It's only on the stage that
you get any remnant of the real Madrid. Benavente is the last
_madrileño_. _Tiene el sentido de lo castizo._ He has the sense of the
..." all the end of the evening went to the discussion of the meaning
of the famous word "_castizo_."

The very existence of such a word in a language argues an acute sense
of style, of the manner of doing things. Like all words of real import
its meaning is a gamut, a section of a spectrum rather than something
fixed and irrevocable. The first implication seems to be "according to
Hoyle," following tradition: a neatly turned phrase, an essentially
Castilian cadence, is _castizo_; a piece of pastry or a poem in the old
tradition are _castizo_, or a compliment daintily turned, or a cloak of
the proper fullness with the proper red velvet-bordered lining
gracefully flung about the ears outside of a café. _Lo castizo_ is the
essence of the local, of the regional, the last stronghold of Castilian
arrogance, refers not to the empty shell of traditional observances but
to the very core and gesture of them. Ultimately _lo castizo_ means all
that is salty, savourous of the red and yellow hills and the bare
plains and the deep _arroyos_ and the dust-colored towns full of
palaces and belfries, and the beggars in snuff-colored cloaks and the
mule-drivers with blankets over their shoulders, and the discursive
lean-faced gentlemen grouped about tables at cafés and casinos, and the
stout dowagers with mantillas over their gleaming black hair walking to
church in the morning with missals clasped in fat hands, all that is
acutely indigenous, Iberian, in the life of Castile.

In the flood of industrialism that for the last twenty years has
swelled to obliterate landmarks, to bring all the world to the same
level of nickel-plated dullness, the theatre in Madrid has been the
refuge of _lo castizo_. It has been a theatre of manners and local
types and customs, of observation and natural history, where a rather
specialized well-trained audience accustomed to satire as the tone of
daily conversation was tickled by any portrayal of its quips and
cranks. A tradition of character-acting grew up nearer that of the
Yiddish theatre than of any other stage we know in America. Benavente
and the brothers Quintero have been the playwrights who most typified
the school that has been in vogue since the going out of the _drame
passionel_ style of Echegaray. At present Benavente as director of the
_Teatro Nacional_ is unquestionably the leading figure. Therefore it is
very fitting that Benavente should be in life and works of all
_madrileños_ the most _castizo_.

Later, as we sat drinking milk in la Granja after a couple of hours of
a shabby third-generation Viennese musical show at the Apollo, my
friend discoursed to me of the manner of life of the _madrileño_ in
general and of Don Jacinto Benavente in particular. Round eleven or
twelve one got up, took a cup of thick chocolate, strolled on the
Castellana under the chestnut trees or looked in at one's office in the
theatre. At two one lunched. At three or so one sat a while drinking
coffee or anis in the Gato Negro, where the waiters have the air of
cabinet ministers and listen to every word of the rather languid
discussions on art and letters that while away the afternoon hours.
Then as it got towards five one drifted to a matinee, if there chanced
to be a new play opening, or to tea somewhere out in the new
Frenchified Barrio de Salamanca. Dinner came along round nine; from
there one went straight to the theatre to see that all went well with
the evening performance. At one the day culminated in a famous
_tertulia_ at the Café de Lisboa, where all the world met and argued
and quarreled and listened to disquisitions and epigrams at tables
stacked with coffee glasses amid spiral reek of cigarette smoke.

"But when were the plays written?" I asked.

My friend laughed. "Oh between semicolons," he said, "and _en route_,
and in bed, and while being shaved. Here in Madrid you write a comedy
between biscuits at breakfast.... And now that the Metro's open, it's a
great help. I know a young poet who tossed off a five-act tragedy,
sex-psychology and all, between the Puerta del Sol and Cuatro Caminos!"

"But Madrid's being spoiled," he went on sadly, "at least from the
point of view of _lo castizo_. In the last generation all one saw of
daylight were sunset and dawn, people used to go out to fight duels
where the Residencia de Estudiantes is now, and they had real
_tertulias_, _tertulias_ where conversation swaggered and parried and
lunged, sparing nothing, laughing at everything, for all the world like
our unique Spanish hero, Don Juan Tenorio.

    'Yo a las cabañas baje,
    yo a los palacios subí,
    y los claustros escalé,
    y en todas partes dejé
    memorias amargas de mí.'

"Talk ranged from peasant huts to the palaces of Carlist duchesses, and
God knows the crows and the cloisters weren't let off scot free. And
like good old absurd Tenorio they didn't care if laughter did leave
bitter memories, and were willing to wait till their deathbeds to
reconcile themselves with heaven and solemnity. But our generation,
they all went solemn in their cradles.... Except for the theatre
people, always except for the theatre people! We of the theatres will
be _castizo_ to the death."

As we left the café, I to go home to bed, my friend to go on to another
_tertulia_, he stood for a moment looking back among the tables and
glasses.

"What the Agora was to the Athenians," he said, and finished the
sentence with an expressive wave of the hand.

It's hard for Anglo-Saxons, ante-social, as suspicious of neighbors as
if they still lived in the boggy forests of Finland, city-dwellers for
a paltry thirty generations, to understand the publicity, the communal
quality of life in the region of the Mediterranean. The first thought
when one gets up is to go out of doors to see what people are talking
of, the last thing before going to bed is to chat with the neighbors
about the events of the day. The home, cloistered off, exclusive, can
hardly be said to exist. Instead of the nordic hearth there is the
courtyard about which the women sit while the men are away at the
marketplace. In Spain this social life centers in the café and the
casino. The modern theatre is as directly the offshoot of the café as
the old theatre was of the marketplace where people gathered in front
of the church porch to see an interlude or mystery acted by travelling
players in a wagon. The people who write the plays, the people who act
them and the people who see them spend their spare time smoking about
marbletop tables, drinking coffee, discussing. Those too poor to buy a
drink stand outside in groups the sunny side of squares. Constant talk
about everything that may happen or had happened or will happen manages
to butter the bread of life pretty evenly with passion and thought and
significance, but one loses the chunks of intensity. There is little
chance for the burst dams that suddenly flood the dry watercourse of
emotion among more inhibited, less civilized people. Generations upon
generations of townsmen have made of life a well-dredged canal,
easy-flowing, somewhat shallow.

It follows that the theatre under such conditions shall be talkative,
witty, full of neat swift caricaturing, improvised, unselfconscious; at
its worst, glib. Boisterous action often, passionate strain almost
never. In Echegaray there are hecatombs, half the characters habitually
go insane in the last act; tremendous barking but no bite of real
intensity. Benavente has recaptured some of Lope de Vega's marvellous
quality of adventurous progression. The Quinteros write domestic
comedies full of whim and sparkle and tenderness. But expression always
seems too easy; there is never the unbearable tension, the utter
self-forgetfulness of the greatest drama. The Spanish theatre plays on
the nerves and intellect rather than on the great harpstrings of
emotion in which all of life is drawn taut.

At present in Madrid even café life is receding before the exigencies
of business and the hardly excusable mania for imitating English and
American manners. Spain is undergoing great changes in its relation to
the rest of Europe, to Latin America, in its own internal structure.
Notwithstanding Madrid's wartime growth and prosperity, the city is
fast losing ground as the nucleus of the life and thought of
Spanish-speaking people. The _madrileño_, lean, cynical, unscrupulous,
nocturnal, explosive with a curious sort of febrile wit is becoming
extinct. His theatre is beginning to pander to foreign tastes, to be
ashamed of itself, to take on respectability and stodginess. Prices of
seats, up to 1918 very low, rise continually; the artisans, apprentice
boys, loafers, clerks, porters, who formed the backbone of the
audiences can no longer afford the theatre and have taken to the movies
instead. Managers spend money on scenery and costumes as a way of
attracting fashionables. It has become quite proper for women to go to
the theatre. Benavente's plays thus acquire double significance as the
summing up and the chief expression of a movement that has reached its
hey-day, from which the sap has already been cut off. It is, indeed,
the thing to disparage them for their very finest quality, the
vividness with which they express the texture of Madrid, the animated
humorous mordant conversation about café tables: _lo castizo_.

The first play of his I ever saw, "_Gente Conocida_," impressed me, I
remember, at a time when I understood about one word in ten and had to
content myself with following the general modulation of things, as
carrying on to the stage, the moment the curtain rose, the very people,
intonations, phrases, that were stirring in the seats about me. After
the first act a broad-bosomed lady in black silk leaned back in the
seat beside me sighing comfortably "_Qué castizo es este Benavente_,"
and then went into a volley of approving chirpings. The full import of
her enthusiasm did not come to me until much later when I read the play
in the comparative light of a surer knowledge of Castilian, and found
that it was a most vitriolic dissecting of the manner of life of that
very dowager's own circle, a showing up of the predatory spite of
"people of consequence." Here was this society woman, who in any other
country would have been indignant, enjoying the annihilation of her
kind. On such willingness to play the game of wit, even of abuse,
without too much rancor, which is the unction to ease of social
intercourse, is founded all the popularity of Benavente's writing.
Somewhere in Hugo's Spanish grammar (God save the mark!) is a proverb
to the effect that the wind of Madrid is so subtle that it will kill a
man without putting out a candle. The same, at their best, can be said
of Benavente's satiric comedies:

    El viento de Madrid es tan sutil
    que mata a un hombre y no apaga un candil.

From the opposite bank of the Manzanares, a slimy shrunken stream
usually that flows almost hidden under clothes lines where billow the
undergarments of all Madrid, in certain lights you can recapture almost
entire the silhouette of the city as Goya has drawn it again and again;
clots of peeling stucco houses huddling up a flattened hill towards the
dome of San Francisco El Grande, then an undulating skyline with
cupolas and baroque belfries jutting among the sudden lights and darks
of the clouds. Then perhaps the sun will light up with a spreading
shaft of light the electric-light factory, the sign on a biscuit
manufacturer's warehouse, a row of white blocks of apartments along the
edge of town to the north, and instead of odd grimy aboriginal Madrid,
it will be a type city in Europe in the industrial era that shines in
the sun beyond the blue shadows and creamy flashes of the clothes on
the lines. So will it be in a few years with modernized Madrid, with
the life of cafés and _paseos_ and theatres. There will be moments when
in American automats, elegant smokeless tearooms, shiny restaurants
built in copy of those of Buenos Aires, someone who has read his
Benavente will be able to catch momentary glimpses of old intonations,
of witty parries, of noisy bombastic harangues and feel for one
pentecostal moment the full and by that time forgotten import of _lo
castizo_.



_XV: Talk by the Road_


The sun next morning was tingling warm. Telemachus strode along with a
taste of a milky bowl of coffee and crisp _churros_ in his mouth and a
fresh wind in his hair; his feet rasped pleasantly on the gravel of the
road. Behind him the town sank into the dun emerald-striped plain,
roofs clustering, huddling more and more under the shadow of the
beetling church, and the tower becoming leaner and darker against the
steamy clouds that oozed in billowing tiers over the mountains to the
north. Crows flapped about the fields where here and there the dark
figures of a man and a pair of mules moved up a long slope. On the
telegraph wires at a bend in the road two magpies sat, the sunlight
glinting, when they stirred, on the white patches on their wings.
Telemachus felt well-rested and content with himself.

"After all mother knows best," he was thinking. "That foolish Lyaeus
will come dragging himself into Toledo a week from now."

Before noon he came on the same Don Alonso he had seen the day before
in Illescas. Don Alonso was stretched out under an olive tree, a long
red sausage in his hand, a loaf of bread and a small leather bottle of
wine on the sward in front of him. Hitched to the tree, at the bark of
which he nibbled with long teeth, was the grey horse.

"_Hola_, my friend," cried Don Alonso, "still bent on Toledo?"

"How soon can I get there?"

"Soon enough to see the castle of San Servando against the sunset. We
will go together. You travel as fast as my old nag. But do me the honor
of eating something, you must be hungry." Thereupon Don Alonso handed
Telemachus the sausage and a knife to peel and slice it with.

"How early you must have started."

They sat together munching bread and sausage to which the sweet pepper
mashed into it gave a bright red color, and occasionally, head thrown
back, let a little wine squirt into their mouths from the bottle.

Don Alonso waved discursively a bit of sausage held between bread by
tips of long grey fingers.

"You are now, my friend, in the heart of Castile. Look, nothing but
live-oaks along the gulches and wheat-lands rolling up under a
tremendous sky. Have you ever seen more sky? In Madrid there is not so
much sky, is there? In your country there is not so much sky? Look at
the huge volutes of those clouds. This is a setting for thoughts as
mighty in contour as the white cumulus over the Sierra, such as come
into the minds of men lean, wind-tanned, long-striding...." Don Alonso
put a finger to his high yellow forehead. "There is in Castile a
potential beauty, my friend, something humane, tolerant, vivid,
robust.... I don't say it is in me. My only merit lies in recognizing
it, formulating it, for I am no more than a thinker.... But the day
will come when in this gruff land we shall have flower and fruit."

Don Alonso was smiling with thin lips, head thrown back against the
twisted trunk of the olive tree. Then all at once he got to his feet,
and after rummaging a moment in the little knapsack that hung over his
shoulder, produced absent-mindedly a handful of small white candies the
shape of millstones which he stared at in a puzzled way for some
seconds.

"After all," he went on, "they make famous sweets in these old
Castilian towns. These are _melindres_. Have one.... When people, d'you
know, are kind to children, there are things to be expected."

"Certainly children are indulgently treated in Spain," said Telemachus,
his mouth full of almond paste. "They actually seem to like children!"

A cart drawn by four mules tandem led by a very minute donkey with
three strings of blue beads round his neck was jingling past along the
road. As the canvas curtains of the cover were closed the only evidence
of the driver was a sleepy song in monotone that trailed with the dust
cloud after the cart. While they stood by the roadside watching the
joggle of it away from them down the road, a flushed face was poked out
from between the curtains and a voice cried "Hello, Tel!"

"It's Lyaeus," cried Telemachus and ran after the cart bubbling with
curiosity to hear his companion's adventures.

With a angle of mulebells and a hoarse shout from the driver the cart
stopped, and Lyaeus tumbled out. His hair was mussed and there were
wisps of hay on his clothes. He immediately stuck his head back in
through the curtains. By the time Telemachus reached him the cart was
tinkling its way down the road again and Lyaeus stood grinning,
blinking sleepy eyes in the middle of the road, in one hand a skin of
wine, in the other a canvas bag.

"What ho!" cried Telemachus.

"Figs and wine," said Lyaeus. Then, as Don Alonso came up leading his
grey horse, he added in an explanatory tone, "I was asleep in the
cart."

"Well?" said Telemachus.

"O it's such a long story," said Lyaeus.

Walking beside them, Don Alonso was reciting into his horse's ear:

    'Sigue la vana sombra, el bien fingido.
    El hombre está entregado
    al sueño, de su suerte no cuidando,
    y con paso callado
    el cielo vueltas dando
    las horas del vivir le va hurtando.'

"Whose is that?" said Lyaeus.

"The revolving sky goes stealing his hours of life.... But I don't
know," said Don Alonso, "perhaps like you, this Spain of ours makes
ground sleeping as well as awake. What does a day matter? The driver
snores but the good mules jog on down the appointed road."

Then without another word he jumped on his horse and with a smile and a
wave of the hand trotted off ahead of them.



_XVI: A Funeral in Madrid_

    _Doce días son pasados
    después que el Cid acabára
    aderézanse las gentes
    para salir a batalla
    con Búcar ese rey moro
    y contra la su canalla.
    Cuando fuera media noche
    el cuerpo así coma estaba
    le ponen sobre Babieca
    y al caballo lo ataban._


I

And when the army sailed out of Valencia the Moors of King Bucar fled
before the dead body of the Cid and ten thousand of them were drowned
trying to scramble into their ships, among them twenty kings, and the
Christians got so much booty of gold and silver among the tents that
the poorest of them became a rich man. Then the army continued, the
dead Cid riding each day's journey on his horse, across the dry
mountains to Sant Pedro de Cardeña in Castile where the king Don
Alfonso had come from Toledo, and he seeing the Cid's face still so
beautiful and his beard so long and his eyes so flaming ordered that
instead of closing the body in a coffin with gold nails they should set
it upright in a chair beside the altar, with the sword Tizona in its
hand. And there the Cid stayed more than ten years.

    Mandó que no se enterrase
    sino que el cuerpo arreado
    se ponga junto al altar
    y a Tizona en la su mano;
    así estuvo mucho tiempo
    que fueron más de diez años.

In the pass above people were skiing. On the hard snow of the road
there were orange-skins. A victoria had just driven by in which sat a
bored inflated couple much swathed in furs.

"Where on earth are they going?"

"To the Puerta de Navecerrada," my friend answered.

"But they look as if they'd be happier having tea at Molinero's than
paddling about up there in the snow."

"They would be, but it's the style ... winter sports ... and all
because a lithe little brown man who died two years ago liked the
mountains. Before him no _madrileño_ ever knew the Sierra existed."

"Who was that?"

"Don Francisco Giner."

That afternoon when it was already getting dark we were scrambling wet,
chilled, our faces lashed by the snow, down through drifts from a
shoulder of Siete Picos with the mist all about us and nothing but the
track of a flock of sheep for a guide. The light from a hut pushed a
long gleaming orange finger up the mountainside. Once inside we pulled
off our shoes and stockings and toasted our feet at a great fireplace
round which were flushed faces, glint of teeth in laughter, schoolboys
and people from the university shouting and declaiming, a smell of tea
and wet woolens. Everybody was noisy with the rather hysterical
excitement that warmth brings after exertion in cold mountain air.
Cheeks were purple and tingling. A young man with fuzzy yellow hair
told me a story in French about the Emperor of Morocco, and produced a
tin of potted blackbirds which it came out were from the said
personage's private stores. Unending fountains of tea seethed in two
smoke-blackened pots on the hearth. In the back of the hut among
leaping shadows were piles of skis and the door, which occasionally
opened to let in a new wet snowy figure and shut again on skimming
snow-gusts. Everyone was rocked with enormous jollity. Train time came
suddenly and we ran and stumbled and slid the miles to the station
through the dark, down the rocky path.

In the third-class carriage people sang songs as the train jounced its
way towards the plain and Madrid. The man who sat next to me asked me
if I knew it was Don Francisco who had had that hut built for the
children of the Institución Libre de Inseñanza. Little by little he
told me the history of the Krausistas and Francisco Giner de los Ríos
and the revolution of 1873, a story like enough to many others in the
annals of the nineteenth century movement for education, but in its
overtones so intimately Spanish and individual that it came as the
explanation of many things I had been wondering about and gave me an
inkling of some of the origins of a rather special mentality I had
noticed in people I knew about Madrid.

Somewhere in the forties a professor of the Universidad Central, Sanz
del Río, was sent to Germany to study philosophy on a government
scholarship. Spain was still in the intellectual coma that had followed
the failure of the Cortes of Cadiz and the restoration of Fernando
Septimo. A decade or more before, Larra, the last flame of romantic
revolt, had shot himself for love in Madrid. In Germany, at Heidelberg,
Sanz del Río found dying Krause, the first archpriest who stood
interpreting between Kant and the world. When he returned to Spain he
refused to take up his chair at the university saying he must have time
to think out his problems, and retired to a tiny room--a room so dark
that they say that to read he had to sit on a stepladder under the
window in the town of Illescas, where was another student, Greco's San
Ildefonso. There he lived several years in seclusion. When he did
return to the university it was to refuse to make the profession of
political and religious faith required by a certain prime minister
named Orovio. He was dismissed and several of his disciples. At the
same time Francisco Giner de los Ríos, then a young man who had just
gained an appointment with great difficulty because of his liberal
ideas, resigned out of solidarity with the rest. In 1868 came the
liberal revolution which was the political expression of this whole
movement, and all these professors were reinstated. Until the
restoration of the Bourbons in '75 Spain was a hive of modernization,
Europeanization.

Returned to power Orovio lost no time in republishing his decrees of a
profession of faith. Giner, Ascárate, Salmerón and several others were
arrested and exiled to distant fortresses when they protested; their
friends declared themselves in sympathy and lost their jobs, and many
other professors resigned, so that the university was at one blow
denuded of its best men. From this came the idea of founding a free
university which should be supported entirely by private subscription.
From that moment the life of Giner de los Ríos was completely entwined
with the growth of the Institución Libre de Inseñanza, which developed
in the course of a few years into a coeducational primary school. And
directly or indirectly there is not a single outstanding figure in
Spanish life to-day whose development was not largely influenced by
this dark slender baldheaded old man with a white beard whose picture
one finds on people's writing desks.

    ... Oh, sí, llevad, amigos,
    su cuerpo a la montaña
    a los azules montes
    del ancho Guadarrama,

wrote his pupil, Antonio Machado--and I rather think Machado is the
pupil whose name will live the longest--after Don Francisco's death in
1915.

    ... Yes, carry, friends
    his body to the hills
    to the blue peaks
    of the wide Guadarrama.
    There are deep gulches
    of green pines where the wind sings.
    There is rest for his spirit
    under a cold live oak
    in loam full of thyme, where play
    golden butterflies....
    There the master one day
    dreamed new flowerings for Spain.

These are fragments from an elegy by Juan Ramon Jiménez, another
poet-pupil of Don Francisco:

    "Don Francisco.... It seemed that he summed up all that is tender
    and keen in life: flowers, flames, birds, peaks, children.... Now,
    stretched on his bed, like a frozen river that perhaps still flows
    under the ice, he is the clear path for endless recurrence.... He
    was like a living statue of himself, a statue of earth, of wind, of
    water, of fire. He had so freed himself from the husk of every day
    that talking to him we might have thought we were talking to his
    image. Yes. One would have said he wasn't going to die: that he had
    already passed, without anybody's knowing it, beyond death; that he
    was with us forever, like a spirit.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    "In the little door of the bedroom one already feels well-being. A
    trail of the smell of thyme and violets that comes and goes with
    the breeze from the open window leads like a delicate hand towards
    where he lies.... Peace. All death has done has been to infuse the
    color of his skin with a deep violet veiling of ashes.

    "What a suave smell, and how excellent death is here! No rasping
    essences, none of the exterior of blackness and crêpe. All this is
    white and uncluttered, like a hut in the fields in Andalusia, like
    the whitewashed portal of some garden in the south. All just as it
    was. Only he who was there has gone.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    "The day is fading, with a little wind that has a premonition of
    spring. In the window panes is a confused mirroring of rosy clouds.
    The blackbird, the blackbird that he must have heard for thirty
    years, that he'd have liked to have gone on hearing dead, has come
    to see if he's listening. Peace. The bedroom and the garden strive
    quietly light against light: the brightness of the bedroom is
    stronger and glows out into the afternoon. A sparrow flutters up
    into the sudden stain with which the sun splashes the top of a tree
    and sits there twittering. In the shadow below the blackbird
    whistles once more. Now and then one seems to hear the voice that
    is silenced forever.

    "How pleasant to be here! It's like sitting beside a spring,
    reading under a tree, like letting the stream of a lyric river
    carry one away.... And one feels like never moving: like plucking
    to infinity, as one might tear roses to pieces, these white full
    hours; like clinging forever to this clear teacher in the eternal
    twilight of this last lesson of austerity and beauty.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    "'Municipal Cemetery' it says on the gate, so that one may know,
    opposite that other sign 'Catholic Cemetery,' so that one may also
    know.

    "He didn't want to be buried in that cemetery, so opposed to the
    smiling savourous poetry of his spirit. But it had to be. He'll
    still hear the blackbirds of the familiar garden. 'After all,' says
    Cossio, 'I don't think he'll be sorry to spend a little while with
    Don Julián....'

    "Careful hands have taken the dampness out of the earth with thyme;
    on the coffin they have thrown roses, narcissus, violets. There
    comes, lost, an aroma of last evening, a bit of the bedroom from
    which they took so much away....

    "Silence. Faint sunlight. Great piles of cloud full of wind drag
    frozen shadows across us, and through them flying low, black
    grackles. In the distance Guadarrama, chaste beyond belief, lifts
    crystals of cubed white light. Some tiny bird trills for a second
    in the sown fields nearby that are already vaguely greenish, then
    lights on the creamy top of a tomb, then flies away....

    "Neither impatience nor cares; slowness and forgetfulness....
    Silence. In the silence, the voice of a child walking through the
    fields, the sound of a sob hidden among the tombstones, the wind,
    the broad wind of these days....

    "I've seen occasionally a fire put out with earth. Innumerable
    little tongues spurted from every side. A pupil of his who was a
    mason made for this extinguished fire its palace of mud on a piece
    of earth two friends kept free. He has at the head a euonymus,
    young and strong, and at the foot, already full of sprouts with
    coming spring, an acacia...."

Round El Pardo the evergreen oaks, encinas, are scattered sparsely,
tight round heads of blue green, over hills that in summer are yellow
like the haunches of lions. From Madrid to El Pardo was one of Don
Francisco's favorite walks, out past the jail, where over the gate is
written an echo of his teaching: "Abhor the crime but pity the
criminal," past the palace of Moncloa with its stately abandoned
gardens, and out along the Manzanares by a road through the royal
domain where are gamekeepers with shotguns and signs of "Beware the
mantraps," then up a low hill from which one sees the Sierra Guadarrama
piled up against the sky to the north, greenish snow-peaks above long
blue foothills and all the foreground rolling land full of clumps of
encinas, and at last into the little village with its barracks and its
dilapidated convent and its planetrees in front of the mansion Charles
V built. It was under an encina that I sat all one long morning reading
up in reviews and textbooks on the theory of law, the life and opinions
of Don Francisco. In the moments when the sun shone the heat made the
sticky cistus bushes with the glistening white flowers all about me
reek with pungence. Then a cool whisp of wind would bring a chill of
snow-slopes from the mountains and a passionless indefinite fragrance
of distances. At intervals a church bell would toll in a peevish
importunate manner from the boxlike convent on the hill opposite. I was
reading an account of the philosophical concept of monism, cudgelling
my brain with phrases. And his fervent love of nature made the master
evoke occasionally in class this beautiful image of the great poet and
philosopher Schelling: "Man is the eye with which the spirit of nature
contemplates itself"; and then having qualified with a phrase
Schelling's expression, he would turn on those who see in nature
manifestation of the rough, the gross, the instinctive, and offer for
meditation this saying of Michelet: "Cloth woven by a weaver is just as
natural as that a spider weaves. All is in one Being, all is in the
Idea and for the Idea, the latter being understood in the way Platonic
substantialism has been interpreted...."

In the grass under my book were bright fronds of moss, among which very
small red ants performed prodigies of mountaineering, while along
tramped tunnels long black ants scuttled darkly, glinting when the
light struck them. The smell of cistus was intense, hot, full of spices
as the narrow streets of an oriental town at night. In the distance the
mountains piled up in zones olive green, Prussian blue, ultra-marine,
white. A cold wind-gust turned the pages of the book. Thought and
passion, reflection and instinct, affections, emotions, impulses
collaborate in the rule of custom, which is revealed not in words
declared and promulgated in view of future conduct, but in the act
itself, tacit, taken for granted, or, according to the energetic
expression of the Digest: _rebus et factis_. Over "factis," sat a
little green and purple fly with the body curved under at the table. I
wondered vaguely if it was a Mayfly. And then all of a sudden it was
clear to me that these books, these dusty philosophical phrases, these
mortuary articles by official personages were dimming the legend in my
mind, taking the brilliance out of the indirect but extraordinarily
personal impact of the man himself. They embalmed the Cid and set him
up in the church with his sword in his hand, for all men to see. What
sort of legend would a technical disquisition by the archbishop on his
theory of the angle of machicolations have generated in men's minds?
And what can a saint or a soldier or a founder of institutions leave
behind him but a legend? Certainly it is not for the Franciscans that
one remembers Francis of Assisi.

And the curious thing about the legend of a personality is that it may
reach the highest fervor without being formulated. It is something by
itself that stands behind anecdotes, death-notices, elegies.

In Madrid at the funeral of another of the great figures of nineteenth
century Spain, Pérez Galdós, I stood on the curb beside a large-mouthed
youth with a flattened toadlike face, who was balancing a great
white-metal jar of milk on his shoulder. The plumed hearse and the
carriages full of flowers had just passed. The street in front of us
was a slow stream of people very silent, their feet shuffling,
shuffling, feet in patent-leather shoes and spats, feet in square-toed
shoes, pointed-toed shoes, _alpargatas_, canvas sandals; people along
the sides seemed unable to resist the suction of it, joined in
unostentatiously to follow if only a few moments the procession of the
legend of Don Benito. The boy with the milk turned to me and said how
lucky it was they were burying Galdós, he'd have an excuse for being
late for the milk. Then suddenly he pulled his cap off and became
enormously excited and began offering cigarettes to everyone round
about. He scratched his head and said in the voice of a Saul stricken
on the road to Damascus: "How many books he must have written, that
gentleman! _¡Cáspita!_... It makes a fellow sorry when a gentleman like
that dies," and shouldering his pail, his blue tunic fluttering in the
wind, he joined the procession.

Like the milk boy I found myself joining the procession of the legend
of Giner de los Ríos. That morning under the encina I closed up the
volumes on the theory of law and the bulletins with their death-notices
and got to my feet and looked over the tawny hills of El Bardo and
thought of the little lithe baldheaded man with a white beard like the
beard in El Greco's portrait of Covarrubias, who had taught a
generation to love the tremendous contours of their country, to climb
mountains and bathe in cold torrents, who was the first, it almost
seems, to feel the tragic beauty of Toledo, who in a lifetime of
courageous unobtrusive work managed to stamp all the men and women
whose lives remotely touched his with the seal of his personality. Born
in Ronda in the wildest part of Andalusia of a family that came from
Vélez-Málaga, a white town near the sea in the rich fringes of the
Sierra Nevada, he had the mental agility and the sceptical tolerance
and the uproarious good nature of the people of that region, the
sobriety and sinewiness of a mountaineer. His puritanism became a
definite part of the creed of the hopeful discontented generations that
are gradually, for better or for worse, remoulding Spain. His nostalgia
of the north, of fjords where fir trees hang over black tidal waters,
of blonde people cheerfully orderly in rectangular blue-tiled towns,
became the gospel of Europeanization, of wholesale destruction of all
that was individual, savage, African in the Spanish tradition. _Rebus
et factis._ And yet none of the things and acts do much to explain the
peculiar radiance of his memory, the jovial tenderness with which
people tell one about him. The immanence of the man is such that even
an outsider, one who like the milk boy at the funeral of Galdós meets
the procession accidentally with another errand in his head, is drawn
in almost without knowing it. It's impossible to think of him buried in
a box in unconsecrated ground in the Cementerio Civil. In Madrid, in
the little garden of the Institución where he used to teach the
children, in front of a certain open fire in a certain house at El
Pardo where they say he loved to sit and talk, I used to half expect to
meet him, that some friend would take me to see him as they took people
to see Cid in San Pedro de Cardeña.

    Cara tiene de hermosura
    muy hermosa y colorada;
    los ojos igual abiertos
    muy apuesta la su barba
    Non parece que está muerto
    antes vivo semejaba.


II

Although Miguel de Unamuno was recently condemned to fifteen years'
imprisonment for _lèse majesté_ for some remark made in an article
published in a Valencia paper, no attempt has been made either to make
him serve the term or to remove him from the chair of Greek at the
University of Salamanca. Which proves something about the efficiency of
the stand Giner de los Ríos and his friends made fifty years before.
Furthermore, at the time of the revolutionary attempt of August, 1917,
the removal of Bestiero from his chair caused so many of the faculty to
resign and such universal protest that he was reinstated although an
actual member of the revolutionary committee and at that time under
sentence for life. In 1875 after the fall of the republic it had been
in the face of universal popular reaction that the Krausistas founded
their free university. The lump is leavened.

But Unamuno. A Basque from the country of Loyola, living in Salamanca
in the highest coldest part of the plateau of old Castile, in many
senses the opposite of Giner de los Ríos, who was austere as a man on a
long pleasant walk doesn't overeat or overdrink so that the walk may be
longer and pleasanter, while Unamuno is austere religiously, mystically.
Giner de los Ríos was the champion of life, Unamuno is the champion of
death. Here is his creed, one of his creeds, from the preface of the
_Vida de Don Quijote y Sancho_:

    "There is no future: there is never a future. This thing they call
    the future is one of the greatest lies. To-day is the real future.
    What will we be to-morrow? There is no to-morrow. What about us
    to-day, now; that is the only question.

    "And as for to-day, all these nincompoops are thoroughly satisfied
    because they exist to-day, mere existence is enough for them.
    Existence, ordinary naked existence fills their whole soul. They
    feel nothing beyond existence.

    "But do they exist? Really exist? I think not, because if they did
    exist, if they really existed, existence would be suffering for
    them and they wouldn't content themselves with it. If they really
    and truly existed in time and space they would suffer not being of
    eternity and infinity. And this suffering, this passion, what is it
    but the passion of God in us? God who suffers in us from our
    temporariness and finitude, that divine suffering will burst all
    the puny bonds of logic with which they try to tie down their puny
    memories and their puny hopes, the illusion of their past and the
    illusion of their future.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    "Your Quixotic madness has made you more than once speak to me of
    Quixotism as the new religion. And I tell you that this new
    religion you propose to me, if it hatched, would have two singular
    merits. One that its founder, its prophet, Don Quixote--not
    Cervantes--probably wasn't a real man of flesh and blood at all,
    indeed we suspect that he was pure fiction. And the other merit
    would be that this prophet was a ridiculous prophet, people's butt
    and laughing stock.

    "What we need most is the valor to face ridicule. Ridicule is the
    arm of all the miserable barbers, bachelors, parish priests, canons
    and dukes who keep hidden the sepulchre of the Knight of Madness,
    Knight who made all the world laugh but never cracked a joke. He
    had too great a soul to bring forth jokes. They laughed at his
    seriousness.

    "Begin then, friend, to do the Peter the Hermit and call people to
    join you, to join us, and let us all go win back the sepulchre even
    if we don't know where it is. The crusade itself will reveal to us
    the sacred place.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    "Start marching! Where are you going? The star will tell you: to
    the sepulchre! What shall we do on the road while we march? What?
    Fight! Fight, and how?

    "How? If you find a man lying? Shout in his face: 'lie!' and
    forward! If you find a man stealing, shout: 'thief!' and forward!
    If you find a man babbling asininities, to whom the crowd listens
    open-mouthed, shout at them all: 'idiots!' and forward, always
    forward!

                     *      *      *      *      *

    "To the march then! And throw out of the sacred squadron all those
    who begin to study the step and its length and its rhythm. Above
    everything, throw out all those who fuss about this business of
    rhythm. They'll turn the squadron into a quadrille and the march
    into a dance. Away with them! Let them go off somewhere else to
    sing the flesh.

    "Those who try to turn the squadron on the march into a dancing
    quadrille call themselves and each other poets. But they're not.
    They're something else. They only go to the sepulchre out of
    curiosity, to see what it's like, looking for a new sensation, and
    to amuse themselves along the road. Away with them!

    "It's these that with their indulgence of Bohemians contribute to
    maintain cowardice and lies and all the weaknesses that flood us.
    When they preach liberty they only think of one: that of disposing
    of their neighbor's wife. All is sensuality with them. They even
    fall in love sensually with ideas, with great ideas. They are
    incapable of marrying a great and pure idea and breeding a family
    with it; they only flirt with ideas. They want them as mistresses,
    sometimes just for the night. Away with them!

    "If a man wants to pluck some flower or other along the path that
    smiles from the fringe of grass, let him pluck it, but without
    breaking ranks, without dropping out of the squadron of which the
    leader must always keep his eyes on the flaming sonorous star. But
    if he put the little flower in the strap above his cuirass, not to
    look at it himself, but for others to look at, away with him! Let
    him go with his flower in his buttonhole and dance somewhere else.

    "Look, friend, if you want to accomplish your mission and serve
    your country you must make yourself unpleasant to the sensitive
    boys who only see the world through the eyes of their sweethearts.
    Or through something worse. Let your words be strident and rasping
    in their ears.

    "The squadron must only stop at night, near a wood or under the lee
    of a mountain. There they will pitch their tents and the crusaders
    will wash their feet, and sup off what their women have prepared,
    then they will beget a son on them and kiss them and go to sleep to
    begin the march again the following day. And when someone dies they
    will leave him on the edge of the road with his armor on him, at
    the mercy of the crows. Let the dead take the trouble to bury the
    dead."

Instead of the rationalists and humanists of the North, Unamuno's idols
are the mystics and saints and sensualists of Castile, hard stalwart
men who walked with God, Loyola, Torquemada, Pizarro, Narváez, who
governed with whips and thumbscrews and drank death down greedily like
heady wine. He is excited by the amorous madness of the mysticism of
Santa Teresa and San Juan de la Cruz. His religion is paradoxical,
unreasonable, of faith alone, full of furious yearning other-worldliness.
His style, it follows perforce, is headlong, gruff, redundant, full of
tremendous pounding phrases. There is a vigorous angry insistence about
his dogmas that makes his essays unforgettable, even if one objects as
violently as I do to his asceticism and death-worship. There is an
anarchic fury about his crying in the wilderness that will win many a
man from the fleshpots and chain gangs.

In the apse of the old cathedral of Salamanca is a fresco of the Last
Judgment, perhaps by the Castilian painter Gallegos. Over the retablo
on a black ground a tremendous figure of the avenging angel brandishes
a sword while behind him unrolls the scroll of the _Dies Irae_ and
huddled clusters of plump little naked people fall away into space from
under his feet. There are moments in "_Del Sentimiento Trágico de la
Vida_" and in the "_Vida de Don Quijote y Sancho_" when in the
rolling earthy Castilian phrases one can feel the brandishing of the
sword of that very angel. Not for nothing does Unamuno live in the rust
and saffron-colored town of Salamanca in the midst of bare red hills
that bulge against an enormous flat sky in which the clouds look like
piles of granite, like floating cathedrals, they are so solid, heavy,
ominous. A country where barrenness and the sweep of cold wind and the
lash of strong wine have made people's minds ingrow into the hereafter,
where the clouds have been tramped by the angry feet of the destroying
angel. A Patmos for a new Apocalypse. Unamuno is constantly attacking
sturdily those who clamor for the modernization, Europeanization of
Spanish life and Spanish thought: he is the counterpoise to the
northward-yearning apostles of Giner de los Ríos.

In an essay in one of the volumes published by the _Residencia de
Estudiantes_ he wrote:

    "As can be seen I proceed by what they call arbitrary affirmations,
    without documentation, without proof, outside of a modern European
    logic, disdainful of its methods.

    "Perhaps. I want no other method than that of passion, and when my
    breast swells with disgust, repugnance, sympathy or disdain, I let
    the mouth speak the bitterness of the heart, and let the words come
    as they come.

    "We Spaniards are, they say, arbitrary charlatans, who fill up with
    rhetoric the gaps in logic, who subtilize with more or less
    ingenuity, but uselessly, who lack the sense of coherence, with
    scholastic souls, casuists and all that.

    "I've heard similar things said of Augustine, the great African,
    soul of fire that spilt itself in leaping waves of rhetoric,
    twistings of the phrase, antithesis, paradoxes and ingenuities.
    Saint Augustine was a Gongorine and a conceptualist at the same
    time, which makes me think that Gongorism and conceptualism are the
    most natural forms of passion and vehemence.

    "The great African, the great ancient African! Here is an
    expression--ancient African--that one can oppose to modern
    European, and that's worth as much at least. African and ancient
    were Saint Augustine and Tertullian. And why shouldn't we say: 'We
    must make ourselves ancient African-style' or else 'We must make
    ourselves African ancient-style.'"

The typical tree of Castile is the encina, a kind of live-oak that
grows low with dense bluish foliage and a ribbed, knotted and contorted
trunk; it always grows singly and on dry hills. On the roads one meets
lean men with knotted hands and brown sun-wizened faces that seem
brothers to the encinas of their country. The thought of Unamuno,
emphatic, lonely, contorted, hammered into homely violent phrases,
oak-tough, oak-twisted, is brother to the men on the roads and to the
encinas on the hills of Castile.

This from the end of "_Del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida_":

    "And in this critical century, Don Quixote has also contaminated
    himself with criticism, and he must charge against himself, victim
    of intellectualism and sentimentalism, who when he is most sincere
    appears most affected. The poor man wants to rationalize the
    irrational, and irrationalize the rational. And he falls victim of
    the inevitable despair of a rationalism century, of which the
    greatest victims were Tolstoy and Nietzsche. Out of despair he
    enters into the heroic fury of that Quixote of thought who broke
    out of the cloister, Giordano Bruno, and makes himself awakener of
    sleeping souls, '_dormitantium animorum excubitor_,' as the
    ex-Dominican says of himself, he who wrote: 'Heroic love is proper
    to superior natures called insane--_insane_, not because they do
    not know--_non sanno_--but because they know too
    much--_soprasanno_--.'

    "But Bruno believed in the triumph of his doctrines, or at least at
    the foot of his statue on the Campo dei Fiori, opposite the
    Vatican, they have put that it is offered by the century he had
    divined--'_il secolo da lui divinato_.' But our Don Quixote,
    the resurrected, internal Don Quixote, does not believe that his
    doctrines will triumph in the world, because they are not his. And
    it is better that they should not triumph. If they wanted to make
    Don Quixote king he would retire alone to the hilltop, fleeing the
    crowds of king-makers and king-killers, as did Christ when, after
    the miracle of the loaves and fishes, they wanted to proclaim him
    king. He left the title of king to be put above the cross.

    "What is, then, the new mission of Don Quixote in this world? To
    cry, to cry in the wilderness. For the wilderness hears although
    men do not hear, and one day will turn into a sonorous wood, and
    that solitary voice that spreads in the desert like seed will
    sprout into a gigantic cedar that will sing with a hundred thousand
    tongues an eternal hosanna to the Lord of life and death."



_XVII: Toledo_


"Lyaeus, you've found it."

"Her, you mean."

"No, the essence, the gesture."

"I carry no butterfly net."

The sun blazed in a halo of heat about their heads. Both sides of the
straight road olive trees contorted gouty trunks as they walked past.
On a bank beside a quietly grazing donkey a man was asleep wrapped in a
brown blanket. Occasionally a little grey bird twittered encouragingly
from the telegraph wires. When the wind came there was a chill of
winter and wisps of cloud drifted across the sun and a shiver of silver
ran along the olive groves.

"Tel," cried Lyaeus after a pause, "maybe I have found it. Maybe you
are right. You should have been with me last night."

"What happened last night?" As a wave of bitter envy swept over him
Telemachus saw for a moment the face of his mother Penelope, brows
contracted with warning, white hand raised in admonition. For a
fleeting second the memory of his quest brushed through the back of his
mind. But Lyaeus was talking.

"Nothing much happened. There were a few things.... O this is
wonderful." He waved a clenched fist about his head. "The finest
people, Tel! You never saw such people, Tel. They gave me a tambourine.
Here it is; wait a minute." He placed the bag he carried on his
shoulder on top of a milestone and untied its mouth. When he pulled the
tambourine out it was full of figs. "Look, pocket these. I taught her
to write her name on the back; see, 'Pilar,' She didn't know how to
write."

Telemachus involuntarily cleared his throat.

"It was the finest dive ... Part house, part cave. We all roared in and
there was the funniest little girl ... Lot of other people, fat women,
but my eyes were in a highly selective state. She was very skinny with
enormous black eyes, doe's eyes, timid as a dog's. She had a fat pink
puppy in her lap."

"But I meant something in line, movement, eternal, not that."

"There are very few gestures," said Lyaeus.

They walked along in silence.

"I am tired," said Lyaeus; "at least let's stop in here. I see a bush
over the door."

"Why stop? We are nearly there."

"Why go on?"

"We want to get to Toledo, don't we?"

"Why?"

"Because we started for there."

"No reason at all," said Lyaeus with a laugh as he went in the door of
the wineshop.

When they came out they found Don Alonso waiting for them, holding his
horse by the bridle.

"The Spartans," he said with a smile, "never drank wine on the march."

"How far are we from Toledo?" asked Telemachus. "It was nice of you to
wait for us."

"About a league, five kilometers, nothing.... I wanted to see your
faces when you first saw the town. I think you will appreciate it."

"Let's walk fast," said Telemachus. "There are some things one doesn't
want to wait for."

"It will be sunset and the whole town will be on the _paseo_ in front
of the hospital of San Juan Bautista.... This is Sunday of Carnival;
people will be dressed up in masks and very noisy. It's a day on which
they play tricks on strangers."

"Here's the trick they played me at the last town," said Lyaeus
agitating his bag of figs. "Let's eat some. I'm sure the Spartans ate
figs on the road. Will Rosinante,--I mean will your horse eat them?" He
put his hand with some figs on it under the horse's mouth. The horse
sniffed noisily out of black nostrils dappled with pink and then
reached for the figs. Lyaeus wiped his hand on the seat of his pants
and they proceeded.

"Toledo is symbolically the soul of Spain," began Don Alonso after a
few moments of silent walking. "By that I mean that through the many
Spains you have seen and will see is everywhere an undercurrent of
fantastic tragedy, Greco on the one hand, Goya on the other, Moráles,
Gallegos, a great flame of despair amid dust, rags, ulcers, human life
rising in a sudden pæan out of desolate abandoned dun-colored spaces.
To me, Toledo expresses the supreme beauty of that tragic farce.... And
the apex, the victory, the deathlessness of it is in El Greco.... How
strange it is that it should be that Cypriote who lived in such
Venetian state in a great house near the abandoned synagogue,
scandalizing us austere Spaniards by the sounds of revelry and
unabashed music that came from it at meal-times, making pert sayings
under the nose of humorless visitors like Pacheco, living solitary in a
country where he remained to his death misunderstood and alien and
where two centuries thought of him along with Don Quixote as a
madman,--how strange that it should be he who should express most
flamingly all that was imperturbable in Toledo.... I have often
wondered whether that fiery vitality of spirit that we feel in El
Greco, that we felt in my generation when I was young, that I see
occasionally in the young men of your time, has become conscious only
because it is about to be smothered in the great advancing waves of
European banality. I was thinking the other day that perhaps states of
life only became conscious once their intensity was waning."

"But most of the intellectuals I met in Madrid," put in Telemachus,
"seemed enormously anxious for subways and mechanical progress, seemed
to think that existence could be made perfect by slot-machines."

"They are anxious to hold stock in the subway and slot-machine
enterprises that they may have more money to unSpanish themselves in
Paris ... but let us not talk of that. From the next turn in the road,
round that little hill, we shall see Toledo."

Don Alonso jumped on his horse, and Lyaeus and Telemachus doubled the
speed of their stride.

First above the bulge of reddish saffron striped with dark of a plowed
field they saw a weathercock, then under it the slate cap of a tower.
"The Alcázar," said Don Alonso. The road turned away and olive trees
hid the weathercock. At the next bend the towers were four, strongly
buttressing a square building where on the western windows glinted
reflections of sunset. As they walked more towers, dust colored, and
domes and the spire of a cathedral, greenish, spiky like the tail of a
pickerel, jutted to the right of the citadel. The road dipped again,
passed some white houses where children sat in the doorways; from the
inner rooms came a sound of frying oil and a pungence of cistus-twigs
burning. Starting up the next rise that skirted a slope planted with
almond trees they caught sight of a castle, rounded towers, built of
rough grey stone, joined by crenellated walls that appeared
occasionally behind the erratic lacework of angular twigs on which here
and there a cluster of pink flowers had already come into bloom. At the
summit was a wineshop with mules tethered against the walls, and below
the Tagus and the great bridge, and Toledo.

Against the grey and ochre-streaked theatre of the Cigarrales were
piled masses of buttressed wall that caught the orange sunset light on
many tall plane surfaces rising into crenellations and square towers
and domes and slate-capped spires above a litter of yellowish tile
roofs that fell away in terraces from the highest points and sloped
outside the walls towards the river and the piers from which sprang the
enormous arch of the bridge. The shadows were blue-green and violet. A
pale cobalt haze of supperfires hung over the quarters near the river.
As they started down the hill towards the heavy pile of San Juan
Bautista, that stood under its broad tiled dome outside the nearest
gate, a great volley of bell-ringing swung about their ears. A donkey
brayed; there was a sound of shouting from the town.

"Here we are, gentlemen, I'll look for you to-morrow at the _fonda_,"
shouted Don Alonso. He took off his hat and galloped towards the gate,
leaving Telemachus and Lyaeus standing by the roadside looking out over
the city.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Beyond the zinc bar was an irregular room with Nile-green walls into
which light still filtered through three little round arches high up on
one side. In a corner were some hogsheads of wine, in another small
tables with three-legged stools. From outside came the distant braying
of a brass band and racket of a street full of people, laughter, and
the occasional shivering jangle of a tambourine. Lyaeus had dropped
onto a stool and spread his feet out before him on the tiled floor.

"Never walked so far in my life," he said, "my toes are pulverized,
pulverized!" He leaned over and pulled off his shoes. There were holes
in his socks. He pulled them off in turn, and started wiggling his toes
meditatively. His ankles were grimed with dust.

"Well...." began Telemachus.

The _padrón_, a lean man with moustaches and a fancy yellow vest which
he wore unbuttoned over a lavender shirt, brought two glasses of dense
black wine.

"You have walked a long way?" he asked, looking with interest at
Lyaeus' feet.

"From Madrid."

"_¡Carai!_"

"Not all in one day."

"You are sailors going to rejoin your ship in Sevilla." The _padrón_
looked from one to another with a knowing expression, twisting his
mouth so that one of the points of his moustache slanted towards the
ceiling and the other towards the floor.

"Not exactly...."

Another man drew up his chair to their table, first taking off his wide
cap and saying gravely: "_Con permiso de ustedes._" His broad, slightly
flabby face was very pale; the eyes under his sparse blonde eyelashes
were large and grey. He put his two hands on their shoulders so as to
draw their heads together and said in a whisper:

"You aren't deserters, are you?"

"No."

"I hoped you were. I might have helped you. I escaped from prison in
Barcelona a week ago. I am a syndicalist."

"Have a drink," cried Lyaeus. "Another glass.... And we can let you
have some money if you need it, too, if you want to get out of the
country."

The _padrón_ brought the wine and retired discreetly to a chair beside
the bar from which he beamed at them with almost religious approbation.

"You are comrades?"

"Of those who break out," said Lyaeus flushing. "What about the
progress of events? When do you think the pot will boil over?"

"Soon or never," said the syndicalist.... "That is never in our
lifetime. We are being buried under industrialism like the rest of
Europe. Our people, our comrades even, are fast getting the bourgeois
mentality. There is danger that we shall lose everything we have fought
for.... You see, if we could only have captured the means of production
when the system was young and weak, we could have developed it slowly
for our benefit, made the machine the slave of man. Every day we wait
makes it more difficult. It is a race as to whether this peninsula will
be captured by communism or capitalism. It is still neither one nor the
other, in its soul." He thumped his clenched fist against his chest.

"How long were you in prison?"

"Only a month this time, but if they catch me it will be bad. They
won't catch me."

He spoke quietly without gestures, occasionally rolling an unlit
cigarette between his brown fingers.

"Hadn't we better go out before it gets quite dark?" said Telemachus.

"When shall I see you again?" said Lyaeus to the syndicalist.

"Oh, we'll meet if you stay in Toledo a few days...."

Lyaeus got to his feet and took the man by the arm.

"Look, let me give you some money; won't you be wanting to go to
Portugal?"

The man flushed and shook his head.

"If our opinions coincided...."

"I agree with all those who break out," said Lyaeus.

"That's not the same, my friend."

They shook hands and Telemachus and Lyaeus went out of the tavern.

Two carriages hung with gaudily embroidered shawls, full of dominos and
pierrots and harlequins who threw handfuls of confetti at people along
the sidewalks, clattered into town through the dark arches of the gate.
Telemachus got some confetti in his mouth. A crowd of little children
danced about him jeering as he stood spluttering on the curbstone.
Lyaeus took him by the arm and drew him along the street after the
carriages, bent double with laughter. This irritated Telemachus who
tore his arm away suddenly and made off with long strides up a dark
street.

                     *      *      *      *      *

A half-waned moon shone through the perforations in a round terra-cotta
chimney into the street's angular greenish shadow. From somewhere came
the seethe of water over a dam. Telemachus was leaning against a damp
wall, tired and exultant, looking vaguely at the oval of a woman's face
half surmised behind the bars of an upper window, when he heard a
clatter of unsteady feet on the cobbles and Lyaeus appeared, reeling a
little, his lips moist, his eyebrows raised in an expression of drunken
jollity.

"Lyaeus, I am very happy," cried Telemachus stepping forward to meet
his friend. "Walking about here in these empty zigzag streets I have
suddenly felt familiar with it all, as if it were a part of me, as if I
had soaked up some essence out of it."

"Silly that about essences, gestures, Tel, silly.... Awake all you
need." Lyaeus stood on a little worn stone that kept wheels off the
corner of the house where the street turned and waved his arms. "Awake!
_Dormitant animorum excubitor._... That's not right. Latin's no good.
Means a fellow who says: 'wake up, you son of a gun.'"

"Oh, you're drunk. It's much more important than that. It's like
learning to swim. For a long time you flounder about, it's unpleasant
and gets up your nose and you choke. Then all at once you are swimming
like a duck. That's how I feel about all this.... The challenge was
that woman in Madrid, dancing, dancing...."

"Tel, there are things too good to talk about.... Look, I'm like St.
Simeon Stylites." Lyaeus lifted one leg, then the other, waving his
arms like a tight-rope walker.

"When I left you I walked out over the other bridge, the bridge of St.
Martin and climbed...."

"Shut up, I think I hear a girl giggling up in the window there."

Lyaeus stood up very straight on his column and threw a kiss up into
the darkness. The giggling turned to a shrill laughter; a head craned
out from a window opposite. Lyaeus beckoned with both hands.

"Never mind about them.... Look out, somebody threw something.... Oh,
it's an orange.... I want to tell you how I felt the gesture. I had
climbed up on one of the hills of the Cigarrales and was looking at the
silhouette of the town so black against the stormy marbled sky. The
moon hadn't risen yet.... Let's move away from here."

"_Ven, flor de mi corazón_," shouted Lyaeus towards the upper window.

"A flock of goats was passing on the road below, and from somewhere
came the tremendous lilt of...."

"Heads!" cried Lyaeus throwing himself round an angle in the wall.

Telemachus looked up, his mind full of his mother Penelope's voice
saying reproachfully:

"You might have been murdered in that dark alley." A girl was leaning
from the window, shaken with laughter, taking aim with a bucket she
swung with both hands.

"Stop," cried Telemachus, "it's the other...."

As he spoke a column of cold water struck his head, knocked his breath
out, drenched him.

"Speaking of gestures...." whispered Lyaeus breathlessly from the
doorway where he was crouching, and the street was filled with
uncontrollable shrieking laughter.





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