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Title: Gatherings From Spain
Author: Ford, Richard, 1796-1858
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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accentuation or spelling of Spanish names or words. (etext transcriber’s










These pages, which she has been so good as to peruse and approve of, are
dedicated, in the hopes that other fair readers may follow her example,

By her very affectionate
Husband and Servant,


Many ladies, some of whom even contemplate a visit to Spain, having
condescended to signify to the publisher their regrets, that the
Handbook was printed in a form, which rendered its perusal irksome, and
also to express a wish that the type had been larger, the Author, to
whom this distinguished compliment was communicated, has hastened to
submit to their indulgence a few extracts and selections, which may
throw some light on the character of a country and people, always of the
highest interest, and particularly so at this moment, when their
independence is once more threatened by a crafty and aggressive

In preparing these compilations for the press much new matter has been
added, to supply the place of portions omitted; for, in order to lighten
the narrative, the Author has removed much lumber of learning, and has
not scrupled occasionally to throw Strabo, and even Saint Isidore
himself, overboard. Progress is the order of the day in Spain, and its
advance is the more rapid, as she was so much in arrear of other
nations. Transition is the present condition of the country, where
yesterday is effaced by to-morrow. There the relentless march of
European intellect is crushing many a native wild flower, which, having
no value save colour and sweetness, must be rooted up before
cotton-mills are constructed and bread stuffs substituted; many a trait
of nationality in manners and costume is already effaced; monks are
gone, and mantillas are going, alas! going.

In the changes that have recently taken place, many descriptions of ways
and things now presented to the public will soon become almost matters
of history and antiquarian interest. The passages here reprinted will be
omitted in the forthcoming new edition of the Handbook, to which these
pages may form a companion; but their chief object has been to offer a
few hours’ amusement, and may be of instruction, to those who remain at
home; and should the humble attempt meet with the approbation of fair
readers, the author will bear, with more than Spanish resignation,
whatever animadversions bearded critics may be pleased to inflict on
this or on the other side of the water.




A General View of Spain--Isolation--King of the Spains--Castilian
Precedence--Localism--Want of Union--Admiration of Spain--M. Thiers in


The Geography of Spain--Zones--Mountains--The Pyrenees--The Gabacho, and
French Politics.....7


The Rivers of Spain--Bridges--Navigation--The Ebro and Tagus.....23


Divisions into Provinces--Ancient Demarcations--Modern
Departments--Population--Revenue--Spanish Stocks.....30


Travelling in Spain--Steamers--Roads, Roman, Monastic, and Royal--Modern
Railways--English Speculations.....40


Post Office in Spain--Travelling with Post Horses--Riding post--Mails
and Diligences, Galeras, Coches de Colleras, Drivers and Manner of
Driving, and Oaths.....53


Spanish Horses--Mules--Asses--Muleteers--Maragatos.....65


Riding Tour in Spain--Pleasures of it--Pedestrian Tour--Choice of
Companions--Rules for a Riding Tour--Season of Year--Day’s
Journey--Management of Horse; his Feet; Shoes; General Hints.....80


The Rider’s Costume--Alforjas: Their contents--The Bota, and How to use
it--Pig Skins and Borracha--Spanish Money--Onzas and smaller


Spanish Servants: their Character--Travelling Groom, Cook, and


A Spanish Cook--Philosophy of Spanish Cuisine--Sauce--Difficulty of
Commissariat--The Provend--Spanish Hares and Rabbits--The
Olla--Garbanzos--Spanish Pigs--Bacon and Hams--Omelette--Salad and


Drinks of Spain--Water--Irrigation--Fountains--Spanish Thirstiness--The
Alcarraza--Water Carriers--Ablutions--Spanish Chocolate--Agraz--Beer


Spanish Wines--Spanish Indifference--Wine-making--Vins du Pays--Local


Sherry Wines--The Sherry District--Origin of the Name--Varieties of
Soil--Of Grapes--Pajarete--Rojas Clemente--Cultivation of Vines--Best
Vineyards--The Vintage--Amontillado--The Capataz--The Bodega--Sherry
Wine--Arrope and Madre Vino--A Lecture on Sherry in the Cellar--at the
Table--Price of Fine Sherry--Falsification of Sherry--Manzanilla--The


Spanish Inns: Why so Indifferent--The Fonda--Modern Improvements--The
Posada--Spanish Innkeepers--The Venta: Arrival in
it--Arrangement--Garlic--Dinner--Evening--Night--Bill--Identity with the
Inns of the Ancients.....165


Spanish Robbers--A Robber Adventure--Guardias Civiles--Exaggerated
Accounts--Cross of the Murdered--Idle Robber Tales--French
Bandittiphobia--Robber History--Guerrilleros--Smugglers--Jose
Maria--Robbers of the First Class--The Ratero--Miguelites--Escorts and
Escopeteros--Passes, Protections, and Talismans--Execution of a


The Spanish Doctor: His Social Position--Medical
Abuses--Hospitals--Medical Education--Lunatic Asylums--Foundling
Hospital of Seville--Medical Pretensions--Dissection--Family
Costume--Prescriptions--Druggists--Snake Broth--Salve for


Spanish Spiritual Remedies for the Body--Miraculous Relics--Sanative
Oils--Philosophy of Relic Remedies--Midwifery and the Cinta of
Tortosa--Bull of Crusade.....236


The Spanish Figaro--Mustachios--Whiskers--Beards--Bleeding--Heraldic
Blood--Blue, Red, and Black Blood--Figaro’s Shop--The Baratero--Shaving
and Toothdrawing.....255


What to observe in Spain--How to observe--Spanish Incuriousness and
Suspicions--French Spies and Plunderers--Sketching in
Spain--Difficulties; How Surmounted--Efficacy of Passports and
Bribes--Uncertainty and Want of Information in the Natives.....265


Origin of Bull-fight or Festival, and its Religious Character--Fiestas
Reales--Royal Feasts--Charles I. at one--Discontinuance of the Old
System--Sham Bull-fights--Plaza de Toros--Slang Language--Spanish
Bulls--Breeds--The Going to a Bull-fight.....286


The Bull-fight--Opening of Spectacle--First Act, and Appearance of the
Bull--The Picador--Bull Bastinado--The Horses, and their Cruel
Treatment--Fire and Dogs--The Second Act--The Chulos and their
Darts--The Third Act--The Matador--Death of the Bull--The Conclusion,
and Philosophy of the Amusement--Its Effect on Ladies.....300


Spanish Theatre; Old and Modern Drama; Arrangement of Play-houses--The
Henroost--The Fandango; National Dances--A Gipsy Ball--Italian
Opera--National Songs and Guitars.....318


Manufacture of Cigars--Tobacco--Smuggling _viâ_ Gibraltar--Cigars of
Ferdinand VII.--Making a Cigarrito--Zumalacarreguy and the
Schoolmaster--Time and Money wasted in Smoking--Postscript on Spanish



     A general view of Spain--Isolation--King of the Spains--Castilian
     precedence--Localism--Want of Union--Admiration of Spain--M. Thiers
     in Spain.



The kingdom of Spain, which looks so compact on the map, is composed of
many distinct provinces, each of which in earlier times formed a
separate and independent kingdom; and although all are now united under
one crown by marriage, inheritance, conquest, and other circumstances,
the original distinctions, geographical as well as social, remain almost
unaltered. The language, costume, habits, and local character of the
natives, vary no less than the climate and productions of the soil. The
chains of mountains which intersect the whole peninsula, and the deep
rivers which separate portions of it, have, for many years, operated as
so many walls and moats, by cutting off intercommunication, and by
fostering that tendency to isolation which must exist in all hilly
countries, where good roads and bridges do not abound. As similar
circumstances led the people of ancient Greece to split into small
principalities, tribes and clans, so in Spain, man, following the
example of the nature by which he is surrounded, has little in common
with the inhabitant of the adjoining district; and these differences are
increased and perpetuated by the ancient jealousies and inveterate
dislikes, which petty and contiguous states keep up with such tenacious
memory. The general comprehensive term “Spain,” which is convenient for
geographers and politicians, is calculated to mislead the traveller, for
it would be far from easy to predicate any single thing of Spain or
Spaniards which will be equally applicable to all its heterogeneous
component parts. The north-western provinces are more rainy than
Devonshire, while the centre plains are more calcined than those of the
deserts of Arabia, and the littoral south or eastern coasts altogether
Algerian. The rude agricultural Gallician, the industrious manufacturing
artisan of Barcelona, the gay and voluptuous Andalucian, the sly
vindictive Valencian, are as essentially different from each other as so
many distinct characters at the same masquerade. It will therefore be
more convenient to the traveller to take each province by itself and
treat it in detail, keeping on the look-out for those peculiarities,
those social and natural characteristics or idiosyncracies which
particularly belong to each division, and distinguish it from its
neighbours. The Spaniards who have written on their own geography and
statistics, and who ought to be supposed to understand their own country
and institutions the best, have found it advisable to adopt this
arrangement from feeling the utter impossibility of treating Spain
(where union is not unity) as a whole. There is no king of _Spain_:
among the infinity of kingdoms, the list of which swells out the royal
style, that of “Spain” is not found; he is King of the Spains, Rex
Hispaniarum, _Rey de las Españas_, not “_Rey de España_.” Philip II.,
called by his countrymen _el prudente_, the prudent, wishing to fuse
down his heterogeneous subjects, was desirous after his conquest of
Portugal, which consolidated his dominion, to call himself King of
Spain, which he then really was; but this alteration of title was beyond
the power of even his despotism; such was the opposition of the kingdoms
of Arragon and Navarre, which never gave up the hopes of shaking off the
yoke of Castile, and recovering their former independence, while the
empire provinces of New and Old Castile refused in anywise to compromise
their claims of pre-eminence. They from early times, as now, took the
lead in national nomenclature; hence “_Castellano_,” Castilian, is
synonymous with Spaniard, and particularly with the proud genuine older
stock. “_Castellano á las derechas_,” means a Spaniard to the backbone;
“_Hablar Castellano_,” to speak Castilian, is the correct expression for
speaking the Spanish language. Spain again was long without the
advantage of a fixed metropolis, like Rome, Paris, or London, which have
been capitals from their foundation, and recognized and submitted to as
such; here, the cities of Leon, Burgos, Toledo, Seville, Valladolid,
and others, have each in their turns been the capitals of the kingdom.
This constant change and short-lived pre-eminence has weakened any
prescriptive superiority of one city over another, and has been a cause
of national weakness by raising up rivalries and disputes about
precedence, which is one of the most fertile sources of dissension among
a punctilious people. In fact the king was the state, and wherever he
fixed his head-quarters was the court, _La Corte_, a word still
synonymous with Madrid, which now claims to be the only residence of the
Sovereign--the residenz, as Germans would say; otherwise, when compared
with the cities above mentioned, it is a modern place; from not having a
bishop or cathedral, of which latter some older cities possess two, it
has not even the rank of a _ciudad_, or city, but is merely denominated
_villa_, or town. In moments of national danger it exercises little
influence over the Peninsula: at the same time, from being the seat of
the court and government, and therefore the centre of patronage and
fashion, it attracts from all parts those who wish to make their
fortune; yet the capital has a hold on the ambition rather than on the
affections of the nation at large. The inhabitants of the different
provinces think, indeed, that Madrid is the greatest and richest court
in the world, but their hearts are in their native localities. “_Mi
paisano_,” my fellow-countryman, or rather my fellow-county-man,
fellow-parishioner, does not mean Spaniard, but Andalucian, Catalonian,
as the case may be. When a Spaniard is asked, Where do you come from?
the reply is, “_Soy hijo de Murcia--hijo de Granada_,” “I am a son of
Murcia--a son of Granada,” &c. This is strictly analogous to the
“Children of Israel,” the “Beni” of the Spanish Moors, and to this day
the Arabs of Cairo call themselves _children_ of that town, “_Ibn el
Musr_,” &c.; and just as the Milesian Irishman is “a _boy_ from
Tipperary,” &c., and ready to fight with any one who is so also, against
all who are not of that ilk; similar too is the clanship of the
Highlander; indeed, everywhere, not perhaps to the same extent as in
Spain, the being of the same province or town creates a powerful
freemasonry; the parties cling together like old school-fellows. It is a
_home_ and really binding feeling. To the spot of their birth all their
recollections, comparisons, and eulogies are turned; nothing to them
comes up to their particular province, that is, their real country. “_La
Patria_,” meaning Spain at large, is a subject of declamation, fine
words, _palabras_--palaver, in which all, like Orientals, delight to
indulge, and to which their grandiloquent idiom lends itself readily;
but their patriotism is parochial, and self is the centre of Spanish
gravity. Like the German, they may sing and spout about _Fatherland_: in
both cases the theory is splendid, but in practice each Spaniard thinks
his own province or town the best in the Peninsula, and himself the
finest fellow in it. From the earliest period down to the present all
observers have been struck with this _localism_ as a salient feature in
the character of the Iberians, who never would amalgamate, never would,
as Strabo said, put their shields together--never would sacrifice their
own local private interest for the general good; on the contrary, in the
hour of need they had, as at present, a constant tendency to separate
into distinct _juntas_, “_collective_” assemblies, each of which only
thought of its own views, utterly indifferent to the injury thereby
occasioned to what ought to have been the common cause of all. Common
danger and interest scarcely can keep them together, the tendency of
each being rather to repel than to attract the other: the common enemy
once removed, they instantly fall to loggerheads among each other,
especially if there be any spoil to be divided: scarcely ever, as in the
East, can the energy of one individual bind the loose staves by the iron
power of a master mind; remove the band, and the centrifugal members
instantaneously disunite. Thus the virility and vitality of the noble
people have been neutralised: they have, indeed, strong limbs and honest
hearts; but, as in the Oriental parable, “a head” is wanting to direct
and govern: hence Spain is to-day, as it always has been, a bundle of
small bodies tied together by a rope of sand, and, being without union,
is also without strength, and has been beaten in detail. The much-used
phrase _Españolismo_ expresses rather a “dislike of foreign dictation,”
and the “self-estimation” of Spaniards, _Españoles sobre todos_, than
any real patriotic love of country, however highly they rate its
excellences and superiority to every other one under heaven: this
opinion is condensed in one of those pithy proverbs which, nowhere more
than in Spain, are the exponents of popular sentiment: it runs
thus,--“_Quien dice España, dice todo_,” which means, “Whoever says
Spain, says everything.” A foreigner may perhaps think this a trifle too
comprehensive and exclusive; but he will do well to express no doubts on
the subject, since he will only be set down by every native as either
jealous, envious, or ignorant, and probably all three.



[Sidenote: M. THIERS IN SPAIN.]

To boast of Spain’s strength, said the Duke of Wellington, is the
national weakness. Every infinitesimal particle which constitutes
_nosotros_, or ourselves, as Spaniards term themselves, will talk of his
country as if the armies were still led to victory by the mighty Charles
V., or the councils managed by Philip II. instead of Louis-Philippe.
Fortunate, indeed, was it, according to a Castilian preacher, that the
Pyrenees concealed Spain when the Wicked One tempted the Son of Man by
an offer of all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. This,
indeed, was predicated in the mediæval or dark ages, but few peninsular
congregations, even in these enlightened times, would dispute the
inference. It was but the other day that a foreigner was relating in a
_tertulia_, or conversazione of Madrid, the well-known anecdote of
Adam’s revisit to the earth. The narrator explained how our first father
on lighting in Italy was perplexed and taken aback; how, on crossing the
Alps into Germany, he found nothing that he could understand--how
matters got darker and stranger at Paris, until on his reaching England
he was altogether lost, confounded, and abroad, being unable to make out
any thing. Spain was his next point, where, to his infinite
satisfaction, he found himself quite at home, so little had things
changed since his absence, or indeed since the sun at its creation first
shone over Toledo. The story concluded, a distinguished Spaniard, who
was present, hurt perhaps at the somewhat protestant-dissenting tone of
the speaker, gravely remarked, the rest of the party coinciding,--_Si,
Señor, y tenia razon; la España es Paradiso_--“Adam, Sir, was right, for
Spain is paradise;” and in many respects this worthy, zealous gentleman
was not wrong, although it is affirmed by some of his countrymen that
some portions of it are inhabited by persons not totally exempt from
original sin; thus the Valencians will say of their ravishing _huerta_,
or garden, _Es un paradiso habitado por demonios_,--“It is an Eden
peopled by subjects of his Satanic Majesty.” Again, according to the
natives, Murcia, a land overflowing with milk and honey, where Flora and
Pomona dispute the prize with Ceres and Bacchus, possesses a _cielo y
suelo bueno, el entresuelo malo_, has “a sky and soil that are good,
while all between is indifferent;” which the _entresol_ occupant must
settle to his liking.

Another little anecdote, like a straw thrown up in the air, will point
out the direction in which the wind blows. Monsieur Thiers, the great
historical romance writer, in his recent hand-gallop tour through the
Peninsula, passed a few days only at Madrid; his mind being, as
logicians would say, of a _subjective_ rather than an _objective_ turn,
that is, disposed rather to the consideration of the _ego_, and to
things relating to self, than to those that do not, he scarcely looked
more at any thing there, than he did during his similar run through
London: “Behold,” said the Spaniards, “that little _gabacho_; he dares
not remain, nor raise his eyes from the ground in this land, whose vast
superiority wounds his personal and national vanity.” There is nothing
new in this. The old Castilian has an older saying:--_Si Dios no fuese
Dios, seria rey de las Españas, y el de Francia su cocinero_--“If God
were not God, he would make himself king of the Spains, with him of
France for his cook.” Lope de Vega, without derogating one jot from
these paradisiacal pretensions, used him of England better. His sonnet
on the romantic trip to Madrid ran thus:--

    “Carlos Stuardo soy,
       Que siendo amor mi guia,
     Al _cielo de España_ voy,
       Por ver mi estrella Maria.”

“I am Charles Stuart, who, with love for my guide, hasten to the heaven
Spain to see my star Mary.” The Virgin, it must be remembered, after
whom this infanta was named, is held by every Spaniard to be the
brightest luminary, and the sole empress of heaven.



     The Geography of Spain--Zones--Mountains--The Pyrenees--The
     Gabacho, and French Politics.

From Spain being the most southern country in Europe, it is very natural
that those who have never been there, and who in England criticise those
who have, should imagine the climate to be even more delicious than that
of Italy or Greece. This is far from being the fact; some, indeed, of
the sea coasts and sheltered plains in the S. and E. provinces are warm
in winter, and exposed to an almost African sun in summer, but the N.
and W. districts are damp and rainy for the greater part of the year,
while the interior is either cold and cheerless, or sunburnt and
wind-blown: winters have occurred at Madrid of such severity that
sentinels have been frozen to death; and frequently all communication is
suspended by the depth of the snow in the elevated roads over the
mountain passes of the Castiles. All, therefore, who are about to travel
through the Peninsula, are particularly cautioned to consider well their
line of route beforehand, and to select certain portions to be visited
at certain seasons, and thus avoid every local disadvantage.


One glance at a map of Europe will convey a clearer notion of the
relative position of Spain in regard to other countries than pages of
letter-press: this is an advantage which every schoolboy possesses over
the Plinys and Strabos of antiquity; the ancients were content to
compare the shape of the Peninsula to that of a bull’s hide, nor was the
comparison ill chosen in some respects. We will not weary readers with
details of latitude and longitude, but just mention that the whole
superficies of the Peninsula, including Portugal, contains upwards of
19,000 square leagues, of which somewhat more than 15,500 belong to
Spain; it is thus almost twice as large as the British Islands, and only
one-tenth smaller than France; the circumference or coast-line is
estimated at 750 leagues. This compact and isolated territory, inhabited
by a fine, hardy, warlike population, ought, therefore, to have rivalled
France in military power, while its position between those two great
seas which command the commerce of the old and new world, its indented
line of coast, abounding in bays and harbours, offered every advantage
of vying with England in maritime enterprise.

Nature has provided commensurate outlets for the infinite productions of
a country which is rich alike in everything that is to be found either
on the face or in the bowels of the earth; for the mines and quarries
abound with precious metals and marbles, from gold to iron, from the
agate to coal, while a fertile soil and every possible variety of
climate admit of unlimited cultivation of the natural productions of the
temperate or tropical zones: thus in the province of Granada the
sugar-cane and cotton-tree luxuriate at the base of ranges which are
covered with eternal snow: a wide range is thus afforded to the
botanist, who may ascend by zones, through every variety of vegetable
strata, from the hothouse plant growing wild, to the hardiest lichen. It
has, indeed, required the utmost ingenuity and bad government of man to
neutralise the prodigality of advantages which Providence has lavished
on this highly favoured land, and which, while under the dominion of the
Romans and Moors, resembled an Eden, a garden of plenty and delight,
when in the words of an old author, there was nothing idle, nothing
barren in Spain--“nihil otiosum, nihil sterile in Híspaniâ.” A sad
change has come over this fair vision, and now the bulk of the Peninsula
offers a picture of neglect and desolation, moral and physical, which it
is painful to contemplate: the face of nature and the mind of man have
too often been dwarfed and curtailed of their fair proportions; they
have either been neglected and their inherent fertility allowed to run
into vice and luxuriant weeds, which it will show against any country in
the world, or their energies have been misdirected, and a capability of
all good converted into an element equally powerful for evil; but pride
and laziness are here as everywhere the keys to poverty, _altivez y
pereza, llaves de pobreza_.


The geological construction of Spain is very peculiar, and unlike that
of most other countries; it is almost one mountain or agglomeration of
mountains, as those of our countrymen who are speculating in Spanish
railroads are just beginning to discover. The interior rises on every
side from the sea, and the central portions are higher than any other
table-lands in Europe, ranging on an average from two to three thousand
feet above the level of the sea, while from this elevated plain chains
of mountains rise again to a still greater height. Madrid, which stands
on this central plateau, is situated about 2000 feet above the level of
Naples, which lies in the same latitude; the mean temperature of Madrid
is 59°, while that of Naples is 63° 30´; it is to this difference of
elevation that the extraordinary difference of climate and vegetable
productions between the two capitals is to be ascribed. Fruits which
flourish on the coasts of Provence and Genoa, which lie four degrees
more to the north than any portion of Spain, are rarely to be met with
in the elevated interior of the Peninsula: on the other hand, the low
and sunny maritime belts abound with productions of a tropical
vegetation. The mountainous character and general aspect of the coast
are nearly analogous throughout the circuit which extends from the
Basque Provinces to Cape Finisterre; and offer a remarkable contrast to
those sunny alluvial plains which extend, more or less, from Cadiz to
Barcelona, and which closely resemble each other in vegetable
productions, such as the fig, orange, pomegranate, aloe, and carob tree,
which grow everywhere in profusion, except in those parts where the
mountains come down abruptly into the sea itself. Again, the central
districts, composed of vast plains and steppes, _Parameras, Tierras de
campo, y Secanos_, closely resemble each other in their monotonous
denuded aspect, in their scarcity of fruit and timber, and their
abundance of cereal productions.

[Sidenote: ZONES OF SPAIN.]

Spanish geographers have divided the Peninsula into seven distinct
chains of mountains. These commence with the Pyrenees and end with the
Bætican or Andalucian ranges: these _cordilleras_, or lines of lofty
ridges, arise on each side of intervening plains, which once formed the
basins of internal lakes, until the accumulated waters, by bursting
through the obstructions by which they were dammed up, found a passage
to the ocean: the dip or inclination of the country lies from the east
towards the west, and, accordingly, the chief rivers which form the
drains and principal water-sheds of the greater parts of the surface,
flow into the Atlantic: their courses, like the basins through which
they pass, lie in a transversal and almost a parallel direction; thus
the Duero, the Tagus, the Guadiana, and the Guadalquivir, all flow into
their recipient between their distinct chains of mountains. The sources
of the supply to these leading arteries arise in the longitudinal range
of elevations which descends all through the Peninsula, approaching
rather to the eastern than to the western coast, whereby a considerably
greater length is obtained by each of these four rivers, when compared
to the Ebro, which disembogues in the Mediterranean.

The Moorish geographer Alrasi was the first to take difference of
climate as the rule of dividing the Peninsula into distinct portions;
and modern authorities, carrying out this idea, have drawn an imaginary
line, which runs north-east to south-west, thus separating the Peninsula
into the northern, or the boreal and temperate, and the southern or the
torrid, and subdividing these two into four zones: nor is this division
altogether fanciful, for there is no caprice or mistake in tests derived
from the vegetable world; manners may make man, but the sun alone
modifies the plant: man may be fused down by social appliances into one
uniform mass, but the rude elements are not to be civilized, nor can
nature be made cosmopolitan, which heaven forfend.

[Sidenote: ZONES OF SPAIN.]

_The first or northern zone_ is the _Cantabrian_, the European; this
portion skirts the base of the Pyrenees, and includes portions of
Catalonia, Arragon, and Navarre, the Basque provinces, the Asturias, and
Gallicia. This is the region of humidity, and as the winters are long,
and the springs and autumns rainy, it should only be visited in the
summer. It is a country of hill and dale, is intersected by numerous
streams which abound in fish, and which irrigate rich meadows for
pastures. The valleys form the now improving dairy country of Spain,
while the mountains furnish the most valuable and available timber of
the Peninsula. In some parts corn will scarcely ripen, while in others,
in addition to the cerealia, cider and an ordinary wine are produced. It
is inhabited by a hardy, independent, and rarely subdued population,
since the mountainous country offers natural means of defence to brave
highlanders. It is useless to attempt the conquest with a small army,
while a large one would find no means of support in the hungry

_The second zone_ is the Iberian or eastern, which, in its maritime
portions, is more Asiatic than European, and where the lower classes
partake of the Greek and Carthaginian character, being false, cruel, and
treacherous, yet lively, ingenious, and fond of pleasure: this portion
commences at Burgos, and includes the southern portion of Catalonia and
Arragon, with parts of Castile, Valencia, and Murcia. The sea-coasts
should be visited in the spring and autumn, when they are delicious; but
they are intensely hot in the summer, and infested with myriads of
muskitoes. The districts about Burgos are among the coldest in Spain,
and the thermometer sinks very much below the ordinary average of our
more temperate climate; and as they have little at any time to attract
the traveller, he will do well to avoid them except during the summer
months. The population is grave, sober, and Castilian. The elevation is
very considerable; thus the upper valley of the Miño and some of the
north-western portions of Old Castile and Leon are placed more than 6000
feet above the level of the sea, and the frosts often last for three
months at a time.


_The third zone_ is the Lusitanian, or western, which is by far the
largest, and includes the central parts of Spain and all Portugal. The
interior of this portion, and especially the provinces of the two
Castiles and La Mancha, both in the physical condition of the soil and
the moral qualities of the inhabitants, presents a very unfavourable
view of the Peninsula, as these inland steppes are burnt up by summer
suns, and are tempest and wind-rent during winter. The general absence
of trees, hedges, and enclosures exposes these wide unprotected plains
to the rage and violence of the elements: poverty-stricken mud houses,
scattered here and there in the desolate extent, afford a wretched home
to a poor, proud, and ignorant population; but these localities, which
offer in themselves neither pleasure nor profit to the stranger, contain
many sites and cities of the highest interest, which none who wish to
understand Spain can possibly pass by unnoticed. The best periods for
visiting this portion of Spain are May and June, or September and

The more western districts of this Lusitanian zone are not so
disagreeable. There in the uplands the ilex and chesnut abound, while
the rich plains produce vast harvests of corn, and the vineyards
powerful red wines. The central table-land, which closely resembles the
plateau of Mexico, forms nearly one-half of the entire area of the
Peninsula. The peculiarity of the climate is its dryness; it is not,
however, unhealthy, being free from the agues and fevers which are
prevalent in the lower plains, river-swamps, and rice-grounds of parts
of Valencia and Andalucia. Rain, indeed, is so comparatively scarce on
this table-land, that the annual quantity on an average does not amount
to more than ten inches. The least quantity falls in the mountain
regions near Guadalupe, and on the high plains of Cuenca and Murcia,
where sometimes eight or nine months pass without a drop falling. The
occasional thunder-storms do but just lay the dust, since here moisture
dries up quicker even than woman’s tears. The face of the earth is
tanned, tawny, and baked into a veritable terra cotta: everything seems
dead and burnt on a funeral pile. It is all but a miracle how the
principle of life in the green herb is preserved, since the very grass
appears scorched and dead; yet when once the rains set in, vegetation
springs up, phœnix-like, from the ashes, and bursts forth in an
inconceivable luxuriance and life. The ripe seeds which have fallen on
the soil are called into existence, carpeting the desert with verdure,
gladdening the eye with flowers, and intoxicating the senses with
perfume. The thirsty chinky dry earth drinks in these genial showers,
and then rising like a giant refreshed with wine, puts forth all its
strength; and what vegetation is, where moisture is combined with great
heat, cannot even be guessed at in lands of stinted suns. The periods of
rains are the winter and spring, and when these are plentiful, all kinds
of grain, and in many places wines, are produced in abundance. The
olive, however, is only to be met with in a few favoured localities.


_The fourth zone_ is the Bætican, which is the most southern and
African; it coasts the Mediterranean, basking at the foot of the
mountains which rise behind and form the mass of the Peninsula: this
mural barrier offers a sure protection against the cold winds which
sweep across the central region. Nothing can be more striking than the
descent from the table elevations into these maritime strips; in a few
hours the face of nature is completely changed, and the traveller passes
from the climate and vegetation of Europe into that of Africa. This
region is characterised by a dry burning atmosphere during a large part
of the year. The winters are short and temperate, and consist rather in
rain than in cold, for in the sunny valleys ice is scarcely known except
for eating; the springs and autumns delightful beyond all conception.
Much of the cultivation depends on artificial irrigation, which was
carried by the Moors to the highest perfection: indeed water, under this
forcing, vivifying sun, is the blood of the earth, and synonymous with
fertility: the productions are tropical; sugar, cotton, rice, the
orange, lemon, and date. The _algarrobo_, the carob tree, and the
_adelfa_, the oleander, may be considered as forming boundary marks
between this the _tierra caliente_, or torrid district, and the colder
regions by which it is encompassed.

Such are the geographical divisions of nature with which the vegetable
and animal productions are closely connected; and we shall presently
enter somewhat more fully into the _climate_ of Spain, of which the
natives are as proud as if they had made it themselves. This Bætican
zone, Andalucia, which contains in itself many of the most interesting
cities, sites, and natural beauties of the Peninsula, will always take
precedence in any plan of the traveller, and each of these points has
its own peculiar attractions. These embrace a wide range of varied
scenery and objects; and Andalucia, easy of access, may be gone over
almost at every portion of the year. The winters may be spent at Cadiz,
Seville, or Malaga; the summers in the cool mountains of Ronda, Aracena,
or Granada. April, May, and June, or September, October, and November,
are, however, the most preferable. Those who go in the spring should
reserve June for the mountains; those who go in the autumn should
reverse the plan, and commence with Ronda and Granada, ending with
Seville and Cadiz.


Spain, it has thus been shown, is one mountain, or rather a jumble of
mountains,--for the principal and secondary ranges are all more or less
connected with each other, and descend in a serpentising direction
throughout the Peninsula, with a general inclination to the west.
Nature, by thus dislocating the country, seems to have suggested, nay,
almost to have forced, localism and isolation to the inhabitants, who
each in their valleys and districts are shut off from their neighbours,
whom to love, they are enjoined in vain.

The internal communication of the Peninsula, which is thus divided by
the mountain-walls, is effected by some good roads, few and far between,
and which are carried over the most convenient points, where the natural
dips are the lowest, and the ascents and descents the most practicable.
These passes are called _Puertos_--_portæ_, or gates. There are, indeed,
mule-tracks and goat-paths over other and intermediate portions of the
chain, but they are difficult and dangerous, and being seldom provided
with ventas or villages, are fitter for smugglers and bandits than
honest men: the farthest and fairest way about will always be found the
best and shortest road.

The Spanish mountains in general have a dreary and harsh character, yet
not without a certain desolate sublimity: the highest are frequently
capped with snow, which glistens in the clear sky. They are rarely clad
with forest trees; the scarped and denuded ridges cut with a serrated
outline the clean clear blue sky. The granitic masses soar above the
green valley or yellow corn-plains in solitary state, like the castles
of a feudal baron, that lord it over all below, with which they are too
proud to have aught in common. These mountains are seen to greatest
advantage at the rise and setting of the sun, for during the day the
vertical rays destroy all form by removing shadows.

[Sidenote: THE PYRENEES.]

These geographical peculiarities of Spain, and particularly the
existence of the great central elevation, when once attained are apt to
be forgotten. The country rises from the coast, directly in the
north-western provinces, and in some of the southern and eastern, with
an intervening alluvial strip and swell: but when once the ascent is
accomplished, no _real_ descent ever takes place--we are then on the
summit of a vast elevated mass. The roads indeed _apparently_ ascend and
descend, but the mean height is seldom diminished: the interior hills or
plains are undulations of one mountain. The traveller is often deceived
at the apparent low level of snow-clad ranges, such as the Guadarrama;
this will be accounted for by adding the great elevation of their bases
above the level of the sea. The palace of the Escorial, which is placed
at the foot of the Guadarrama, and at the head of a seeming plain,
stands in reality at 2725 feet above Valencia, while the summer
residence of the king at _La Granja_, in the same chain, is thirty feet
higher than the summit of Vesuvius. This, indeed, is a castle in the
air--a château en Espagne, and worthy of the most German potentate to
whom that element belongs, as the sea does to Britannia. The mean
temperature on the plateau of Spain is as 15° Réaumur, while that of the
coast is as 18° and 19°, in addition to the protection from cutting
winds which their mountainous backgrounds afford; nor is the traveller
less deceived as regards the heights of the interior mountains than he
is with the champaigns, or table-land plains. The eye wanders over a
vast level extent bounded only by the horizon, or a faint blue line of
other distant sierras; this space, which appears one townless level, is
intersected with deep ravines, _barrancos_, in which villages lie
concealed, and streams, _arroyos_, flow unperceived. Another important
effect of this central elevation is the searching dryness and
rarefication of the air. It is often highly prejudicial to strangers;
the least exposure, which is very tempting under a burning sun, will
often bring on ophthalmia, irritable colics, and inflammatory diseases
of the lungs and vital organs. Such are the causes of the _pulmonia_,
which carries off the invalid in a few days, and is the disease of
Madrid. The frozen blasts descending from the snow-clad Guadarrama catch
the incautious passenger at the turning of streets which are roasting
under a fierce sun. Is it to be wondered at, that this capital should be
so very insalubrious? in winter you are frozen alive, in summer baked. A
man taking a walk for the benefit of his health, crosses with his pores
open from an oven to an ice-house; catch-cold introduces the Spanish
doctor, who soon in his turn presents the undertaker.

[Sidenote: THE PYRENEES]

As the Pyrenees possess an European interest at this moment when the
Napoleon of Peace proposes to annihilate their existence, which defied
Louis XIV. and Buonaparte, some details may be not unacceptable. This
gigantic barrier, which divides Spain and France, is connected with the
dorsal chain which comes down from Tartary and Asia. It stretches far
beyond the transversal spine, for the mountains of the Basque
Provinces, Asturias, and Gallicia, are its continuation. The Pyrenees,
properly speaking, extend E. to W., in length about 270 miles, being
both broadest and highest in the central portions, where the width is
about 60 miles, and the elevations exceed 11,000 feet. The spurs and
offsets of this great transversal spine penetrate on both sides into the
lateral valleys like ribs from a back-bone. The central nucleus slopes
gradually E. to the gentle Mediterranean, and W. to the fierce Atlantic,
in a long uneven swell.

This range of mountains was called by the Romans _Montes_ and _Saltus
Pyrenei_, and by the Greeks Πυρηνη, probably from a local
Iberian word, but which they, as usual, catching at sound, not sense,
connected with their Πυρ, and then bolstered up their erroneous
derivation by a legend framed to fit the name, asserting that it either
alluded to _a fire_ through which certain precious metals were
discovered, or because the lofty summits were often struck with
lightning, and dislocated by the volcanos. According to the Iberians,
Hercules, when on his way to “lift” Geryon’s cattle, was hospitably
received by Bebryx, a petty ruler in these mountains; whereupon the
demigod got drunk, and ravished his host’s daughter _Pyrene_, who died
of grief, when Hercules, sad and sober, made the whole range re-echo
with her name; a legend which, like some others in Spain, requires
confirmation, for the Phœnicians called these ranges _Purani_, from
the forests, _Pura_ meaning wood in Hebrew. The Basques have, of course,
their etymology, some saying that the real root is _Biri_, an elevation,
while others prefer _Bierri enac_, the “two countries,” which, separated
by the range, were ruled by Tubal; but when Spaniards once begin with
Tubal, the best plan is to shut the book.

[Sidenote: THE GABACHO.]

The _Maledêta_ is the loftiest peak, although the _Pico del Mediodia_
and the _Canigú_, because rising at once out of plains and therefore
having the greatest apparent altitudes, were long considered to be the
highest; but now these French usurpers are dethroned. Seen from a
distance, the range appears to be one mountain-ridge, with broken
pinnacles, but, in fact, it consists of two distinct lines, which are
parallel, but not continuous. The one which commences at the ocean is
the most forward, being at least 30 miles more in advance towards the
south than the corresponding line, which commences from the
Mediterranean. The centre is the point of dislocation, and here the
ramifications and reticulations are the most intricate, as it is the
key-stone of the system, which is buttressed up by _Las Tres Sorellas_,
the three sisters _Monte Perdido_, _Cylindro_, and _Marboré_. Here is
the source of the Garonne, _La Garona_; here the scenery is the
grandest, and the lateral valleys the longest and widest. The smaller
spurs enclose valleys, down each of which pours a stream: thus the Ebro,
Garona, and Bidasoa are fed from the mountain source. These tributaries
are generally called in France _Gaves_,[1] and in some parts on the
Spanish side _Gabas_; but _Gav_ signifies a “river,” and may be traced
in our _Avon_; and Humboldt derives it from the Basque _Gav_, a “hollow
or ravine;” cavus. The parting of these waters, or their flowing down
either N. or S., should naturally mark the line of division between
France and Spain: such, however, is not the case, as part of _Cerdaña_
belongs to France, while _Aran_ belongs to Spain; thus each country
possesses a key in its neighbour’s territory. It is singular that this
obvious inconvenience should not have been remedied by some exchange
when the long-disputed boundary-question was settled between Charles IV.
and the French republic.

[Sidenote: THE PYRENEES.]

Most of the passes over this Alpine barrier are impracticable for
carriages, and remain much in the same state as in the time of the
Moors, who from them called the Pyrenean range _Albort_, from the Roman
_Portæ_, the ridge of “gates.” Many of the wild passes are only known to
the natives and smugglers, and are often impracticable from the snow;
while even in summer they are dangerous, being exposed to mists and the
hurricanes of mighty rushing winds. The two best carriageable lines of
inter-communication are placed at each extremity: that to the west
passes through Irun; that to the east through Figueras.

The Spanish Pyrenees offer few attractions to the lovers of the fleshly
comforts of cities; but the scenery, sporting, geology, and botany are
truly Alpine, and will well repay those who can “rough it” considerably.
The contrast which the unfrequented Spanish side offers to the crowded
opposite one is great. In Spain the mountains themselves are less
abrupt, less covered with snow, while the numerous and much frequented
baths in the French Pyrenees have created roads, diligences, hotels,
tables-d’hôte, cooks, Ciceronis, donkeys, and so forth; for the Badauds
de Paris who babble about green fields and _des belles horreurs_, but
who seldom go beyond the immediate vicinity and hackneyed “lions.” A
want of good taste and real perception of the sublime and beautiful is
nowhere more striking, says Mr. Erskine Murray, than on the French side,
where mankind remains profoundly ignorant of the real beauties of the
Pyrenees, which have been chiefly explored by the English, who love
nature with all their heart and soul, who worship her alike in her
shyest retreats and in her wildest forms. Nevertheless, on the north
side many comforts and appliances for the tourist are to be had; nay,
invalids and ladies in search of the picturesque can ascend to the
_Brèche de Roland_. Once, however, cross the frontier, and a sudden
change comes over all facilities of locomotion. Stern is the first
welcome of the “hard land of Iberia,” scarce is the food for body or
mind, and deficient the accommodation for man or beast, and simply
because there is small demand for either. No Spaniard ever comes here
for pleasure; hence the localities are given up to the smuggler and

[Sidenote: FRENCH POLICY.]

The Oriental inæsthetic incuriousness for _things_, old stones, wild
scenery, &c., is increased by political reasons and fears. The
neighbour, from the time of the Celt down to to-day, has ever been the
coveter, ravager, and terror of Spain: her “knavish tricks,” fire and
rapine are too numerous to be blinked or written away, too atrocious to
be forgiven: to revenge becomes a sacred duty. However governments may
change, the policy of France is immutable. Perfidy, backed by violence,
“ruse doublée de force,” is the state maxim from Louis XIV. and
Buonaparte down to Louis-Philippe: the principle is the same, whether
the instrument employed be the sword or wedding ring. The weaker Spain
is thus linked in the embrace of her stronger neighbour, and has been
made alternately her dupe and victim, and degraded into becoming a mere
satellite, to be dragged along by fiery Mars. France has forced her to
share all her bad fortune, but never has permitted her to participate in
her success. Spain has been tied to the car of her defeats, but never
has been allowed to mount it in the day of triumph. Her friendship has
always tended to denationalise Spain, and by entailing the forced enmity
of England, has caused to her the loss of her navies and colonies in the
new world.

“The Pyrenean boundary,” says the Duke of Wellington, “is the most
vulnerable frontier of France, probably the only vulnerable one;”
accordingly she has always endeavoured to dismantle the Spanish defences
and to foster insurrections and _pronunciamientos_ in Catalonia, for
Spain’s infirmity is her opportunity, and therefore the “sound policy”
of the rest of Europe is to see Spain strong, independent, and able to
hold her own Pyrenean key.

[Sidenote: THE PYRENEES.]

While France therefore has improved her means of approach and invasion,
Spain, to whom the past is prophetic of the future, has raised
obstacles, and has left her protecting barrier as broken and hungry as
when planned by her tutelar divinity. Nor are her highlanders more
practicable than their granite fastnesses. Here dwell the smuggler, the
rifle sportsman, and all who defy the law: here is bred the hardy
peasant, who, accustomed to scale mountains and fight wolves, becomes a
ready raw material for the _guerrilleros_, and none were ever more
formidable to Rome or France than those marshalled in these glens by
Sertorius and Mina. When the tocsin bell rings out, a hornet swarm of
armed men, the weed of the hills, starts up from every rock and brake.
The hatred of the Frenchman, which the Duke said formed “part of a
Spaniard’s nature,” seems to increase in intensity in proportion to
vicinity, for as they touch, so they fret and rub each other: here it
is the antipathy of an antithesis; the incompatibility of the saturnine
and slow, with the mercurial and rapid; of the proud, enduring, and
ascetic, against the vain, the fickle, and sensual; of the enemy of
innovation and change, to the lover of variety and novelty; and however
tyrants and tricksters may assert in the gilded galleries of Versailles
that _Il n’y a plus de Pyrénées_, this party-wall of Alps, this barrier
of snow and hurricane, does and will exist for ever: placed there by
Providence, as was said by the Gothic prelate Saint Isidore, they ever
have forbidden and ever will forbid the banns of an unnatural alliance,
as in the days of Silius Italicus:

    “Pyrene celsâ nimbosi verticis arce
     Divisos Celtis laté prospectat Hiberos
     Atque æterna tenet magnis _divortia_ terris.”

If the eagle of Buonaparte could never build in the Arragonese Sierra,
the lily of the Bourbon assuredly will not take root in the Castilian
plain; so sings Ariosto:

    ---- “Che non lice
    Che ’l giglio in quel terreno habbia radice!”

[Sidenote: THE PYRENEES.]

This inveterate condition either of pronounced hostility, or at best of
armed neutrality, has long rendered these localities disagreeable to the
man of the note-book. The rugged mountain frontiers consist of a series
of secluded districts, which constitute the entire world to the natives,
who seldom go beyond the natural walls by which they are bounded, except
to smuggle. This vocation is the curse of the country; it fosters a wild
reliance on self-defence, a habit of border foray and insurrection,
which seems as necessary to them as a moral excitement and combustible
element, as carbon and hydrogen are in their physical bodies. Their
habitual suspicion against prying foreigners, which is an Oriental and
Iberian instinct, converts a curious traveller into a spy or partisan.
Spanish authorities, who seldom do these things except on compulsion,
cannot understand the gratuitous braving of hardship and danger for its
own sake--the botanizing and geologizing, &c., of the nature and
adventure-loving English. The _impertinente curioso_ may possibly escape
observation in a Spanish city and crowd, but in these lonely hills it is
out of the question: he is the observed of all observers; and they,
from long smuggling and sporting habits, are always on the look-out,
and are keen-sighted as hawks, gipseys, and beasts of prey. Latterly
some who, by being placed immediately under the French boundary, have
seen the glitter of our tourists’ coin, have become more humanized, and
anxious to obtain a share in the profits of the season.

[Sidenote: THE PYRENEES.]

The geology and botany have yet to be properly investigated. In the
metal-pregnant Pyrenees rude forges of iron abound, but everything is
conducted on a small, unscientific scale, and probably after the
unchanged primitive Iberian system. Fuel is scarce, and transport of
ores on muleback expensive. The iron is at once inferior to the English
and much dearer: the tools and implements used on both sides of the
Pyrenees are at least a century behind ours; while absurd tariffs, which
prevent the importation of a cheaper and better article, retard
improvements in agriculture and manufactures, and perpetuate poverty and
ignorance among backward, half-civilised populations. The timber,
moreover, has suffered much from the usual neglect, waste, and
improvidence of the natives, who destroy more than they consume, and
never replant. The sporting in these lonely wild districts is excellent,
for where man seldom penetrates the feræ naturæ multiply: the bear is,
however, getting scarce, as a premium is placed on every head destroyed.
The grand object is the _Cabra Montanez_, or _Rupicapra_, German
Steinbock, the Bouquetin of the French, the Izard (_Ibex_, becco, bouc,
bock, buck). The fascination of this pursuit, like that of the Chamois
in Switzerland, leads to constant and even fatal accidents, as this shy
animal lurks in almost inaccessible localities, and must be stalked with
the nicest skill. The sporting on the north side is far inferior, as the
cooks of the table-d’hôtes have waged a _guerra al cuchillo_, a war to
the knife, and fork too, against even _les petits oiseaux_; but your
French _artiste_ persecutes even minnows, as all _sport_ and fair play
is scouted, and everything gives way for the pot. The Spaniards, less
mechanical and gastronomic, leave the feathered and finny tribes in
comparative peace. Accordingly the streams abound with trout, and those
which flow into the Atlantic with salmon. The lofty Pyrenees are not
only alembics of cool crystal streams, but contain, like the heart of
Sappho, sources of warm springs under a bosom of snow. The most
celebrated issue on the north side, or at least those which are the most
known and frequented, for the Spaniard is a small bather, and no great
drinker of medicinal waters. Accommodations at the baths on his side
scarcely exist, while even those in France are paltry when compared to
the spas of Germany, and dirty and indecent when contrasted with those
of England. The scenery is alpine, a jumble of mountain, precipice,
glacier, and forest, enlivened by the cataract or hurricane. The
natives, when not smugglers or _guerrilleros_, are rude, simple, and
pastoral: they are poor and picturesque, as people are who dwell in
mountains. _Plains_ which produce “bread stuffs” may be richer, but what
can a traveller or painter do with their monotonous commonplace?

In these wild tracts the highlanders in summer lead their flocks up to
mountain huts and dwell with their cattle, struggling against poverty
and wild beasts, and endeavouring really to keep the wolf from the door:
their watch-dogs are magnificent; the sheep are under admirable
control--being, as it were, in the presence of the enemy, they know the
voice of their shepherds, or rather the peculiar whistle and cry: their
wool is largely smuggled into France, and when manufactured in the shape
of coarse cloth is then re-smuggled back again.



     The Rivers of Spain--Bridges--Navigation--The Ebro and Tagus.


There are six great rivers in Spain,--the arteries which run between the
seven mountain chains, the vertebræ of the geological skeleton. These
water-sheds are each intersected in their extent by others on a minor
scale, by valleys and indentations, in each of which runs its own
stream. Thus the rains and melted snows are all collected in an infinity
of ramifications, and are carried by these tributary conduits into one
of the main trunks, which all, with the exception of the Ebro, empty
themselves into the Atlantic. The Duero and Tagus, unfortunately for
Spain, disembogue in Portugal, and thus become a portion of a foreign
dominion exactly where their commercial importance is the greatest.
Philip II. saw the true value of the possession of an angle which
rounded Spain, and insured to her the possession of these valuable
outlets of internal produce, and inlets for external commerce. Portugal
annexed to Spain gave more real power to his throne than the dominion of
entire continents across the Atlantic, and is the secret object of every
Spanish government’s ambition. The _Miño_, which is the shortest of
these rivers, runs through a bosom of fertility. The _Tajo_, Tagus,
which the fancy of poets has sanded with gold and embanked with roses,
tracks much of its dreary way through rocks and comparative barrenness.
The _Guadiana_ creeps through lonely Estremadura, infecting the low
plains with miasma. The _Guadalquivir_ eats out its deep banks amid the
sunny olive-clad regions of Andalucia, as the Ebro divides the levels of
Arragon. Spain abounds with brackish streams, _Salados_, and with
salt-mines, or saline deposits after the evaporation of the sea-waters;
indeed, the soil of the central portions is so strongly impregnated with
“villainous saltpetre,” that the small province of La Mancha alone could
furnish materials to blow up the world; the surface of these regions,
always arid, is every day becoming more so, from the singular antipathy
which the inhabitants of the interior have against trees. There is
nothing to check the power of rapid evaporation, no shelter to protect
or preserve moisture. The soil becomes more and more parched and dried
up, insomuch that in some parts it has almost ceased to be available for
cultivation: another serious evil, which arises from want of
plantations, is, that the slopes of hills are everywhere liable to
constant denudation of soil after heavy rain. There is nothing to break
the descent of the water; hence the naked, barren stone summits of many
of the sierras, which have been pared and peeled of every particle
capable of nourishing vegetation: they are skeletons where life is
extinct; not only is the soil thus lost, but the detritus washed down
either forms bars at the mouths of rivers, or chokes up and raises their
beds; they are thus rendered liable to overflow their banks, and convert
the adjoining plains into pestilential swamps. The supply of water,
which is afforded by periodical rains, and which ought to support the
reservoirs of rivers, is carried off at once in violent floods, rather
than in a gentle gradual disembocation. From its mountainous character
Spain has very few lakes, as the fall is too considerable to allow water
to accumulate; the exceptions which do exist might with greater
propriety be termed lochs--not that they are to be compared in size or
beauty to some of those in Scotland. The volume in the principal rivers
of Spain has diminished, and is diminishing; thus some which once were
navigable, are so no longer, while the artificial canals which were to
have been substituted remain unfinished: the progress of deterioration
advances, while little is done to counteract or amend what every year
must render more difficult and expensive, while the means of repair and
correction will diminish in equal proportion, from the poverty
occasioned by the evil, and by the fearful extent which it will be
allowed to attain. However, several grand water-companies have been
lately formed, who are to dig Artesian wells, finish canals, navigate
rivers with steamers, and _issue shares at a premium_, which will be
effected if nothing else is.


The rivers which are really adapted to navigation are, however, only
those which are perpetually fed by those tributary streams that flow
down from mountains which are covered with snow all the year, and these
are not many. The majority of Spanish rivers are very scanty of water
during the summer time, and very rapid in their flow when filled by
rains or melting snow: during these periods they are impracticable for
boats. They are, moreover, much exhausted by being drained off,
_sangrado_--that is, bled, for the purposes of artificial irrigation;
thus, at Madrid and Valencia, the wide beds of the Manzanares and the
Turia are frequently dry as the sands of the seashore when the tide is
out. They seem only to be entitled to be called rivers by courtesy,
because they have so many and such splendid bridges; as numerous are the
jokes cut by the newly-arrived stranger, who advises the townsfolk to
sell one of them to purchase water, or compares their thirsting arches
to the rich man in torments, who prays for one drop; but a heavy rain in
the mountains soon shows the necessity for their strength and length,
for their wide and lofty arches, their buttress-like piers, which before
had appeared to be rather the freaks of architectural magnificence than
the works of public utility. Those who live in a comparatively level
country can scarcely form an idea of the rapidity and fearful
destruction of the river inundations in this land of mountains. The
deluge rolls forth in an avalanche, the rising water coming down tier
above tier like a flight of steps let loose. These tides carry
everything before them--scarring and gullying up the earth, tearing down
rocks, trees, and houses, and strewing far and wide the relics of ruin;
but the fierce fury is short-lived, and is spent in its own violence;
thus the traveller at Madrid, if he wishes to see its Thames, should run
down or take the ’bus as he can, when it rains, or the river will be
gone before he gets there. When the Spaniards, under those blockheads
Blake and Cuesta, lost the battle of _Rio Seco_, which gave Madrid to
Buonaparte, the French soldiers, in crossing the _dry river_ bed in
pursuit of the fugitives, exclaimed,--“Why Spanish rivers run away too!”

[Sidenote: THE EBRO.]

Many of these beds serve in remote districts, where highways and bridges
are thought to be superfluous luxuries, for the double purposes of a
river when there is water in them, and as a road when there is not.
Again, in this land of anomalies, some streams have no bridges, while
other bridges have no streams; the most remarkable of these _pontes
asinorum_ is at Coria, where the Alagon is crossed at an inconvenient,
and often dangerous ferry, while a noble bridge of five arches stands
high and dry in the meadows close by. This has arisen from the river
having quitted its old channel in some inundation; or, as Spaniards say,
_salido de su madre_, gone out from its mother, who does not seem to
know that it is out, or certainly does not care, since no steps have
ever been taken by the Corians to coax it back again under its old
arches; they call on Hercules to turn this Alpheus, and rely in the
meantime on their proverb, that all fickle, unfaithful rivers repent and
return to their legitimate beds after a thousand years, for nothing is
hurried in Spain, _Despues de anos mil, vuelve el rio a su cubil_. On
the fishing in these wandering streams we shall presently say something.

The navigation of Spanish rivers is Oriental, classical, and imperfect;
the boats, barges, and bargemen carry one back beyond the mediæval ages,
and are better calculated for artistical than commercial purposes. The
“great river,” the Guadalquivir, which was navigable in the time of the
Romans as far as Cordova, is now scarcely practicable for
sailing-vessels of a moderate size even up to Seville. Passengers,
however, have facilities afforded them by the steamers which run
backwards and forwards between this capital and Cadiz; these
conveniences, it need not be said, were introduced from England,
although the first steamer that ever paddled in waters was of Spanish
invention, and was launched at Barcelona in 1543; but the Spanish
Chancellor of the Exchequer of the time was a poor red tapist, and
opposed the whole thing, which, as usual, fell to the ground. The
steamers on the Guadalquivir are safe; indeed, in our times, the
advertisements always stated that a mass was said before starting in the
heretical contrivance, just as to this day Birmingham locomotives, when
a railway is first opened in France, are sprinkled with holy water, and
blessed by a bishop, which may be a new “wrinkle” to Mr. Hudson and the
primate of York.

[Sidenote: THE TAGUS.]

There is considerable talk in Arragon about rendering the Ebro
navigable, and it has been surveyed this year by two engineers--English
of course. The local newspapers compared the astonishment of the herns
and peasantry, created on the banks by this arrival, as second only to
that occasioned when Don Quixote and Sancho ventured near the same spot
into the enchanted bark.

There has been still older and greater talk about establishing a water
communication between Lisbon and Toledo, by means of the Tagus. This
mighty river, which is in every body’s mouth, because the capital of the
kingdom of Port wine is placed at its embouchure, is in fact almost as
little known in Spain and out of it, as the Niger. It has been our fate
to behold it in many places and various phases of its most poetical and
picturesque course--first green and arrowy amid the yellow corn fields
of New Castile; then freshening the sweet Tempe of Aranjuez, clothing
the gardens with verdure, and filling the nightingale-tenanted glens
with groves; then boiling and rushing around the granite ravines of
rock-built Toledo, hurrying to escape from the cold shadows of its deep
prison, and dashing joyously into light and liberty, to wander far away
into silent plains, and on to Talavera, where its waters were dyed with
brave blood, and gladly reflected the flash of the victorious bayonets
of England,--triumphantly it rolls thence, under the shattered arches of
Almaraz, down to desolate Estremadura, in a stream as tranquil as the
azure sky by which it is curtained, yet powerful enough to force the
mountains at Alcantara. There the bridge of Trajan is worth going a
hundred miles to see; it stems the now fierce condensed stream, and ties
the rocky gorges together; grand, simple, and solid, tinted by the
tender colours of seventeen centuries, it looms like the grey skeleton
of Roman power, with all the sentiment of loneliness, magnitude, and the
interest of the past and present. Such are the glorious scenes we have
beheld and sketched; such are the sweet waters in which we have
refreshed our dusty and weary limbs.

[Sidenote: THE TAGUS.]

How stern, solemn, and striking is this Tagus of Spain! No commerce has
ever made it its highway--no English steamer has ever civilized its
waters like those of France and Germany. Its rocks have witnessed
battles, not peace; have reflected castles and dungeons, not quays or
warehouses: few cities have risen on its banks, as on those of the
Thames and Rhine; it is truly a river of Spain--that isolated and
solitary land. Its waters are without boats, its banks without life; man
has never laid his hand upon its billows, nor enslaved their free and
independent gambols.

It is impossible to read Tom Campbell’s admirable description of the
Danube before its poetry was discharged by the smoke of our ubiquitous
countrymen’s Dampf Schiff, without applying his lines to this
uncivilised Tagus:--

    “Yet have I loved thy wild abode,
       Unknown, unploughed, untrodden shore,
     Where scarce the woodman finds a road,
       And scarce the fisher plies an oar;
     For man’s neglect I love thee more,
       That art nor avarice intrude
     To tame thy torrent’s thunder shock,
     Or prune the vintage of thy rock,
             Magnificently rude!”

As rivers in a state of nature are somewhat scarce in Great Britain, one
more extract may be perhaps pardoned, and the more as it tends to
illustrate Spanish character, and explain _las cosas de España_, or the
things of Spain, which it is the object of these humble pages to

The Tagus rises in that extraordinary jumble of mountains, full of
fossil bones, botany, and trout, that rise between Cuenca and Teruel,
and which being all but unknown, clamour loudly for the disciples of
Isaac Walton and Dr. Buckland. It disembogues into the sea at Lisbon,
having flowed 375 miles in Spain, of which nature destined it to be the
aorta. The Toledan chroniclers derive the name from Tagus, fifth king of
Iberia, but Bochart traces it to _Dag_, Dagon, a fish, as besides being
considered auriferous, the ancients pronounced it to be piscatory. Not
that the present Spaniards trouble their head more about the fishes here
than if they were crocodiles. Grains of gold are indeed found, but
barely enough to support a poet, by amphibious paupers, called
_artesilleros_ from their baskets, in which they collect the sand, which
is passed through a sieve.


The Tagus might easily be made navigable to the sea, and then with the
Xarama connect Madrid and Lisbon, and facilitate importation of colonial
produce, and exportation of wine and grain. Such an act would confer
more benefits upon Spain than ten thousand _charters_ or paper
constitutions, guaranteed by the sword of Narvaez, or the word and
honour of Louis-Philippe. The performance has been contemplated by many
_foreigners_, the Toledans looking lazily on; thus in 1581, Antonelli, a
Neapolitan, and Juanelo Turriano, a Milanese, suggested the scheme to
Philip II., then master of Portugal; but money was wanting--the old
story--for his revenues were wasted in relic-removing and in building
the useless Escorial, and nothing was made except water parties, and
odes to the “wise and great king” who _was_ to perform the deed, to the
tune of Macbeth’s witches, “_I’ll do, I’ll do, I’ll do_,” for here the
future is preferred to the present tense. The project dozed until 1641,
when two other _foreigners_, Julio Martelli and Luigi Carduchi, in vain
roused Philip IV. from his siesta, who soon after losing Portugal
itself, forthwith forgot the Tagus. Another century glided away, when in
1755 Richard Wall, an Irishman, took the thing up; but Charles III.,
busy in waging French wars against England, wanted cash. The Tagus has
ever since, as it roared over its rocky bed, like an unbroken barb,
laughed at the Toledan who dreamily angles for impossibilities on the
bank, invoking Brunel, Hercules, and Rothschild, instead of putting his
own shoulder to the water-wheel. In 1808 the scheme was revived: Fro
Xavier de Cabanas, who had studied in England our system of canals,
published a survey of the whole river; this folio ‘_Memoria sobre la
Navigation del Tajo_,’ or, ‘Memoir on the Navigation of the Tagus,’
Madrid, 1829, reads like the blue book of one discovering the source of
the Nile, so desert-like are the unpeopled, uncultivated districts
between Toledo and Abrantes. Ferd. VII. thereupon issued an approving
_paper_ decree, and so there the thing ended, although Cabanas had
engaged with Messrs. Wallis and Mason for the machinery, &c. Recently
the project has been renewed by Señor Bermudez de Castro, an intelligent
gentleman, who, from long residence in England, has imbibed the schemes
and energy of the foreigner. _Verémos!_ “we shall see;” for hope is a
good breakfast but a bad supper, says Bacon; and in Spain things are
begun late in the day, and never finished; so at least says the
proverb:--_En España se empieza tarde, y se acaba nunca_.



     Divisions into Provinces--Ancient Demarcations--Modern
     Departments--Population--Revenue--Spanish Stocks.

In the divisions of the Peninsula which are effected by mountains,
rivers, and climate, a leading principle is to be traced throughout, for
it is laid down by the unerring hand of nature. The artificial,
political, and conventional arrangement into kingdoms and provinces is
entirely the work of accident and absence of design.

These provincial divisions were formed by the gradual union of many
smaller and previously independent portions, which have been taken into
Spain as a whole, just as our inconvenient counties constitute the
kingdom of England; for the inconveniences of these results of the ebb
and flow of the different tides in the affairs of man’s dominion--these
boundaries not fixed by the lines and rules of theodolite-armed land
surveyors, use had provided remedies, and long habit had reconciled the
inhabitants to divisions which suited them better than any new
arrangement, however scientifically calculated, according to statistical
and geographical principles.

The French, during their intrusive rule, were horrified at this “chaos
administratif,” this apparent irregularity, and introduced their own
system of _départements_, by which districts were neatly squared out and
people re-arranged, as if Spain were a chess-board and Spaniards mere
pawns--_peones_, or footmen, which this people, calling itself one of
_caballeros_, that is, riders on horses _par excellence_, assuredly is
not: nor, indeed, in this paradise of the church militant, can the moves
of any Spanish bishop or knight be calculated on with mathematical
certainty, since they seldom will take the steps to-morrow which they
did yesterday.

[Sidenote: PROVINCES.]

Accordingly, however specious the theory, it was found to be no easy
matter to carry departementalization out in practice: individuality
laughs at the solemn nonsense of in-door pedants, who would class men
like ferns or shells. The failure in this attempt to remodel ancient
demarcations and recombine antipathetic populations was utter and
complete. No sooner, therefore, had the Duke cleared the Peninsula of
_doctrinaires_ and invaders than the Lion of Castile shook off their
papers from his mane, and reverted like the Italian, on whom the same
experiment was tried, to his own pre-existing divisions, which, however
defective in theory, and unsightly and inconvenient on the map, had from
long habit been found practically to suit better. Recently, in spite of
this experience among other newfangled transpyrenean reforms,
innovations, and botherations, the Peninsula has again been parcelled
out into forty-nine provinces, instead of the former national divisions
of thirteen kingdoms, principalities, and lordships; but long will it be
before these deeply impressed divisions, which have grown with the
growth of the monarchy, and are engraved in the retentive memories of
the people, can be effaced.

Those who are curious in statistical details are referred to the works
of Paez, Antillon, and others, who are considered by Spaniards to be
authorities on vast subjects, which are fitter for a gazetteer or a
handbook than for volumes destined like these for lighter reading; and
assuredly the pages of the respectable Spaniards just named are duller
than the high-roads of Castile, which no tiny rivulet the cheerful
companion of the dusty road ever freshens, no stray flower adorns, no
song of birds gladdens--“dry as the remainder of the biscuit after the

The thirteen divisions have grand and historical names: they belong to
an old and monarchical country, not to a spick and span vulgar
democracy, without title-deeds. They fill the mouth when named, and
conjure up a thousand recollections of the better and more glorious
times of Spain’s palmy power, when there were giants in the land, not
pigmies in Parisian _paletots_, whose only ambition is to ape the
foreigner, and disgrace and denationalize themselves.

[Sidenote: PROVINCES.]

First and foremost _Andalucia_ presents herself, crowned with a
quadruple, not a triple tiara, for the name _los cuatro reinos_, “the
four kingdoms,” is her synonym. They consist of those of Seville,
Cordova, Jaen, and Granada. There is magic and birdlime in the very
letters. Secondly advances the kingdom of _Murcia_, with its
silver-mines, barilla, and palms. Then the gentle kingdom of _Valencia_
appears, all smiles, with fruits and silk. The principality of grim and
truculent _Catalonia_ scowls next on its fair neighbour. Here rises the
smoky factory chimney; here cotton is spun, vice and discontent bred,
and revolutions concocted. The proud and stiff-necked kingdom of
_Arragon_ marches to the west with this Lancashire of Spain, and to the
east with the kingdom of Navarre, which crouches with its green valleys
under the Pyrenees. The three _Basque Provinces_ which abut thereto, are
only called _El Senorio_, “The Lordship,” for the king of all the Spains
is but simple lord of this free highland home of the unconquered
descendants of the aboriginal man of the Peninsula. Here there is much
talk of bullocks and _fueros_, or “privileges;” for when not digging and
delving, these gentlemen by the mere fact of being born here, are
fighting and upholding their good rights by the sword. The empire
province of the _Castiles_ furnishes two coronets to the royal brow; to
wit, that of the older portion, where the young monarchy was nursed, and
that of the newer portion, which was wrested afterwards from the infidel
Moor. The ninth division is desolate _Estremadura_, which has no higher
title than a province, and is peopled by locusts, wandering sheep, pigs,
and here and there by human bipeds. _Leon_, a most time-honoured
kingdom, stretches higher up, with its corn-plains and venerable cities,
now silent as tombs, but in auld lang syne the scenes of mediæval
chivalry and romance. The kingdom of _Gallicia_ and the principality of
the _Asturias_ form the seaboard to the west, and constitute Spain’s
breakwater against the Atlantic.

[Sidenote: POPULATION]

It is not very easy to ascertain the exact population of any country,
much less that of one which does not yet possess the advantages of
public registrars; the people at large, for whom, strange to say, the
pleasant studies of statistics and political economy have small charms,
consider any attempt to number them as boding no good; they have a
well-grounded apprehension of ulterior objects. To “number the people”
was a crime in the East, and many moral and practical difficulties exist
in arriving at a true census of Spain. Thus, while some writers on
statistics hope to flatter the powers that be, by a glowing exaggeration
of national strength, “to boast of which,” says the Duke, “is the
national weakness,” the suspicious _many_, on the other hand, are
disposed to conceal and diminish the truth. We should be always on our
guard when we hear accounts of the past or present population, commerce,
or revenue of Spain. The better classes will magnify them both, for the
credit of their country; the poorer, on the other hand, will appeal _ad
misericordiam_, by representing matters as even worse than they really
are. They never afford any opening, however indirect, to information
which may lead to poll-taxes and conscriptions.


The population and the revenue have generally been exaggerated, and all
statements may be much discounted; the present population, at an
approximate calculation, may be taken at about eleven or twelve
millions, with a slow tendency to increase. This is a low figure for so
large a country, and for one which, under the Romans, is said to have
swarmed with inhabitants as busy and industrious as ants; indeed, the
longest period of rest and settled government which this ill-fated land
has ever enjoyed was during the three centuries that the Roman power was
undisputed. The Peninsula is then seldom mentioned by authors; and how
much happiness is inferred by that silence, when the blood-spattered
page of history was chiefly employed to register great calamities,
plagues, pestilences, wars, battles, or the freaks of men, at which
angels weep! Certainly one of the causes which have changed this happy
state of things, has been the numerous and fierce invasions to which
Spain has been exposed; fatal to her has been her gift of beauty and
wealth, which has ever attracted the foreign ravisher and spoiler. The
Goths, to whom a worse name has been given than they deserved in Spain,
were ousted by the Moors, the real and wholesale destroyers; bringing to
the darkling West the luxuries, arts and sciences of the bright East,
they had nothing to learn from the conquered; to them the Goth was no
instructor, as the Roman had been to him; they despised both of their
predecessors, with whose wants and works they had no sympathy, while
they abhorred their creed as idolatrous and polytheistic--down went
altar and image. There was no fair town which they did not destroy;
they exterminated, say their annals, the fowls of the air.

The Gotho-Spaniard in process of time retaliated, and combated the
invader with his own weapons, bettering indeed the destructive lesson
which was taught. The effects of these wars, carried on without treaty,
without quarter, and waged for country and creed, are evident in those
parts of Spain which were their theatre. Thus, vast portions of
Estremadura, the south of Toledo and Andalucia, by nature some of the
richest and most fertile in the world, are now _dehesas y despoblados_,
depopulated wastes, abandoned to the wild bee for his heritage; the
country remains as it was left after the discomfiture of the Moor. The
early chronicles of both Spaniard and Moslem teem with accounts of the
annual forays inflicted on each other, and to which a frontier-district
was always exposed. The object of these border _guerrilla_-warfares was
extinction, _talar, quemar y robar_, to desolate, burn, and rob, to cut
down fruit-trees, to “harry,” to “razzia."[2] The internecine struggle
was that of rival nations and creeds. It was truly Oriental, and such as
Ezekiel, who well knew the Phœnicians, has described: “Go ye after
him through the city and smite; let not your eye have pity, neither have
ye pity; slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children and
women.” The religious duty of smiting the infidel precluded mercy on
both sides alike, for the Christian foray and crusade was the exact
counterpart of the Moslem _algara_ and _algihad_; while, from military
reasons, everything was turned into a desert, in order to create a
frontier Edom of starvation, a defensive glacis, through which no
invading army could pass and live; the “beasts of the field alone
increased.” Nature, thus abandoned, resumed her rights, and has cast off
every trace of former cultivation; and districts the granaries of the
Roman and the Moor, now offer the saddest contrasts to that former
prosperity and industry.


To these horrors succeeded the thinning occasioned by causes of a
bigoted and political nature: the expulsion of the Jews deprived poor
Spain of her bankers, while the final banishment of the Moriscoes, the
remnant of the Moors, robbed the soil of its best and most industrious

Again, in our time, have the fatal scenes of contending Christian and
Moor been renewed in the struggle for national independence, waged by
Spaniards against the Buonapartist invaders, by whom neither age nor sex
was spared--neither things sacred nor profane; the land is everywhere
scarred with ruins; a few hours’ Vandalism sufficed to undo the works of
ages of piety, wealth, learning and good taste. The French retreat was
worse than their advance: then, infuriated by disgrace and disaster, the
Soults and Massénas vented their spite on the unarmed villagers and
their cottages. But let General Foy describe their progress:--“Ainsi que
la neige précipitée des sommets des Alpes dans les vallons, nos armées
innombrables détruisaient en quelques heures, par leur seul passage, les
ressources de toute une contrée; elles bivouaquaient habituellement, et
à chaque gîte nos soldats démolissaient les maisons bâties depuis un
demi-siècle, pour construire avec les décombres ces longs villages
alignés qui souvent ne devaient durer qu’un jour: au défaut du bois des
forêts les arbres fruitiers, les végétaux précieux, comme le mûrier,
l’olivier, l’oranger, servaient a les réchauffer; les conscrits irrités
à la fois par le besoin et par le danger contractaient _une ivresse
morale_ dont nous ne cherchions pas à les guérir.”

    “So France gets drunk with blood to vomit crime,
     And fatal ever have her saturnalia been.”

Who can fail to compare this habitual practice of Buonaparte’s legions
with the terrible description in Hosea of the “great people and strong”
who execute the dread judgments of heaven?--“A fire devoureth before
them, and behind them a flame burneth; the land is the garden of Eden
before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness, yea, and nothing
shall escape them.”

[Sidenote: REVENUE.]

No sooner were they beaten out by the Duke, than population began to
spring up again, as the bruised flowerets do when the iron heel of
marching hordes has passed on. Then ensued the civil fratricide wars,
draining the land of its males, from which bleeding Spain has not yet
recovered. Insecurity of property and person will ever prove bars to
marriage and increased population.

Again, a deeper and more permanent curse has steadily operated for the
last two centuries, at which Spanish authors long have not dared to
hint. They have ascribed the depopulation of Estremadura to the swarm of
colonist adventurers and emigrants who departed from this province of
Cortes and Pizarro to seek for fortune in the new world of gold and
silver; and have attributed the similar want of inhabitants in Andalucia
to the similar outpouring from Cadiz, which, with Seville, engrossed the
traffic of the Americas. But colonisation never thins a vigorous,
well-conditioned mother state--witness the rapid and daily increase of
population in our own island, which, like Tyre of old, is ever sending
forth her outpouring myriads, and wafts to the uttermost parts of the
sea, on the white wings of her merchant fleets, the blessings of peace,
religion, liberty, order, and civilisation, to disseminate which is the
mission of Great Britain.

The real permanent and standing cause of Spain’s thinly peopled state,
want of cultivation, and abomination of desolation, is BAD GOVERNMENT,
civil and religious; this all who run may read in her lonely land and
silent towns. But Spain, if the anecdote which her children love to tell
be true, will never be able to remove the incubus of this fertile origin
of every evil. When Ferdinand III. captured Seville and died, being a
saint he escaped purgatory, and Santiago presented him to the Virgin,
who forthwith desired him to ask any favours for beloved Spain. The
monarch petitioned for oil, wine, and corn--conceded; for sunny skies,
brave men, and pretty women--allowed; for cigars, relics, garlic, and
bulls--by all means; for a _good government_--“Nay, nay,” said the
Virgin, “that never can be granted; for were it bestowed, not an angel
would remain a day longer in heaven.”

[Sidenote: THE BOLSA.]

The present revenue may be taken at about 12,000,000_l._ or
13,000,000_l._ sterling; but money is compared by Spaniards to oil; a
little will stick to the fingers of those who measure it out; and such
is the robbing and jobbing, the official mystification and peculation,
that it is difficult to get at _facts_ whenever cash is in question. The
revenue, moreover, is badly collected, and at a ruinous per centage, and
at no time during this last century has been sufficient for the national
expenses. Recourse has been had to the desperate experiments of usurious
loans and wholesale confiscations. At one time church pillage and
appropriation was almost the only item in the governmental budget. The
recipients were ready to “prove from Vatel exceedingly well” that the
first duty of a rich clergy was to relieve the necessitous, and the more
when the State was a pauper: croziers are no match for bayonets. This
system necessarily cannot last. Since the reign of Philip II. every act
of dishonesty has been perpetrated. Public securities have been
“repudiated,” interest unpaid, and principal spunged out. No country in
the Old World, or even New drab-coated World, stands lower in financial
discredit. Let all be aware how they embark in Spanish speculations:
however promising in the prospectus, they will, sooner or later, turn
out to be deceptions; and whether they assume the form of loans, lands,
or rails, none are _real_ securities: they are mere castles in the air,
_châteaux en Espagne_: “The earth has bubbles as the water has, and
these are of them.”

For the benefit and information of those who have purchased Iberian
stock, it may be stated that an Exchange, or _Bolsa de Comercio_, was
established at Madrid in 1831. It may be called the _coldest_ spot in
the hot capital, and the _idlest_, since the usual “city article” is
short and sweet, “_sin operaciones_,” or nothing has been bought or
sold. It might be likened to a tomb, with “Here _lies_ Spanish credit”
for its epitaph. If there be a thing which “_La perfide Albion_,” “a
nation of shopkeepers,” dislikes, worse even than a French assignat, it
is a bankrupt. One circumstance is clear, that Castilian _pundonor_, or
point of honour, will rather settle its debts with cold iron and warm
abuse than with gold and thanks.

The Exchange at Madrid was first held at _St. Martin’s_, a saint who
divided his cloak with a supplicant. As comparisons are odious, and bad
examples catching, it has been recently removed to the _Calle del
Desengaño_, the street of “finding out fallacious hopes,” a locality
which the bitten will not deem ill-chosen.

[Sidenote: SPANISH “STOCK."]

As all men in power use their official knowledge in taking advantage of
the turn of the market, the _Bolsa_ divides with the court and army the
moving influence of every _situacion_ or crisis of the moment: clever as
are the ministers of Paris, they are mere tyros when compared to their
colleagues of Madrid in the arts of working the telegraph, gazette, &c.,
and thereby feathering their own nests.

The Stock Exchange is open from ten to three o’clock, where those who
like Spanish funds may buy them as cheap as stinking mackerel; for when
the 3 per cents, of perfidious Albion are at 98, surely Spanish fives at
22 are a tempting investment. The stocks are numerous, and suited to all
tastes and pockets, whether those funded by Aguado, Ardouin, Toreno,
Mendizabal, or Mon, “all honourable men,” and whose punctuality is
_un-remitting_, for in some the principal is consolidated, in others the
interest is deferred; the grand financial object in all having been to
receive as much as possible, and pay back in an inverse ratio--their
leading principle being to bag both principal and interest. As we have
just said, in measuring out money and oil a little will stick to the
cleanest fingers--the Madrid ministers and contractors made fortunes,
and actually “did” the Hebrews of London, as their forefathers spoiled
the Egyptians. But from Philip II. downwards, theologians have never
been wanting in Spain to prove the religious, however painful, duty of
bankruptcy, and particularly in contracts with usurious heretics. The
stranger, when shown over the Madrid bank, had better evince no
impertinent curiosity to see the “Dividend _pay_ office,” as it might
give offence. Whatever be our dear reader’s pursuit in the Peninsula,
let him--

    “Neither a borrower nor lender be,
     For loan oft loseth both itself and friend.”

Beware of Spanish stock, for in spite of official reports, _documentos_,
and arithmetical mazes, which, intricate as an arabesque pattern, look
well on paper without being intelligible; in spite of ingenious
conversions, fundings of interest, coupons--some active, some passive,
and other repudiatory terms and tenses, the present excepted--the
thimblerig is always the same; and this is the question, since national
credit depends on national good faith and surplus income, how can a
country pay interest on debts, whose revenues have long been, and now
are, miserably insufficient for the ordinary expenses of government? You
cannot get blood from a stone; _ex nihilo nihil fit_.

[Sidenote: PUBLIC DEBT.]

Mr. Macgregor’s report on Spain, a truthful exposition of commercial
ignorance, habitual disregard of treaties and violation of contracts,
describes her public _securities_, past and present. Certainly they had
very imposing names and titles--_Juros Bonos_, _Vales reales_,
_Titulos_, &c.,--much more royal, grand, and poetical than our prosaic
_Consols_; but no oaths can attach real value to dishonoured and
good-for-nothing paper. According to some financiers, the public debts
of Spain, previously to 1808, amounted to 83,763,966_l._, which have
since been increased to 279,083,089_l._, farthings omitted, for we like
to be accurate. This possibly may be exaggerated, for the government
will give no information as to its own peculation and mismanagement:
according to Mr. Henderson, 78,649,675_l._ of this debt is due to
English creditors alone, and we wish they may get it, when he gets to
Madrid. In the time of James I., Mr. Howell was sent there on much such
an errand; and when he left it, his “pile of unredressed claims was
higher than himself.” At all events, Spain is over head and ears in
debt, and irremediably insolvent. And yet few countries, if we regard
the fertility of her soil, her golden possessions at home and abroad,
her frugal temperate population, ought to have been less embarrassed;
but Heaven has granted her every blessing, except a good and honest
government. It is either a bully or a craven: satisfaction in
twenty-four hours _à la Bresson_, or a line-of-battle ship off
Malaga--Cromwell’s receipt--is the only argument which these semi-Moors
understand: conciliatory language is held to be weakness: you may obtain
at once from their fears what never will be granted by their sense of



     Travelling in Spain--Steamers--Roads, Roman, Monastic, and
     Royal--Modern Railways--English Speculations.

Of the many misrepresentations regarding Spain, few are more inveterate
than those which refer to the dangers and difficulties that are there
supposed to beset the traveller. This, the most romantic, racy, and
peculiar country of Europe, may in reality be visited by sea and land,
and throughout its length and breadth, with ease and safety, as all who
have ever been there well know, the nonsense with which Cockney critics
who never have been there scare delicate writers in albums and lady-bird
tourists, to the contrary notwithstanding: the steamers are regular, the
mails and diligences excellent, the roads decent, and the mules
sure-footed; nay, latterly, the _posadas_, or inns, have been so
increased, and the robbers so decreased, that some ingenuity must be
evinced in getting either starved or robbed. Those, however, who are
dying for new excitements, or who wish to make a picture or chapter, in
short, to get up an adventure for the home-market, may manage by a great
exhibition of imprudence, chattering, and a holding out luring baits, to
gratify their hankering, although it would save some time, trouble, and
expense to try the experiment much nearer home.

As our readers live in an island, we will commence with the sea and

[Sidenote: STEAMERS.]

The Peninsular and Oriental Navigation Company depart regularly three
times a month from Southampton for Gibraltar. They often arrive at
Corunna in seventy hours, from whence a mail starts directly to Madrid,
which it reaches in three days and a half. The vessels are excellent
sea-boats, are manned by English sailors, and propelled by English
machinery. The passage to Vigo has been made in less than three days,
and the voyage to Cadiz--touching at Lisbon included--seldom exceeds
six. The change of climate, scenery, men, and manners effected by this
week’s trip, is indeed remarkable. Quitting the British Channel we soon
enter the “sleepless Bay of Biscay,” where the stormy petrel is at home,
and where the gigantic swell of the Atlantic is first checked by Spain’s
iron-bound coast, the mountain break-water of Europe. Here _The Ocean_
will be seen in all its vast majesty and solitude: grand in the
tempest-lashed storm, grand in the calm, when spread out as a mirror;
and never more impressive than at night, when the stars of heaven, free
from earth-born mists, sparkle like diamonds over those “who go down to
the sea in ships, and behold the works of the Lord, and his wonders in
the deep.” The land has disappeared, and man feels alike his weakness
and his strength; a thin plank separates him from another world; yet he
has laid his hand upon the billow, and mastered the ocean; he has made
it the highway of commerce, and the binding link of nations.

The steamers which navigate the Eastern coast from Marseilles to Cadiz
and back again, are cheaper indeed in their fares, but by no means such
good sea-boats; nor do they keep their time--the essence of
business--with English regularity. They are foreign built, and worked by
Spaniards and Frenchmen. They generally stop a day at Barcelona,
Valencia, and other large towns, which gives them an opportunity to
replenish coal, and to smuggle. A rapid traveller is also thus enabled
to pay a flying visit to the cities on the seaboard; and thus those
lively authors who comprehend foreign nations with an intuitive
eagle-eyed glance, obtain materials for sundry octavos on the history,
arts, sciences, literature, and genius of Spaniards. But as Mons. Feval
remarks of some of his gifted countrymen, they have merely to scratch
their head, according to the Horatian expression, and out come a number
of volumes, ready bound in calf, as Minerva issued forth armed from the
temple of Jupiter.

[Sidenote: SPANISH ROADS.]

The Mediterranean is a dangerous, deceitful sea, fair and false as
Italia; the squalls are sudden and terrific; then the crews either curse
the sacred name of God, or invoke St. Telmo, according as their notion
may be. We have often been so caught when sailing on these perfidious
waters in these foreign craft, and think, with the Spaniards, that
escape is a miracle. The hilarity excited by witnessing the jabber,
confusion, and lubber proceedings, went far to dispel all present
apprehension, and future also. Some of our poor blue-jackets in case of
a war may possibly escape the fate with which they are threatened in
this French lake. But no wise man will ever go by sea when he can travel
by land, nor is viewing Spain’s coasts with a telescope from the deck,
and passing a few hours in a sea-port, a very satisfactory mode of
becoming acquainted with the country.

The roads of Spain, a matter of much importance to a judicious
traveller, are somewhat a modern luxury, having been only regularly
introduced by the Bourbons. The Moors and Spaniards, who rode on horses
and not in carriages, suffered those magnificent lines with which the
Romans had covered the Peninsula to go to decay; of these there were no
less than twenty-nine of the first order, which were absolutely
necessary to a nation of conquerors and colonists to keep up their
military and commercial communications. The grandest of all, which like
the Appian might be termed the Queen of Roads, ran from Merida, the
capital of Lusitania, to Salamanca. It was laid down like a Cyclopean
wall, and much of it remains to this day, with the grey granite line
stretching across the aromatic wastes, like the vertebræ of an extinct
mammoth. We have followed for miles its course, which is indicated by
the still standing miliary columns that rise above the cistus underwood;
here and there tall forest trees grow out of the stone pavement, and
show how long it has been abandoned by man to Nature ever young and gay,
who thus by uprooting and displacing the huge blocks slowly recovers her
rights. She festoons the ruins with necklaces of flowers and creepers,
and hides the rents and wrinkles of odious, all-dilapidating Time, or
man’s worse neglect, as a pretty maid decorates a shrivelled dowager’s
with diamonds. The Spanish muleteer creeps along by its side in a track
which he has made through the sand or pebbles; he seems ashamed to
trample on this lordly way, for which, in his petty wants, he has no
occasion. Most of the similar roads have been taken up by monks to raise
convents, by burgesses to build houses, by military men to construct
fortifications--thus even their ruins have perished.


The mediæval Spanish roads were the works of the clergy; and the
long-bearded monks, here as elsewhere, were the pioneers of
civilization; they made straight, wide, and easy the way which led to
their convent, their high place, their miracle shrine, or to whatever
point of pilgrimage that was held out to the devout; traffic was soon
combined with devotion, and the service of mammon with that of God. This
imitation of the Oriental practice which obtained at Mecca, is evidenced
by language in which the Spanish term _Feria_ signifies at once a
religious function, a holiday, and a fair. Even saints condescended to
become waywardens, and to take title from the highway. Thus _Santo
Domingo de la Calzada_, “St. Domenick of the _Paved Road_,” was so
called from his having been the first to make one through a part of Old
Castile for the benefit of pilgrims on their way to Compostella, and
this town yet bears the honoured appellation.

This feat and his legend have furnished Southey with a subject of a
droll ballad. The saint having finished his road, next set up an inn or
_Venta_, the Maritornes of which fell in love with a handsome pilgrim,
who resisted; whereupon she hid some spoons in this Joseph’s saddlebags,
who was taken up by the Alcalde, and forthwith hanged. But his parents
some time afterwards passed under the body, which told them that he was
innocent, alive, and well, and all by the intercession of the sainted
road-maker; thereupon they proceeded forthwith to the truculent Alcalde,
who was going to dine off two roasted fowls, and, on hearing their
report, remarked, You might as well tell me that this cock (pointing to
his rôti) would crow; whereupon it did crow, and was taken with its hen
to the cathedral, and two chicks have ever since been regularly hatched
every year from these respectable parents, of which a travelling
ornithologist should secure one for the Zoological Garden. The cock and
hen were duly kept near the high altar, and their white feathers were
worn by pilgrims in their caps. Prudent bagsmen will, however, put a
couple of ordinary roast fowls into their “provend,” for hungry is this
said road to _Logroño_.

[Sidenote: ROAD TO TOLEDO.]

In this land of miracles, anomalies, and contradictions, the roads to
and from this very _Compostella_ are now detestable. In other provinces
of Spain, the star-paved milky way in heaven is called _El Camino de
Santiago_, the road of St. James; but the Gallicians, who know what
their roads really are, namely, the worst on earth, call the milky-way
_El Camino de Jerusalem_, “the road to Jerusalem,” which it assuredly is
not. The ancients poetically attributed this phenomenon to some spilt
milk of Juno.

Meanwhile the roads in Gallicia, although under the patronage of
Santiago, who has replaced the Roman Hermes, are, like his milky-way in
heaven, but little indebted to mortal repairs. The Dean of Santiago is
waywarden by virtue of his office or dignity, and especially
“protector.” The chapter, however, now chiefly profess to make smooth
the road to a better world. They have altogether degenerated from their
forefathers, whose grand object was to construct roads for the pilgrim;
but since the cessation of offering-making Hadjis, little or nothing has
been done in the turnpike-trust line.

Some of the finest roads in Spain lead either to the _sitios_ or royal
pleasure-seats of the king, or wind gently up some elevated and
monastery-crowned mountain like Monserrat. The ease of the despot was
consulted, while that of his subjects was neglected; and the Sultan was
the State, Spain was his property, and Spaniards his serfs, and willing
ones, for as in the East, their perfect equality amongst each other was
one result of the immeasurable superiority of the master of all. Thus,
while he rolled over a road hard and level as a bowling-green, and
rapidly as a galloping team could proceed, to a mere summer residence,
the communication between Madrid and Toledo, that city on which the sun
shone on the day light was made, has remained a mere track ankle-deep in
mud during winter and dust-clouded during summer, and changing its
direction with the caprice of wandering sheep and muleteers; but Bourbon
Royalty never visited this widowed capital of the Goths. The road
therefore was left as it existed if not before the time of Adam, at
least before Mac Adam. There is some talk just now of beginning a
regular road; when it will be finished is another affair.

[Sidenote: ROAD TO LA CORUNA.]

[Sidenote: CROSS ROADS.]

The church, which shared with the state in dominion, followed the royal
example in consulting its own comforts as to roads. Nor could it be
expected in a torrid land, that holy men, whose abdomens occasionally
were prominent and pendulous, should lard the stony or sandy earth like
goats, or ascend heaven-kissing hills so expeditiously as their prayers.
In Spain the primary consideration has ever been the souls, not the
bodies, of men, or legs of beasts. It would seem indeed, from the
indifference shown to the sufferings of these quadrupedal
blood-engines, _Maquinas de sangre_, as they are called, and still more
from the reckless waste of biped life, that a man was of no value until
he was dead; then what admirable contrivances for the rapid travelling
of his winged spirit, first to purgatory, next out again, and thence
from stage to stage to his journey’s end and blessed rest! More money
has been thus expended in masses than would have covered Spain with
railroads, even on a British scale of magnificence and extravagance.

To descend to the roads of the peninsular earth, the principal lines are
nobly planned. These geographical arteries, which form the circulation
of the country, branch in every direction from Madrid, which is the
centre of the system. The road-making spirit of Louis XIV. passed into
his Spanish descendants, and during the reigns of Charles III. and
Charles IV. communications were completed between the capital and the
principal cities of the provinces. These causeways, “_Arrecifes_”--these
royal roads, “_Caminos reales_”--were planned on an almost unnecessary
scale of grandeur, in regard both to width, parapets, and general
execution. The high road to La Coruña, especially after entering Leon,
will stand comparison with any in Europe; but when Spaniards finish
anything it is done in a grand style, and in this instance the expense
was so enormous that the king inquired if it was paved with silver,
alluding to the common Spanish corruption of the old Roman via lata into
“camino de _plata_,” of plate. This and many of the others were
constructed from fifty to seventy years ago, and very much on the M’Adam
system, which, having been since introduced into England, has rendered
our roads so very different from what they were not very long since. The
war in the Peninsula tended to deteriorate the Spanish roads--when
bridges and other conveniences were frequently destroyed for military
reasons, and the exhausted state of the finances of Spain, and troubled
times, have delayed many of the more costly reparations; yet those of
the first class were so admirably constructed at the beginning, that, in
spite of the injuries of war, ruts, and neglect, they may, as a whole,
be pronounced equal to many of the Continent, and are infinitely more
pleasant to the traveller from the absence of pavement. The roads in
England have, indeed, latterly been rendered so excellent, and we are
so apt to compare those of other nations with them, that we forget that
fifty years ago Spain was in advance in that and many other respects.
Spain remains very much what other countries were: she has stood on her
old ways, moored to the anchor of prejudice, while we have progressed,
and consequently now appears behind-hand in many things in which she set
the fashion to England.

The grand royal roads start from Madrid, and run to the principal
frontier and sea-port towns. Thus the capital may be compared to a
spider, as it is the centre of the Peninsular web. These diverging
fan-like lines are sufficiently convenient to all who are about to
journey to any single terminus, but inter-communications are almost
entirely wanting between any one terminus with another. This scanty
condition of the Peninsular roads accounts for the very limited portions
of the country which are usually visited by foreigners, who--the French
especially--keep to one beaten track, the high road, and follow each
other like wild geese; a visit to Burgos, Madrid, and Seville, and then
a steam trip from Cadiz to Valencia and Barcelona, is considered to be
making the grand tour of Spain; thus the world is favoured with volumes
that reflect and repeat each other, which tell us what we know already,
while the rich and rare, the untrodden, unchanged, and truly
Moro-Hispanic portions are altogether neglected, except by the
exceptional few, who venture forth like Don Quixote on their horses, in
search of adventures and the picturesque.

[Sidenote: TRAVELLING.]


The other roads of Spain are bad, but not much more so than in other
parts of the Continent, and serve tolerably well in dry weather. They
are divided into those which are practicable for wheel-carriages, and
those which are only bridle-roads, or as they call them, “of horseshoe,”
on which all thought of going with a carriage is out of the question;
when these horse or mule tracks are very bad, especially among the
mountains, they compare them to roads for partridges. The cross roads
are seldom tolerable; it is safest to keep the high-road--or, as we have
it in English, the furthest way round is the nearest way home--for there
is no short cut without hard work, says the Spanish proverb, “_ho hay
atajo, sin trabajo_.”

All this sounds very unpromising, but those who adopt the customs of the
country will never find much practical difficulty in getting to their
journey’s end; slowly, it is true, for where leagues and hours are
convertible terms--the Spanish _hora_ being the heavy German
_stunde_--the distance is regulated by the day-light. Bridle-roads and
travelling on horseback, the former systems of Europe, are very Spanish
and Oriental; and where people journey on horse and mule back, the road
is of minor importance. In the remoter provinces of Spain the population
is agricultural and poverty-stricken, unvisiting and unvisited, not
going much beyond their chimney’s smoke. Each family provides for its
simple habits and few wants; having but little money to buy foreign
commodities, they are clad and fed, like the Bedouins, with the
productions of their own fields and flocks. There is little circulation
of persons; a neighbouring fair is the mart where they obtain the annual
supply of whatever luxury they can indulge in, or it is brought to their
cottages by wandering muleteers, or by the smuggler, who is the type and
channel of the really active principle of trade in three-fourths of the
Peninsula. It is wonderful how soon a well-mounted traveller becomes
attached to travelling on horseback, and how quickly he becomes
reconciled to a state of roads which, startling at first to those
accustomed to carriage highways, are found to answer perfectly for all
the purposes of the place and people where they are found.

Let us say a few things on Spanish railroads, for the mania of England
has surmounted the Pyrenees, although confined rather more to words than
deeds; in fact, it has been said that no rail exists, in any country of
either the new world or the old one, in which the Spanish language is
spoken, probably from other objections than those merely philological.
Again, in other countries roads, canals, and traffic usher in the rail,
which in Spain is to precede and introduce them. Thus, by the prudent
delays of national caution and procrastination, much of the trouble and
expense of these intermediate stages will be economized, and Spain will
jump at once from a mediæval condition into the comforts and glories of
Great Britain, the land of restless travellers. Be that as it may, just
now there is much talk of _railroads_, and splendid official and other
_documentos_ are issued, by which the “whole country is to be
intersected (on paper) with a net-work of rapid and bowling-green
communications,” which are to create a “perfect homogeneity among
Spaniards;” for great as have been the labours of Herculean steam, this
amalgamation of the Iberian rope of sand has properly been reserved for
the crowning performance.

It would occupy too much space to specify the infinite lines which are
in contemplation, which may be described when completed. Suffice it to
say, that they almost all are to be effected by the iron and gold of
England. However this _estrangerismo_, this influence of the foreigner,
may offend the sensitive pride, the _Españolismo_ of Spain, the power of
resistance offered by the national indolence and dislike to change, must
be propelled by British steam, with a dash of French revolution. Yet our
speculators might, perhaps, reflect that Spain is a land which never yet
has been able to construct or support even a sufficient number of common
roads or canals for her poor and passive commerce and circulation. The
distances are far too great, and the traffic far too small, to call yet
for the rail; while the geological formation of the country offers
difficulties which, if met with even in England, would baffle the
colossal science and extravagance of our first-rate engineers. Spain is
a land of mountains, which rise everywhere in Alpine barriers, walling
off province from province, and district from district. These mighty
cloud-capped _sierras_ are solid masses of hard stone, and any tunnels
which ever perforate their ranges will reduce that at Box to the delving
of the poor mole. You might as well cover Switzerland and the Tyrol with
a net-work of _level_ lines, as those caught in the aforesaid net will
soon discover to their cost. The outlay of this up-hill work may be in
an inverse ratio to the remuneration, for the one will be enormous, and
the other paltry. The parturient mountains may produce a most musipular
interest, and even that may be “deferred.”


Spain, again, is a land of _dehesas y despoblados_: in these wild
unpeopled wastes, next to travellers, commerce and cash are what is
scarce, while even Madrid, the capital, is without industry or
resources, and poorer than many of our provincial cities. The Spaniard,
a creature of routine and foe to innovations, is not a moveable or
locomotive; local, and a parochial fixture by nature, he hates moving
like a Turk, and has a particular horror of being hurried; long,
therefore, here has an ambling mule answered all the purposes of
transporting man and his goods. Who again is to do the work even if
England will pay the wages? The native, next to disliking regular
sustained labour himself, abhors seeing the foreigner toiling even in
his service, and wasting his gold and sinews in the thankless task. The
villagers, as they always have done, will rise against the stranger and
heretic who comes to “suck the wealth of Spain.” Supposing, however, by
the aid of Santiago and Brunel, that the work were possible and were
completed, how is it to be secured against the fierce action of the sun,
and the fiercer violence of popular ignorance? The first cholera that
visits Spain will be set down as a passenger per rail by the
dispossessed muleteer, who now performs the functions of steam and rail.
He constitutes one of the most numerous and finest classes in Spain, and
is the legitimate channel of the semi-Oriental caravan system. He will
never permit the bread to be taken out of his mouth by this Lutheran
locomotive: deprived of means of earning his livelihood, he, like the
smuggler, will take to the road in another line, and both will become
either robbers or patriots. Many, long, and lonely are the leagues which
separate town from town in the wide deserts of thinly-peopled Spain, nor
will any preventive service be sufficient to guard the rail against the
_guerrilla_ warfare that may then be waged. A handful of opponents in
any cistus-overgrown waste, may at any time, in five minutes, break up
the road, stop the train, stick the stoker, and burn the engines in
their own fire, particularly smashing the luggage-train. What, again,
has ever been the recompense which the foreigner has met with from Spain
but breach of promise and ingratitude? He will be used, as in the East,
until the native thinks that he has mastered his arts, and then he will
be abused, cast out, and trodden under foot; and who then will keep up
and repair the costly artificial undertaking?--certainly not the
Spaniard, on whose pericranium the bumps of operative skill and
mechanical construction have yet to be developed.


The lines which are the least sure of failure will be those which are
the shortest, and pass through a level country of some natural
productions, such as oil, wine, and coal. Certainly, if the rail can be
laid down in Spain by the gold and science of England, the gift, like
that of steam, will be worthy of the Ocean’s Queen, and of the world’s
real leader of civilization; and what a change will then come over the
spirit of the Peninsula! how the siestas of torpid man-vegetation, will
be disturbed by the shrill whistle and panting snort of the monster
engine! how the seals of this long hermetically shut-up land will be
broken! how the cloistered obscure, and dreams of treasures in heaven,
will be enlightened by the flashing fire-demon of the wide-awake
money-worshipper! what owls will be vexed, what bats dispossessed, what
drones, mules, and asses will be scared, run over, and annihilated!
Those who love Spain, and pray, like the author, daily for her
prosperity, must indeed hope to see this “net-work of rails” concluded,
but will take especial care at the same time not to invest one farthing
in the imposing speculation.

Recent results have fully justified during this year what was prophesied
last year in the Hand-Book: our English agents and engineers were
received with almost divine honours by the Spaniards, so incensed were
they with flattery and cigars. Their shares were instantaneously
subscribed for, and directors nominated, with names and titles longer
even than the lines, and the smallest contributions in cash were
thankfully accepted:--

    “L’argent dans une bourse entre agréablement;
     Mais le terme venu, quand il faut le rendre,
     C’est alors que les douleurs commencent à nous prendre.”


When the period for booking up, for making the first instalments,
arrived, the Spanish shareholders were found somewhat wanting: they
repudiated; for in the Peninsula it has long been easier to promise than
to pay. Again, on the only line which seems likely to be carried out at
present, that of Madrid to Aranjuez, the first step taken by them was to
dismiss all English engineers and _navvies_, on the plea of encouraging
native talent and industry rather than the foreigner. Many of the
English home proceedings would border on the ridiculous, were not the
laugh of some speculators rather on the wrong side. The City capitalists
certainly have our pity, and if their plethora of wealth required the
relief of bleeding, it could not be better performed than by a Spanish
_Sangrado_. How different some of the windings-up, the final reports, to
the magnificent beginnings and grandiloquent prospectuses put forth as
baits for John Bull, who hoped to be tossed at once, or elevated, from
haberdashery to a throne, by being offered a “potentiality of getting
rich beyond the dreams of avarice!” Thus, to clench assertion by
example, the London directors of the Royal Valencia Company made known
by an advertisement only last July, that they merely required
240,000,000 reals to connect the seaport of Valencia--where there is
none--to the capital Madrid, with 800,000 inhabitants,--there not being
200,000. One brief passage alone seemed ominous in the lucid array of
prospective profit--“The line has not yet been minutely surveyed;” this
might have suggested to the noble Marquis whose attractive name heads
the provisional committee list, the difficulty of Sterne’s traveller, of
whom, when observing how much better things were managed on the
Continent than in England, the question was asked, “Have you, sir, ever
been there?”


A still wilder scheme was broached, to connect Aviles on the Atlantic
with Madrid, the Asturian Alps and the Guadarrama mountains to the
contrary notwithstanding. The originator of this ingenious idea was to
receive 40,000_l._ for the cession of his plan to the company, and
actually did receive 25,000_l._, which, considering the difficulties,
natural and otherwise, must be considered an inadequate remuneration.
Although the original and captivating prospectus stated “_that the line
had been surveyed, and presented no engineering difficulties_,” it was
subsequently thought prudent to obtain some notion of the actual
localities, and Sir _Joshua_ Walmsley was sent forth with competent
assistance to spy out the land, which the Jewish practice of old was
rather to do before than after serious undertakings. A sad change soon
came over the spirit of the London dream by the discovery that a country
which looked level as Arrowsmith’s map in the prospectus, presented such
trifling obstacles to the rail as sundry leagues of mountain ridges,
which range from 6000 to 9000 feet high, and are covered with snow for
many months of the year. This was a damper. The report of the special
meeting (see ‘Morning Chronicle,’ Dec. 18, 1845) should be printed in
letters of gold, from the quantity of that article which it will
preserve to our credulous countrymen. Then and there the chairman
observed, with equal _naïveté_ and pathos, “that had he known as much
before as he did now, he would have been the last man to carry out a
railway in Spain.” This experience cost him, he observed, 5000_l._,
which is paying dear for a Spanish rail whistle. He might for five
pounds have bought the works of Townshend and Captain Cook: our modesty
prevents the naming another red book, in which these precise localities,
these mighty Alps, are described by persons who had ridden, or rather
soared, over them. At another meeting of another Spanish rail company,
held at the London Tavern, October 20, 1846, another chairman announced
“a fact of which he was not before aware, that it was impossible to
surmount the Pyrenees.” Meanwhile, the Madrid government had secured
30,000_l._ from them by way of _caution_ money; but caution disappears
from our capitalists, whenever excess of cash mounts from their pockets
into their heads; loss of common sense and dollars is the natural
result. But it is the fate of Spain and her things, to be judged of by
those who have never been there, and who feel no shame at the indecency
of the nakedness of their geographical ignorance. When the blind lead
the blind, beware of hillocks and ditches.

[Sidenote: POST-OFFICE.]


     Post-Office in Spain--Travelling with post-horses--Riding
     post--Mails and Diligences, Galeras, Coches de Colleras, Drivers,
     and Manner of Driving, and Oaths.

A system of post, both for the despatch of letters and the conveyance of
couriers, was introduced into Spain under Philip and Juana, that is,
towards the end of the reign of our Henry VII.; whereas it was scarcely
organised in England before the government of Cromwell. Spain, which in
these matters, as well as in many others, was once so much in advance,
is now compelled to borrow her improvements from those nations of which
she formerly was the instructress: among these may be reckoned all
travelling in carriages, whether public or private.

The post-office for letters is arranged on the plan common to most
countries on the Continent: the delivery is pretty regular, but seldom
daily--twice or three times a-week. Small scruple is made by the
authorities in opening private letters, whenever they suspect the
character of the correspondence. It is as well, therefore, for the
traveller to avoid expressing the whole of his opinions of the powers
that be. The minds of men have been long troubled in Spain; civil war
has rendered them very distrustful and guarded in their _written_
correspondence--“_carta canta_,” “a letter speaks.”

There is the usual continental bother in obtaining post-horses, which
results from their being a monopoly of government. There must be a
passport, an official order, notice of departure, &c.; next ensue
vexatious regulations in regard to the number of passengers, horses,
luggage, style of carriage, and so forth. These, and other spokes put
into the wheel, appear to have been invented by clerks who sit at home
devising how to impede rather than facilitate posting at all.


Post-horses and mules are paid at the rate of seven reals each for each
post. The Spanish postilions generally, and especially if well paid,
drive at a tremendous pace, often amounting to a gallop; nor are they
easily stopped, even if the traveller desires it--they seem only to be
intent on arriving at their stages’ end, in order to indulge in the
great national joy of then doing nothing: to get there, they heed
neither ruts nor ravines; and when once their cattle are started the
inside passenger feels like a kettle tied to the tail of a mad dog, or a
comet; the wild beasts think no more of him than if he were Mazeppa:
thus money makes the mare and its driver to go, as surely in Spain as in
all other countries.

Another mode of travelling is by riding post, accompanied by a mounted
postilion, who is changed with the cattle at each relay. It is an
expeditious but fatiguing plan; yet one which, like the Tartar courier
of the East, has long prevailed in Spain. Thus our Charles I. rode to
Madrid under the name of John Smith, by which he was not likely to be
identified. The delight of Philip II., who boasted that he governed the
world from the Escorial, was to receive frequent and early intelligence;
and this desire to hear something new is still characteristic of the
Spanish government. The cabinet-couriers have the preference of horses
at every relay. The particular distances they have to perform are all
timed, and so many leagues are required to be done in a fixed time; and,
in order to encourage despatch, for every hour gained on the allowed
time, an additional sum was paid to them: hence the common expression
“_ganando horas_” gaining hours--equivalent to our old “post
haste--haste for your life.”

[Sidenote: DILIGENCES.]


The usual mode of travelling for the affluent is in the public
conveyances, which are the fashion from being novelties and only
introduced under Ferdinand VII.; previously to their being allowed at
all, serious objections were started, similar to those raised by his
late Holiness to the introduction of railways into the papal states; it
was said that these tramontane facilities would bring in foreigners, and
with them philosophy, heresy, and innovations, by which the wisdom of
Spain’s ancestors might be upset. These scruples were ingeniously got
over by bribing the monarch with a large share of the profits. Now that
the royal monopoly is broken down, many new and competing companies have
sprung up; this mode of travelling is the cheapest and safest, nor is
it thought at all beneath the dignity of “the best set,” nay royalty
itself goes by the coach. Thus the Infante Don Francisco de Paula
constantly hires the whole of the diligence to convey himself and his
family from Madrid to the sea-coast; and one reason gravely given for
Don Enrique’s not coming to marry the Queen, was that his Royal Highness
could not get a place, as the dilly was booked full. The public
carriages of Spain are quite as good as those of France, and the company
who travel in them generally more respectable and better bred. This is
partly accounted for by the expense: the fares are not very high, yet
still form a serious item to the bulk of Spaniards; consequently those
who travel in the public carriages in Spain are the class who would in
other countries travel per post. It must, however, be admitted that all
travelling in the public conveyances of the Continent necessarily
implies great discomfort to those accustomed to their own carriages; and
with every possible precaution the long journeys in Spain, of three to
five hundred miles at a stretch, are such as few English ladies can
undergo, and are, even with men, undertakings rather of necessity than
of pleasure. The mail is organized on the plan of the French
malle-poste, and offers, to those who can stand the bumping, shaking,
and churning of continued and rapid travelling without halting, a means
of locomotion which leaves nothing to be desired. The diligences also
are imitations of the lumbering French model. It will be in vain to
expect in them the neatness, the well-appointed turn-out, the quiet,
time-keeping, and infinite facilities of the English original. These
matters when passed across the water are modified to the heroic
Continental contempt for doing things in style; cheapness, which is
their great principle, prefers rope-traces to those of leather, and a
carter to a regular coachman; the usual foreign drags also exist, which
render their slow coaches and bureaucratic absurdities so hateful to
free Britons; but when one is once booked and handed over to the
conductor, you arrive in due time at the journey’s end. The “guards” are
realities; they consist of stout, armed, most picturesque, robber-like
men and no mistake, since many, before they were pardoned and pensioned,
have frequently taken a purse on the Queen’s highway; for the foreground
of your first sketch, they are splendid fellows, and worth a score of
marshals. They are provided with a complete arsenal of swords and
blunderbusses, so that the cumbrous machine rolling over the sea of
plains looks like a man-of-war, and has been compared to a marching
citadel. Again in suspicious localities a mounted escort of equally
suspicious look gallops alongside, nor is the primitive practice of
black mail altogether neglected: the consequence of these admirable
precautions is, that the diligences are seldom or never robbed; the
thing, however, is possible.

The whole of this garrisoned Noah’s ark is placed under the command of
the _Mayoral_ or conductor, who like all Spanish men in authority is a
despot, and yet, like them, is open to the conciliatory influences of a
bribe. He regulates the hours of toil and sleep, which latter--blessings,
says Sancho, on the man who invented it!--is uncertain, and depends on
the early or late arrival of the diligence and the state of the roads,
for all that is lost of the fixed time on the road is made up for by
curtailing the time allowed for repose. One of the many good effects of
setting up diligences is the bettering the inns on the road; and it is a
safe and general rule to travellers in Spain, whatever be their vehicle,
always to inquire in every town which is the _posada_ that the diligence
stops at. Persons were dispatched from Madrid to the different stations
on the great lines, to fit up houses, bed-rooms, and kitchens, and
provide everything for table, service; cooks were sent round to teach
the innkeepers to set out and prepare a proper dinner and supper. Thus,
in villages in which a few years before the use of a fork was scarcely
known, a table was laid out, clean, well served, and abundant. The
example set by the diligence inns has produced a beneficial effect,
since they offer a model, create competition, and suggest the existence
of many comforts, which were hitherto unknown among Spaniards, whose
abnegation of material enjoyments at home, and praiseworthy endurance of
privations of all kinds on journeys, are quite Oriental.


In some of the new companies every expense is calculated in the fare, to
wit, journey, postilions, inns, &c., which is very convenient to the
stranger, and prevents the loss of much money and temper. A chapter on
the dilly is as much a standing dish in every Peninsular tour as a
bullfight or a bandit adventure, for which there is a continual demand
in the home-market; and no doubt in the long distances of Spain, where
men and women are boxed up for three or four mortal days together (the
nights not being omitted), the plot thickens, and opportunity is
afforded to appreciate costume and character; the farce or tragedy may
be spun out into as many acts as the journey takes days. In general the
order of the course is as follows: the breakfast consists at early dawn
of a cup of good stiff chocolate, which being the favourite drink of the
church and allowable even on fast days, is as nutritious as delicious.
It is accompanied by a bit of roasted or fried bread, and is followed by
a glass of cold water, to drink which is an axiom with all wise men who
respect the efficient condition of their livers. After rumbling on, over
a given number of leagues, when the passengers get well shaken together
and hungry, a regular knife and fork breakfast is provided that closely
resembles the dinner or supper which is served up later in the evening;
the table is plentiful, and the cookery to those who like oil and garlic
excellent. Those who do not, can always fall back on the bread and eggs,
which are capital; the wine is occasionally like purple blacking, and
sometimes serves also as vinegar for the salad, as the oil is said to be
used indifferently for lamps or stews; a bad dinner, especially if the
bill be long, and the wine sour, does not sweeten the passengers’
tempers; they become quarrelsome, and if they have the good luck, a
little robber skirmish gives vent to ill-humour.

[Sidenote: THE GALERA.]

At nightfall after supper, a few hours are allowed on your part to steal
whatever rest the _mayoral_ and certain _voltigeurs_, creeping and
winged, will permit; the beds are plain and clean; sometimes the
mattresses may be compared to sacks of walnuts, but there is no pillow
so soft as fatigue; the beds are generally arranged in twos, threes, and
fours, according to the size of the room. The traveller should
immediately on arriving secure his, and see that it is comfortable, for
those who neglect to get a good one must sleep in a bad. Generally
speaking, by a little management, he may get a room to himself, or at
least select his companions. There is, moreover, a real civility and
politeness shown by all classes of Spaniards, on all occasions, towards
strangers and ladies; and that even failing, a small tip, “_una
gratificacioncita_,” given beforehand to the maid, or the waiter, seldom
fails to smooth all difficulties. On these, as on all occasions in
Spain, most things may be obtained by good humour, a smile, a joke, a
proverb, a cigar, or a bribe, which, though last, is by no means the
least resource, since it will be found to mollify the hardest heart and
smooth the greatest difficulties, after civil speeches had been tried in
vain, for _Dadivas quebrantan peñas, y entra sin barrenas_, gifts break
rocks, and penetrate without gimlets; again, _Mas ablanda dinero que
palabras de Caballero_, cash softens more than a gentleman’s palaver.
The mode of driving in Spain, which is so unlike our way of handling the
ribbons, will be described presently.

Means of conveyance for those who cannot afford the diligence are
provided by vehicles of more genuine Spanish nature and discomfort; they
may be compared to the neat accommodation for man and beast which is
doled out to third-class passengers by our monopolist railway kings, who
have usurped her Majesty’s highway, and fleece her lieges by virtue of
act of Parliament.

First and foremost comes the _galera_, which fully justifies its name;
and even those who have no value for their time or bones will, after a
short trial of the rack and dislocation, exclaim,--“_que diable
allais-je faire dans cette galère?_” These machines travel periodically
from town to town, and form the chief public and carrier communication
between most provincial cities; they are not much changed from that
classical cart, the _rheda_, into which, as we read in Juvenal, the
whole family of Fabricius was conveyed. In Spain these primitive
locomotives have stood still in the general advance of this age of
progress, and carry us back to our James I., and Fynes Moryson’s
accounts of “carryers who have long covered waggons, in which they carry
passengers from city to city; but this kind of journeying is so tedious,
by reason they must take waggons very early and come very late to their
innes, none but women and people of inferior condition used to travel in
this sort.” So it is now in Spain.


This _galera_ is a long cart without springs; the sides are lined with
matting, while beneath hangs a loose open net, as under the calesinas of
Naples, in which lies and barks a horrid dog, who keeps a Cerberus watch
over iron pots and sieves, and such like gipsey utensils, and who is
never to be conciliated. These _galeras_ are of all sizes; but if a
_galera_ should be a larger sort of vehicle than is wanted, then a
“_tartana_” a sort of covered tilted cart, which is very common in
Valencia, and which is so called from a small Mediterranean craft of the
same name, will be found convenient.

The packing and departure of the _galera_, when hired by a family who
remove their goods, is a thing of Spain; the heavy luggage is stowed in
first, and beds and mattresses spread on the top, on which the family
repose in admired disorder. The _galera_ is much used by the “poor
students” of Spain, a class unique of its kind, and full of rags and
impudence; their adventures have the credit of being rich and
picturesque, and recall some of the accounts of “waggon incidents” in
‘Roderick Random,’ and Smollett’s novels.

Civilization, as connected with the wheel, is still at a low ebb in
Spain, notwithstanding the numerous political revolutions. Except in a
few great towns, the quiz vehicles remind us of those caricatures at
which one laughed so heartily in Paris in 1814; and in Madrid, even down
to Ferdinand VII.’s decease, the _Prado_--its rotten row--was filled
with antediluvian carriages--grotesque coachmen and footmen to match,
which with us would be put into the British Museum; they are now, alas
for painters and authors! worn out, and replaced by poor French
imitations of good English originals.


As the genuine older Spanish ones were built in remote ages, and before
the invention of folding steps, the ascent and descent were facilitated
by a three-legged footstool, which dangled, strapped up near the door,
as appears in the hieroglyphics of Egypt 4000 years ago; a pair of
long-eared fat mules, with hides and tails fantastically cut, was driven
by a superannuated postilion in formidable jackboots, and not less
formidable cocked hat of oil-cloth. In these, how often have we seen
Spanish grandees with pedigrees as old-fashioned, gravely taking the air
and dust! These slow coaches of old Spain have been rapidly sketched by
the clever young American; such are the ups and downs of nations and
vehicles. Spain for having discovered America has in return become her
butt; she cannot go a-head; so the great dust of Alexander may stop a
bung-hole, and we too join in the laugh and forget that our
ancestors--see Beaumont and Fletcher’s ‘Maid of the Inn’--talked of
“_hurrying_ on featherbeds that move upon four-wheel Spanish

While on these wheel subjects it may be observed that the carts and
other machines of Spanish rural locomotion and husbandry have not
escaped better; when not Oriental they are Roman; rude in form and
material, they are always odd, picturesque, and inconvenient. The
peasant, for the most part, scratches the earth with a plough modelled
after that invented by Triptolemus, beats out his corn as described by
Homer, and carries his harvest home in strict obedience to the rules in
the Georgics. The iron work is iniquitous, but both sides of the
Pyrenees are centuries behind England; there, absurd tariffs prohibit
the importation of our cheap and good work in order to encourage their
own bad and dear wares--thus poverty and ignorance are perpetuated.

The carts in the north-west provinces are the unchanged _plaustra_, with
solid wheels, the Roman _tympana_ which consist of mere circles of wood,
without spokes or axles, much like mill-stones or Parmesan cheeses, and
precisely such as the old Egyptians used, as is seen in hieroglyphics,
and no doubt much resembling those sent by Joseph for his father, which
are still used by the Affghans and other unadvanced coachmakers. The
whole wheel turns round together with a piteous creaking; the drivers,
whose leathern ears are as blunt as their edgeless teeth, delight in
this excruciating _Chirrio_, Arabicè _charrar_, to make a _noise_, which
they call music, and delight in, because it is cheap and plays to them
of itself; they, moreover, think it frightens wolves, bears, and the
devil himself, as Don Quixote says, which it well may, for the wheel of
Ixion, although damned in hell, never whined more piteously. The doleful
sounds, however, serve like our waggoners’ lively bells, as warnings to
other drivers, who, in narrow paths and gorges of rocks, where two
carriages cannot pass, have this notice given them, and draw aside until
the coast is clear.

We have reserved some details and the mode of driving for the _coche de
colleras_, the _caroche_ of horse-collars, which is the real coach of
Spain, and in which we have made many a pleasant trip; it too is doomed
to be scheduled away, for Spaniards are descending from these coaches
and six to a chariot and pair, and by degrees beautifully less, to a


Mails and diligences, we have said, are only established on the
principal high roads connected with Madrid: there are but few local
coaches which run from one provincial town to another, where the
necessity of frequent and certain intercommunication is little called
for. In the other provinces, where these modern conveniences have not
been introduced, the earlier mode of travelling is the only resource
left to families of children, women, and invalids, who are unable to
perform the journey on horseback. This is the _festina lentè_, or
voiturier system; and from its long continuance in Italy and Spain, in
spite of all the improvements adopted in other countries, it would
appear to have something congenial and peculiarly fitted to the habits
and wants of those cognate nations of the south, who have a
Gotho-Oriental dislike to be hurried--_no corre priesa_, there is plenty
of time. _Sie haben zeit genug._

[Sidenote: THE MAYORAL.]

The Spanish vetturino, or “_Calesero_,” is to be found, as in Italy,
standing for hire in particular and well-known places in every principal
town. There is not much necessity for hunting for _him_; he has the
Italian instinctive perception of a stranger and traveller, and the same
importunity in volunteering himself, his cattle, and carriage, for any
part of Spain. The man, however, and his equipage are peculiarly
Spanish; his carriage and his team have undergone little change during
the last two centuries, and are the representatives of the former ones
of Europe; they resemble those vehicles once used in England, which may
still be seen in the old prints of country-houses by Kip; or, as regards
France, in the pictures of Louis XIV.’s journeys and campaigns by
Vandermeulen. They are the remnant of the once universal “coach and
six,” in which according to Pope, who was not infallible, British fair
were to delight for ever. The “_coche de colleras_” is a huge cumbrous
machine, built after the fashion of a reduced lord mayor’s coach, or
some of the equipages of the old cardinals at Rome. It is ornamented
with rude sculpture, gilding, and painting of glaring colour, but the
modern pea-jacket and round hat spoil the picture which requires
passengers dressed in brocade and full-bottomed wigs; the fore-wheels
are very low, the hind ones very high, and both remarkably narrow in the
tire; remember when they stick in the mud, and the drivers call upon
Santiago, to push the vehicle out _backwards_, as the more you draw it
forwards the deeper you get into the mire. The pole sticks out like the
bowsprit of a ship, and contains as much wood and iron work as would go
to a small waggon. The interior is lined with gay silk and gaudy plush,
adorned with lace and embroidery, with doors that open indifferently and
windows that do not shut well; latterly the general poverty and _prose_
of transpyrenean civilization has effaced much of these ornate
nationalities, both in coach and drivers; better roads and lighter
vehicles require fewer horses, which were absolutely necessary formerly
to drag the heavy concern through heavier ways.

[Sidenote: THE ZAGAL.]


The luggage is piled up behind, or stowed away in a front boot. The
management of driving this vehicle is conducted by two persons. The
master is called the “_mayoral_;” his helper or cad the “_mozo_,” or,
more properly, “_el zagal_,” from the Arabic, “a strong active youth.”
The costume is peculiar, and is based on that of Andalucia, which sets
the fashion all over the Peninsula, in all matters regarding
bull-fighting, horse-dealing, robbing, smuggling, and so forth. He wears
on his head a gay-coloured silk handkerchief, tied in such a manner that
the tails hang down behind; over this remnant of the Moorish turban he
places a high-peaked sugarloaf-shaped hat with broad brims; his jaunty
jacket is made either of black sheepskin, studded with silver tags and
filigree buttons, or of brown cloth, with the back, arms, and
particularly the elbows, welted and tricked out with flowers and vases,
cut in patches of different-coloured cloth and much embroidered. When
the jacket is not worn, it is usually hung over the left shoulder, after
the hussar fashion. The waistcoat is made of rich fancy silk; the
breeches of blue or green velvet plush, ornamented with stripes and
filigree buttons, and tied at the knee with silken cords and tassels;
the neck is left open, and the shirt collar turned down, and a gaudy
neck-handkerchief is worn, oftener passed through a ring than tied in a
knot; his waist is girt with a red sash, or with one of a bright yellow.
This “_faja_,"[3] a _sine quâ non_, is the old Roman zona; it serves
also for a purse, “girds the loins,” and keeps up a warmth over the
abdomen, which is highly beneficial in hot climates, and wards off any
tendency to irritable colic; in the sash is stuck the “_navaja_,” the
knife, which is part and parcel of a Spaniard, and behind the “_zagal_”
usually places his stick. The richly embroidered gaiters are left open
at the outside to show a handsome stocking; the shoes are yellow, like
those of our cricketers, and are generally made of untanned calfskin,
which being the colour of dust require no cleaning. The _caleseros_ on
the eastern coast wear the Valencian stocking, which has no feet to
it--being open at bottom, it is likened by wags to a Spaniard’s purse;
instead of top boots they wear the ancient Roman sandals, made of the
_esparto_ rush, with hempen soles, which are called “_alpargatas_,”
Arabicè _Alpalgah_. The “_zagal_” follows the fashion in dress of the
“_mayoral_,” as nearly as his means will permit him. He is the servant
of all-work, and must be ready on every occasion; nor can any one who
has ever seen the hard and incessant toil which these men undergo,
justly accuse them of being indolent--a reproach which has been cast
somewhat indiscriminately on all the lower classes of Spain; he runs by
the side of the carriage, picks up stones to pelt the mules, ties and
unties knots, and pours forth a volley of blows and oaths from the
moment of starting to that of arrival. He sometimes is indulged with a
ride by the side of the mayoral on the box, when he always uses the tail
of the hind mule to pull himself up into his seat. The harnessing the
six animals is a difficult operation; first the tackle of ropes is laid
out on the ground, then each beast is brought into his portion of the
rigging. The start is always an important ceremony, and, as our royal
mail used to do in the country, brings out all the idlers in the
vicinity. When the team is harnessed, the mayoral gets all his skeins of
ropes into his hand, the “_zagal_” his sash full of stones, the helpers
at the venta their sticks; at a given signal all fire a volley of oaths
and blows at the team, which, once in motion, away it goes, pitching
over ruts deep as routine prejudices, with its pole dipping and rising
like a ship in a rolling sea, and continues at a brisk pace, performing
from twenty-five to thirty miles a-day. The hours of starting are early,
in order to avoid the mid-day heat; in these matters the Spanish customs
are pretty much the same with the Italian; the _calesero_ is always the
best judge of the hours of departure and these minor details, which vary
according to circumstances.

Whenever a particularly bad bit of road occurs, notice is given to the
team by calling over their names, and by crying out “_arré, arré_,”
gee-up, which is varied with “_firmé, firmé_,” steady, boy, steady! The
names of the animals are always fine-sounding and polysyllabic; the
accent is laid on the last syllable, which is always dwelt on and
lengthened out with a particular
All this vocal driving is performed at the top of the voice, and,
indeed, next to scaring away crows in a field, must be considered the
best possible practice for the lungs. The team often exceeds six in
number, and never is less; the proportion of females predominates: there
is generally one male mule making the seventh, who is called “_el
macho_,” the male par excellence, like the Grand Turk, or a substantive
in a speech in Cortes, which seldom has less than half a dozen epithets:
he invariably comes in for the largest share of abuse and ill usage,
which, indeed, he deserves the most, as the male mule is infinitely more
stubborn and viciously inclined than the female. Sometimes there is a
horse of the Rosinante breed; he is called “_el cavallo_,” or rather, as
it is pronounced, “_el căvăl yō-ō_.” The horse is always the
best used of the team; to be a rider, “_caballero_,” is the Spaniard’s
synonym for gentleman; and it is their correct mode of addressing each
other, and is banded gravely among the lower orders, who never have
crossed any quadruped save a mule or a jackass.

[Sidenote: SWEARING.]

The driving a _coche de colleras_ is quite a science of itself, and is
observed in conducting _diligences_; it amuses the Spanish “_majo_” or
fancy-man as much as coach-driving does the fancy-man of England; the
great art lies not in handling the ribbons, but in the proper modulation
of the voice, since the cattle are always addressed individually by
their names; the first syllables are pronounced very rapidly; the
“_macho_,” the male mule, who is the most abused, is the only one who is
not addressed by any names beyond that of his sex: the word is repeated
with a voluble iteration; in order to make the two syllables longer,
they are strung together thus, _măchŏ--măchŏ--măchŏ--măcho-ŏ_: they begin in
semiquavers, flowing on crescendo to a semibreve or breve, so the four
words are compounded into one polysyllable. The horse, _caballo_, is
simply called so; he has no particular name of his own, which the female
mules are never without, and which they perfectly know--indeed, the
owners will say that they understand them, and all bad language, as well
as Christian women, “_como Cristianas_;” and, to do the beasts justice,
they seem more shocked and discomfited thereby than the bipeds who
profess the same creed. If the animal called to does not answer by
pricking up her ears, or by quickening her pace, the threat of “_lă
vărā_,” the stick, is added--the last argument of Spanish drivers,
men in office, and schoolmasters, with whom there is no sort of reason
equal to that of the bastinado, “_no hay tal razon, como la del
baston_.” It operates on the timorous more than “unadorned eloquence.”
The Moors thought so highly of the bastinado, that they held the stick
to be a special gift from Allah to the faithful. It holds good, _à
priori_ and _à posteriori_, to mule and boy, “_al hijo y mulo, para el
culo_;” and if the “_macho_” be in fault, and he is generally punished
to encourage the others, some abuse is added to blows, such as “_que
pĕrrō-ō_,” “what a dog!” or some unhandsome allusion to his
mother, which is followed by throwing a stone at the leaders, for no
whip could reach them from the coach-box. When any particular mule’s
name is called, if her companion be the next one to be abused, she is
seldom addressed by her name, but is spoken to as “_a la
ŏtrā-ā_,” “_aquella ŏtrā-ā_,” “Now for that other
one,” which from long association is expected and acknowledged. The team
obeys the voice and is in admirable command. Few things are more
entertaining than driving them, especially over bad roads; but it
requires much practice in Spanish speaking and swearing.

[Sidenote: SPANISH OATHS.]


Among the many commandments that are always broken in Spain, that of
“swear not at all” is not the least. “Our army swore lustily in
Flanders,” said Uncle Toby. But few nations can surpass the Spaniards in
the language of vituperation: it is limited only by the extent of their
anatomical, geographical, astronomical, and religious knowledge; it is
so plentifully bestowed on their animals--“un muletier à ce jeu vaut
trois rois”--that oaths and imprecations seem to be considered as the
only language the mute creation can comprehend; and as actions are
generally suited to the words, the combination is remarkably effective.
As much of the traveller’s time on the road must be passed among beasts
and muleteers, who are not unlike them, some knowledge of their sayings
and doings is of great use: to be able to talk to them in their own
lingo, to take an interest in them and in their animals, never fails to
please; “_Por vida del demonio, mas sabe Usia que nosotros_;” “by the
life of the devil, your honour knows more than we,” is a common form of
compliment. When once equality is established, the master mind soon
becomes the real master of the rest. The great oath of Spain, which
ought never to be written or pronounced, practically forms the
foundation of the language of the lower orders; it is a most ancient
remnant of the phallic abjuration of the evil eye, the dreaded
fascination which still perplexes the minds of Orientals, and is not
banished from Spanish and Neapolitan superstitions.[4] The word
terminates in _ajo_, on which great stress is laid: the _j_ is
pronounced with a most Arabic, guttural aspiration. The word _ajo_ means
also garlic, which is quite as often in Spanish mouths, and is exactly
what Hotspur liked, a “mouth-filling oath,” energetic and Michael
Angelesque. The pun has been extended to onions: thus, “_ajos y
cebollas_” means oaths and imprecations. The sting of the oath is in the
“_ajo_;” all women and quiet men, who do not wish to be particularly
objurgatory, but merely to enforce and give a little additional vigour,
un soupçon d’ail, or a shotting to their discourse, drop the offensive
“_ajo_,” and say “_car_,” “_carai_,” “_caramba_.” The Spanish oath is
used as a verb, as a substantive, as an adjective, just as it suits the
grammar or the wrath of the utterer. It is equivalent also to a certain
place and the person who lives there. “_Vaya Usted al C--ajo_” is the
worst form of the angry “_Vaya Usted al demonio_,” or “_á los
infiernos_,” and is a whimsical mixture of courtesy and transportation.
“Your Grace may go to the devil, or to the infernal regions!”

Thus these imprecatory vegetables retain in Spain their old Egyptian
flavour and mystical charm; as on the Nile, according to Pliny, onions
and garlic were worshipped as adjuratory divinities. The Spaniards have
also added most of the gloomy northern Gothic oaths, which are
imprecatory, to the Oriental, which are grossly sensual. Enough of this.
The traveller who has much to do with Spanish mules and asses, biped or
quadruped, will need no hand-book to teach him the sixty-five or more
“_serments espaignols_” on which Mons. de Brantome wrote a treatise.
More becoming will it be to the English gentleman to swear not at all; a
reasonable indulgence in _Caramba_ is all that can be permitted; the
custom is more honoured in the breach than in the observance, and bad
luck seldom deserts the house of the imprecator. “_En la casa del que
jura, no falta desaventura._”


Previously to hiring one of these “coaches of collars,” which is rather
an expensive amusement, every possible precaution should be taken in
clearly and minutely specifying everything to be done, and the price;
the Spanish “_caleseros_” rival their Italian colleagues in that
untruth, roguery, and dishonesty, which seem everywhere to combine
readily with jockeyship, and distinguishes those who handle the whip,
“do jobbings,” and conduct mortals by horses; the fee to be given to the
drivers should never be included in the bargain, as the keeping this
important item open and dependent on the good behaviour of the future
recipients offers a sure check over master and man, and other
road-classes. In justice, however, to this class of Spaniards, it may be
said that on the whole they are civil, good-humoured, and hard-working,
and, from not having been accustomed to either the screw bargaining or
alternate extravagance of the English travellers in Italy, are as
tolerably fair in their transactions as can be expected from human
nature brought in constant contact with four-legged and four-wheeled
temptations. They offer to the artist an endless subject of the
picturesque; everything connected with them is full of form, colour, and
originality. They can do nothing, whether sitting, driving, sleeping,
or eating, that does not make a picture; the same may be said of their
animals and their habits and harness; those who draw will never find the
midday halt long enough for the infinite variety of subject and scenery
to which their travelling equipage and attendants form the most peculiar
and appropriate foreground: while our modern poetasters will consider
them quite as worthy of being sung in immortal verse as the Cambridge
carrier Hobson, who was Milton’s choice.



     Spanish Horses--Mules--Asses--Muleteers--Maragatos.

We now proceed to Spanish quadrupeds, having placed the wheel-carriages
before the horses. That of Andalucia takes precedence of all; he fetches
the highest price, and the Spaniards in general value no other breed;
they consider his configuration and qualities as perfect, and in some
respects they are right, for no horse is more elegant or more easy in
his motions, none are more gentle or docile, none are more quick in
acquiring showy accomplishments, or in performing feats of Astleyan
agility; he has very little in common with the English blood-horse; his
mane is soft and silky, and is frequently plaited with gay ribbons; his
tail is of great length, and left in all the proportions of nature, not
cropped and docked, by which Voltaire was so much offended:--

    “Fiers et bizarres Anglais, qui des mêmes ciseaux
     Coupez la tête aux rois, et la queue aux chevaux.”


It often trails to the very ground, while the animal has perfect command
over it, lashing it on every side as a gentleman switches his cane;
therefore, when on a journey, it is usual to double and tie it up, after
the fashion of the ancient pig-tails of our sailors. The Andalucian
horse is round in his quarters, though inclined to be small in the
barrel; he is broad-chested, and always carries his head high,
especially when going a good pace; his length of leg adds to his height,
which sometimes reaches to sixteen hands; he never, however, stretches
out with the long graceful sweep of the English thorough-bred; his
action is apt to be loose and shambling, and he is given to _dishing_
with the feet. The pace is, notwithstanding, perfectly delightful. From
being very long in the pastern, the motion is broken as it were by the
springs of a carriage; their pace is the peculiar “_paso Castellano_,”
which is something more than a walk, and less than a trot, and it is
truly sedate and sedan-chair-like, and suits a grave Don, who is given,
like a Turk, to tobacco and contemplation. Those Andalucian horses which
fall when young into the hands of the officers at Gibraltar acquire a
very different action, and lay themselves better down to their work, and
gain much more in speed from the English system of training than they
would have done had they been managed by Spaniards. Taught or untaught,
this _pace_ is most gentlemanlike, and well did Beaumont and Fletcher

    “Think it noble, as Spaniards do in riding,
     In managing a great horse, which is princely;”

and as has been said, is the only attitude in which the kings of the
Spains, true Φιλιπποι, ought ever to be painted, witching the
world with noble horsemanship.

Many other provinces possess breeds which are more useful, though far
less showy, than the Andalucian. The horse of Castile is a strong, hardy
animal, and the best which Spain produces for mounting heavy cavalry.
The ponies of Gallicia, although ugly and uncouth, are admirably suited
to the wild hilly country and laborious population; they require very
little care or grooming, and are satisfied with coarse food and Indian
corn. The horses of Navarre, once so celebrated, are still esteemed for
their hardy strength; they have, from neglect, degenerated into ponies,
which, however, are beautiful in form, hardy, docile, sure-footed, and
excellent trotters. In most of the large towns of Spain there is a sort
of market, where horses are publicly sold; but Ronda fair, in May, is
the great Howden and Horncastle of the four provinces of Seville,
Cordova, Jaen, and Granada, and the resort of all the picturesque-looking
rogues of the south. The reader of Don Quixote need not be told that the
race of Gines Passamonte is not extinct; the Spanish _Chalanes_, or
horse-dealers, have considerable talents; but the cleverest is but a
mere child when compared to the perfection of rascality to which a real
English professor has attained in the mysteries of lying, chaunting, and
making up a horse.

[Sidenote: MULES.]

The breeding of horses was carefully attended to by the Spanish
government previously to the invasion of the French, by whom the entire
horses and brood-mares were either killed or stolen, and the buildings
and stables burnt.

The saddles used commonly in Spain are Moorish; they are made with high
peak and croup behind; the stirrup-irons are large triangularly-shaped
boxes. The food is equally Oriental, and consists of “barley and straw,”
as mentioned in the Bible. We well remember the horror of our Andalucian
groom, on our first reaching Gallicia, when he rushed in, exclaiming
that the beasts would perish, as nothing was to be had there but oats
and hay. After some difficulty he was persuaded to see if they would eat
it, which to his surprise they actually did; such, however, is habit,
that they soon fell out of condition, and did not recover until the damp
mountains were quitted for the arid plains of Castile.

[Sidenote: ASSES.]

Spaniards in general prefer mules and asses to the horse, which is more
delicate, requires greater attention, and is less sure-footed over
broken and precipitous ground. The mule performs in Spain the functions
of the camel in the East, and has something in his morale (besides his
physical suitableness to the country) which is congenial to the
character of his masters; he has the same self-willed obstinacy, the
same resignation under burdens, the same singular capability of
endurance of labour, fatigue, and privation. The mule has always been
much used in Spain, and the demand for them very great; yet, from some
mistaken crotchet of Spanish political economy (which is very Spanish),
the breeding of the mule has long been attempted to be prevented, in
order to encourage that of the horse. One of the reasons alleged was,
that the mule was a non-reproductive animal; an argument which might or
ought to apply equally to the monk; a breed for which Spain could have
shown for the first prize, both as to number and size, against any other
country in all Christendom. This attempt to force the production of an
animal far less suited to the wants and habits of the people has failed,
as might be expected. The difficulties thrown in the way have only
tended to raise the prices of mules, which are, and always were, very
dear; a good mule will fetch from 25_l._ to 50_l._, while a horse of
relative goodness may be purchased for from 20_l._ to 40_l._ Mules were
always very dear; thus Martial, like a true Andalucian Spaniard, _talks_
of one which cost more than a house. The most esteemed are those bred
from the mare and the ass, or _"garañon"_[5] some of which are of
extraordinary size; and one which Don Carlos had in his stud-house at
Aranjuez in 1832 exceeded fifteen hands in height. This colossal ass and
a Spanish infante were worthy of each other.

The mules in Spain, as in the East, have their coats closely shorn or
clipped; part of the hair is usually left on in stripes like the zebra,
or cut into fanciful patterns, like the tattooings of a New Zealand
chief. This process of shearing is found to keep the beast cooler and
freer from cutaneous disorders. The operation is performed in the
southern provinces by gipsies, who are the same tinkers, horse-dealers,
and vagrants in Spain as elsewhere. Their clipping recalls the “mulo
curto,” on which Horace could amble even to Brundusium. The operators
rival in talent those worthy Frenchmen who cut the hair of poodles on
the Pont Neuf, in the heart and brain of European civilization. Their
Spanish colleagues may be known by the shears, formidable and
classical-shaped as those of Lachesis and her sisters, which they carry
in their sashes. They are very particular in clipping the heels and
pasterns, which they say ought to be as free from superfluous hair as
the palm of a lady’s hand.

Spanish asses have been immortalised by Cervantes; they are endeared to
us by Sancho’s love and talent of imitation; he brayed so well, be it
remembered, that all the long-eared chorus joined a performer who, in
his own modest phrase, only wanted a tail to be a perfect donkey.
Spanish mayors, according to Don Quixote, have a natural talent for this
braying; but, save and except in the west of England, their right
worshipfuls may be matched elsewhere.


[Sidenote: THE MULETEER.]

The humble ass, “_burro_,” “_borrico_,” is the rule, the as in præsenti,
and part and parcel of every Spanish scene: he forms the appropriate
foreground in streets or roads. Wherever two or three Spaniards are
collected together in market, _junta_, or “congregation,” there is quite
sure to be an ass among them; he is the hardworked companion of the
lower orders, to whom to work is the greatest misfortune; sufferance is
indeed the common virtue of both tribes. They may, perhaps, both wince a
little when a new burden or a new tax is laid on them by Señor Mon, but
they soon, when they see that there is no remedy, bear on and endure:
from this fellow-feeling, master and animal cherish each other at heart,
though, from the blows and imprecations bestowed openly, the former may
be thought by hasty observers to be ashamed of confessing these
predilections in public. Some under-current, no doubt, remains of the
ancient prejudices of chivalry; but Cervantes, who thoroughly understood
human nature in general, and Spanish nature in particular, has most
justly dwelt on the dear love which Sancho Panza felt for his “_Rucio_,”
and marked the reciprocity of the brute, affectionate as intelligent. In
fact, in the _Sagra_ district, near Toledo, he is called _El vecino_,
one of the householders; and none can look a Spanish ass in the face
without remarking a peculiar expression, which indicates that the hairy
fool considers himself, like the pig in a cabin of the “first gem of the
sea,” to be one of the family, _de la familia_, or _de nosotros_. La
Mancha is the paradise of mules and asses; many a Sancho at this moment
is there fondling and embracing his ass, his “_chato chatito_,”
“_romo_,” or other complimentary variations of _Snub_, with which, when
not abusing him, he delights to nickname his helpmate. In Spain, as
Sappho says, Love is γλυκυπικρον, an alternation of the
agro-dolce; nor is there any Prevention of Cruelty Society towards
animals; every Spaniard has the same right in law and equity to kick and
beat his own ass to his own liking, as a philanthropical Yankee has to
wallop his own niggar; no one ever thinks of interposing on these
occasions, any more than they would in a quarrel between a man and his
wife. The _words_ are, at all events, on one side. It is, however,
recorded _in piam memoriam_, of certain Roman Catholic asses of Spain,
that they tried to throw off one Tomas Trebiño and some other heretics,
when on the way to be burnt, being horror-struck at bearing such
monsters. Every Spanish peasant is heart-broken when injury is done to
his ass, as well he may be, for it is the means by which he lives; nor
has he much chance, if he loses him, of finding a crown when hunting for
him, as was once done, or even a government like Sancho. Sterne would
have done better to have laid the venue of his sentimentalities over a
dead ass in Spain, rather than in France, where the quadruped species is
much rarer. In Spain, where small carts and wheel-barrows are almost
unknown, and the drawing them is considered as beneath the dignity of
the Spanish man, the substitute, an ass, is in constant employ;
sometimes it is laden with sacks of corn, with wine-skins, with
water-jars, with dung, or with dead robbers, slung like sacks over the
back, their arms and legs tied under the animal’s belly. Asses’ milk,
“_leche de burra_,” is in much request during the spring season. The
brown sex drink it in order to fine their complexions and cool their
blood, “_refrescar la sangre_;” the clergy and men in office, “_los
empleados_,” to whom it is mother’s milk, swallow it in order that it
may give tone to their gastric juices. Riding on assback was accounted a
disgrace and a degradation to the Gothic hidalgo, and the Spaniards, in
the sixteenth century, mounted unrepining cuckolds, “_los cornudos
pacientes_,” on asses. Now-a-days, in spite of all these unpleasant
associations, the grandees and their wives, and even grave ambassadors
from foreign parts, during the royal residence at Aranjuez, much delight
in elevating themselves on this beast of ill omen, and “_borricadas_” or
donkey parties are all the fashion.

[Sidenote: THE MULETEER.]

[Sidenote: MARAGATOS.]

The muleteer of Spain is justly renowned; his generic term is _arriero_,
a gee-uper, for his _arre arre_ is pure Arabic, as indeed are almost all
the terms connected with his craft, as the Moriscoes were long the great
carriers of Spain. To travel with the muleteer, when the party is small
or a person is alone, is both cheap and safe; indeed, many of the most
picturesque portions of Spain, Ronda and Granada for instance, can
scarcely be reached except by walking or riding. These men, who are
constantly on the road, and going backwards and forwards, are the best
persons to consult for details; their animals are generally to be hired,
but a muleteer’s stud is not pleasant to ride, since their beasts always
travel in single files. The leading animal is furnished with a copper
bell with a wooden clapper, to give notice of their march, which is
shaped like an ice-mould, sometimes two feet long, and hangs from the
neck, being contrived, as it were, on purpose to knock the animal’s
knees as much as possible, and to emit the greatest quantity of the most
melancholy sounds, which, according to the pious origin of all bells,
were meant to scare away the Evil One. The bearer of all this
tintinnabular clatter is chosen from its superior docility and knack in
picking out a way. The others follow their leader, and the noise he
makes when they cannot see him. They are heavily but scientifically
laden. The cargo of each is divided into three portions; one is tied on
each side, and the other placed between. If the cargo be not nicely
balanced, the muleteer either unloads or adds a few stones to the
lighter portion--the additional weight being compensated by the greater
comfort with which a well-poised burden is carried. These “sumpter”
mules are gaily decorated with trappings full of colour and tags. The
head-gear is composed of different coloured worsteds, to which a
multitude of small bells are affixed; hence the saying, “_muger de mucha
campanilla_,” a woman of many bells, of much show, much noise, or
pretension. The muleteer either walks by the side of his animal or sits
aloft on the cargo, with his feet dangling on the neck, a seat which is
by no means so uncomfortable as it would appear. A rude gun, “but ’twill
serve,” and is loaded with slugs, hangs always in readiness by his side,
and often with it a guitar; these emblems of life and death paint the
unchanged reckless condition of Iberia, where extremes have ever met,
where a man still goes out of the world like a swan, with a song. Thus
accoutred, as Byron says, with “all that gave, promise of pleasure or a
grave,” the approach of the caravan is announced from afar by his
cracked or guttural voice: “How carols now the lusty muleteer!” For when
not engaged in swearing or smoking, the livelong day is passed in one
monotonous high-pitched song, the tune of which is little in harmony
with the import of the words, or his cheerful humour, being most
unmusical and melancholy; but such is the true type of Oriental
_melody_, as it is called. The same absence of thought which is shown in
England by whistling is displayed in Spain by singing. “_Quien canta sus
males espanta:_” he who sings frightens away ills, a philosophic
consolation in travel as old and as classical as Virgil:--“Cantantes
licet usque, minus via tædet, camus,” which may be thus translated for
the benefit of country gentlemen:--

    If we join in doleful chorus,
    The dull highway will much less bore us.

The Spanish muleteer is a fine fellow; he is intelligent, active, and
enduring; he braves hunger and thirst, heat and cold, mud and dust; he
works as hard as his cattle, never robs or is robbed; and while his
betters in this land put off everything till to-morrow except
bankruptcy, he is punctual and honest, his frame is wiry and sinewy, his
costume peculiar; many are the leagues and long, which we have ridden in
his caravan, and longer his robber yarns, to which we paid no attention;
and it must be admitted that these cavalcades are truly national and
picturesque. Mingled with droves of mules and mounted horsemen, the
zig-zag lines come threading down the mountain defiles, now tracking
through the aromatic brushwood, now concealed amid rocks and
olive-trees, now emerging bright and glittering into the sunshine,
giving life and movement to the lonely nature, and breaking the usual
stillness by the tinkle of the bell and the sad ditty of the
muleteer--sounds which, though unmusical in themselves, are in keeping
with the scene, and associated with wild Spanish rambles, just as the
harsh whetting of the scythe is mixed up with the sweet spring and
newly-mown hay-meadow.


There is one class of muleteers which are but little known to European
travellers--the _Maragatos_, whose head-quarters are at _San Roman_,
near _Astorga_; they, like the Jew and gipsy, live exclusively among
their own people, preserving their primeval costume and customs, and
never marrying out of their own tribe. They are as perfectly nomad and
wandering as the Bedouins, the mule only being substituted for the
camel; their honesty and industry are proverbial. They are a sedate,
grave, dry, matter-of-fact, business-like people. Their charges are
high, but the security counterbalances, as they may be trusted with
untold gold. They are the channels of all traffic between Gallicia and
the Castiles, being seldom seen in the south or east provinces. They are
dressed in leathern jerkins, which fit tightly like a cuirass, leaving
the arms free. Their linen is coarse but white, especially the shirt
collar; a broad leather belt, in which there is a purse, is fastened
round the waist. Their breeches, like those of the Valencians, are
called _Zaraguelles_, a pure Arabic word for kilts or wide drawers, and
no burgomaster of Rembrandt is more broad-bottomed. Their legs are
encased in long brown cloth gaiters, with red garters; their hair is
generally cut close--sometimes, however, strange tufts are left. A huge,
slouching, flapping hat completes the most inconvenient of travelling
dresses, and it is too Dutch to be even picturesque; but these fashions
are as unchangeable as the laws of the Medes and Persians were; nor will
any Maragato dream of altering his costume until those dressed models of
painted wood do which strike the hours of the clock on the square of
_Astorga_: _Pedro Mato_, also, another figure _costumée_, who holds a
weathercock at the cathedral, is the observed of all observers; and, in
truth, this particular costume is, as that of Quakers used to be, a
guarantee of their tribe and respectability; thus even Cordero, the rich
Maragato deputy, appeared in Cortes in this local costume.

[Sidenote: THEIR ORIGIN.]

The dress of the Maragata is equally peculiar: she wears, if married, a
sort of head-gear, _El Caramiello_, in the shape of a crescent, the
round part coming over the forehead, which is very Moorish, and
resembles those of the females in the basso-rilievos at Granada. Their
hair flows loosely on their shoulders, while their apron or petticoat
hangs down open before and behind, and is curiously tied at the back
with a sash, and their bodice is cut square over the bosom. At their
festivals they are covered with ornaments of long chains of coral and
metal, with crosses, relics, and medals in silver. Their earrings are
very heavy, and supported by silken threads, as among the Jewesses in
Barbary. A marriage is the grand feast; then large parties assemble, and
a president is chosen, who puts into a waiter whatever sum of money he
likes, and all invited must then give as much. The bride is enveloped in
a mantle, which she wears the whole day, and never again except on that
of her husband’s death. She does not dance at the wedding-ball. Early
next morning two roast chickens are brought to the bed-side of the happy
pair. The next evening ball is opened by the bride and her husband, to
the tune of the _gaita_, or Moorish bagpipe. Their dances are grave and
serious; such indeed is their whole character. The _Maragatos_, with
their honest, weather-beaten countenances, are seen with files of mules
all along the high road to La Coruña. They generally walk, and, like
other Spanish _arrieros_, although they sing and curse rather less, are
employed in one ceaseless shower of stones and blows at their mules.

The whole tribe assembles twice a year at Astorga, at the feasts of
Corpus and the Ascension, when they dance _El Canizo_, beginning at two
o’clock in the afternoon, and ending precisely at three. If any one not
a _Maragato_ joins, they all leave off immediately. The women never
wander from their homes, which their undomestic husbands always do. They
lead the hardworked life of the Iberian females of old, and now, as
then, are to be seen everywhere in these west provinces toiling in the
fields, early before the sun has risen, and late after it has set; and
it is most painful to behold them drudging at these unfeminine

The origin of the _Maragatos_ has never been ascertained. Some consider
them to be a remnant of the Celtiberian, others of the Visigoths; most,
however, prefer a Bedouin, or caravan descent. It is in vain to question
these ignorant carriers as to their history or origin; for like the
gipsies, they have no traditions, and know nothing. _Arrieros_, at all
events, they are; and that word, in common with so many others relating
to the barb and carrier-caravan craft, is Arabic, and proves whence the
system and science were derived by Spaniards.


The _Maragatos_ are celebrated for their fine beasts of burden; indeed,
the mules of Leon are renowned, and the asses splendid and numerous,
especially the nearer one approaches to the learned university of
Salamanca. The _Maragatos_ take precedence on the road; they are the
lords of the highway, being _the_ channels of commerce in a land where
mules and asses represent luggage rail trains. They know and feel their
importance, and that they are the rule, and the traveller for mere
pleasure is the exception. Few Spanish muleteers are much more polished
than their beasts, and however picturesque the scene, it is no joke
meeting a string of laden beasts in a narrow road, especially with a
precipice on one side, _cosa de España_. The _Maragatos_ seldom give
way, and their mules keep doggedly on; as the baggage projects on each
side, like the paddles of a steamer, they sweep the whole path. But all
wayfaring details in the genuine Spanish interior are calculated for the
_pack_, as in England a century back; and there is no thought bestowed
on the foreigner, who is not wanted, nay is disliked. The inns, roads,
and right sides, suit the natives and their brutes; nor will either put
themselves out of their way to please the fancies of a stranger. The
racy Peninsula is too little travelled over for its natives to adopt the
mercenary conveniences of the Swiss, that nation of innkeepers and

[Sidenote: RIDING TOURS.]


     Riding Tour in Spain--Pleasures of it--Pedestrian Tour--Choice of
     Companions--Rules for a Riding Tour--Season of Year--Day’s
     Journey--Management of Horse: his Feet; Shoes; General Hints.

[Sidenote: ROYAL ROADS.]

A man in a public carriage ceases to be a private individual: he is
merged into the fare, and becomes a number according to his place; he is
booked like a parcel, and is delivered by the guard. How free, how lord
and master of himself, does the same dependent gentleman mount his eager
barb, who by his neighing and pawing exhibits his joyful impatience to
be off too! How fresh and sweet the free breath of heaven, after the
frousty atmosphere of a full inside of foreigners, who, from the
narcotic effects of tobacco, forget the existence of soap, water, and
clean linen! Travelling on horseback, so unusual a gratification to
Englishmen, is the ancient, primitive, and once universal mode of
travelling in Europe, as it still is in the East; mankind, however, soon
gets accustomed to a changed state of locomotion, and forgets how recent
is its introduction. Fynes Moryson gave much the same advice two
centuries ago to travellers in England, as must be now suggested to
those who in Spain desert the coach-beaten highways for the delightful
bye-ways, and thus explore the rarely visited, but not the least
interesting portions of the Peninsula. It has been our good fortune to
perform many of these expeditions on horseback, both alone and in
company; and on one occasion to have made the pilgrimage from Seville to
Santiago, through Estremadura and Gallicia, returning by the Asturias,
Biscay, Leon, and the Castiles; thus riding nearly two thousand miles on
the same horse, and only accompanied by one Andalucian servant, who had
never before gone out of his native province. The same tour was
afterwards performed by two friends with two servants; nor did they or
ourselves ever meet with any real impediments or difficulties, scarcely
indeed sufficient of either to give the flavour of adventure, or the
dignity of danger, to the undertaking. It has also been our lot to make
an extended tour of many months, accompanied by an English lady, through
Granada, Murcia, Valencia, Catalonia, and Arragon, to say nothing of
repeated excursions through every nook and corner of Andalucia. The
result of all this experience, combined with that of many friends, who
have _ridden over_ the Peninsula, enables us to recommend this method to
the young, healthy, and adventurous, as by far the most agreeable plan
of proceeding; and, indeed, as we have said, as regards two-thirds of
the Peninsula, the only practicable course.

The leading royal roads which connect the capital with the principal
seaports are, indeed, excellent; but they are generally drawn in a
straight line, whereby many of the most ancient cities are thus left
out, and these, together with sites of battles and historical incident,
ruins and remains of antiquity, and scenes of the greatest natural
beauty, are accessible with difficulty, and in many cases only on
horseback. Spain abounds with wide tracts which are perfectly unknown to
the Geographical Society. Here, indeed, is fresh ground open to all who
aspire in these threadbare days to book something new; here is scenery
enough to fill a dozen portfolios, and subject enough for a score of
quartos. How many flowers pine unbotanised, how many rocks harden
ungeologised; what views are dying to be sketched; what bears and deer
to be stalked; what trout to be caught and eaten; what valleys expand
their bosoms, longing to embrace their visitor; what virgin beauties
hitherto unseen await the happy member of the Travellers’ Club, who in
ten days can exchange the bore of eternal Pall Mall for these untrodden
sites; and then what an accession of dignity in thus discovering a terra
incognita, and rivalling Mr. Mungo Park! Nor is a guide wanting, since
our good friend John Murray, the grand monarque of Handbooks, has
proclaimed from Albemarle Street, _Il n’y a plus de Pyrénées_.


As the wide extent of country which intervenes between the radii of the
great roads is most indifferently provided with public means of
inter-communication; as there is little traffic, and no demand for
modern conveyances--even mules and horses are not always to be procured,
and we have always found it best to set out on these distant excursions
with our own beasts: the comfort and certainty of this precaution have
been corroborated beyond any doubt by frequent comparisons with the
discomforts undergone by other persons, who trusted to chance
accommodations and means of locomotion in ill-provided districts and
out-of-the-way excursions: indeed, as a general rule, the traveller will
do well to carry with him everything with which from habit he feels that
he cannot dispense. The chief object will be to combine in as small a
space as possible the greatest quantity of portable comfort, taking care
to select the really essential; for there is no worse mistake than
lumbering oneself with things that are never wanted. This mode of
travelling has not been much detailed by the generality of authors, who
have rarely gone much out of the beaten track, or undertaken a
long-continued riding tour, and they have been rather inclined to
overstate the dangers and difficulties of a plan which they have never
tried. At the same time this plan is not to be recommended to fine
ladies nor to delicate gentlemen, nor to those who have had a touch of
rheumatism, or who tremble at the shadows which coming gout casts before


Those who have endurance and curiosity enough to face a tour in Sicily,
may readily set out for Spain; rails and post-horses certainly get
quicker over the country; but the pleasure of the remembrance and the
benefits derived by travel are commonly in an inverse ratio to the ease
and rapidity with which the journey is performed. In addition to the
accurate knowledge which is thus acquired of the country (for there is
no map like this mode of surveying), and an acquaintance with a
considerable, and by no means the worst portion of its population, a
riding expedition to a civilian is almost equivalent to serving a
campaign. It imparts a new life, which is adopted on the spot, and which
soon appears quite natural, from being in perfect harmony and fitness
with everything around, however strange to all previous habits and
notions; it takes the conceit out of a man for the rest of his life--it
makes him bear and forbear. It is a capital practical school of moral
discipline, just as the hardiest mariners are nurtured in the roughest
seas. Then and there will be learnt golden rules of patience,
perseverance, good temper, and good fellowship: the individual man must
come out, for better or worse. On these occasions, where wealth and
rank are stripped of the aids and appurtenances of conventional
superiority, a man will draw more on his own resources, moral and
physical, than on any letter of credit; his wit will be sharpened by
invention-suggesting necessity.

Then and there, when up, about, and abroad, will be shaken off dull
sloth; action--Demosthenic action--will be the watch-word. The traveller
will blot out from his dictionary the fatal Spanish phrase of
procrastination _by-and-by_, a street which leads to the house of
_never_, for “_por la calle de despues, se va a la casa de nunca_.”
Reduced to shift for himself, he will see the evil of waste--the folly
of improvidence and want of order. He will whistle to the winds the
paltry excuse of idleness, the Spanish “_no se puede_,” “_it is
impossible_.” He will soon learn, by grappling with difficulties, how
surely they are overcome,--how soft as silk becomes the nettle when it
is sternly grasped, which would sting the tender-handed touch,--how
powerful a principle of realising the object proposed, is the moral
conviction that we can and will accomplish it. He will never be scared
by shadows thin as air, for when one door shuts another opens, and he
who pushes on arrives. And after all, a dash of hardship may be endured
by those accustomed to loll in easy britzskas, if only for the sake of
novelty; what a new relish is given to the palled appetite by a little
unknown privation!--hunger being, as Cervantes says, the best of sauces,
which, as it never is wanting to the poor, is the reason why eating is
their huge delight.


Again, these sorts of independent expeditions are equally conducive to
health of body: after the first few days of the new fatigue are got
over, the frame becomes of iron, “_hecho de bronze_,” and the rider, a
centaur not fabulous. The living in the pure air, the sustaining
excitement of novelty, exercise, and constant occupation, are all
sweetened by the willing heart, which renders even labour itself a
pleasure; a new and vigorous life is infused into every bone and muscle:
early to bed and early to rise, if it does not make all brains wise, at
least invigorates the gastric juices, makes a man forget that he has a
liver, that storehouse of mortal misery--bile, blue pill, and blue
devils. This health is one of the secrets of the amazing charm which
seems inherent to this mode of travelling, in spite of all the apparent
hardships with which it is surrounded in the abstract. Oh! the delight
of this gipsy, Bedouin, nomade life, seasoned with unfettered liberty!
We pitch our tent wherever we please, and there we make our home--far
from letters “requiring an immediate answer,” and distant dining-outs,
visits, ladies’ maids, band-boxes, butlers, bores, and button-holders.

Escaping from the meshes of the west end of London, we are transported
into a new world; every day the out-of-door panorama is varied; now the
heart is cheered and the countenance made glad by gazing on plains
overflowing with milk and honey, or laughing with oil and wine, where
the orange and citron bask in the glorious sunbeams, the palm without
the desert, the sugar-cane without the slave. Anon we are lost amid the
silence of cloud-capped glaciers, where rock and granite are tost about
like the fragments of a broken world, by the wild magnificence of
Nature, who, careless of mortal admiration, lavishes with proud
indifference her fairest charms where most unseen, her grandest forms
where most inaccessible. Every day and everywhere we are unconsciously
funding a stock of treasures and pleasures of memory, to be hived in our
bosoms like the honey of the bee, to cheer and sweeten our after-life,
when we settle down like wine-dregs in our cask, which, delightful even
as in the reality, wax stronger as we grow in years, and feel that these
feats of our youth, like sweet youth itself, can never be our portion
again. Of one thing the reader may be assured,--that dear will be to
him, as is now to us, the remembrance of those wild and weary rides
through tawny Spain, where hardship was forgotten ere undergone: those
sweet-aired hills--those rocky crags and torrents--those fresh valleys
which communicated their own freshness to the heart--that keen relish
for hard fare, gained and seasoned by hunger sauce, which Ude did not
invent--those sound slumbers on harder couch, earned by fatigue, the
downiest of pillows--the braced nerves--the spirits light, elastic, and
joyous--that freedom from care--that health of body and soul which ever
rewards a close communion with Nature--and the shuffling off of the
frets and factitious wants of the thick-pent artificial city.


Whatever be the number of the party, and however they travel, whether on
wheels or horseback, admitting even that a pleasant friend pro vehiculo
est, that is, is better than a post-chaise, yet no one should ever dream
of making a pedestrian tour in Spain. It seldom answers anywhere, as the
walker arrives at the object of his promenade tired and hungry, just at
the moment when he ought to be the freshest and most up to intellectual
pleasures. The deipnosophist Athenæus long ago discovered that there was
no love for the sublime and beautiful in an empty stomach, æsthetics
yield then to gastronomies, and there is no prospect in the world so
fine as that of a dinner and a nap, or _siesta_ afterwards. The
pedestrian in Spain, where fleshly comforts are rare, will soon
understand why, in the real journals of our Peninsular soldiers, so
little attention is paid to those objects which most attract the
well-provided traveller. In cases of bodily hardship, the employment of
the mental faculties is narrowed into the care of supplying mere
physical wants, rather than expanded into searching for those of a
contemplative or intellectual gratification; the footsore and way-worn
require, according to

            “The unexempt condition
    By which all mortal frailty must subsist,
    Refreshment after toil, ease after pain.”

Walking is the manner by which beasts travel, who have therefore four
legs; those bipeds who follow the example of the brute animals will soon
find that they will be reduced to their level in more particulars than
they imagined or bargained for. Again, as no Spaniard ever walks for
pleasure, and none ever perform a journey on foot except trampers and
beggars, it is never supposed possible that any one else should do so
except from compulsion. Pedestrians therefore are either ill received,
or become objects of universal suspicion; for a Spanish authority,
judging of others by himself, always takes the worst view of the
stranger, whom he considers as guilty until he proves himself innocent.

Before the pleasures of a riding tour through Spain are mentioned, a few
observations on the choice of companions may be made.


Those who travel in public conveyances or with muleteers are seldom
likely to be left alone. It is the horseman who strikes into
out-of-the-way, unfrequented districts, who will feel the want of that
important item--a travelling companion, on which, as in choosing a wife,
it is easy enough to give advice. The patient must, however, administer
to himself, and the selection will depend, of course, much on the taste
and idiosyncracy of each individual; those unfortunate persons who are
accustomed to have everything their own way, or those, happy ones, who
are never less alone than when alone, and who possess the alchymy of
finding resources and amusements in themselves, may perhaps find that
plan to be the best; at all events, no company is better than bad
company: “_mas vale ir solo, que mal acompañado_.” A solitary wanderer
is certainly the most unfettered as regards his notions and motions,
“_no tengo padre ni madre, ni perro que me ladre_.” He who has “neither
father, mother, nor dog to bark at him,” can read the book of Spain, as
it were, in his own room, dwelling on what he likes, and skipping what
he does not, as with a red Murray.


Every coin has, however, its reverse, and every rose its thorn.
Notwithstanding these and other obvious advantages, and the tendency
that occupation and even hardships have to drive away imaginary evils,
this freedom will be purchased by occasional moments of depression; a
dreary, forsaken feeling will steal over the most cheerful mind. It is
not good for man to be alone; and this social necessity never comes home
stronger to the warm heart than during a long-continued solitary ride
through the rarely visited districts of the Peninsula. The sentiment is
in perfect harmony with the abstract feeling which is inspired by the
present condition of unhappy Spain, fallen from her high estate, and
blotted almost from the map of Europe. Silent, sad, and lonely is her
face, on which the stranger will too often gaze; her hedgeless, treeless
tracts of corn-field, bounded only by the low horizon; her uninhabited,
uncultivated plains, abandoned to the wild flower and the bee, and which
are rendered still more melancholy by ruined castle, or village, which
stand out bleaching skeletons of a former vitality. The dreariness of
this abomination of desolation is increased by the singular absence of
singing birds, and the presence of the vulture, the eagle, and lonely
birds of prey. The wanderer, far from home and friends, feels doubly a
stranger in this strange land, where no smile greets his coming, no tear
is shed at his going,--where his memory passes away, like that of a
guest who tarrieth but a day,--where nothing of human life is seen,
where its existence only is inferred by the rude wooden cross or
stone-piled cairn, which marks the unconsecrated grave of some traveller
who has been waylaid there alone, murdered, and sent to his account with
all his imperfections on his head.

However confidently we have relied on past experience that such would
not be our fate, yet these sorts of Spanish milestones marked with
memento mori, are awkward evidences that the thing is not altogether
impossible. It makes a single gentleman, whose life is not insured, not
only trust to Santiago, but keep his powder dry, and look every now and
then if his percussion cap fits. On these occasions the falling in with
any of the nomade half-Bedouin natives is a sort of godsend; their
society is quite different from that of a regular companion, for better
or worse until death us do part, as it is casual, and may be taken up or
dropped at convenience. The habits of all Spaniards when on the road are
remarkably gregarious; a common fear acts as a cement, while the more
they are in number the merrier. It is hail! well met, fellow-traveller!
and the being glad to see each other is an excellent introduction. The
sight of passengers bound our way is like speaking a strange sail on the
Atlantic, _Hola Camara!_ ship a-hoy. This predisposition tends to make
all travellers write so much and so handsomely of the lower classes of
Spaniards, not indeed more than they deserve, for they are a fine, noble
race. Something of this arises, because on such occasions all parties
meet on an equality; and this levelling effect, perhaps unperceived,
induces many a foreigner, however proud and reserved at home, to unbend,
and that unaffectedly. He treats these accidental acquaintances quite
differently from the manner in which he would venture to treat the lower
orders of his own country, who, probably, if conciliated by the same
condescension of manner, would appear in a more amiable light, although
they are inferior to the Spaniard in his Oriental goodness of manner,
his perfect tact, his putting himself and others into their proper
place, without either self-degradation or vulgar assumption of social
equality or superior physical powers.

[Sidenote: FRIENDSHIPS.]

A long solitary ride is hardly to be recommended; it is not fair to
friends who have been left anxious behind, nor is it prudent to expose
oneself, without help, to the common accidents to which a horse and his
rider are always liable. Those who have a friend with whom they feel
they can venture to go in double harness, had better do so. It is a
severe test, and the trial becomes greater in proportion as hardships
abound and accommodations are scanty--causes which sour the milk of
human kindness, and prove indifferent restorers of stomach or temper. It
is on these occasions, on a large journey and in a small _venta_, that a
man finds out what his friend really is made of. While in the more
serious necessities of danger, sickness, and need--a friend is one
indeed, and the one thing wanting, with whom we share our last morsel
and cup gladly. The salt of good fellowship, if it cannot work miracles
as to quantity, converts the small loaf into a respectable abstract
feed, by the zest and satisfaction with which it flavours it.

Nothing, moreover, cements friendships for the future like having made
one of these conjoint rambles, provided it did not end in a quarrel. The
mere fact of having travelled _at all_ in Spain has a peculiarity which
is denied to the more hackneyed countries of Europe. When we are
introduced to a person who has visited these spell-casting sites, we
feel as if we knew him already. There is a sort of freemasonry in having
done something in common, which is not in common with the world at
large. Those who are about to qualify themselves for this exclusive
quality will do well not to let the party exceed five in number, three
masters and two servants; two masters with two servants are perhaps more
likely to be better accommodated; a third person, however, is often of
use in trying journeys, as an arbiter elegantiarum et rixarum, a referee
and arbitrator; for in the best regulated teams it must happen that some
one will occasionally start, gib, or bolt, when the majority being
against him brings the offender to his proper senses. Four eyes, again,
see better than two, “_mas ven cuatro ojos que dos_.”


By attending to a few simple rules, a tour of some months’ duration, and
over thousands of miles, may be performed on one and the same horse, who
with his rider will at the end of the journey be neither sick nor sorry,
but in such capital condition as to be ready to start again. We presume
that the time will be chosen when the days are long and Nature has
thrown aside her wintry garb. Fine weather is the joy of the wayfarer’s
soul, and nothing can be more different than the aspect of Spanish
villages in good or in bad weather; as in the East, during wintry rains
they are the acmes of mud and misery, but let the sun shine out, and all
is gilded. It is the smile which lights up the habitually sad expression
of a Spanish woman’s face. The blessed beam cheers poverty itself, and
by its stimulating, exhilarating action on the system of man, enables
him to buffet against the moral evils to which countries the most
favoured by climate seem, as if it were from compensation, to be more
exposed than those where the skies are dull, and the winds bleak and

As in our cavalry regiments, where real service is required, a perfect
animal is preferred, a rider should choose a mare rather than a gelding;
the use of entire horses is, however, so general in Spain, that one of
such had better be selected than a mare. The day’s journey will vary
according to circumstances from twenty-five to forty miles. The start
should be made before daybreak, and the horse well fed at least an hour
before the journey is commenced, during which Spaniards, if they can, go
to church, for they say that no time is ever lost on a journey by
feeding horses and men and hearing masses, _misa y cebada no estorban


The hours of starting, of course, depend on the distance and the
district. The sooner the better, as all who wish to cheat the devil must
get up very early. “_Quien al demonio quiere engañar, muy temprano
levantarse ha._” It is a great thing for the traveller to reach his
night quarters as soon as he can, for the first comers are the best
served: borrow therefore an hour of the morning rather than from the
night; and that hour, if you lose it at starting, you will never
overtake in the day. Again, in the summer it is both agreeable and
profitable to be under weigh and off at least an hour or two before
sunrise, as the heat soon gets insupportable, and the stranger is
exposed to the _tabardillo_, the coup de soleil, which, even in a
smaller degree, occasions more ill health in Spain than is generally
imagined, and especially by the English, who brave it either from
ignorance or foolhardiness. The head should be well protected with a
silk handkerchief, tied after a turban fashion, which all the natives
do; in addition to which we always lined the inside of our hats with
thickly doubled brown paper. In Andalucia, during summer, the muleteers
travel by night, and rest during the day-heat, which, however, is not a
satisfactory method, except for those who wish to see nothing. We have
never adopted it. The early mornings and cool afternoons and evenings
are infinitely preferable; while to the artist the glorious sunrises and
sunsets, and the marking of mountains, and definition of forms from the
long shadows, are magnificent beyond all conception. In these almost
tropical countries, when the sun is high, the effect of shadow is lost,
and everything looks flat and unpicturesque.

The journey should be divided into two portions, and the longest should
be accomplished the first: the pace should average about five miles an
hour, it being an object not to keep the animal unnecessarily on his
legs: he may be trotted gently, and even up easy hills, but should
always be walked down them; nay, if led, so much the better, which
benefits both horse and rider. It is surprising how a steady, continued
slow pace gets over the ground: _Chi va piano, va sano, é lontano_, says
the Italian; _paso a paso va lejos_, step by step goes far, responds the
Castilian. The end of the journey each day is settled before starting,
and there the traveller is sure to arrive with the evening. Spaniards
never fidget themselves to get quickly to places where nobody is
expecting them: nor is there any good to be got in trying to hurry man
or beast in Spain; you might as well think of hurrying the Court of
Chancery. The animals should be rested, if possible, every fourth day,
and not used during halts in towns, unless they exceed three days’


On arriving at every halting-place, look first at the feet, and pick out
any pebbles or dirt, and examine the nails and shoes carefully, to see
that nothing is loose; let this inspection become a habit; do not wash
the feet too soon, as the sudden chill sometimes produces fever in them:
when they are cool, clean them and grease the hoof well; after that you
may wash as much as you please. The best thing, however, is to feed your
horse at once, before thinking of his toilet; the march will have given
an appetite, while the fatigue requires immediate restoration. If a
horse is to be worried with cleaning, &c., he often loses heart and
gets off his feed: he may be rubbed down when he has done eating, and
his bed should be made up as for night, the stable darkened, and the
animal left quite quiet, and the longer the better: feed him well again
an hour before starting for the afternoon stage, and treat him on coming
in exactly as you did in the morning. The food must be regulated by the
work: when that is severe, give corn with both hands, and stint the hay
and other lumber: what you want is to concentrate support by quality,
not quantity. The Spaniard will tell you that one mouthful of beef is
worth ten of potatoes. If your horse is an English one, it must be
remembered that eight pounds’ weight of barley is equal to ten of oats,
as containing less husk and more mucilage or starch, which our
horse-dealers know when they want to _make up_ a horse; overfeeding a
horse in the hot climate of Spain, like overfeeding his rider, renders
both liable to fevers and sudden inflammatory attacks, which are much
more prevalent in Gibraltar than elsewhere in Spain, because our
countrymen will go on exactly as if they were at home.

At all events, feed your horse well with _something or other_, or your
Spanish squire will rain proverbs on you, like Sancho Panza; the belly
must be filled with hay or straw, for it in reality carries the feet, _O
paja o heno el vientre lleno--tripas llevan á pies_, and so forth. The
Spaniards when on a journey allow their horses to drink copiously at
every stream, saying that there is no juice like that of flints; and
indeed they set the example, for they are all down on their bellies at
every brook, swilling water, according to the proverb, like an ox, and
wine when they can get it, like a king. If therefore you are riding a
Spanish horse which has been accustomed to this continual tippling, let
him drink, otherwise he will be fevered. If the horse has been treated
in the English fashion, give him his water only after his meals,
otherwise he will break out into weakening sweats. Should the animal
ever arrive distressed, a tepid gruel, made with oatmeal or even flour,
will comfort him much. At nightfall stop the feet with wet tow, or with
horse dung, for that of cows will seldom be to be had in Spain, where
goats furnish milk, and Dutchmen butter.

[Sidenote: THE HORSE’S FOOT.]

Let the feet be constantly attended to; the horse having twice as many
as his rider, requires double attention, and of what use to a traveller
is a quadruped that has not a leg to go upon? This is well known to
those commercial gentlemen, who are the only persons now-a-days in
England who make riding journeys. It is the shoe that makes or mars the
horse, and no wise man, in Spain or out, who has got a four-footed
hobby, or three half-crowns, should delay sending to Longman’s for that
admirable “Miles on the Horse’s Foot.” “Every knight errant,” says Don
Quixote, “ought to be able to shoe his own _Rosinante_ himself.” _Rosin_
is pure Arabic for a hackney--at least he should know how this
calceolation ought to be done. As a general rule, always take your
quadruped to the forge, where the shoes can be fitted to his feet, not
the feet to ready-made shoes; and if you value the comfort, the
extension of life and service of your steed--_fasten the fore shoes with
five nails at most in the outside, and with two only in the inside, and
those near the toe_; do not in mercy fix by nails all round an
unyielding rim of dead iron, to an expanding living hoof; remember also
always to take with you a spare set of shoes, with nails and a
hammer--for the want of a nail the shoe was lost; for the want of a shoe
the rider was tost. In many parts of Spain, where there are no fine
modern roads, you might almost do without any shoes at all, as the
ancients did, and is done in parts of Mexico; but no unprotected hoof
can stand the constant wear and tear, the filing of a macadamised

[Sidenote: THE MOSQUERO.]

The horse will probably be soon in such condition as to want no more
physic than his rider; a lump, however, of rock-salt, and a bit of chalk
put at night into his manger, answers the same purposes as Epsoms and
soda do to the master. You should wash out the long tail and mane, which
is the glory of a Spanish horse, as fine hair is to a woman, with soda
and water; the alkali combining with the animal grease forms a most
searching detergent. A grand remedy for most of the accidents to which
horses are liable on a journey, such as kicks, cuts, strains, &c., is a
constant fomentation with hot water, which should be done under the
immediate superintendence of the master, or it will be either done
insufficiently, or not done at all; hot water, according to the groom
genus, having been created principally as a recipient of something
stronger. A crupper and breastplate are almost indispensable, from the
steep ascents and descents in the mountains. The _mosquero_, the
fly-flapper, is a great comfort to the horse, as, being in perpetual
motion, and hanging between his eyes, it keeps off the flies; the
head-stall, or night halter, never should be removed from the bridle,
but be rolled up during the day, and fastened along the side of the
cheek. The long tail is also rolled up when the ways are miry, just as
those of our blue jackets and horse-guards used to be.



     The Rider’s Costume--Alforjas: their contents--The Bota, and How to
     use it--Pig Skins and Borracha--Spanish Money--Onzas and smaller

The rider’s costume and accoutrements require consideration; his great
object should be to pass in a crowd, either unnoticed, or to be taken
for “one of us,” _Uno de Nosotros_, and a member of the Iberian
family--_de la Familia_: this is best effected by adopting the dress,
that is usually worn by the natives when they travel on horseback, or
journey by any of their national conveyances, among which Anglo-Franco
mails and diligences are not yet to be reckoned; all classes of
Spaniards, on getting outside the town-gate, assume country habits, and
eschew the long-tailed coats and civilization of the city; they drop
pea-jackets and foreign fashions, which would only attract attention,
and expose the wearers to the ridicule or coarser marks of consideration
from the peasantry, muleteers, and other gentry, who rule on the road,
hate novelties, and hold fast to the ways and jackets of their
forefathers; the best hat, therefore, is the common _sombrero calanes_,
which resemble those worn at Astley’s by banditti, being of a conical
shape, is edged with black velvet, ornamented with silken tufts, and
looks equally well on a cockney from London, or on a squire from
Devonshire. The jacket should be the universal fur _Zamarra_, which is
made of black sheepskin, in its ordinary form, and of lambskin for those
who can pay; a sash round the waist should never be forgotten, being
most useful both in reality and metaphor: it sustains the loins, and
keeps off the dangerous colics of Spain, by maintaining an equable heat
over the abdomen; hence, to be Homerically well girt is half the battle
for the Peninsular traveller.

[Sidenote: THE ALFORJAS.]

The _capa_ the cloak, or the _manta_ a striped plaid, and saddle-bags,
the _Alforjas_, are absolute essentials, and should be strapped on the
pommel of the saddle, as being there less heating to the horse than when
placed on his flanks, and being in front, they are more handy for
sudden use, since in the mountains and valleys, the rider is constantly
exposed to sudden variations of wind and weather; when Æolus and Sol
contend for his cloak, as in Æsop’s Fables, and the buckets of heaven
are emptied on him as soon as the god of fire thinks him sufficiently

These saddle-bags are most classical, Oriental, and convenient; they
indeed constitute the genus _bagsman_, and have given their name to our
riding travellers; they are the _Sarcinæ_ of Cato the Censor, the
_Bulgæ_ of Lucilius, who made an epigram thereon:--

    “Cum _bulgâ_ cœnat, dormit, lavat, omnis in unâ.
     Spes hominis _bulga_ hâc devincta est cætera vita:”

which, as these indispensables are quite as necessary to the modern
Spaniard, may be thus translated:--

    “A good roomy bag delighteth a Roman,
       He is never without this appendage a minute;
     In bed, at the bath, at his meals,--in short no man
       Should fail to stow life, hope, and self away in it.”

The countrymen of Sancho Panza, when on the road, make the same use of
their wallets as the Romans did; they still (the washing excepted) live
and die with these bags, in which their hearts are deposited with their
bread and cheese.

These Spanish _alforjas_, in name and appearance, are the Moorish _al
horeh_. (The F and H, like the B and V, X and J, are almost equivalent,
and are used indiscriminately in Spanish cacography.) They are generally
composed of cotton and worsted, and are embroidered in gaudy colours and
patterns; the _correct_ thing is to have the owner’s name worked in on
the edge, which ought to be done by the delicate hand of his beloved
mistress. Those made at Granada are very excellent; the Moorish,
especially those from Morocco, are ornamented with an infinity of small
tassels. Peasants, when dismounted, mendicant monks, when foraging for
their convents, sling their _alforjas_ over their shoulders when they
come into villages.


Among the contents which most people will find it convenient to carry in
the _right-hand bag_, as the easiest to be got at, a pair of blue gauze
wire spectacles or goggles will be found useful, as ophthalmia is very
common in Spain, and particularly in the calcined central plains. The
constant glare is unrelieved by any verdure, the air is dry, and the
clouds of dust highly irritating from being impregnated with nitre. The
best remedy is to bathe the eyes frequently with hot water, and _never
to rub them when inflamed_, except with the elbows, _los ojos con los
codos_. Spaniards never jest with their eyes or faith; of the two
perhaps they are seriously fondest of the former, not merely when
sparkling beneath the arched eyebrow of the dark sex, but when set in
their own heads. “I love thee like my eyes,” is quite a hackneyed form
of affection; nor, however wrathful and imprecatory, do they under any
circumstance express the slightest uncharitable wishes in regard to the
visual organs of their bitterest foe.

The whole art of the _alforjas_ is the putting into them what you want
the most often, and in the most handy and accessible place. Keep here,
therefore, a supply of small money for the halt and the blind, for the
piteous cases of human suffering and poverty by which the traveller’s
eye will be pained in a land where soup-dispensing monks are done away
with, and assistant new poor law commissioners not yet appointed; such
charity from God’s purse, _bolsa de Dios_, never impoverishes that of
man, and a cheerful giver, however opposed to modern political
economists, is commended in that old-fashioned book called the Bible.
The left half of the _alforjas_ may be apportioned to the writing and
dressing cases, and the smaller each are the better.

Food for the mind must not be neglected. The travelling library, like
companions, should be select and good; _libros y amigos pocos y buenos_.
The duodecimo editions are the best, as a large heavy book kills horse,
rider, and reader. Books are a matter of taste; some men like Bacon,
others prefer Pickwick; stow away at all events a pocket edition of the
Bible, Shakspere, and Don Quixote: and if the advice of dear Dr. Johnson
be worth following, one of those books that can be taken in _the hand_,
and to the fire-side. Martial, a grand authority on Spanish hand-books,
recommended “such sized companions on a long journey.” Quartos and
folios, said he, may be left at home in the book-case--

     “Scrinia da magnis, _me manus una_ capit.”

[Sidenote: THE BOTA.]

Here also keep the passport, that indescribable nuisance and curse of
continental travel, to which a free-born Briton never can get
reconciled, and is apt to neglect, whereby he puts himself in the power
of the worst and most troublesome people on earth. Passports in Spain
now in some degree supply the Inquisition, and have been embittered by
vexatious forms borrowed from bureaucratic France.

[Sidenote: THE BOTA.]

Having thus disposed of these matters on the front bow of his saddle, to
which we always added a _bota_--the pocket-pistol of Hudibras--one word
on this _Bota_, which is as necessary to the rider as a saddle to his
horse. This article, so Asiatic and Spanish, is at once the bottle and
the glass of the people of the Peninsula when on the road, and is
perfectly unlike the vitreous crockery and pewter utensils of Great
Britain. A Spanish woman would as soon think of going to church without
her fan, or a Spanish man to a fair without his knife, as a traveller
without his _bota_. Ours, the faithful, long-tried comforter of many a
dry road, and honoured now like a relic, is hung up a votive offering to
the Iberian Bacchus, as the mariners in Horace suspended their damp
garments to the deity who had delivered them from the dangers of water.
Its skin, now shrivelled with age and with fruitless longings for wine,
is still redolent of the ruby fluid, whether the generous _Valdepeñas_
or the rich _vino de Toro_: and refreshing to our nostrils is even an
occasional smell at its red-stained orifice. There the racy wine-perfume
lingers, and brings water into the mouth, it may be into the eyelid.
What a dream of Spanish odours, good, bad, and indifferent, is awakened
by its well-known _borracha!_--what recollections, breathing the aroma
of the balmy south, crowd in; of aromatic wastes, of leagues of thyme,
whence Flora sends forth advertisements to her tiny bee-customer; of
churches, all incense; of the goats and monks, long-bearded and
odoriferous; of cities whose steam of garlic, ollas, oil, and tobacco
rises up to the heavens, mingled with the thousand and one other
continental sweets which assail a man’s nose, whether he lands at Calais
or Cadiz! There hangs our smelling-bottle _bota_, now a pleasure of
memory; it has had its day, and is never again to be filled in torrid,
thirsty Spain, nor emptied, which is better.

This _Bota_, from whence the terms _Butt_ of sherry, _bouteille_, and
bottle are derived, is the most ancient Oriental leathern bottle
alluded to in Job xxxii. 19, “My belly ready to burst like new bottles;”
and in the parable, Matt. ix. 17, about the old ones, the force and
point of which is entirely lost by our word _bottle_, which being made
of glass, is not liable to become useless by age like one made of
leather. Such a “bottle of water” was the last among the few things
which Abraham gave to Hagar, when he turned out the mother of the
Arabians, whose descendants brought its usage into Spain. The shape is
like that of a large pear or shot-pouch, and it contains from two to
five quarts. The narrow neck is mounted with a turned wooden cup, from
which the contents are drunk. The way to use it is thus--grasp the neck
with the left hand and bring the rim of the cup to the mouth, then
gradually raise the bag with the other hand till the wine, in obedience
to hydrostatic laws, rises to its level, and keeps always full in the
cup without trouble to the mouth. The gravity with which this is done,
the long, slow, sustained, Sancho-like devotion of the thirsty Spaniards
when offered a drink out of another man’s _bota_, is very edifying, and
is as deep as the sigh of delight and gratitude with which, when unable
to imbibe more, the precious skin is returned. No drop of the divine
contents is wasted, except by some newly-arrived bungler, who, by
lifting up the bottom first, inundates his chin. The hole in the cup is
made tight by a wooden spigot, which again is perforated and stopped
with a small peg. Those who do not want to take a copious draught do not
pull out the spigot, but merely the little peg of it; the wine then
flows out in a thin thread. The Catalonians and Aragonese generally
drink in this way; they never touch the vessel with their lips, but hold
it up at a distance above, and pilot the stream into their mouths, or
rather under-jaws. It is much easier for those who have had no practice
to pour the wine into their necks than into their mouths, but their
drinking-bottles are made with a long narrow spout, and are called

[Sidenote: THE BOTA--WINE.]

The _Bota_ must not be confounded with the _Borracha_ or _Cuero_, the
wine-skin of Spain, which is the _entire_, and answers the purpose of
the barrel elsewhere. The _bota_ is the retail receptacle, the _cuero_
is the wholesale one. It is the genuine pig’s skin, the adoration of
which disputes in the Peninsula with the cigar, the dollar, and even the
worship of the Virgin. The shops of the makers are to be seen in most
Spanish towns; in them long lines of the unclean animal’s blown out
hides are strung up like sheep carcases in our butchers’ shambles. The
tanned and manufactured article preserves the form of the pig, feet and
all, with the exception of one: the skin is turned inside out, so that
the hairy coat lines the interior, which, moreover, is carefully pitched
like a ship’s bottom, to prevent leaking; hence the peculiar flavour,
which partakes of resin and the hide, which is called the _borracha_,
and is peculiar to most Spanish wines, sherry excepted, which being made
by foreigners, is kept in foreign casks, as we shall presently show when
we touch on “good sherris sack.” A drunken man, who is rarer in Spain
than in England, is called a _borracho_; the term is not complimentary.
These _cueros_, when filled, are suspended in _ventas_ and elsewhere,
and thus economise cellarage, cooperage, and bottling; and such were the
bigbellied monsters which Don Quixote attacked.

As the _bota_ is always near every Spaniard’s mouth who can get at one,
all classes being ever ready, like Sancho, to give “a thousand kisses,”
not only to his own legitimate _bota_, but to that of his neighbour,
which is coveted more than wife: therefore no prudent traveller will
ever journey an inch in Spain without getting one, and when he has, will
never keep it empty, especially when he falls in with good wine. Every
man’s Spanish attendant will always find out, by instinct, where the
best wine is to be had; good wine neither needs bush, herald, nor crier;
in these matters, our experience of them tallies with their proverb,
“mas vale vino _maldito_, que no agua _bendita_,” “cursed bad wine is
better than holy water;” at the same time, in their various scale of
comparisons, there is good wine, better wine, and best wine, but no such
thing as bad wine; of good wine, the Spaniards are almost as good judges
as of good water; they rarely mix them, because they say that it is
spoiling two good things. Vino _Moro_, or Moorish wine, is by no means
indicative of uncleanness, or other heretical imperfections implied
generally by that epithet; it simply means, that it is pure from never
having been baptized with water, for which the Asturians, who keep small
chandlers’ shops, are so infamous, that they are said, from inveterate
habit, to adulterate even water; _aguan el agua_.

[Sidenote: MONEY.]

It is a great mistake to suppose, because Spaniards are seldom seen
drunk, and because when on a journey they drink as much water as their
beasts, that they have any Oriental dislike to wine; the rule is “_Agua
como buey, y vino como Rey_,” “to drink water like an ox, and wine like
a king.” The extent of the _given_ quantity of wine which they will
always swallow, rather suggests that their habitual temperance may in
some degree be connected more with their poverty than with their will.
The way to many an honest breast lies through the belly in this
classical land, where the tutelar of butlers still keeps the key of
their cellars and hearts--aperit præcordia Bacchus: nor is their
Oriental blessing unconnected with some “savoury food” previously
administered. And independently of the very obvious reasons which good
wine does and ought to afford for its own consumption, the irritating
nature of Spanish cookery provides a never-failing inducement. The
constant use of the savoury class of condiments and of pepper is very
heating, “_la pimienta escalienta_.” A salt-fish, ham and sausage diet
creates thirst; a good rasher of bacon calls loudly for a corresponding
long and strong pull at the “_bota_,” “_a torresno de tocino, buen golpe
de vino_.”

This digression on _botas_ will be pardoned by all who, having ridden in
Spain, know the absolute necessity of them. The traveller will of course
remember the advice given by the rogue of _Ventero_ to Don Quixote to
take shirts and money with him. “Put money in thy purse” said also
honest Iago, for an empty one is a beggarly companion in the Peninsula
as elsewhere. There is no getting to Rome or to Santiago if the
pilgrim’s scrip be scanty, or his mule lame: _Camino de Roma, ni mula
coja ni Bolsa floja_.

[Sidenote: MONEY.]

Practically it may be said, that there is no paper money in Spain. Notes
may be taken in some of the larger cities, but in the provinces the
value of a man in office’s promise to pay on paper, is not considered by
the shrewd natives to be actually equal to cash; while they will readily
give these notes to foreigners, they prefer for their own use the
old-fashioned representatives of wealth, gold and silver, towards the
smallest fraction of which they have the largest possible veneration.
Accounts are usually kept in _reales de vellon_ of royal bullion; and
these are subdivided into _maravedis_, the ancient coin of the
Peninsula: there are minor fractions even of farthings, consisting in
material of infinitesimal bits of any metals, melted church bells, old
cannon, &c., with names and values unknown in our happy land, where not
much is to be got for a mite; in Spain, where cheapness of earth-produce
is commensurate with poverty, anything, even to an old button, goes for
a _maravedí_, and we have found that in changing a dollar by way of
experiment into small coppers in the market at Seville, among the
multitudinous specimens of Spanish mints of all periods, Moorish and
even Roman coins were to be met with, and still current.

The dollar, or _Duro_, of Spain is well known all over the world, being
the form under which silver has been generally exported from the Spanish
colonies of South America. It is the Italian “Colonato,” so called
because the arms of Spain are supported between the two pillars of
Hercules. The coinage is slovenly: it is the weight of the metal, not
the form, which is looked to by the Spaniard, who, like the Turk, is not
so clever a workman or mechanist as devout worshipper of bullion.
Ferdinand VII. continued for a long while to strike money with his
father’s head, having only had the lettering altered: thus early Trajans
exhibit the head of Nero. When the Cortes entered Madrid after the
Duke’s victory at Salamanca, they patriotically prohibited the currency
of all coins bearing the head of the intrusive Joseph; yet his dollars
being chiefly made out of stolen church plate, gilt and ungilt, were,
although those of an usurper, intrinsically worth more than the
_legitimate_ duro: this was a too severe test for the loyalty of those
whose real king and god is cash. Such a decree was worthy of senators
who were busier employed in expelling French tropes from their
dictionary than French troops from their country. The wiser Chinese take
Ferdinand’s and Joseph’s dollars alike, calling them both “devil’s head”
money. These bad prejudices against good coin have now given way to the
march of intellect; nay, the five-franc piece with Louis-Philippe’s
clever head on it bids fair to oust the pillared _Duro_. The silver of
the mines of Murcia is exported to France, where it is coined, and sent
back in the manufactured shape. France thus gains a handsome per
centage, and habituates the people to her image of power, which comes
recommended to them in the most acceptable likeness of current coin.

[Sidenote: GOLD COINAGE.]

In Spain cash, ambrosial cash, rules the court, the camp, the grove;
hence the extraordinary credit of three millions recently required for
the secret service expenses of the Tuileries, and official enthusiasm
and unanimity secured thereby in the Montpensier purchase. The whole
decalogue is condensed at Madrid into one commandment, Love God as
represented on earth not by his vicar the Pope, but by his
lord-lieutenant, Don Ducat.

    _"El primero es amar Don Dinero,_
     _Dios es omnipotente, Don Dinero es su lugarteniente."_

Thus grandees and men in Spanish offices, both governmental and printing
ones, have preferred the other day five-franc pieces to the ribbons of
the Legion of _honor_; nor, considering the swindlers on whom this badge
of Austerlitz has been prostituted, were these worthy Castilians much
out in their calculations, if there be any truth in the catechism of


The _gold coinage_ is magnificent, and worthy of the country and period
from which Europe was supplied with the precious metals. The largest
piece, the ounce, “_onza_,” is worth sixteen dollars, or about 3_l._
6_s._; and while it puts to shame the diminutive Napoleons of France and
sovereigns of England, tells the tale of Spain’s former wealth, and
contrasts strangely with her present poverty and scarcity of specie:
these large coins have however been so _sweated_, not by the sun, but by
Jews, foreign and domestic, so clipped worse than Spanish mules or
French poodles, that they seldom retain their proper weight and value.
They are accordingly looked upon every where with suspicion; a
shopkeeper, in a big town, brings out his scales like Shylock, while in
a village shrugs, _ajos_, and negative expressions are your change; nor,
even if the natives are satisfied that they are not light, can sixteen
dollars be often met with, nor do those who have so much ready money by
them ever wish that the fact should be generally known. Spaniards, like
the Orientals, have a dread of being supposed to have money in their
possession; it exposes them to be plundered by robbers of all kinds,
professional or legal; by the “_alcalde_,” or village authority, and the
“_escribano_,” the attorney, to say nothing of Señor Mon’s tax-gatherer;
for the quota of contributions, many of which are apportioned among the
inhabitants themselves of each district, falls heaviest on those who
have, or are supposed to have, the most ready money.

The lower classes of Spaniards, like the Orientals, are generally
avaricious. They see that wealth is safety and power, where everything
is venal; the feeling of insecurity makes them eager to invest what they
have in a small and easily concealed bulk, “_en lo que no habla_,” “in
that which does not tell tales.” Consequently, and in self-defence, they
are much addicted to hoarding. The idea of finding hidden treasures,
which prevails in Spain as in the East, is based on some grounds; for in
every country which has been much exposed to foreign invasions, civil
wars, and domestic misrule, where there were no safe modes of
investment, in moments of danger property was converted into gold or
jewels and concealed with singular ingenuity. The mistrust which
Spaniards entertain of each other often extends, when cash is in the
case, even to the nearest relations, to wife and children. Many a
treasure is thus lost from the accidental death of the hider, who, dying
without a sign, carries his secret to the grave, adding thereby to the
sincere grief of his widow and heir. One of the old vulgar superstitions
in Spain is an idea that those who were born on a Good Friday, the day
of mourning, were gifted with a power of seeing into the earth and of
discovering hidden treasures. One place of concealment has always been
under the bodies in graves; the hiders have trusted to the dead to
defend what the quick could not: this accounts for the universal
desecration of tombs and churchyards during Bonaparte’s invasion. The
Gauls growled like gowls amid the churchyards; they despoiled the
mouldering corpses of the last pledge left by weeping affection; or, as
Burke observed of their domestic doings, they unplumbed the dead to make
missiles of destruction against the living. These hordes, in their
hurried flight before the advancing Duke, also hid much of their
ill-gotten gains, which to this day are hunted after. Who has forgotten
Borrow’s graphic picture of the treasure-seeking Mol? At this very
moment the authorities of San Sebastian are narrowly superintending the
diggings of an old Frenchwoman, to whom some dying thief at home has
revealed the secret of a buried kettle full of gold ounces.


Having provided the “_Spanish_,” those metallic sinews of war, which
also make the mare go in peace, a prudent master, if he intends to be
really the master, will hold the purse himself, and, moreover, will keep
a sharp eye on it, for the jingle of coin dispels even a Spanish siesta,
and causes many a sleepless day to every listener, from the beggar to
the queen mother.



     Spanish Servants: their Character--Travelling Groom, Cook, and


Don Quixote’s first thought, after having determined to ride forth into
Spain, was to get a horse; his second was to secure a squire; and as the
narrative of his journey is still an excellent guide-book for modern
travellers, his example is not to be slighted. A good Sancho Panza will
on the whole be found to be a more constant comfort to a knight-errant
than even a Dulcinea. To secure a really good servant is of the utmost
consequence to all who make out-of-the-way excursions in the Peninsula;
for, as in the East, he becomes often not only cook, but interpreter and
companion to his master. It is therefore of great importance to get a
person with whom a man can ramble over these wild scenes. The so doing
ends, on the part of the attendant, in an almost canine friendship; and
the Spaniard, when the tour is done, is broken-hearted, and ready to
leave his home, horse, ass, and wife, to follow his master, like a dog,
to the world’s-end. Nine times out of ten it is the master’s fault if he
has bad servants: _tel maître tel valet_. _Al amo imprudente, el mozo
negligente._ He must begin at once, and exact the performance of their
duty; the only way to get them to do anything is, as the Duke said, to
“frighten them,” to “take a decided line.” It is very difficult to make
them see the importance of detail and of doing exactly what they are
told, which they will always endeavour to shirk when they can; their
task must be clearly pointed out to them at starting, and the earliest
and smallest infractions, either in commission or omission, at once and
seriously noticed, the moral victory is soon gained. The example of the
masters, if they be active and orderly, is the best lesson to servants;
_mucho sabe el rato, pero mas el gato_; the rats are well enough, but
the cats are better. Achilles, Patroclus, and the Homeric heroes, were
their own cooks; and many a man who, like Lord Blayney, may not be a
hero, will be none the worse for following the epical example, in a
Spanish venta: at all events a good servant, who is up to his work, and
will work, is indeed a jewel; and on these, as on other occasions, he
deserves to be well treated. Those who make themselves honey are eaten
by flies--_quien se hace miel, le comen las moscas_; while no rat ever
ventures to jest with the cat’s son; _con hijo de gato, no se burlan los
ratones_. The great thing is to make them get up early, and learn the
value of time, which the groom cannot tie with his halter, _tiempo y
hora, no se ata con soga_: while a cook who oversleeps himself not only
misses his mass, but his meat, _quien se levanta tarde, ni oye misa, ni
compra carne_. If (which is soon found out) the servants seem not likely
to answer, the sooner they are changed the better; it is loss of time
and soap, and he who is good for nothing in his own village will not be
worth more either in Seville or elsewhere, so says the proverb.


The principal defects of Spanish servants and of the lower classes of
Spaniards are much the same, and faults of race. As a mass, they are apt
to indulge in habits of procrastination, waste, improvidence, and
untidiness. They are unmechanical and obstinate, easily beaten by
difficulties, which their first feeling is to raise, and their next to
succumb to; they give the thing up at once. They have no idea indeed of
grappling with anything that requires much trouble, or of doing anything
as it ought to be done, or even of doing the same thing in the same
way--accident and the impulse of the moment set them going. They are
very unmechanical, obstinate, and prejudiced; ignorant of their own
ignorance and incurious as Orientals; partly from pride, self-opinion,
and idleness, they seldom will ask questions for information from
others, which implies an inferiority of knowledge, and still more seldom
will take an answer, unless it be such a one as they desire; their own
wishes, opinions, and wants are their guides, and self the centre of
their gravity, not those of their employers. As a Spaniard’s _yes_, when
you beg a favour, generally means _no_, so they cannot or will not
understand that your _no_ is really a negative when they come
petitioning to be idle; at the same time a great change for the better
comes over them when they are taken out of the city on a rambling tour.
The nomad life excites them into active serviceable fellows; in fact the
uncertain harum-scarum nomad existence is exactly what suits these
descendants of the Arab; they cannot bear the steady sustained routine
of a well-managed household; they abhor confinement; hence the
difficulty of getting Spaniards to garrison fortresses or to man ships
of war, from whence there is no escape.

As for what we call a well-appointed servants’ hall, the case is
hopeless in Spanish field or city, and is equally so whether the life be
above or below stairs. In the house of the middle or highest classes
this is particularly shown in everything that regards gastronomics,
which are the tests and touchstones of good service. In truth, the
Spaniard, accustomed to his own desultory, free and easy, impromptu,
scrambling style of dining, is constrained by the order and discipline,
the pomp and ceremony, and serious importance of a well-regulated
dinner, and their observance of forms extends only to persons, not to
things: even the grandee has only a thin European polish spread over his
Gotho-Bedouin dining table; he lives and eats surrounded by an humble
clique, in his huge ill-furnished barrack-house, without any elegance,
luxury, or even comfort, according to sound trans-pyrenean notions: few
indeed are the kitchens which possess a _cordon bleu_, and fewer are the
masters who really like an orthodox _entrée_, one unpolluted with the
heresies of garlic and red pepper: again, whenever their cookery
attempts to be foreign, as in their other imitations, it ends in being a
flavourless copy; but few things are ever done in Spain in _real style_,
which implies forethought and expense; everything is a make-shift; the
noble master _reposes_ his affairs on an unjust steward, and dozes away
life on this bed of roses, somnolescent over business and awake only to
intrigue; his numerous ill-conditioned, ill-appointed servants have no
idea of discipline or subordination; you never can calculate on their
laying even the table-cloth, as they prefer idling in the church or
market to doing their duty, and would rather starve, dance, and sleep
out of place and independently, than feast and earn their wages by fair
work; nor has the employer any redress, for if he dismisses them he will
only get just such another set, or even worse.


In our own Spanish household, the instant dinner and siesta were over,
the cook with his kitchen-man, the valet with the footman invariably
stripped off their working apparel--liveries are almost unheard
of--donned their comical velvet embroidered hats, their sky-blue
waistcoats, and scarlet sashes, and were off with a guitar to some scene
of song and love-making, leaving their master alone in his glory to
moralize on the uncertainty of human concerns and the faithlessness of



What can’t be cured must be endured. To resume, therefore, the character
of these Spanish servants; they are very loquacious, and highly
credulous, as often is the case with those given to romancing, which
they, and especially the Andalucians, are to a large degree; and, in
fact, it is the only remaining romance in Spain, as far as the natives
are concerned. As they have an especial good opinion of themselves, they
are touchy, sensitive, jealous, and thin-skinned, and easily affronted
whenever their imperfections are pointed out; their disposition is very
sanguine and inflammable; they are always hoping that what they eagerly
desire will come to pass without any great exertion on their parts; they
love to stand still with their arms folded, while other men put their
shoulders to the wheel. Their lively imagination is very apt to carry
them away into extremes for good or evil, when they act on the moment
like children, and having gratified the humour of the impulse relapse
into their ordinary tranquillity, which is that of a slumbering volcano.
On the other hand, they are full of excellent and redeeming good
qualities; they are free from caprice, are hardy, patient, cheerful,
good-humoured, sharp-witted, and intelligent: they are honest, faithful,
and trustworthy; sober, and unaddicted to mean, vulgar vices; they have
a bold, manly bearing, and will follow well wherever they are well led,
being the raw material of as good soldiers as are in the world; they are
loyal and religious at heart, and full of natural tact, mother-wit, and
innate good manners. In general, a firm, quiet, courteous, and somewhat
reserved manner is the most effective. Whenever duties are to be
performed, let them see that you are not to be trifled with. The
coolness of a determined Englishman’s manner, when in earnest, is what
few foreigners can withstand. Grimace and gesticulation, sound and fury,
bluster, petulance, and impertinence fume and fret in vain against it,
as the sprays and foam of the “French lake” do against the unmoved and
immoveable rock of Gibraltar. An Englishman, without being
over-familiar, may venture on a far greater degree of unbending in his
intercourse with his Spanish dependants than he can dare to do with
those he has in England. It is the custom of the country; they are used
to it, and their heads are not turned by it, nor do they ever forget
their relative positions. The Spaniards treat their servants very much
like the ancient Romans or the modern Moors; they are more their
_vernæ_, their domestic slaves: it is the absolute authority of the
father combined with the kindness. Servants do not often change their
masters in Spain: their relation and duties are so clearly defined, that
the latter runs no risk of compromising himself or his dignity by his
familiarity, which can be laid down or taken up at his own pleasure;
whereas the scorn, contempt, and distance with which the said courteous
Don would treat a roturier who presumed to be intimate, baffle
description. In England no man dares to be intimate with his footman;
for supposing even such absurd fancy entered his brain, his footman is
his equal in the eye of man-made law, God having created them utterly
unequal in all his gifts, whether of rank, wealth, form, or intellect.
Conventional barriers accordingly must be erected in self-defence: and
social barriers are more difficult to be passed than walls of brass,
more impossible to be repealed than the whole statutes at large. No
master in Spain, and still less a foreigner, should ever descend to
personal abuse, sneers, or violence. A blow is never to be washed out
except in blood, and Spanish revenge descends to the third and fourth
generation; and whatever these backward Spaniards have to learn from
foreigners, it is not the duty of revenge, nor how to perform it. There
should be no threatenings in vain, but whenever the opportunity occurs
for punishment, let it be done quietly and effectively, and the fault
once punished should not be needlessly ripped up again; Spaniards are
sufficiently unforgiving, and hoarders-up of unrevenged grievances
require to be reminded. A kind and uniform behaviour, a showing
consideration to them, in a manner which implies that you are accustomed
to it, and expect it to be shown to you, keeps most things in their
right places. Temper and patience are the great requisites in the
master, especially when he speaks the language imperfectly. He must not
think Spaniards stupid because they cannot guess the meaning of his
unknown tongue. Nothing again is gained by fidgeting and overdoing, and
however early you may get up, daybreak will not take place the sooner:
no por _mucho madrugar_, _amanece mas temprano_. Let well alone: be not
zealous overmuch: be occasionally both blind and deaf: shut the door,
and the devil passes by: keep honey in mouth and an eye to your cash:
_miel en boca y guarda la bolsa_. Still how much less expenditure is
necessary in Spain than in performing the commonest excursion in
England!--and yet many who submit to their own countrymen’s extortions
are furious at what they imagine is an especial cheating of them,
_quasi_ Englishmen, abroad: this outrageous economy, with which some are
afflicted, is penny wise and pound foolish: pay, pay therefore with both
hands. The traveller must remember that he gains caste, gets brevet rank
in Spain--that he is taken for a grandee incog., and ranks with their
nobility; he must pay for these luxuries: how small after all will be
the additional per centage on his general expenditure, and how well
bestowed is the excess, in keeping the temper good, and the capability
of enjoying unruffled a tour, which only is performed once in a life! No
wise man who goes into Spain for amusement will plunge into this
guerrilla, this constant petty warfare, about sixpences. Let the
traveller be true to himself; hold his tongue; avoid bad company, _quien
hace su cama con perros, se levanta con pulgas_, those who sleep with
dogs get up with fleas; and make room for bulls and fools, _al loco y
toro da le corro_, and he may see Spain agreeably, and, as Catullus said
to Veranius, who made the tour many centuries ago, may on his return
amuse his friends and “old mother:”--

    “Visam te incolumem, audiamque Iberum
     Narrantem loca, facta, nationes,
     Sicut tuus est mos.”

which may be thus Englished:--

    May you come back safe, and tell
    Of Spanish men, their things and places,
    Of Spanish ladies’ eyes and faces,
    In your own way, and so well.


Two masters should take two servants, and both should be Spaniards: all
others, unless they speak the language perfectly, are nuisances. A
Gallegan or Asturian makes the best groom, an _Andaluz_ the best cook
and personal attendant. Sometimes a person may be picked up who has some
knowledge of languages, and who is accustomed to accompany strangers
through Spain as a sort of courier. These accomplishments are very rare,
and the moral qualities of the possessor often diminish in proportion as
his intellect has marched; he has learnt more foreign tricks than words,
and sea-port towns are not the best schools for honesty. Of these
nondescripts the Hispano-Anglo, who generally has deserted from
Gibraltar, is the best, because he will work, hold his tongue, and
fight; a monkey would be a less inconvenience than a chattering
Ibero-Gallo; one who has forgotten his national accomplishments--cooking
and hairdressing, and learnt very few Spanish things, such as good
temper and endurance. Whichever of the two is the sharpest should lead
the way, and leave the other to bring up the rear. They should be
mounted on good mules, and be provided with large panniers. One should
act as the cook and valet, the other as the groom of the party; and the
utensils peculiar to each department should be carried by each
professor. Where only one servant is employed, one side of the pannier
should be dedicated to the commissariat, and the other to the luggage;
in that case the master should have a flying portmanteau, which should
be sent by means of _cosarios_, and precede him from great town to great
town, as a magazine, wardrobe, or general supply to fall back on. The
servants should each have their own saddle-bag and leathern bottle,
which, since the days of Sancho Panza, are part and parcel of a faithful
squire, and when all are carried on an ass are quite patriarchal. “_Iba
Sancho Panza sobre su jumento, como un patriarca con sus alforjas y


The servants will each in their line look after their own affairs; the
groom will take with him the things of the stable, and a small provision
of corn, in order that a feed may never be wanting, on an unexpected
emergency; he will always ascertain beforehand through what sort of a
country each day’s journey is to be made, and make preparations
accordingly. The valet will view his masters in the same light as the
groom does his beasts; and he will purvey and keep in readiness all that
appertains to their comfort, always remembering a moskito net--we shall
presently say a word on the fly-plague of the Peninsula--with nails to
knock into the walls to hang it up by, not forgetting a hammer and
gimlet; common articles enough, but which are never to be got at the
moment and place where they are the most wanted. He will also carry a
small canteen, the smaller and more ordinary the better, as anything out
of the common way attracts attention, and suggests, first, the coveting
other men’s goods, and so on to assaults, batteries, robberies, and
other inconveniences, which have been exploded on our roads; although F.
Moryson took care to caution our ancestors “to be warie on this head,
since theeves have their spies commonly in all innes, to enquire into
the condition of travellers.” The manufactures of Spain are so rude and
valueless that what appears to us to be the most ordinary appears to
them to be the most excellent, as they have never seen anything so good.
The lower orders, who eat with their fingers, think everything is gold
which glitters, _todo es oro lo que reluce_; as, after all, it is what
is _on_ the plate that is the rub, let no wise man have such smart forks
and knives as to tempt cut-throats to turn them to unnatural purposes.
However, avoid all superfluous luggage, especially prejudices and
foregone conclusions, for “_en largo camino paja pesa_,” a straw is
heavy on a long journey, and the last feather breaks the horse’s back. A
store of cigars, however, must always be excepted; take plenty and give
them freely; it always opens a conversation well with a Spaniard, to
offer him one of these little delicate marks of attention. Good snuff is
acceptable to the curates and to monks (though there are none just now).
English needles, thread, and pairs of scissars take no room, and are all
keys to the good graces of the fair sex. There is a charm about a
present, _bachshish_, in most European as well as Oriental countries,
and still more if it is given with tact, and at the proper time;
Spaniards, if unable to make any equivalent return, will always try to
repay by civilities and attentions.


Every one must determine for himself whether he prefers the assistance
of this servant in the kitchen or at the toilet; since it is not easy
for mortal man to dress a master _and_ a dinner, and both well at the
same time, let alone two masters. A cook who runs after two hares at
once catches neither. No prudent traveller on these, or on any
occasions, should let another do for him what he can do for himself,
and a man who waits upon himself is sure to be well waited on. If,
however, a valet be absolutely necessary, the groom clearly is best left
in his own chamber, the stable; he will have enough to do to curry and
valet his four animals, which he knows to be good for their health,
though he never scrapes off the cutaneous stucco by which his own illote
carcass is Roman cemented. From long experience we have found that if
the rider will get into the habit of carrying all the things requisite
for his own dressing in a small separate bag, and employ the hour while
the cook is getting the supper under weigh, it is wonderful how
comfortably he will proceed to his puchero.

[Sidenote: SPANISH BREAD.]

The cook should take with him a stewing-pan, and a pot or kettle for
boiling water; he need not lumber himself with much batterie de cuisine;
it is not much needed in the imperfect gastronomy of the Peninsula,
where men eat like the beasts which perish; all sort of artillery is
rather rare in Spanish kitchen or fortress; an hidalgo would as soon
think of having a voltaic battery in his sitting-room as a copper one in
his cuisine; most classes are equally satisfied with the Oriental
earthenware _ollas_, _pucheros_, or pipkins, which are everywhere to be
found, and have some peculiar sympathy with the Spanish cuisine, since a
stew--be it even of a cat--never eats so well when made in a metal
vessel; the great thing is to bring the raw materials,--first catch your
hare. Those who have meat and money will always get a neighbour to lend
them a pot. A _venta_ is a place where the rich are sent empty away, and
where the poor hungry are not filled; the whole duty of the man-cook,
therefore, is to be always thinking of his commissariat; he need not
trouble himself about his master’s appetite, that will seldom
fail,--nay, often be a misfortune; a good appetite is not a good _per
se_,[6] for it, even when the best, becomes a bore when there is nothing
to eat; his _capucho_ or mule hamper must be his travelling larder,
cellar, and store-room; he will victual himself according to the route,
and the distances from one great town to another, and always take care
to start with a good provision: indeed to attend to the commissariat
is, it cannot be too often repeated, the whole duty of a man cook in
hungry Spain, where food has ever been _the_ difficulty; a little
foresight gives small trouble and ensures great comfort, while perils by
sea and perils by land are doubled when the stomach is empty, whereas,
as Sancho Panza wisely told his ass, all sorrows are alleviated by
eating bread: _todos los duelos, con pan son buenos_, and the shrewd
squire, who seldom is wrong, was right both in the matter of bread and
the moral: the former is admirable. The central table-lands of Spain are
perhaps the finest wheat-growing districts in the world; however rude
and imperfect the cultivation--for the peasant does but scratch the
earth, and seldom manures--the life-conferring sun comes to his
assistance; the returns are prodigious, and the quality superexcellent;
yet the growers, miserable in the midst of plenty, vegetate in cabins
composed of baked mud, or in holes burrowed among the friable hillocks,
in an utter ignorance of furniture, and absolute necessaries. The want
of roads, canals, and means of transport prevents their exportation of
produce, which from its bulk is difficult of carriage in a country where
grain is removed for the most part on four-footed beasts of burden,
after the oriental and patriarchal fashion of Jacob, when he sent to the
granaries of Egypt. Accordingly, although there are neither sliding
scales nor corn laws, and subsistence is cheap and abundant, the
population decreases in number and increases in wretchedness; what boots
it if corn be low-priced, if wages be still lower, as they then
everywhere are and must be?

The finest bread in Spain is called _pan de candeal_, which is eaten by
men in office and others in easy circumstances, as it was by the clergy.
The worst bread is the _pan de municion_, and forms the fare of the
Spanish soldier, which, being sable as a hat, coarse and hard as a
brickbat, would just do to sop in the black broth of the Spartan
military; indeed, the expression _de municion_ is synonymous in the
Peninsula with badness of quality, and the secondary meaning is taken
from the perfection of badness which is perceptible in every thing
connected with Spanish ammunition, from the knapsack to the citadel.
Such bread and water, and both hardly earned, are the rations of the
poor patient Spanish private; nor can he when before the enemy reckon
always on even that, unless it be supplied from an ally’s commissariat.


[Sidenote: BREAD.]

Perhaps the best bread in Spain is made at Alcalá de Guadaira, near
Seville, of which it is the oven, and hence the town is called the
Alcalá of bakers. There bread may truly be said to be the soul of its
existence, and samples abound everywhere: _roscas_, or circular-formed
_rusks_, are hung up like garlands, and _hogazas_, loaves, placed on
tables outside the houses. It is, indeed, as Spaniards say, _Pan de
Dios_--the “angels’ bread of Esdras.” All classes here gain their bread
by making it, and the water-mills and mule-mills are never still; women
and children are busy picking out earthy particles from the grain, which
get mixed from the common mode of threshing on a floor in the open air,
which is at once Biblical and Homeric. At the outside of the villages,
in corn-growing districts, a smooth open “threshing-floor” is prepared,
with a hard surface, like a fives court: it is called the _era_, and is
the precise Roman _area_. The sheaves of corn are spread out on it, and
four horses yoked most classically to a low crate or harrow, composed of
planks armed with flints, &c., which is called a _trillo_: on this the
driver is seated, who urges the beasts round and round over the crushed
heap. Thus the grain is shaken out of the ears and the straw triturated;
the latter becomes food for horses, as the former does for men. When the
heap is sufficiently bruised, it is removed and winnowed by being thrown
up into the air; the light winds carry off the chaff, while the heavy
corn falls to the ground. The whole operation is truly picturesque and
singular. The scene is a crowded one, as many cultivators contribute to
the mass and share in the labour; their wives and children cluster
around, clad in strange dresses of varied colours. They are sometimes
sheltered from the god of fire under boughs, reeds, and awnings, run up
as if for the painter, and falling of themselves into pictures, as the
lower classes of Spaniards and Italians always do. They are either
eating and drinking, singing or dancing, for a guitar is never wanting.
Meanwhile the fierce horses dash over the prostrate sheaves, and realise
the splendid simile of Homer, who likens to them the fiery steeds of
Achilles when driven over Trojan bodies. These out-of-door threshings
take place of course when the weather is dry, and generally under a most
terrific heat. The work is often continued at nightfall by torch-light.
During the day the half-clad dusky reapers defy the sun and his rage,
rejoicing rather in the heat like salamanders; it is true that their
devotions to the porous water-jar are unremitting, nor is a swill at a
good passenger’s _bota_ ever rejected; all is life and action; busy
hands and feet, flashing eyes, and eager screams; the light yellow
chaff, which in the sun’s rays glitters like gold dust, envelopes them
in a halo, which by night, when partially revealed by the fires and
mingled with the torch glare, is almost supernatural, as the phantom
figures, now dark in shadows, now crimsoned by the fire flash, flit to
and fro in the vaporous mist. The scene never fails to rivet and enchant
the stranger, who, coming from the pale north and the commonplace
in-door flail, seizes at once all the novelty of such doings. Eye and
ear, open and awake, become inlets of new sensations of attention and
admiration, and convey to heart and mind the poetry, local colour,
movement, grouping, action, and attitude. But while the cold-blooded
native of leaden skies is full of fire and enthusiasm, his Spanish
companion, bred and born under unshorn beams, is chilly as an icicle,
indifferent as an Arab: he passes on the other side, not only not
admiring, but positively ashamed; he only sees the barbarity, antiquity,
and imperfect process; he is sighing for some patent machine made in
Birmingham, to be put up in a closed barn after the models approved of
by the Royal Agricultural Society in Cavendish Square; his bowels yearn
for the appliances of civilization by which “bread stuffs” are more
scientifically manipulated and manufactured, minus the poetry.

To return, however, to dry bread, after this new digression, and all
those who have ever been in Spain, or have ever written on Spanish
things, must feel how difficult it is to keep regularly on the road
without turning aside at every moment, now to cull a wild flower, now to
pick up a sparkling spar. This corn, so beaten, is very carefully
ground, and in La Mancha in those charming windmills, which, perched on
eminences to catch the air, look to this day, with their outstretched
arms, like Quixotic giants; the flour is passed through several hoppers,
in order to secure its fineness. The dough is most carefully kneaded,
worked, and re-worked, as is done by our biscuit-makers; hence the
close-grained, caky, somewhat heavy consistency of the crumb, whereas,
according to Pliny, the Romans esteemed Spanish bread on account of its

[Sidenote: LUNCHEON.]

The Spanish loaf has not that mysterious sympathy with butter and cheese
as it has in our verdurous Old England, probably because in these torrid
regions pasture is rare, butter bad, and cheese worse, albeit they
suited the iron digestion of Sancho, who knew of nothing better: none,
however, who have ever tasted Stilton or Parmesan will join in his
eulogies of Castilian _queso_, the poorness of which will be estimated
by the distinguished consideration in which a round cannon-ball Dutch
cheese is held throughout the Peninsula. The traveller, nevertheless,
should take one of them, for bad is here the best, in many other things
besides these: he will always carry some good loaves with it, for in the
damper mountain districts the daily bread of the natives is made of rye,
Indian corn, and the inferior cerealia. Bread is the staff of the
Spanish traveller’s life, who, having added raw garlic, not salt, to it,
then journeys on with security, _con pan y ajo crudo se anda seguro_.
Again, a loaf never weighs one down, nor is ever in the way; as Æsop,
the prototype of Sancho, well knew. _La hogaza no embaraza._

[Sidenote: THE OLLA.]

Having secured his bread, the cook in preparing supper should make
enough for the next day’s lunch, _las once_, the eleven o’clock meal, as
the Spaniards translate _meridie_, twelve or mid-day, whence the correct
word for luncheon is derived, _merienda merendar_. Wherever good dishes
are cut up there are good leavings, “_donde buenas ollas quebran, buenos
cascos quedan_;” and nothing can be more Cervantic than the occasional
al fresco halt, when no better place of accommodation is to be met with.
As the sun gets high, and man and beast hungry and weary, wherever a
tempting shady spot with running water occurs, the party draws aside
from the high road, like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza; a retired and
concealed place is chosen, the luggage is removed from the animals, the
hampers which lard the lean soil are unpacked, the table-cloth is spread
on the grass, the _botas_ are laid in the water to cool their contents;
then out with the provision, cold partridge or turkey, sliced ham or
_chorizo_--simple cates, but which are eaten with an appetite and relish
for which aldermen would pay hundreds. They are followed, should grapes
be wanting, with a soothing cigar, and a sweet slumber on earth’s
freshest, softest lap. In such wild banquets Spain surpasses the
Boulevards. Alas! that such hours should be bright and winged as
sunbeams! Such is Peninsular country fare. The _olla_, on which the
rider may restore exhausted nature, is only to be studied in larger
towns; and dining, of which this is the foundation in Spain, is such a
great resource to travellers, and Spanish cookery, again, is so
Oriental, classical, and singular, let alone its vital importance, that
the subject will properly demand a chapter to itself.

[Sidenote: A SPANISH COOK.]


     A Spanish Cook--Philosophy of Spanish Cuisine--Sauce--Difficulty of
     Commissariat--The Provend--Spanish Hares and Rabbits--The
     Olla--Garbanzo--Spanish Pigs--Bacon and Hams--Omelette--Salad and

It would exhaust a couple of Colonial numbers at least to discuss
properly the merits and digest Spanish cookery. All that can be now done
is to skim the subject, which is indeed fat and unctuous. Those meats
and drinks will be briefly noticed which are daily occurrence, and those
dishes described which we have often helped to make, and oftener helped
to eat, in the most larderless _ventas_ and hungriest districts of the
Peninsula, and which provident wayfarers may make and eat again, and, as
we pray, with no worse appetite.


To be a good cook, which few Spaniards are, a man must not only
understand his master’s taste, but be able to make something out of
nothing; just as a clever French _artiste_ converts an old shoe into an
épigramme d’agneau, or a Parisian milliner dresses up two deal boards
into a fine live _Madame_, whose only fault is the appearance of too
much embonpoint. Genuine and legitimate Spanish dishes are excellent in
their way, for no man nor man-cook ever is ridiculous when he does not
attempt to be what he is not. The _au naturel_ may occasionally be
somewhat plain, but seldom makes one sick; at all events it would be as
hopeless to make a Spaniard understand real French cookery as to
endeavour to explain to a député the meaning of our constitution or
parliament. The ruin of Spanish cooks is their futile attempts to
imitate foreign ones: just as their silly grandees murder the glorious
Castilian tongue, by substituting what they fancy is pure Parisian,
which they speak _comme des vaches Espagnoles_. _Dis moi ce que tu
manges et je te dirai ce que tu es_ is “un mot profond” of the great
equity judge, Brillat Savarin, who also discovered that “_Les destinées
des nations dépendent de la manière dont elles se nourrissent_;” since
which General Foy has attributed all the _accidental_ victories of the
British to rum and beef. And this great fact much enhances our serious
respect for punch, and our true love for the _ros-bif_ of old England,
of which, by the way, very little will be got in the Peninsula, where
bulls are bred for baiting, and oxen for the plough, not the spit.


The national cookery of Spain is for the most part Oriental; and the
ruling principle of its preparation is _stewing_; for, from a scarcity
of fuel, roasting is almost unknown; their notion of which is putting
meat into a pan, setting it in hot ashes, and then covering the lid with
burning embers. The pot, or _olla_, has accordingly become a synonyme
for the dinner of Spaniards, just as beefsteaks or frogs are vulgarly
supposed to constitute the whole bill of fare of two other mighty
nations. Wherever meats are bad and thin, the sauce is very important;
it is based in Spain on oil, garlic, saffron, and red peppers. In hot
countries, where beasts are lean, oil supplies the place of fat, as
garlic does the want of flavour, while a stimulating condiment excites
or curries up the coats of a languid stomach. It has been said of our
heretical countrymen that we have but one form of sauce--melted
butter--and a hundred different forms of religion, whereas in orthodox
Spain there is but one of each, and, as with religion, so to change this
sauce would be little short of heresy. As to colour, it carries that
rich burnt umber, raw sienna tint, which Murillo imitated so well; and
no wonder, since he made his particular brown from baked olla bones,
whence it was extracted, as is done to this day by those Spanish
painters who indulge in meat. This brown _negro de hueso_ colour is the
livery of tawny Spain, where all is brown from the _Sierra Morena_ to
duskier man. Of such hue is his cloak, his terra-cotta house, his wife,
his ox, his ass, and everything that is his. This sauce has not only the
same colour, but the same flavour everywhere; hence the difficulty of
making out the material of which any dish is composed. Not Mrs. Glass
herself could tell, by taste at least, whether the ingredients of the
cauldron be hare or cat, cow or calf, the aforesaid ox or ass. It
puzzles even the acumen of a Frenchman; for it is still the great boast
of the town of Olvera that they served up some donkeys as rations to a
Buonapartist detachment. All this is very Oriental. Isaac could not
distinguish tame kid from wild venison, so perplexing was the disguise
of the savoury sauce; and yet his senses of smell and touch were keen,
and his suspicions of unfair cooking were awakened. A prudent diner,
therefore, except when forced to become his own cook, will never look
too closely into the things of the kitchen if he wishes to live a quiet
life; for _quien las cosas mucho apura, no vive vida segura_.

All who ride or run through the Peninsula, will read thirst in the arid
plains, and hunger in the soil-denuded hills, where those who ask for
bread will receive stones. The knife and fork question has troubled
every warrior in Spain, from Henri IV. down to Wellington; “subsistence
is the great difficulty always found” is the text of a third of the
Duke’s wonderful despatches. This scarcity of food is implied in the
very name of Spain, Σπανια, which means poverty and
destitution, as well as in the term _Bisoños_, wanters, which long has
been a synonyme for Spanish soldiers, who are always, as the Duke
described them, “hors de combat,” “always _wanting_ in every thing at
the critical moment.” Hunger and thirst have ever been, and are, the
best defenders of the Peninsula against the invader. On sierra and
steppe these gaunt sentinels keep watch and ward, and, on the scarecrow
principle, protect this paradise, as they do the infernal regions of

    “Malesuada fames et turpis egestas
     Horribiles visu.”

A riding tour through Spain has already been likened to serving a
campaign; and it was a saying of the Grand Condé, “If you want to know
what want is, carry on a war in Spain.” Yet, notwithstanding the
thousands of miles which we have ridden, never have we yet felt that
dire necessity, which has been kept at a respectable distance by a
constant unremitting attention to the proverb, A man forewarned is
forearmed. _Hombre prevenido nunca fu vencido_, there is nothing like
precaution and _provision_. “If you mean to dine,” writes the
all-providing Duke to Lord Hill from Moraleja, “_you had better bring
your things_, as I shall have nothing with me;”--the ancient Bursal
fashion holds good on Spanish roads:--

    “Regula Bursalis est omni tempere talis,
    Prandia fer tecum, si vis comedere mecum.”


A man who is prepared, is never beaten or starved; therefore, as the
valorous Dalgetty has it, a prudent man will always victual himself in
Spain with vivers for three days at least, and his cook, like Sancho
Panza, should have nothing else in his head, but thoughts how to convey
the most eatables into his ambulant larder.

He must set forth from every tolerable-sized town with an ample supply
of tea, sugar, coffee, brandy, good oil, wine, salt, to say nothing of
solids. The having something ready gives him leisure to forage and make
ulterior preparations. Those who have a _corps de réserve_ to fall back
upon--say a cold turkey and a ham--can always convert any spot in the
desert into an oasis; at the same time the connection between body and
soul may be kept up by trusting to _venta_ luck, of which more anon; it
offers, however, but a miserable existence to persons of judgment. And
even when this precaution of provision be not required, there are never
wanting in Spain the poor and hungry, to whom the taste of meat is
almost unknown, and to whom these crumbs that fall from the rich man’s
table are indeed a feast; the relish and gratitude with which these
fragments are devoured do as much good to the heart of the donor as to
the stomach of the donees, for the best medicines of the poor are to be
found in the cellars, kitchens, and hampers of the rich. All servants
should be careful of their traps and stores, which are liable to be
pilfered and plundered in _ventas_, where the élite of society is not
always assembled: the luggage should be well corded, for the devil is
always a gleaning, _ata al saco, ya espiga el diablo_.

Formerly all travellers of rank carried a silver olla with a key, the
_guardacena_, the _save_ supper. This ingenious contrivance has
furnished matter for many a pleasantry in picaresque tales and farces.
Madame Daunoy gives us the history of what befel the good Archbishop of
Burgos and his orthodox olla.


There is nothing in life like making a good start; thus the party
arrives safely at the first resting-place. The cook must never appear to
have anything when he arrives at an inn; he must get from others all he
can, and much is to be had for asking and crying, as even a Spanish
Infante knows--the child that does not cry is not suckled, _quien no
llora, no mama_; the artiste must never fall back on his own reservoirs
except in cases of absolute need; during the day he must open his eyes
and ears and must pick up everything eatable, and where he can and when
he can. By keeping a sharp look-out and going quietly to work the cook
may catch the hen and her chickens too. All is fish that comes into the
net, and, like Buonaparte and his marshals, nothing should be too great
for his ambition, nothing too small for his rapacity. Of course he will
pay for his collections, which the aforesaid gentry did not: thus fruit,
onions, salads, which, as they must be bought somewhere, had better be
secured whenever they turn up. The peasants, who are sad poachers, will
constantly hail travellers from the fields with offers of partridges,
rabbits, melons, hares, which always jump up in this pays de l’imprévu
when you least expect it: _Salta la liebre cuando menos uno piensa_.

Notwithstanding Don Quixote thought that it augured bad luck to meet
with a hare on entering a village, let not a bold traveller be scared,
but forthwith stew the omen; a hare, as in the time of Martial, is
considered by Spaniards to be the glory of edible quadrupeds, and to
this day no old stager ever takes a rabbit when he can get a hare, _á
perro viejo echale liebre y no conejo_. In default however of catching
one, rabbits may always be bagged. Spain abounds with them to such a
degree, that ancient naturalists thought the animal indigenous, and went
so far as to derive the name Spain from _Sephan_, the rabbit, which the
Phœnicians found here for the first time. Be that as it may, the
long-eared timid creature appears on the early Iberian coins, as it will
long do on her wide wastes and tables. By the bye, a ready-stewed rabbit
or hare is to be eschewed as suspicious in a _venta_: at the same time,
if the consumer does not find out that it is a cat, there is no great
harm done--ignorance is bliss; let him not know it, he is not robbed at
all. It is a pity to dispel his gastronomic delusion, as it is the
knowledge of the cheat that kills, and not the cat. Pol! me occidistis,
amici. The cook therefore should ascertain beforehand what are the bonâ
fide ingredients of every dish that he sets before his lord.


In going into the kitchens of the Peninsula, precedence must on every
account be given to the _olla_: this word means at once a species of
prepared food, and the earthenware utensil in which it is dressed, just
as our term _dish_ is applicable to the platter and to what is served on
it. Into this _olla_ it may be affirmed that the whole culinary genius
of Spain is condensed, as the mighty Jinn was into a gallipot, according
to the Arabian Night tales. The lively and gastronomic French, who are
decidedly the leaders of European civilization in the kitchen, deride
the barbarous practices of the Gotho-Iberians, as being darker than
Erebus and more ascetic than æsthetic; to credit their authors, a
Peninsular breakfast consists of a teaspoonful of chocolate, a dinner,
of a knob of garlic soaked in water, and a supper, of a paper cigarette;
and according to their _parfait cuisinier_, the _olla_ is made of two
cigars boiled in three gallons of water--but this is a calumny, a mere
invention devised by the enemy.

The _olla_ is only well made in Andalucia, and there alone in careful,
well-appointed houses; it is called a _puchero_ in the rest of Spain,
where it is but a poor affair, made of dry beef, or rather cow, boiled
with _garbanzos_ or chick peas, and a few sausages. These _garbanzos_
are the vegetable, the potato of the land; and their use argues a low
state of horticultural knowledge. The taste for them was introduced by
the Carthaginians--the _puls punica_, which (like the _fides punica_, an
especial ingredient in all Spanish governments and finance) afforded
such merriment to Plautus, that he introduced the chick-pea eating
Pœnus, pultiphagonides, speaking Punic, just as Shakspere did the
toasted-cheese eating Welshman talking Welsh. These garbanzos require
much soaking, being otherwise hard as bullets; indeed, a lively
Frenchman, after what he calls an apology for a dinner, compared them,
in his empty stomach, as he was jumbled away in the dilly, to peas
rattling in a child’s drum.

The veritable _olla_--the ancient time-honoured _olla podrida_, or pot
pourri--the epithet is now obsolete--is difficult to be made: a
tolerable one is never to be eaten out of Spain, since it requires many
Spanish things to concoct it, and much care; the cook must throw his
whole soul into the pan, or rather pot; it may be made in one, but two
are better. They must be of earthenware; for, like the French _pot au
feu_, the dish is good for nothing when made in an iron or copper
vessel; take therefore two, and put them on their separate stoves with


Place into No. 1, _Garbanzos_, which have been placed to soak
over-night. Add a good piece of beef, a chicken, a large piece of bacon;
let it boil once and quickly; then let it simmer: it requires four or
five hours to be well done. Meanwhile place into No. 2, with water,
whatever vegetables are to be had: lettuces, cabbage, a slice of gourd,
of beef, carrots, beans, celery, endive, onions and garlic, long
peppers. These must be previously well washed and cut, as if they were
destined to make a salad; then add red sausages, or “_chorizos_;” half a
salted pig’s face, which should have been soaked over-night. When all is
sufficiently boiled, strain off the water, and throw it away. Remember
constantly to skim the scum of both saucepans. When all this is
sufficiently dressed, take a large dish, lay in the bottom the
vegetables, the beef in the centre, flanked by the bacon, chicken, and
pig’s face. The sausages should be arranged around, en couronne; pour
over some of the soup of No. 1, and serve hot, as Horace did: “Uncta
satis--ponuntur oluscula lardo.” No violets come up to the perfume which
a coming olla casts before it; the mouth-watering bystanders sigh, as
they see and smell the rich freight steaming away from them.

[Sidenote: BACON.]

This is the olla _en grande_, such as Don Quixote says was eaten only by
canons and presidents of colleges; like turtle-soup, it is so rich and
satisfactory that it is a dinner of itself. A worthy dignitary of
Seville, in the good old times, before reform and appropriation had put
out the churches’ kitchen fire, and whose daily pot-luck was
transcendental, told us, as a wrinkle, that he on feast-days used
turkeys instead of chickens, and added two sharp Ronda apples, and three
sweet potatoes of Malaga. His advice is worth attention: he was a good
Roman Catholic canon, who believed everything, absolved everything,
drank everything, ate everything, and digested everything. In fact, as a
general rule, anything that is good in itself is good for an _olla_,
provided, as old Spanish books always conclude, that it contains nothing
contrary to the holy mother church, to orthodoxy, and to good
manners--“_que no contiene cosa que se oponga á nuestra madre Iglesia, y
santa fé catolica, y buenas costumbres_.” Such an olla as this is not to
be got on the road, but may be made to restore exhausted nature when
halting in the cities. Of course, every olla, must everywhere be made
according to what can be got. In private families the contents of No.
1, the soup, is served up with bread, in a tureen, and the frugal table
decked with the separate contents of the olla in separate platters; the
remains coldly serve, or are warmed up, for supper.

The vegetables and bacon are absolute necessaries; without the former an
olla has neither grace nor sustenance; _la olla sin verdura, ni tiene
gracia ni hartura_, while the latter is as essential in this stew as a
text from Saint Augustine is in a sermon:

    _No hay olla sin tocino,_
    _Ni sermon sin Agustino._

Bacon throughout the length and breadth of the Peninsula is more
honoured than this, or than any one or all the fathers of the church of
Rome; the hunger after the flesh of the pig is equalled only by the
thirst for the contents of what is put afterwards into his skin; and
with reason, for the pork of Spain has always been, and is, unequalled
in flavour; the bacon is fat and flavoured, the sausages delicious, and
the hams transcendantly superlative, to use the very expression of
Diodorus Siculus, a man of great taste, learning, and judgment. Of all
the things of Spain, no one need feeling ashamed to plead guilty to a
predilection and preference to the pig. A few particulars may be
therefore pardoned.


In Spain pigs are more numerous even than asses, since they pervade the
provinces. As those of Estremadura, the _Ham_pshire of the Peninsula,
are the most esteemed, they alone will be now noticed. That province,
although so little visited by Spaniards or strangers, is full of
interest to the antiquarian and naturalist; and many are the rides at
different periods which we have made through its tangled ilex groves,
and over its depopulated and aromatic wastes. A granary under Roman and
Moor, its very existence seems to be all but forgotten by the Madrid
government, who have abandoned it _feræ naturæ_, to wandering sheep,
locusts, and swine. The entomology of Estremadura is endless, and
perfectly uninvestigated--de minimis non curat Hispanus; but the heavens
and earth teem with the minute creation; there nature is most busy and
prolific, where man is most idle and unproductive; and in these lonely
wastes, where no human voice disturbs the silence, the balmy air
resounds with the buzzing hum of multitudinous insects, which career
about on their business of love or food without settlements or kitchens,
rejoicing in the fine weather which is the joy of their tiny souls, and
short-lived pleasant existence. Sheep, pigs, locusts, and doves are the
only living things which the traveller will see for hours and hours. Now
and then a man occurs, just to prove how rare his species is here.

Vast districts of this unreclaimed province are covered with woods of
oak, beech, and chesnut; but these park-like scenes have no charms for
native eyes; blind to the picturesque, they only are thinking of the
number of pigs which can be fattened on the mast and acorns, which are
sweeter and larger than those of our oaks. The acorns are still called
_bellota_, the Arabic _bollot_--_belot_ being the Scriptural term for
the tree and the gland, which, with water, formed the original diet of
the aboriginal Iberian, as well as of his pig; when dry, the acorns were
ground, say the classical authors, into bread, and, when fresh, they
were served up as the second course. And in our time ladies of high rank
at Madrid constantly ate them at the opera and elsewhere; they were the
presents sent by Sancho Panza’s wife to the Duchess, and formed the text
on which Don Quixote preached so eloquently to the goatherds, on the
joys and innocence of the golden age and pastoral happiness, in which
they constituted the foundation of the kitchen.

[Sidenote: KILLING A PIG.]

The pigs during the greater part of the year are left to support nature
as they can, and in gauntness resemble those greyhound-looking animals
which pass for porkers in France. When the acorns are ripe and fall from
the trees, the greedy animals are turned out in legions from the
villages, which more correctly may be termed coalitions of pigsties.
They return from the woods at night, of their own accord, and without a
swine’s general. On entering the hamlet, all set off at a full gallop,
like a legion possessed with devils, in a handicap for home, into which
each single pig turns, never making a mistake. We have more than once
been caught in one of these pig-deluges, and nearly carried away horse
and all, as befell Don Quixote, when really swept away by the
“far-spread and grunting drove.” In his own home each truant is welcomed
like a prodigal son or a domestic father. These pigs are the pets of the
peasants; they are brought up with their children, and partake, as in
Ireland, in the domestic discomforts of their cabins; they are
universally respected, and justly, for it is this animal who pays the
“rint;” in fact, are the citizens, as at Sorrento, and Estremenian man
is quite a secondary formation, and created to tend herds of these
swine, who lead the happy life of former Toledan dignitaries, with the
additional advantage of becoming more valuable when dead.

It is astonishing how rapidly they thrive on their sweet food; indeed it
is the whole duty of a good pig--animal propter convivia natum--to get
as fat and as soon as he can, and then die for the good of his country.
It may be observed for the information of our farmers, that those pigs
which are dedicated to St. Anthony, on whom a sow is in constant
attendance, as a dove was on Venus, get the soonest fat; therefore in
Spain young porkers are sprinkled with holy water on his day, but those
of other saints are less propitious, for the killing takes place about
the 10th and 11th of November, or, as Spaniards date it, _por el St.
Andres_, on the day of St. Andrew, or on that of St. Martin; hence the
proverb “every man and pig has his St. Martin or his fatal hour, _á cada
puerco su San Martin_.”

The death of a fat pig is as great an event in Spanish families, who
generally fatten up one, as the birth of a baby; nor can the fact be
kept secret, so audible is his announcement. It is considered a delicate
attention on the part of the proprietor to celebrate the auspicious
event by sending a portion of the chitterlings to intimate friends. The
Spaniard’s proudest boast is that his blood is pure, that he is not
descended from pork-eschewing Jew or Moor--a fact which the pig genus,
could it reason, would deeply deplore. The Spaniard doubtless has been
so great a consumer of pig, from grounds religious, as well as
gastronomic. The eating or not eating the flesh of an animal deemed
unclean by the impure infidel, became a test of orthodoxy, and at once
of correct faith as well as of good taste; and good bacon, as has been
just observed, is wedded to sound doctrine and St. Augustine. The
Spanish name _Tocino_ is derived from the Arabic _Tachim_, which
signifies fat.


The Spaniards however, although tremendous consumers of the pig, whether
in the salted form or in the skin, have to the full the Oriental
abhorrence to the unclean animal in the _abstract_. _Muy puerco_ is
their last expression for all that is most dirty, nasty, or disgusting.
_Muy cochina_ never is forgiven, if applied to woman, as it is
equivalent to the Italian _Vacca_, and to the canine feminine compliment
bandied among our fair sex at Billingsgate; nor does the epithet imply
moral purity or chastity; indeed in Castilian euphuism the unclean
animal was never to be named except in a periphrasis, or with an
apology, which is a singular remnant of the Moorish influence on Spanish
manners. _Haluf_ or swine is still the Moslem’s most obnoxious term for
the Christians, and is applied to this day by the ungrateful Algerines
to their French bakers and benefactors, nay even to the “_illustre

The capital of the Estremenian pig-districts is _Montanches_--mons
anguis--and doubtless the hilly spot where the Duke of Arcos fed and
cured “ces petits jambons vermeils,” which the Duc de St. Simon ate and
admired so much; “ces jambons ont un parfum si admirable, un goût si
relevé et si vivifiant, qu’on en est surpris: il est impossible de rien
manger si exquis.” His Grace of Arcos used to shut up the pigs in places
abounding in vipers, on which they fattened. Neither the pigs, dukes,
nor their toadeaters seem to have been poisoned by these exquisite
vipers. According to Jonas Barrington, the finest Irish pigs were those
that fed on dead rebels: one Papist porker, the Enniscorthy boar, was
sent as a show, for having eaten a Protestant parson: he was put to
death and dishonoured by not being made bacon of.

[Sidenote: A MEAT OMELETTE.]

Naturalists have remarked that the rattlesnakes in America retire before
their consuming enemy, the pig, who is thus the _gastador_ or pioneer of
the new world’s civilization, just as Pizarro, who was suckled by a sow,
and tended swine in his youth, was its conqueror. Be that as it may,
Montanches is illustrious in pork, in which the burgesses go the whole
hog, whether in the rich red sausage, the _chorizo_, or in the savoury
piquant _embuchados_, which are akin to the _mortadelle_ of Bologna,
only less hard, and usually boiled before eating, though good also raw;
they consist of the choice bits of the pig seasoned with condiments,
with which, as if by retribution, the paunch of the voracious animal is
filled; the ruling passion strong in death. We strongly recommend _Juan
Valiente_, who recently was the alcalde of the town, to the lover of
delicious hams; each _jamon_ averages about 12 lb.; they are sold at the
rate of 7½ _reales_, about 18_d._; for the _libra carnicera_, which
weighs 32 of our ounces. The duties in England are now very trifling; we
have for many years had an annual supply of these delicacies, through
the favour of a kind friend at the _Puerto_. The fat of these _jamones_,
whence our word ham and gammon, when they are boiled, looks like melted
topazes, and the flavour defies language, although we have dined on one
this very day, in order to secure accuracy and undeniable prose, like
Lope de Vega, who, according to his biographer, Dr. Montalvan, never
could write poetry unless inspired by a rasher; “Toda es cosa vil,” said
he, “á donde falta un _pernil_” (in which word we recognize the precise
_perna_, whereby Horace was restored):--

    Therefore all writing is a sham,
    Where there is wanting Spanish ham.

Those of Gallicia and Catalonia are also celebrated, but are not to be
compared for a moment with those of Montanches, which are fit to set
before an emperor. Their only rivals are the sweet hams of the
_Alpujarras_, which are made at _Trevelez_, a pig-hamlet situated under
the snowy mountains on the opposite side of Granada, to which also we
have made a pilgrimage. They are called _dulces_ or sweet, because
scarcely any salt is used in the curing; the ham is placed in a weak
pickle for eight days, and is then hung up in the snow; it can only be
done at this place, where the exact temperature necessary is certain.
Those of our readers who are curious in Spanish eatables will find
excellent garbanzos, chorizos, red pepper, chocolate and Valencian
sweetmeats, &c. at Figul’s, a most worthy Catalan, whose shop is at No.
10, Woburn Buildings, St. Paneras, London; the locality is scarcely less
visited than Montanches, but the penny-post penetrates into this terra

[Sidenote: THE GUISADO.]

So much space has been filled with these meritorious bacons and hams,
that we must be brief with our remaining bill of fare. For a _pisto_ or
meat omelette take eggs, which are to be got almost everywhere; see that
they are fresh by being pellucid; beat these _huevos trasparentes_ well
up; chop up onions and whatever savoury herbs you have with you; add
small slices of any meat out of your hamper, cold turkey, ham, &c.; beat
it all up together and fry it quickly. Most Spaniards have a peculiar
knack in making these _tortillas_, _revueltas de huevos_, which to
fastidious stomachs are, as in most parts of the Continent, a sure
resource to fall back upon.

The _Guisado_, or stew, like the olla, can only be really done in a
Spanish pipkin, and of those which we import, the Andalucian ones draw
flavour out the best. This dish is always well done by every cook in
every venta, barring that they are apt to put in bad oil, and too much
garlic, pepper, and saffron. Superintend it, therefore, yourself, and
take hare, partridge, rabbit, chicken, or whatever you may have foraged
on the road; it is capital also with pheasant, as we proved only
yesterday; cut it up, save the blood, the liver, and the giblets; do not
wash the pieces, but dry them in a cloth; fry them with onions in a
teacup of oil till browned; take an olla, put in these bits with the
oil, equal portions of wine and water, but stock is better than water;
claret answers well, Valdepeñas better; add a bit of bacon, onions,
garlic, salt, pepper, _pimientos_, a bunch of thyme or herbs; let it
simmer, carefully skimming it; half an hour before serving add the
giblets; when done, which can be tested by feeling with a fork, serve
hot. The stew should be constantly stirred with a _wooden_ spoon, and
grease, the ruin of all cookery, carefully skimmed off as it rises to
the surface. When made with proper care and with a good salad, it forms
a supper for a cardinal, or for Santiago himself.

[Sidenote: STARRED EGGS.]

Another excellent but very difficult dish is the _pollo con arroz_, or
the chicken and rice. It is eaten in perfection in Valencia, and
therefore is often called _Pollo Valenciano_. Cut a good fowl into
pieces, wipe it clean, but do not put it into water; take a saucepan,
put in a wine-glass of fine oil, heat the oil well, put in a bit of
bread; let it fry, stirring it about with a _wooden_ spoon; when the
bread is browned take it out and throw it away: put in two cloves of
garlic, taking care that it does not burn, as, if it does, it will turn
bitter; stir the garlic till it is fried; put in the chicken, keep
stirring it about while it fries, then put in a little salt and stir
again; whenever a sound of cracking is heard, stir it again; when the
chicken is well browned or gilded, _dorado_, which will take from five
to ten minutes, _stirring constantly_, put in chopped onions, three or
four chopped red or green chilis, and stir about; if once the contents
catch the pan, the dish is spoiled; then add tomatas, divided into
quarters, and parsley; take two teacupsful of rice, mix all well up
together; add _hot_ stock enough to cover the whole over; let it boil
_once_, and then set it aside to simmer until the rice becomes tender
and done. The great art consists in having the rice turned out
granulated and separate, not in a pudding state, which is sure to be the
case if a cover be ever put over the dish, which condenses the steam.

It may be objected, that these dishes, if so curious in the cooking, are
not likely to be well done in the rude kitchens of a _venta_; but
practice makes perfect, and the whole mind and intellect of the artist
is concentrated on one object, and not frittered away by a multiplicity
of dishes, the rock on which many cooks founder, where more dinners are
sacrificed to the eye and ostentation. One dish and one thing at a time
is the golden rule of Bacon; many are the anxious moments that we have
spent over the rim of a Spanish pipkin, watching, life set on the cast,
the wizen she-mummy, whose mind, body, and spoon were absorbed in a
single mess: Well, my mother, _que tal_? what sort of a stew is it? Let
me smell and taste the _salsa_. Good, good; it promises much. _Vamos,
Señora_--go on, my lady, thy spoon once more--how, indeed, can oil,
wine, and nutritive juices amalgamate without frequent stirring? Well,
very well it is. Now again, daughter of my soul, thy fork. _Asi, asi_;
thus, thus. _Per Bacco_, by Bacchus, tender it is--may heaven repay
thee! Indeed, from this tenderness of the meat arises ease of digestion;
here, pot and fire do half the work of the poor stomach, which too often
in inns elsewhere is overtaxed, like its owner, and condemned to hard
labour and a brickbat beefsteak.

[Sidenote: SALAD.]

Poached eggs are at all events within the grasp of the meanest culinary
capacity. They are called _Huevos estrellados_, starred eggs. When fat
bacon is wedded to them, the dish is called _Huevos con magras_; not
that _magras_ here means thin as to condition, but rather as to slicing;
and these slices, again, are positively thick ones when compared to
those triumphs of close shaving which are carved at Vauxhall. To make
this dish, with or without the bacon, take eggs; the contents of the
shell are to be emptied into a pan filled with hot oil or lard, _manteca
de puerco_, pig’s butter: it must be remembered, although Strabo
mentions as a singular fact that the Iberians made use of butter
instead of oil, that now it is just the reverse; a century ago butter
was only sold by the apothecaries, as a sort of ointment, and it used to
be iniquitous. Spaniards generally used either Irish or Flemish salted
butter, and from long habit thought fresh butter quite insipid; indeed,
they have no objection to its being a trifle or so rancid, just as some
aldermen like high venison. In the present age of progress the Queen
Christina has a fancy dairy at Madrid, where she makes a few pounds of
fresh butter, of which a small portion is or was sold, at five shillings
the pound, to foreign ambassadors for their breakfast. Recently more
attention has been paid to the dairy in the Swiss-like provinces of the
north-west. The Spaniards, like the heroes in the Iliad, seldom boil
their food (eggs excepted), at least not in water; for frying, after
all, is but boiling in oil.

Travellers should be cautioned against the captivating name of _manteca
Valenciana_. This Valencian butter is composed (for the cow has nothing
to do with it) of equal portions of garlic and hogs’ lard pounded
together in a mortar; it is then spread on bread, just as we do arsenic
to destroy vermin. It, however, agrees well with the peasants, as does
the soup of their neighbours the Catalans, which is made of bread and
garlic in equal portions fried in oil and diluted with hot water. This
mess is called _sopa de gato_, probably from making cats, not Catalans,

[Sidenote: GAZPACHO.]

One thing, however, is truly delicious in Spain--the salad, to compound
which, says the Spanish proverb, four persons are wanted: a spendthrift
for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counsellor for salt, and a madman to
stir it all up. N.B. Get the biggest bowl you can, in order that this
latter operation may be thoroughly performed. The salad is the glory of
every French dinner, and the disgrace of most in England, even in good
houses, and from two simple causes; first, from the putting in eggs,
mustard, and other heretical ingredients, and, secondly, from making it
long before it is wanted to be eaten, whereby the green materials, which
should be crisp and fresh, become sodden and leathery. Prepare,
therefore, your salad in separate vessels, and never mix the sauce with
the herbs until the instant that you are ready to transfer the
refreshing result to your plate. Take lettuce, or whatever salad is to
be got; do not cut it with a steel knife, which turns the edges of the
wounds black, and communicates an evil flavour; let the leaf be torn
from the stem, which throw away, as it is hard and bitter; wash the mass
in many waters, and rinse it in napkins till dry; take a small bowl, put
in equal quantities of vinegar and water, a teaspoonful of pepper and
salt, and four times as much oil as vinegar and water, mix the same well
together; prepare in a plate whatever fine herbs can be got, especially
tarragon and chervil, which must be chopped small. Pour the sauce over
the salad, powder it with these herbs, and lose no time in eating. For
making a much worse salad than this, a foreign artiste in London used
some years ago to charge a guinea.

[Sidenote: GAZPACHO.]

Any remarks on Spanish salads would be incomplete without some account
of _gazpacho_, that vegetable soup, or floating salad, which during the
summer forms the food of the bulk of the people in the torrid portions
of Spain. This dish is of Arabic origin, as its name, “soaked bread,”
implies. This most ancient Oriental Roman and Moorish refection is
composed of onions, garlic, cucumbers, chilis, all chopped up very small
and mixed with crumbs of bread, and then put into a bowl of oil,
vinegar, and fresh water. Reapers and agricultural labourers could never
stand the sun’s fire without this cooling acetous diet. This was the
οξυκρατος of the Greeks, the _posca_, potable food, meat and
drink, _potus et esca_, which formed part of the rations of the Roman
soldiers, and which Adrian (a Spaniard) delighted to share with them,
and into which Boaz at meal-time invited Ruth to dip her morsel. Dr.
Buchanan found some Syrian Christians who still called it _ail_, _ail_,
_Hil_, _Hila_, for which our Saviour was supposed to have called on the
Cross, when those who understood that dialect gave it him from the
vessel which was full of it for the guard. In Andalucia, during the
summer, a bowl of gazpacho is commonly ready in every house of an
evening, and is partaken of by every person who comes in. It is not
easily digested by strangers, who do not require it quite so much as the
natives, whose souls are more parched and dried up, and who perspire
less. The components, oil, vinegar, and bread, are all that is given out
to the lower class of labourers by farmers who profess to feed them; two
cow’s horns, the most primitive form of bottle and cup, are constantly
seen suspended on each side of their carts, and contain this provision,
with which they compound their _migas_: this consists of crumbs of bread
fried in oil, with pepper and garlic; nor can a stronger proof be given
of the common poverty of their fare than the common expression, “_buenas
migas hay_,” there are _good crumbs_, being equivalent to capital
eating. In very cold weather the mess is warmed, and then is called
_gazpacho caliente_. Oh! dura messorum ilia--oh! the iron mess digesting
stomachs of ploughmen.

[Sidenote: WATER.]


     Drinks of Spain--Water--Irrigation--Fountains--Spanish
     Thirstiness--The Alcarraza--Water Carriers--Ablutions--Spanish
     Chocolate--Agraz--Beer Lemonade.

In dipping into Spanish liquids we shall not mix wine with water, but
keep them separate, as most Spaniards do; the latter is entitled to rank
first, by those who prefer the opinion of Pindar, who held water to be
the best of things, to that of Anacreon, who was not member of any
temperance society. The profound regard for water of a Spaniard is quite
Oriental; at the same time, as his blood is partly Gothic and partly
Arab, his allegiance is equally mixed and divided; thus, if he adores
the juice of flints like a Moslem, he venerates the juice of the grape
like a German.

Water is the blood of the earth, and the purificator of the body in
tropical regions and in creeds which, being regulated by latitudes,
enforce frequent ablution; loud are the praises of Arab writers of wells
and water-brooks, and great is their fountain and pool worship, the
dipping in which, if their miraculous cases are to be credited, effects
more and greater cures than those worked by hydropathists at Grafenberg;
a Spaniard’s idea of a paradise on earth, of a “garden,” is a
well-watered district; irrigation is fertility and wealth, and
therefore, as in the East, wells, brooks, and water-courses have been a
constant source of bickering; nay the very word _rivality_ has been
derived from these quarrel and law-suit engendering rivers, as the name
given to the well for which the men of Gerah and Isaac differed, was
called _esek_ from the contention.

[Sidenote: FOUNTAINS.]

The flow of waters cannot be mistaken; the most dreary sterility edges
the most luxuriant plenty, the most hopeless barrenness borders on the
richest vegetation; the line of demarcation is perceived from afar,
dividing the tawny desert from the verdurous garden. The Moors who came
from the East were fully sensible of the value of this element; they
collected the best springs with the greatest care, they dammed up
narrow gorges into reservoirs, they constructed pools and underground
cisterns, stemmed valleys with aqueducts that poured in rivers, and in a
word exercised a magic influence over this element, which they guided
and wielded at their will; their system of irrigation was far too
perfect to be improved by Spaniard, or even destroyed. In those favoured
districts where their artificial contrivances remain, Flora still smiles
and Ceres rejoices with Pomona; wherever the ravages of war or the
neglect of man have ruined them, the garden has relapsed into the
desert, and plains once overflowing with corn, gladness, and population,
have shrunk into sad and silent deserts.

[Sidenote: THIRST.]

The fountains of Spain, especially in the hotter and more Moorish
districts, are numerous; they cannot fail to strike and please the
stranger, whether they be situated in the public walk, garden,
market-place, or private dwelling. Their mode of supply is simple: a
river which flows down from the hills is diverted at a certain height
from its source, and is carried in an artificial canal, which retains
the original elevation, into a reservoir placed above the town which is
to be served; as the waters rise to their level, the force, body, and
altitude of some of the columns thrown up are very great. In our cold
country, where, except at Charing Cross, the stream is conveyed
underground and unseen, all this gush of waters, of dropping diamonds in
the bright sun, which cools the air and gladdens the sight and ear, is
unknown. Again there is a waste of the “article,” which would shock a
Chelsea Waterworks Director, and induce the rate-collector to refer to
the fines as per Act of Parliament. The fondest wish of those Spaniards
who wear long-tailed coats, is to imitate those gentry; they are ashamed
of the patriarchal uncivilised system of their ancestors--much prefer
the economical lead pipe to all this extravagant and gratuitous
splashing--they love a turncock better than the most Oriental Rebecca
who comes down to draw water. The fountains in Spain as in the East are
the meeting and greeting places of womankind; here they flock, old and
young, infants and grandmothers. It is a sight to drive a water-colour
painter crazy, such is the colour, costume, and groupings, such is the
clatter of tongues and crockery; such is the life and action; now trip
along a bevy of damsel Hebes with upright forms and chamois step light
yet true; more graceful than opera-dancers, they come laughing and
carolling along, poising on their heads pitchers modelled after the
antique, and after everything which a Sèvres jug is not. It would seem
that to draw water is a difficult operation, so long are they lingering
near the sweet fountain’s rim. It indeed is their al fresco rout, their
tertulia; here for awhile the hand of woman labour ceases, and the urn
stands still; here more than even after church mass, do the young
discuss their dress and lovers, the middle-aged and mothers descant on
babies and housekeeping; all talk, and generally at once; but gossip
refresheth the daughters of Eve, whether in gilded boudoir or near mossy
fountain, whose water, if a dash of scandal be added, becomes sweeter
than eau sucrée.

The Iberians were decided water-drinkers, and this trait of their
manners, which are modified by climate that changes not, still exists as
the sun that regulates: the vinous Greek Athenæus was amazed that even
rich Spaniards should prefer water to wine; and to this day they are if
possible curious about the latter’s quality; they will just drink the
wine that grows the nearest, while they look about and enquire for the
best water; thus even our cook Francisco, who certainly had one of the
best places in Seville, and who although a good artiste was a better
rascal--qualities not incompatible--preferred to sacrifice his interests
rather than go to Granada, because this man of the fire had heard that
the water there was bad.

[Sidenote: INTENSE HEAT.]

The mother of the Arabs was tormented with thirst, which her
Hispano-Moro children have inherited; in fact in the dog-days, of which
here there are packs, unless the mortal clay be frequently wetted it
would crumble to bits like that of a figure modeller. Fire and water are
the elements of Spain, whether at an _auto de fé_ or in a church-stoop;
with a cigar in his mouth a Spaniard smokes like Vesuvius, and is as
dry, combustible, and inflammatory; and properly to understand the truth
of Solomon’s remark, that cold water is to a thirsty soul as refreshing
as good news, one must have experienced what thirst is in the exposed
plains of the calcined Castiles, where _coup de soleil_ is rife, and a
gentleman on horseback’s brains seem to be melting like Don Quixote’s
when Sancho put the curds into his helmet. It is just the country to
send a patient to, who is troubled with hydrophobia. “Those rayes,” to
use the words of old Howell, “that do but warm you in England, do roast
you here; those beams that irradiate onely, and gild your honey-suckled
fields, do here scorch and parch the chinky gaping soyle, and put too
many wrinkles upon the face of your common mother.”

Then, when the heavens and earth are on fire, and the sun drinks up
rivers at one draught, when one burnt sienna tone pervades the tawny
ground, and the green herb is shrivelled up into black gunpowder, and
the rare pale ashy olive-trees are blanched into the livery of the
desert; then, when the heat and harshness make even the salamander
muleteers swear doubly as they toil along like demons in an ignited
salitrose dust--then, indeed, will an Englishman discover that he is
made of the same material, only drier, and learn to estimate water; but
a good thirst is too serious an evil, too bordering on suffering, to be
made, like an appetite, a matter of congratulation; for when all fluids
evaporate, and the blood thickens into currant jelly, and the nerves
tighten up into the catgut of an overstrung fiddle, getting attuned to
the porcupinal irritability of the tension of the mind, how the parched
soul sighs for the comfort of a Scotch mist, and fondly turns back to
the uvula-relaxing damps of Devon!--then, in the blackhole-like thirst
of the wilderness, every mummy hag rushing from a reed hut, with a
porous cup of brackish water, is changed by the mirage into a Hebe,
bearing the nectar of the immortals; then how one longs for the most
wretched _Venta_, which heat and thirst convert into the Clarendon,
since in it at least will be found water and shade, and an escape from
the god of fire! Well may Spanish historians boast, that his orb at the
creation first shone over Toledo, and never since has set on the
dominions of the great king, who, as we are assured by Señor Berni, “has
the sun for his hat,”--_tiene al sol por su sombrero_; but humbler
mortals who are not grandees of this solar system, and to whom a _coup
de soleil_ is neither a joke nor a metaphor, should stow away
non-conductors of heat in the crown of their beavers. Thus Apollo
himself preserved us. And oh! ye our fair readers, who chance to run
such risks, and value complexion, take for heaven’s sake a parasol and
an _Alcarraza_.


This clay utensil--as its Arabic name _al Karaset_ implies--is a porous
refrigeratory vessel, in which water when placed in a current of hot
air becomes chilled by evaporation; it is to be seen hung up on poles
dangling from branches, suspended to waggons--in short, is part and
parcel of a Spanish scene in hot weather and localities; every _posada_
has rows of them at the entrance, and the first thing every one does on
entering, before wishing even the hostess Good morning, or asking
permission, is to take a full draught: all classes are learned on the
subject, and although on the whole they cannot be accused of
teetotalism, they are loud in their praises of the pure fluid. The
common form of praise is _agua muy rica_--very rich water. According to
their proverbs, good water should have neither taste, smell, nor colour,
“_ni sabor, olor, ni color_,” which neither makes men sick nor in debt,
nor women widows, “_que no enferma, no adeuda, no enviuda_;” and besides
being cheaper than wine, beer, or brandy, it does not brutalize the
consumer, nor deprive him of his common sense or good manners.


As Spaniards at all times are as dry as the desert or a sponge, selling
water is a very active business; on every alameda and prado shrill
voices of the sellers of drinks and mouth combustibles--_vendedores de
combustibles de boca_--are heard crying, “Fire, fire, _candela_--Water;
who wants water?”--_agua; quien quiere agua?_ which, as these Orientals
generally exaggerate, is described as _mas fresca que la nieve_, or
colder than snow; and near them little Murillo-like urchins run about
with lighted ropes like artillerymen for the convenience of smokers,
that is, for every ninety and nine males out of a hundred; while
water-carriers, or rather retail pedestrian aqueducts, follow thirst
like fire-engines; the _Aguador_ carries on his back, like his colleague
in the East, a porous water-jar, with a little cock by which it is drawn
out; he is usually provided with a small tin box strapped to his waist,
and in which he stows away his glasses, brushes, and some light
_azucarillos_--_panales_, which are made of sugar and white of egg,
which Spaniards dip and dissolve in their drink. In the town, at
particular stations water-mongers in wholesale have a shed, with ranges
of jars, glasses, oranges, lemons, &c., and a bench or two on which the
drinkers “untire themselves.” In winter these are provided with an
_añafe_ or portable stove, which keeps a supply of hot water, to take
the chill off the cold, for Spaniards, from a sort of dropsical habit,
drink like fishes all the year round. Ferdinand the Catholic, on seeing
a peasant drowned in a river, observed, “that he had never before seen a
Spaniard who had had enough water.”

At the same time it must be remembered that this fluid is applied with
greater prodigality in washing their inside than their outside. Indeed,
a classical author remarks that the Spaniards only learnt the use of
_hot_ water, as applicable to the toilette, from the Romans after the
second Punic war. Their baths and _thermæ_ were destroyed by the Goths,
because they tended to encourage effeminacy; and those of the Moors were
prohibited by the Gotho-Spaniards partly from similar reasons, but more
from a religious hydrophobia. Ablutions and lustral purifications formed
an article of faith with the Jew and Moslem, with whom “cleanliness is
godliness.” The mendicant Spanish monks, according to their practice of
setting up a directly antagonist principle, considered physical dirt as
the test of moral purity and true faith; and by dining and sleeping from
year’s end to year’s end in the same unchanged woollen frock, arrived at
the height of their ambition, according to their view of the odour of
sanctity, insomuch that Ximenez, who was himself a shirtless Franciscan,
induced Ferdinand and Isabella, at the conquest of Granada, to close and
abolish the Moorish baths. They forbade not only the Christians but the
Moors from using anything but holy water. Fire, not water, became the
grand element of inquisitorial purification.

[Sidenote: CHOCOLATE.]

The fair sex was warned by monks, who practised what they preached, that
they should remember the cases of Susanna, Bathsheba, and La
Cava,--whose fatal bathing under the royal palace at Toledo led to the
downfall of the Gothic monarchy. Their aqueous anathemas extended not
only to public, but to minutely private washings, regarding which
Sanchez instructs the Spanish confessor to question his fair penitents,
and not to absolve the over-washed. Many instances could be produced of
the practical working of this enjoined rule; for instance, Isabella, the
favourite daughter of Philip II., his eye, as he called her, made a
solemn vow never to change her shift until Ostend was taken. The siege
lasted three years, three months, and thirteen days. The royal garment
acquired a tawny colour, which was called _Isabel_ by the courtiers, in
compliment to the pious princess. Again, Southey relates that the devout
Saint Eufraxia entered into a convent of 130 nuns, not one of whom had
ever washed her feet, and the very mention of a bath was an abomination.
These obedient daughters to their Capuchin confessors were what Gil de
Avila termed a sweet garden of flowers, perfumed by the good smell and
reputation of sanctity, “_ameno jardin de flores, olorosas por el buen
odor y fama de santidad_.” Justice to the land of Castile soap requires
us to observe that latterly, since the suppression of monks, both sexes,
and the fair especially, have departed from the strict observance of the
religious duties of their excellent grandmothers. Warm baths are now
pretty generally established in the larger towns. At the same time, the
interiors of bedrooms, whether in inns or private houses, as well by the
striking absence of glass and china utensils, which to English notions
are absolute necessaries, as by the presence of French pie-dish basins,
and duodecimo jugs, indicate that this “little damned spot” on the
average Spanish hand, has not yet been quite rubbed out.

However hot the day, dusty the road, or long the journey, it has never
been our fate to see a Spanish attendant use a single drop of water as a
detergent, or, as polite writers say, “perform his ablutions;” the
constant habit of bathing and complete washing is undoubtedly one reason
why the French and other continentals consider our soap-loving
countrymen to be cracked. Under the Spanish Goths the Hemerobaptistæ, or
people who washed their persons once a day, were set down as heretics.
The Duke of Frias, when a few years ago on a fortnight’s visit to an
English lady, never once troubled his basins and jugs; he simply rubbed
his face occasionally with the white of an egg, which, as Madame Daunoy
records, was the only ablution of the Spanish ladies in the time of
Philip IV.; but these details of the dressing-room are foreign to the
use made in Spain of liquids in kitchen and parlour.

One word on chocolate, which is to a Spaniard what tea is to a
Briton--coffee to a Gaul. It is to be had almost everywhere, and is
always excellent; the best is made by the nuns, who are great
confectioners and compounders of sweetmeats, sugarplums and
orange-flowers, water and comfits,

    “Et tous ces mets sucrés en pâte, ou bien liquides,
     Dont estomacs dévots furent toujours avides.”

[Sidenote: ICED DRINKS.]

It was long a disputed point whether chocolate did or did not break
fast theologically, just as happened with coffee among the rigid
Moslems. But since the learned Escobar decided that _liquidum non rumpit
jejunium_, a liquid does not break fast, it has become the universal
breakfast of Spain. It is made just liquid enough to come within the
benefit of clergy, that is, a spoon will almost stand up in it; only a
small cup is taken, _una jicara_, a Mexican word for the cocoa-nuts of
which they were first made, generally with a bit of toasted bread or
biscuit: as these _jicaras_ have seldom any handles, they were used by
the rich (as coffeecups are among the Orientals) enclosed in little
filigree cases of silver or gold; some of these are very beautiful, made
in the form of a tulip or lotus leaf, on a saucer of mother-o’-pearl.
The flower is so contrived that, by a spring underneath, on raising the
saucer, the leaves fall back and disclose the cup to the lips, while,
when put down, they re-close over it, and form a protection against the
flies. A glass of water should always be drunk after this chocolate,
since the aqueous chasse neutralizes the bilious propensities of this
breakfast of the gods, as Linnæus called chocolate. Tea and coffee have
supplanted chocolate in England and France; it is in Spain alone that we
are carried back to the breakfasts of Belinda and of the wits at
Button’s; in Spain exist, unchanged, the fans, the game of ombre,
_tresillo_, and the _coche de colleras_, the coach and six, and other
social usages of the age of Pope and the ‘Spectator.’

[Sidenote: ICED LEMONADE.]

Cold liquids in the hot dry summers of Spain are necessaries, not
luxuries; snow and iced drinks are sold in the streets at prices so low
as to be within the reach of the poorest classes; the rich refrigerate
themselves with _agraz_. This, the Moorish _Hacaraz_, is the most
delicious and most refreshing drink ever devised by thirsty mortal; it
is the _new_ pleasure for which Xerxes wished in vain, and beats the
“hock and soda water,” the “_hoc erat in votis_” of Byron, and sherry
cobler itself. It is made of pounded unripe grapes, clarified sugar, and
water; it is strained till it becomes of the palest straw-coloured
amber, and well iced. It is particularly well made in Andalucia, and it
is worth going there in the dog-days, if only to drink it--it cools a
man’s body and soul. At Madrid an agreeable drink is sold in the
streets; it is called _Michi Michi_, from the Valencian _Mitj e Mitj_,
“half and half,” and is as unlike the heavy wet mixture of London, as a
coal-porter is to a pretty fair Valenciana. It is made of equal portions
of barley-water and orgeat of _Chufas_, and is highly iced. The
Spaniards, among other cooling fruits, eat their strawberries mixed with
sugar and the juice of oranges, which will be found a more agreeable
addition than the wine used by the French, or the cream of the
English,--the one heats, and the other, whenever it is to be had, makes
a man bilious in Spain. Spanish ices, _helados_, are apt to be too
sweet, nor is the sugar well refined; the ices, when frozen very hard
and in small forms, either representing fruits or shells, are called
_quesos_, cheeses.

Another favourite drink is a weak bottled beer mixed with iced lemonade.
Spaniards, however, are no great drinkers of beer, notwithstanding that
their ancestors drank more of it than wine, which was not then either so
plentiful or universal as at the present; this substitute of grapeless
countries passed from the Egyptians and Carthaginians into Spain, where
it was excellent, and kept well. The vinous Roman soldiers derided the
beer-drinking Iberians, just as the French did the English _before_ the
battle of Agincourt. “Can sodden water--barley-broth--decoct their cold
blood to such valiant heat?” Polybius sneers at the magnificence of a
Spanish king, because his home was furnished with silver and gold vases
full of beer, of barley-wine. The genuine Goths, as happens everywhere
to this day, were great swillers of ale and beer, heady and stupifying
mixtures, according to Aristotle. Their archbishop, St. Isidore,
distinguished between _celia ceria_, the ale, and _cerbisia_, beer,
whence the present word _cerbeza_ is derived. Spanish beer, like many
other Spanish matters, has now become small. Strong English beer is rare
and dear; among one of the infinite ingenious absurdities of Spanish
customs’ law, English beer in barrels used to be prohibited, as were
English bottles if empty--but prohibited beer, in prohibited bottles,
was admissible, on the principle that two fiscal negatives made an
exchequer affirmative.

[Sidenote: WINES OF SPAIN.]


     Spanish Wines--Spanish Indifference--Wine-making--Vins du
     Pays--Local Wines--Benicarló--Valdepeñas.

The wines of Spain deserve a chapter to themselves. Sherry indeed is not
less popular among us than Murillo, in spite of the numbers of bad
copies of the one, which are passed off for undoubted originals, and
butts of the other, which are sold neat as imported. The Spaniard
himself is neither curious in port, nor particular in Madeira; he
prefers quantity to quality, and loves flavour much less than he hates
trouble; a cellar in a private house, of rare fine or foreign wines, is
perhaps a greater curiosity than a library of ditto books; an hidalgo
with twenty names simply sends out before his frugal meal for a quart of
wine to the nearest shop, as a small burgess does in the City for a pint
of porter. Local in every thing, the Spaniard takes the goods that the
gods provide him, just as they come to hand; he drinks the wine that
grows in the nearest vineyards, and if there are none, then regales
himself with the water from the least distant spring. It is so in
everything; he adds the smallest possible exertion of his own to the
bounties of nature; his object is to obtain the largest produce for the
smallest labour; he allows a life-conferring sun and a fertile soil to
create for him the raw material, which he exports, being perfectly
contented that the foreigner should return it to him when recreated by
art and industry; thus his wool, barilla, hides, and cork-bark, are
imported by him back again in the form of cloth, glass, leather, and

[Sidenote: WINES OF SPAIN.]

The most celebrated and perfect wines of the Peninsula are port and
sherry, which owe their excellence to foreign, not to native skill, the
principal growers and makers being Europeans, and their system
altogether un-Spanish; nothing can be more rude, antique, and
unscientific, than the wine-making in those localities where no
stranger has ever settled. But Spain is a land bottled up for
antiquarians, and it must be confessed that the national process is very
picturesque and classical; no Ariadne revel of Titian is more glittering
or animated, no bas-relief more classical in which sacrifices are

    “To Bacchus, who first from out the purple grape
     Crushed the sweet poison of misused wine.”

Often have we ridden through villages redolent with vinous aroma, and
inundated with the blood of the berry, until the very mud was
encarnadined; what a busy scene! Donkeys laden with panniers of the ripe
fruit, damsels bending under heavy baskets, men with reddened legs and
arms, joyous and jovial as satyrs, hurry jostling on to the rude and
dirty vat, into which the fruit is thrown indiscriminately, the
black-coloured with the white ones, the ripe bunches with the sour, the
sound berries with those decayed; no pains are taken, no selection is
made; the filth and negligence are commensurate with this carelessness;
the husks are either trampled under naked feet or pressed out under a
rude beam; in both cases every refining operation is left to the
fermentation of nature, for there is a divinity that shapes our ends,
rough hew them how we may.

[Sidenote: VALDEPENAS.]

The wines of Spain, under a latitude where a fine season is a certainty,
might rival those of France, and still more those of the Rhine, where a
good vintage is the exception, not the rule. Their varieties are
infinite, since few districts, unless those that are very elevated, are
without their local produce, the names, colours, and flavours of which
are equally numerous and varied. The thirsty traveller, after a long
day’s ride under a burning sun, when seated quietly down to a smoking
peppery dish, is enchanted with the cool draught of these vins du pays,
which are brought fresh to him from the skins or amphora jars; he longs
to transport the apparently divine nectar to his own home, and wonders
that “the trade” should have overlooked such delicious wine. Those who
have tried the experiment will find a sad change for the worse come over
the spirit of their dream, when the long-expected importation greets
their papillatory organs in London. There the illusion is dispelled;
there to a cloyed fastidious taste, to a judgment bewildered and
frittered away by variety of the best vintages, how flat, stale, and
unprofitable does this much-fancied beverage appear! The truth is, that
its merit consists in the thirst and drinking vein of the traveller,
rather than in the wine itself. Those therefore of our readers whose
cellars are only stocked with choice Bordeaux, Xerez, and Champagne, may
sustain with resignation the absence of other sorts of Spanish grape
juice. If an exception is to be made, let it be only in favour of
Valdepeñas and Manzanilla.

The local wines may therefore be tossed off rapidly. The Navarrese drink
their Peralta, the Basques their Chacolet, which is a poor vin ordinaire
and inferior to our good cider. The Arragonese are supplied from the
vineyards of Cariñena; the Catalans, from those of Sidges and Benicarló;
the former is a rich sweet wine, with a peculiar aromatic flavour; the
latter is the well-known black strap, which is exported largely to
Bordeaux to enrich clarets for our vitiated taste, and as it is rich
red, and full flavoured, much comes to England to concoct what is
denominated curious old port by those who sell it. The fiery and acrid
brandy which is made from this Benicarló is sent to the bay of Cadiz to
the tune of 1000 butts a year to doctor up worse sherry.

The central provinces of Spain consume but little of these; Leon has a
wine of its own which grows chiefly near Zamora and Toro, and it is much
drunk at the neighbouring and learned university of Salamanca, where, as
it is strong and heady, it promotes prejudice, as port is said to do
elsewhere. Madrid is supplied with wines grown at Tarancon, Arganda, and
other places in its immediate vicinity, and those of the latter are
frequently substituted for the celebrated Valdepeñas of La Mancha, which
was mother’s milk to Sancho Panza and his two eminent progenitors; they
differed, as their worthy descendant informed the Knight of the Wood, on
the merits of a cask; one of them just dipped his tongue into the wine,
and affirmed that it had a taste of iron; the other merely applied his
nose to the bung-hole, and was positive that it smacked of leather; in
due time when the barrel was emptied, a key tied to a thong confirmed
the degustatory acumen of these connoisseurs.


The red blood of this “valley of stones” issues with such abundance,
that quantities of old wine are often thrown away, for the want of
skins, jars, and casks into which to place the new. From the scarcity
of fuel in these denuded plains, the prunings of the vine are sometimes
as valuable as the grapes. Even at Valdepeñas, with Madrid for its
customer, the wine continues to be made in an unscientific, careless
manner. Before the French invasion, a Dutchman, named Muller, had begun
to improve the system, and better prices were obtained; whereupon the
lower classes, in 1808, broke open his cellars, pillaged them, and
nearly killed him because he made wine dearer. It is made of a Burgundy
grape which has been transplanted and transported from the stinted suns
of fickle France, to the certain and glorious summers of La Mancha. The
genuine wine is rich, full-bodied, and high-coloured. It will keep
pretty well, and improves for four or five years, nay, longer. To be
really enjoyed it must be drunk on the spot; the curious in wine should
go down into one of the _cuevas_ or cave-cellars, and have a goblet of
the ruby fluid drawn from the big-bellied jar. The wine, when taken to
distant places, is almost always adulterated; and at Madrid with a
decoction of log wood, which makes it almost poisonous, acting upon the
nerves and muscular system.

The best vineyards and _bodegas_ or cellars are those which did belong
to Don Carlos, and those which do belong to the Marques de Santa Cruz.
One anecdote will do the work of pages in setting forth the habitual
indifference of Spaniards, and the way things are managed for them. This
very nobleman, who certainly was one of the most distinguished among the
grandees in rank and talent, was dining one day with a foreign
ambassador at Madrid, who was a decided admirer of Valdepeñas, as all
judicious men must be, and who took great pains to procure it quite pure
by sending down trusty persons and sound casks. The Marques at the first
glass exclaimed, “What capital wine! where do you manage to buy it in
Madrid?” “I send for it,” was the reply, “to your _administrador_ at
Valdepeñas, Anglice unjust steward, and shall be very happy to get you

[Sidenote: VALDEPENAS.]

The wine is worth on the spot about 5_l._ the pipe, but the land
carriage is expensive, and it is apt, when conveyed in skins, to be
tapped and watered by the muleteers, besides imbibing the disagreeable
smack of the pitched pigskin. The only way to secure a pure,
unadulterated, legitimate article, is to send up _double_ quarter sherry
casks; the wine is then put into one, and that again is protected by an
outer cask, which acts as a preventive guard, against gimlets, straws,
and other ingenious contrivances for extracting the vinous contents, and
for introducing an aqueous substitute. It must then be conveyed either
on mules or in waggons to Cadiz and Santander. It is always as well to
send for two casks, as _accidents_ in this _pays de l’imprévu_
constantly happen where wine and women are in the case. The importer
will receive the most satisfactory certificates signed and sealed on
paper, first duly stamped, in which the alcalde, the muleteer, the
guardia, and all who have shared in the booty, will minutely describe
and prove the _accident_, be it an upset, a breaking of casks, or what
not. Very little pure Valdepeñas ever reaches England; the numerous
vendors’ bold assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. As sherry is a
subject of more general interest, it will be treated with somewhat more

[Sidenote: SHERRY.]


     Sherry Wines--The Sherry District--Origin of the Name--Varieties of
     Soil--Of Grapes--Pajarete--Rojas Clemente--Cultivation of
     Vines--Best Vineyards--The Vintage--Amontillado--The Capataz--The
     Bodega--Sherry Wine--Arrope and Madre Vino--A Lecture on Sherry in
     the Cellar--at the Table--Price of Fine Sherry--Falsification of
     Sherry--Manzanilla--The Alpistera.

Sherry, a wine which requires more explanation than many of its
consumers imagine, is grown in a limited nook of the Peninsula, on the
south-western corner of sunny Andalucia, which occupies a range of
country of which the town of Xerez is the capital and centre. The
wine-producing districts extend over a space which is included--consult
a map--within a boundary drawn from the towns of Puerto de Sª. Maria,
Rota, San Lucar, Tribujena, Lebrija, Arcos, and to the Puerto again. The
finest vintages lie in the immediate vicinity of Xerez, which has given
therefore its name to the general produce. The wine, however, becomes
inferior in proportion as the vineyards get more distant from this
central point.


Although some authors--who, to show their learning, hunt for Greek
etymologies in every word--have derived sherry from Ξηρος, dry,
to have done so from the Persian Schiraz would scarcely have been more
far-fetched. _Sherris sack_, the term used by Falstaff, no mean
authority in this matter, is the precise _seco de Xerez_, the term by
which the wine is known to this day in its own country; the epithet
_seco_, or dry--the _seck_ of old English authors, and the _sec_ of
French ones--being used in contradistinction to the _sweet_ malvoisies
and muscadels, which are also made of the same grape. The wine, it is
said, was first introduced into England about the time of Henry VII.,
whose close alliance with Ferdinand and Isabella was cemented by the
marriage of his son with their daughter. It became still more popular
among us under Elizabeth, when those who sailed under Essex sacked
Cadiz in 1596, and brought home the fashion of good “sherris sack, from
whence,” as Sir John says, “comes valour.” The visit to Spain of Charles
I. contributed to keeping up among his countrymen this taste for the
drinks of the Peninsula, which extended into the provinces, as we find
Howell writing from York, in 1645, for “a barrell or two of oysters,
which shall be well eaten,” as he assures his friend, “with a cup of the
best sherry, to which this town is altogether addicted.” During the wars
of the succession, and those fatal quarrels with England occasioned by
the French alliance and family compact of Charles III., our consumption
of sherries was much diminished, and the culture of the vine and the
wine-making was neglected and deteriorated. It was restored at the end
of last century by the family of Gordon, whose houses at Xerez and the
Puerto most deservedly rank among the first in the country. The improved
quality of the wines was their own recommendation; but as fashion
influences everything, their vogue was finally established by Lord
Holland, who, on his return from Spain, introduced superlative sherry at
his undeniable table.

The quality of the wine depends on the grape and the soil, which has
been examined and analysed by competent chemists. Omitting minute and
uninteresting particulars, the first class and the best is termed the
_Albariza_; this whitish soil is composed of clay mixed with carbonate
of lime and silex. The second sort is called _Barras_, and consists of
sandy quartz, mixed with lime and oxide of iron. The third is the
_Arenas_, being, as the name indicates, little better than sand, and is
by far the most widely extended, especially about San Lucar, Rota, and
the back of Arcos; it is the most productive, although the wine is
generally coarse, thin, and ill-flavoured, and seldom improves after the
third year: it forms the substratum of those inferior sherries which are
largely exported to the discredit of the real article. The fourth class
of soil is limited in extent, and is the _Bugeo_, or dark-brown loamy
sand which occurs on the sides of rivulets and hillocks. The wine grown
on it is poor and weak; yet all the inferior produces of these different
districts are sold as sherry wines, to the great detriment of those
really produced near Xerez itself, which do not amount to a fifth of the
quantity exported.


The varieties of the grape are far greater than those of the soil on
which they are grown. Of more than a hundred different kinds, those
called _Listan_ and _Palomina Blanca_ are the best. The increased demand
for sherry, where the producing surface is limited, has led to the
extirpation of many vines of an inferior kind, which have been replaced
by new ones whose produce is of a larger and better quality. The _Pedro
Ximenez_, or delicious sweet-tasted grape which is so celebrated, came
originally from Madeira, and was planted on the Rhine, from whence about
two centuries ago one Peter Simon brought it to Malaga, since when it
has extended over the south of Spain. It is of this grape that the rich
and luscious sweet wine called _Pajarete_ is made; a name which some
have erroneously derived from _Pajaros_, the birds, who are wont to pick
the ripest berries; but it was so called from the wine having been
originally only made at Paxarete, a small spot near Xerez: it is now
prepared everywhere, and thus the grapes are dried in the sun until they
almost become raisins, and the syrop quite inspissated, after that they
are pressed, and a little fine old wine and brandy is added. This wine
is extremely costly, as it is much used in the rearing and maturation of
young sherry wines.

There is an excellent account of all the vines of Andalucia by Rojas
Clemente. This able naturalist disgraced himself by being a base toady
of the wretched minion Godoy, and by French partisanship, which is high
treason to his own country. Accordingly, to please his masters, he
“contrasts the frank generosity, the vivacity, and genial cordiality of
the Xerezanos, with the sombre stupidity and ferocious egotism of the
insolent people on the banks of the Thames,” by whom he had just before
been most hospitably welcomed. This worthy gentleman wrote, however,
within sight of Trafalgar, and while a certain untoward event was
rankling in his and his estimable patron’s bosom.

[Sidenote: THE VINTAGE.]

The vines are cultivated with the greatest care, and demand unceasing
attention, from the first planting to their final decay. They generally
fruit about the fifth year, and continue in full and excellent bearing
for about thirty-five years more, when the produce begins to diminish
both in quantity and in quality. The best wines are produced from the
slowest ripening grapes; the vines are delicate, have a true bacchic
hydrophobia, or antipathy to water--are easily affected and injured by
bad smells and rank weeds. The vine-dresser enjoys little rest; at one
time the soil must be trenched and kept clean, then the vines must be
pruned, and tied to the stakes, to which they are trained very low; anon
insects must be destroyed; and at last the fruit has to be gathered and
crushed. It is a life of constant care, labour, and expense.

The highest qualities of flavour depend on the grape and soil, and as
the favoured spots are limited, and the struggle and competition for
their acquisition great, the prices paid are always high, and
occasionally extravagantly so; the proprietors of vineyards are very
numerous, and the surface is split and partitioned into infinite petty
ownerships. Even the _Pago de Macharnudo_, the finest of all, the Clos
de Vougeot, the Johannisberg of Xerez, is much subdivided; it consists
of 1200 _aranzadas_, one of which may be taken as equivalent to our
acre, being, however, that quantity of land which can be ploughed with a
pair of bullocks in a day--of these 1200, 460 belong to the great house
of Pedro Domecq, and their mean produce may be taken at 1895 butts, of
which some 350 only will run very fine. Among the next most renowned
_pagos_, or wine districts, may be cited Carrascal, Los Tercios,
Barbiana _alta y baja_, Añina, San Julian, Mochiele, Carraola, Cruz del
Husillo, which lie in the immediate _termino_ or boundary of Xerez;
their produce always ensures high prices in the market. Many of these
vineyards are fenced with canes, the _arundo donax_, or with aloes,
whose stiff-pointed leaves form palisadoes that would defy a regiment of
dragoons, and are called by the natives the devil’s toothpicks; in
addition, the _capataz del campo_, or country bailiff, is provided, like
a keeper, with large and ferocious dogs, who would tear an intruder to
pieces. The fruit when nearly mature is especially watched; for,
according to the proverb, it requires much vigilance to take care of
ripe grapes and maidens--_Niñas y vinos, son mal de guardar_.

[Sidenote: THE VINTAGE.]

When the period of the vintage arrives, the cares of the proprietors and
the labours of the cultivators and makers increase. The bunches are
picked and spread out for some days on mattings; the unripe grapes,
which have less substance and spirit, are separated, and are exposed
longer to the sun, by which they improve. If the berries be over-ripe,
then the saccharine prevails, and there is a deficiency of tartaric
acid. The selected grapes are sprinkled with lime, by which the watery
and acetous particles are absorbed and corrected. A nice hand is
requisite in this powdering, which, by the way, is an ancient African
custom, in order to avoid the imputation of Falstaff, “There is lime in
this sack.” The treading out the fruit is generally done by night,
because it is then cooler, and in order to avoid as much as possible the
plague of wasps, by whom the half-naked operators are liable to be
stung. On the larger vineyards there is generally a jumble of buildings,
which contain every requisite for making the wine, as well as cellars
into which the must or pressed grape juice is left to pass the stages of
fermentation, and where it remains until the following spring before it
is removed from the lees. “When the new wine is racked off, all the
produce of the same vineyard and vintage is housed together, and called
a _partido_ or lot.


The vintage, which is the all-absorbing, all-engrossing moment of the
year, occupies about a fortnight, and is earlier in the Rota districts
than at Xerez, where it commences about the 20th of September; into
these brief moments the hearts, bodies, and souls of men are condensed;
even Venus, the queen of neighbouring Cadiz, and who during the other
three hundred and fifty-one days of the year, allies herself willingly
to Bacchus, is now forgotten. Nobles and commoners, merchants and
priests, talk of nothing but wine, which then and there monopolises man,
and is to Xerez what the water is at Grand Cairo, where the rising of
the Nile is at once a pleasure and a profit. When the vintage is
concluded, the custom-house officers take note in their respective
districts of the quantity produced on each vineyard, to whom it is sold,
and where it is taken to; nor can it be resold or removed afterwards,
without a permit and a charge of a four per cent. ad valorem duty. It
need not be said, that in a land where public officers are inadequately
paid, where official honesty and principle are all but unknown, a bribe
is all-sufficient; false returns are regularly made, and every trick
resorted to to facilitate trade, and transfer revenue into the pockets
of the collectors, rather than into the Queen’s treasury; thus are
defeated the vexations and extortions of commerce-hampering excise, to
hate which seems to be a second nature in man all over the world.
Commissioners excepted. In the first year a decided difference takes
place in these new wines; some become _bastos_ or coarse, others sour
and others good; those only which exhibit great delicacy, body, and
flavour are called _finos_ or fine; in a lot of one hundred butts,
rarely more than from ten to fifteen can be calculated as deserving this
epithet, and it is to the high price paid for these by the
_almacenistas_ or storers of wines, that the grower looks for
remuneration; the qualities of the wines usually produced in each
particular _termino_ or district do not vary much; they have their
regular character and prices among the trade, by whom they are perfectly
understood and exactly valued.

These singular changes in the juice of grapes grown on the same
vineyard, invariably take place, although no satisfactory reason has
been yet assigned; the chemical processes of nature have hitherto defied
the investigations of man, and in nothing more than in the elaboration
of that lusus naturæ vel Bacchi, that variety of flavour which goes by
the name of _amontillado_; this has been given to it from its
resemblance in dryness and quality to the wines of _Montilla_, near
Cordova: the latter, be it observed, are scarcely known in England at
all, nor indeed in Spain, except in their own immediate neighbourhood,
where they supply the local consumption. This _amontillado_, when the
genuine production of nature, is very valuable, as it is used in
correcting young Sherry wines, which are running over sweet; it is very
scarce, since out of a hundred butts of _vino fino_, not more than five
will possess its properties. Much of the wine which is sold in London as
pure _amontillado_, is a fictitious preparation, and made up for the
British market.

[Sidenote: THE CAPATAZ.]

All sherries are a matured mixture of grape juice; champagne itself is a
manufactured wine; nor does it much matter, provided a palateable and
wholesome beverage be produced. In all the leading and respectable
houses, the wine is prepared from grapes grown in the district, nor is
there the slightest mystery made in explaining the artificial processes
which are adopted; the rearing, educating and finishing, as it were, of
these wines, is a work of many years, and is generally intrusted to the
_Capataz_, the chief butler, or head man, who very often becomes the
real master; this important personage is seldom raised in Andalucia, or
in any wine-growing districts of Spain; he generally is by birth an
Asturian, or a native of the mountains contiguous to Santander, from
whence the chandlers and grocers, hence called _Los Montañeses_, are
supplied throughout the Peninsula. These Highlanders are celebrated for
the length of their pedigrees, and the tasting properties of their
tongues; we have more than once in Estremadura and Leon fallen in with
flights of these ragged gentry, wending, Scotch-like, to the south in
search of fortune; few had shoes or shirts, yet almost every one carried
his family parchment in a tin case, wherein his descent from
Tubal--respectable, although doubtful--was proven to be as evident as
the sun is at noon day.

These gentlemen of good birth and better taste seldom smoke, as the
narcotic stupifying weed deadens papillatory delicacy. Now as few
wine-masters in Spain would give up the cigar to gain millions, the
_Capataz_ soon becomes the sole possessor of the secrets of the cellar;
and as no merchants possess vineyards of their own sufficient to supply
their demand, the purchases of new wines must be made by this
confidential servant, who is thus enabled to cheat both the grower and
his own employer, since he will only buy of those who give him the
largest commission. Many contrive by these long and faithful services to
amass great wealth; thus Juan Sanchez, the _Capataz_ of the late Petro
Domecq, died recently worth 300,000_l._ Towards his latter end, having
been visited by his confessor and some qualms of conscience, he
bequeathed his fortune to pious and charitable uses, but the bulk was
forthwith secured by his attorneys and priests, whose charity began at


As the chancellor is the keeper of the Queen’s conscience, so the
_Capataz_ is the keeper of the _bodega_ or the wine-store, which is very
peculiar, and the grand lion of Xerez. The rich and populous town, when
seen from afar, rising in its vine-clad knoll, is characterised by these
huge erections, that look like the pent-houses under which men-of-war
are built at Chatham. These temples of Bacchus resemble cathedrals in
size and loftiness, and their divisions, like Spanish chapels, bear the
names of the saints to whom they are dedicated, and few tutelar deities
have more numerous or more devout worshippers; but Romanism mixes itself
up in everything of Spain, and fixes its mark alike on salt-pans and
mine-shafts, as on boats and _bodegas_. These huge repositories are all
above ground, and are the antithesis of our under-ground cellars. The
wines of Xerez are thus found to ripen both better and quicker, as one
year in a _bodega_ inspires them with more life than do ten years of
burial. As these wines are more capricious in the development of their
character than young ladies at a boarding-school, the greatest care is
taken in the selection of eligible and healthy situations for their
education; the neighbourhood of all offensive drains or effluvia is
carefully avoided, since these nuisances are sure to affect the
delicately organised fluids, although they fail to damage the noses of
those to whose charge they are committed; and strange to say, in this
land of contradictions, Cologne itself is scarcely more renowned for its
twenty and odd bad smells ascertained by Coleridge, than is this same
tortuous, dirty, and old-fashioned Xerez. Here, as in the Rhenish city,
all the sweets are bottled up for exportation, all the stinks kept for
home consumption. The new _bodegas_ are consequently erected in the
newer portions of the town, in dry and open places; connected with them
are offices and workshops, in which everything bearing upon the wine
trade is manufactured, even to the barrels that are made of American oak
staves. The interior of the _bodega_ is kept deliciously cool; the glare
outside is carefully excluded, while a free circulation of air is
admitted; an even temperature is very essential, and one at an average
of 60 degrees is the best of all. There are more than a thousand
_bodegas_ registered at the custom house for the Xerez district; the
largest only belong to the first-rate firms, and mostly to Europeans,
that is, to English and Frenchmen. A heavy capital is required, much
patience and forethought, qualities which do not grow on these or on any
hills of Spain. This necessity will be better understood when it is
said, that some of these stores contain from one to four thousand butts,
and that few really fine sherries are sent out of them until ten or
twelve years old. Supposing, therefore, that each butt averages in value
only 25_l._, it is evident how much time and investment of wealth is

[Sidenote: WINE-MIXING.]

Sherry wine, when mature and perfect, is made up from many butts. The
“entire,” indeed, is the result of Xerez grapes, but of many different
ages, vintages, and varieties of flavour. The contents of one barrel
serve to correct another until the proposed standard aggregate is
produced; and to such a certainty has this uniform admixture been
reduced, that houses are enabled to supply for any number of years
exactly that particular colour, flavour, body, &c., which particular
customers demand. This wine improves very much with age, gets softer and
more aromatic, and gains both body and aroma, in which its young wines
are deficient. Indeed, so great is the change in all respects, that one
scarcely can believe them ever to have been the same: the baby differs
not more from the man, nor the oak from the acorn.

That _Capataz_ has attained the object of his fondest wishes, who has
observed in his compositions the poetical principles of Horace, the
_callida junctura_, the _omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci_;
this happy and skilful junction of the sweet and solid, should unite
fulness of body, an oily, nutty flavour and _bouquet_, dryness, absence
from acidity, strength, durability, and spirituosity. Very little brandy
is necessary, as the vivifying power of the unstinted sun of Andalucia
imparts sufficient alcohol, which ranges from 20 to 23 per cent. in fine
sherries, and only reaches about 12 in clarets and champagnes. Fine pure
sherry is of a rich brown colour, but in order to flatter the
conventional tastes of some English, “pale old sherry” must be had, and
colour is chemically discharged at the expense of delicate aroma.
Another absurd deference to British prejudice, is the sending sherries
to the East Indies, because such a trip is found sometimes to benefit
the wines of Madeira. This is not only expensive but positively
injurious to the juice of Xerez, as the wine returns diminished in
quantity, turbid, sharp, and deteriorated in flavour, while from the
constant fermentation it becomes thinner in body and more spirituous.
The real secret of procuring good sherry is to pay the best price for it
at the best house, and then to keep the purchase for many years in a
good cellar before it is drunk.

[Sidenote: WINE IN CASK.]

To return to the _Capataz_. This head master passes this life of
probation in tasting. He goes the regular round of his butts,
ascertaining the qualities, merits, and demerits of each pupil, which he
notes by certain marks or hieroglyphics. He corrects faults as he goes
along, making a memorandum also of the date and remedy applied, and thus
at his next visit he is enabled to report good progress, or lament the
contrary. The new wines, after the fermentation is past, are commonly
enriched with an _arrope_, or sort of syrup, which is found very much to
encourage them. There are extensive manufactories of this cordial at
San Lucar, and wherever the _arenas_, or sandy soil, prevails. The must,
or new grape juice, before fermentation has commenced, is boiled slowly
down to the fifth of its bulk. It must simmer, and requires great care
in the skimming and not being burnt. Of this, when dissolved, the _vino
de color_, the _madre vino_, or mother wine, is made, by which the
younger ones are nourished as by mother’s milk. When old, this balsamic
ingredient becomes strong, perfumed as an essence, and very precious,
and is worth from three to five hundred guineas a butt; indeed it
scarcely ever will be sold at all. All the principal _bodegas_ have
certain huge and time-honoured casks which contain this divine ichor,
which inspires ordinary wines with generous and heroic virtues; hence
possibly their dedication of their tuns not to saints and saintesses,
but to Wellingtons and Nelsons. It is from these reservoirs that
distinguished visitors are allowed just a sip. Such a compliment was
paid to Ferdinand VII. by Pedro Domecq, and the cask to this day bears
the royal name of its assayer. Whatever quantity is taken out of one of
these for the benefit of younger wines, is replaced by a similar
quantity drawn from the next oldest cask in the cellar.

[Sidenote: TASTING WINE.]

After a year or two trial of the new wines, it is ascertained how they
will eventually turn out; if they go wrong, they are expelled from the
seminary, and shipped off to the leathern-tongued consumers of Hamburgh
or Quebec, at about 15_l._ per butt. All the various forms, stages, and
steps of education are readily explained in the great establishments,
among which the first are those of Domecq and John David Gordon, and
nothing can exceed the cordial hospitality of these princely merchants;
whoever comes provided with a letter of introduction is carried off
bodily, bags, baggage, and all, to their houses, which, considering the
iniquity of Xerezan inns, is a satisfactory move. Then and there the
guest is initiated into the secrets of trade, and is handed over to the
_Capataz_, who delivers an explanatory lecture on vinology, which is
illustrated, like those of Faraday, by experiments: tasting sherry at
Xerez has, as Señor Clemente would say, very little in common with the
commonplace customs of the London Docks. Here the swarthy professor,
dressed somewhat like Figaro in the Barber of Seville, is followed by
sundry jacketed and sandalled Ganymedes, who bear glasses on waiters;
the lecturer is armed with a long stick, to the end of which is tied a
bit of hollow cane, which he dips into each butt; the subject is begun
at the beginning, and each step in advance is explained to the listening
party with the gravity of a judicious foreman of a jury: the sample is
handed round and tasted by all, who, if they are wise, will follow the
example of their leader (on whom wine has no more effect than on a
glass), by never swallowing the sips, but only permitting the tongue to
agitate it in the mouth, until the exact flavour is mastered; every cask
is tried, from the young wine to the middle-aged, from the mature to the
golden ancient. Those who are not stupefied by the fumes, cannot fail to
come out vastly edified. The student should hold hard during the first
trials, for the best wine is reserved until the last. He ascends, if he
does not tumble off, a vinous ladder of excellence. It would be better
to reverse the order of the course, and commence with the finest sorts
while the palate is fresh and the judgment unclouded. The thirster after
knowledge must not drink too deeply now, but remember the second ordeal
to which he will afterwards be exposed at the hospitable table of the
proprietor, whose joy and pride is to produce fine wine and plenty of
it, when his friends meet around his mahogany.

What a grateful offering is then made to the jovial god, by whom the
merchant lives, and by whom the deity is now set from his glassy prison
free! What a drawing of popping corks, half consumed by time!--what a
brushing away of venerable cobwebs from flasks binned apart while George
the Third was king! The delight of the worthy Amphitryon on producing a
fresh bottle, exceeds that of a prolific mother when she blesses her
husband with a new baby. He handles the darling decanter, as if he
dearly loved the contents, which indeed are of his own making; how the
clean glasses are held up to the light to see the bright transparent
liquid sparkle and phosphoresce within; how the intelligent nose is
passed slowly over the mantling surface, redolent with fragrancy; how
the climax of rapture is reached when the god-like nectar is raised to
the blushing lips!


The wine suffices in itself for sensual gratification and for
intellectual conversation: all the guests have an opinion; what
gentleman, indeed, cannot judge on a horse or a bottle? When
differences arise, as they will in matters of taste, and where bottles
circulate freely, the master-host _decides_--

    “Tells all the names, lays down the law,
     Que ça est bon; ah, goûtez ça.”

There is to him a combination of pleasure and profit in these genial
banquets, these noctes cœnæque Deum. Many a good connection is thus
formed, when an English gentleman, who now, perhaps for the first time,
tastes pure and genuine sherry. A good dinner naturally promotes good
humour with mankind in general, and with the donor in particular. A
given quantity of the present god opens both heart and purse-strings,
until the tongue on which the magic flavour lingers, murmurs gratefully
out, “Send me a butt of _amantillado pasado_, and another of _seco
reanejo_, and draw for the cash at sight.”

An important point will now arise, what is the price? That ever is the
question and the rub. Pure genuine sherry, from ten to twelve years old,
is worth from 50 to 80 guineas per butt, in the _bodega_, and when
freight, insurance, duty, and charges are added, will stand the importer
from 100 to 130 guineas in his cellar. A butt will run from 108 to 112
gallons, and the duty is 5_s._ 6_d._ per gallon. Such a butt will bottle
about 52 dozen. The reader will now appreciate the bargains of those
“pale” and “golden sherries” advertised in the English newspapers at
36_s._ the dozen, bottles included. They are _maris expers_, although
much indebted to French brandy, Sicilian Marsala, Cape wine, Devonshire
cider, and Thames water.


The growth of wine amounts to some 400,000 or 500,000 _arrobas_
annually. The arroba is a Moorish name, and a dry measure, although used
for liquids; it contains a quarter of a hundredweight; 30 arrobas go to
a _bota_, or butt, of which from 8000 to 10,000 of really fine are
annually exported: but the quantities of so-called sherries, “neat as
imported,” in the manufacture of which San Lucar is fully occupied, is
prodigious, and is increasing every year. To give an idea of the extent
of the growing traffic, in 1842 25,096 butts were exported from these
districts, and 29,313 in 1843; while in 1845 there were exported 18,135
butts from Xerez alone, and 14,037 from the Puerto, making the enormous
aggregate of 32,172 butts. Now as the vineyards remain precisely the
same, probably some portion of these additional barrels may not be quite
the genuine produce of the Xerez grape: in truth, the ruin of sherry
wines has commenced, from the numbers of second-rate houses that have
sprung up, which look to quantity, not quality. Many thousand butts of
bad Niebla wine are thus palmed off on the enlightened British public
after being well brandied and doctored; thus a conventional notion of
sherry is formed, to the ruin of the real thing; for even respectable
houses are forced to fabricate their wines so as to suit the depraved
taste of their consumers, as is done with pure clarets at Bordeaux,
which are charged with Hermitages and Benicarló. Thus delicate
idiosyncratic flavour is lost, while headache and dyspepsia are
imported; but there is a fashion in wines as in physicians. Formerly
Madeira was the vinous panacea, until the increased demand induced
disreputable traders to deteriorate the article, which in the reaction
became dishonoured. Then sherry was resorted to as a more honest and
wholesome beverage. Now its period of decline is hastening from the same
causes, and the average produce is becoming inferior, to end in
disrepute, and possibly in a return to the wines of Madeira, whose
makers have learnt a lesson in the stern school of adversity.

[Sidenote: MANZANILLA.]

Be that as it may, the people at large of Spain are scarcely acquainted
with the taste of sherry wine, beyond the immediate vicinity in which it
is made; and more of it is swallowed at Gibraltar at the messes, than in
either Madrid, Toledo, or Salamanca. Sherry is a foreign wine, and made
and drunk by foreigners; nor do the generality of Spaniards like its
strong flavour, and still less its high price, although some now affect
its use, because, from its great vogue in England, it argues
civilization to adopt it. This use obtains only in the capital and
richer seaports; thus at inland Granada, not 150 miles from Xerez,
sherry would hardly be to be had, were it not for the demand created by
our travelling countrymen, and even then it is sold per bottle, and as a
liqueur. At Seville, which is quite close to Xerez, in the best houses,
one glass only is handed round, just as only one glass of Greek wine was
in the house of the father of even Lucullus among the ancient Romans, or
as among the modern ones is still done with Malaga or Vino de Cypro;
this single glass is drunk as a _chasse_, and being considered to aid
digestion, is called the _golpe medico_, the coup de médecin; it is
equivalent, in that hot country, to the thimbleful of Curaçoa or Cognac,
by which coffee is wound up in colder England and France.

In Andalucia it was no less easy for the Moor to encourage the use of
water as a beverage, than to prohibit that of wine, which, if endued
with strength, which sherry is, must destroy health when taken largely
and habitually, as is occasionally found out at Gibraltar. Hence the
natives of Xerez themselves infinitely prefer a light wine called
Manzanilla, which is made near San Lucar, and is at once much weaker and
cheaper than sherry. The grape from whence it is produced grows on a
poor and sandy soil. The vintage is very early, as the fruit is gathered
before it is quite ripe. The wine is of a delicate pale straw colour,
and is extremely wholesome; it strengthens the stomach, without heating
or inebriating, like sherry. All classes are passionately fond of it,
since the want of alcohol enables them to drink more of it than of
stronger beverages, while the dry quality acts as a tonic during the
relaxing heats. It may be compared to the ancient Lesbian, which Horace
quaffed so plentifully in the cool shade, and then described as never
doing harm. The men employed in the sherry wine vaults, and who have
therefore that drink at their command, seldom touch it, but invariably,
when their work is done, go to the neighbouring shop to refresh
themselves with a glass of “innocent” Manzanilla. Among their betters,
clubs are formed solely to drink it, and with iced water and a cigar it
transports the consumer into a Moslem’s dream of paradise. It tastes
better from the cask than out of the bottle, and improves as the cask
gets low.

[Sidenote: THE ALPISTERA.]

The origin of the name has been disputed; some who prefer sound to sense
derive it from _Manzana_, an apple, which had it been cider might have
passed; others connect it with the distant town of _Mansanilla_ on the
opposite side of the river, where it is neither made nor drunk. The real
etymology is to be found in its striking resemblance to the bitter
flavour of the flowers of camomile (_manzanilla_), which are used by our
doctors to make a medicinal tea, and by those of Spain for fomentations.
This flavour in the wine is so marked as to be at first quite
disagreeable to strangers. If its eulogistic consumers are to be
believed, the wine surpasses the tea in hygæian qualities: none, say
they, who drink it are ever troubled with gravel, stone, or gout.
Certainly, it is eminently free from acidity. The very best Manzanilla
is to be had in London of Messrs. Gorman, No. 16, Mark Lane. Since
“_Drink it, ye dyspeptics_,” was enjoined last year in the ‘Handbook,’
the importation of this wine to England, which previously did not exceed
ten butts, has in twelve short months overpassed two hundred; a
compliment delicate as it is practical, which is acknowledged by the
author--a drinker thereof--with most profound gratitude.

By the way, the real thing to eat with Manzanilla is the _alpistera_.
Make it thus:--To one pound of fine flour (mind that it is dry) add half
a pound of double-refined, well-sifted, pounded white sugar, the yolks
and whites of four very fresh eggs, well beaten together; work the
mixture up into a paste; roll it out very thin; divide it into squares
about half the size of this page; cut it into strips, so that the paste
should look like a hand with fingers; then dislocate the strips, and dip
them in hot melted fine lard, until of a delicate pale brown; the more
the strips are curled up and twisted the better; the _alpistera_ should
look like bunches of ribbons; powder them over with fine white sugar.
They are then as pretty as nice. It is not easy to make them well; but
the gods grant no excellence to mortals without much labour and thought.
So Venus the goddess of grace was allied to hard-working Vulcan, who
toiled and pondered at his fire, as every cook who has an aspiring soul
has ever done.

[Sidenote: SPANISH INNS.]


     Spanish Inns: Why so Indifferent--The Fonda--Modern
     Improvements--The Posada--Spanish Innkeepers--The Venta: Arrival in
     with the Inns of the Ancients.


Having thus, and we hope satisfactorily, discussed the eatables and
drinkables of Spain, attention must naturally be next directed to those
houses on the roads and in the towns, where these comforts to the hungry
and weary public are to be had, or are not to be had, as sometimes will
happen in this land of “the unexpected;” the Peninsular inns, with few
exceptions, have long been divided into the bad, the worse, and the
worst; and as the latter are still the most numerous and national, as
well as the worst, they will be gone into the last. In few countries
will the rambler agree oftener with dear Dr. Johnson’s speech to his
squire Boswell, “Sir, there is nothing which has been contrived by man,
by which so much happiness is produced, as by a good tavern.” Spain
offers many negative arguments of the truth of our great moralist and
eater’s reflection; the inns in general are fuller of entertainment for
the mind than the body, and even when the newest, and the best in the
country, are indifferent if compared to those which Englishmen are
accustomed to at home, and have created on those high roads of the
Continent, which they most frequent. Here few gentlemen will say with
Falstaff, “Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn?” Badness of roads and
discomforts of _ventas_ cannot well escape the notice of those who
travel on horseback and slowly, since they must dwell on and in them;
whereas a rail whisks the passenger past such nuisances, with comet-like
rapidity, and all things that are soon out of sight are quicker out of
mind; nevertheless, let no aspiring writer be deterred from quitting the
highways for the byeways of the Peninsula. “There is, Sir,” as Johnson
again said to Boswell, “a good deal of Spain that has not been
perambulated. I would have you go thither; a man of inferior talents to
yours, may furnish us with useful observations on that country.”


Why the public accommodations should be second-rate is soon explained.
Nature and the natives have long combined to isolate still more their
Peninsula, which already is moated round by the unsocial sea, and is
barricadoed by almost impassable mountains. The Inquisition all but
reduced Spanish man to the condition of a monk in a wall-enclosed
convent, by standing sentinel, and keeping watch and ward against the
foreigner and his perilous novelties;[7] Spain thus unvisited and
unvisiting, became arranged for Spaniards only, and has scarcely
required conveniences which are more suited to the curious wants of
other Europeans and strangers who here are neither liked, wished for,
nor even thought of, by natives who seldom travel except on compulsion
and never for amusement; why indeed should they? since Spain is
paradise, and each man’s own parish in his eyes is the central spot of
its glory. When the noble and rich visited the provinces, they were
lodged in their own or in their friends’ houses, just as the clergy and
monks were received into convents. The great bulk of the Peninsular
family, not being overburdened with cash or fastidiousness, have long
been and are inured to infinite inconveniences and negations; they live
at home in an abundance of privations, and expect when abroad to be
worse off; and they well know that comfort never lodges at a Spanish
inn; as in the East, they cannot conceive that any travelling should be
unattended by hardships, which they endure with Oriental resignation, as
_cosas de España_, or things of Spain which have always been so, and for
which there is no remedy but patient resignation; the bliss of
ignorance, and the not knowing of anything better, is everywhere the
grand secret of absence of discontent; while to those whose every-day
life is a feast, every thing that does not come up to their conventional
ideas becomes a failure, but to those whose daily bread is dry and
scanty, whose drink is water, every thing beyond prison-fare appears to
be luxury.

In Spain there has been little demand for those accommodations which
have been introduced on the continent by our nomade countrymen, who
carry their tea, towels, carpets, comforts and civilization with them;
to travel at all for mere pleasure is quite a modern invention, and
being an expensive affair, is the most indulged in by the English,
because they can best afford it, but as Spain lies out of their
hackneyed routes, the inns still retain much of the same state of
primitive dirt and discomfort, which most of those on the continent
presented, until repolished by our hints and guineas.

[Sidenote: THE FONDA.]

In the Peninsula, where intellect does not post in a Britannic britzcka
and four, the inns, and especially those of the country and inferior
order, continue much as they were in the time of the Romans, and
probably long before them; nay those in the very vicinity of Madrid,
“the only court on earth,” are as classically wretched, as the hostelry
at Aricia, near the Eternal City, was in the days of Horace. The Spanish
inns, indeed, on the bye-roads and remoter districts, are such as render
it almost unadvisable for any English lady to venture to face them,
unless predetermined to go through roughing-it, in a way of which none
who have only travelled in England can form the remotest idea: at the
same time they may be and have been endured by even the sick and
delicate. To youth, and to all men in enjoyment of good health, temper,
patience, and the blessing of foresight, neither a dinner nor a bed will
ever be wanting, to both of which hunger and fatigue will give a zest
beyond the reach of art; and fortunately for travellers, all the
Continent over, and particularly in Spain, bread and salt, as in the
days of Horace, will be found to appease the wayfarer’s barking stomach,
nor will he who after that sleeps soundly be bitten by fleas, “_quien
duerme bien, no le pican las pulgas_.” The pleasures of travelling in
this wild land are cheaply purchased by these trifling inconveniences,
which may always be much lessened by _provision_ in brain and basket;
the expeditions team with incident, adventure, and novelty; every day
and evening present a comedy of real life, and offer means of obtaining
insight into human nature, and form in after-life a perpetual fund of
interesting recollections: all that was charming will be then
remembered, and the disagreeable, if not forgotten, will be disarmed of
its sting, nay, even as having been in a battle, will become a pleasant
thing to recollect and to talk, may be twaddle, about. Let not the
traveller expect to find too much; if he reckons on finding nothing he
will seldom be disappointed; so let him not look for five feet in a cat,
“_no busces cinco pies al gato_.” Spain, as the East, is not to be
enjoyed by the over-fastidious in the fleshly comforts: there, those who
over analyze, who peep too much behind the culinary or domestic
curtains, must not expect to pass a tranquil existence.

[Sidenote: THE FONDA.]

First and foremost among these refuges for the destitute comes the
_fonda_, the hotel. This, as the name implies, is a foreign thing, and
was imported from Venice, which in its time was the Paris of Europe, the
leader of sensual civilization, and the sink of every lie and iniquity.
Its _fondacco_, in the same manner, served as a model for the Turkish
_fondack_. The _fonda_ is only to be found in the largest towns and
principal seaports, where the presence of foreigners creates a demand
and supports the establishment. To it frequently is attached a café, or
“_botilleriá_,” a bottlery and a place for the sale of liqueurs, with a
“_neveria_,” a snowery where ices and cakes are supplied. Men only, not
horses, are taken in at a _fonda_; but there is generally a keeper of a
stable or of a minor inn in the vicinity, to which the traveller’s
animals are consigned. The _fonda_ is tolerably furnished in reference
to the common articles with which the sober unindulgent natives are
contented: the traveller in his comparisons must never forget that Spain
is not England, which too few ever can get out of their heads. Spain is
Spain, a truism which cannot be too often repeated; and in its being
Spain consists its originality, its raciness, its novelty, its
idiosyncrasy, its best charm and interest, although the natives do not
know it, and are every day, by a foolish aping of European civilization,
paring away attractions, and getting commonplace, unlike themselves, and
still more unlike their Gotho-Moro and most picturesque fathers and
mothers. Monks, as we said in our preface, are gone, mantillas are
going, the shadow of cotton _versus_ corn has already darkened the sunny
city of Figaro, and the end of all Spanish things is coming. _Ay! de mi

Thus in Spain, and especially in the hotter provinces, it is heat and
not cold which is the enemy: what we call furniture--carpets, rugs,
curtains, and so forth--would be a positive nuisance, would keep out the
cool, and harbour plagues of vermin beyond endurance. The walls of the
apartments are frequently, though simply, whitewashed: the uneven brick
floors are covered in winter with a matting made of the “_esparto_,”
rush, and called an “_estera_,” as was done in our king’s palaces in the
days of Elizabeth: a low iron or wooden truckle bedstead, with coarse
but clean sheets and clothes, a few hard chairs, perhaps a stiff-backed,
most uncomfortable sofa, and a rickety table or so, complete the scanty
inventory. The charges are moderate; about two dollars, or 8_s._ 6_d._,
per head a-day, includes lodging, breakfast, dinner, and supper.
Servants, if Spanish, are usually charged the half; English servants,
whom no wise person would take on the Continent, are nowhere more
useless, or greater incumbrances, than in this hungry, thirsty, tealess,
beerless, beefless land: they give more trouble, require more food and
attention, and are ten times more discontented than their masters, who
have poetry in their souls; an æsthetic love of travel, for its own
sake, more than counterbalances with them the want of material gross
comforts, about which their pudding-headed four-full-meals-a-day
attendants are only thinking. Charges are higher at Madrid, and
Barcelona, a great commercial city, where the hotels are appointed more
European-like, in accommodation and prices. Those who remain any time in
a large town bargain with the innkeeper, or go into a boarding-house,
“_casa de pupilos_,” or “_de huespedes_,” where they have the best
opportunity of learning the Spanish language, and of obtaining an idea
of national manners and habits. This system is very common. The houses
may be known externally by a white paper ticket attached to the
_extremity_ of one of the windows or balconies. This position must be
noted; for if the paper be placed in the _middle_ of the balcony, the
signal means only that lodgings are here to be let. Their charges are
very reasonable.


Since the death of Ferdinand VII. marvellous improvements have taken
place in some _fondas_. In the changes and chances of the multitudinous
revolutions, all parties ruled in their rotation, and then either killed
or banished their opponents. Thus royalists, liberals, patriots,
moderates, &c., each in their turn, have been expatriated; and as the
wheel of fortune and politics went round, many have returned to their
beloved Spain from bitter exile in France and England. These travellers,
in many cases, were sent abroad for the public good, since they were
thus enabled to discover that some things were better managed on the
other side of the water and Pyrenees. Then and there suspicion crossed
their minds, although they seldom will admit it to a foreigner, that
Spain was not altogether the richest, wisest, strongest, and first of
nations, but that she might take a hint or two in a few trifles, among
which perhaps the accommodations for man and beast might be included.
The ingress, again, of foreigners by the facilities offered to
travellers by the increased novelties of steamers, mails, and diligences
necessarily called for more waiters and inns. Every day, therefore, the
fermentation occasioned by the foreign leaven is going on; and if the
national _musto_, or grape-juice, be not over-drugged with French
brandy, something decent in smell and taste may yet be produced.

[Sidenote: THE POSADA.]

In the seaports and large towns on the Madrid roads the twilight of café
and cuisine civilization is breaking from La belle France. Monastic
darkness is dispelled, and the age of convents is giving way to that of
kitchens, while the large spaces and ample accommodations of the
suppressed monasteries suggest an easy transition into “first-rate
establishments,” in which the occupants will probably pay more and pray
less. News, indeed, have just arrived from Malaga, that certain
ultra-civilized hotels are actually rising, to be defrayed by companies
and engineered by English, who seem to be as essential in regulating
these novelties on the Continent as in the matters of railroads and
steamboats. Rooms are to be papered, brick floors to be exchanged for
boards, carpets to be laid down, fireplaces to be made, and bells are to
be hung, incredible as it may appear to all who remember Spain as it
was. They will ring the knell of nationality; and we shall be much
mistaken if the grim old Cid, when the first one is pulled at Burgos,
does not answer it himself by knocking the innovator down. Nay, more,
for wonders never cease; vague rumours are abroad that secret and
solitary closets are contemplated, in which, by some magical mechanism,
sudden waters are to gush forth; but this report, like others _viâ_
Madrid and Paris telegraph, requires confirmation. Assuredly, the spirit
of the Holy Inquisition, which still hovers over orthodox Spain, will
long ward off these English heresies, which are rejected as too bad even
by free-thinking France.

[Sidenote: THE POSADA.]

The genuine Spanish town inn is called the _posada_, as being meant to
mean, a house of _repose_ after the pains of travel. Strictly speaking,
the keeper is only bound to provide lodging, salt, and the power of
cooking whatever the traveller brings with him or can procure out of
doors; and in this it diners from the _fonda_, in which meats and drinks
are furnished. The _posada_ ought only to be compared to its type, the
_khan_ of the East, and never to the inn of Europe. If foreigners, and
especially Englishmen, would bear this in mind, they would save
themselves a great deal of time, trouble, and disappointment, and not
expose themselves by their loss of temper on the spot, or in their
note-books. No Spaniard is ever put out at meeting with neither
attention nor accommodation, although he maddens in a moment on other
occasions at the slightest personal affront, for his blood boils without
fire. He takes these things coolly, which colder-blooded foreigners
seldom do. The native, like the Oriental, does not expect to find
anything, and accordingly is never surprised at only getting what he
brings with him. His surprise is reserved for those rare occasions when
he finds anything actually ready, which he considers to be a godsend. As
most travellers carry their provisions with them, the uncertainty of
demand would prevent mine host from filling his larder with perishable
commodities; and formerly, owing to absurd local privileges, he very
often was not permitted to sell objects of consumption to travellers,
because the lords or proprietors of the town or village had set up other
shops, little monopolies of their own. These inconveniences sound worse
on paper than in practice; for whenever laws are decidedly opposed to
common sense and the public benefit, they are neutralized in practice;
the means to elude them are soon discovered, and the innkeeper, if he
has not the things by him himself, knows where to get them. On starting
next day a sum is charged for lodging, service, and dressing the food:
this is, called _el ruido de casa_, an indemnification to mine host for
the _noise_, the disturbance, that the traveller is supposed to have
created, which is the old Italian _incommodo de la casa_, the routing
and inconveniencing of the house; and no word can be better chosen to
express the varied and never-ceasing din of mules, muleteers, songs,
dancing, and laughing, the dust, the _row_, which Spaniards, men as well
as beasts, kick up. The English traveller, who will have to pay the most
in purse and sleep for his _noise_, will often be the only quiet person
in the house, and might claim indemnification for the injury done to his
acoustic organs, on the principle of the Turkish soldier who forces his
entertainer to pay him teeth-money, to compensate for the damage done to
his molars and incisors from masticating indifferent rations.


Akin to the _posada_ is the “_parador_,” a word probably derived from
Waradah, Arabicè, “a halting-place;” it is a huge caravansary for the
reception of waggons, carts, and beasts of burden; these large
establishments are often placed outside the town to avoid the heavy
duties and vexatious examinations at the gates, where dues on all
articles of consumption are levied both for municipal and government
purposes. They are the old _sisa_, a word derived from the Hebrew
_Sisah_, to take a sixth part, and are now called _el derecho de
puertas_, the gate-due; and have always been as unpopular as the similar
_octroi_ of France; and as they are generally farmed out, they are
exacted from the peasantry with great severity and incivility. There is
perhaps no single grievance among the many, in the mistaken system of
Spanish political and fiscal economy, which tends to create and keep
alive, by its daily retail worry and often wholesale injustice, so great
a feeling of discontent and ill-will towards authority as this does; it
obstructs both commerce and travellers. The officers are, however,
seldom either strict or uncivil to the higher classes, and if
courteously addressed by the stranger, and told that he is an English
gentleman, the official _Cerberi_ open the gates and let him pass
unmolested, and still more if quieted by the Virgilian sop of a bribe.
The laws in Spain are indeed strict on paper, but those who administer
them, whenever it suits their private interest, that is ninety-nine
times out of a hundred, evade and defeat them; they obey the letter,
but do not perform the spirit, “_se obedece, pero no se cumple_;”
indeed, the lower classes of officials in particular are so inadequately
paid that they are compelled to eke out a livelihood by taking bribes
and little presents, which, as _Backshish_ in the East, may always be
offered, and will always be accepted, as a matter of compliment. The
_idea_ of a bribe must be concealed; it shocks their dignity, their
sense of honour, their “_pundonor_:” if, however, the money be given to
the head person as something for his people to drink, the delicate
attention is sacked by the chief, properly appreciated, and works its
due effect.

[Sidenote: THE VENTA.]

[Sidenote: THE VENTA.]

Another term, almost equivalent to the “posada,” is the “_meson_,” which
is rather applicable to the inns of the rural and smaller towns, to the
“_hosterias_,” than to those of the greater. The “_mesonero_,” like the
Spanish “_ventera_,” has a bad reputation. It is always as well to
stipulate something about prices beforehand. The proverb says, “_Por un
ladron, pierden ciento en el meson_”--“_Ventera hermosa, mal para la
bolsa_.” “For every one who is robbed on the road, a hundred are in the
inn.”--“The fairer the hostess, the fouler the reckoning.” It is among
these innkeepers that the real and worst robbers of Spain are to be met
with, since these classes of worthies are everywhere only thinking how
much they can with decency overcharge in their bills. This is but fair,
for nobody would be an innkeeper if it were not for the profit. The
trade of inn-keeping is among those which are considered derogatory in
Spain, where so many Hindoo notions of caste, self-respect, purity of
blood, etc., exist. The harbouring strangers for gain is opposed to
every ancient and Oriental law of sacred hospitality. Now no Spaniard,
if he can help it, likes to degrade himself; this accounts for the
number of _fondas_ in towns being kept by Frenchmen, Italians, Catalans,
Biscayans, who are all _foreigners_ in the eye of the Castilian, and
disliked and held cheap; accordingly the inn-keeper in Don Quixote
protests that he is a _Christian_, although a _ventero_, nay, a genuine
old one--_Cristiano viejo rancio_; an old Christian being the common
term used to distinguish the genuine stock from those renegade Jews and
Moors who, rather than leave Spain, became _pseudo-Christians_ and

The country _Parador_, _Meson_, _Posada_, and _Venta_, call it how you
will, is the Roman stabulum, whose original intention was the housing of
cattle, while the accommodation of travellers was secondary, and so it
is in Spain to this day. The accommodation for the _beast_ is excellent;
cool roomy stables, ample mangers, a never-failing supply of fodder and
water, every comfort and luxury which the animal is capable of enjoying,
is ready on the spot; as regards _man_, it is just the reverse; he must
forage abroad for anything he may want. Only a small part of the barn is
allotted him, and then he is lodged among the brutes below, or among the
trusses and sacks of their food in the lofts above. He finds, in spite
of all this, that if he asks the owner what he has got, he will be told
that “there is everything,” _hay de todo_, just as the rogue of a
_ventero_ informed Sancho Panza, that his empty larder contained all the
birds of the air, all the beasts of the earth, all the fishes of the
sea,--a Spanish magnificence of promise, which, when reduced to plain
English, too often means, as in that case, there is everything that you
have brought with you. This especially occurs in the _ventas_ of the
out-of-the-way and rarely-visited districts, which, however empty their
larders, are full of the spirit of Don Quixote to the brim; and the
everyday occurrences in them are so strange, and one’s life is so
dramatic, that there is much difficulty in “realising,” as the Americans
say; all is so like being in a dream or at a play, that one scarcely can
believe it to be actually taking place, and true. The man of the
note-book and the artist almost forget that there is nothing to eat;
meanwhile all this food for the mind and portfolio, all this local
colour and oddness, is lost upon your Spanish companion, if he be one of
the better classes: he is ashamed, where you are enchanted; he blushes
at the sad want of civilization, clean table-cloth, and beefsteaks, and
perhaps he is right: at all events, while you are raving about the
Goths, Moors, and this lifting up the curtain of two thousand years ago,
he is thinking of Mivart’s; and when you quote Martial, he and the
ventero set you down as talking nonsense, and stark staring mad; nay, a
Spanish gentleman is often affronted, and suspects, from the
impossibility to him, that such things can be objects of real
admiration, that you are laughing at him in your sleeve, and considering
his country as Roman, African, or in a word, as un-European, which is
what he particularly dislikes and resents.

These _ventas_ have from time immemorial been the subject of jests and
pleasantries to Spanish and foreign wits. Quevedo and Cervantes indulge
in endless diatribes against the roguery of the masters, and the misery
of the accommodations, while Gongora compares them to Noah’s ark; and in
truth they do contain a variety of animals, from the big to the _small_,
and more than a pair, of more than one kind of the latter. The word
_venta_ is derived from the Latin _vendendo_, on the lucus a _non_
lucendo principle of etymology, because provisions are _not_ sold in it
to travellers: old Covarrubias explains this mode of dealing as
consisting “especially in _selling_ a cat for a hare,” which indeed was
and is so usual a venta practice, that _venderlo á uno gato por liebre_
has become in common Spanish parlance to be equivalent to _doing_ or
taking one in. The natives do not dislike the feline tribe when well
stewed: no cat was safe in the Alhambra, the galley-slaves bagged her in
a second. This _venta_ trait of Iberian gastronomy did not escape the
compiler of Gil Blas.


Be that as it may, a _venta_, strictly speaking, is an isolated country
inn, or house of reception on the road, and, if it be not one of
physical entertainment, it is at least one of moral, and accordingly
figures in prominent characters in all the personal narratives and
travels in Spain; it sharpens the wit of both hungry cooks and lively
authors, and ingenii largitor _venter_ is as old as Juvenal. Many of
these _ventas_ have been built on a large scale by the noblemen or
convent brethren to whom the village or adjoining territory belonged,
and some have at a distance quite the air of a gentleman’s mansion.
Their walls, towers, and often elegant elevations glitter in the sun,
gay and promising, while all within is dark, dirty, and dilapidated, and
no better than a whitened sepulchre. The ground floor is a sort of
common room for men and beasts; the portion appropriated to the stables
is often arched over, and is very imperfectly lighted to keep it cool,
so that even by day the eye has some difficulty at first in making out
the details. The ranges of mangers are fixed round the walls, and the
harness of the different animals suspended on the pillars which support
the arches; a wide door, always open to the road, leads into this great
stable; a small space in the interior is generally left unincumbered,
into which the traveller enters on foot or on horseback; no one greets
him; no obsequious landlord, bustling waiter, or simpering chambermaid
takes any notice of his arrival: the _ventero_ sits in the sun smoking,
while his wife continues her uninterrupted _chasse_ for “small deer” in
the thick covers of her daughters’ hair; nor does the guest pay much
attention to them; he proceeds to a gibbous water-jar, which is always
set up in a visible place, dips in with the ladle, or takes from the
shelf in the wall an _alcarraza_ of cold water; refreshes his baked
clay, refills it, and replaces it in its hole on the _taller_, which
resembles the decanter stands in a butler’s pantry: he then proceeds,
unaided by ostler or boots, to select a stall for his beast,--unsaddles
and unloads, and in due time applies to the _ventero_ for fodder; the
difference of whose cool reception contrasts with the eager welcome
which awaits the traveller at bedtime: his arrival is a godsend to the
creeping tribe, who, like the _ventero_, have no regular larder; it is
not upstairs that he eats, but where _he_ is eaten like Polonius; the
walls are frequently stained with the marks of nocturnal combats, of
those internecine, truly Spanish _guerrillas_, which are waged without
an Elliot treaty, against enemies who, if not exterminated, murder
sleep. Were these fleas and French ladybirds unanimous, they would eat
up a Goliath; but fortunately, like other Spaniards, they never act
together, and are consequently conquered and slaughtered in detail;
hence the proverbial expression for great mortality among men, _mueren
como chinches_.


Having first provided for the wants and comforts of his beast, for “the
master’s eye fattens the horse,” the traveller begins to think of
himself. One, and the greater side of the building, is destined to the
cattle, the other to their owners. Immediately opposite the public
entrance is the staircase that leads to the upper part of the building,
which is dedicated to the lodgment of fodder, fowls, vermin, and the
better class of travellers. The arrangement of the larger class of
_posadas_ and _ventas_ is laid out on the plan of a convent, and is well
calculated to lodge the greatest number of inmates in the smallest
space. The ingress and egress are facilitated by a long corridor, into
which the doors of the separate rooms open; these are called
“_cuartos_,” whence our word “quarters” may be derived. There is seldom
any furniture in them; whatever is wanted, is or is not to be had of the
host from some lock-up store. A rigid puritan will be much distressed
for the lack of any artificial contrivance to hold water; the best
toilette on these occasions is a river’s bank, but rivers in unvisited
interiors of the Castiles are often rarer even than water-basins. It is,
however, no use to draw nets in streams where there are no fish, nor to
expect to find conveniences which no one else ever asks for, and those
articles which seem to the foreigner to be of the commonest and daily
necessity, are unknown to the natives. However, as there are no carpets
to be spoiled, and cold water retains its properties although brought up
in a horse-bucket or in the cook’s brass cauldron, ablutions, as the
albums express it, can be performed. What a school, after all, a _venta_
is to the slaves of comforts, and without how many absolute essentials
do they manage to get on, and happily! What lessons are taught of
good-humoured patience, and that British sailor characteristic of making
the best of every occurrence, and deeming any port a good one in a
storm! Complaint is of no use; if you tell the landlord that his wine is
more sour than his vinegar, he will gravely reply, “_Señor_, that cannot
be, for both came out of the same cask.”

[Sidenote: VENTA GARLIC.]

The portion of the ground-floor which is divided by the public entrance
from the stables, is dedicated to the kitchen and accommodation of the
travellers. The kitchen consists of a huge open range, generally on the
floor, the _ollas_ pots and culinary vessels being placed against the
fire arranged in circles, as described by Martial, “multâ villica quem
coronat _ollâ_,” who, as a good Spaniard would do to this day, after
thirty-five years’ absence at Rome, writes, after his return to Spain,
to his friend Juvenal a full account of the real comforts that he once
more enjoys in his best-beloved patria, and which remind us of the
domestic details in the opening chapter of Don Quixote. These rows of
pipkins are kept up by round stones called “_sesos_,” _brains_; above is
a high, wide chimney, which is armed with iron-work for suspending pots
of a large size; sometimes there are a few stoves of masonry, but more
frequently they are only the portable ones of the East. Around the
blackened walls are arranged pots and pipkins, gridirons and
frying-pans, which hang in rows, like tadpoles of all sizes, to
accommodate large or small parties, and the more the better; it is a
good sign, “_en casa llena, pronto se guisa cena_.” Supper is then
sooner ready.

The vicinity of the kitchen fire being the warmest spot, and the nearest
to the flesh-pot, is the _querencia_, the favourite “resort” of the
muleteers and travelling bagsmen, especially when cold, wet, and hungry.
The first come are the best served, says the proverb, in the matters of
soup and love. The earliest arrivals take the cosiest corner seats near
the fire, and secure the promptest non-attendance; for the better class
of guests there is sometimes a “private apartment,” or the boudoir of
the _ventera_, which is made over to those who bring courtesy in their
mouths, and seem to have cash in their pockets; but these out-of-the way
curiosities of comfort do not always suit either author or artist, and
the social kitchen is preferable to solitary state. When a stranger
enters into it, if he salutes the company, “My lords and knights, do not
let your graces molest yourselves,” or courteously indicates his desire
to treat them with respect, they will assuredly more than return the
compliment, and as good breeding is instinctive in the Spaniard, will
rise and insist on his taking the best and highest seat. Greater,
indeed, is their reward and satisfaction, if they discover that the
invited one can talk to them in their own lingo, and understands their
feelings by circulating _his_ cigars and wine _bota_ among them.

At the side of the kitchen is a den of a room, into which the _ventero_
keeps stowed away that stock of raw materials which forms the foundation
of the national cuisine, and in which garlic plays the first fiddle. The
very name, like that of monk, is enough to give offence to most English.
The evil consists, however, in the abuse, not in the use: from the
quantity eaten in all southern countries, where it is considered to be
fragrant, palatable, stomachic, and invigorating, we must assume that it
is suited by nature to local tastes and constitutions. Wherever any
particular herb grows, there lives the ass who is to eat it. “_Donde
crece la escoba, nace el asno que la roya._” Nor is garlic necessarily
either a poison or a source of baseness; for Henry IV. was no sooner
born, than his lips were rubbed with a clove of it by his grandfather,
after the revered old custom of Bearn.


Bread, wine, and raw garlic, says the proverb, make a young man go
briskly, _Pan, vino, y ajo crudo, hacen andar al mozo agudo_. The better
classes turn up their noses at this odoriferous delicacy of the lower
classes, which was forbidden per statute by Alonzo XI. to his knights of
_La Banda_; and Don Quixote cautions Sancho Panza to be moderate in this
food, as not becoming to a governor: with even such personages however
it is a struggle, and one of the greatest sacrifices to the altar of
civilization and _les convenances_. To give Spanish garlic its due, it
must be said that, when administered by a judicious hand (for, like
prussic acid, all depends on the quantity), it is far milder than the
English. Spanish garlic and onions degenerate after three years’
planting when transplanted into England. They gain in pungency and
smell, just as English foxhounds, when drafted into Spain, lose their
strength and scent in the third generation. A clove of garlic is called
_un diente_, a tooth. Those who dislike the piquant vegetable must place
a sentinel over the cook of the venta while she is putting into her
cauldron the ingredients of his supper, or Avicenna will not save him;
for if God sends meats, and here they are a godsend, the evil one
provides the cooks of the venta, who certainly do bedevil many things.


Thrice happy, then, the man blessed with a provident servant who has
foraged on the road, and comes prepared with cates on which no Castilian
Canidia has breathed; while they are stewing he may, if he be a poet,
rival those sonnets made in Don Quixote on Sancho’s ass, saddle-bags,
and sapient attention to their provend, “_su cuerda providencia_.” The
odour and good tidings of the arrival of unusual delicacies soon spread
far and wide in the village, and generally attract the _Cura_, who loves
to hear something new, and does not dislike savoury food: the quality of
a Spaniard’s temperance, like that of his mercy, is strained; his
poverty and not his will consents to more and other fastings than to
those enjoined by the church; hunger, the sauce of Saint Bernard, is one
of the few wants which is not experienced in a Spanish venta. Our
practice in one was to invite the curate, by begging him to bless the
pot-luck, to which he did ample justice, and more than repaid for its
visible diminution by good fellowship, local information, and the credit
reflected on the stranger in the eyes of the natives, by beholding him
thus patronised by their pastor and master. It is not to be denied in
the case of a stew of partridges, that deep sighs and exclamations _que
rico!_ “how rich!” escape the envious lips of his hungry flock when they
behold and whiff the odoriferous dish as it smokes past them like a
railway locomotive.

Nor, it must be said, was all this hospitality on one side; it has more
than once befallen us in the rude _ventas_ of the Salamanca district,
that the silver-haired _cura_, whose living barely furnished the means
whereby to live, on hearing the simple fact that an Englishman was
arrived, has come down to offer his house and fare. Such, or indeed any
Spaniard’s invitation is not to be accepted by those who value liberty
of action or time; seat rather the good man at the head of the _venta_
board, and regale him with your best cigar, he will tell you of _El gran
Lor_--the great Lord--the Cid of England; he will recount the Duke’s
victories, and dwell on the good faith, mercy, and justice of our brave
soldiers, as he will execrate the cruelty, rapacity, and perfidy of
those who fled before their gleaming bayonets.

But, to return to first arrival at _ventas_, whether saddle-bag or
stomach be empty or full, the _ventero_ when you enter remains unmoved
and imperturbable, as if he never had had an appetite, or had lost it,
or had dined. Not that his genus ever are seen eating except when
invited to a guest’s stew; air, the economical ration of the chameleon,
seems to be his habitual sustenance, and still more as to his wife and
womankind, who never will sit and eat even with the stranger; nay, in
humbler Spanish families they seem to dine with the cat in some corner,
and on scraps; this is a remnant of the Roman and Moorish treatment of
women as inferiors. Their lord and husband, the innkeeper, cannot
conceive why foreigners on their arrival are always so impatient, and is
equally surprised at their inordinate appetite; an English landlord’s
first question “Will you not like to take some refreshment?” is the very
last which he would think of putting; sometimes by giving him a cigar,
by coaxing his wife, flattering his daughter, and caressing Maritornes,
you may get a couple of his _pollos_ or fowls, which run about the
ground-floor, picking up anything, and ready to be picked up themselves
and dressed.

[Sidenote: VENTA EATING.]

All the operations of cookery and eating, of killing, sousing in boiling
water, plucking, et cætera, all preparatory as well as final, go on in
this open kitchen. They are carried out by the ventera and her
daughters or maids, or by some crabbed, smoke-dried, shrivelled old
she-cat, that is, or at least is called, the “_tia_,” “my aunt,” and who
is the subject of the good-humoured remarks of the courteous and hungry
traveller before dinner, and of his full stomach jests afterwards. The
assembled parties crowd round the fire, watching and assisting each at
their own savoury messes, “_Un ojo á la sarten, y otro á la gata_”--“One
eye to the pan, the other to the real cat,” whose very existence in a
_venta_, and among the pots, is a miracle; by the way, the naturalist
will observe that their ears and tails are almost always cropped closely
to the stumps. All and each of the travellers, when their respective
stews are ready, form clusters and groups round the frying-pan, which is
moved from the fire hot and smoking, and placed on a low table or block
of wood before them, or the unctuous contents are emptied into a huge
earthen reddish dish, which in form and colour is the precise
_paropsis_, the food platter, described by Martial and by other ancient
authors. Chairs are a luxury; the lower classes sit on the ground as in
the East, or on low stools, and fall to in a most Oriental manner, with
an un-European ignorance of forks;[8] for which they substitute a short
wooden or horn spoon, or dip their bread into the dish, or fish up
morsels with their long pointed knives. They eat copiously, but with
gravity--with appetite, but without greediness; for none of any nation,
as a mass, are better bred or mannered than the lower classes of

[Sidenote: VENTA EATING.]

They are very pressing in their invitations whenever any eating is going
on. No Spaniard or Spaniards, however humble their class or fare, ever
allow any one to come near or pass them when eating, without inviting
him to partake. “_Guste usted comer?_” “Will your grace be pleased to
dine?” No traveller should ever omit to go through this courtesy
whenever any Spaniards, high or low, approach him when at any meal,
especially if taking it out of doors, which often happens in these
journeyings; nor is it altogether an empty form; all classes consider it
a compliment if a stranger, and especially an Englishman, will
condescend to share their dinner. In the smaller towns, those invited by
English will often partake, even the better classes, and who have
already dined; they think it civil to accept, and rude to refuse the
invitation, and have no objection to eating any given _good_ thing,
which is the exception to their ordinary frugal habits: all this is
quite Arabian. The Spaniards seldom accept the invitation at once; they
expect to be urged by an obsequious host, in order to appear to do a
gentle violence to their stomachs by eating to oblige _him_. The angels
declined Lot’s offered hospitalities until they were “pressed
_greatly_.” Travellers in Spain must not forget this still existing
Oriental trait; for if they do not greatly press their offer, they are
understood as meaning it to be a mere empty compliment. We have known
Spaniards who have called with an intention of staying dinner, go away,
because this ceremony was not gone through according to their
punctilious notions, to which our off-hand manners are diametrically
opposed. Hospitality in a hungry inn-less land becomes, as in the East,
a sacred duty; if a man eats all the provender by himself, he cannot
expect to have many friends. Generally speaking, the offer is not
accepted; it is always declined with the same courtesy which prompts the
invitation. “_Muchas gracias, buen provecho le haga á usted_,” “Many
thanks--much good may it do your grace,” an answer which is analogous to
the _prosit_ of Italian peasants after eating or sneezing. These
customs, both of inviting and declining, tally exactly, and even to the
expressions used among the Arabs to this day. Every passer-by is invited
by Orientals--“_Bismillah ya seedee_,” which means both a grace and
invitation--“In the name of God, sir, (_i.e._) will you dine with us?”
or “_Tafud’-dal_,” “Do me the favour to partake of this repast.” Those
who decline reply, “_Heneê an_,” “May it benefit.”



Supper, which, as with the ancients, is their principal meal, is
seasoned with copious draughts of the wine of the country, drunk out of
a jug or _bota_ which we have already described, for glasses do not
abound; after it is done, cigars are lighted, the rude seats are drawn
closer to the fire, stories are told, principally on robber or love
events, the latter of which are by far the truest. Jokes are given and
taken; laughter, inextinguishable as that of Homer’s gods, forms the
chorus of conversation, especially after good eating or drinking, to
which it is the best dessert. In due time songs are sung, a guitar is
strummed, for some black-whiskered Figaro is sure to have heard of the
“arrival,” and steals down from the pure love of harmony and charms of a
cigar; then flock in peasants of both sexes, dancing is set on foot, the
fatigues of the day are forgotten, and the catching sympathy of mirth
extending to all, is prolonged until far into the night; during which,
as they take a long siesta in the day, all are as wakeful as owls, and
worse caterwaulers than cats; to describe the scene baffles the art of
pen or pencil. The roars, the dust, the want of everything in these
low-classed ventas, are emblems of the nothingness of Spanish life--a
jest. One by one the company drops off; the better classes go up stairs,
the humbler and vast majority make up their bed on the ground, near
their animals, and like them, full of food and free from care, fall
instantly asleep in spite of the noise and discomfort by which they are
surrounded. This counterfeit of death is more equalizing, as Don Quixote
says, than death itself, for an honest Spanish muleteer stretched on his
hard pallet sleeps sounder than many an uneasy trickster head that wears
another’s crown. “Sleep,” says Sancho, “covers one over like a cloak,”
and a cloak or its cognate mantle forms the best part of their wardrobe
by day, and their bed furniture by night. The earth is now, as it was to
the Iberians, the national bed; nay, the Spanish word which expresses
that commodity, _cama_, is derived from the Greek καμαι. Thus
they are lodged on the ground floor, and thereby escape the three
classes of little animals which, like the inseparable Graces, are always
to be found in fine climates in the wholesale, and in Spanish _ventas_
in the retail. Their pillow is composed either of their pack-saddles or
saddle-bags; their sleep is short, but profound. Long before daylight
all are in motion; “they _take up_ their bed,” the animals are fed,
harnessed, and laden, and the heaviest sleepers awakened: there is
little morning toilette, no time or soap is lost by biped or quadruped
in the processes of grooming or lavation: both carry their wardrobes on
their back, and trust to the shower and the sun to cleanse and bleach;
their moderate accounts are paid, salutations or execrations (generally
the latter), according to the length of the bills, pass between them
and their landlords, and another day of toil begins. Our faithful and
trustworthy squire seldom failed for a couple of hours after leaving the
_venta_ to pour forth an eloquent stream of oaths, invectives, and
lamentations at the dearness of inns, the rascality of their keepers in
general, and of the host of the preceding night in particular, although
probably a couple of dollars had cleared the account for a couple of men
and animals, and he himself had divided the extra-extortion with the
honest _ventero_.

These Spanish venta scenes vary every day and night, as a new set of
actors make their first and last appearance before the traveller: of one
thing there can be no mistake, he has got out of England, and the
present year of our Lord. Their undeniable smack of antiquity gives them
a relish, a _borracha_, which is unknown in Great Britain, where all is
fused and modernized down to last Saturday night; here alone can you see
and study those manners and events which must have occurred on the same
sites when Hannibal and Scipio were last there, as it would be very easy
to work out from the classical authors. We would just suggest a
comparison between the arrangement of the Spanish country _venta_ with
that of the Roman inn now uncovered at the entrance of Pompeii, and its
exact counterpart, the modern “_osteria_,” in the same district of
Naples. In the Museo Borbonico will be found types of most of the
utensils now used in Spain, while the Oriental and most ancient style of
cuisine is equally easy to be identified with the notices left us in the
cookery books of antiquity. The same may be said of the tambourines,
castanets, songs, and dances,--in a word, of everything; and, indeed,
when all are hushed in sleep, and stretched like corpses amid their
beasts, the Valencians especially, in their sandals and kilts, in their
mantas, and in and on their rush-baskets and mattings, we feel that
Strabo must have beheld the old Iberians exactly in the same costume and
position, when he told us what we see now to be true, το πλεον εν σαγοις, εν ὁις
περ και στιβαδοκοιτουσι.


The “_ventorrillo_” is a lower class of _venta_--for there is a deeper
bathos; it is the German _kneipe_ or hedge ale-house, and is often
nothing more than a mere hut, run up with reeds or branches of trees by
the road-side, at which water, bad wine, and brandy, “_aguardiente_,”
tooth-water, are to be sold. The latter is always detestable, raw, and
disflavoured with aniseed, and turns white in water like Eau de Cologne,
not that the natives ever expose it to such a trial. These
“_ventorillos_” are at best suspicious places, and the haunts of the
spies of regular robbers, or of skulking footpads when there are any,
who lurk inside with the proprietress; she herself generally might sit
as a model for Hecate, or for one of the witches in Shakspere over their
cauldron; her attendant imps are, however, sufficiently interesting
personages to form a chapter by themselves.



     Spanish Robbers--A Robber Adventure--Guardias Civiles--Exaggerated
     Accounts--Cross of the Murdered--Idle Robber Tales--French
     Bandittiphobia--Robber History--Guerrilleros--Smugglers--Jose
     Maria--Robbers of the First Class--The Ratero--Miguelites--Escorts
     and Escopeteros--Passes, Protections, and Talismans--Execution of a

An _olla_ without bacon would scarcely be less insipid than a volume on
Spain without banditti; the stimulant is not less necessary for the
established taste of the home-market, than brandy is for pale sherries
neat as imported. In the mean time, while the timid hesitate to put
their heads into this supposed den of thieves as much as into a house
that is haunted, those who are not scared by shadows, and do not share
in the fears of cockney critics and delicate writers in satin-paper
albums, but adventure boldly into the hornet’s nest, come back in a firm
belief of the non-existence of the robber genus. In Spain, that _pays de
l’imprévu_, this unexpected absence of personages who render roads
uncomfortable, is one of the many and not disagreeable surprises, which
await those who prefer to judge of a country by going there themselves,
rather than to put implicit faith in the foregone conclusions and
stereotyped prejudices of those who have not, although they do sit in
judgment on those who have, and decide “without a view.” This very
summer, some dozen and more friends of ours have made tours in various
parts of the Peninsula, driving and riding unarmed and unescorted
through localities of former suspicion, without having the good luck of
meeting even with the ghost of a departed robber; in truth and fact, we
cannot but remember that such things as monks and banditti were,
although they must be spoken of rather in the past than in the present


The actual security of the Spanish highways is due to the _Moderados_,
as the French party and imitators of the _juste milieu_ are called, and
at the head of whom may be placed _Señor Martinez de la Rosa_. He,
indeed, is a moderate in poetry as well as politics, and a rare specimen
of that sublime of mediocrity which, according to Horace, neither men,
gods, nor booksellers can tolerate; his reputation as an author and
statesman--alas! poor Cervantes and Cisneros--proves too truly the
present effeteness of Spain. Her pen and her sword are blunted, her
laurels are sear, and her womb is barren; but, among the blind, he who
has one eye is king.

This dramatist, in the May of 1833, was summoned from his exile at
Granada to Madrid by the suspicious Calomarde. The mail in which he
travelled was stopped by robbers about ten o’clock of a wet night near
Almuradiel;--the _guard_, at the first notice, throwing himself on his
belly, with his face in the mud, in imitation of the postilions, who pay
great respect to the gentlemen of the road. The passengers consisted of
himself, a German artist, and an English friend of ours now in London,
and who, having given up his well-garnished purse at once with great
good-humour, was most courteously treated by the well-satisfied
recipients: not so the Deutscher, on whom they were about to do personal
violence in revenge for a scanty scrip, had not his profession been
explained by our friend, by whose interference he was let off.
Meanwhile, the _Don_ was hiding his watch in the carriage lining, which
he cut open, and was concealing his few dollars, the existence of which
when questioned he stoutly denied. They, however, re-appeared under
threats of the bastinado, which were all but inflicted. The passengers
were then permitted to depart in peace, the leader of their spoilers
having first shaken hands with our informant, and wished him a pleasant
journey: “May your grace go with God and without novelty;” adding, “You
are a _caballero_, a gentleman, as all the English are; the German is a
_pobrecito_, a poor devil; the Spaniard is an _embustero_, a regular
swindler.” This latter gentleman, thus hardly delineated by his Lavater
countryman, has since more than gotten back his cash, having risen to be
prime minister to Christina, and humble and devoted servant of
Louis-Philippe, _cosas de España_.


Possibly this little incident may have facilitated the introduction of
the mounted guards, who are now stationed in towns, and by whom the
roads are regularly patrolled; they are called _guardias civiles_, and
have replaced the ancient “brotherhood” of Ferdinand and Isabella. As
they have been dressed and modelled after the fashion of the
transpyrenean gendarmerie, the Spaniards, who never lose a chance of a
happy nickname, or of a fling at the things of their neighbour, whom
they do not love, term them, either _Polizontes_ or _Polizones_, words
with which they have enriched their phraseology, and that represent the
French _polissons_, scoundrels, or they call them _Hijos de
Luis-Philipe_, “sons of Louis-Philippe;” for they are ill-bred enough,
in spite of the Montpensier marriage, and the Nelsonic achievements of
Monsieur de Joinville, to consider the words as synonymes.

The number of these rogues, French king’s sons, civil guards, call them
as you will, exceeds five thousand. During the recent Machiavelianisms
of their putative father, they have been quite as much employed in the
towns as on the highway, and for political purposes rather than those of
pure police, having been used to keep down the expression of indignant
public opinion, and, instead of catching thieves, in upholding those
first-rate criminals, foreign and domestic, who are now robbing poor
Spain of her gold and liberties; but so it has always been. Indeed, when
we first arrived in the Peninsula, and naturally made enquiries about
banditti, according to all sensible Spaniards, it was not on the road
that they were most likely to be found, but in the confessional boxes,
the lawyers’ offices, and still more in the _bureaux_ of government; and
even in England some think that purses are exposed to more danger in
Chancery Lane and Stone Buildings, than in the worst cross-road, or the
most rocky mountain pass in the Peninsula.


It will be long, however, before this “great fact” is believed within
the sound of Bow-bells, where many of those who provide the reading
public with correct information, dislike having to eat their own words,
and to have their settled opinions shaken or contradicted. Nor is it
pleasant at a certain time of life to go again to school, as one does
when studying Niebuhr’s Roman History, and then to find that the
alphabet must be re-begun, since all that was thought to be right is in
fact wrong. Distant Spain is ever looked at through a telescope which
either magnifies richness and goodness, from which half at least must be
deducted according to the proverb, _de los dineros y bondad, se ha de
quitar la mitad_, or darkens its dangers and difficulties through a
discoloured medium. A bad name given to a dog or country is very
adhesive; and the many will repeat each other in cuckoo-note. “Il y a
des choses,” says Montesquieu, “que tout le monde dit, parcequ’elles ont
été dites une fois;” thus one silly sheep makes many, who will follow
their leader; _ovejas y bobas, donde va una, van todas_. So in the end
error becomes stamped with current authority, and is received, until the
false, imaginary picture is alone esteemed, and the true, original
portrait scouted as a cheat.


It has so long and annually been considered permissible, when writing
about romantic Spain, to take leave of common sense, to ascend on
stilts, and converse in the Cambyses vein, that those who descend to
humble prose, and confine themselves to commonplace matter-of-fact, are
considered not only to be inæsthetic, unpoetical, and unimaginative, but
deficient in truth and power of observation. The genius of the land,
when speaking of itself and its things, is prone to say the thing which
is not; and it must be admitted that the locality lends itself often and
readily to misconceptions. The leagues and leagues of lonely hills and
wastes, over which beasts of prey roam, and above which vultures sulkily
rising part the light air with heavy wing, are easily peopled, by those
who are in a prepared train of mind, with equally rapacious bipeds of
Plato’s unfeathered species. Rocky passes, contrived as it were on
purpose for ambuscades, tangled glens overrun with underwood, in spite
of the prodigality of beauty which arrests the artist, suggest the lair
of snakes and robbers. Nor is the feeling diminished by meeting the
frequent crosses set up on classically piled heaps, which mark the grave
of some murdered man, whose simple, touching epitaph tells the name of
the departed, the date of the treacherous stab, and entreats the
passenger, who is as he was, and may be in an instant as he is, to pray
for his unannealed soul. A shadow of death hovers over such spots, and
throws the stranger on his own thoughts, which, from early associations,
are somewhat in unison with the scene. Nor is the welcome of the
outstretched arms of these crosses over-hearty, albeit they are
sometimes hung with flowers, which mock the dead. Nor are all sermons
more eloquent than these silent stones, on which such brief emblems are
fixed. The Spaniards, from long habit, are less affected by them than
foreigners, being all accustomed to behold crosses and bleeding
crucifixes in churches and out; they moreover well know that by far the
greater proportion of these memorials have been raised to record
murders, which have not been perpetrated by robbers, but are the results
of sudden quarrel or of long brooded-over revenge, and that wine and
women, nine times out of ten, are at the bottom of the calamity.
Nevertheless, it makes a stout English heart uncomfortable, although it
is of little use to be afraid when one is in for it, and on the spot.
Then there is no better chance of escape, than to brave the peril and to
ride on. Turn, therefore, dear reader, a deaf ear to the tales of local
terror which will be told in every out-of-the-way village by the
credulous, timid inhabitants. You, as we have often been, will be
congratulated on having passed such and such a wood, and will be assured
that you will infallibly be robbed at such and such a spot a few leagues
onward. We have always found that this ignis fatuus, like the horizon,
has receded as we advanced; the dangerous spot is either a little behind
or a little before the actual place--it vanishes, as most difficulties
do, when boldly approached and grappled with.


At the same time these sorts of places and events admit of much fine
writing when people get safely back again, to say nothing of the dignity
and heroic elevation which may be thus obtained by such an exhibition of
valour during the long vacation. Peaked hats, hair-breadth escapes from
long knives and mustachios, lying down for an hour on your stomach with
your mouth in the mud, are little interludes so diametrically opposed to
civilization, and the humdrum, unpicturesque routine of free Britons who
pay way and police rates, that they form almost irresistible topics to
the pen of a ready writer. And such exciting incidents are sure to take,
and to affect the public at home, who, moreover, are much pleased by the
perusal of _authentic_ accounts from Spain itself, and the best and
latest intelligence, which tally with their own preconceived ideas of
the land. Hence those authors are the most popular who put the self-love
of their reader in best humour with his own stock of knowledge. And this
accounts for the frequency, in Peninsular sketches, personal
narratives, and so forth, of robberies which are certainly oftener to be
met with in their pages than on the plains of the Peninsula. The writers
know that a bandit adventure is as much expected in the journals of such
travels as in one of Mrs. Ratcliffe’s romances; such fleeting books are
chiefly made by “_striking events_;” accordingly, the authors string
together all the floating traditional horrors which they can scrape
together on Spanish roads, and thus feed and keep up the notion
entertained in many counties of England, that the whole Peninsula is
peopled with banditti. If such were the case society could not exist,
and the very fact, of almost all of the reporters having themselves
escaped by a miracle, might lead to the inference that most other
persons escape likewise: a blot is not a blot till it is hit.


Our ingenious neighbours, strange to say in so gallant a people, have a
still more decided bandittiphobia. According to what the badauds of
Paris are told in print, every rash individual, before he takes his
place in the dilly for Spain, ought by all means to make his will, as
was done four hundred years ago at starting on a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem; possibly this may be predicated in the spirit of French
diplomacy, which always has a concealed arrière pensée, and it may be
bruited abroad, on the principle with which illicit distillers and
coin-forgers give out that certain localities are haunted, in order to
scare away others, and thus preserve for themselves a quiet possession.
Perhaps the superabundance of l’esprit Français may give colour and
substance to forms insignificant in themselves, as a painter lost in a
brown study over a coal fire converts cinders into castles, monsters,
and other creatures of his lively imagination; or it may be, as
conscience makes cowards of all, that these gentlemen really see a
bandit in every bush of Spain, and expect from behind every rock an
avenging minister of retaliation, in whose pocket is a list of the
church plate, Murillos, &c. which were found missing after their
countrymen’s invasion. Be that as it may, even so clever a man as
Monsieur Quinet, a real Dr. Syntax, fills pages of his recent _Vacances_
with his continual trepidations, although, from having arrived at his
journey’s end without any sort of accident, albeit not without every
kind of fear, it might have crossed him, that the bugbears existed only
in his own head, and he might have concealed, in his pleasant pages, a
frame of mind the exhibition of which, in England at least, inspires
neither interest nor respect; an over-care of self is not over-heroic.


It must be also admitted that the respectability and character of many a
Spaniard is liable to be misunderstood, when he sets forth on any of his
travels, except in a public wheel conveyance; as we said in our ninth
chapter, he assumes the national costume of the road, and leaves his
wife and long-tailed coat behind him. Now as most Spaniards are muffled
up and clad after the approved melodrame fashion of robbers, they may be
mistaken for them in reality; indeed they are generally sallow, have
fierce black eyes, uncombed hair, and on these occasions neglect the
daily use of towels and razors; a long beard gives, and not in Spain
alone, a ferocious ruffian-like look, which is not diminished when gun
and knife are added to match faces à la Brutus. Again, these worthies
thus equipped, have sometimes a trick of staring rather fixedly from
under their slouched hat at the passing stranger, whose, to them,
outlandish costume excites curiosity and suspicion; naturally therefore
some difficulty does exist in distinguishing the merino from the wolf,
when both are disguised in the same clothing--a _zamarra_ sheepskin to
wit. A private Spanish gentleman, who, in his native town, would be the
model of a peaceable and inoffensive burgess, or a respectable
haberdasher, has, when on his commercial tour, altogether the appearance
of the Bravo of Venice, and such-like heroes, by whom children are
frightened at a minor theatre. In consequence of the difficulty of
outliving what has been learnt in the nursery, many of our countrymen
have, with the best intentions, set down the bulk of the population of
the Peninsula as one gang of robbers--they have exaggerated their
numbers like Falstaff’s men of buckram; the said imagined Rinaldo
Rinaldinis being probably in a still greater state of alarm from having
on their part taken our said countrymen for robbers, and this mutual
misunderstanding continues, until both explain their slight mistake of
each other’s character and intention. Although we never fell into the
error of thus mistaking Spanish peaceable traders for privateers and
men-of-war, yet that injustice has been done by them to us; possibly
this compliment may have been paid to our careful observation of the
bearing and garb of their great Rob Roy himself and in his own country,
which, to one about to undertake, in those days, long and solitary
rides over the Peninsula, was an unspeakable advantage.

But even in those perilous times, robberies were the exception, not the
rule, in spite of the full, whole, and exact particulars of natives as
well as strangers; the accounts were equally exaggerated by both
parties; in fact, the subject is the standing dish, the common topic of
the lower classes of travellers, when talking and smoking round the
venta fires, and forms the natural and agreeable religio loci, the
associations connected with wild and cut-throat localities. Though these
narrators’ pleasure is mingled with fear and pain, they delight in such
histories as children do in goblin tales. Their Oriental amplification
is inferior only to their credulity, its twin sister, and they end in
believing their own lies. Whenever a robbery really does take place, the
report spreads far and wide, and gains in detail and atrocity, for no
muleteer’s story or sailor’s yarn loses in the telling. The same dire
event,--names, dates, and localities only varied,--is served up, as a
monkish miracle in the mediæval ages was, at many other places, and thus
becomes infinitely multiplied. It is talked of for months all over the
country, while the thousands of daily passengers who journey on unhurt
are never mentioned. It is like the lottery, in which the great prize
alone attracts attention, not the infinite majority of blanks. These
robber-tales reach the cities, and are often believed by most
respectable people, who pass their lives without stirring a league
beyond the walls. They sympathize with all who are compelled to expose
themselves to the great pains and perils, the travail of travel, and
they endeavour with the most good-natured intentions to dissuade rash
adventurers from facing them, by stating as facts, the apprehensions of
their own credulity and imagination.


The muleteers, _venteros_, and masses of common Spaniards see in the
anxious faces of timid strangers, that their audience is in the
listening and believing vein, and as they are garrulous and egotists by
nature, they seize on a theme in which they alone hold forth; they are
pleased at being considered an authority, and with the superiority which
conveying information gives, and the power of inspiring fear confers;
their mother-wit, in which few nations surpass them, soon discovers the
sort of information which “our correspondent” is in want of, and as
words here cost nothing, the gulping gobemouche is plentifully supplied
with the required article. These reports are in due time set up in type,
and are believed because in print; thus the tricks played on poor Mr.
Inglis and his note-book were the laughter of the whole Peninsula, grave
authorities caught the generous infection, until Mr. Mark’s robber-jokes
at Malaga were booked and swallowed as if he had been an apostle instead
of a consul.

As it was our fate to have wandered up and down the Peninsula when
Ferdinand VII. was king of the Spains, and Jose Maria, at whose name old
men and women there tremble yet, was autocrat of Andalucia, the moment
was propitious for studying the philosophy of Spanish banditti, and our
speculations were much benefited by a fortunate acquaintance with the
redoubtable chief himself, from whom, as well as from many of his
intelligent followers, we received much kindness and valuable
information, which is acknowledged with thankfulness.

Historically speaking, Spain has never enjoyed a good character in this
matter of the highway; it had but an indifferent reputation in the days
of antiquity, but then, as now, it was generally the accusation of
foreigners. The Romans, who had no business to invade it, were harassed
by the native guerrilleros, those undisciplined bands who waged the
“little war,” which Iberia always did. Worried by these unmilitary
voltigeurs, they called all Spaniards who resisted them “_latrones_;”
just as the French invaders, from the same reasons, called them
_ladrones_ or brigands, because they had no uniform; as if the wearing a
schako given by a plundering marshal, could convert a pillager into a
honest man, or the want of it could change into a thief, a noble patriot
who was defending his own property and country; but l’habit ne fait pas
le moine, say the French, and _aunque la mona se viste de seda, mona se
queda_, although a monkey dresses in silk, monkey it remains, rejoin the


Armed men are in fact the weed of the soil of Spain, in peace or war; to
have their hand against all mankind seems to be an instinct in every
descendant of Ishmael, and particularly among this Quixotic branch,
whose knight-errants, reformers on horseback, have not unfrequently been
robbers in the guise of gentlemen. During the war against Buonaparte,
the Peninsula swarmed with insurgents, many of whom were inspired, by a
sense of loyalty, with indignation at their outraged religion, and with
a deep-rooted national loathing of the _gabacho_, and good service did
these Minas and Co. do to the cause of their lawful king; but others
used patriotic professions as specious cloaks to cover their instinctive
passion for a lawless and freebooting career, and before the liberation
of the country was effected, had become formidable to all parties alike.
The Duke of Wellington, with his characteristic sagacity, foresaw, at
his victorious conclusion of the struggle, how difficult it would be to
weed out “this strange fruit borne on a tree grafted by patriotism.” The
transition from murdering a Frenchman, to plundering a stranger,
appeared a simple process to these patriotic scions, whose numbers were
swelled with all who were, or who considered themselves to be, ill
used--with all who could not dig, and were ashamed to beg. The evil was
diminished during the latter years of the reign of Ferdinand VII., when
the old hands began to die off, and an advance in social improvement was
unquestionably general, before which these lawless occupations gave way,
as surely as wild animals of prey do before improved cultivation. These
evils, that are abated by internal quiet and the continued exertions of
the authorities, increase with troubled times, which, as the tempest
calls forth the stormy petrel, rouse into dangerous action the worst
portions of society, and create a sort of civil cachexia, as we now see
in Ireland.

[Sidenote: SMUGGLERS.]

Another source was, not to say is, Gibraltar, that hot-bed of
contraband, that nursery of the smuggler, the _prima materia_ of a
robber and murderer. The financial ignorance of the Spanish government
calls him in, to correct the errors of Chancellors of Exchequers:--“trovata
la legge, trovato l’inganno.” The fiscal regulations are so ingeniously
absurd, complicated, and vexatious, that the honest, legitimate merchant
is as much embarrassed as the irregular trader is favoured. The
operation of excessive duties on objects which people must, and
therefore will have, is as strikingly exemplified in the case of tobacco
in Andalucia, as it is in that, and many other articles on the Kent and
Sussex coasts: in both countries the fiscal scourge leads to breaches of
the peace, injury to the fair dealer, and loss to the revenue; it
renders idle, predatory and ferocious, a peasantry which, under a wiser
system, and if not exposed to overpowering temptation, might become
virtuous and industrious. In Spain the evasion of such laws is only
considered as cheating those who cheat the people; the villagers are
heart and soul in favour of the smuggler, as they are of the poacher in
England; all their prejudices are on his side. Some of the mountain
curates, whose flocks are all in that line, deal with the crime in their
sermons as a conventional, not a moral, one; and, like other people,
decorate their mantelpieces with a painted clay figure of the sinner in
his full _majo_ dress. The smuggler himself, so far from feeling
degraded, enjoys the reputation which attends success in personal
adventure, among a people proud of individual prowess; he is the hero of
the Spanish stage, and comes on equipped in full costume, with his
blunderbuss, to sing the well-known “_Yo! que soy contrabandista! yo
ho!_” to the delight of all listeners from the Straits to the Bidasoa,
custom-house officers not excepted.

The _prestige_ of such a theatrical exhibition, like the ‘Robbers’ of
Schiller, is enough to make all the students of Salamanca take to the
high-road. The contrabandista is the Turpin, the Macheath of reality,
and those heroes of the old ballads and theatres of England, who have
disappeared more in consequence of enclosures, rapid conveyances, and
macadamization (for there is nothing so hateful to a highwayman as gas
and a turnpike), than from fear of the prison or the halter. The
writings of Smollett, the recollections of many now alive of the dangers
of Hounslow Heath and Finchley Common, recall scenes of life and manners
from which we have not long emerged, and which have still more recently
been corrected in Spain. The contrabandista in his real character is
welcome in every village; he is the newspaper and channel of
intelligence; he brings tea and gossip for the curate, money and cigars
for the attorney, ribands and cottons for the women; he is magnificently
dressed, which has a great charm for all Moro-Iberian eyes; he is bold
and resolute--“none but the brave deserve the fair;” a good rider and
shot; he knows every inch of the intricate country, wood or water, hill
or dale; in a word, he is admirably educated for the high-road--for what
Froissart, speaking of the celebrated Amerigot Tetenoire, calls “a fayre
and godlie life.” And the transition from plundering the king’s revenue,
to taking one of his subjects’ purse on the highway, is easy.


Many circumstances combined to make this freebooting career popular
among the lower classes. The delight of power, the exhibition of daring
and valour, the temptation of sudden wealth, always so attractive to
half-civilized nations, who prefer the rich spoil won by the bravery of
an hour, to that of the drudgery of years; the gorgeous apparel, the
lavish expenditure, the song, the wassail, the smiles of the fair, and
all the joyous life of liberty, freemasonry, and good fellowship,
operated with irresistible force on a warlike, energetic, and
imaginative population.

This smuggling was the origin of Jose Maria’s career, who rose to the
highest rank and honours of his profession, as did _Napoleon le Grand_
and “Jonathan Wild the Great,” and principally, as Fielding says of his
hero, by a power of doing mischief, and a principle of considering
honesty to be a corruption of _honosty_, the qualities of an ass
(ονος). But it is a great mistake to suppose that there always
are men fitted to be captains of formidable gangs; nature is chary in
the production of such specimens of dangerous grandeur, and as ages may
elapse before the world is cursed with another Alaric, Buonaparte, or
Wild, so years may pass before Spain witnesses again another Jose Maria.


The _Ladron-en-grande_, the robber on a great scale, is the grandee of
the first class in his order; he is the captain of a regularly-organized
band of followers, from eight to fourteen in number, well armed and
mounted, and entirely under command and discipline. These are very
formidable; and as they seldom attack any travellers except with
overwhelming forces, and under circumstances of ambuscade and surprise,
where every thing is in their favour, resistance is generally useless,
and can only lead to fatal accidents. Never, for the sake of a sac de
nuit, risk being sent to Erebus; submit, therefore, at once and with
good grace to the summons, which will take no denial, of “_abajo_,”
down, “_boca á tierra_,” mouth to the earth. Those who have a score or
so of dollars, four or five pounds, the loss of which will ruin no man,
are very rarely ill-used; a frank, confident, and good-humoured
surrender not only prevents any bad treatment, but secures even civility
during the disagreeable operation: pistols and sabres are, after all, a
poor defence compared to civil words, as Mr. Cribb used to say. The
Spaniard, by nature high-bred and a “_caballero_,” responds to any
appeal to qualities of which he thinks his nation has reason to be
proud; he respects coolness of manner, in which bold men, although
robbers, sympathise. Why should a man, because he loses a few dollars,
lose also his presence of mind or temper, or perhaps life? Nor are these
grandees of the system without a certain magnanimity, as Cervantes knew
right well. Witness his graphic account of Roque Guinart, whose conduct
to his victims and behaviour to his comrades tallied, to our certain
knowledge, with that observed by Jose Maria, and was perfectly analogous
to the similar traits of character exhibited by the Italian bandit Ghino
de Tacco, the immortalized by Dante; as well as by our Robin Hood and
Diana’s foresters. Being strong, they could afford to be generous and

Notwithstanding these moral securities, if only by way of making
assurance doubly sure, an Englishman will do well when travelling in
exposed districts to be provided with a decent bag of dollars, which
makes a handsome purse, feels heavy in the hand, and is that sort of
amount which the Spanish brigand thinks a native of our proverbially
rich country ought to have with him on his travels. He has a remarkable
tact in estimating from the look of an individual, his equipage, &c.,
how much ready money it is befitting his condition for him to have about
him; if the sum should not be enough, he resents severely his being
robbed of the regular perquisite to which he considers himself entitled
by the long-established usage of the high-road. The person unprovided
altogether with cash is generally made a severe example of, pour
encourager les autres, either by being well beaten or stripped to the
skin, after the fashion of the thieves of old, near Jericho. The
traveller should have a watch of some kind--one with a gaudy gilt chain
and seals is the best suited; not to have one exposes him to more
indignities than a scantily-filled purse. The money may have been spent,
but the absence of a watch can only be accounted for by a premeditated
intention of not being robbed of it, which the “_ladron_” considers as a
most unjustifiable attempt to defraud him of his right.

[Sidenote: THE RATERO.]

The Spanish “_ladrones_” are generally armed with a blunderbuss, that
hangs at their high-peaked saddles, which are covered with a white or
blue fleece, emblematical enough of shearing propensities; therefore,
perhaps, the order of the golden fleece has been given to certain
foreigners, in reward for having eased Spain of her independence and
Murillos. Their dress is for the most part very rich, and in the highest
style of the fancy; hence they are the envy and models of the lower
classes, being arrayed after the fashion of the smuggler, or the
bull-fighter, or in a word, the “_majo_” or dandy of Andalucia, which is
the home and head-quarters of all those who aspire to the elegant
accomplishments and professions just alluded to. The next class of
robbers--omitting some minor distinctions, such as the “_salteadores_,”
or two or three persons who lie in ambuscade and _jump out_ on the
unprepared traveller--is the “_ratero_,” “the rat.” He is not brought
regularly up to the profession and organized, but takes to it on a
sudden, and for the special occasion which, according to the proverb,
makes a thief, _La ocasion hace al ladron_; and having committed his
petty larceny, returns to his pristine occupation or avocation.

[Sidenote: MIGUELITES.]

The “_raterillo_,” or small rat, is a skulking footpad, who seldom
attacks any but single and unprotected passengers, who, if they get
robbed, have no one to blame but themselves; for no man is justified in
exposing Spaniards to the temptation of doing a little something in that
line. The shepherd with his sheep, the ploughman at his plough, the
vine-dresser amid his grapes, all have their gun, ostensibly for their
individual protection, which furnishes means of assault and battery
against those who have no other defence but their legs and virtue. These
self-same extemporaneous thieves are, however, remarkably civil to armed
and prepared travellers; to them they touch their hats, and exclaim,
“Good day to you, my lord knight,” and “May your grace go with God,”
with all that innocent simplicity which is observable in pastorals,
opera-ballets, and other equally correct representations of rural life.
These rats are held in as profound contempt by the higher classes of the
profession, as political ones used to be, before parties were betrayed
by turncoats, who, with tails and without, deserted to the enemies’
camp. The _ladron en grande_ looks down on this sneaking competitor as a
regular M.D. and member of the College of Physicians does on a quack,
who presumes to take fees and kill without a licence. However
despicable, these rats are very dangerous; lacking the generous feeling
which the possession of power and united force bestows, they have the
cowardice and cruelty of weakness: hence they frequently murder their
victim, because dead men tell no tales.

The distinction between these higher and lower classes of rogues will be
better understood by comparing the Napoleon of war, with the Napoleon of
peace. The Corsican was the _ladron en grande_; he warred against
mankind, he led his armed followers to pillage and plunder, he made his
den the receiving house of the stolen goods of the Continent: but he did
it openly and manfully by his own right hand and good sword; and valour
and audacity are qualities too high and rare not to command
admiration--qualified, indeed, when so misapplied. Louis-Philippe is a
_ratero_, who, skulking under disguise of amity and good faith, works
out in the dark, and by cunning, his ends of avarice and ambition; who,
acting on the artful dodger (no) principle, while kissing the Queen,
picks her pocket of a crown.

[Sidenote: MIGUELITES.]

It must be stated for the purposes of history that at the time when
Spain was, or was said to be, overrun with rats and robbers, there was,
as Spaniards have it, a remedy for everything except death; and as the
evils were notorious, it was natural that means of prevention should
likewise exist. If the state of things had been so bad as exaggerated
report would infer, it would have been impossible that any travelling or
traffic could have been managed in the Peninsula. The mails and
diligences, being protected by government, were seldom attacked, and
those who travelled by other methods, and had proper recommendations,
seldom failed in being provided by the authorities with a sufficient
escort. A regular body of men was organized for that purpose; they were
called “_Miguelites_,” from, it is said, one Miguel de Prats, an armed
satellite of the famous or infamous Cæsar Borgia. In Catalonia they are
called “_Mozos de la Escuadra_,” “Lads of the squadron, land marines;”
they are the modern “_Hermandad_,” the brotherhood which formed the old
Spanish rural armed police. Composed of picked and most active young
men, they served on foot, under the orders of the military powers; they
were dressed in a sort of half uniform and half _majo_ costume. Their
gaiters were black instead of yellow, and their jackets of blue trimmed
with red. They were well armed with a short gun and a belt round the
waist in which the ammunition was placed, a much more convenient
contrivance than our cartouche-box; they had a sword, a cord for
securing prisoners, and a single pistol, which was stuck in their
sashes, at their backs. This corps was on a perfect par with the
robbers, from whom some of them were chosen; indeed, the common
condition of the “_indulto_,” or pardon to robbers, is to enlist, and
extirpate their former associates--set a thief to catch a thief; both
the honest and renegade _Miguelites_ hunted “_la mala gente_,” as
gamekeepers do poachers. The robbers feared and respected them; an
escort of ten or twelve _Miguelites_ might brave any number of banditti,
who never or rarely attack where resistance is to be anticipated; and in
travelling through suspected spots these escorts showed singular skill
in taking every precaution, by throwing out skirmishers in front and at
the sides. They covered in their progress a large space of ground,
taking care never to keep above two together, nor more distant from each
other than gun-shot; rules which all travellers will do well to
remember, and to enforce on all occasions of suspicion. The rare
instances in which Englishmen, especially officers of the garrison of
Gibraltar, have been robbed, have arisen from a neglect of this
precaution; when the whole party ride together they may be all caught at
once, as in a casting-net.


It may be remarked that Spanish robbers are very shy in attacking armed
English travellers, and particularly if they appear on their guard. The
robbers dislike fighting, and the more as they do so at a disadvantage,
from having a halter round their necks, and they hate danger, from
knowing what it is; they have no chivalrous courage, nor any more
abstract notions of fair play than a Turk or a tiger, who are too
uncivilized to throw away a chance; accordingly, they seldom join issue
where the defendants seem pugnacious, which is likely to be the case
with Englishmen. They also peculiarly dislike English guns and
gunpowder, which, in fact, both as arms and ammunition, are infinitely
superior to those of Spain. Though three or four Englishmen had nothing
to fear, yet where there were ladies it was better to be provided with
an escort of _Miguelites_. These men have a keen and accurate eye, and
were always on the look-out for prints of horses and other signs, which,
escaping the notice of superficial observers, indicated to their
practised observations the presence of danger. They were indefatigable,
keeping up with a carriage day and night, braving heat and cold, hunger
and thirst. As they were maintained at the expense of the government,
they were not, strictly speaking, entitled to any remuneration from
those travellers whom they were directed to escort; it was, however,
usual to give to each man a couple of _pesetas_ a-day, and a dollar to
their leader. The trifling addition of a few cigars, a “_bota_” or two
of wine, some rice and dried cod-fish for their evening meal, was well
bestowed; exercise sharpened their appetites; and they were always proud
to drink to their master’s long life and purse, and protect both.

Those, whether natives or foreigners, who could not obtain or afford the
expense of an escort to themselves, availed themselves of the
opportunity of joining company with some party who had one. It is
wonderful how soon the fact of an escort being granted was known, and
how the number of travellers increased, who were anxious to take
advantage of the convoy. As all go armed, the united allied forces
became more formidable as the number increased, and the danger became
less. If no one happened to be travelling with an escort, then
travellers waited for the passage of troops, for the government’s
sending money, tobacco, or anything else which required protection. If
none of these opportunities offered, all who were about to travel joined
company. This habit of forming caravans is very Oriental, and has become
quite national in Spain, insomuch that it is almost impossible to travel
alone, as others will join; weaker and smaller parties will unite with
all stronger and larger companies whom they meet going the same road,
whether the latter like it or not. The muleteers are most social and
gregarious amongst each other, and will often endeavour to derange their
employer’s line of route, in order to fall in with that of their
chance-met comrades. The caravan, like a snow-ball, increases in bulk as
it rolls on; it is often pretty considerable at the very outset, for,
even before starting, the muleteers and proprietors of carriages, being
well known to each other, communicate mutually the number of travellers
which each has got.

[Sidenote: ESCOPETEROS.]

Travelling in out-of-the-way districts in a “_coche de colleras_,” and
especially if accompanied with a baggage-waggon, exposes the party to be
robbed. When the caravan arrives in the small villages it attracts
immediate notice, and if it gets wind that the travellers are
foreigners, they are supposed to be laden with gold and booty. Such an
arrival is a rare event; the news spreads like wildfire, and collects
all the “_mala gente_,” the bad set of idlers and loiterers, who act as
spies, and convey intelligence to their confederates; again, the bulk of
the equipage, the noise and clatter of men and mules, is seen and heard
from afar, by robbers if there be any, who lurk in hiding-places or
eminences, and are well provided with telescopes, besides with longer
and sharper noses, which, as Gil Blas says, smell coin in travellers’
pockets, while the slow pace and impossibility of flight renders such a
party an easy prey to well-mounted horsemen.


This condition of affairs, these dangers real or imaginary, and these
precautions, existed principally in journeys by cross roads, or through
provinces rarely visited, and unprovided with public carriages; if,
however, such districts were reputed the worst, they often had the
advantage of being freer from regular bands, for where there are few
passengers, why should there be robbers, who like spiders place their
nets where the supply of flies is sure?--and little do the humbler
masses of Spain care either for robbers or revolutionists; they have
nothing to lose, and are beneath the notice of pickpockets or
pseudo-patriots. Their rags are their safeguard, a fine climate clothes
them, a fertile soil feeds them; they doze away in the happy want and
poverty, ever the best protections in Spain, or strum their guitars and
sing staves in praise of empty purses. The better provided have to look
out for themselves; indeed, whenever the law is insufficient men take it
into their own hands, either to protect themselves or their property, or
to administer wild justice, and obtain satisfaction for wrongs, which in
plain Spanish is called revenge. An Irish landlord arms his servants and
raises walls round his “demesne”--an English squire employs watchers and
keepers to preserve his pheasants--so in suspected localities a Spanish
hidalgo protects his person by hiring armed peasants; they are called
“_escopeteros_,” people with guns--a definition which is applicable to
most Spaniards. When out of town this custom of going armed, and early
acquaintance with the use of the gun, is the principal reason why, on
the shortest notice, bodies of men, whom the Spaniards call soldiers,
are got together; every field furnishes the raw material--a man with a
musket. Baggage, commissariat, pay, rations, uniform, and discipline,
which are European rather than Oriental, are more likely to be found in
most other armies than in those of Spain. These things account for the
facility with which the Spanish nation flies so magnanimously to arms,
and after bush-fighting and buccaneering expeditions, disappears at once
after a reverse; “every man to his own home,” as of old in the East, and
that, with or without proclamation. These “_escopeteros_,” occasionally
robbers themselves, live either by robbery or by the prevention of it;
for there is some honour among thieves; “_entre lobos no se come_,”
“wolves don’t eat each other” unless very hard up indeed. These fellows
naturally endeavour to alarm travellers with over-exaggerated accounts
of danger, ogres and antres vast, in order that their services may be
engaged; their inventions are often believed by swallowers of camels,
who note down as facts, these tricks upon travellers got up for the
occasion, by people who are making long noses at them, behind their
backs; but these longer lies are among the accidents of long journeys,
“_en luengas vias, luengas mentiras_.”


As we are now writing history, it may be added that great men like Jose
Maria often granted passports. This true trooper of the Deloraine breed
was untrammelled with the fetters of spelling. Although he could barely
write his name, he could _rubricate_[9] as well as any other Spaniard in
command, or Ferdinand VII. himself. “His mark” was a protection to all
who would pay him black mail. It was authenticated with such a
portentous griffonage as would have done credit to Ali Pacha. An
intimate friend of ours, a merry gastronomic dignitary of Seville, who
was going to the baths of Caratraca, to recover from over-indulgence in
rich ollas and valdepeñas, and had no wish, like the gouty abbot of
Boccaccio, to be put on robber regimen, procured a pass from Jose Maria,
and took one of his gang as a travelling escort, who sat on the
coach-box, and whom he described to us as his “_santito_,” his little
guardian angel.


While on the subject of this spiritual and supernatural protection, it
may be added that firm faith was placed in the wearing a relic, a medal
of the Virgin, her rosary or scapulary. Thus the Duchess of Abrantes
this very autumn hung the _Virgen del Pilar_ round the neck of her
favourite bull-fighter, who escaped in consequence. Few Spanish soldiers
go into battle without such a preservative in their _petos_, or stuffed
waddings, which is supposed to turn bullets, and to divert fire, like a
lightning conductor, which probably it does, as so few are ever killed.
In the more romantic days of Spain no duel or tournament could be fought
without a declaration from the combatants, that they had no relic, no
_engaño_ or cheat, about their persons. Our friend Jose Maria attributed
his constant escapes to an image of the Virgin of Grief of Cordova,
which never quitted his shaggy breast. Indeed, the native districts of
the lower classes in Spain may be generally known by their religious
ornaments. These talismanic amulets are selected from the saint or relic
most honoured, and esteemed most efficacious, in their immediate
vicinity. Thus the “Santo Rostro,” or Holy Countenance of Jaen, is worn
all over the kingdom of Granada, as the Cross of Caravaca is over
Murcia; the rosary of the Virgin is common to all Spain. The following
miraculous proof of its saving virtues was frequently painted in the
convents:--A robber was shot by a traveller and buried; his comrades,
some time afterwards passing by, heard his voice,--“this fellow in the
cellarage;”--they opened the grave and found him alive and unhurt, for
when he was killed, he had happened to have a rosary round his neck, and
Saint Dominick (its inventor) was enabled to intercede with the Virgin
in his behalf. This reliance on the Virgin is by no means confined to
Spain, since the Italian banditti always wear a small silver heart of
the Madonna, and this mixture of ferocity and superstition is one of the
most terrific features of their character. Saint Nicholas, however, the
English “Old Nick,” is in all countries the patron of schoolboys,
thieves, or, as Shakspere calls them, “Saint Nicholas’s clerks.” “Keep
thy neck for the hangman, for I know thou worshippest St. Nicholas as a
man of falsehood may;” and like him, Santu Diavolu, Santu Diavoluni,
Holy Devil, is the appropriate saint of the Sicilian bandit.

San Dimas, the “good thief,” is a great saint in Andalucia, where his
disciples are said to be numerous. A celebrated carving by Montañes, in
Seville, is called ‘_El Cristo, del buen ladron_,’--“the Christ, _of_
the good thief;” thus making the Saviour a subordinate person. Spanish
robbers have always been remarkably good Roman Catholics. In the
Rinconete y Cortadillo, the Lurker and Cutpurse of Cervantes, whose
Monipodio must have furnished Fagin to Boz, a box is placed before the
Virgin, to which each robber contributes, and one remarks that he “robs
for the service of God, and for all honest fellows.” Their mountain
confessors of the Friar Tuck order, animated by a pious love for dollars
when expended in expiatory masses, consider the payment to them of good
doubloons such a laudable restitution, such a sincere repentance, as to
entitle the contrite culprit to ample absolution, plenary indulgence,
and full benefit of clergy. Notwithstanding this, these ungrateful “good
thieves” have been known to rob their spiritual pastors and masters,
when they catch them on the high road.

To return to the saving merit of these talismans. We ourselves suspended
to our sheepskin jacket one of the silver medals of Santiago, which are
sold to pilgrims at Compostella, and arrived back again to Seville from
the long excursion, safe and sound and unpillaged except by _venteros_
and our faithful squire--an auspicious event, which was entirely
attributed by the aforesaid dignitary to the intervention vouchsafed by
the patron of the Spains to all who wore his order, which thus protects
the bearer as a badge does a Thames waterman from a press-gang.


An account of the judicial death of one of the gang of Jose Maria, which
we witnessed, will be an appropriate conclusion to these remarks, and an
act of justice towards our fair readers for this detail of breaches of
the peace, and the bad company into which they have been introduced.
Jose de Roxas, commonly called (for they generally have some nickname)
_El Veneno_, “Poison,” from his viper-like qualities, was surprised by
some troops: he made a desperate resistance, and when brought to the
ground by a ball in his leg, killed the soldier who rushed forward to
secure him. He proposed when in prison to deliver up his comrades if
his own life were guaranteed to him. The offer was accepted, and he was
sent out with a sufficient force; and such was the terror of his name,
that they surrendered themselves, _not however to him_, and were
_pardoned_. Veneno was then tried for his previous offences, found
guilty, and condemned: he pleaded that he had indirectly accomplished
the object for which his life was promised him, but in vain; for such
trials in Spain are a mere form, to give an air of legality to a
predetermined sentence:--the authorities adhered to the killing letter
of their agreement, and

    “Kept the word of promise to the ear,
     But broke it to the hope.”

As Veneno was without friends or money, wherewith Gines Passamonte
anointed the palm of justice and got free, the sentence was of course
ordered to be carried into effect. The courts of law and the prisons of
Seville are situated near the Plaça San Francisco, which has always been
the site of public executions. On the day previous nothing indicates the
scene which will take place on the following morning; everything
connected with this ceremony of death is viewed with horror by
Spaniards, not from that abstract abhorrence of shedding blood which
among other nations induces the lower orders to detest the completer of
judicial sentences, as the smaller feathered tribes do the larger birds
of prey, but from ancient Oriental prejudices of pollution, and because
all actually employed in the operation are accounted infamous, and lose
their caste, and purity of blood. Even the gloomy scaffolding is erected
in the night by unseen, unknown hands, and rises from the earth like a
fungus work of darkness, to make the day hideous and shock the awakening
eye of Seville. When the criminal is of noble blood the platform, which
in ordinary cases is composed of mere carpenter’s work, is covered with
black baize. The operation of hanging, among so unmechanical a people,
with no improved patent invisible drop, used to be conducted in a cruel
and clumsy manner. The wretched culprits were dragged up the steps of
the ladder by the executioner, who then mounted on their shoulders and
threw himself off with his victims, and, while both swung backwards and
forwards in the air, was busied, with spider-like fingers, in fumbling
about the neck of the sufferers, until being satisfied that life was
extinct he let himself down to the ground by the bodies. Execution by
hanging was, however, graciously abolished by Ferdinand VII., the
beloved; this father of his people determined that the future death for
civil offences should be strangulation,--a mode of removing to a better
world those of his children who deserved it, which is certainly more in
accordance with the Oriental bow-string.


Veneno was placed, as is usual, the day before his execution, “_en
capilla_” in a chapel or cell set apart for the condemned, where the
last comforts of religion are administered. This was a small room in the
prison, and the most melancholy in that dwelling of woe, for such
indeed, as Cervantes from sad experience knew, and described a Spanish
prison to be, it still is. An iron grating formed the partition of the
corridor, which led to the chamber. This passage was crowded with
members of a charitable brotherhood, who were collecting alms from the
visitors, to be expended in masses for the eternal repose of the soul of
the criminal. There were groups of officers, and of portly Franciscan
friars smoking their cigars and looking carefully from time to time into
the amount of the contributions, which were to benefit their bodies,
quite as much as the soul of the condemned. The levity of those
assembled without formed, meantime, a heartless contrast with the gloom
and horror of the melancholy interior. A small door opened into the
cell, over which might well be inscribed the awful words of Dante--

    “Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate!”


At the head of this room was placed a table, with a crucifix, an image
of the Virgin, and two wax tapers, near which stood a silent sentinel
with a drawn sword; another soldier was stationed at the door, with a
fixed bayonet. In a corner of this darkened apartment was the pallet of
Veneno; he was lying curled up like a snake, with a striped coverlet
(the Spanish _manta_) drawn closely over his mouth, leaving visible only
a head of matted locks, a glistening dark eye, rolling restlessly out of
the white socket. On being approached he sprung up and seated himself on
a stool: he was almost naked; a chaplet of beads hung across his exposed
breast, and contrasted with the iron chains around his limbs:--Superstition
had riveted her fetters at his birth, and the Law her manacles at his
death. The expression of his face, though low and vulgar, was one which
once seen is not easily forgotten,--a slouching look of more than
ordinary guilt: his sallow complexion appeared more cadaverous in the
uncertain light, and was heightened by a black, unshorn beard, growing
vigorously on a half-dead countenance. He appeared to be reconciled to
his fate, and repeated a few sentences, the teaching of the monks, as by
rote: his situation was probably more painful to the spectator than to
himself--an indifference to death, arising rather from an ignorance of
its dreadful import, than from high moral courage: he was the Bernardine
of Shakspere, “a man that apprehends death no more dreadfully than a
drunken sleep, careless, reckless, and fearless of what’s past, present,
and to come, insensible of mortality, and desperately mortal.”


Next morning the triple tiers of the old balconies, roofs, and whole
area of the Moorish and most picturesque square were crowded by the
lower orders; the men wrapped up in their cloaks--(it was a December
morning)--the women in their mantillas, many with young children in
their arms, brought in the beginning of life to witness its conclusion.
The better classes not only absent themselves from these executions, but
avoid any allusion to the subject as derogatory to European
civilization; the humbler ranks, who hold the conventions of society
very cheap, give loose to their morbid curiosity to behold scenes of
terror, which operates powerfully on the women, who seem impelled
irresistibly to witness sights the most repugnant to their nature, and
to behold sufferings which they would most dread to undergo; they, like
children, are the great lovers of the horrible, whether in a tale or in
dreadful reality; to the men it was as a tragedy, where the last scene
is death--death which rivets the attention of all, who sooner or later
must enact the same sad part.[10] They desire to see how the criminal
will conduct himself; they sympathise with him if he displays coolness
and courage, and despise him on the least symptom of unmanliness. An
open square was then formed about the scaffold by lines of soldiers
drawn up, into which the officers and clergy were admitted. As the
fatal hour drew nigh, the increasing impatience of the multitude began
to vent itself in complaints of how slowly the time passed--that time of
no value to them, but of such precious import to him, whose very moments
were numbered.


When at length the cathedral clock tolled out the fatal hour, a
universal stir of tiptoe expectation took place, a pushing forward to
get the best situations. Still ten minutes had to elapse, for the clock
of the tribunal is purposely set so much later than that of the
cathedral, in order to afford the utmost possible chance of a reprieve.
When that clock too had rung out its knell, all eyes were turned to the
prison-door, from whence the miserable man came forth, attended by some
Franciscans. He had chosen that order to assist at his dying moments, a
privilege always left to the criminal. He was clad in a coarse yellow
baize gown, the colour which denotes the crime of murder, and is
appropriated always to Judas Iscariot in Spanish paintings. He walked
slowly on his last journey, half supported by those around him, and
stopping often, ostensibly to kiss the crucifix held before him by a
friar, but rather to prolong existence--sweet life!--even yet a moment.
When he arrived reluctantly at the scaffold, he knelt down on the steps,
the threshold of death;--the reverend attendants covered him over with
their blue robes--his dying confession was listened to unseen. He then
mounted the platform attended by a single friar; addressed the crowd in
broken sentences, with a gasping breath--told them that he died
repentant, that he was justly punished, and that he forgave his
executioner. “Mi delito me mata, y no _ese hombre_,”--my offence puts me
to death, and not _this fellow_; as “Ese hombre” is a contemptuous
expression, and implies insult, the ruling feeling of the Spaniard was
displayed in death against the degraded functionary. The criminal then
exclaimed, “_Viva la fé! viva la religion! viva el rey! viva el nombre
de Jesus!_” All of which met no echo from those who heard him. His dying
cry was “_Viva la Virgen Santisima!_” at these words the devotion to the
goddess of Spain burst forth in one general acclamation, “_Viva la
Santisima!_” So strong is their feeling towards the Virgin, and so
lukewarm their comparative indifference towards their king, their faith,
and their Saviour! Meanwhile the executioner, a young man dressed in
black, was busied in the preparations for death. The fatal instrument
is simple: the culprit is placed on a rude seat; his back leans against
a strong upright post, to which an iron collar is attached, enclosing
his neck, and so contrived as to be drawn home to the post by turning a
powerful screw. The executioner bound so tightly the naked legs and arms
of Veneno, that they swelled and became black--a precaution not unwise,
as the father of this functionary had been killed in the act of
executing a struggling criminal. The priest who attended Veneno was a
bloated, corpulent man, more occupied in shading the sun from his own
face, than in his ghostly office; the robber sat with a writhing look of
agony, grinding his clenched teeth. When all was ready, the executioner
took the lever of the screw in both hands, gathered himself up for a
strong muscular effort, and, at the moment of a preconcerted signal,
drew the iron collar tight, while an attendant flung a black
handkerchief over the face--a convulsive pressure of the hands and a
heaving of the chest were the only visible signs of the passing of the
robber’s spirit. After a pause of a few moments, the executioner
cautiously peeped under the handkerchief, and after having given another
turn to the screw, lifted it off, folded it up, carefully put it into
his pocket, and then proceeded to light a cigar

    ------ “with that air of satisfaction
    Which good men wear who’ve done a virtuous action.”


The face of the dead man was slightly convulsed, the mouth open, the
eye-balls turned into their sockets from the wrench. A black bier, with
two lanterns fixed on staves, and a crucifix, was now set down before
the scaffold--also a small table and a dish, into which alms were again
collected, to be paid to the priests who sang masses for his soul. The
mob having discussed his crimes, abused the authorities and judges, and
criticised the manner of the new executioner (it was his maiden effort),
began slowly to disperse, to the great content of the neighbouring
silversmiths, who ventured to open their closed shutters, having
hitherto placed more confidence in bolts and bars, than in the moral
example presented to the spectators. The body remained on the scaffold
till the afternoon; it was then thrown into a scavenger’s cart, and led
by the “_pregonero_,” the common crier, beyond the jurisdiction of the
city, to a square platform called “_La mesa del Rey_,” the king’s table,
where the bodies of the executed are quartered and cut up--“a pretty
dish to set before a king.” Here the carcase was hewed and hacked into
pieces by the bungling executioner and his attendants, with that
inimitable defiance of anatomy for which they and Spanish surgeons are
equally renowned--

    “Le gambe di lui gettaron in una fossa;
     Il Diavol ebbe l’alma, i lupi l’ossa.”

    “The legs of the robber were thrown in a hole,
     The wolves got his bones, the devil his soul.”



     The Spanish Doctor: his Social Position--Medical
     Abuses--Hospitals--Medical Education--Lunatic Asylums--Foundling
     Hospital of Seville--Medical Pretensions--Dissection--Family
     Costume--Prescriptions--Druggists--Snake Broth--Salve for

The transition from the Spanish _ventero_ to the _ladron_ was easy, nor
is that from the robbers to the doctors of Spain difficult; the former
at least offer a polite alternative, they demand “your money or your
life,” while the latter in most cases take both; yet these able
practitioners, from being less picturesque in costume, and more
undramatic in operations, do not enjoy so brilliant a European
reputation as the bandits. Again, while our critical monitors cry
thieves on every road of the Peninsula, no friendly warning is given
against the _Sangrado_, whose aspect is more deadly than the _coup de
soleil_ of a Castilian sun: woe waits the wayfarer who falls into his
hands; the patient cannot be too quick in ordering the measure to be
taken of his coffin, or, as Spaniards say, of his tombstone, which last
article is shadowed out by the first feeling of the invalid’s
pulse--_tomar el pulso, es prognosticar al enfermo la loza_. It was
probably from a knowledge of this contingent remainder, that Monsieur
Orfila went, or was sent, from Paris to Madrid, about the time of the
Montpensier marriage with the _Infanta_, in the hopes of rescuing her
elder and reigning sister, the “innocent” Isabel, from the fatal native
lancets--a well-meant interference of the foreigner, by the way, which
the Spanish faculty resented and rejected to a man; nor were the guarded
suggestions of this eminent _toxicologiste_, or investigator of poisons,
with regard to the administration of medicines and dispensaries,
received so thankfully as they deserved.


However magnificently endowed in former times were the hospitals and
almshouses of Spain, the provision now made for poor and ailing
humanity is very inadequate. The revenues were first embezzled by the
managers, and since have almost been swept away. Trustees for pious and
charitable uses are defenceless against armed avarice and appropriation
in office; and being _corporate_ bodies, they want the sacredness of
_private_ interests, which every one is anxious to defend. Hence the
greedy minion Godoy began the spoliation, by seizing the funds, and
giving in lieu government securities, which of course turned out to be
worthless. Then ensued the French invasion, and the confiscation of
military despots. Civil war has done the rest; and now that the convents
are suppressed, the deficiency is more evident, for in the remoter
country districts the monks bestowed relief to the poor, and provided
medicines for the sick. With few exceptions, the hospitals, the _Casas
de Misericordia_, or houses for the destitute, are far from being well
conducted in Spain, while those destined for lunatics, and for exposed
children, notwithstanding recent improvements, do little credit to
science and humanity.


The base, brutal, and bloody _Sangrados_ of Spain have long been the
butts of foreign and domestic novelists, who spoke many a true word in
their jests. The common expression of the people in regard to the busy
mortality of their patients, is, that they die like bugs, _mueren como
chinches_. This recklessness of life, this inattention to human
suffering, and backwardness in curative science, is very Oriental; for,
however science may have set westward from the East, the arts of
medicine and surgery have not. There, as in Spain, they have long been
subordinate, and the professors held to be of a low caste--a fatal bar
in the Peninsula, where the point of personal honour is so nice, and men
will die rather than submit to conventional degradations. The surgeon of
the Spanish Moors was frequently a despised and detested Jew, which
would create a traditionary loathing of the calling. The physician was
of somewhat a higher caste; but he, like the botanist and chemist, was
rather to be met with among the Infidels than the Christians. Thus
Sancho the Fat was obliged to go in person to Cordova in search of good
advice. And still in Spain, as in the East, all whose profession is to
put living creatures to death, are socially almost excommunicated; the
butcher, bullfighter, and public executioner for example. Here the
soldier who sabres, takes the highest rank, and he who cures, the
lowest; here the M.D.’s, whom the infallible Pope consults and the
autocrat king obeys, are admitted only into the _sick_ rooms of good
company, which, when in rude health, shuts on them the door of their
saloons; but the excluded take their revenge on those who morally cut
them, and all Spaniards are very dangerous with the knife, and more
particularly if surgeons. Madrid is indeed the court of death, and the
necrology of the Escorial furnishes the surest evidence of this fact in
the premature decease of royalty, which may be expected to have the best
advice and aid, both medical and theologico-therapeutical, that the
capital can afford; but brief is the royal span, especially in the case
of females and _infantes_, and the _result_ is undeniable in these
statistics of death; the cause lies between the climate and the doctor,
who, as they aid the other, may fairly be left to settle the question of
relative excellence between each other.


The Spanish medical man is shunned, not only from ancient prejudices,
and because he is dangerous like a rattle-snake, but from jealousies
that churchmen entertain against a rival profession, which, if well
received, might come in for some share of the legacies and
power-conferring secrets, which are obtained easily at deathbeds, when
mind and body are deprived of strength. Again, a Spanish surgeon and a
Spanish confessor take different views of a patient; one only wishes, or
ought to wish, to preserve him in this world, the other in the
next,--neither probably in their hearts having much opinion of the
remedies adopted by each other: the spiritual practice changes not, for
novelty itself, a heresy in religion, is not favourably beheld in
anything else. Thus the universities, governed by ecclesiastics,
persuaded the poor bigot Philip III. to pass a law prohibiting the study
of any _new_ system of medicine, and _requiring_ Galen, Hippocrates, and
Avicenna. Dons and men for whom the sun still continued to stand still,
scouted the exact sciences and experimental philosophy as dangerous
innovations, which, they said, made every medical man a Tiberius, who,
because he was fond of mathematics where strict demonstration is
necessary, was rather negligent in his religious respect for the gods
and goddesses of the Pantheon; and so, in 1830, they scared the timid
Ferdinand VII. (whose resemblance to Tiberius had nothing to do with
Euclid) by telling him that the schools of medicine created
materialists, heretics, citizen-kings, chartists, barricadoers, and
revolutionists. Thereupon the beloved monarch shut up the lecture rooms
forthwith, opening, it is true, by way of compensation, a tauromachian
university;--men indeed might be mangled, but bulls were to be
mercifully put out of their misery, secundum artem, and with the honours
of science.


This low social position is very classical: the physicians of Rome,
chiefly _liberti_, freed slaves, were only made citizens by Cæsar, who
wished to _conciliate_ these ministers of the fatal sisters when the
capital was wanting in population after extreme emigrations--an act of
favour which may cut two ways; thus Adrian VI. (tutor to the Spanish
Charles V.) approved of there being 500 medical practitioners in the
Eternal City, because otherwise “the _multitude_ of living beings would
eat each other up.” However, when his turn came to be diminished, the
grateful people serenaded his surgeon, as the “deliverer of the
country.” In our days, there was only one medical man admitted by the
Seville _sangre su_, the best or noblest set (whose blood is held to be
blue, of which more anon) when in rude and antiphlebotomical health; and
every stranger was informed apologetically by the exclusive Amphitryons
that the M.D. was _de casa conocida_, or born of a good family; thus his
social introduction was owing to personal, not professional
qualifications. And while adventurers of every kind are betitled, the
most prodigal dispenser of Spanish honours never dreams of making his
doctor even a _titulado_, a rank somewhat higher than a pair de France,
and lower than a medical baronetage in England. This aristocratical ban
has confined doctors much to each other’s society, which, as they never
take each other’s physic, is neither unpleasant nor dangerous. At
Seville the medical _tertulia_, club or meeting, was appropriately held
at the apothecary’s shop of _Campelos_, and a sable _junta_ or
consultation it was, of birds of bad omen, who croaked over the general
health with which the city was afflicted, praying, like Sangrado in ‘Gil
Blas,’ that by the blessing of Providence much sickness might speedily
ensue. The crowded or deserted state of this rookery was the surest
evidence of the hygeian condition of the fair capital of Bætica, and one
which, when we lived there, we have often anxiously inspected; for,
whatever be the pleasantries of those in insolent health, when sickness
brings in the doctor, all joking is at an end; then he is made much of
even in Spain, from a choice of evils, and for fear of the confessor and

The poor in no countries have much predilection for the hospital; and in
Spain, in addition to pride, which everywhere keeps many silly sick out
of admirably-conducted asylums, here a well-grounded fear deters the
patient, who prefers to die a _natural_ death. Again, from their being
poor, the necessity of their living at all, is less evident to the
managers than to the sufferers; as, say the Malthusians, there is no
place vacant at Nature’s _table d’hôte_ to those who cannot pay, so bed
and board are not pressed on Spanish applicants, by the hospital
committee; an admitted patient’s death saves trouble and expense,
neither of which are popular in a land where cash is scarce, and a love
for hard work not prevalent, where a sound man is worth little, and a
sick one still less; nor is every doctor always popular for working
cures, as could be exemplified in sundry cases of Spanish wives and
heirs in general; therefore in the hospitals of the Peninsula, if only
half die, it is thought great luck: the dead, moreover, tell no tales,
and the living sing praises for their miraculous escape. _El medico
lleva la plata, pero Dios es que sana!_--God works the cure, the doctor
sacks the fee! Meanwhile the sextons are busy and merry, as those in
Hamlet, and as indeed all gravediggers are, when they have a job on hand
that will be paid for; deeply do they dig into the silent earth, that
bourn from whence no travellers return to blab. They sing and jest,
while dust is heaped on dust, and the _corpus delicti_ covered, and with
it the blunders of the _medico_; thus all parties, the deceased
excepted, are well satisfied; the man with the lancet is content that
disagreeable evidence should be put out of sight, the fellow-labourer
with the spade is thankful that constant means of living should be
afforded to him; and when the funeral is over, both carry out the
proverbial practice of Peninsular survivors: _Los muertos en la huesa, y
los vivos á la mesa_, the dead in their grave, the quick to their


But at no period were Spaniards careful even of their own lives, and
much less of those of others, being a people of untender bowels.
Familiarity with pain blunts much of the finer feelings of persons
employed even in our hospitals, for those who live by the dead have only
an undertaker’s sympathy for the living, and are as dull to the poetry
of innocent health, as Mr. Giblet is to a sportive house-fed lamb.
Matters are not improved in Spain, where the wounds, blood, and
slaughterings of the pastime bull-fight, the _mueran_ or death
mob-cries, and _pasele por las armas_, the shoot him on the spot, the
Draco and Durango decrees, and practices of all in power, educate all
sexes to indifference to blood; thus the fatal knife-stab or surgeon’s
cut are viewed as _cosas de España_ and things of course. The philosophy
of the general indifference to life in Spain, which almost amounts to
Oriental fatalism, in the number of executions and general resignation
to bloodshed, arises partly from life among the many being at best but a
struggle for existence; thus in setting it in the cast, the player only
stakes coppers, and when one is removed, there is somewhat less
difficulty for survivors; hence every one is for himself and for to-day;
après moi le déluge, _el ultimo mono se ahoga_, the last monkey is
drowned, or as we say, the devil takes the hindmost.


The neglect of well-supported, well-regulated hospitals, has recoiled on
the Spaniards. The rising profession are deprived of the advantages of
_walking_ them, and thus beholding every nice difficulty solved by
experienced masters. Recently some efforts have been made in large
towns, especially on the coasts, to introduce reforms and foreign
ameliorations; but official jobbing and ignorant routine are still among
the diseases that are _not_ cured in Spain. In 1811, when the English
army was at Cadiz, a physician, named Villarino, urged by some of our
indignant surgeons, brought the disgraceful condition of Spanish
hospitals before the Cortes. A commission was appointed, and their sad
report, still extant, details how the funds, food, wine, &c., destined
for the patients were consumed by the managers and their subalterns. The
results were such as might be expected; the authorities held together,
and persecuted Villarino as a _revolucionario_, or reformer, and
succeeded in disgracing him. The superintendent of this establishment
was the notorious Lozano de Torres, who starved the English army after
Talavera, and was “a thief and a liar,” in the words of the Duke. The
Regency, after this very exposure of his hospital, promoted him to the
civil government of Old Castile; and Ferdinand VII., in 1817, made him
Minister of Justice.

As buildings, the hospitals are generally very large; but the space is
as thinly tenanted as the unpeopled wastes of Spain. In England wards
are wanting for patients--in Spain, patients for wards. The names of
some of the greatest hospitals are happily chosen; that of Seville, for
instance, is called _La Sangre_, the blood, or _Las Cinco Llagas_, the
five bleeding wounds of our Saviour, which are sculptured over the
portal like bunches of grapes. Blood is an ominous name for this house
and home of _Sangrado_, where the lancet, like the Spanish knife, gives
no quarter. In instruments of life and death, this establishment
resembled a Spanish arsenal, being wanting in everything at the critical
moment; its dispensary, as in the shop of Shakspere’s apothecary,
presented a beggarly account of empty pill-boxes, while as to a visiting
Brodie, the part of that Hamlet was left out. The grand hospital at
Madrid is called _el general_, the General, and the medical assistance
is akin to the military co-operation of such Spanish generals as Lapeña
and Venegas, who in the moment of need left Graham at Barrosa, and the
Duke at Talavera, without a shadow of aid. There is nothing new in this,
if the old proverb tells truth, _socorros de España, o tarde o nunca_;
Spanish succours arrive late or never. In cases of battle, war, and
sudden death as in peace, the professional men, military or medical, are
apt to assist in the meaning of the French word _assister_, which
signifies to be present without taking any part in what is going on. And
this applies, where knocks on the head are concerned, not to the medical
men only, but to the universal Spanish nation; when any one is stabbed
in the streets, he will infallibly bleed to death, unless the
authorities arrive in time to pick him up, and to bind up his wounds:
every one else--Englishmen excepted, we describe things
witnessed--passes on the other side; not from any fear at the sight of
blood, nor abhorrence of murder, but from the dread which every Spaniard
feels at the very idea of getting entangled in the meshes of _La
Justicia_, whose ministers lay hold of all who interfere or are near the
body as principals or witnesses, and Spanish justice, if once it gets a
man into its fangs, never lets him go until drained of his last


The schools and hospitals, especially in the inland remote cities, are
very deficient in all improved mechanical appliances and modern
discoveries, and the few which are to be met with are mostly of French
and second-rate manufacture. It is much the same with their medical
treatises and technical works; all is a copy, and a bad one; it has been
found to be much easier to translate and borrow, than to invent;
therefore, as in modern art and literature, there is little originality
in Spanish medicine. It is chiefly a veneering of other men’s ideas, or
an adaptation of ancient and Moorish science. Most of their terms of
medicinal art, as well as of drugs, _jalea_, _elixir_, _jarave_, _rob_,
_sorbete_, _julepe_, &c., are purely Arabic, and indicate the sources
from whence the knowledge was obtained, for there is no surer historical
test than language of the origin from whence the knowledge of the
science was derived with its phraseology; and whenever Spaniards depart
from the daring ways of their ancestors, it is to adopt a timid French
system. The few additions to their medical libraries are translations
from their neighbours, just as the scanty materia medica in their
apothecaries’ shops is rendered more dangerous and ineffective by quack
nostrums from Paris. It is a serious misfortune to sanative science in
the Peninsula, that all that is known of the works of thoughtful,
careful Germany, of practical, decided England, is passed through the
unfair, inaccurate alembic of French translation; thus the original
becomes doubly deteriorated, and the sacred cosmopolitan cause of truth
and fact is too often sacrificed to the Gallic mania of suppressing
both, for the honour of their own country. Can it be wondered,
therefore, that the acquaintance of the Spanish faculty with modern
works, inventions, and operations is very limited, or that their
text-books and authorities should too often be still Galen, Celsus,
Hippocrates, and Boerhaave? The names of Hunter, Harvey, and Astley
Cooper, are scarcely more known among their M.D.’s than the last
discoveries of Herschel; the light of such distant planets has not had
time to arrive.


To this day the _Colegio de San Carlos_, or the College of Surgeons at
Madrid, relies much on teaching the obstetric art by means of wax
preparations; but learning a trade on paper is not confined in Spain to
medical students; the great naval school at Seville is dedicated to San
Telmo, who, uniting in himself the attributes of the ancient Castor and
Pollux, appears in storms at the mast-head in the form of lights to
rescue seamen. Hence, whenever it comes on to blow, the pious crews of
Spanish crafts fall on their knees, and depend on this marine Hercules,
instead of taking in sail, and putting the helm up. Our tars, who love
the sea _propter se_, for better for worse, having no San Telmo to help
them in foul weather (although the somewhat irreverent gunner of the
Victory did call him of Trafalgar Saint Nelson), go to work and perform
the miracle themselves--_aide toi, et le ciel t’aidera_. In our time,
the middies in this college were taught navigation in a room, from a
small model of a three-decker placed on a large table; and thus at least
they were not exposed to sea-sickness. The Infant Antonio, Lord High
Admiral of Spain, was walking in the Retiro gardens near the pond, when
it was proposed to cross in a boat; he declined, saying, “Since I sailed
from Naples to Spain I have never ventured on water.” But, in this and
some other matters, things are managed differently on the Thames and the
Bætis. Thus, near Greenwich Hospital, a floating frigate, large as life,
is the school of young chips of old blocks, who every day behold in the
veterans of Cape St. Vincent and Trafalgar living examples of having
“done their duty.” The evidence of former victories thus becomes a
guarantee for the realization of their young hopes, and the future is
assured by the past.


Next to the barracks, prisons, arsenals, and fortresses of Spain, the
establishments for suffering mortality are the least worth seeing, and
are the most to be avoided by wise travellers, who can indulge in much
better specimens at home. This assertion will be better understood by a
sketch or two taken on the spot a few years ago. The so-called asylums
for lunatics are termed in Spanish hospitales de _locos_, a word derived
from the Arabic, _locao_, mad; they, like the cognate Morostans (μωρος)
of Cairo, were generally so mismanaged, that the directors appeared to
be only desirous of obtaining admission themselves. Insanity seemed to
derange both the intellects of the patients and to harden the bowels of
their attendants, while the usual misappropriation of the scanty funds
produced a truly reckless, makeshift, wretched result. There was no
attempt at _classification_, which indeed is no thing of Spain. The
inmates were crowded together,--the monomaniac, the insane, the raving
mad,--in one confusion of dirt and misery, where they howled at each
other, chained like wild beasts, and were treated even worse than
criminals, for the passions of the most outrageous were infuriated by
the savage lash. There was not even a curtain to conceal the sad
necessities of these human beings, then reduced to animals: everything
was public even unto death, whose last groan was mingled with the
frantic laugh of the surviving spectators. In some rare cases the bodies
of those whose minds are a void, were confined in solitary cells, with
no other companions save affliction. Of these, many, when first sent
there by friends and relations to be put out of the way, were _not_ mad,
soon indeed to become so, as solitude, sorrow, and the iron entered
their brain. These establishments, which the natives ought to hide in
shame, were usually among the first lions which they forced on the
stranger, and especially on the Englishman, since, holding our worthy
countrymen to be all _locos_, they naturally imagined that they would be
quite at home among the inmates.

They, in common with many others on the Continent, entertain a notion
that all Britons bold have a bee in their bonnet; they think so on many,
and perhaps not always unreasonable, grounds. They see them preferring
English ways, sayings, and doings, to their own, which of itself appears
to a Spaniard, as to a Frenchman, to be downright insanity. Then our
countrymen tell the truth in bulletins, use towels, and remove
superfluous hairs daily. And letting alone other minor exhibitions of
eccentricity, are not the natives of England, Scotland, and Ireland
guilty of three actions, any one of which would qualify for Bedlam if
the Lord Chancellor were to issue a writ _de lunatico inquiriendo_?--have
they not bled for Spain, in purse and person, on the battlefield, on the
railroad, in the Stock Exchange?--

    “Oh tribus Antyceris caput insanabile!”


To return, however, to Spanish madmen and their hospitals, the sight was
a sad one, and alike disgraceful to the sane, and degrading to the
insane native. The wild maniacs implored a “loan” from the foreigner,
for from their own countrymen they had received a stone. A sort of
madness is indeed seldom wanting to the frantic energy and intense
eagerness of all Spanish mendicants; and here, albeit the reasoning
faculties were gone, the national propensity to beg and borrow survived
the wreck of intellect, and in fact it was and is the indestructible
“common sense” of the country.

There was generally some particular patient whose aggravated misery made
him or her the especial object of cruel curiosity. Thus, at Toledo, in
1843, the _keepers_ (fit wild beast term) always conducted strangers to
the cage or den of the wife of a celebrated Captain-General and
first-rate fusilier of Catalonia, an officer superior in power to our
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. She was permitted to wallow in naked filth,
and be made a public show. The Moors, at least, do not confine their
harmless female maniacs, who wander naked through the streets, while the
men are honoured as saints, whose minds are supposed to be wandering in
heaven. The old Iberian doctors, according to Pliny, professed to cure
madness with the herb _vettonica_, and hydrophobia with decoction of the
_cynorrhodon_ or dog-rose-water, as being doubly unpalateable to the
rabid canine species. The modern Spaniards seemed only to desire, by
ignorance and ill-usage, to darken any lucid interval into one raving

The foundling hospitals were, when we last examined them, scarcely
better managed than the lunatic asylums; they are called _casas de
espositos_, houses of the exposed--or _la Cuna_, the cradle, as if they
were the cradle, not the coffin, of miserable infants. Most large cities
in Spain have one of these receptacles; the principal being in the
Levitical towns, and the natural fruit of a rich celibate clergy, both
regular and secular. The _Cuna_ in our time might have been defined as a
place where innocents were massacred, and natural children deserted by
their unnatural parents were provided for by being slowly starved. These
hospitals were first founded at Milan in 787, by a priest named Datheus.
That of Seville, which we will describe, was established by the clergy
of the cathedral, and was managed by twelve directors, six lay and six
clerical; few, however, attended or contributed save in subjects. The
hospital is situate in the _Calle de la Cuna_; near an aperture left for
charitable donations, is a marble tablet with this verse from the
Psalms, inscribed in Latin, “When my father and mother forsake me, then
the Lord will take me in.”


A wicket door is pierced in the wall, which opens on being tapped to
admit the sinless children of sin; and a nurse sits up at night to
receive those exposed by parents who hide their guilt in darkness.

    “Toi que l’amour fit par un crime,
       Et que l’amour défait par un crime à son tour,
       Funeste ouvrage de l’amour,
     De l’amour funeste victime.”

Some of the babies are already dying, and are put in here in order to
avoid the expense of a funeral; others are almost naked, while a few are
well supplied with linen and necessaries. These latter are the offspring
of the better classes, by whom a temporary concealment is desired. With
such the most affecting letters are left, praying the nurses to take
more than usual care of a child which will surely be one day reclaimed,
and a mark or ornament is usually fastened to the infant, in order that
it may be identified hereafter, if called for, and such were the precise
customs in antiquity. Every particular regarding every exposed babe is
registered in a book, which is a sad record of human crime and remorse.

Those children which are afterwards reclaimed, pay about sixpence for
every day during which the hospital has maintained them; but little
attention is paid to the appeals for particular care, or to the promise
of redemption, for Spaniards seldom trust each other. Unless some name
is sent with it, the child is baptized with one given by the matron, and
it usually is that of the saint of the day of its admission. The number
was very great, and increased with increasing poverty, while the funds
destined to support the charges decreased from the same cause. There is
a certain and great influx nine months after the Holy week and
Christmas, when the whole city, male and female, pass the night in
kneeling to relics and images, &c.; accordingly nine months afterwards,
in January and November, the daily numbers often exceed the usual
average by fifteen to twenty.


There is always a supply of wet nurses at the _Cuna_, but they are
generally such as from bad character cannot obtain situations in private
families; the usual allotment was three children to one nurse.
Sometimes, when a respectable woman is looking out for a place as
wet-nurse, and is anxious not to lose her breast of milk, she goes, in
the meanwhile, to the _Cuna_, when the poor child who draws it off
plumps up a little, and then, when the supply is withdrawn, withers and
dies. The appointed nurses dole out their milk, not according to the
wants of the infants, but to make it do for their number. Some few are
farmed out to poor mothers who have lost their own babe; they receive
about eight shillings a month, and these are the children which have the
best chance of surviving, for no woman who has been a mother, and has
given suck, will willingly, when left alone, let an infant die. The
nurses of the _Cuna_ were familiar with starvation, and even if their
milk of human kindness were not dried up or soured, they have not the
means of satisfying their hungry number. The proportion who died was
frightful; it was indeed an organized system of infanticide. Death is a
mercy to the child, and a saving to the establishment; a grown-up man’s
life never was worth much in Spain, much less that of a deserted baby.
The exposure of children to immediate death by the Greeks and Romans,
was a trifle less cruel than the protracted dying in these Spanish
charnel-houses. This _Cuna_, when last we visited it, was managed by an
inferior priest, who, a true Spanish unjust steward, misapplied the
funds. He became rich, like Gil Blas’s overseer at Valladolid, by taking
care of the property of the poor and fatherless; his well-garnished
quarters and portly self were in strange contrast with the condition of
his wasted charges. Of these, the sick and dying were separated from the
healthy; the former were placed in a large room, once the saloon of
state, whose gilded roof and fair proportions mocked the present misery.
The infants were laid in rows on dirty mattresses along on the floor,
and were left unheeded and unattended. Their large heads, shrivelled
necks, hollow eyes, and wax wan figures, were shadowed with coming
death. Called into existence by no wish or fault of their own, their
brief span was run out ere begun, while their mother was far away
exclaiming, “When I have sufficiently wept for his birth, I will weep
for his death.”


Those who were more healthy lay paired in cradles arranged along a vast
room; but famine was in their cheeks, need starved in their eyes, and
their shrill cry pained the ear on passing the threshold; from their
being underfed, they were restless and ever moaning. Their existence has
indeed begun with a sob, with _El primer sollozo de la Cuna_, the first
sigh of the cradle, as Rioja says, but all cry when entering the world,
while many leave it with smiles. Some, the newly exposed, just parted
from their mother’s breast, having sucked their last farewell, looked
plump and rosy; they slept soundly, blind to the future, and happily
unconscious of their fate.

About one in twelve survived to idle about the hospital, ill clad, ill
fed, and worse taught. The boys were destined for the army, the girls
for domestic service, nay, for worse, if public report did not wrong
their guardian priest. They grew up to be selfish and unaffectionate;
having never known what kindness was, their young hearts closed ere they
opened; “the world was not their friend, nor the world’s law.” It was on
their heads that the barber learned to shave, and on them were visited
the sins of their parents; having had none to care for them, none to
love, they revenged themselves by hating mankind. Their occupation
consisted in speculating on who their parents may be, and whether they
should some day be reclaimed and become rich. A few occasionally are
adopted by benevolent and childless persons, who, visiting the _Cuna_,
take a fancy to an interesting infant; but the child is liable ever
after to be given up to its parents, should they reclaim it. Townshend
mentions an Oriental custom at Barcelona, where the girls when
marriageable were paraded in procession through the streets, and any
desirous of taking a wife was at liberty to select his object by
“throwing his handkerchief.” This Spanish custom still prevails at

Such was the _Cuna_ of Seville when we last beheld it. It is now, as we
have recently heard with much pleasure, admirably conducted, having been
taken in charge by some benevolent ladies, who here as elsewhere are the
best nurses and guardians of man in his first or second infancy, not to
say of every intermediate stage.


Our readers will concur in deeming that wight unfortunate who falls ill
in Spain, as, whatever be his original complaint, it is too often
followed by secondary and worse symptoms, in the shape of the native
doctor; and if the judgment passed by Spaniards on that member of
society be true, Esculapius cannot save the invalid from the crows; the
faculty even at Madrid are little in advance of their provincial
colleagues, nay, often they are more destructive, since, being
practitioners in the only court, the heaven on earth, they are in
proportion superior to the medical men of the rest of the world, of whom
of course they can learn nothing. They are, however, at least a century
behind their brother professors of England. An unreasonable idea of
self-excellence arises both in nations and in individuals, from having
no knowledge of the relative merits of others, and from having few
grounds or materials whereon to raise comparison; it exists therefore
the strongest among the most uninformed and those who mix the least in
the world. Thus in spite of manifold deficiencies, some of which will be
detailed, the self-esteem of these medical men exceeds, if possible,
that of the military; both have killed their “ten thousands.” They hold
themselves to be the first _sabreurs_, physicians, and surgeons on
earth, and the best qualified to wield the shears of the Parcæ. It would
be a waste of time to try to dispel this fatal delusion; the
well-intentioned monitor would simply be set down as malevolent,
envious, and an ass; for they think their ignorance the perfection of
human skill. Few foreigners can ever hope to succeed among them, nor can
any native who may have studied abroad, easily introduce a better
system: his elder brethren would make common cause against him as an
innovator; he would be summoned to no consultations, the most lucrative
branch of practice, while the confessors would poison the ears of the
women (who govern the men) with cautions against the danger to their
souls, of having their bodies cured by a Jew, a heretic, or a foreigner,
for the terms are almost convertible.


Meanwhile, as in courts of justice and other matters in Spain, all
sounds admirably on _paper_--the forms, regulations, and system are
perfect in theory. Colleges of physicians and surgeons superintend the
science, the professors are members of infinite learned societies,
lectures are delivered, examinations are conducted, and certificates
duly signed and sealed, are given. The young _Galenista_ is furnished
with a licence to kill, but what is wanting from beginning to end, to
practitioner and patient, is _life_. The medical men know, nevertheless,
every aphorism of the ancients by rote, and _discourse_ as eloquently
and plausibly on any case as do their ministers in Cortes. Both write
capital theories and opinions extemporaneously. Their splendid language
supplies words which seem to have cost thought. What is deficient is
that clinical and best of education where the case is brought before the
student with the corollary of skilful treatment: _accidental_ deaths are
consequently more common than cures.

Dissection again is even now repulsive to their Oriental prejudices; the
pupils learn rather by plates, diagrams, models, preparations, and
skeletons, than from anatomical experiments on a subject. As among the
ancients and in the East to this day an idea is prevalent among the
masses in Spain, that the touch of a dead body pollutes; nor is the
objection raised by the clergy, that it savours of impiety to mutilate a
form made in the image of God, yet exploded. It will be remembered by
our medical readers, if we have any, that Vezalius, the father of modern
anatomy, when at Madrid was demanded by the Inquisition from Philip II.,
to be burnt for having performed an operation. The king sent him to
expiate his sin by a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; he was shipwrecked,
and died of starvation at Zante.

Can it be wondered at, with such a theoretical education, that practice
should continue to be antiquated, classical, and Oriental, and
necessarily very limited? In difficult cases of compound fracture,
gun-shot wounds, the doctors give the patient up almost at once,
although they continue to meet and take fees, until death relieves him
of his complicated sufferings. In chronic cases and slighter fractures
they are less dangerous; for as their pottering remedies do neither good
nor harm, the struggle for life and death is left to nature, who
sometimes works the cure. In acute diseases and inflammations they
seldom succeed; for however fond of the lancet, they only nibble with
the case, and are scared at the bold decided practice of Englishmen,
whereat they shrug up shoulders, invoke saints, and descant learnedly on
the impossibility of treating complaints under the bright sun and warm
air of Catholic Spain, after the formulæ of cold, damp, and foggy,
heretical England.


Most Spaniards who can afford it have their family or bolster doctor,
the _Medico de Cabecera_, and their confessor. This pair take care of
the bodies and souls of the whole house, bring them gossip, share their
_puchero_, purse, and tobacco. They rule the husband through the women
and the nursery, nor do they allow their exclusive privileges to be
infringed on. Etiquette is the life of a Spaniard, and often his death,
since every one has heard (the Spaniards swear it is all a French lie)
that Philip III. was killed, rather than violate a form. He was seated
too near the fire, and, although burning, of course as king of Spain the
impropriety of moving himself never entered his head, and when he
requested one of his attendants to do so, none, in the absence of the
proper officer whose duty it was to superintend the royal chair,
ventured to take that improper liberty. In case of sudden emergencies
among her Catholic Majesty’s subjects, unless the family doctor be
present, any other one, even if called in, generally declines acting
until the regular Esculapius arrives. An English medical friend of ours
saved a Spaniard’s life by chancing to arrive when the patient, in an
apoplectic fit, was foaming at the mouth and wrestling with death; all
this time a strange doctor was sitting quietly in the next room smoking
his cigar at the _brasero_, the chafing-dish, with the women of the
family. Our friend instantly took 30 ounces from the sufferer’s arm, not
one of the Spanish party even moving from their seats. Thus Apollo
preserved him! The same medical gentleman happened to accidentally call
on a person who had an inflammation in the cornea of the eye: on
questioning he found that many consultations had been previously held,
at which no determination was come to until at the last, when
sea-bathing was prescribed, with a course of asses’ milk and Chiclana
snake-broth; our heretical friend, who lacked the true faith, just
touched the diseased part with caustic. When this application was
reported at the next consultation, the native doctors all crossed
themselves with horror and amazement, which was increased when the
patient recovered in a week.


As a general rule at the first visit, they look as wise as possible,
shake their heads before the women, and always magnify the complaint,
which is a safe proceeding all over the world, since all physicians can
either cure or kill the patient; in the first event they get greater
credit and reward, while in the other alternative, the disease, having
been beyond the reach of art, bears the blame. The _medicos_ exhibit
considerable ingenuity in prolonging an apparent necessity for a
continuance of their visits. A common interest induces them to pull
together--a rare exception in Spain--and play into each other’s hands.
The family doctor, whenever appearances will in anywise justify him,
becomes alarmed, and requires a consultation, a _Junta_. What any
Spanish Junta is in affairs of peace or war need not be explained; and
these are like the rest, they either do nothing, or what they do do, is
done badly. At these meetings from three to seven _Medicos de
apelacion_, consulting physicians, attend, or more, according to the
patient’s purse: each goes to the sick man, feels his pulse, asks him
some questions, and then retires to the next room to consult, generally
allowing the invalid the benefit of hearing what passes. The
_Protomedico_, or senior, takes the chair; and while all are lighting
their cigars, the family doctor opens the case, by stating the birth,
parentage, and history of the patient, his constitution, the complaint,
and the medicines hitherto prescribed. The senior next rises, and gives
his opinion, often speaking for half an hour; the others follow in their
rotation, and then the _Protomedico_, like a judge, sums up, going over
each opinion with comments: the usual termination is either to confirm
the previous treatment, or make some insignificant alteration: the only
certain thing is to appoint another consultation for the next day, for
which the fees are heavy, each taking from three to five dollars. The
consultation often lasts many hours, and becomes at last a chronic


It must be said, in justice to these able practitioners, that as a body
they are careful in their dress: external appearance, not to say finery
in apparel, raises in the eyes of the many, a profession which here is
of uncertain social standing. On the same principle how careful is the
costume, how brilliant are the shirt-studs of foreign fiddlers when in
England! The worthy Andalucian doctor of our Spanish family, and an
efficient one, as two of his patients now at rest could testify, never
paid a visit except when gaily attired. So the _Matador_, when he enters
the arena to kill the bull, is clad as a first-rate dandy _majo_. This
attention to person arises partly from the Moro-Ibero love of
ostentation, and partly from sound Galenic principles and a high sense
of professional duty. The ancient authorities enforced on the
practitioner an attention to everything which created cheerful
impressions, in order that he might arrive at the patient’s pillow like
a messenger of good tidings, and as a minister of health, not of death.
They held that a grave costume might suggest unpleasant associations to
the sick man. Raven-coloured undertaker tights, and a funereal,
cadaverous look to match, are harbingers of blue devils and black crape,
which no man, even when in blessed health, contemplates with comfort;
while the effect of such a _facies hippocratica_ staring in the face of
a poor devil whose life is despaired of, must be fatal.

[Sidenote: DRUGGISTS.]

The prescriptions of these well-dressed gentlemen are somewhat more
old-fashioned than their coats. Their grand recipe in the first instance
is to do nothing beyond taking the fee and leaving nature alone, or, as
the set phrase has it, _dejar á la naturaleza_. The young and those
whose constitutions are strong and whose complaints are weak, do well
under the healing influence of their kind nurse Nature, and recover
through her vis medicatrix, which, if not obstructed by art, everywhere
works wonderful cures. The _Sangrado_ will say that a Spanish man or
woman is more marvellously made than a clock, inasmuch as his or her
machinery has a power in itself to regulate its own motions, and to
repair accidents; and therefore the watchmaker who is called in, need
not be in a hurry to take it to pieces when a little oiling and cleaning
may set all to rights. The remedies, when the proper time for their
application arrives, are simple, and are sought for rather among the
vegetables of the earth’s surface than from the minerals in its bowels.
The external recipes consist chiefly of papers smeared with lard,
applied to the abdomen, sinapisms and mustard poultices to the feet,
fomentations of marsh-mallows or camomile flowers, and the aid of the
curate. The internal remedies, the tisanes, the _Leches de Almendras_,
_de Burras_, decoctions of rice, and so forth, succeed each other in
such regular order, that the patient scholar has nothing to do but
repeat the medical passages in Horace’s ‘Satires.’ In no country,
however, can all the sick be always expected to recover even then, since
“_Para todo hay remedio, sino para la muerte_”--“There is a remedy for
everything except death.” If by chance the patient dies, the doctor and
the disease bear the blame. Perhaps the old Iberian custom was the
safest; then the sick were exposed outside their doors, and the advice
of casual passengers was asked, whose prescriptions were quite as likely
to answer as images, relics, snake-soup, or milk of almonds or asses:--

    “And, doctor, do you really think
     That asses’ milk I ought to drink?
     It cured yourself, I grant, is true,
     But then ’twas mother’s milk to you.”

[Sidenote: SNAKE-BROTH.]

Nor, if the doctors knew how to prescribe them, are the nicer and most
efficacious remedies, the preparations of modern chemical science, to be
procured in any except the very largest towns; although, as in Romeo’s
apothecary, “the needy” shelves are filled with empty boxes “to make a
show.” The trade of a druggist is anything but free, and the numbers are
limited; none may open a _Botica_ without a strict examination and
licence; although, of course, this is to be had for money. None may sell
any potent medicine, except according to the prescription of some
_local_ medical man; everything is a monopoly. The commonest drugs are
often either wanting or grossly adulterated, but, as in their arsenals
and larders, no dispenser will admit such destitution; _hay de todo_, I
have every thing, swears he, and gallantly makes up the prescription
simply by substituting other ingredients; and as the correct ones nine
times out of ten are harmless, no great injury is sustained. There is
nothing new in this, for Quevedo, in his _Zahurdas de Pluton_, or
Satan’s Pigsties, introduces a yellow-faced bilious judge scourging
Spanish apothecaries for doing exactly the same, “Hence your shops,”
quoth he, for he both preached and flogged, “are arsenals of death,
whose ministers here get their pills (balls rather) which banish souls
from the earth;” but these and other things have been long done with
impunity, as Pliny said, no physician was ever hung for murder. One
advantage of general distrust in drugs and doctors is, that the great
masses of the people think very little about them or their complaints:
thus they escape all fancied and imaginary complaints, which, if
indulged in, become chronic, and more difficult to cure than those
afflicting the body--for who can minister to a mind diseased? Again,
from this want of confidence in remedies, very little physic at all is
taken; owing to this limited demand, druggists’ shops are as rare in
Spain as those of booksellers. No red, green, or blue bottles illuminate
the streets at night, and there are more of these radiant orbs in the
Fore street of the capital of the west of England, than in the whole
capital of the Spains, albeit with a population six times greater. It
is true that, at Madrid, feeding on plum-pudding, diluted with sour
cider and clotted cream, is not habitual.

Many of the prescriptions of Spain are local, and consist of some
particular spring, some herb, some animal, or some particular air, or
place, or bath, is recommended, which, however, is said to be very
dangerous, unless some resident local _medico_ be first consulted. One
example is as good as a thousand: near Cadiz is Chiclana, to which the
faculty invariably transport those patients whom they cannot cure, that
is, about ninety-five in the hundred; so in chronic complaints
sea-bathing there, is prescribed, with a course of asses’ milk; and if
that fail, then a broth made of a long harmless snake, which abounds in
the aromatic wastes near _Barrosa_. We have forgotten the generic name
of this valuable reptile of Esculapius, one of which our naturalists
should take alive, and either breed from it in the Regent’s Park, or at
least investigate his comparative anatomy with those exquisite vipers
which make, as we have shown, such delicious pork at Montanches.


We cannot refrain from giving one more prescription. Many of the murders
in Spain should rather be called homicides, being free from malice
prepense, and caused by the _readiness_ of the national _cuchillo_, with
which all the lower classes are armed like wasps; it is thus always at
hand, when the blood is most on fire, and before any refrigeratory
process commences. Thus, where an unarmed Englishman _closes_ his fist,
a Spaniard opens his knife. This rascally instrument becomes fatal in
jealous broils, when the lower classes light their anger at the torch of
the Furies, and prefer using, to speaking daggers. Then the thrust goes
home; and however unskilled the regular _Sangrados_ may be in anatomy
and handling the scalpel, the universal people know exactly how to
manage their knife and where to plant its blow; nor is there any
mistake, for the wound, although not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a
church door, “’t will serve.” It is usually given after the treacherous
fashion of their Oriental and Iberian ancestors, and if possible by a
stab behind, and “under the fifth rib;” and “one blow” is enough. The
blade, like the cognate Arkansas or Bowie knife of the Yankees, will
“rip up a man right away,” or drill him until a surgeon can see through
his body. The number killed on great religious and other festivals,
exceeds those of most Spanish battles in the field, although the
occurrence is scarcely noticed in the newspapers, so much is it a matter
of course; but crimes which call forth a second edition and double sheet
in our papers, are slurred over on the Continent, for foreigners conceal
what we most display.

In minor cases of flirtation, where capital punishment is not called
for, the offending party just gashes the cheek of the peccant one, and
suiting the word to the action observes, “_ya estas senalaā_;” “Now
you are marked.” This is precisely _winkel quarte_, the gash in the
cheek, which is the only salve for the touchy honour of a German
student, when called _ein dummer junge_, a stupid youth:--

    “Und ist die quart gesessen
     So ist der touche vergessen.”

Again, “_Mira que te pego, mira que te mato_,” “Mind I don’t strike
thee--mind I don’t kill thee;” are playful fondling expressions of a
_Maja_ to a _Majo_. When this particular gash is only threatened, the
Seville phrase was, “_Mira que te pinto un jabeque_;” “Take care that I
don’t draw you a xebeck” (the sharp Mediterranean felucca). “They jest
at wounds who never felt a scar,” but whenever this _jabeque_ has really
been inflicted the patient, ashamed of the stigma, and not having the
face to show himself or herself, is naturally anxious to recover a good
character and skin, which only one cosmetic, one sovereign panacea, can
effect. This in Philip IV.’s time was cat’s grease which then removed
such superfluous marks; while Don Quixote considered the oil of
Apariccio to be the only cure for scratches inflicted by female or
feline claws.


In process of time, as science advanced, this was superseded by _Unto
del hombre_, or man’s grease. Our estimable friend Don Nicolas Molero, a
surgeon in high practice at Seville, assured us that previously to the
French invasion he had often prepared this cataleptic specific, which
used to be sold for its weight in gold, until, having been adulterated
by unprincipled empirics, it fell into disrepute. The receipt of the
balsam of Fierabras has puzzled the modern commentators of Don Quixote,
but the kindness of Don Nicolas furnished us with the ingredients of
this _pommade divine_, or rather _mortale_. “Take a man in full health
who has been just killed, the fresher the better, pare off the fat round
the heart, melt it over a slow fire, clarify, and put it away in a cool
place for use.” The multitudinous church ceremonies and holidays in
Spain, which bring crowds together, combined with the sun, wine, and
women, have always ensured a supply of fine subjects.

In Spain, as elsewhere, the doctor mania is an expensive amusement,
which the poor and more numerous class, especially in rural localities,
seldom indulge in. Like their mules, they are rarely ill, and they only
take to their beds to die. They have, it is true, a parish doctor, to
whom certain districts are apportioned; when he in his turn succumbs to
death, or is otherwise removed, the vacancy is usually announced in the
newspapers, and a new functionary is often advertised for. His trifling
salary is made up of payments in money and in kind, so much in corn and
so much in cash; the leading principle is cheapness, and, as in our new
poor-law, that proficient is preferred, who will contract to do for the
greatest number at the smallest charge. His constituents decline
sometimes to place full confidence in his skill or alacrity: they
oftener do consult the barber, the quack, or _curandero_; for there is
generally in orthodox Spain some charlatan wherever sword, rosary, pen,
or lancet is to be wielded. The nostrums, charms, relics, incantations,
&c., to which recourse is had, when not mediæval, are scarcely
Christian; but the spiritual pharmacopœia of this land of Figaro is
far too important to form the tail-piece of any chapter.



     Spanish Spiritual Remedies for the Body--Miraculous
     Relics--Sanative Oils--Philosophy of Relic Remedies--Midwifery and
     the Cinta of Tortosa--Bull of Crusade.

The Reverend Dr. Fernando Castillo, an esteemed Spanish author and
teacher, remarks, in his luminous Life of St. Domenick, that Spain has
been so bountifully provided by heaven with fine climate, soil, and
extra number of saints, that his countrymen are prone to be idle and to
neglect such rare advantages. Certainly they may not dig and delve so
deeply as is done in lands less favoured, but the reproach of omitting
to call on Hercules to do their work, or of not making the most of
Santiago in any bodily dilemma, is a somewhat too severe reproach:
nowhere in case of sickness have the saving virtues of relics, and the
adjurations of holy monks, been more implicitly relied on.



As our learned readers well know, the medical practice of the ancients
was, as that of the Orientals still is, more peculiar than scientific.
When disease was thought to be a divine punishment for sin, it was held
to be wicked to resist by calling in human aid: thus Asa was blamed, and
thus Moslems and Spaniards resign themselves to their fate, distrusting,
and very properly, their medical men: “Am I a god, to kill or make
alive?” In the large towns, in these days of progress, some patients may
“suffer a recovery” according to European practice; but in the country
and remote villages,--and we speak from repeated personal
experience,--the good old reliance on relics and charms is far from
exploded; and however Dr. Sangrado and Philip III., whose decrees on
medical matters yet adorn the Spanish statutes at large, deplore the
introduction of perplexing chemistry, mineral therapeuticals still
remain a considerable dead letter, as the church has transferred the
efficacy of faith from spiritual to temporal concerns, and gun-shot
wounds. Even Ponz, the Lysons of Spain, and before the Inquisition was
abolished, ventured to express surprise at the number of images ascribed
to St. Luke, who, says he, was not a sculptor, but a physician, whence
possibly their sanative influence. The old Iberians were great herbalist
doctors; thus those who had a certain plant in their houses, were
protected, as a blessed palm branch now wards off lightning. They had
also a drink made of a hundred herbs, and hence called _centum herbæ_, a
_bebida de cien herbas_, which, like Morison’s vegetable pills, cured
every possible disease, and was so palatable that it was drunk at
banquets, which modern physic is not; moreover, according to Pliny, they
cured the gout with flour, and relieved elongated uvulas by hanging
purslain round the patient’s throat. So now the _curas y curanderos_,
country curates and quacks, furnish charms and incantations, just as
Ulysses stopped his bleeding by cantation: a medal of Santiago cures the
ague, a handkerchief of the Virgin the ophthalmia, a bone of San Magin
answers all the purposes of mercury, a scrap of San Frutos supplied at
Segovia the loss of common sense; the Virgin of Oña destroyed worms in
royal Infantes, and her sash at Tortosa delivers royal Infantas. Every
Murcian peasant believes that no disease can affect him or his cattle,
if he touches them with the cross of Caravaca, which angels brought from
heaven and placed on a red cow. When we were last at Manresa, the worthy
man who showed the cave in which Loyola the founder of the Jesuits did
penance for a year, increased an honest livelihood by the sale of its
pulverized stones, that were swallowed by the faithful in cases in which
an English doctor would prescribe Dover’s or James’s powders. Every
province, not to say parish, has its own tutelar saint and relic, which
are much honoured and resorted to in their local jurisdiction, and very
little thought of out of it, their power to cure having been apparently
granted to them by Santiago, as a commission to commit is by Queen
Victoria to a magistrate, whose authority does not extend beyond the
county bounds. Zaragoza was admirably provided: a portion of the liver
of Santa Engracia was anciently resorted to, in cases where blue pill
would be beneficial; the oil of her lamps, which never smoked the
ceilings, cured _lamparones_, or tumours in the neck, while that which
burnt before the _Virgen del Pilar_, or the image of the Virgin which
came down from heaven on a pillar, restored lost legs; Cardinal de Retz
mentions in his Memoirs having seen a man whose wooden substitutes
became needless when the originals grew again on being rubbed with it;
and this portent was long celebrated by the Dean and Chapter, as well it
deserved, by an especial holiday, for Macassar oil cannot do much more.
This graven image is at this moment the object of popular adoration, and
disputes even with the worship of tobacco and money: countless are the
mendicants, the halt, blind, and the lame, who cluster around her
shrine, as the equally afflicted ancients, with whom physicians were in
vain, did around that of Minerva; and it must be confessed that the
cures worked are almost incredible.

It may be said that all this is a raking up of remnants of mediæval
superstition and darkness, and it is probable that the medical men in
Madrid and the larger towns, and especially those who have studied at
Paris, do not place implicit confidence in these spiritual, nor indeed
in any other purely Spanish remedies; but their tried medicinal
properties are set forth at length in scores of Spanish county and other
histories which we have the felicity to possess, all of which have
passed the scrutinizing ordeal of clerical censors, and have been
approved of as containing nothing contrary to the creed of the Church of
Rome or good customs; nor can it be permitted that a church which
professes to be always one, the same, and the only true one, should at
its own convenience “turn its back on itself,” and deny its own drugs
and doctrines. Nothing is set down here which was not perfectly
notorious under the reign of Ferdinand VII.; and whatever the doctors of
physic or theology may now disbelieve in Spain, more reliance is still
placed, in the rural districts, where foreign civilization has not
penetrated, on miracles than on medicines.

We have often and often seen little children in the streets dressed like
Franciscan monks--Cupids in cowls--whose pious parents had vowed to
clothe them in the robes of this order, provided its sainted founder
preserved their darlings during measles or dentition. Nothing was more
common than that women, nay, ladies in good society, should appear for a
year in a particular religious dress, called _el habito_, or with some
religious badge on their sleeves in token of similar deliverance.

[Sidenote: CURE OF SOULS.]

One instance in our time amused all the tertulias of Seville, who
maliciously attributed the sudden relief which a fair high-born
unmarried invalid experienced from an apparent dropsical complaint to
causes not altogether supernatural; _Pues, Don Ricardo_, “and so, Master
Richard,” would her friends of the same age and rank often say, “you are
a stranger; go and ask dearest _Esperanza_ why she wears the Virgin of
Carmel; come back and let us know her story, and we will tell you the
real truth.” _Vaya! vaya! Don Ricardo, usted es muy majadero_,--“Go to,
Master Richard, your Grace is an immense bore,” replied the penitent, if
she suspected the authors and motive of the embassy.

The pious in antiquity raised temples to Minerva medica or Esculapius,
as Spaniards do altars to _Na. Señora de los Remedios_, our Lady of the
Remedies, and to San Roque, whose intervention renders “sound as a
roach,” a proverb devised in his honour by our ancestors, who, before
the Reformation, trusted likewise to him; and both thought, if Cicero is
to be credited, that these tutelars did _at least_ as much as the
doctor. Alas! for the patient credulity of mankind, which still gulps
down such medicinal quackery as all this, and which long will continue
to do so even were one of the dead to rise from the grave, to deprecate
the absurd treatment by which he and so many have been sacrificed.

However, by way of compensation, the saving the _soul_ has been made
just as primary a consideration in Spain as the curing the _body_ has
been in England. These relics, charms, and amulets represent our patent
medicines; and the wonder is how any one in Great Britain can be
condemned to death in this world, or how any one in the Peninsula can be
doomed to perdition in the next: possibly the panaceas are in neither
case quite specific. Be that as it may, how numerous and well-appointed
are the churches and convents there, compared to the hospitals; how
amply provided the relic-magazine with bones and spells, when compared
to the anatomical museums and chemists’ shops; again, what a flock of
holy practitioners come forth _after_ a Spaniard has been stabbed,
starved, or executed, not one of whom would have stirred a step to save
an army of his countrymen when alive; and what coppers are now collected
to pay masses to get his soul out of purgatory!


Beware, nevertheless, gentle Protestant reader, of dying in Spain,
except in Cadiz or Malaga, where, if you are curious in Christian
burial, there is snug lying for heretics; and for your life avoid being
even sick at Madrid, since if once handed over to the faculty make thy
last testament forthwith, as, if the judgment passed on their own
doctors by Spaniards be true, Esculapius cannot save thee from the
crows: avoid the Spanish doctors therefore like mad dogs, and throw
their physic after them.

The masses and many in Spain have their own tutelars and refuges for the
destitute; the kings and queens--whom God preserve!--have their own
especial patroness by prerogative, in the image of the Virgin of Atocha
at Madrid, which they and the rest of the royal family visit every
Sunday in the year when in royal health. No sooner was the sovereign
taken dangerously ill, and the court physicians at a loss what to do, as
sometimes is the case even in Madrid, than the image used to be brought
to his bedside; witness the case of Philip III., thus described by
Bassompierre in his dispatch:--“Les médecins en désespèrent depuis ce
matin que l’on a commencé à user des _remèdes spirituels_, et faire
transporter au palais _l’image_ de N. D. de Athoche.” The patient died
three days after the image was sent for.


Although neither priest nor physician might credit the sanative
properties of rags and relics, they gladly called them in, for if the
case then went wrong, how could mortal man be expected to succeed when
the supernatural remedy had failed? All inquests in awkward cases are
hushed up by ascribing the death to the visitation of God. Again, if a
relic does not always cure it rarely kills, as calomel has been known to
do. This interruptive principle, one distinct from human remedies, is
admitted by the church in the prayers for sick persons; and where faith
is sincere, even relics must offer a powerful moral medical cordial, by
acting on the imagination, and giving confidence to the patient. This
chance is denied to the poor Protestant, nay, even to a newly-converted
tractarian, for truly, to believe in the efficacy of a monkish bone, the
lesson must have been learnt in the nursery. Their substitute in
Lutheran lands, in partibus infidelium, is found in laudanum, news, and
gossip; the latter being the grand specific by which Sir Henry kept
scores of dowagers alive, to the despair of jointure-paying sons, from
marquises down to baronets; and how much real comfort is conveyed by
the gentle whisper, “Your ladyship cannot conceive what an interest his
or her Royal Highness the ---- takes in your ladyship’s convalescence!”
The _form_ of the moral restorative will vary according to climate,
creeds, manners, &c.; it is to the _substance_ alone that the
philosophical physician will look. That chord must be touched, be it
what it may, to which the pulse of the patient will respond; nor,
provided he is recovered, do the means much signify.

One word only on Spanish midwifery. There is a dislike to male
accoucheurs, and the midwife, or _comadre_, generally brings the
Spaniard into the world by the efforts of nature and the aid of _manteca
de puerco_, or hogs’ lard, a launching appropriate enough to a babe,
who, if it survives to years of discretion, will assuredly love bacon.
The newly-born is then wrapped up, like an Egyptian mummy, and is
carefully protected from fresh air, soap, and water; an amulet is then
hung round its neck to disarm the evil eye, or some badge of the Virgin
is to ensure good luck: thus the young idea is taught from the cradle,
what errors are to be avoided and what safeguards are to be clung to,
lessons which are seldom forgotten in after-life. Without entering
further into baby details, the scanty population of the Peninsula may in
some measure be thus accounted for. Parturition also is frequently
fatal; in ordinary cases the midwife does very well, but when a
difficulty arises she loses her head and patient. It is in these trying
moments, as in the critical operations of the kitchen, that a male
artiste is preferable.


The Queens and Infantas of Spain have additional advantages. The
palladium of the city of Tortosa is the _cinta_[11] or girdle, which the
Virgin, accompanied by St. Peter and St. Paul, brought herself from
heaven to a priest of the cathedral in 1178; an event in honour of which
a mass is still said every second Sunday in October. The gracious gift
was declared authentic in 1617, by Paul V., and to justify his
infallibility it works every sort of miracle, especially in obstetric
cases; it is also brought out to defend the town on all occasions of
public calamity, but failed in the case of Suchet’s attack. This
girdle, more wonderful than the cestus of Venus, was conveyed in 1822,
by Ferdinand VII.’s command, in solemn procession to Aranjuez, in order
to facilitate the accouchement of the two Infantas, and as Lucina when
duly invoked favoured women in travail, so their Royal Highnesses were
happily delivered, and one of the babes then born, is the husband of
Isabel II. For humbler Castilian women, when pregnant, a spiritual
remedy was provided by the canons of Toledo, who took the liveliest
interest in many of the cases. The grand entrance to the cathedral had
thirteen steps, and all females who ascended and descended them ensured
an early and easy time of it. No wonder therefore, when these steps were
reduced to the number of seven, that the greatest possible opposition
should have been made by the fair sex, married and unmarried. All these
things of Spain are rather Oriental; and to this day the Barbary Moors
have a cannon at Tangiers by which a Christian ship was sunk, and across
this their women sit to obtain an easy delivery. In all ages and
countries where the science of midwifery has made small progress, it is
natural that some spiritual assistance should be contrived for perils of
such inevitable recurrence as childbirth. The panacea in Italy was the
girdle of St. Margaret, which became the type of this _Cinta_ of
Tortosa, and it was resorted to by the monks in all cases of difficult
parturition. It was supposed to benefit the sex, because when the devil
wished to eat up St. Margaret, the Virgin bound him with her sash, and
he became tame as a lamb. This sash brought forth sashes also, and in
the 17th century had multiplied so exceedingly, that a traveller
affirmed “if all were joined together, they would reach all down
Cheapside;” but the natural history of relics is too well known to be
enlarged upon.

[Sidenote: BULL OF CRUSADE.]

Any account of Spanish doctors without a death, would be dull as a blank
day with fox-hounds, although the medical man, differing from the
sportsman, dislikes being in at it. He, the moment the fatal sisters
three are running into their game, slips out, and leaves the last act to
the clergyman: hence the Spanish saying, “When the priest begins, the
physician ends.” It is related in the history of Don Quixote, that no
sooner did the barber feel the poor knight’s wrist, than he advised him
to attend to his soul and send for his confessor; and now, when a
Castilian hidalgo takes to his bed, his friends pursue much the same
course, nor does the catastrophe often differ. Lord Bacon, great in
wise saws and instances, prayed that his death might come from Spain,
because then it would be long on the journey; but he was not aware that
the gentlemen in black formed an exception to the proverbial
procrastination and dilatoriness of their fellow countrymen. As patients
are soon dispatched, the law[12] of the land subjects every physician to
a fine of ten thousand maravedis, who fails after his first visit to
prescribe confession; the chief object in sickness being, as the
preamble states, to cure the soul; and so it is in Italy, where Gregory
XVI. issued in 1845 three decrees; one to forbid railroads, another to
prohibit scientific meetings, and a third to order all medical men to
cease to attend invalids who had not sent for the priest and
communicated after the third visit. In Spain, the first question asked
in our time of the sick man was, not whether he truly repented of his
sins, but whether he had got the Bull; and if the reply was in the
negative, or his old nurse had omitted to send out and buy one, the last
sacraments were denied to the dying wretch.


One Word on this wonderful Bull, that disarms death of its sting, and
which, although few of our readers may ever have heard of it, plays a
far more important part in the Peninsula than the quadruped does in the
arena. Fastings are nowhere more strictly enjoined than here, where Lent
represents the Ramadan of the Moslem. The denials have been mitigated to
those faithful who have good appetites, by the paternal indulgence of
their holy father at Rome, who, in consideration that it was necessary
to keep the Spanish crusaders in fighting condition in order more
effectually to crush the infidel, conceded to Saint Ferdinand the
permission that his army might eat meat rations during Lent, provided
there were any, for, to the credit of Spanish commissariats in general,
few troops fast more regularly and religiously. The auspicious day on
which the arrival is proclaimed of this welcome bull that announces
dinner, is celebrated by bells merry as at a marriage feast; in the
provincial cities mayors and corporations go to cathedral in what is
called state, to the wonder of the mob and amusement of their betters at
the resurrection of quiz coaches, the robes, maces, and obsolete
trappings, by which these shadows of a former power and dignity hope to
mark individual and collective insignificancy. A copy of this precious
Bull cannot of course be had for nothing, and as it must be paid for,
and in ready money, it forms one of the certain branches of public
income. Although the proceeds ought to be expended on crusading
purposes, Ferdinand VII., the Catholic King, and the only sovereign in
possession of such a revenue, never contributed one mite towards the
Christian Greeks in their recent struggle against the Turkish


These bulls, or rather paper-money notes, are prepared with the greatest
precautions, and constituted one of the most profitable articles of
Spanish manufacture; a maritime war with England was dreaded, not so
much from regard to the fasting transatlantic souls, as from the fear of
losing, as Dr. Robertson has shown, the sundry millions of dollars and
silver dross remitted from America in exchange for these spiritual
treasures. They were printed at Seville, at the Dominican convent, the
_Porta cœli_; but Soult, who now it appears is turning devotee, burnt
down this gate of heaven, with its passports, and the presses. The bulls
are only good for the year during which they are issued; after twelve
months they become stale and unprofitable. There is then, says Blanco
White, and truly, for we have often seen it, “a prodigious hurry to
obtain new ones by all those who wish well to their souls, and do not
overlook the ease and comfort of their stomachs.” A fresh one must be
annually taken out, like a game-certificate, before Spaniards venture to
sport with flesh or fowl, and they have reason to be thankful that it
does not cost three pounds odd: for the sum of _dos reales_, or less
than sixpence, man, woman, and child may obtain the benefit of clergy
and cookery; but evil betides the uncertificated poacher, treadmills for
life are a farce, perdition catches his soul. His certificate is
demanded by the keeper of conscience when he is caught in the trap of
sickness, and if without one, his conviction is certain; he cannot plead
ignorance of the law, for a postscript and condition is affixed to all
notices of jubilees, indulgences, and other purgatorial benefits, which
are fixed on the church doors; and the language is as courteous and
peremptory as in our popular assessed tax-paper--“Se _ha_ de tener la
bula:” you _must_ have the bull; if you expect to derive any relief from
these relaxations in purgatory, which all Spaniards most particularly
do: hence the common phrase used by any one, when committing some
little peccadillo in other matters, _tengo mi bula para todo_--I have
got my bull, my licence to do any thing. The possession of this document
acts on all fleshly comforts like soda on indigestion, indeed it
neutralizes everything except heresy. As it is cheap, a Protestant
resident, albeit he may not quite believe in its saving effects, will do
well to purchase one for the sake of the peace of mind of his weaker
brethren, for in this religion of forms and outer observances, more
horror is felt by rigid Spaniards, at seeing an Englishman eating meat
during a fast, than if he had broken all the ten commandments. The sums
levied from the nation for these bulls is very large, although they are
diminished before finally paid into the exchequer; some of the honey
gathered by so many bees will stick to their wings, and the place of
chief commissioner of the Bula is a better thing than that in the Excise
or Customs of unbelieving countries.

To return to the dying man: if he has the bull, the host is brought to
him with great pomp; the procession is attended by crowds who bear
crosses, lighted candles, bells and incense; and as the chamber is
thrown open to the public, the ceremony is accompanied by multitudes of
idlers. The spectacle is always imposing, as it must be, considering
that the incarnate Deity is believed to be present. It is particularly
striking on Easter Sunday, when the host is taken to all the sick who
have been unable to communicate in the parish church. Then the priest
walks either under a gorgeous canopy, or is mounted in the finest
carriage in the town; and while all as he passes kneel to the wafer
which he bears, he chuckles internally at his own reality of power over
his prostrate subjects; the line of streets are gaily decorated as for
the triumphal procession of a king: the windows are hung with velvets
and tapestries, and the balconies filled with the fair sex arrayed in
their best, who shower sweet flowers down on the procession just at the
moment of its passage, and sweeter smiles during all the rest of the
morning on their lovers below, whose more than divided adoration is
engrossed by female divinities.


To die without confession and communication is to a Spaniard the most
poignant of calamities, as he cannot be saved while he is taught that
there is in these acts a preserving virtue of their own, independent of
any exertions on his part. The host is given when human hopes are at an
end, and the heat, noise, confusion, and excitement, seldom fail to kill
the already exhausted patient. Then when life’s idle business at a gasp
is o’er, the body is laid out in a _capilla ardiente_, or an apartment
prepared as a chapel, by taking out the furniture; where the family is
rich, a room on the ground floor is selected, in which a regular altar
is dressed up, and rows of large candles lighted placed around the body;
the public is then allowed to enter, even in the case of the sovereign:
thus we beheld Ferdinand VII. laid out dead and full dressed with his
hat on his head, and his stick in his hand. This public exhibition is a
sort of coroner’s inquest; formerly, as we have often seen, the body was
clad in a monk’s dress, with the feet naked and the hands clasped over
the breast; the sepulchral shadow then thrown over the dead and placid
features by the cowl, seldom failed to raise a solemn undefinable
feeling in the hearts of spectators, speaking, as it did, a language to
the living which could not be misunderstood.

The woollen dresses of the mendicant orders were by far the most
popular, from the idea that, when old, they had become too saturated
with the odour of sanctity for the vile nostrils of the evil one; and as
a tattered dress often brought more than half-a-dozen new ones, the sale
of these old clothes was a benefit alike to the pious vendor and
purchaser; those of St. Francis were preferred, because at his triennial
visits to purgatory, he knows his own, and takes them back with him to
heaven; hence Milton peopled his shadowy limbo with wolves in sheep’s

    ---- “who, to be sure of Paradise,
    Dying put on the robes of Dominick,
    Or in Franciscan think to pass unseen.”

[Sidenote: BURIAL PLACES.]

Women in our time were often laid out in nuns’ dresses, wearing also the
scapulary of the Virgin of Carmel, which she gave to Simon Stock, with
the assurance that none who died with it on, should ever suffer eternal
torments. The general adoption of these grave fashions induced an
accurate foreigner to remark, that no one ever died in Spain except nuns
and monks. In this hot country, burial goes hand in hand with death, and
it is absolutely necessary from the rapidity with which putrefaction
comes on. The last offices are performed in somewhat an indecent manner:
formerly the interment took place in churches, or in the yards near
them, a custom which from hygeian reasons is now prohibited. Public
cemeteries, which give at least 4 per cent. interest, have been erected
outside the towns, in which long lines of catacombs gape greedily for
those occupants who can pay for them, while a wide ditch is opened every
day for those who cannot. In this _campo santo_, or holy field, death
levels all ranks, which seems hard on those great families who have
built and endowed chapels to secure a burial among their ancestors. They
however raised no objections to the change of law, nor have ever much
troubled themselves about the dilapidated sepulchres and crumbling
effigies of their “grandsires cut in alabaster;” the real opposition
arose from the priests, who lost their fees, and thereupon assured their
flocks, that a future resurrection was anything but certain to bodies
committed into such new-fangled depositories.

Be that as it may, the corpse in its slight coffin is carried out,
followed by the male relations, and is then put into its niche without
further form or prayer. Ladies who die soon after marriage, and before
the bridal hours have danced their measure, are sometimes buried in
their wedding dresses, and covered with flowers, the dying injunctions
of Shakspere’s Queen Catherine:--

            “When I am dead, good wench,
    Let me be used with honour; strew me o’er
    With maiden flowers, that all the world may know
    I was a chaste wife to my grave.”

At such funerals the coffin is opened in the catacomb, to gratify the
indecent curiosity of the crowd; the dress is next day discussed all
over the town, and the _entierro_ or funeral is pronounced to be _muy
lucido_ or very brilliant; but life in Spain is a jest, and these things
show it. The place assigned for children who die under seven years of
age lies apart from that of the adults; their early death is held in
Spain to be rather a matter of congratulation than of grief, since those
whom the gods love die young; their epitaphs tell a mixed tale of joy
and sorrow. _El parvulo fue arrebatado á la gloria_, the little one was
snatched up into Paradise:--

    “There is beyond the sky a heaven of joy and love,
     And holy children, when they die, go to that world above.”


Yet nature will not be put aside, and many a mother have we seen,
loitering alone near the graves, adorning them with roses and plucking
up weeds which have no business to grow there; the little corpses are
carried to the tomb by little children of the same age, clad in white,
and are strewed with flowers short-lived as themselves, sweets to the
sweet. The parents return home yearning after the lost child--its cradle
is empty, its piteous moan is heard no more, its playthings remain where
it left them, and recall the cruel gap which grief cannot fill up,
although it

    “Stuffs out its vacant garments with its form.”

The bodies of the lower orders, dressed in their ordinary attire, are
borne to their long home by four men, as is described by Martial; “no
useless coffins enclose their breasts,” they are carried forth as was
the widow’s son at Nain. And often have we seen the frightful death-tray
standing upright at the doors of the humble dead, with a human outline
marked on the wood by the death-damp of a hundred previous burdens. Such
bodies are cast into the trench like those of dogs, and often naked, as
the survivors or sextons strip them even of their rags. Those poorer
still, who cannot afford to pay the trifling fee, sometimes during the
night, suspend the bodies of their children in baskets, near the
cemetery porch. We once beheld a cloaked Spaniard pacing mournfully in
the burial-ground of Seville, who, when the public trench was opened,
drew from beneath the folds the body of his dead child, cast it in and
disappeared. Thus half the world lives without knowing how the other
half dies.


In the upper ranks the etiquette of the funeral commences after the
reality is over. The first necessary step is within three days to pay a
visit of condolence to the family; this is called _para dar el pesame_.
The relations are all assembled in the best room, and seated on chairs
placed at the head, the women at one end and the men at another. When a
condoling lady and gentleman enter, she proceeds to shake hands with all
the other ladies one after another, and then seats herself in the next
vacant chair; the gentleman bows to each of the men as he passes, who
rise and return it, a grave dumb-show of profound affliction being kept
up by all. On reaching the chief mourners, they are addressed by each
condoler with this phrase, “_Acompaño á usted en su sentimiento_;” “I
share in the affliction of your grace;” the company meanwhile remain
silent as an assemblage of undertakers. After sitting among them the
proper time, each retires with much the same form.

In a few days afterwards a printed letter is sent round in the name of
all the surviving relations to announce the death to the friends of the
family, and to beg the favour of attendance at the funeral service:
these invitations are all headed with a cross (+), which is called _El
Cristus_. Before the invasion of the enemy, who not only destroyed the
walls of convents, but sapped religious belief also, very many books
were printed, and private letters written, with this sign prefixed. In
our time sundry medical men at Seville always headed with it their
prescriptions, the Cardinal Archbishop having granted a certain number
of years’ release from purgatory to all who sanctified with this mark
their recipes even of senna and rhubarb. Under this cross, in the
invitation, are placed the letters R. I. P. A., which signify
“Requiescat in pace. Amen.” At the appointed hour the mourners meet in
the _casa mortuaria_, or the house of death, and proceed together to
church. All are dressed in full black, and before the progress of
paletots and civilization, wore no cloaks: this, as it rendered each man
of them more uncomfortable than St. Bartholomew was without his skin,
was considered an offering of genuine grief to the manes of the
deceased. Uncloaking in Spain is, be it remembered, a mark of respect,
and is equivalent to our taking off the hat. When the company arrives at
church, they are received by the ministers, and the ceremony is very
solemnly performed before a catafalque covered with a pall, which is
placed before the altar, and is brilliantly lighted up with wax candles.
As soon as the service is concluded, all advance and bow to the chief
mourners, who are seated apart, and thus the tragedy concludes. Parents
do not put on mourning for their children, which is a remnant of the
patriarchal and Roman superiority of the head of the family, for whom,
however, when dead, all the other members pay the most observant
respect. The forms and number of days of mourning are most nicely laid
down, and are most rigidly observed, even by distant relations, who
refrain from all kinds of amusements:--

    “None bear about the mockery of woe
     To public dances or to private show.”

[Sidenote: ALL SOULS’ DAY.]

We well remember the death of a kind and venerable Marquesa at Seville
just before the carnival, whose chief grief at dying, was the thought of
the number of young ladies who would thus be deprived of their balls and
masquerades; many, anxious and obliging, were the inquiries sent after
her health, and more even were the daily prayers offered up to the
Virgin, for the prolongation of her precious existence, could it be only
for a few weeks.

November drear, brings in other solemnities connected with the dead, and
in harmony with the fall of the sear and yellow leaves, to which Homer
compares the races of mortal men. The night before the first of
November--our All Hallow-e’en--is kept in Spain as a vigil or wake; it
is the fated hour of love divinations and mysteries; then anxious
maidens used to sit at their balconies to see the image of their
destined husbands pass or not pass by. November the first is dedicated
to the sainted dead, and November the second to all souls: it is termed
in Spanish _el dia de los difuntos_, the day of the dead, and is most
scrupulously observed by all who have lost during the past year some
friend, some relation--how few have not! The dawn is ushered in by
mournful bells, which recall the memory of those who cannot come back at
the summons; the cemeteries are then visited; at Seville, long
processions of sable-clad females, bearing chased lamps on staves, walk
slowly round and round, chaunting melancholy dirges, returning when it
gets dusk in a long line of glittering lights. The graves during the day
are visited by those who take a sad interest in their occupants, and
lamps and flower garlands are suspended as memorials of affection, and
holy water is sprinkled, every drop of which puts out some of the fires
of purgatory. These picturesque proceedings at once resemble the _Eed es
Segheer_ of modern Cairo, the _feralia_ of the Romans, the Νεμεσια of
the Greeks: here are the flower offerings of Electra, the _funes
assensi_, the funeral torches of pagan mourners, which have vainly been
prohibited to Christian Spaniards by their early Council of Illiberis.
In Navarre, and in the north-west of Spain, bread and wheat offerings
called _robos_ are made, which are the doles or gifts offered for the
souls’ rest of the deceased by the pious of ancient Rome.

[Sidenote: PURGATORY.]

As on this day the cemetery becomes the public attraction, it too often
looks rather a joyous fashionable promenade, than a sad and religious
performance. The levity of mere strangers and the mob, contrasts
strangely with the sorrow of real mourners. But life in this world
presses on death, and the gay treads on the heels of pathos; the spot is
crowded with mendicants, who appeal to the order of the day, and
importune every tender recollection, by begging for the sake of the
lamented dead. Outside the dreary walls all is vitality and mirth; a
noisy sale goes on of cakes, nuts, and sweetmeats, a crash of horses and
carriages, a din and flow of bad language from those who look after
them, which must vex the repose of the _benditas animas_, or the blessed
souls in purgatory, for whom otherwise all classes of Spaniards manifest
the fondest affection and interest.


Such is the manner in which the body of a most orthodox Catholic
Castilian is committed to the earth; his soul, if it goes to purgatory,
is considered and called blessed by anticipation, as the admittance into
Paradise is certain, at the expiration of the term of penal
transportation, that is, “when the foul crimes done in the days of
nature are burnt and purged away,” as the ghost in Hamlet says, who had
not forgotten his Virgil. If the scholar objects to a Spanish clergyman,
that the whole thing is Pagan, he will be told that he may go farther
and fare worse. In the case of a true Roman Catholic, this term of hard
labour may be much shortened, since that can be done by masses, any
number of which will be said, if first paid for. The vicar of St. Peter
holds the keys, which always unlock the gate to those who offer the
golden gift by which Charon was bribed by Æneas; thus, to a judicious
rich man, nothing, supposing that he believes the Pope _versus_ the
Bible, is so easy as to get at once into Heaven; nor are the poor quite
neglected, as any one may learn who will read the extraordinary number
of days’ redemption which may be obtained at every altar in Spain by the
performance of the most trumpery routine. The only wonder is how any one
of the faithful should ever fail to secure his delivery from this
spiritual Botany Bay without going there at all, or, at least, only for
the form’s sake. It was calculated by an accurate and laborious German,
that an active man, by spending three shillings in coach-hire, might
obtain in an hour, by visiting different privileged altars during the
Holy week, 29,639 years, nine months, thirteen days, three minutes and a
half diminution of purgatorial punishment. This merciful reprieve was
offered by Spanish priests in South America, on a grander style, on one
commensurate with that colossal continent; for a single mass at the San
Francisco in Mexico, the Pope and prelates granted 32,310 years, ten
days, and six hours indulgence. As a means of raising money, says our
Mexican authority, “I would not give this simple institution of masses
for the benefit of souls, for the power of taxation possessed by any
government; since no tax-gatherer is required; the payments are enforced
by the best feelings, for who would not pay to get a parent’s or
friend’s soul from the fire?” Purgatory has thus been a Golconda mine of
gold to his Holiness, as even the poorest have a chance, since
charitable persons can deliver blank souls by taking out a _habeas
animam_ writ, that is, by paying the priest for a mass. The especial
days are marked in the almanac, and known to every waiter at the inn;
moreover, notice is put on the church door, _Hoy se saca anima_, “this
day you can get out a soul.” They are generally left in their warm
quarters in winter, and taken out in the spring.

Alas for poor Protestants, who, by non-payment of St. Peter’s pence,
have added an additional act of heresy, and the worst of all, the one
which Rome never pardons. These defaulters can only hope to be saved by
faith, and its fruits, good works; they must repent, must quit their
long-cherished sins, and lead a new life; for them there is no rope of
St. Francis to pull them out, if once in the pit; no rosary of St.
Domenick to remove them, quick, presto, begone, from torment to
happiness. Outside the pale of the Vatican, their souls have no chance,
and inside the frontiers of Spain their bodies have scarcely a better
prospect, should they die in that orthodox land. There the greatest
liberal barely tolerates any burial at all of their black-blooded
heretical carcasses, as no corn will grow near them. Until within a very
few years at seaport towns, their bodies used to be put in a hole in the
sands, and beyond low water mark; nay, even this concession to the
infidel offended the semi-Moro fishermen, who true believers and
persecutors feared that their soles might be poisoned: not that either
sailor or priest ever exhibited any fear of taking British current coin,
all cash that comes into their nets being most Catholic, so says the
proverb, _El dinero es muy Catolico_.



Matters connected with the grave have been placed, as regards
Protestants, on a much more pleasant footing within these last few
years; and it may be a consolation to invalids, who are sent to Spain
for change of climate, and who are particular, to know, in case of
accidents, that Protestant burial-grounds are now permitted at Cadiz,
Malaga, and in a few other places. The history of the permission is
curious, and has never, to the best of our belief, been told. In the
days of Philip II. Lutherans were counted in many degrees worse than
dogs; when caught alive, they were burnt by the holy tribunal; and when
dead, were cast out on the dunghill. Even when our poltroon James I.
sent, in 1622, his ill-judged olive-bearing mission, by which Spain was
saved from utter humiliation, Mr. Hole, the secretary of the ambassador,
Lord Digby, having died at Santander, the body was not allowed to be
buried at all; it was put into a shell, and sunk in the sea; but no
sooner was his lordship gone, than “the fishermen,” we quote from
Somers’ tracts, “fearing that they should catch no fish as long as the
coffin of a heretic lay in their waters,” fished it up, “and the corpse
of our countryman and brother was thrown above ground, to be devoured by
the fowls of the air.” In the treaty of 1630, the 31st Article provided
for the disposal of the goods of those Englishmen who might die in
Spain, but not for their bodies. “These,” says a commentator of Rymer,
“must be left stinking above ground, to the end that the dogs may be
sure to find them.” When Mr. Washington, page to Charles I., died at
Madrid, at the time his master was there, Howell, who was present,
relates that it was only as an especial favour to the suitor of the
Spanish Infanta that the body was allowed to be interred in the garden
of the embassy, under a fig-tree. A few years afterwards, 1650, Ascham,
the envoy of Cromwell, was assassinated, and his corpse put, without any
rites, into a hole; but the Protector was not a man to be trifled with,
and knew well how to deal with a Spanish government, always a craven and
bully, from whom nothing ever is to be obtained by concession and
gentleness, which is considered as weakness, while everything is to be
extorted from its _fears_. He that very year _commanded_ a treaty to be
prepared for the proper burial of his subjects, to which the blustering
Spaniard immediately assented. This provision was stipulated into the
treaty of Charles II. in 1664, and was conceded and ratified again in
1667 to Sir Richard Fanshawe.

No step, however, appears to have been taken before 1796, when Lord Bute
purchased a spot of ground for the burial of Englishmen outside the
Alcalá-gate, at Madrid. During the war, when all Spain was a churchyard
to our countrymen, this bit of land was taken possession of by a worthy
Madrilenian, not for his place of sepulture, but for good and profitable
cultivation. In 1831 Mr. Addington caused some researches to be made,
and the original conveyance was found in the _Contaduria de Hypothecas_,
the registry of deeds and mortgages which backward Spain possesses, and
which advanced England does not. The intruder was ejected after some
struggling on his part. Before Lord Bute’s time the English had been
buried at night and without ceremonies, in the garden of the convent _de
los Recoletos_; and, as Lord Bute’s new bit of ground was extensive and
valuable, the pious monks wished to give up the English corner in their
garden, in exchange for it; but the transfer was prevented by the recent
law which forbade all burial in cities. The field purchased by Lord Bute
is now unenclosed and uncultivated; fortunately it has not been much
wanted, only fifteen Protestants having died at Madrid during the last
thirty years. In November, 1831, Ferdinand VII. finally settled this
grave question by a decree, in which he granted permission for the
erection of a Protestant burial-ground in all towns where a British
consul or agent should reside, subject to most _degrading_ conditions.
The first cemetery set apart in Spain, in virtue of this gracious decree
from a man replaced on his throne by the death of 30,000 Englishmen, was
the work of Mr. Mark, our consul at Malaga; he enclosed a spot of ground
to the east of that city, and placed a tablet over the entrance,
recording the royal permission, and above that a cross. Thus he appealed
to the dominant feelings of Spaniards, to their loyalty and religion.
The Malagenians were amazed when they beheld this emblem of Christianity
raised over the last home of Lutheran dogs, and exclaimed, “So even
these Jews make use of the cross!” The term Jew, it must be remembered,
is the acme of Spanish loathing and vituperation. The first body
interred in it was that of Mr. Boyd, who was shot by the bloody Moreno,
with the poor dupe Torrijos and the rest of his rebel companions.



     The Spanish
     Blood--Blue, Red, and Black Blood--Figaro’s Shop--The
     Baratero--Shaving and Toothdrawing.

Few who love Don Quixote, will deem any notice on the Peninsular surgeon
complete in which the barber is not mentioned, even be it in a
postscript. Although the names of both these learned professors have
long been nearly synonymous in Spain, the barber is much to be
preferred, inasmuch as his cuts are less dangerous, and his conversation
is more agreeable. He with the curate formed the quiet society of the
Knight of La Mancha, as the apothecary and vicar used to make that of
most of our country squires of England. Let, therefore, every Adonis of
France, now bearded as a pard although young, nay, let each and all of
our fair readers, albeit equally exempt from the pains and penalties of
daily shaving, make instantly, on reaching sunny Seville, a pilgrimage
to the shrine of San Figaro. His shop--apocryphal it is to be feared as
other legendary localities--lies near the cathedral, and is a no less
established lion than the house of Dulcinea is at Toboso, or the prison
tower of Gil Blas is at Segovia. Such is the magic power of genius.
Cervantes and Le Sage have given form, fixture, and local habitation to
the airy nothings of their fancy’s creations, while Mozart and Rossini,
by filling the world with melody, have bidden the banks of the
Guadalquivir re-echo to their sweet inventions.


To those even who have no music in their souls, the movement from
doctors to barbers is harmonious in a land where beards were long
honoured as the type of valour and chivalry, and where shaving took the
precedence of surgery; and even to this day, _la tienda de barbero_, the
shop of the man of the razor, is better supplied than many a Spanish
hospital both with patients and cutting instruments. One word first on
the black whiskers of tawny Spain. These _patillas_, as they are now
termed, must be distinguished from the ancient mustachio, the
_mostacho_, a very classical but almost obsolete word, which the
scholars of Salamanca have derived from μυστἁξ, the upper lip.
Their present and usual name is _Bigote_, which is also of foreign
etymology, being the Spanish corruption of the German oath _bey gott_,
and formed under the following circumstances: for nicknames, which stick
like burrs, often survive the history of their origin. The free-riding
followers of Charles V., who wore these tremendous appendages of
manhood, swore like troopers, and gave themselves infinite airs, to the
more infinite disgust of their Spanish comrades, who have a tolerable
good opinion of themselves, and a first-rate hatred of all their foreign
allies. These strange mustachios caught their eyes, as the stranger
sounds which proceeded from beneath them did their ears. Having a quick
sense of the ridiculous, and a most Oriental and schoolboy knack at a
nickname, they thereupon gave the sound to the substance, and called the
redoubtable garnish of hair, _bigotes_. This process in the formation of
phrases is familiar to philologists, who know that an essential part
often is taken for the whole. For example, a hat, in common Spanish
parlance, is equivalent to a grandee, as with us the woolsack is to a
Lord Chancellor. It is natural that unscholastic soldiers, when dealing
with languages which they do not understand, should fix on their
enemies, as a term of reproach, those words which, from hearing used the
most often, they imagine must constitute the foundation of the hostile
grammar. Thus our troops called the Spaniards _los Carajos_, from their
terrible oaths and terrible runnings away. So the clever French
designated as _les godams_, those “stupid” fellows in red jackets who
never could be made to know when they were beaten, but continued to make
use of that significant phrase in reference to their victors, until they
politely showed them the shortest way home over the Pyrenees.

[Sidenote: THE BEARD.]

The real Spanish mustachio, as worn by the real Don Whiskerandoses, men
with shorter cloaks and purses than beards and rapiers, have long been
cut off, like the pig-tails of our monarchs and cabinet ministers. Yet
their merits are embalmed in metaphors more enduring than that
masterpiece in bronze with which Mr. Wyatt, full of Phidias, has adorned
King George’s back and Charing Cross. Thus _hombre de mucho bigote_, a
man of much moustache, means, in Spanish, a personage of considerable
pretension, a fine, liberal fellow, and anything, in short, but a bigot
in wine, women, or theology. The Spanish original realities, like the
pig-tails of Great Britain, have also been immortalised by fine art, and
inimitably painted by Velazquez. Under his life-conferring brush they
required no twisting with hot irons. Curling from very ire and martial
instinct, they were called _bigotes á la Fernandina_, and their rapid
growth was attributed to the eternal cannon smoke of the enemy, into
which nothing could prevent their valorous wearers from poking their
faces. This luxuriance has diminished in these degenerate times, unless
Napier’s ‘History of the Peninsular War’ be, as the Spaniards say,
written in a spirit of envy and jealousy against their heroic armies,
which alone trampled on the invincible eagles of Austerlitz.

As among the Egyptian gods and priests, rank was indicated by the cut of
the beard, so in Spain the military civil and clerical shapes were
carefully defined. The Charley, or Imperial, as we term the little tuft
in the middle of the under lip, a word by the way which is derivable
either from our Charles or from his namesake emperor, was called in
Spain _El perrillo_, “the little dog,” the terminating tail being
omitted, which however becoming in the animal and bronzes, shocked
Castilian euphuism.

[Sidenote: THE BIGOTE.]

In the mediæval periods of Spain’s greatness the beard and not the
whisker was the real thing; and as among the Orientals and ancients, it
was at once the mark of wisdom and of soldiership; to cut it off was an
insult and injury scarcely less than decapitation; nay, this nicety of
honour survived the grave. The seated corpse of the Cid, so tells his
history, knocked down a Jew who ventured to take the dead lion by his
beard, which, as all natural philosophers know, has an independent
vitality, and grows whether its master be alive or dead, be willing or
unwilling. When the insolent Gauls pulled these flowing ornaments of the
aged Roman senators, they, who with unmoved dignity had seen Marshal
Brennus steal their plate and pictures, could not brook that last and
greatest outrage. In process of time and fashion the beards of Spain
fell off, and being only worn by mendicant monks and he-goats, were
considered ungentlemanlike, and were substituted among cavaliers by the
Italian mostachio; the seat of Spanish honour was then placed under the
nose, that sensitive sentinel. The renowned Duke of Alva being of course
in want of money, once offered one of his bigotes as a pledge for a
loan, and one only was considered to be a sufficient security by the
Rothschilds of the day, who remembered the hair-breadth escape of their
ancestor too well to laugh at anything connected with a hero’s beard;
_nous avons changé tout cela_. The united Hebrews of Paris and London
would not now advance a stiver for every particular hair on the bodies
of Narvaez and Espartero, not even if the moustache reglémentaire of
Montpensier, and a bushel of Bourbon beards, warranted legitimate, were

The use of the _bigote_ in Spain is legally confined to the military,
most of whose generals--their name is legion--are tenderly chary of
their Charlies, dreading razors no less than swords; when the Infante
Don Carlos escaped from England, the only real difficulty was in getting
him to cut off his moustache; he would almost sooner have lost his head,
like his royal English _tocayo_ or omonyme. Elizabeth’s gallant Drake,
when he burnt Philip’s fleet at Cadiz, simply called his Nelsonic touch
“singeing the King of Spain’s whiskers.” Zurbano the other day thought
it punishment enough for any Basque traitors to cut off their _bigotes_,
and turn them loose, like rats without tails, _pour encourager les
autres_. It is indeed a privation. Thus Majaval, the pirate murderer,
who by the glorious uncertainty of English law was not hanged at Exeter,
offered his prison beard, when he reached Barcelona, to the delivering
Virgin. Many Spanish civilians and shopkeepers, in imitation of the
transpyrenean _Calicots_, men who wear moustachios on their lips in
peace, and spectacles on their noses in war, so constantly let them
grow, that Ferdinand VII. fulminated a royal decree, which was to cut
them off from the face of the Peninsula, as the Porte is docking his
true believers. Such is the progress of young and beardless
civilization. The attempt to shorten the cloaks of Madrid nearly cost
Charles III. his crown, and this cropping mandate of his beloved
grandson was obeyed as Spanish decrees generally are, for a month all
but twenty-nine days. These decrees, like solemn treaties, charters,
stock-certificates, and so forth, being mostly used to light cigars;
now-a-days that the Moro-Spaniard is aping the true Parisian polish, the
national countenance is somewhat put out of face, to the serious sorrow
and disparagement of poor Figaro.


As for his house and home none can fail finding it out; no cicerone is
wanted, for the outside is distinguished from afar by the emblems of his
time-honoured profession: first and foremost hangs a bright glittering
metal Mambrino-helmet basin, with a neat semicircular opening cut out of
the rim, into which the throat of the patient is let during the
operation of lathering, which is always done with the hand and most
copiously; near it are suspended huge grinders, which in an English
museum would pass for the teeth of elephants, and for those of Saint
Christopher in Spanish churches, where comparative anatomy is scouted as
heretical in the matter of relics; strange to say, and no Spanish
theologian could ever satisfy us why, this saint is not the “especial
advocate” against the toothache; here Santa Apollonia is the soothing
patroness. Near these molars are displayed awful phlebotomical symbols,
and rude representations of bloodlettings; for in Spain, in church and
out, painting does the work of printing to the many who can see, but
cannot read. The barber’s pole, with its painted bandage riband, the
support by which the arm was kept extended, is wanting to the threshold
of the Figaros of Spain, very much because bleeding is generally
performed in the foot, in order that the equilibrium of the whole
circulation may be maintained. The painting usually presents a female
foot, which being an object, and not unreasonably, of great devotion in
Spain, is selected by the artist; tradition also influences the choice,
for the dark sex were wont formerly to be bled regularly as calves are
still, to obtain whiteness of flesh and fairness of complexion: as it
was usual on each occasion that the lover should restore the exhausted
patient by a present, the purses of gallants kept pace with the venous
depletion of their mistresses. The _Sangrados_ of Spain, professional as
well as unprofessional, have long been addicted to the shedding of
innocent blood; indeed, no people in the world are more curious about
the pedigree purity of their own blood, nor less particular about
pouring it out like water, whether from their own veins or those of
others. One word on this vital fluid with which unhappy Spain is too
often watered during her intestine disorders.


If the Iberian anatomists did not discover its circulation, the heralds
have “tricked” out its blazoning, as we do our admirals, with all the
nicety of armorial coloring. _Blue blood, Sangre azul_, is the ichor of
demigods which flows in the arteries of the grandees and highest
nobility, each of whose pride is to be

    “A true Hidalgo, free from every stain
     Of Moor or Jewish blood,”

[Sidenote: FIGARO’S SHOP.]

a boast which like some others of theirs wants confirmation, as it is in
the power of one woman to taint the blood of Charlemagne; and nature,
which cannot be written down by Debretts, has stamped on their
countenances the marks of hybrid origin, and particularly from these
very and most abhorred stocks; it is from this tint of celestial azure
that the term _sangre su_ is given in Spain to the elect and best set of
earth, the _haute volée_, who soar above vulgar humanity. _Red_ blood
flows in the veins of poor gentlemen and younger brothers, and is just
tolerated by all, except judicious mothers, whose daughters are
marriageable. _Blood_, simple blood, is the puddle which paints the
cheek of the plebeian and roturier; it has, or ought to possess, a
perfect incompatibility with the better coloured fluid, and an oil and
vinegar property of non-amalgamation. There is more difference, as
Salario says, between such bloods, than there is between red wine and
Rhenish. These and other dreams are, it is to be feared, the fond
metaphors of heralds. The rosy stream in mockery of _rouge_ croix and
_blue_ dragons flows inversely and perversely: in the arteries of the
lusty muleteer it is the lava blood of health and vigour; in the monkey
marquis and baboon baron it stagnates in the dull lethargy of a blue
collapse. Their noble ichor is virtually more impoverished than their
nominal rent-roll, since the operation of transmission of wholesome
blood from young veins into a worn-out frame, which is so much practised
elsewhere, is too nice for the _Sangre su_ and _Sangrados_ of Spain; the
thin fluid is never enriched with the calipash heiress of an alderman,
nor is the decayed genealogical stock renewed by the golden graft of a
banker’s only daughter. The insignificant grandees of Spain quietly
permitted Christina to barter away their country’s liberties; but when
her children by the base-born Muñoz came betwixt them and their
nobility, then alone did they remonstrate. Indifferent to the
degradation of the throne, they were tremblingly alive to the punctilios
of their own order. Those Peninsular ladies who are blues, by blood not
socks, are equally fastidious in the serious matter of its admixture
even by Hymen: one of them, it is said, having chanced in a moment of
weakness to mingle her azure with something brownish, alleged in excuse
that she had done so for her character’s sake. “_Que disparate, mi
Señora._” “What nonsense, my lady!” was her fair confidante’s reply;
“ten bastards would have less discoloured your blood, than one
legitimate child the issue of such a misalliance.”

To stick, however, to our colours; _black blood_ is the vile Stygean
pitch which is found in the carcasses of Jews, Gentiles, Moors,
Lutherans, and other combustible heretics, with whose bodies the holy
tribunal made bonfires for the good of their souls. Nay, in the case of
the Hebrew this black blood is also thought to stink, whence Jews were
called by learned Latinists _putos_, quia putant; and certainly at
Gibraltar an unsavoury odour seems to be gentilitious in the children of
Israel, not however to unorthodox and unheraldic nostrils a jot more so,
than in the believing Spanish monk. Recently the colour _black_ has been
assigned to the blood of political opponents, and a copious “_shedding
of vile black blood_” has been the regular panacea of every military
Sangrado. How extremes meet! Thus, this aristocracy of colour, in
despotical old Spain, which lies in the veins, is placed on the skin in
new republican America. Where is the free and easy Yankee would
recognise a brother, in a black?

[Sidenote: THE BARATERO.]

To return to Figaro. There is no mistaking his shop; for independently
of the external manifestations of the fine arts practised within, his
threshold is the lounge of all idlers, as well as of those who are
anxious to relieve their chins of the thick stubble of a three days’
growth. The house of the barber has, since the days of Solomon and
Horace, been the mart of news and gossip,--of epigram and satire, as
Pasquino the tailor’s was at Rome. It is the club of the lower orders,
who here take up a position, and listen, cloaked as Romans, to some
reader of the official Gazette, which, with a cigar, indicates modern
civilization, and soothes him with empty vapour. Here, again, is the
mint of scandal, and all who have lived intimately with Spaniards, know
how invariably every one stabs his neighbour behind his back with words,
the lower orders occasionally using knives sharper even than their
tongues. Here, again, resort gamblers, who, seated on the ground with
cards more begrimed than the earth, pursue their fierce game as eager
as if existence was at stake; for there is generally some well-known
cock of the walk, a bully, or _guapo_, who will come up and lay his hand
on the cards, and say, “No one shall play with any cards but with
mine”--_aqui no se juega sino con mis barajas_. If the parties are
cowed, they give him a halfpenny each. If, however, one of the
challenged be a spirited fellow, he defies him--_Aquí no se cobra el
barato sino con un puñal de Albacete_--“You get no change here except
out of an Albacete knife.” If the defiance be accepted, _Vamos alla_ is
the answer--“Let’s go to it.” There’s an end then of the cards, all
flock to the more interesting _écarté_; instances have occurred, where
Greek meets Greek, of their tying the two advanced feet together, and
yet remaining fencing with knife and cloak for a quarter of an hour
before the blow be dealt. The knife is held firmly, the thumb is pressed
straight on the blade, and calculated either for the cut or thrust.

The term _Barato_ strictly means the present which is given to waiters
who bring a new pack of cards. The origin is Arabic, _Baara_, “a
_voluntary_ gift;” in the corruption of the _Baratero_, it has become an
involuntary one. Our legal term _Barratry_ is derived from the mediæval
_Barrateria_, which signified cheating or foul play. Cervantes well knew
that _Baratar_ in old Spanish meant to exchange unfairly, to
thimble-rig, to sell anything under its real value, and therefore gave
the name of _Barrateria_ to Sancho’s sham government. The _Baratero_ is
quite a thing of Spain, where personal prowess is cherished, and there
is one in every regiment, ship, prison, and even among galley-slaves.

[Sidenote: FIGARO’S SHOP.]

The interior of the barber’s shop is equally a _cosa de España_. Her
neighbour may boast to lead Europe in hair-dressing and clipping
poodles, but Figaro snaps his fingers at her civilization, and no cat’s
ears and tail can be closer shaved than his one’s are. The walls of his
operating room are neatly lathered with white-wash; on a peg hangs his
brown cloak and conical hat; his shelves are decorated with clay-painted
figures of picturesque rascals, arrayed in all their Andalucian
toggery--bandits, bull-fighters, and smugglers, who, especially the
latter, are more universally popular than all or any long-tail-coated
chancellors of exchequers. The walls are enlivened with rude prints of
fandango dancings, miracles, and bull-fights, in which the Spanish
vulgar delight, as ours do in racing and ring notabilities. Nor is a
portrait of his _querida_, his black-eyed sweetheart, often wanting.
Near these, for religion mixes itself with everything of Spain, are
images of the Virgin, patron saints, with stoups for holy water, and
little cups in which lighted wicks burn floating on green oil; and
formerly no barber prepared for an operation, whether on veins, teeth,
or beards, without first making the sign of a cross. Thus hallowed, his
implements of art are duly arranged in order; his glass, soap, towels,
and leather strap, and guitar, which indeed, with the razor, constitutes
the genus barber. “These worthies,” said Don Quixote, “are all either
_guitarristas o copleros_; they are either makers of couplets, or
accompany other songsters with catgut.” Hence Quevedo, in his ‘Pigsties
of Satan,’ punishes unrighteous Figaros, by hanging up near them a
guitar, which tantalizes their touch, and moves away when they wish to
take it down.


Few Spaniards ever shave themselves; it is too mechanical, so they
prefer, like the Orientals, a “razor that is hired,” and as that must be
paid for, scarcely any go to the expensive luxury of an every-day shave.
Indeed, Don Quixote advised Sancho, when nominated a governor, to shave
at least every other day if he wished to look like a gentleman. The
peculiar sallowness of a Spaniard’s face is heightened by the contrast
of a sable bristle. Figaro himself is dressed much after the fashion in
which he appears on transpyrenean stages; he, on true Galenic
principles, takes care not to alarm his patients by a lugubrious
costume. There is nothing black, or appertaining to the grave about him;
he is all tags, tassels, colour, and embroidery, quips and quirks; he is
never still; always in a bustle, he is lying and lathering, cutting
chins and capers, here, there, and everywhere. _Figaro la, Figaro qua._
If he has a moment free from taking off beards and making paper cigars,
he whips down his guitar and sings the last seguidilla; thus he drives
away dull care, who hates the sound of merry music, and no wonder; the
operator performs his professional duties much more skilfully than the
rival surgeon, nor does he bungle at any little extraneous _amateur_
commissions; and there are more real performances enacted by the
barbers in Seville itself, than in a dozen European opera houses.

These Figaros, says their proverb, are either mad or garrulous,
_Barberos, o locos, o parleros_. Hence, when the Andalucian autocrat,
Adrian, when asked how he liked to be shaved, replied “Silently.”
Humbler mortals must submit to let Figaro have his wicked way in talk;
for when a man is fixed in his operating chair, with his jaws lathered,
and his nose between a finger and a thumb, there is not much
conversational fair play or reciprocity. The Spanish barber is said to
learn to shave on the orphan’s head, and nothing, according to one
described by Martial, escaped except a single wary he-goat. The
experiments tried on the veins and teeth of aching humanity, are
sometimes ludicrous--at others serious, as we know to our cost, having
been silly enough to leave behind in Spain two of our wise teeth as
relics, tokens, and trophies of Figaro’s unrelenting prowess. We cannot
but remember such things were, and were dearer, than the pearls in
Cleopatra’s ears, which she melted in her gazpachos. “A mouth without
molars,” said Don Quixote to Sancho, “is worse than a mill without
grinding-stones;” and the Don was right.



     What to observe in Spain--How to observe--Spanish Incuriousness and
     Suspicions--French Spies and Plunderers--Sketching in
     Spain--Difficulties, How Surmounted--Efficacy of Passports and
     Bribes--Uncertainty and Want of Information in the Natives.


Now that the most approved methods of travelling, living, and being
buried in Spain have been touched on, our kind readers will naturally
inquire, what are the peculiar attractions which should induce gentlemen
and ladies who take their ease at home, to adventure into this land of
roughing it, in which _rats_ rather than hares jump up when the least
expected. “What to observe” is a question easier asked than answered;
who indeed can cater for the multitudinous variety of fancies, the
differences by which Nature keeps all nature right? Who shall decide
when doctors disagree, as they always do, on matters of taste, since
every one has his own way of viewing things, and his own hobby and
predilection? Say not, however, with Smellfungus, that all is a
wilderness from Dan to Beersheba,--nor seek for weeds where flowers
grow. The search for the excellent is the high road to excellence, as
not to appreciate it when found is the surest test of mediocrity. The
refining effort and habit teaches the mind to think; from long pondering
on the beautiful world without, snatches are caught of the beautiful
world within, and a glimpse is granted to the chosen few, of glories
hidden from the vulgar many. They indeed have eyes, but see not; nay,
scarcely do they behold the things of external nature, until told what
to look for, where to find it, and how to observe it; then a new sense,
a second sight, is given. Happy, thrice happy those from whose eyes the
film has been removed, who instead of a previous vague general and
unintelligent stare, have really learnt to _see_! To them a fountain of
new delights, pure and undefiled, welling up and overflowing, is opened;
in proportion as they comprehend the infinite form, colour, and beauty
with which Nature clothes her every work, albeit her sweetest charms
are only revealed to the initiated, reserved as the rich reward of those
who bow to her shrine with singleness of purpose, and turn to her
worship with all their hearts, souls, and understandings.

It was with these beneficent intentions that our good friend John Murray
first devised Handbooks; and next, by writing them himself, taught
others how to dip into inkstands for red books, which tell man, woman,
and child what to observe, to the ruin of _laquais de place_, and
discomfiture of authors of single octavos and long vacation excursions.
Few gentlemen who publish the notes of their Peninsular gallop much
improve their light diaries by discussing heavy handbook subjects;
skimming, like swallows, over the surface, and in pursuit of insects,
they neither heed nor discern the gems which lurk in the deeps below;
they see indeed all the scum and straws which float on the surface, and
write down on their tablets all that is rotten in the state of Spain.
Hence the sameness of some of their works; one book and bandit reflects
another, until writers and readers are imprisoned in a vicious circle.
Nothing gives more pain to Spaniards than seeing volume after volume
written on themselves and their country by foreigners, who have only
rapidly glanced at one-half of the subject, and that half the one of
which they are the most ashamed, and consider the least worth notice.
This constant prying into the nakedness of the land and exposing it
afterwards, has increased the dislike which they entertain towards the
_impertinente curioso_ tribe: they well know and deeply feel their
country’s decline; but like poor gentlefolks, who have nothing but the
past to be proud of, they are anxious to keep these family secrets
concealed, even from themselves, and still more from the observations of
those who happen to be their superiors, not in blood, but in worldly
prosperity. This dread of being shown up sharpens their inherent
suspicions, when strangers wish to “observe,” and examine into their
ill-provided arsenals and institutions, just as Burns was scared even by
the honest antiquarian Grose; so they lump the good and the bad, putting
them down as book-making Paul Prys:--


    “If there’s a hole in a’ your coats,
       I rede ye tent it;
     A chiel’s amang ye, taking notes,
       And faith! he’ll prent it.”

The less observed and said about these Spanish matters, these _cosas de
España_--the present tatters in her once proud flag, on which the sun
never set--is, they think, the soonest mended. These comments heal
slower than the knife-gash--“_Sanan cuchilladas, mas_ NO _malas
palabras_.” Let no author imagine that the fairest observations that he
can take and make of Spain as she is, setting down nought in malice, can
ever please a Spaniard; his pride and self-esteem are as great as the
self-conceit and low consequence of the American: both are morbidly
sensitive and touchy; both are afflicted with the notion that all the
world, who are never troubling their heads about them, are thinking of
nothing else, and linked in one common conspiracy, based in envy,
jealousy, or ignorance; “you don’t understand us, I guess.” Truth,
except in the shape of a compliment, is the greatest of libels, and is
howled against as a lie and forgery from the Straits to the Bidasoa;
Napier’s history, for example. The Spaniard, who is hardly accustomed to
a free, or rather a licentious press, and the scavenger propensity with
which, in England and America, it rakes into the sewers of private life
and the gangrenes of public, is disgusted with details which he resents
as a breach of hospitality in strangers. He considers, and justly, that
it is no proof either of goodness of breeding, heart, or intellect, to
be searching for blemishes rather than beauties, for toadstools rather
than violets; he despises those curmudgeons who see motes rather than
beams in the brightest eyes of Andalucia. The productions of strangers,
and especially of those who ride and write the quickest, must savour of
the pace and sources from whence they originate. Foreigners who are
unacquainted with the language and good society of Spain are of
necessity brought the most into contact with the lowest scenes and the
worst class of people, thus road-scrapings and postilion information too
often constitute the raw-head-and-bloody-bones material of their
composition. All this may be very amusing to those who like these
subjects, but they afford a poor criterion for descanting on whatever
does the most honour to a country, or gives sound data for judging its
real condition. How would we ourselves like that Spaniards should form
their opinions of England and Englishmen from the Newgate calendars, the
reports of cads, and the annals of beershops?


Various as are the objects worth observing in Spain, many of which are
to be seen there only, it may be as well to mention what is _not_ to be
seen, for there is no such loss of time as finding this out oneself,
after weary chace and wasted hour. Those who expect to meet with
well-garnished arsenals, libraries, restaurants, charitable or literary
institutions, canals, railroads, tunnels, suspension-bridges,
steam-engines, omnibuses, manufactories, polytechnic galleries, pale-ale
breweries, and similar appliances and appurtenances of a high state of
political, social, and commercial civilization, had better stay at home.
In Spain there are no turnpike-trust meetings, no quarter-sessions, no
courts of _justice_, according to the real meaning of that word, no
treadmills, no boards of guardians, no chairmen, directors,
masters-extraordinary of the court of chancery, no assistant poor-law
commissioners. There are no anti-tobacco-teetotal-temperance-meetings,
no auxiliary-missionary-propagating societies, nothing in the blanket
and lying-in asylum line, nothing, in short, worth a revising-barrister
of three years’ standing’s notice, unless he be partial to the study of
the laws of bankruptcy. Spain is no country for the political economist,
beyond affording an example of the decline of the wealth of nations, and
offering a wide topic on errors to be avoided, as well as for
experimental theories, plans of reform and amelioration. In Spain,
Nature reigns; she has there lavished her utmost prodigality of soil and
climate, which Spaniards have for the last four centuries been
endeavouring to counteract by a culpable neglect of agricultural
speeches and dinners, and a non-distribution of prizes for the biggest
boars, asses, and labourers with largest families.

[Sidenote: WHAT TO OBSERVE.]

The landed proprietor of the Peninsula is little better than a weed of
the soil; he has never observed, nor scarcely permitted others to
observe, the vast capabilities which might and ought to be called into
action. He seems to have put Spain into Chancery, such is the general
dilapidation. The country is little better than a terra incognita, to
naturalists, geologists, and all other branches of ists and ologists.
Everywhere there, the material is as superabundant as native labourers
and operatives are deficient. All these interesting branches of inquiry,
healthful and agreeable, as being out-of-door pursuits, and bringing the
amateur in close contact with nature, offer to embryo authors who are
ambitious to _book something new_, a more worthy subject than the old
story of dangers of bull-fights, bandits, and black eyes. Those who
aspire to the romantic, the poetical, the sentimental, the artistical,
the antiquarian, the classical, in short, to any of the sublime and
beautiful lines, will find both in the past and present state of Spain,
subjects enough in wandering with lead-pencil and note-book through this
singular country, which hovers between Europe and Africa, between
civilization and barbarism; this land of the green valley and barren
mountain, of the boundless plain and the broken sierra; those Elysian
gardens of the vine, the olive, the orange, and the aloe; those
trackless, vast, silent, uncultivated wastes, the heritage of the wild
bee;--in flying from the dull uniformity, the polished monotony of
Europe, to the racy freshness of that original, unchanged country, where
antiquity treads on the heels of to-day, where Paganism disputes the
very altar with Christianity, where indulgence and luxury contend with
privation and poverty, where a want of all that is generous or merciful
is blended with the most devoted heroic virtues, where the most
cold-blooded cruelty is linked with the fiery passions of Africa, where
ignorance and erudition stand in violent and striking contrast.

[Sidenote: WHAT TO OBSERVE.]

“There,” says the Handbook, in a style which qualifies the author for
the best bound and fairest edited album, “let the antiquarian pore over
the stirring memorials of many thousand years, the vestiges of
Phœnician enterprise, of Roman magnificence, of Moorish elegance, in
that storehouse of ancient customs, that repository of all elsewhere
long forgotten and passed by; there let him gaze upon those classical
monuments, unequalled almost in Greece or Italy, and on those fairy
Aladdin palaces, the creatures of Oriental gorgeousness and imagination,
with which Spain alone can enchant the dull European; there let the man
of feeling dwell on the poetry of her envy-disarming decay, fallen from
her high estate, the dignity of a dethroned monarch, borne with
unrepining self-respect, the last consolation of the innately noble,
which no adversity can take away; let the lover of art feed his eyes
with the mighty masterpieces of ideal Italian art, when Raphael and
Titian strove to decorate the palaces of Charles, the great emperor of
the age of Leo X. Let him gaze on the living nature of Velazquez and
Murillo, whose paintings are truly to be seen in Spain alone; let the
artist sketch frowning forms of the castle, the pomp and splendour of
the cathedral, where God is worshipped in a manner as nearly befitting
his glory as the arts and wealth of finite man can reach. Let him dwell
on the Gothic gloom of the cloister, the feudal turret, the vasty
Escorial, the rock-built alcazar of imperial Toledo, the sunny towers of
stately Seville, the eternal snows and lovely vega of Granada; let the
geologist clamber over mountains of marble, and metal-pregnant sierras;
let the botanist cull from the wild hothouse of nature plants unknown,
unnumbered, matchless in colour, and breathing the aroma of the sweet
south; let all, learned and unlearned, listen to the song, the guitar,
the castanet; or join in the light fandango and spirit-stirring
bullfight; let all mingle with the gay, good-humoured, temperate
peasantry, free, manly, and independent, yet courteous and respectful;
let all live with the noble, dignified, high-bred, self-respecting
Spaniard; let all share in their easy, courteous society; let all admire
their dark-eyed women, so frank and natural, to whom the voice of all
ages and nations has conceded the palm of attraction, to whom Venus has
bequeathed her magic girdle of grace and fascination; let all--but
enough on starting on this expedition, ‘where,’ as Don Quixote said,
‘there are opportunities, brother Sancho, of putting our hands into what
are called adventures up to our elbows.’”


Nor was the La Manchan hidalgo wrong in assigning a somewhat adventurous
character to the searchers in Spain for useful and entertaining
knowledge, since the natives are fond, and with much reason, of
comparing themselves and their country to _tesoros escondidos_, to
hidden treasures, to talents buried in napkins; but they are equally
fond of turning round, and falling foul of any pains-taking foreigner
who digs them up, as Le Sage did the soul of Pedro Garcias. Nothing
throughout the length and breadth of the land creates greater suspicion
or jealousy than a stranger’s making drawings, or writing down notes in
a book: whoever is observed _sacando planes_, “taking plans,” _mapeando
el pais_, “mapping the country,”--for such are the expressions of the
simplest pencil sketch--is thought to be an engineer, a spy, and, at all
events, to be about no good. The lower classes, like the Orientals,
attach a vague mysterious notion to these, to them unintelligible,
proceedings; whoever is seen at work is immediately reported to the
civil and military authorities, and, in fact, in out-of-the-way places,
whenever an unknown person arrives, from the rarity of the occurrence,
he is the observed of all observers. Much the same occurs in the East,
where Europeans are suspected of being emissaries of their governments,
as neither they nor Spaniards can at all understand why any man should
incur trouble and expense, which no native ever does, for the mere
purpose of acquiring knowledge of foreign countries, or for his own
private improvement or amusement. Again, whatever particular
investigations or questions are made by foreigners, about things that to
the native appear unworthy of observation, are magnified and
misrepresented by the many, who, in every place, wish to curry favour
with whoever is the governor or chief person, whether civil or military.
The natives themselves attach little or no importance to views, ruins,
geology, inscriptions, and so forth, which they see every day, and which
they therefore conclude cannot be of any more, or ought not to be of
more, interest to the stranger. They judge of him by themselves; few men
ever draw in Spain, and those who do are considered to be professional,
and employed by others.


One of the many fatal legacies left to Spain by the French, was an
increased suspicion of men with the pencil and notebook. Previously to
their invasion spies and agents were sent, who, under the guise of
travellers, reconnoitred the land; and then, casting off the clothing of
sheep, guided in the wolves to plunder and destruction. The aged prior
of the Merced, at Seville, observed to us, when pointing out the empty
frames and cases from whence the Messrs. Soult and Co. had “removed” the
Murillos and sacred plate,--“_Lo creira usted_--Will your Grace believe
it, I beheld among the _ladrones_ a person who grinned at me when I
recognised him, to whom, some time before the invaders’ arrival, I had
pointed out these very treasures. _Tonto de mi!_ Oh! simpleton that I
was, to take a _gabacho_ for an honest man.” Yet this worthy individual
was decorated with the legion of honour of Buonaparte, whose “first note
in his pocket-book” of agenda, _after_ the conquest of England, was to
“carry off the Warwick vase;” as Denon, who too had spoiled the
Egyptians, told Sir E. Tomason. We English, whose shops, “bursting with
opulence into the streets,” have not yet been visited, although the
temptation is held out by royal pamphleteers, can scarcely enter into
the feelings of those whose homes are still reeking with blood, and
blighted by poverty. The Castilian cat, who has been scalded, flies even
from cold water.

Some excuse, therefore, may be alleged in favour of Spanish authorities,
especially in rarely visited districts, when they behold a strange
barbarian eye peeping and peering about. Their first impression, as in
the East, is that he may be a Frank: hence the shaking, quaking, and
ague which comes over them. At Seville, Granada, and places where
foreign artists are somewhat more plentiful, the processes of drawing
may be passed over with pity and contempt, but in lonely localities the
star-gazing observer is himself the object of argus-eyed, official
observation. He is, indeed, as unconscious of the portentous emotions
and ill-omened fears which he is exciting, as was the innocent crow of
the meanings attached to his movements by the Roman augurs, and few
augurs of old ever rivalled the Spanish alcaldes of to-day in quick
suspicion and perception of evil, especially where none is intended.
Witness what actually occurred to three excellent friends of ours.


The readers of Borrow’s inimitable ‘Bible in Spain’ will remember his
hair-breadth escape from being shot for Don Carlos by the miraculous
intervention of the alcalde of Corcubion, who, if still alive, must be a
phœnix, and clearly worth observation, as he was a reader of the
“grand Baintham,” or our illustrious Jeremy Bentham, to whom the Spanish
reformers sent for a paper _constitution_, not having a very clear
meaning of the word or thing, whether it was made of cotton or
parchment. Another of the very best investigators and writers on Spain,
Lord Carnarvon, was nearly put to death in the same districts for Don
Miguel; Captain Widdrington, also one of the kindest and most honourable
of men, was once arrested on suspicion of being an agent of Espartero;
and we, our humble selves, have had the felicity of being marched to a
guard-house for sketching a Roman ruin, and the honour of being taken,
either for Curius Dentatus, an alligator, or Julius Cæsar,--as there is
no absurdity, no inconceivable ignorance, too great for the local
Spanish “Dogberries,” who rarely deviate into sense; when their fears or
suspicions are roused, they are as deaf alike to the dictates of common
reason or humanity as adders or Berbers; and here, as in the East, even
the best intentioned may be taken up for spies, and have their beards,
at least, cut off, as was done to King David’s envoyés. All classes, in
regard to strangers, generally get some hostile notions into their
heads, and then, instead of fairly and reasonably endeavouring to arrive
at the truth, pervert every innocent word, and twist every action, to
suit their own preconceived nonsense, until trifles become to their
jealous minds proofs as strong as Holy Writ. In justice, however, it
must be said, that when these authorities are once satisfied that the
stranger is an Englishman, and that no harm is intended, no people can
be more civil in offering assistance of every kind, especially the lower
classes, who gaze at the magical performance of drawing with wonder: the
higher classes seldom take any notice, partly from courtesy, and much
from the _nil admirari_ principle of Orientals, which conceals both
inferiority and ignorance, and shows good breeding.


The drawing any garrison-town or fortified place in Spain is now most
strictly forbidden. The prevailing ignorance of everything connected
with the arts of design is so great, that no distinction is made between
the most regular plan and the merest artistical sketch: a drawing is
with them a drawing, and punishable as such. A Spanish barrack,
garrison, or citadel is therefore to be observed but little, and still
less to be sketched. A gentleman, nay, a lady also, is liable, under any
circumstances, when drawing, to be interrupted, and often is exposed to
arrest and incivility. Indeed, whether an artist or not, it is as well
not to exhibit any curiosity in regard to matters connected with
military buildings; nor will the loss be great, as they are seldom worth
looking at. The troops in our time were in a most admired disorder. If
they wore shoes they had no stockings; if they had muskets, flints were
not plentiful; if powder was supplied, balls were scarce; nothing, in
short, was ever according to regulation. Nay, the buttons even on the
officers’ coats were never dressed in file: some had the numbers up,
some down, some awry; but uniformity is a thing of Europe and not of the
East. At this moment, when the church is starved, when widows’ pensions
are unpaid, when governmental bankruptcy walks the land, whose bones,
marrow, and all are wasted to support the army, whose swords uphold the
hated men in office, the bands of the Royal Guard, the Prætorian bands,
do not keep tune, nor do the rank and file march in time. However
painful these things to pipe-clay martinets, the artist loses much, by
not being able to sketch such tumble-down forts and ragged garrisons,
each _Bisoño_ of which is more precious to painter eye than the officer
in command at Windsor; while his short-petticoated _querida_ is more
Murillo-like than a score of patronesses of Almack’s.


The safest plan for those who want to observe, and to book what they
observe, is to obtain a Spanish passport, with the object of their
curiosity and inquiries clearly specified in it. There is seldom any
difficulty at Madrid, if application be made through the English
minister, in obtaining such a document; indeed, when the applicant is
well known, it is readily given by any of the provincial
Captains-General. As it is couched in the Spanish language, it is
understood by all, high and low; an advantage which is denied in Spain
to those issued by our ambassadors, and even by the Foreign Office, who,
to the _credit_ of themselves and nation, give passes to Englishmen in
the French language, whereby among Spaniards a suspicion arises that the
bearer may be a Frenchman, which is not always pleasant. We preserve
among rare Peninsular relics a passport granted by our kind patron the
redoubtable Conde de España, and backed by the no less formidable
Quesada and Sarsfield, in which it was enjoined, in choice, intelligible
Castilian, to all and every minor rulers and governors, whether with the
pen or sword, to aid and assist the bearer in his examination of the
fine arts and antiquities of the Peninsula. These autocrats were more
implicitly obeyed in their respective Lord Lieutenancies than Ferdinand
himself; in fact, the pashas of the East are their exact types, each in
their district being the heads of both civil and military tribunals; and
as they not only administer, but suit the law according to the length of
their own feet, they in fact make it and trample upon it, and all in any
authority below them imitate their superiors as nearly as they dare.
These things of Spain are managed with a gravity truly Oriental, both in
the rulers and in the resignation of those ruled by them; these great
men’s passport and signature were obeyed by all minor authorities as
implicitly as an Oriental firman; the very fact of a stranger having a
Captain-General’s passport, is soon known by everybody, and, to use an
Oriental phrase, “makes his face to be whitened;” it acts as a letter of
introduction, and is in truth the best one of all, since it is addressed
to people in power in each village or town, who, true sheikhs, are
looked up to by all below them with the same deference, as they
themselves look up to all above them. The worth of a person recommended,
is estimated by that of the person who recommends; _tal recomendacion
tal recomendado_. To complete this thing of Oriental Spain, these three
omnipotent despots, who defied laws human and divine, who made dice of
their enemies’ bones, and goblets of their skulls, have all since been
assassinated, and sent to their account with all their sins on their
heads. In limited monarchies ministers who go too far, lose their
places, in Spain and Turkey their heads: the former, doubtless, are the
most severely punished.

Those who wish to observe Spanish man, which, next to Spanish woman,
forms the proper study of mankind, will find that one key to decipher
this singular people is scarcely European, for this _Berberia Cristiana_
is a neutral ground placed between the hat and the turban; many indeed
of themselves contend that Africa begins even at the Pyrenees. Be that
as it may, Spain, first civilized by the Phœnicians, and long
possessed by the Moors, has indelibly retained the original impressions.
Test her, therefore, and her males and females, by an Oriental standard,
how analogous does much appear that is strange and repugnant, if
compared with European usages. Take care, however, not to let either the
ladies or gentlemen know the hidden processes of your mind, for nothing
gives greater offence. The fair sex is willing, to prevent such a
mistake, to lay aside even their becoming _mantillas_, as their hidalgos
doff their stately Roman cloaks. These old clothes they offer up as
sacrifices on the altar of civilization, and to the mania of looking
exactly like the rest of the world, in Hyde Park and the Elysian Fields.


Another remarkable Oriental trait is the general want of love for the
beautiful in art, and the abundance of that Αφιλοκαλια with
which the ancients reproached the genuine Iberians; this is exhibited in
the general neglect and indifference shown towards Moorish works, which
instead of destroying they ought rather to have protected under
glasses, since such attractions are peculiar to the Peninsula. The
_Alhambra_, the pearl and magnet of Granada, is in their estimation
little better than a _casa de ratones_, or a rat’s hole, which in truth
they have endeavoured to make it by centuries of neglect; few natives
even go there, or understand the all-absorbing interest, the
concentrated devotion, which it excites in the stranger; so the Bedouin
regards the ruins of Palmyra, insensible to present beauty, as to past
poetry and romance. Sad is this non-appreciation of the Alhambra by the
Spaniards, but such are Asiatics, with whom sufficient for the day is
_their to-day_; who care neither for the past nor for the future, who
think only for the present and themselves, and like them the masses of
Spaniards, although not wearing turbans, lack the organs of veneration
and admiration for anything beyond matters connected with the first
person and the present tense. Again, the leaven of hatred against the
Moor and his relics is not extinct; they resent as almost heretical the
preference shown by foreigners to the works of infidels rather than to
those of good Catholics; such preference again at once implies their
inferiority, and convicts them of bad taste in their non-appreciation,
and of Vandalism in labouring to mutilate, what the Moor laboured to
adorn. The charming writings of Washington Irving, and the admiration of
European pilgrims, have latterly shamed the authorities into a somewhat
more conservative feeling towards the Alhambra; but even their benefits
are questionable; they “repair and beautify” on the church-warden
principle, and there is no less danger in such “restorations” than in
those fatal scourings of Murillo and Titian in the Madrid gallery, which
are effacing the lines where beauty lingers. Even their tardy
appreciation is somewhat interested: thus Mellado, in his late Guide,
laments that there should be no account of the Alhambra, of which he
speaks coldly, and suggests, as so many “English” visit it, that a
descriptive work would be a _segura especulacion!_ a safe speculation!
Thus the poetry of the Moorish Alhambra is coined into the Spanish prose
of profitable shillings and sixpences.


Travellers however should not forget, that much which to them has the
ravishing, enticing charms of novelty, is viewed by the dull sated eye
of the native, with familiarity which breeds contempt; they are weary,
oh fatal lassitude! even of the beautiful: alas! exclaimed the hermit on
Monserrat, to the stranger who was ravished by exquisite views, then and
there beheld by him for the first and last time, “all this has no
attraction for me; twenty and nine are the years that I have seen this
unchanged scene, every sunrise, every noon, every sunset.” But _sordent
domestica_, observes Pliny, nor are all things or persons honoured in
their own homes as they ought to be, since the days that Mahomet the
true prophet failed to persuade his wife and valet that his powers were
supernatural. Can it be wondered that ruins and “old rubbish” should be
held cheap among the Moro-Spaniards? or that their so-called “guides”
should mislead and misdirect the stranger? It cannot well be avoided,
since few of the writers ever travel in their own country, and fewer
travel out of it; thus from their limited means of comparison, they
cannot appreciate differences, nor tell what are the wants and wishes of
a foreigner: accordingly, scenes, costumes, ruins, usages, ceremonies,
&c., which they have known from childhood, are passed over without
notice, although, from their passing newness to the stranger, they are
exactly what he most desires to have pointed out and explained. Nay, the
natives frequently despise or are ashamed of those very things, which
most interest and charm the foreigner, for whose observation they select
the modern rather than the old, offering especially their poor pale
copies of Europe, in preference to their own rich, racy, and natural
originals, doing this in nothing more than in the costume and dwellings
of the lower classes, who happily are not yet afflicted with the disease
of French polish: they indeed, when they dig up ancient coins, will rub
off the precious rust of twice ten hundred years, in order to render
them, as they imagine, more saleably attractive; but they fortunately
spare themselves, insomuch that Charles III., on failing in one of his
laudable attempts to improve and modernise them, compared his loving
subjects to naughty children, who quarrel with their good nurse when she
wants to wash them.


Again, no country in the world can vie with Spain, where the dry climate
at least is conservative, with memorials of auld lang syne, with tower
and turret, Prout-like houses and toppling balconies, so old that they
seem only not to fall into the torrents and ravines over which they
hang. Here is every form and colour of picturesque poverty; vines
clamber up the irregularities, while below naiads dabble, washing their
red and yellow garments in the all-gilding glorious sun-beams. What a
picture it is to all but the native, who sees none of the wonders of
lights and shadows, reflections, colours, and outlines; who, blind to
all the beauties, is keenly awake only to the degradation, the rags and
decay; he half suspects that your sketch and admiration of a smuggler or
bullfighter is an insult, and that you are taking it, in order to show
in England what Mons. Guizot will never be forgiven for calling the
“brutal” things of Spain; accordingly, while you are sincerely and with
reason delighted with sashes and _Zamarras_, he begs you to observe his
ridiculous Boulevard-cut coat: or when you sit down opposite to a
half-ruined Roman wall, some crumbling Moorish arch, or mediæval Gothic
shrine, he implores you to come away and draw the last spick and span
Royal Academical abortion, coldly correct and classically dull, in order
to carry home a sample which may do credit to Spain, as approximating to
the way things are managed at Charing Cross.

Without implicitly following the advice of these Spaniards of better
intention than taste, no man of research will undervalue any assistance
by which his objects are promoted, even should he be armed with a
captain-general’s passport, and a red Murray. Meagre is the oral
information which is to be obtained from Spaniards on the spot; these
incurious semi-Orientals look with jealousy on the foreigner, and either
fence with him in their answers, raise difficulties, or, being highly
imaginative, magnify or diminish everything as best suits their own
views and suspicions. The national expressions “_Quien sabe? no se
sabe_,”--“who knows? I do not know,” will often be the prelude to “_No
se puede_,”--“it can’t be done.”


These impediments and impossibilities are infinitely increased when the
stranger has to do with men in office, be it ever so humble; the first
feeling of these Dogberries is to suspect mischief and give refusals.
“No” may be assumed to be their natural answer; nor even if you have a
special order of permission, is admission by any means certain. The
keeper, who here as elsewhere, considers the objects committed to his
care as his own private property and source of perquisite, must be
conciliated: often when you have toiled through the heat and dust to
some distant church, museum, library, or what not, after much ringing
and waiting, you will be drily informed that it is shut, can’t be seen,
that it is the wrong day, that you must call again to-morrow; and if it
be the right day, then you will be told that the hour is wrong, that you
are come too early, too late; very likely the keeper’s wife will inform
you that he is out, gone to mass, or market, or at his dinner, or at his
_siesta_, or if he is at home and awake, he will swear that his wife has
mislaid the key, “which she is always doing.” If all these and other
excuses won’t do, and you persevere, you will be assured that there is
nothing worth seeing, or you will be asked why you want to see it? As a
general rule, no one should be deterred from visiting anything, because
a Spaniard of the upper classes gives his opinion that the object is
beneath notice; he will try to convince you that Toledo, Cuenca, and
other places which cannot be matched in Christendom, are ugly, odious,
old cities; he is ashamed of them because the tortuous, narrow lanes do
not run in rows as straight as Pall Mall and the Rue de Rivoli. In fact
his only notion of a civilized town is a common-place assemblage of
rectangular wide streets, all built and coloured uniformly, like a line
of foot-soldiers, paved with broad flags, and lighted with gas, on which
Spaniards can walk about dressed as Englishmen, and Spanish women like
those of France; all of which said wonders a foreigner may behold far
better nearer home; nor is it much less a waste of time to go and see
what the said Spaniard considers to be a real lion, since the object
generally turns out to be some poor imitation, without form, angle,
history, nationality, colour, or expression, beyond that of utilitarian
comfort and common-place convenience--great advantages no doubt both to
contractors and political economists, but death and destruction to men
of the pencil and note-book.



The sound principles in Spanish sight-seeing are few and simple, but, if
observed, they will generally prove successful; first, persevere; never
be put back; never take an answer if it be in the negative; never lose
temper or courteous manners; and lastly, let the tinkle of metal be
heard at once; if the chief or great man be inexorable, find out
privately who is the wretched sub who keeps the key, or the crone who
sweeps the room; and then send a discreet messenger to say that you
will pay to be admitted, without mentioning “nothing to nobody.” Thus
you will always obtain your view, even when an official order fails. On
our first arrival at Madrid, when but young in these things of Spain, we
were desirous of having daily permission to examine a royal gallery,
which was only open to the public on certain days in the week. In our
grave dilemma we consulted a sage and experienced diplomatist, and this
was the oracular reply:--“Certainly, if you wish it, I will make a
request to Señor Salmon” (the then Home Secretary), “and beg him to give
you the proper order, as a personal favour to myself. By the way, how
much longer shall you remain here?”--“From three to four weeks.”--“Well,
then, after you have been gone a good month, I shall get a courteous and
verbose epistle from his Excellency, in which he will deeply regret
that, on searching the archives of his office, there was no instance of
such a request having ever been granted, and that he is compelled most
reluctantly to return a refusal, from the fear of a precedent being
created. My advice to you is to give the porter a dollar, to be repeated
whenever the door-hinges seem to be getting rusty and require oiling.”
The hint was taken, as was the bribe, and the prohibited portals
expanded so regularly, that at last they knew the sound of our
footsteps. Gold is the Spanish _sesame_. Thus Soult got into Badajoz,
thus Louis Philippe put Espartero out, and Montpensier in. Gold, bright
red gold, is the sovereign remedy which in Spain smooths all
difficulties, nay, some in which even force has failed, as here the
obstinate heads may be guided by a straw of bullion, but not driven by a
bar of iron. The magic influence of a bribe pervades a land, where
everything is venal, even to the scales of justice. Here men who have
objects to gain begin to work from the bottom, not from the top, as we
do in England. In order to ensure success, no step in the official
ladder must be left unanointed. A wise and prudent suitor bribes from
the porter to the premier, taking care not to forget the
under-secretary, the over-secretary, the private secretary, all in their
order, and to regulate the douceur according to each man’s rank and
influence. If you omit the porter, he will not deliver your card, or
will say Señor Mon is out, or will tell you to call again _manaña_, the
eternal to-morrow. If you forget the chief clerk, he will mislay your
petition, or poison his master’s ear. In matters of great and political
importance, the sovereign, him or herself, must have a share; and thus
it was that Calomarde continued so long to manage the beloved Ferdinand
and his counsels. He was the minister who laid the greatest bribe at the
royal feet. “Sire, by strict attention and honesty, I have just been
enabled to economise 50,000_l._, on the sums allotted to my department,
which I have now the honour and felicity to place at your Majesty’s
disposal.”--“Well done, my faithful and good minister, here is a cigar
for you.” This Calomarde, who began life as a foot-boy, smuggled through
the Christinist swindle, by which Isabel now wears the crown of Don
Carlos. The rogue was rewarded by being made _Conde de Sª. Isabel_, a
title which since has been conferred on Mons. Bresson’s baby--a delicate
compliment to his sire’s labours in the transfer of the said crown to
Louis Philippe--but Spaniards are full of dry humour.


In the East, the example and practice of the Sultan and Vizier is
followed by every pacha, down to the lowest animal who wields the most
petty authority; the disorder of the itching palm is endemic and
epidemic, all, whether high and low, want, and must have money; all wish
to get it without the disgrace of begging, and without the danger of
highway robbery. Public poverty is the curse of the land, and all
_empleados_ or persons in office excuse themselves on dire necessity,
the old plea of a certain gentleman, which has no law. Some allowance,
therefore, may be made for the rapacity which, with very few exceptions,
prevails; the regular salaries, always inadequate, are generally in
arrear, and the public servants, poor devils, swear that they are forced
to pay themselves by conniving at defrauding the government; this few
scruple to do, as all know it to be an unjust one, and that it can
afford it; indeed, as all are offenders alike, the guilt of the offence
is scarcely admitted. Where robbing and jobbing are the universal order
of the day, one rascal keeps another in countenance, as one goître does
another in Switzerland. A man who does not feather his nest when in
place, is not thought honest, but a fool; _es preciso, que cada uno coma
de su oficio_. It is necessary, nay, a _duty_, as in the East, that all
should live by their office; and as office is short and insecure, no
time or means is neglected in making up a purse; thus poverty and their
will alike and readily consent.

Take a case in point. We remember calling on a Spaniard who held the
highest office in a chief city of Andalucia. As we came into his cabinet
a cloaked personage was going out; the great man’s table was covered
with gold ounces, which he was shovelling complacently into a drawer,
gloating on the glorious haul. “Many ounces, Excellency,” said we. “Yes,
my friend,” was his reply--“_no quiero comer mas patatas_,--I do not
intend to dine any more on potatoes.” This gentleman, during the
_Sistema_, or Riego constitution, had, with other loyalists, been turned
out of office; and, having been put to the greatest hardships, was
losing no time in taking prudent and laudable precautions to avert any
similar calamity for the future. His practices were perfectly well known
in the town, where people simply observed, “_Está atesorando_, he is
laying up treasures,”--as every one of them would most certainly have
done, had they been in his fortunate position. Rich and honest Britons,
therefore, should not judge too hardly of the sad shifts, the strange
bed-fellows, with which want makes the less provided Spaniards
acquainted. _Donde no hay abundancia, no hay observancia._ The empty
sack cannot stand upright, nor was ever a sack made in Spain into which
gain and honour could be stowed away together; _honra y provecho, no
caben en un saco o techo_; here virtue itself succumbs to poverty,
induced by more than half a century of mis-government, let alone the
ruin caused by Buonaparte’s invasion, to which domestic troubles and
civil wars have been added.


To return, however, to sight-seeing in Spain. Lucky was the traveller
prepared even to bribe and pay, who ever in our time chanced to fall in
with a librarian who knew what books he had, or with a priest who could
tell what pictures were in his chapel; ask him for _the_ painting by
Murillo--a shoulder-shrug was his reply, or a curt “_no hay_,” “there is
none;” had you inquired for the “blessed Saint Thomas,” then he might
have pointed it out; the _subject_, not the artist, being all that was
required for the service of the church. An incurious bliss of ignorance
is no less grateful to the Spanish mind, than the _dolce far niente_ or
sweet indolent doing nothing is to the body. All that gives trouble, or
“fashes,” destroys the supreme height of felicity, which consists in
avoiding exertion. A chapter might be filled with instances, which, had
they not occurred to our humble selves, would seem caricature
inventions. The not to be able to answer the commonest question, or to
give any information as to matters of the most ordinary daily
occurrence, is so prevalent, that we at first thought it must proceed
from some fear of committal, some remnant of inquisitorial engendered
reserve, rather than from bonâ fide careless and contented ignorance.
The result, however, of much intercourse and experience arrived at, was,
that few people are more communicative than the lower classes of
Spaniards, especially to an Englishman, to whom they reveal private and
family secrets: their want of knowledge applies rather to things than to


If you called on a Spanish gentleman, and, finding him out, wished
afterwards to write him a note, and inquired of his man or maid servant
the number of the house;--“I do not know, my lord,” was the invariable
answer, “I never was asked it before, I have never looked for it: let us
go out and see. Ah! it is number 36.” Wishing once to send a parcel by
the wagon from Merida to Madrid, “On what day, my lord,” said I to the
potbellied, black-whiskered _ventero_, “does your _galera_ start for the
Court?” “Every Wednesday,” answered he; “and let not your grace be
anxious”--“_Disparate_--nonsense,” exclaimed his copper-skinned,
bright-eyed wife, “why do you tell the English knight such lies? the
wagon, my lord, sets out on Fridays.” During the logomachy, or the few
words which ensued between the well-matched pair, our good luck willed,
that the _mayoral_ or driver of the vehicle should come in, who
forthwith informed us that the days of departure were Thursdays; and he
was right. This occurred in the provinces; take, therefore, a parallel
passage in the capital, the heart and brain of the Castiles. “_Señor,
tenga Usted la bondad_--My lord,” said I to a portly, pompous
bureaucrat, who booked places in the dilly to Toledo,--“have the
goodness, your grace, to secure me one for Monday, the 7th.”--“I fear,”
replied he, politely, for the _negocio_ had been prudently opened by my
offering him a real Havannah, “that your lordship has made a mistake in
the date. Monday is the 8th of the current month”--which it was not.
Thinking to settle the matter, we handed to him, with a bow, the
almanack of the year, which chanced to be in our pocket-book. “_Señor_,”
said he, gravely, when he had duly examined it, “I knew that I was
right; this one was printed at Seville,”--which it was--“and we are here
at Madrid, which is _otra cosa_, that is, altogether another affair.” In
this solar difference and pre-eminence of the Court, it must be
remembered, that the sun, at its creation, first shone over the
neighbouring city, to which the dilly ran; and that even in the last
century, it was held to be heresy at Salamanca, to say that it did not
move round Spain. In sad truth, it has there stood still longer than in
astronomical lectures or metaphors. Spain is no paradise for
calculators; here, what ought to happen, and what would happen elsewhere
according to Cocker and the doctrine probabilities, is exactly the event
which is the least likely to come to pass. One arithmetical fact only
can be reckoned upon with tolerable certainty: let given events be
represented by numbers; then two and two may at one time make three, or
possibly five at another; but the odds are four to one against two and
two ever making four; another safe rule in Spanish official numbers; _e.
g._ “five thousand men killed and wounded”--“five thousand dollars will
be given,” and so forth, is to deduct two noughts, and sometimes even
three, and read fifty or five instead.


Well might even the keen-sighted, practical Duke say it is difficult to
understand the Spaniards exactly; there neither men nor women, suns nor
clocks go together; there, as in a Dutch concert, all choose their own
tune and time, each performer in the orchestra endeavouring to play the
first fiddle. All this is so much a matter of course, that the natives,
like the Irish, make a joke of petty mistakes, blunders,
unpunctualities, inconsequences, and pococurantisms, at which accurate
Germans and British men of business are driven frantic. Made up of
contradictions, and dwelling in the _pays de l’imprévu_, where exception
is the rule, where accident and the impulse of the moment are the moving
powers, the happy-go-lucky natives, especially in their collective
capacity, act like women and children. A spark, a trifle, sets the
impressionable masses in action, and none can foresee the commonest
event; nor does any Spaniard ever attempt to guess beyond _la situacion
actual_, the actual present, or to foretell what the morrow will bring;
that he leaves to the foreigner, who does not understand him.
_Paciencia y barajar_ is his motto; and he waits _patiently_ to see what
next will turn up after another _shuffle_.

There is one thing, however, which all know exactly, one question which
all can answer; and providentially this refers to the grand object of
every foreigner’s observation--“When will the bull-fight be and begin?”
and this holds good, notwithstanding that there is a proviso inserted in
the notices, that it will come off on such a day and hour, “if the
weather permits.” Thus, although these spectacles take place in summer,
when for months and months rain and clouds are matters of history, the
cautious authorities doubt the blessed sun himself, and mistrust the
certainty of his proceedings, as much as if they were ir-regulated by a
Castilian clockmaker.



     Origin of the Bull-fight or Festival, and its Religious
     Character--Fiestas Reales--Royal Feasts--Charles I. at
     one--Discontinuance of the Old System--Sham Bull-fights--Plaza de
     Toros--Slang Language--Spanish Bulls--Breeds--The Going to a

Our honest John Bulls have long been more partial to their Spanish
namesakes, than even to those perpetrated by the Pope, or made in the
Emerald Isle; to see a bull-fight has been the emphatic object of
enlightened curiosity, since Peninsular sketches have been taken and
published by our travellers. No sooner had Charles the First, when
prince, lost his heart at Madrid, than his royal
father-in-law-that-was-to-be, regaled him and the fair inspirer of his
tender passion, with one of these charming spectacles; an event which,
as many men and animals were butchered, was thought by the
historiographers of the day to be one that posterity would not willingly
let die; their contemporary accounts will ever form the gems of every
tauromachian library that aspires to be complete.


These sports, which recall the bloody games of the Roman amphitheatre,
are now only to be seen in Spain, where the present clashes with the
past, where at every moment we stumble on some bone and relic of
Biblical and Roman antiquity; the close parallels, nay the identities,
which are observable between these combats and those of classical ages,
both as regards the spectators and actors, are omitted, as being more
interesting to the scholar than to the general reader; they were pointed
out by us some years ago in the Quarterly Review, No. cxxiv. And as
human nature changes not, men when placed in given and similar
circumstances, will without any previous knowledge or intercommunication
arrive at nearly similar results; the gentle pastime of spearing and
killing bulls in public and single-handed was probably devised by the
Moors, or rather by the Spanish Moors, for nothing of the kind has ever
obtained in Africa either now or heretofore. The Moslem Arab, when
transplanted into a Christian and European land, modified himself in
many respects to the ways and usages of the people among whom he
settled, just as his Oriental element was widely introduced among his
Gotho-Hispano neighbours. Moorish Andalucia is still the head-quarters
of the tauromachian art, and those who wish carefully to master this,
the science of Spain _par excellence_, should commence their studies in
the school of Ronda, and proceed thence to take the highest honours in
the University of Seville, the Bullford of the Peninsula.


By the way, our boxing, baiting term bull-_fight_ is a very lay and low
translation of the time-honoured Castilian title, _Fiestas de Toros_,
the feasts, festivals of bulls. The gods and goddesses of antiquity were
conciliated by the sacrifice of hecatombs; the lowing tickled their
divine ears, and the purple blood fed their eyes, no less than the
roasted sirloins fattened the priests, while the grand spectacle and
death delighted their dinnerless congregations. In Spain, the Church of
Rome, never indifferent to its interests, instantly marshalled into its
own service a ceremonial at once profitable and popular;[13] it
consecrated butchery by wedding it to the altar, availing itself of this
gentle handmaid, to obtain funds in order to raise convents; even in the
last century Papal bulls were granted to mendicant orders, authorising
them to celebrate a certain number of _Fiestas de Toros_, on condition
of devoting the profit to finishing their church; and in order to swell
the receipts at the doors, spiritual indulgences and soul releases from
purgatory, the number of years being apportioned to the relative prices
of the seats, were added as a bonus to all paid for places at a
spectacle hallowed by a pious object. So at the _taurobolia_ of
antiquity, those who were sprinkled with bull blood were absolved from
sin. Protestant ministers, who very properly fear and distrust papal
bulls, replace them by bazaars and fancy fairs, whenever a fashionable
chapel requires a new blue slate roofing. Again, when not devoted to
religious purposes, every bull-fight aids the cause of charity; the
profits form the chief income of the public hospitals, and thus furnish
both funds and patients, as the venous circulation of the mob thirsting
for gore, rises to blood heat under a sun of fire, and the subsequent
mingling of sexes, opening of bottles and knives, occasion more deaths
among the lords and ladies of the Spanish creation, than among the
horned and hoofed victims of the amphitheatre.

It is a common but very great mistake, to suppose that bull-fights are
as numerous in Spain as bandits; it is just the contrary, for this may
there be considered the tip-top æsthetic treat, as the Italian Opera is
in England, and both are rather expensive amusements; true it is that
with us, only the salt of the earth patronises the performers of the
Haymarket, while high and low, vulgar and exquisite, alike delight in
those of the Spanish fields. Each bull-fight costs from 200_l._ to
300_l._, and even more when got up out of Andalucia or Madrid, which
alone can afford to support a standing company; in other cities the
actors and animals have to be sent for express, and from great
distances. Hence the representations occur like angels’ visits, few and
far between; they are reserved for the chief festivals of the church and
crown, for the unfeigned devotion of the faithful on the holy days of
local saints, and the Virgin; they are also given at the marriages and
coronations of the sovereign, and thence are called Fiestas _reales_,
_Royal_ festivals--the ceremonial being then deprived of its religious
character, although it is much increased in worldly and imposing
importance. The sight is indeed one of surpassing pomp, etiquette, and
magnificence, and has succeeded to the _Auto de Fé_, in offering to the
most Catholic Queen and her subjects the greatest possible means of
tasting rapture, that the limited powers of mortal enjoyment can
experience in this world of shadows and sorrows.


They are only given at Madrid, and then are conducted entirely after the
ancient Spanish and Moorish customs, of which such splendid descriptions
remain in the ballad romances. They take place in the great square of
the capital, which is then converted into an arena. The windows of the
quaint and lofty houses are arranged as boxes, and hung with velvets and
silks. The royal family is seated under a canopy of state in the balcony
of the central mansion. There we beheld Ferdinand VII. presiding at the
solemn swearing of allegiance to his daughter. He was then seated where
Charles I. had sat two centuries before; he was guarded by the unchanged
halberdiers, and was witnessing the unchanged spectacle. On these royal
occasions the bulls are assailed by gentlemen, dressed and armed as in
good old Spanish times, before the fatal Bourbon accession obliterated
Castilian costume, customs, and nationality. The champions, clad in the
fashions of the Philips, and mounted on beauteous barbs, the minions of
their race, attack the fierce animal with only a short spear, the
immemorial weapon of the Iberian. The combatants must be hidalgos by
birth, and have each for a _padrino_, or god-father, a first-rate
grandee of Spain, who passes before royalty in a splendid equipage and
six, and is attended by bands of running footmen, who are arrayed either
as Greeks, Romans, Moors, or fancy characters. It is not easy to obtain
these _caballeros en plaza_, or poor knights, who are willing to expose
their lives to the imminent dangers, albeit during the fight they have
the benefit of experienced _toreros_ to advise their actions and cover
their retreats.

In 1833 a gentle dame, without the privity of her lord and husband,
inscribed his name as one of the champion volunteers. In procuring him
this agreeable surprise, she, so it was said in Madrid, argued thus:
“Either _mi marido_ will be killed--in that case I shall get a new
husband; or he will survive, in which event he will get a pension.” She
failed in both of these admirable calculations--such is the uncertainty
of human events. The terror of this poor _héros malgré lui_, on whom
chivalry had been thrust, was absolutely ludicrous when exposed by his
well-intentioned better-half, to the horns of this dilemma and bull. Any
other horns, my dearest, but these! He was wounded at the first rush,
did survive, and did not get a pension; for Ferdinand died soon after,
and few pensions have been paid in the Peninsula, since the land has
been blessed with a _charte_, constitution, liberty, and a
representative government.


One anecdote, where another lady is in the case, may be new to our fair
readers. We quote from an ancient authentic chronicler:--“It will not be
amiss here to mention what fell out in the presence of Charles the First
of Blessed Memory, who, while Prince of Wales, repaired to the court of
Spain, whether to be married to the Infanta, or upon what other design,
I cannot well determine: however, all comedies, playes, and festivals
(this of the bulls at Madrid being included), were appointed to be as
decently and magnificently gone about as possible, for the more
sumptuous and stately entertainment of such a splendid prince.
Therefore, after three bulls had been killed, and the fourth a coming
forth, there appeared four gentlemen in good equipage; not long after, a
brisk lady, in most gorgeous apparel, attended with persons of quality,
and some three or four grooms, walked all along the square a-foot.
Astonishment seized upon the beholders, that one of the female sex could
assume the unheard boldness of exposing herself to the violence of the
most furious beast yet seen, which had overcome, yea almost killed, two
men of great strength, courage, and dexterity. Incontinently the bull
rushed towards the corner where the lady and her attendants stood; she
(after all had fled) drew forth her dagger very unconcernedly, and
thrust it most dexterously into the bull’s neck, having catched hold of
his horn; by which stroak, without any more trouble, her design was
brought to perfection; after which, turning about towards the king’s
balcony, she made her obeysance, and withdrew herself in suitable state
and gravity.”

At the _jura_ of 1833 ninety-nine bulls were massacred; had one more
been added the hecatomb would have been complete. These wholesale
slaughterings have this year been repeated at the marriage of the same
“_innocent_” Isabel, the critical events of whose life are
death-warrants to quadrupeds. Bulls, however, represent in Spain the
coronation banquets of England. In that hungry, ascetic land, bulls have
always been killed, but no beef eaten; a remarkable fact, which did not
escape the learned Justin in his remarks on the no-dinner-giving crowned
heads of old Iberia.

These genuine ancient bull-fights were perilous and fatal in the
extreme, yet knights were never wanting--valour being the point of
honour--who readily exposed their lives in sight of their cruel
mistresses. To kill the monster if not killed by him, was, before the
time of Hudibras, the sure road to women’s love, who very properly
admire those qualities the best, in which they feel themselves to be the
most deficient:--


    “The ladies’ hearts began to melt,
     Subdued by blows their lovers felt;
     So Spanish heroes, with their lances,
     At once wound bulls and ladies’ fancies.”

The final conquest of the Moors, and the subsequent cessation of the
border chivalrous habits of Spaniards, occasioned these love-pastimes to
fall into comparative disuse. The gentle Isabella was so shocked at the
bull-fights which she saw at Medina del Campo, that she did her utmost
to put them down; but she strove in vain, for the game and monarchy were
destined to fall together. The accession of Philip V. deluged the
Peninsula with Frenchmen. The puppies of Paris pronounced the Spaniards
and their bulls to be barbarous and brutal, as their _artistes_ to this
day prefer the _bœuf gras_ of the Boulevards to whole flocks of
Iberian lean kine. The spectacle which had withstood her influence, and
had beat the bulls of Popes, bowed before the despotism of fashion. The
periwigged courtiers deserted the arena, on which the royal Bourbon eye
looked coldly, while the sturdy people, foes--then as now--to Frenchmen
and innovations, clung closer to the sports of their forefathers. Yet a
fatal blow was dealt to the combat: the art, once practised by knights,
degenerated into the vulgar butchery of mercenary bull-fighters, who
contended not for honour, but base lucre; thus, by becoming the game of
the mob, it was soon stripped of every gentlemanlike prestige. So the
tournament challenges of our chivalrous ancestors have sunk down to the
vulgar boxings of ruffian pugilists.


Baiting a bull in any shape is irresistible to the lower orders of
Spain, who disregard injuries to the bodies, and, what is worse, to
their cloaks. The hostility to the horned beast is instinctive, and
grows with their growth, until it becomes, as men are but children of a
larger growth, a second nature. The young urchins in the streets play at
“_toro_,” as ours do at leap-frog; they go through the whole mimic
spectacle amongst each other, observing every law and rule, as our
schoolboys do when they fight. Few adult Spaniards, when journeying
through the country, ever pass a herd of cows without this dormant
propensity breaking out; they provoke the animals to fight by waving
their cloaks or _capas_, a challenge hence called _el capeo_. The
villagers, who cannot afford the expense of a regular bull-fight, amuse
themselves with baiting _novillos_, or bull-youngsters--calves of one
year old; and _embolados_, or bulls whose horns are guarded with tips
and buttons. These innocent pastimes are despised by the regular
_aficion_, the “fancy;” because, as neither man nor beast are exposed to
be killed, the whole affair is based in fiction, and impotent in
conclusion. They cry out for Toros de _muerte_--bulls of _death_.
Nothing short of the reality of blood can allay their excitement. They
despise the makeshift spectacle, as much as a true gastronome does
mock-turtle, or an old campaigner a sham fight.


In the wilder districts of Andalucia few cattle are ever brought into
towns for slaughter, unless led by long ropes, and partially baited by
those whose poverty prevents their indulgence in the luxury of real
bull-fights and beef. The governor of Tarifa was wont on certain days to
let a bull loose into the streets, when the delight of the inhabitants
was to shut their doors, and behold from their grated windows the
perplexities of the unwary or strangers, pursued by him in the narrow
lanes without means of escape. Although many lives were lost, a governor
in our time, named Dalmau, otherwise a public benefactor to the place,
lost all his popularity in the vain attempt to put the custom down. When
the Bourbon Philip V. first visited the _plaça_ at Madrid, all the
populace roared, _Bulls! give us bulls, my lord_. They cared little for
the ruin of the monarchy; so when the intrusive Joseph Buonaparte
arrived at the same place, the only and absorbing topic of public talk
was whether he would grant or suppress the bull-fight. And now, as
always, the cry of the capital is--“_Pan y toros_; bread and bulls:”
these constitute the loaves and fishes of the “only modern court,” as
_Panes et Circenses_ did of ancient Rome. The national scowl and frown
which welcomed Montpensier at his marriage, was relaxed for one moment,
when Spaniards beheld his well-put-on admiration for the tauromachian
spectacle. Nothing, since the recent vast improvements in Spain, has
more progressed than the bull-fight--convents have come down, churches
have been levelled, but new amphitheatres have arisen. The diffusion of
useful and entertaining knowledge, as the means of promoting the
greatest happiness of the greatest number, has thus obtained the best
consideration of those patriots and statesmen who preside over the
destinies of Spain; the bull is master of his ground. This last remnant
and representative of Spanish nationality defies the foreigner and his
civilization; he is a _fait accompli_, and tramples _la charte_ under
his feet, although the honest Roi citoyen swears that it is désormais
une _vérité_.

In Spain there is no mistaking the day and time that the bull-fight
takes place, which is generally on Saint Monday, and in the afternoon,
when the mid-day heats are past.

The arena, or _Plaza_, is most unlike a London Place, those enclosures
of stunted smoke-blacked shrubs, fenced in with iron palisadoes to
protect aristocratic nurserymaids from the mob. It is at once more
classical and amusing. The amphitheatre of Madrid is very spacious,
being about 1100 feet in circumference, and will hold 12,000 spectators.
In an architectural point of view this ring of the model court, is
shabbier than many of those in provincial towns: there is no attempt at
orders, pilasters, and Vitruvian columns; there is no adaptation of the
Coliseum of Rome: the exterior is bald and plain, as if done so on
purpose, while the interior is fitted up with wooden benches, and is
scarcely better than a shambles; but for that it was designed, and there
is a business-like, murderous intention about it, which marks the
inæsthetic Gotho-Spaniard, who looked for a sport of blood and death,
and not to a display of artistical skill. He has no need of extraneous
stimulants; the _réalité atroce_, as a tender-hearted foreigner
observes, “is all-sufficing, because it is the recreation of the savage,
and the sublime of common souls.” The locality, however, is admirably
calculated for seeing; and this combat is a spectacle entirely for the
eyes. The open space is full of the light of heaven, and here the sun is
brighter than gas or wax-candles. The interior is as unadorned as the
exterior, and looks positively “mesquin” when empty; around the sanded
centre rise rows of wooden seats for the humbler classes, and above them
a tier of boxes for the fine ladies and gentlemen; but no sooner is the
theatre filled than all this meanness is concealed, and the general
appearance becomes superb.


On entering the ring when thus full, the stranger finds his watch put
back at once eighteen hundred years; he is transported to Rome under the
Cæsars; and in truth the sight is glorious, of the assembled thousands
in their Spanish costume, the novelty of the spectacle, associated with
our earliest classical studies, are enhanced by the blue expanse of the
heavens, spread above as a canopy. There is something in these
out-of-door entertainments, _à l’antique_, which peculiarly affects the
shivering denizens of the catch-cold north, where climate contributes so
little to the happiness of man. All first-rate connoisseurs go into the
pit and place themselves among the mob, in order to be closer to the
bulls and combatants. The _real thing_ is to sit near one of the
openings, which enables the fancy-man to exhibit his embroidered gaiters
and neat leg. It is here that the character of the bull, the nice traits
and the behaviour of the bull-fighter are scientifically criticised. The
ring has a dialect peculiar to itself, which is unintelligible to most
Spaniards themselves, while to the sporting-men of Andalucia it
expresses their drolleries with idiomatic raciness, and is exactly
analogous to the slang and technicalities of our pugilistic craft. The
newspapers next day generally give a detailed report of the fight, in
which every round is scientifically described in a style that defies
translation, but which being drawn up by some Spanish Boz, is most
delectable to all who can understand it; the nomenclature of praise and
blame is defined with the most accurate precision of language, and the
delicate shades of character are distinguished with the nicety of
phrenological subdivision. The foundation of this lingo is gipsy Romany,
metaphor, and double entendre; to master it is no easy matter; indeed, a
distinguished diplomat and tauromachian philologist, whom we are proud
to call our friend, was often unable to comprehend the full pregnancy of
the meaning of certain terms, without a reference to the late Duke of
San Lorenzo, who sustained the character of Spanish ambassador in London
and of bull-fighter in Madrid with equal dignity; his grace was a living
lexicon of slang. Yet let no student be deterred by any difficulty,
since he will eventually be repaid, when he can fully relish the
Andalucian wit, or _sal Andaluça_, the salt, with which the reports are
flavoured: that it is seldom Attic must, however, be confessed. Nor let
time or pains be grudged; there is no royal road to Euclid, and life,
say the Spanish fancy, is too short to learn bull-fighting. This
possibly may seem strange, but English squires and country gentlemen
assert as much in regard to fox-hunting.

[Sidenote: SPANISH BULLS.]

The day appointed for a bull-feast is announced by placards of all
colours; the important particulars decorate every wall. The first thing
is to secure a good place beforehand, by sending for a _Boletin de
Sombra_, a shade-ticket; and as the great object is to avoid glare and
heat, the best places are on the northern side, which are in the shade.
The transit of the sun over the Plaza, the zodiacal progress into
Taurus, is decidedly the best calculated astronomical observation in
Spain; the line of shadow defined on the arena is marked by a gradation
of prices. The different seats and prices are everywhere detailed in the
bills of the play, with the names of the combatants and the colours of
the different breeds of bulls.


The day before the fight, the bulls destined for the spectacle are
driven towards the town, and pastured in a meadow reserved for their
reception; then the fine amateurs never fail to ride out to see what the
cattle is like, just as the knowing in horseflesh go to Tattersall’s of
a Sunday afternoon, instead of attending evening service in their parish
churches. According to Pepe Illo, who was a very practical man, and the
first author on the modern system of the arena, of which he was the
brightest ornament, and on which he died in the arms of victory, the
“love of bulls is inherent in man, especially in the Spaniard, among
which glorious people there have been bull-fights ever since there were
bulls, because the Spanish men are as much more brave than all other
men, as the Spanish bull is more fierce and valiant than all other
bulls.” Certainly, from having been bred at large, in roomy unenclosed
plains, they are more active than the animals raised by John Bull, but
as regards form and power they would be scouted in an English
cattle-show; a real British bull, with his broad neck and short horns,
would make quick work with the men and horses of Spain; his “spears”
would be no less effective than the bayonets of our soldiers, which no
foreigner faces twice, or the picks of our _Navvies_, three and
three-eighths of whom are calculated by railway economists to eat more
beef and do more work than five and five-eighths of corresponding
foreign material. By the way, the correct Castilian word for the bull’s
_horns_ is _astas_, the Latin _hastas_, spears. _Cuernos_ must never be
used in good Spanish society, since, from its secondary meaning, it
might give offence to present company: allusions to common calamities
are never made to ears polite, however frequent among the vulgar, who
call things by their improper names--nay, roar them out, as in the time
of Horace: “Magnâ compellens voce cucullum.”

Not every bull will do for the Plaza, and none but the fiercest are
selected, who undergo trials from the earliest youth; the most
celebrated animals come from Utrera near Seville, and from the same
pastures where that eminent breeder of old Geryon, raised those
wonderful oxen, which all but burst with fat in fifty days, and were
“lifted” by the invincible Hercules. Señor _Cabrera_, the modern Geryon,
was so pleased with Joseph Buonaparte, or so afraid, that he offered to
him a hundred bulls, as a hecatomb for the rations of his troops, who,
braver and hungrier than Hercules, would otherwise have infallibly
followed the demigod’s example. The Manchegan bull, small, very
powerful, and active, is considered to be the original stock of Spain;
of this breed was “Manchangito,” the pet of the Visconde de Miranda, a
tauromachian noble of Cordova, and who used to come into the
dining-room, but, having one day killed a guest, he was destroyed after
violent resistance on the part of the Viscount, and only in obedience to
the peremptory mandate of the Prince of the Peace.

The capital is supplied with animals bred in the valleys of the Jarama
near Aranjuez, which have been immemorially celebrated. From hence came
that _Harpado_, the magnificent beast of the magnificent Moorish ballad
of Gazul, which was evidently written by a practical _torero_, and on
the spot: the verses sparkle with daylight and local colour like a
Velazquez, and are as minutely correct as a Paul Potter, while Byron’s
“Bull-fight” is the invention of a foreign poet, and full of slight

The _encierro_, or the driving the bulls to the arena, is a service of
danger; they are enticed by tame oxen, into a road which is barricadoed
on each side, and then driven full speed by the mounted and
spear-bearing peasants into the _Plaza_. It is an exciting, peculiar,
and picturesque spectacle; and the poor who cannot afford to go to the
bull-fight, risk their lives and cloaks in order to get the front
places, and best chance of a stray poke _en passant_.

[Sidenote: THE ENCIERRO.]

The next afternoon all the world crowds to the _Plaza de toros_. You
need not ask the way; just launch into the tide, which in these Spanish
affairs will assuredly carry you away. Nothing can exceed the gaiety and
sparkle of a Spanish public going, eager and full-dressed, to the
_fight_. They could not move faster were they running away from a real
one. All the streets or open spaces near the outside of the arena
present of themselves a spectacle to the stranger, and genuine Spain is
far better to be seen and studied in the streets, than in the saloon.
Now indeed a traveller from Belgravia feels that he is out of town, in a
new world and no mistake; all around him is a perfect saturnalia, all
ranks are fused in one stream of living beings, one bloody thought beats
in every heart, one heart beats in ten thousand bosoms; every other
business is at an end, the lover leaves his mistress unless she will go
with him,--the doctor and lawyer renounce patients, briefs, and fees;
the city of sleepers is awakened, and all is life, noise, and movement,
where to-morrow will be the stillness and silence of death; now the
bending line of the _Calle de Alcalá_, which on other days is broad and
dull as Portland Place, becomes the aorta of Madrid, and is scarcely
wide enough for the increased circulation; now it is filled with a dense
mass coloured as the rainbow, which winds along like a spotted snake to
its prey. Oh the din and dust! The merry mob is everything, and, like
the Greek chorus, is always on the scene. How national and Spanish are
the dresses of the lower classes--for their betters alone appear like
Boulevard quizzes, or tigers cut out from our East end tailors’
pattern-book of the last new fashion; what _Manolas_, what reds and
yellows, what fringes and flounces, what swarms of picturesque
vagabonds, cluster, or alas, clustered, around _calesas_, whose wild
drivers run on foot, whipping, screaming, swearing; the type of these
vehicles in form and colour was Neapolitan; they alas! are also soon
destined to be sacrificed to civilization to the ’bus and common-place
cab, or vile fly.


The _plaza_ is the focus of a fire, which blood alone can extinguish;
what public meetings and dinners are to Britons, reviews and razzias to
Gauls, mass or music to Italians, is this one and absorbing bull-fight
to Spaniards of all ranks, sexes, ages, for their happiness is quite
catching; and yet a thorn peeps amid these rosebuds; when the dazzling
glare and fierce African sun calcining the heavens and earth, fires up
man and beast to madness, a raging thirst for blood is seen in flashing
eyes and the irritable ready knife, then the passion of the Arab
triumphs over the coldness of the Goth: the excitement would be terrific
were it not on pleasure bent; indeed there is no sacrifice, even of
chastity, no denial, even of dinner, which they will not undergo to save
money for the bull-fight. It is the birdlime with which the devil
catches many a female and male soul. The men go in all their best
costume and _majo_-finery: the distinguished ladies wear on these
occasions white lace mantillas, and when heated, look, as the Andaluz
wag Adrian said, like sausages wrapped up in white paper; a fan,
_abanico_, is quite as necessary to all as it was among the Romans. The
article is sold outside for a trifle, and is made of rude paper, stuck
into a handle of common cane or stick, and the gift of one to his
nutbrown _querida_ is thought a delicate attention to her complexion
from her swarthy swain; at the same time the lower Salamander classes
stand fire much better on these occasions than in action, and would
rather be roasted fanless alive _á la auto de fe_ than miss these hot

The place of slaughter, like the _Abattoirs_ on the Continent, is
erected outside the towns, in order to obtain space, and because horned
animals when over driven in crowded streets are apt to be ill-mannered,
as may be seen every Smithfield market-day in the City, as the Lord
Mayor well knows.


The seats occupied by the mob are filled more rapidly than our shilling
galleries, and the “gods” are equally noisy and impatient. The anxiety
of the immortals, wishes to annihilate time and space and make
bull-fanciers happy. Now his majesty the many reigns triumphantly, and
this--church excepted--is the only public meeting allowed; but even
here, as on the Continent, the odious bayonet sparkles, and the soldier
picket announces that innocent amusements are not free; treason and
stratagem are suspected by coward despots, when one sole thought of
pleasure engrosses every one else. All ranks are now fused into one mass
of homogeneous humanity; their good humour is contagious; all leave
their cares and sorrows at home, and enter with a gaiety of heart and a
determination to be amused, which defies wrinkled care; many and not
over-delicate are the quips and quirks bandied to and fro, with an
eloquence more energetic than unadorned; things and persons are
mentioned to the horror of periphrastic euphuists; the liberty of
speech is perfect, and as it is all done quite in a parliamentary way,
none take offence. Those only who cannot get in are sad; these rejected
ones remain outside grinding their teeth, like the unhappy ghosts on the
wrong side of the Styx, and listen anxiously to the joyous shouts of the
thrice blessed within.

At Seville a choice box in the shade and to the right of the president
is allotted as the seat of honour to the canons of the cathedral, who
attend in their clerical costume; and such days are fixed upon for the
bull-fight as will not by a long church service prevent their coming.
The clergy of Spain have always been the most uncompromising enemies of
the stage, where they never go; yet neither the cruelty nor profligacy
of the amphitheatre has ever roused the zeal of their most elect or most
fanatic: our puritans at least assailed the bear-bait, which induced the
Cavalier Hudibras to defend them; so our methodists denounced the
bull-bait, which was therefore patronised by the Right Hon. W. Windham,
in the memorable debate May 24, 1802, on Mr. _Dog_ Dent. The Spanish
clergy pay due deference to bulls, both papal and quadruped; they
dislike being touched on this subject, and generally reply “_Es
costumbre_--it is the custom--_siempre se ha praticado asi_--it has
always been done so, or _son cosas de España_, they are things of
Spain”--the usual answer given as to everything which appears
incomprehensible to strangers, and which they either can’t account for,
or do not choose. In vain did St. Isidore write a chapter against the
amphitheatre--his _chapter_ minds him not; in vain did Alphonso the Wise
forbid their attendance. The sacrifice of the bull has always been mixed
up with the religion of old Rome and old and modern Spain, where they
are classed among acts of charity, since they support the sick and
wounded; therefore all the sable countrymen of Loyola hold to the
Jesuitical doctrine that the end justifies the means.



     The Bull-fight--Opening of Spectacle--First Act, and Appearance of
     the Bull--The Picador--Bull Bastinado--The Horses, and their Cruel
     Treatment--Fire and Dogs--The Second Act--The Chulos and their
     Darts--The Third Act--The Matador--Death of the Bull--The
     Conclusion, and Philosophy of the Amusement--Its Effect on Ladies.

When the appointed much-wished-for hour is come, the Queen or the
_Corregidor_ takes the seat of honour in a central and splendid box, the
mob having been previously expelled from the open arena; this operation
is called the _despejo_, and is an amusing one, from the reluctance with
which the great unwashed submit to be cleaned out. The proceedings open
at a given signal with a procession of the combatants, who advance
preceded by _alguaciles_, or officers of police, who are dressed in the
ancient Spanish costume, and are always at hand to arrest any one who
infringes the severe laws against interruptions of the games. Then
follow the _picadores_, or mounted horsemen, with their spears. Their
original broad-brimmed Spanish hats are decorated with ribbons; their
upper man is clad in a gay silken jacket, whose lightness contrasts with
the heavy iron and leather protections of the legs, which give the
clumsy look of a French jackbooted postilion. These defences are
necessary when the horned animal charges home. Next follow the _chulos_,
or combatants on foot, who are arrayed like Figaro at the opera, and
have, moreover, silken cloaks of gay colours. The _matadores_, or
killers, come behind them; and, last of all, a gaily-caparisoned team of
mules, which is destined to drag the slaughtered bulls from the arena.
As for the men, those who are killed on the spot are denied the
burial-rites if they die without confession. Springing from the dregs of
the people, they are eminently superstitious, and cover their breasts
with relics, amulets, and papal charms. A clergyman, however, is in
attendance with the sacramental wafer, in case _su majestad_ may be
wanted for a mortally-wounded combatant.


Having made their obeisances to the chief authority, all retire, and the
fatal trumpet sounds; then the president throws the key of the gate by
which the bull is to enter, to one of the _alguaciles_, who ought to
catch it in his hat. When the door is opened, this worthy gallops away
as fast as he can, amid the hoots and hisses of the mob, not because he
rides like a constable, but from the instinctive enmity which his
majesty the many bear to the finisher of the law, just as little birds
love to mob a hawk; now more than a thousand kind wishes are offered up
that the bull may catch and toss him. The brilliant army of combatants
in the meanwhile separates like a bursting shell, and take up their
respective places as regularly as our fielders do at a cricket-match.

The play, which consists of three acts, then begins in earnest; the
drawing up of the curtain is a spirit-stirring moment; all eyes are
riveted at the first appearance of the bull on this stage, as no one can
tell how he may behave. Let loose from his dark cell, at first he seems
amazed at the novelty of his position; torn from his pastures,
imprisoned and exposed, stunned by the noise, he gazes an instant around
at the crowd, the glare, and waving handkerchiefs, ignorant of the fate
which inevitably awaits him. He bears on his neck a ribbon, “la devisa,”
which designates his breeder. The picador endeavours to snatch this off,
to lay the trophy at his true love’s heart. The bull is condemned
without reprieve; however gallant his conduct, or desperate his
resistance, his death is the catastrophe; the whole tragedy tends and
hastens to this event, which, although it is darkly shadowed out
beforehand, as in a Greek play, does not diminish the interest, since
all the intermediate changes and chances are uncertain; hence the
sustained excitement, for the action may pass in an instant from the
sublime to the ridiculous, from tragedy to farce.


The bull no sooner recovers his senses, than his splendid Achillean rage
fires every limb, and with closing eyes and lowered horns he rushes at
the first of the three picadores, who are drawn up to the left, close to
the _tablas_, or wooden barrier which walls round the ring. The horseman
sits on his trembling Rosinante, with his pointed lance under his right
arm, as stiff and valiant as Don Quixote. If the animal be only of
second-rate power and courage, the sharp point arrests the charge, for
he well remembers this _garrocha_, or goad, by which herdsmen enforce
discipline and inculcate instruction; during this momentary pause a
quick picador turns his horse to the left and gets free. The bulls,
although irrational brutes, are not slow on their part in discovering
when their antagonists are bold and dexterous, and particularly dislike
fighting against the pricks. If they fly and will not face the picador,
they are hooted at as despicable malefactors, who wish to defraud the
public of their day’s sport, they are execrated as “goats,” “cows,”
which is no compliment to bulls; these culprits, moreover, are soundly
beaten as they pass near the barrier by forests of sticks, with which
the mob is provided for the nonce; that of the elegant _majo_, when
going to the bull-fight, is very peculiar, and is called _la chivata_;
it is between four and five feet long, is taper, and terminates in a
lump or knob, while the top is forked, into which the thumb is inserted;
it is also peeled or painted in alternate rings, black and white, or red
and yellow. The lower classes content themselves with a common
shillelah; one with a knob at the end is preferred, as administering a
more impressive whack; their instrument is called _porro_, because heavy
and lumbering.

Nor is this bastinado uncalled for, since courage, address, and energy,
are the qualities which ennoble tauromachia; and when they are wanting,
the butchery, with its many disgusting incidents, becomes revolting to
the stranger, but to him alone; for the gentler emotions of pity and
mercy, which rarely soften any transactions of hard Iberia, are here
banished altogether from the hearts of the natives; they now only have
eyes for exhibitions of skill and valour, and scarcely observe those
cruel incidents which engross and horrify the foreigner, who again on
his part is equally blind to those redeeming excellencies, on which
alone the attention of the rest of the spectators is fixed; the tables
are now turned against the stranger, whose æsthetic mind’s eye can see
the poetry and beauty of the picturesque rags and tumbledown hamlets of
Spaniards, and yet is blind to the poverty, misery, and want of
civilization, to which alone the vision of the higher classed native is
directed, on whose exalted soul the coming comforts of cotton are

[Sidenote: A GOOD BULL.]

When the bull is turned by the spear of the first picador, he passes on
to the two other horsemen, who receive him with similar cordiality. If
the animal be baffled by their skill and valour, stunning are the
shouts of applause which celebrate the victory of the men: should he on
the contrary charge home and overwhelm horses and riders, then--for the
balances of praise and blame are held with perfect fairness--the fierce
lord of the arena is encouraged with roars of compliments, _Bravo toro_,
_Viva toro_, Well done, bull! even a long life is wished to him by
thousands who know that he must be dead in twenty minutes.

A bold beast is not to be deterred by a trifling inch-deep wound, but
presses on, goring the horse in the flank, and then gaining confidence
and courage by victory, and “baptized in blood,” à la Française,
advances in a career of honour, gore, and glory. The picador is seldom
well mounted, for the horses are provided, at the lowest possible price,
by a contractor, who runs the risk whether many or few are killed; they
indeed are the only things economised in this costly spectacle, and are
sorry, broken-down hacks, fit only for the dog-kennel of an English
squire, or carriage of a foreign _Pair_. This increases the danger to
his rider; in the ancient combats, the finest and most spirited horses
were used; quick as lightning, and turning to the touch, they escaped
the deadly rush. The eyes of those poor horses which see and will not
face death, are often bound over with a handkerchief, like criminals
about to be executed; thus they await blindfold the fatal horn thrust
which is to end their life of misery.


The picadors are subject to most severe falls; the bull often tosses
horse and rider in one ruin, and when his victims fall with a crash on
the ground exhausts his fury upon his prostrate foes. The picador
manages (if he can) to fall off on the opposite side, in order that his
horse may form a barrier and rampart between him and the bull. When
these deadly struggles take place, when life hangs on a thread, the
amphitheatre is peopled with heads; every feeling of anxiety, eagerness,
fear, horror, and delight is stamped on their expressive countenances;
if happiness is to be estimated by quality, intensity, and
concentration, rather than duration (and it is), these are moments of
excitement more precious to them, than ages of placid, insipid, uniform
stagnation. Their feelings are wrought to a pitch, when the horse,
maddened with wounds and terror, plunging in the death-struggle, the
crimson seams of blood streaking his foam and sweat-whitened body,
flies from the infuriated bull still pursuing, still goring; then are
displayed the nerve, presence of mind, and horsemanship of the dexterous
and undismayed picador. It is in truth a piteous sight to see the poor
mangled horses treading out their entrails, and yet gallantly carrying
off their riders unhurt. But as in the pagan sacrifices, the quivering
intestines, trembling with life, formed the most propitious omens--to
what will not early habit familiarise?--so the Spaniards are no more
affected with the reality, than the Italians are with the abstract
“tanti palpiti” of Rossini.


The miserable horse, when dead, is dragged out, leaving a bloody furrow
on the sand, as the river-beds of the arid plains of Barbary are marked
by the crimson fringe of the flowering oleanders. A universal sympathy
is shown for the horseman in these awful moments; the men rise, the
women scream, but all this soon subsides; the _picador_, if wounded, is
carried out and forgotten--“_los muertos y idos no tienen amigos_”--a
new combatant fills up his gap, the battle rages--wounds and death are
the order of the day--he is not missed; and as new incidents arise, no
pause is left for regret or reflection. We remember seeing at Granada a
matador cruelly gored by a bull: he was carried away as dead, and his
place immediately taken by his son, as coolly as a viscount succeeds to
an earl’s estate and title. Carnerero, the musician, died while fiddling
at a ball at Madrid, in 1838; neither the band nor the dancers stopped
one moment. The boldness of the picadors is great. Francisco Sevilla,
when thrown from his horse and lying under the dying animal, seized the
bull, as he rushed at him, by his ears, turned round to the people, and
laughed; but, in fact, the long horns of the bull make it difficult for
him to gore a man on the ground; he generally bruises them with his
nose: nor does he remain long busied with his victim, since he is lured
to fresh attacks by the glittering cloaks of the _Chulos_ who come
instantly to the rescue. At the same time we are free to confess, that
few picadors, although men of bronze, can be said to have a sound rib in
their body. When one is carried off apparently dead, but returns
immediately mounted on a fresh horse, the applauding voice of the people
outbellows a thousand bulls. If the wounded man should chance not to
come back, _n’importe_, however courted outside the _Plaza_, now he is
ranked, like the gladiator was by the Romans, no higher than a
beast,--or about the same as a slave under the perfect equality and man
rights of the model republic.

[Sidenote: A COWARD BULL.]

The poor horse is valued at even less, and he, of all the actors, is the
one in which Englishmen, true lovers and breeders of the noble animal,
take the liveliest interest; nor can any bull-fighting habit ever
reconcile them to his sufferings and ill-treatment. The hearts of the
picadors are as devoid of feeling as their iron-cased legs; they only
think of themselves, and have a nice tact in knowing when a wound is
fatal or not. Accordingly, if the horn-thrust has touched a vital part,
no sooner has the enemy passed on to a new victim, than an experienced
picador quietly dismounts, takes off the saddle and bridle, and hobbles
off like Richard, calling out for another horse--a horse! The poor
animal, when stripped of these accoutrements, has a most rippish look,
as it staggers to and fro, like a drunken man, until again attacked by
the bull and prostrated; then it lies dying unnoticed in the sand, or,
if observed, merely rouses the jeers of the mob; as its tail quivers in
the last agony of death, your attention is called to the _fun_; _Mira,
mira, que cola!_ The words and sight yet haunt us, for they were those
that first caught our inexperienced ears and eyes at the first rush of
the first bull of our first bullfight. While gazing on the scene in a
total abstraction from the world, we felt our coat-tails tugged at, as
by a greedily-biting pike; we had caught, or, rather, were caught by a
venerable harridan, whose quick perception had discovered a novice, whom
her kindness prompted to instruct, for e’en in the ashes live the wonted
fires; a bright, fierce eye gleamed alive in a dead and shrivelled face,
which evil passions had furrowed like the lava-seared sides of an
extinct volcano, and dried up, like a cat starved behind a wainscot,
into a thing of fur and bones, in which gender was obliterated--let her
pass. If the wound received by the horse be not instantaneously mortal,
the blood-vomiting hole is plugged up with tow, and the fountain of life
stopped for a few minutes. If the flank is only partially ruptured, the
protruding bowels are pushed back--no operation in hernia is half so
well performed by Spanish surgeons--and the rent is sown up with a
needle and pack-thread. Thus existence is prolonged for new tortures,
and a few dollars are saved to the contractor; but neither death nor
lacerations excite the least pity, nay, the bloodier and more fatal the
spectacle, the more brilliant is it pronounced. It is of no use to
remonstrate, or ask why the wounded sufferers are not mercifully killed
at once; the utilitarian Spaniard dislikes to see the order of the sport
interrupted and spoilt by what he considers foreign squeamishness and
nonsense, “_Ah que! no vale nã_,”--“Bah! the beast is worth nothing;”
that is, provided he condescends to reply to your _disparates_ with
anything beyond a shrug of civil contempt. But national tastes will
differ. “Sir,” said an alderman to Dr. Johnson, “in attempting to listen
to your long sentences, and give you a short answer, I have swallowed
two pieces of green fat, without tasting the flavour. I beg you to let
me enjoy my present happiness in peace and quiet.”

The bull is the hero of the scene; yet, like Satan in the Paradise Lost,
he is foredoomed. Nothing can save him from a certain fate, which awaits
all, whether brave or cowardly. The poor creatures sometimes endeavour
in vain to escape, and have favourite retreats, to which they fly; or
they leap over the barrier, among the spectators, creating a vast hubbub
and fun, upsetting water-carriers and fancy men, putting sentinels and
old women to flight, and affording infinite delight to all who are safe
in the boxes; for, as Bacon remarks, “It is pleasant to see a battle
from a distant hill.” Bulls which exhibit this cowardlike activity are
insulted: cries of “fuego” and “perros,” fire and dogs, resound, and he
is condemned to be baited. As the Spanish dogs have by no means the
pluck of the English assailants of bulls, they are longer at the work,
and many are made minced-meat of:--

    “Up to the stars the growling mastiffs fly
     And add new monsters to the frighted sky.”


When at length the poor brute is pulled down, he is stabbed in the
spine, as if he were only fit for the shambles, being a civilian ox, not
a soldierlike bull. All these processes are considered as deadly
insults; and when more than one bull exhibits these craven propensities
to baulk nobler expectancies, then is raised the cry of “_Cabestros al
circo!_” tame oxen to the circus. This is a mortal affront to the
_empresa_, or management, as it infers that it has furnished animals
fitter for the plough than for the arena. The indignation of the mob is
terrible; for, if disappointed in the blood of bulls, it will lap that
of men.

The bull is sometimes teased with stuffed figures, men of straw with
leaded feet, which rise up again as soon as he knocks them down. An old
author relates that in the time of Philip IV. “a despicable peasant was
occasionally set upon a lean horse, and exposed to death.” At other
times, to amuse the populace, a monkey is tied to a pole in the arena.
This art of ingeniously tormenting is considered as unjustifiable
homicide by certain lively philosimious foreigners; and, indeed, all
these episodes are despised as irregular _hors d’œuvres_, by the real
and business-like amateur.


After a due time the first act terminates: its length is uncertain.
Sometimes it is most brilliant, since one bull has been known to kill a
dozen horses, and clear the _plaza_. Then he is adored; and as he roams,
snorting about, lord of all he surveys, he becomes the sole object of
worship to ten thousand devotees; at the signal of the president, and
sound of a trumpet, the second act commences with the performances of
the _chulo_, a word which signifies, in the Arabic, a lad, a merryman,
as at our fairs. The duty of this light division, these skirmishers, is
to draw off the bull from the _picador_ when endangered, which they do
with their coloured cloaks; their address and agility are surprising,
they skim over the sand like glittering humming-birds, scarcely touching
the earth. They are dressed in short breeches, and without gaiters, just
as Figaro is in the opera of the ‘_Barbiere de Seviglia_.’ Their hair is
tied into a knot behind, and enclosed in the once universal silk net,
the _retecilla_--the identical _reticulum_--of which so many instances
are seen on ancient Etruscan vases. No bull-fighters ever arrive at the
top of their profession without first excelling in this apprenticeship;
then, they are taught how to entice the bull to them, and learn his mode
of attack, and how to parry it. The most dangerous moment is when these
_chulos_ venture out into the middle of the _plaza_, and are followed by
the bull to the barrier. There is a small ledge, on which they place
their foot, and vault over, and a narrow slit in the boarding, through
which they slip. Their escapes are marvellous, and they win by a neck;
they seem really sometimes, so close is the run, to be helped over the
fence by the bull’s horns. The _chulos_, in the second act, are the
sole performers; their part is to place small barbed darts, on each side
of the neck of the bull, which are called _banderillas_, and are
ornamented with cut paper of different colours--gay decorations under
which cruelty is concealed. The _banderilleros_ go right up to him,
holding the arrows at the shaft, and pointing the barbs at the bull;
just when the animal stoops to toss his foes, they jerk them into his
neck and slip aside. The service appears to be more dangerous than it
is, but it requires a quick eye, a light hand and foot. The barbs should
be placed to correspond with each other exactly on both sides. Such
pretty pairs are termed _buenos pares_ by the Spaniards, and the feat is
called _coiffer_ le taureau by the French, who undoubtedly are
first-rate perruquiers. Very often these arrows are provided with
crackers, which, by means of a detonating powder, explode the moment
they are affixed in the neck; thence they are called _banderillas de
fuego_. The agony of the scorched and tortured animal makes him plunge
and bound like a sportive lamb, to the intense joy of the populace,
while the fire, the smell of singed hair and roasted flesh, which our
gastronome neighbours would call a _bifstec à l’Espagnole_, faintly
recall to many a dark scowling priest the superior attractions of his
former amphitheatre, the _auto de fe_.

The last trumpet now sounds, the arena is cleared, and the _matador_,
the executioner, the man of death, stands before his victim alone; on
entering, he addresses the president, and throws his cap to the ground.
In his right hand he holds a long straight Toledan blade; in his left he
waves the _muleta_, the red flag, or the _engaño_, the lure, which ought
not (so Romero laid down in our hearing) to be so large as the standard
of a religious brotherhood, nor so small as a lady’s pocket-handkerchief,
but about a yard square. The colour is always red, because that best
irritates the bull and conceals blood. There is always a spare slayer at
hand in case of accidents, which may happen in the best regulated


The _matador_, from being alone, concentrates in himself all the
interest as regards the human species, which was before frittered away
among the many other combatants, as was the case in the ancient
gladiatorial shows of Rome. He advances to the bull, in order to entice
him towards him, or, in nice technical idiom, _citarlo á la jurisdiccion
del engaño_, to cite him into the jurisdiction of the trick; in plain
English, to subpœna him, or, as our ring would say, get his head into
chancery. And this trial is nearly as awful, as the matador stands
confronted with his foe, in the presence of inexorable witnesses, the
bar and judges, who would rather see the bull kill _him_ twice over,
than that he should kill the bull contrary to the rules and practice of
the court and tauromachian precedent. In these brief but trying moments
the matador generally looks pale and anxious, as well he may, for life
hangs on the edge of a razor, but he presents a fine picture of fixed
purpose and concentration of moral energy. And Seneca said truly that
the world had seen as many examples of courage in gladiators, as in the
Catos and Scipios.

The matador endeavours rapidly to discover the character of the animal,
and examines with eye keener than Spurzheim, his bumps of combativeness,
destructiveness, and other amiable organs; nor has he many moments to
lose, where mistake is fatal, as one must die, and both may. Here, as
Falstaff says, there is no scoring, except on the pate. Often even the
brute bull seems to feel that the last moment is come, and pauses, when
face to face in the deadly duel with his single opponent. Be that as it
may, the contrast is very striking. The slayer is arrayed in a ball
costume, with no buckler but skill, and as if it were a pastime: he is
all coolness, the beast all rage; and time it is to be collected, for
now indeed knowledge is power, and could the beast reason, the man would
have small chance. Meanwhile the spectators are wound up to a greater
pitch of madness than the poor bull, who has undergone a long torture,
besides continued excitement: he at this instant becomes a study for a
Paul Potter; his eyes flash fire--his inflated nostrils snort fury; his
body is covered with sweat and foam, or crimsoned with a glaze of gore
streaming from gaping wounds. “_Mira! que bel cuerpo de sangre!_--look!
what a beauteous body of blood!” exclaimed the worthy old lady, who, as
we before mentioned, was kind enough to point out to our inexperience
the tit bits of the treat, the pearls of greatest price.


There are several sorts of _toros_, whose characters vary no less than
those of men: some are brave and dashing, others are slow and heavy,
others sly and cowardly. The _matador_ foils and plays with the bull
until he has discovered his disposition. The fundamental principle
consists in the animal’s mode of attack, the stooping his head and
shutting his eyes, before he butts; the secret of mastering him lies in
distinguishing whether he acts on the offensive or defensive. Those
which are fearless, and rush boldly on at once, closing their eyes, are
the most easy to kill; those which are cunning--which seldom go straight
when they charge, but stop, dodge, and run at the man, not the flag, are
the most dangerous. The interest of the spectators increases in
proportion as the peril is great.

Although fatal accidents do not often occur (and we ourselves have never
seen a man killed, yet we have beheld some hundred bulls despatched),
such events are always possible. At Tudela, a bull having killed
seventeen horses, a picador named Blanco, and a banderillero, then leapt
over the barriers, where he gored to death a peasant, and wounded many
others. The newspapers simply headed the statement, “_Accidents_ have
happened.” Pepe Illo, who had received thirty-eight wounds in the wars,
died, like Nelson, the hero’s death. He was killed on the 11th of May,
1801. He had a presentiment of his death, but said that he must do his

Every _matador_ must be quick and decided. He must not let the bull run
at the flag above two or three times; the moral tension of the
multitudes is too strained to endure a longer suspense; they vent their
impatience in jeers, noises, and endeavour by every possible manner to
irritate him, and make him lose his temper, and perhaps life. Under such
circumstances, Manuel Romero, who had murdered a man, was always saluted
with cries of “_A la Plaza de Cebada_--to Tyburn.” The populace
absolutely loathe those who show the smallest white feather, or do not
brave death cheerfully.

[Sidenote: THE MEDIA LUNA.]

There are many ways of killing the bull: the principal is when the
matador receives him on his sword when charging; then the weapon, which
is held still and never thrust forward, enters just between the left
shoulder and the blade-bone; a firm hand, eye, and nerve, are essential,
since in nothing is the real fancy so fastidious as in the exact nicety
of the placing this death-wound. The bull very often is not killed at
the first effort; if not true, the sword strikes a bone, and then it is
ejected high in air by the rising neck. When the blow is true, death is
instantaneous, and the bull, vomiting forth blood, drops at the feet of
his conqueror. It is indeed the triumph of knowledge over brute force;
all that was fire, fury, passion, and life, falls in an instant, still
for ever. The gay team of mules now enter, glittering with flags, and
tinkling with bells; the dead bull is carried off at a rapid gallop,
which always delights the populace. The _matador_ then wipes the hot
blood from his sword, and bows to the spectators with admirable sang
froid, who fling their hats into the arena, a compliment which he
returns by throwing them back again (they are generally “shocking bad”
ones); when Spain was rich, a golden, or at least a silver shower was
rained down--_ces beaux jours là sont passés_; thanks to her kind
neighbour. The poverty-stricken Spaniard, however, gives all he can, and
lets the bullfighter dream the rest. As hats in Spain represent
grandeeship, so these beavers, part and parcel of themselves, are given
as symbols of their generous hearts and souls; and none but a huckster
would go into minute details of value or condition.

When a bull will not run at the fatal flag, or prays for pardon, he is
doomed to a dishonourable death, as no true Spaniard begs for his own
life, or spares that of his foe, when in his power; now the _media Luna_
is yelled for, and the call implies insult; the use is equivalent to
shooting traitors in the back: this _half moon_ is the precise Oriental
ancient and cruel instrument of houghing cattle; moreover it is the
exact old Iberian bident, or a sharp steel crescent placed on a long
pole. The cowardly blow is given from behind; and when the poor beast is
crippled by dividing the sinew of his leg, and crawls along in agony, an
assistant pierces with a pointed dagger the spinal marrow, which is the
usual method of slaughtering cattle in Spain by the butcher. To perform
all these vile operations is considered beneath the dignity of the
_matador_; some, however, will kill the bull by plunging the point of
their sword in the vertebræ, as the danger gives dignity to the
difficult feat.


Such is a single bull-fight; each of which is repeated eight times with
succeeding bulls, the excitement of the multitude rising with each
indulgence; after a short collapse new desires are roused by fresh
objects, the fierce sport is renewed, which night alone can extinguish;
nay, often when royalty is present, a ninth bull is clamoured for, which
is always graciously granted by the nominal monarch’s welcome sign, the
pulling his royal ear; in truth here the mob is autocrat, and his
majesty the many will take no denial; the bull-fight terminates when the
day dies like a dolphin, and the curtain of heaven hung over the bloody
show, is incarnadined and crimsoned; this glorious finish is seen in
full perfection at Seville, where the _plaza_ from being unfinished is
open toward the cathedral, which furnishes a Moorish distance to the
picturesque foreground. On particular occasions this side is decorated
with flags. When the blazing sun setting on the red Giralda tower,
lights up its fair proportions like a pillar of fire, the refreshing
evening breeze springs up, and the flagging banners wave in triumph over
the concluding spectacle; then when all is come to an end, as all things
human must, the congregation depart, with rather less decorum than if
quitting a church; all hasten to sacrifice the rest of the night to
Bacchus and Venus, with a passing homage to the knife, should critics
differ too hotly on the merits of some particular thrust of the

To conclude; the minds of men, like the House of Commons in 1802, are
divided on the merits of the bull-fight; the Wilberforces assert
(especially foreigners, who, notwithstanding, seldom fail to sanction
the arena by their presence) that all the best feelings are
blunted--that idleness, extravagance, cruelty, and ferocity are promoted
at a vast expense of human and animal life by these pastimes; the
Windhams contend that loyalty, courage, presence of mind, endurance of
pain, and contempt of death, are inculcated--that, while the theatre is
all illusion, the opera all effeminacy, these manly, national games are
all truth, and in the words of a native eulogist “elevate the soul to
those grandiose actions of valour and heroism which have long proved the
Spaniards to be the best and bravest of all nations.”


The efficacy of such sports for sustaining a martial spirit was
disproved by the degeneracy of the Romans at the time when bloody
spectacles were most in vogue; nor are bravery and humanity the
characteristics of the bull-fighting Spaniards in the collective. We
ourselves do not attribute their “merciless skivering and skewering,”
their flogging and murdering women, to the bull-fight, the practical
result of which has been overrated and misunderstood. Cruel it
undoubtedly is, and perfectly congenial to the inherent, inveterate
ferocity of Iberian character, but it is an effect rather than a
cause--with doubtless some reciprocating action; and it may be
questioned, whether the _original_ bull-fight had not a greater tendency
to humanise, than the Olympic games; certainly the _Fiesta real_ of the
feudal ages combined the associated ideas of religion and loyalty, while
the chivalrous combat nurtured a nice sense of personal honour and a
respectful gallantry to women, which were unknown to the polished Greeks
or warlike Romans; and many of the finest features of Spanish character
have degenerated since the discontinuance of the original fight, which
was more bloody and fatal than the present one.

The Spaniards invariably bring forward our boxing-matches in
self-justification, as if a _tu quoque_ could be so; but it must always
be remembered in our excuse that these are discountenanced by the good
and respectable, and legally stigmatised as breaches of the peace;
although disgraced by beastly drunkenness, brutal vulgarity, ruinous
gambling and betting, from which the Spanish arena is exempt, as no bull
yet has been backed to kill so many horses or not; our matches, however,
are based on a spirit of _fair play_ which forms no principle of the
Punic politics, warfare, or bull-fighting of Spain. The Plaza there is
patronised by church and state, to whom, in justice, the responsibility
of evil consequences must be referred. The show is conducted with great
ceremonial, combining many elements of poetry, the beautiful and
sublime; insomuch that a Spanish author proudly says: “When the
countless assembly is honoured by the presence of our august monarchs,
the world is _lost in admiration_ at the majestic spectacle afforded by
the happiest people in the world, enjoying with rapture an exhibition
peculiarly their own, and offering to their idolised sovereigns the due
homage of the truest and most refined loyalty;” and it is impossible to
deny the magnificent _coup d’œil_ of the assembled thousands. Under
such conflicting circumstances, we turn away our eyes during moments of
painful detail which are lost in the poetical ferocity of the whole, for
the interest of the tragedy of real death is undeniable, irresistible,
and all absorbing.


The Spaniards seem almost unconscious of the cruelty of those details
which are most offensive to a stranger. They are reconciled by habit, as
we are to the bleeding butchers’ shops which disfigure our gay streets,
and which if seen for the first time would be inexpressibly disgusting.
The feeling of the chase, that remnant of the savage, rules in the
arena, and mankind has never been nice or tender-hearted in regard to
the sufferings of animals, when influenced by the destructive
propensities. In England no sympathy is shown for game,--fish, flesh, or
fowl; nor for vermin--stoats, kites, or poachers. The end of the sport
is--death; the amusement is the _playing_, the _fine_ run, as the
prolongation of animal suffering is termed in the tender vocabulary of
the Nimrods; the pang of mortal sufferance is not regulated by the size
of the victim; the bull moreover is always put at once out of his
misery, and never exposed to the thousand lingering deaths of the poor
wounded hare; therefore we must not see a toro in Spanish eyes and wink
at the fox in our own, nor

    “Compound for vices we’re inclined to
     By damning those we have no mind to.”

It is not clear that animal suffering on the whole predominates over
animal happiness. The bull roams in ample pastures, through a youth and
manhood free from toil, and when killed in the plaza only anticipates by
a few months the certain fate of the imprisoned, over-laboured,
mutilated ox.

In Spain, where capital is scanty, person and property insecure (evils
not quite corrected since the late democratic reforms), no one would
adventure on the speculation of breeding cattle on a large scale, where
the return is so distant, without the certain demand and sale created by
the amphitheatre; and as a small proportion only of the produce possess
the requisite qualifications, the surplus and females go to the plough
and market, and can be sold cheaper from the profit made on the bulls.
Spanish political economists _proved_ that many valuable animals were
wasted in the arena--but their theories vanished before the fact, that
the supply of cattle was rapidly diminished when bull-fights were
suppressed. Similar results take place as regards the breed of horses,
though in a minor degree; those, moreover, which are sold to the Plaza
would never be bought by any one else. With respect to the loss of human
life, in no land is a man worth so little as in Spain; and more English
aldermen are killed indirectly by turtles, than Andalucian picadors
directly by bulls; while, as to _time_, these exhibitions always take
place on holidays, which even industrious Britons bouse away
occasionally in pothouses, and idle Spaniards invariably smoke out in
sunshiny _dolce far niente_. The attendance, again, of idle spectators
prevents idleness in the numerous classes employed directly and
indirectly in getting up and carrying out this expensive spectacle.


It is poor and illogical philosophy to judge of foreign customs by our
own habits, prejudices, and conventional opinions; a cold, unprepared,
calculating stranger comes without the freemasonry of early
associations, and criticises minutiae which are lost on the natives in
their enthusiasm and feeling for the whole. He is horrified by details
to which the Spaniards have become as accustomed as hospital nurses,
whose finer sympathetic emotions of pity are deadened by repetition.

A most difficult thing it is to change long-established usages and
customs with which we are familiar from our early days, and which have
come down to us connected with many fond remembrances. We are slow to
suspect any evil or harm in such practices; we dislike to look the
evidence of facts in the face, and shrink from a conclusion which would
require the abandonment of a recreation, which we have long regarded as
innocent, and in which we, as well as our parents before us, have not
scrupled to indulge. Children, _l’age sans pitié_, do not speculate on
cruelty, whether in bull-baiting or bird’s-nesting, and Spaniards are
brought up to the bull-fight from their infancy, when they are too
simple to speculate on abstract questions, but associate with the Plaza
all their ideas of reward for good conduct, of finery and holiday; in a
land where amusements are few--they catch the contagion of pleasure, and
in their young bias of imitation approve of what is approved of by their
parents. They return to their homes unchanged--playful, timid, or
serious, as before; their kindly, social feelings are uninjured: and
where is the filial or parental bond more affectionately cherished than
in Spain--where are the noble courtesies of life, the kind, considerate,
self-respecting demeanour so exemplified as in Spanish society?


The successive feelings experienced by most foreigners are admiration,
compassion, and weariness of the flesh. The first will be readily
understood, as it will that the horses’ sufferings cannot be beheld by
novices without compassion: “In troth it was more a pittie than a
delight,” wrote the herald of Lord Nottingham. This feeling, however,
regards the animals who are forced into wounds and death; the men
scarcely excite much of it, since they willingly court the danger, and
have therefore no right to complain. These heroes of low life are
applauded, well paid, and their risk is more apparent than real; our
British feelings of fair play make us side rather with the poor bull who
is overmatched; we respect the gallantry of his unequal defence. Such
must always be the effect produced on those not bred and brought up to
such scenes. So Livy relates that, when the gladiatorial shows were
first introduced by the Romans into Asia, the natives were more
frightened than pleased, but by leading them on from sham-fights to
real, they became as fond of them as the Romans. The predominant
sensation experienced by ourselves was _bore_, the same thing over and
over again, and too much of it. But that is the case with everything in
Spain, where processions and professions are interminable. The younger
Pliny, who was no amateur, complained of the eternal sameness of seeing
what to have seen once, was enough; just as Dr. Johnson, when he
witnessed a horse-race, observed that he had not met with such a proof
of the paucity of human pleasures as in the popularity of such a
spectacle. But the life of Spaniards is uniform, and their sensations,
not being blunted by satiety, are intense. Their bull-fight to them is
always new and exciting, since the more the toresque intellect is
cultivated the greater the capacity for enjoyment; they see a thousand
minute beauties in the character and conduct of the combatants, which
escape the superficial unlearned glance of the uninitiated.


Spanish ladies, against whom every puny scribbler shoots his petty
barbed arrow, are relieved from the infliction of ennui, by the
never-flagging, ever-sustained interest, in being admired. They have no
abstract nor Pasiphaic predilections; they were taken to the bull-fight
before they knew their alphabet, or what love was. Nor have we heard
that it has ever rendered them particularly cruel, save and except some
of the elderly and tougher lower-classed females. The younger and more
tender scream and are dreadfully affected in all real moments of danger,
in spite of their long familiarity. Their grand object, after all, is
not to see the bull, but to let themselves and their dresses be seen.
The better classes generally interpose their fans at the most painful
incidents, and certainly show no want of sensibility. The lower orders
of females, as a body, behave quite as respectably as those of other
countries do at executions, or other dreadful scenes, where they crowd
with their babies. The case with English ladies is far different. They
have heard the bull-fight not praised from _their_ childhood, but
condemned; they see it for the first time when grown up; curiosity is
perhaps their leading feature in sharing an amusement, of which they
have an indistinct idea that pleasure will be mixed with pain. The first
sight delights them; a flushed, excited cheek, betrays a feeling that
they are almost ashamed to avow; but as the bloody tragedy proceeds,
they get frightened, disgusted, and disappointed. Few are able to sit
out more than one course, and fewer ever re-enter the amphitheatre--

    “The heart that is soonest awake to the flower
     Is always the first to be touched by the thorn.”

Probably a Spanish woman, if she could be placed in precisely the same
condition, would not act very differently, and something of a similar
test would be to bring her, for the first time, to an English
boxing-match. Be this as it may, far from us and from our friends be
that frigid philosophy, which would infer that their bright eyes,
darting the shafts of Cupid, will glance one smile the less from
witnessing these more merciful _banderillas_.



     Spanish Theatre; Old and Modern Drama; Arrangement of
     Playhouses--The Henroost--The Fandango; National Dances--A Gipsy
     Ball--Italian Opera--National Songs and Guitars.

[Sidenote: THE THEATRE.]

Having seen a bull-fight, _the sight_ of Spain, those who only wish to
pass time agreeably cannot be too quick in getting their passports viséd
for Naples. A pleasant _country_ life, according to our notions, in
Spain, is a thing that is not; and the substitute is but a Bedouin
Oriental makeshift existence, which, amusing enough for a spurt, will
not do in the long run. Nor is life much better in the _towns_; those in
the inland provinces have a convent-like, dead, old-fashioned look about
them, which petrifies a lively person; nay even an artist when he has
finished his sketches, is ready to commit suicide from sheer Bore, the
genius of the locality. Madrid itself is but an unsocial, second-rate,
inhospitable city; and when the traveller has seen the Museum, been to
the play, and walked on the eternal roundabout Prado, the sooner he
shakes the dust off his feet the better. The maritime seaports, as in
the East, from being frequented by the foreigner, are a trifle more
cosmopolitan, cheerful, and amusing; but generally speaking, public
amusements are rare throughout this semi-Moro land. The calm
contemplation of a cigar, and the _dolce far niente_ of _siestose_ quiet
indolence with unexciting twaddle, suffice; while to some nations it is
a pain to be out of pleasure, to the Spaniard it is a pleasure to be out
of painful exertion: existence is happiness enough of itself; and as for
occupation, all desire only to do to-day what they did yesterday and
will do to-morrow, that is nothing. Thus life slips away in a dreamy,
listless routine, the serious business of love-making excepted; leave
me, leave me, to repose and tobacco. When however awake, the _Alameda_,
or church-show, the bull-fight, and the rendezvous, are the chief
relaxations. These will be best enjoyed in the Southern provinces, the
land also of the song and dance, of bright suns and eyes, and not the
largest female feet in the world.

The theatre, which forms elsewhere such an important item in passing the
stranger’s evening, is at a low ebb in Spain, although, as everybody is
idle, and man is not worn out by business and money-making all day, it
might be supposed to be just the thing; but it is somewhat too expensive
for the general poverty. Those again who for forty years have had real
tragedies at home, lack that superabundance of felicity, which will pay
for the luxury of fictitious grief abroad. In truth the drama in Spain
was, like most other matters, the creature of an accident and of a
period; patronised by the pleasure-loving Philip IV., it blossomed in
the sunshine of his smile, languished when that was withdrawn, and was
unable to resist the steady hostility of the clergy, who opposed this
rival to their own religious spectacles and church melodramas, from
which the opposition stage sprung. Nor are their primitive mediæval
Mysteries yet obsolete, since we have beheld them acted in Spain at
Easter time; then and there sacred subjects, grievously profaned to
Protestant eyes, were gazed on by the pleased natives with too sincere
and simple faith even to allow a suspicion of the gross absurdity; but
everywhere in Spain, the spiritual has been materialised, and the divine
degraded to the human in churches and out; the clergy attacked the
stage, by denying burial to the actors when dead, who, when alive, were
not allowed to call themselves “_Don_,” the cherished title of every
Spaniard. Naturally, as no one of this self-respecting nation ever will
pursue a despised profession if he can help it, few have chosen to make
themselves vagabonds by Act of Parliament, nor has any Garrick or
Siddons ever arisen among them to beat down prejudices by public and
private virtues.

[Sidenote: ANCIENT DRAMA.]

Even in this 19th century, confessors of families forbade the women and
children’s even passing through the street where “a temple of Satan” was
reared; mendicant monks placed themselves near the playhouse doors at
night, to warn the headlong against the bottomless pit, just as our
methodists on the day of the Derby distribute tracts at turnpikes
against “sweeps” and racing. The monks at Cordova succeeded in 1823 in
shutting up the theatre, because the nuns of an opposite convent
observed the devil and his partners dancing fandangos on the roof.
Although monks have in their turn been driven off the Spanish boards,
the national drama has almost made its exit with them. The genuine old
stage held up the mirror to Spanish nature, and exhibited real life and
manners. Its object was rather to amuse than to instruct, and like
literature, its sister exponent of existing nationality, it showed in
action what the picaresque novels detailed in description. In both the
haughty Hidalgo was the hero; cloaked and armed with long rapier and
mustachios, he stalked on the scene, made love and fought as became an
old Castilian whom Charles V. had rendered the terror and the model of
Europe. Spain then, like a successful beauty, took a proud pleasure in
looking at herself in the glass, but now that things are altered, she
blushes at beholding a portrait of her grey hairs and wrinkles; her flag
is tattered, her robes are torn, and she shrinks from the humiliation of
truth. If she appears on the theatre at all, it is to revive long
by-gone days--to raise the Cid, the great Captain, or Pizarro, from
their graves; thus blinking the present, she forms hopes for a bright
future by the revival and recollections of a glorious past. Accordingly
plays representing modern Spanish life and things, are scouted by pit
and boxes as vulgar and misplaced; nay, even Lope de Vega is now known
merely by name; his comedies are banished from the boards to the shelves
of book-cases, and those for the most part out of Spain. He has paid the
certain penalty of his national localism, of his portraying men, as a
Spanish variety, rather than a universal species. He has strutted his
hour on the stage, is heard no more; while his contemporary, the bard of
Avon, who drew mankind and human nature, the same in all times and
places, lives in the human heart as immortal as the principle on which
his influence is founded.

[Sidenote: MODERN STAGE.]

In the old Spanish plays, the imaginary scenes were no less full of
intrigue than were the real streets; then the point of honour was nice,
women were immured in jealous hareems, and access to them, which is
easier now, formed _the_ difficulty of lovers. The curiosity of the
spectators was kept on tenter-hooks, to see how the parties could get at
each other, and out of the consequent scrapes. These imbroglios and
labyrinths exactly suited a _pays de l’imprévu_, where things turn out,
just as is the least likely to be calculated on. The progress of the
drama of Spain was as full of action and energy, as that of France was
of dull description and declamation. The Bourbon succession, which
ruined the genuine bull-fight, destroyed the national drama also; a
flood of unities, rules, stilted nonsense, and conventionalities poured
over the astonished and affrighted Pyrenees: now the stage, like the
arena, was condemned by critics, whose one-idead civilization could see
but one class of excellence, and that only through a lorgnette ground in
the Palais Royal. Calderon was pronounced to be as great a barbarian as
Shakspere, and this by empty pretenders who did not understand one word
of either;--and now again, at this second Bourbon irruption, France has
become the model to that very nation from whom her Corneilles and
Molières pilfered many a plume, which aided them to soar to dramatic
fame. Spain is now reduced to the sad shift of borrowing from her pupil,
those very arts which she herself once taught, and her best comedies and
farces are but poor translations from Mons. Scribe and other scribes of
the vaudeville. Her theatre, like everything else, has sunk into a pale
copy of her dominant neighbour, and is devoid alike of originality,
interest, and nationality.


It was from Spain also that Europe copied the arrangement of the modern
theatre; the first playhouses there were merely open covered
court-yards, after the classical fashion of Thespis. The _patio_ became
the _pit_, into which women were never admitted. The rich sat at the
windows of the houses round the court; and as almost all these in Spain
are defended by iron gratings, the French took their term, _loge
grillée_, for a private box. In the centre of the house, above the pit,
was a sort of large lower gallery, which was called _la tertulia_, a
name given in those times to the quarter chosen by the erudite, among
whom at that period it was the fashion to quote _Tertulian_. The women,
excluded from the pit, had a place reserved for themselves, into which
no males were allowed to enter--a peculiarity based in the Gotho-Moro
separation of the sexes. This feminine preserve was termed _la cazuela_,
the stewing pan, or _la olla_, the pipkin, from the hodgepotch
admixture, as it was open to all ranks; it was also called “_la jaula de
las mugeres_,” the women’s cage--“_el gallinero_,” the henroost. All
went there, as to church, dressed in black, and with mantillas. This
dark assemblage of sable tresses, raven hair, and blacker eyes, looked
at the first glance like the gallery of a nunnery; that was, however, a
simile of dissimilitude, for, let there be but a moment’s pause in the
business of the play, then arose such a cooing and cawing in this
rookery of turtle-doves,--such an ogling, such a flutter of mantillas,
such a rustling of silks, such telegraphic workings of fans, such an
electrical communication with the Señores below, who looked up with
wistful glances on the dark clustering vineyard so tantalizingly placed
above their reach, as effectually dispelled all ideas of seclusion,
sorrow, or mortification. This unique and charming pipkin has been just
now done away with at Madrid, because, as there is no such thing at
Covent Garden, or Le Français, it might look antiquated and un-European.

The theatres of Spain are small, although called Coliseums, and
ill-contrived; the wardrobe and properties are as scanty as those of the
spectators, Madrid itself not excepted; when filled, the smells are
ultra-continental, and resemble those which prevail at Paris, when the
great people is indulged with a gratis representation; in the Spanish
theatres no neutralizing incense is used, as is done by the wise clergy
in their churches. If the atmosphere were analysed by Faraday, it would
be found to contain equal portions of stale cigar smoke and fresh garlic
fume. The lighting, except on those rare occasions when the theatre is
illuminated, as it is called, is just intended to make darkness visible,
and there was no seeing into the henroosts towards which the eyes and
glasses of the foxite pittites were vainly elevated.

[Sidenote: THE BOLERO.]

Spanish tragedy, even when the Cid spouts, is wearisome; the language is
stilty, the declamation ranting, French, and unnatural; passion is torn
to rags. The _sainetes_, or farces, are broad, but amusing, and are
perfectly well acted; the national ones are disappearing, but when
brought out are the true vehicles of the love for sarcasm, satire, and
intrigue, the mirth and mother-wit, for which Spaniards are so
remarkable; and no people are more essentially serio-comic and dramatic
than they are, whether in _Venta_, _Plaza_, or church; the actors in
their amusing farces cease to be actors, and the whole appears to be a
scene of real life; there generally is a _gracioso_ or favourite wag of
the Liston and Keeley species, who is on the best terms with the pit,
who says and does what he likes, interlards the dialogue with his own
witticisms, and creates a laugh before he even comes on.


The orchestra is very indifferent; the Spaniards are fond enough of what
they call music, whether vocal or instrumental; but it is Oriental, and
most unlike the exquisite melody and performances of Italy or Germany.
In the same manner, although they have footed it to their rude songs
from time immemorial, they have no idea of the grace and elegance of the
French ballet; the moment they attempt it they become ridiculous, for
they are bad imitators of their neighbours, whether in cuisine,
language, or costume; indeed a Spaniard ceases to be a Spaniard in
proportion as he becomes an _Afrancesado_; they take, in their jumpings
and chirpings, after the grasshopper, having a natural genius for the
_bota_ and _bolero_. The great charm of the Spanish theatres is their
own national dance--matchless, unequalled, and inimitable, and only to
be performed by Andalucians. This is _la salsa de la comedia_, the
essence, the cream, the _sauce piquante_ of the night’s entertainments;
it is _attempted_ to be described in every book of travels--for who can
describe sound or motion?--it must be seen. However languid the house,
laughable the tragedy, or serious the comedy, the sound of the castanet
awakens the most listless; the sharp, spirit-stirring click is heard
behind the scenes--the effect is instantaneous--it creates life under
the ribs of death--it silences the tongues of countless women--on
n’écoute que le ballet. The curtain draws up; the bounding pair dart
forward from the opposite sides, like two separated lovers, who, after
long search, have found each other again, nor do they seem to think of
the public, but only of each other; the glitter of the gossamer costume
of the _Majo_ and _Maja_ seems invented for this dance--the sparkle of
the gold lace and silver filigree adds to the lightness of their
motions; the transparent, form designing _saya_ of the lady, heightens
the charms of a faultless symmetry which it fain would conceal; no cruel
stays fetter her serpentine flexibility. They pause--bend forward an
instant--prove their supple limbs and arms; the band strikes up, they
turn fondly towards each other, and start into life. What exercise
displays the ever-varying charms of female grace, and the contours of
manly form, like this fascinating dance? The accompaniment of the
castanet gives employment to their upraised arms. _C’est_, say the
French, _le pantomime d’amour_. The enamoured youth persecutes the coy,
coquettish maiden; who shall describe the advance--her timid retreat,
his eager pursuit, like Apollo chasing Daphne? Now they gaze on each
other, now on the ground; now all is life, love, and action; now there
is a pause--they stop motionless at a moment, and grow into the earth.
It carries all before it. There is a truth which overpowers the
fastidious judgment. Away, then, with the studied grace of the French
danseuse, beautiful but artificial, cold and selfish as is the flicker
of her love, compared to the real impassioned _abandon_ of the daughters
of the South! There is nothing indecent in this dance; no one is tired
or the worse for it; indeed its only fault is its being too short, for
as Molière says, “Un ballet ne saurait être trop long, pourvu que la
morale soit bonne, et la métaphysique bien entendue.” Notwithstanding
this most profound remark, the Toledan clergy out of mere jealousy
wished to put the bolero down, on the pretence of immorality. The
dancers were allowed in evidence to “give a view” to the court: when
they began, the bench and bar showed symptoms of restlessness, and at
last, casting aside gowns and briefs, both joined, as if
tarantula-bitten, in the irresistible capering--Verdict, for the
defendants with costs.

This _Baile nacional_, however adored by foreigners, is, alas! beginning
to be looked down upon by those ill-advised señoras who wear French
bonnets in the boxes, instead of Spanish mantillas. The dance is
suspected of not being European or civilized; its best chance of
surviving is, the fact that it is positively fashionable on the boards
of London and Paris. These national exercises are however firmly rooted
among the peasants and lower classes. The different provinces, as they
have a different language, costume, &c., have also their own peculiar
local dances, which, like their wines, fine arts, relics, saints and
sausages, can only be really relished on the spots themselves.


The dances of the better classes of Spaniards in private life are much
the same as in other parts of Europe, nor is either sex particularly
distinguished by grace in this amusement, to which, however, both are
much addicted. It is not, however, yet thought to be a proof of _bon
ton_ to dance as badly as possible, and with the greatest appearance of
_bore_, that appanage of the so-called _gay_ world. These dances, as
everything national is excluded, are without a particle of interest to
any one except the performers. An extempore ball, which might be called
a _carpet_-dance, if there were any, forms the common conclusion of a
winter’s _tertulia_, or social meetings, at which no great attention is
paid either to music, costume, or Mr. Gunter. Here English country
dances, French quadrilles, and German waltzes are the order of the
night; everything Spanish being excluded, except the _plentiful want_ of
good fiddling, lighting, dressing, and eating, which never distresses
the company, for the frugal, temperate, and easily-pleased Spaniard
enters with schoolboy heart and soul into the reality of any holiday,
which being joy sufficient of itself lacks no artificial enhancement.

Dancing at all is a novelty among Spanish ladies, which was introduced
with the Bourbons. As among the Romans and Moors, it was before thought
undignified. Performers were hired to amuse the inmates of the Christian
hareem; to mix and change hands with men was not to be thought of for an
instant; and to this day few Spanish women shake hands with men--the
shock is too electrical; they only give them with their hearts, and for

[Sidenote: MORRIS DANCES.]

The lower classes, who are a trifle less particular, and among whom, by
the blessing of Santiago, the foreign dancing-master is not abroad,
adhere to the primitive steps and tunes of their Oriental forefathers.
Their accompaniments are the “tabret and the harp;” the guitar, the
tambourine, and the castanet. The essence of these instruments is to
give a noise on being beaten. Simple as it may seem to play on the
latter, it is only attained by a quick ear and finger, and great
practice; accordingly these delights of the people are always in their
hands; practice makes perfect, and many a performer, dusky as a Moor,
rivals Ethiopian “Bones” himself; they take to it before their alphabet,
since the very urchins in the street begin to learn by snapping their
fingers, or clicking together two shells or bits of slate, to which they
dance; in truth, next to noise, some capering seems essential, as the
safety-valve exponents of what Cervantes describes, the “bounding of the
soul, the bursting of laughter, the restlessness of the body, and the
quicksilver of the five senses.” It is the rude sport of people who
dance from the necessity of motion, the relief of the young, the
healthy, and the joyous, to whom life is of itself a blessing, and who,
like skipping kids, thus give vent to their superabundant lightness of
heart and limb. Sancho, a true Manchegan, after beholding the strange
saltatory exhibitions of his master, in somewhat an incorrect ball
costume, professes his ignorance of such elaborate dancing, but
maintained that for a _zapateo_, a knocking of shoes, none could beat
him. Unchanged as are the instruments, so are the dancing propensities
of Spaniards. All night long, three thousand years ago, say the
historians, did they dance and sing, or rather jump and _yell_, to these
“_howl_ings of Tarshish;” and so far from its being a fatigue, they kept
up the ball all night, by way of _resting_.

The Gallicians and Asturians retain among many of their aboriginal
dances and tunes, a wild Pyrrhic jumping, which, with their shillelah in
hand, is like the Gaelic Ghillee Callum, and is the precise Iberian
armed dance which Hannibal had performed at the impressive funeral of
Gracchus. These quadrille figures are intricate and warlike, requiring,
as was said of the Iberian performances, much leg-activity, for which
the wiry sinewy active Spaniards are still remarkable. These are the
_Morris_ dances imported from Gallicia by our John of Gaunt, who
supposed they were _Moorish_. The peasants still dance them in their
best costumes, to the antique castanet, pipe, and tambourine. They are
usually directed by a master of the ceremonies, or what is equivalent, a
parti-coloured fool, Μωρος; which may be the etymology of


These _comparsas_, or national quadrilles, were the hearty welcome which
the peasants were paid to give to the sons of Louis Philippe at Vitoria;
such, too, we have often beheld gratis, and performed by eight men, with
castanets in their hands, and to the tune of a fife and drum, while a
_Bastonero_, or leader of the band, clad in gaudy raiment like a
pantaloon, directed the rustic ballet; around were grouped _payesas y
aldeanas_, dressed in tight bodices, with _pañuelos_ on their heads,
their hair hanging down behind in _trensas_, and their necks covered
with blue and coral beads; the men bound up their long locks with red
handkerchiefs, and danced in their shirts, the sleeves of which were
puckered up with bows of different-coloured ribands, crossed also over
the back and breast, and mixed with scapularies and small prints of
saints; their drawers were white, and full as the _bragas_ of the
Valencians, like whom they wore _alpargatas_, or hemp sandals laced with
blue strings; the figure of the dance was very intricate, consisting of
much circling, turning, and jumping, and accompanied with loud cries of
_viva!_ at each change of evolution. These _comparsas_ are undoubtedly a
remnant of the original Iberian exhibitions, in which, as among the
Spartans and wild Indians, even in relaxations a warlike principle was
maintained. The dancers beat time with their swords on their shields,
and when one of their champions wished to show his contempt for the
Romans, he executed before them a derisive pirouette. Was this
remembered the other day at Vitoria?

But in Spain at every moment one retraces the steps of antiquity; thus
still on the banks of the Bætis may be seen those dancing-girls of
profligate Gades, which were exported to ancient Rome, with pickled
tunnies, to the delight of wicked epicures and the horror of the good
fathers of the early church, who compared them, and perhaps justly, to
the capering performed by the daughter of Herodias. They were prohibited
by Theodosius, because, according to St. Chrysostom, at such balls the
devil never wanted a partner. The well-known statue at Naples called the
Venere Callipige is the representation of Telethusa, or some other Cadiz
dancing-girl. Seville is now in these matters, what Gades was; never
there is wanting some venerable gipsy hag, who will get up a _funcion_
as these pretty proceedings are called, a word taken from the pontifical
ceremonies; for Italy set the fashion to Spain once, as France does now.
These festivals must be paid for, since the gitanesque race, according
to Cervantes, were only sent into this world as “fishhooks for purses.”
The _callees_ when young are very pretty--then they have such wheedling
ways, and traffic on such sure wants and wishes, since to Spanish men
they prophesy gold, to women, husbands.

[Sidenote: GIPSY DANCE.]

The scene of the ball is generally placed in the suburb Triana, which is
the Transtevere of the town, and the home of bull-fighters, smugglers,
picturesque rogues, and Egyptians, whose women are the premières
danseuses on these occasions, in which men never take a part. The house
selected is usually one of those semi-Moorish abodes and perfect
pictures, where rags, poverty, and ruin, are mixed up with marble
columns, figs, fountains and grapes; the party assembles in some
stately saloon, whose gilded Arab roof--safe from the spoiler--hangs
over whitewashed walls, and the few wooden benches on which the
chaperons and invited are seated, among whom quantity is rather
preferred to quality; nor would the company or costume perhaps be
admissible at the Mansion-house; but here the past triumphs over the
present; the dance which is closely analogous to the _Ghowasee_ of the
Egyptians, and the _Nautch_ of the Hindoos, is called the _Ole_ by
Spaniards, the _Romalis_ by their gipsies; the soul and essence of it
consists in the expression of certain sentiment, one not indeed of a
very sentimental or correct character. The ladies, who seem to have no
bones, resolve the problem of perpetual motion, their feet having
comparatively a sinecure, as the whole person performs a pantomime, and
trembles like an aspen leaf; the flexible form and Terpsichore figure of
a young Andalucian girl--be she gipsy or not--is said by the learned, to
have been designed by nature as the fit frame for her voluptuous

[Sidenote: OPERA IN SPAIN.]

Be that as it may, the scholar and classical commentator will every
moment quote Martial, &c., when he beholds the unchanged balancing of
hands, raised as if to catch showers of roses, the tapping of the feet,
and the serpentine, quivering movements. A contagious excitement seizes
the spectators, who, like Orientals, beat time with their hands in
measured cadence, and at every pause applaud with cries and clappings.
The damsels, thus encouraged, continue in violent action until nature is
all but exhausted; then aniseed brandy, wine, and _alpisteras_ are
handed about, and the fête, carried on to early dawn, often concludes in
broken heads, which here are called “gipsy’s fare.” These dances appear
to a stranger from the chilly north, to be more marked by energy than by
grace, nor have the legs less to do than the body, hips, and arms. The
sight of this unchanged pastime of antiquity, which excites the
Spaniards to frenzy, rather disgusts an English spectator, possibly from
some national malorganization, for, as Molière says, “l’Angleterre a
produit des grands hommes dans les sciences et les beaux arts, mais pas
un grand danseur--allez lire l’histoire.” However indecent these dances
may be, yet the performers are inviolably chaste, and as far at least as
ungipsy guests are concerned, may be compared to iced punch at a rout;
young girls go through them before the applauding eyes of their parents
and brothers, who would resent to the death any attempt on their
sisters’ virtue.

During the lucid intervals between the ballet and the brandy, _La caña_,
the true Arabic _gaunia_, song, is administered as a soother by some
hirsute artiste, without frills, studs, diamonds, or kid gloves, whose
staves, sad and melancholy, always begin and end with an _ay!_ a
high-pitched sigh, or cry. These Moorish melodies, relics of auld lang
syne, are best preserved in the hill-built villages near Ronda, where
there are no roads for the members of Queen Christina’s _Conservatorio
Napolitano_; wherever l’académie tyrannizes, and the Italian opera
prevails, adieu, alas! to the tropes and tunes of the people: and
now-a-days the opera exotic is cultivated in Spain by the higher
classes, because, being fashionable at London and Paris, it is an
exponent of the civilization of 1846. Although the audience in their
honest hearts are as much bored there as elsewhere, yet the affair is
pronounced by them to be charming, because it is so expensive, so
select, and so far above the comprehension of the vulgar. Avoid it,
however, in Spain, ye our fair readers, for the second-rate singers are
not fit to hold the score to those of thy own dear Haymarket.

[Sidenote: MUSIC IN VENTAS.]

The real opera of Spain is in the shop of the _Barbero_ or in the
court-yard of the _Venta_; in truth, good music, whether harmonious or
scientific, vocal or instrumental, is seldom heard in this land,
notwithstanding the eternal strumming and singing that is going on
there. The very masses, as performed in the cathedrals, from the
introduction of the pianoforte and the violin, have very little
impressive or devotional character. The fiddle disenchants. Even
Murillo, when he clapped catgut under a cherub chin in the clouds,
thereby damaged the angelic sentiment. Let none despise the genuine
songs and instruments of the Peninsula, as excellence in music is
multiform, and much of it, both in name and substance, is conventional.
Witness a whining ballad sung by a chorus out of work, to encoring
crowds in the streets of merry old England, or a bagpipe-tune played in
Ross-shire, which enchants the Highlanders, who cry that strain again,
but scares away the gleds. Let therefore the Spaniards enjoy also what
they call music, although fastidious foreigners condemn it as Iberian
and Oriental. They love to have it so, and will have their own way, in
their own time and tune, Rossini and Paganini to the contrary
notwithstanding. They--not the Italians--are listened to by a delighted
semi-Moro audience, with a most profound Oriental and melancholy
attention. Like their love, their music, which is its food, is a serious
affair; yet the sad song, the guitar, and dance, at this moment, form
the joy of careless poverty, the repose of sunburnt labour. The poor
forget their toils, _sans six sous et sans souci_; nay, even their
meals, like Pliny’s friend Claro, who lost his supper, _Bætican olives
and gazpacho_, to run after a Gaditanian dancing-girl.

[Sidenote: THE GUITAR.]

In venta and court-yard, in spite of a long day’s work and scanty fare,
at the sound of the guitar and click of the castanet, a new life is
breathed into their veins. So far from feeling past fatigue, the very
fatigue of the dance seems refreshing, and many a weary traveller will
rue the midnight frolics of his noisy and saltatory fellow-lodgers.
Supper is no sooner over than “après la panse la danse,”--some muscular
masculine performer, the very antithesis of Farinelli, screams forth his
couplets, “screechin’ out his prosaic verse,” either at the top of his
voice, or drawls out his ballad, melancholy as the drone of a
Lincolnshire bagpipe, and both alike to the imminent danger of his own
trachea, and of all un-Spanish acoustic organs. For verily, to repeat
Gray’s unhandsome critique of the grand Opéra Français, it consists of
“des miaulemens et des hurlemens effroyables, mêlés avec un tintamare du
diable.” As, however, in Paris, so in Spain, the audience are in
raptures; all men’s ears grow to the tunes as if they had eaten ballads;
all join in chorus at the end of each verse; this “private band,” as
among the _sangre su_, supplies the want of conversation, and converts a
stupid silence into scientific attention,--ainsi les extrêmes se
touchent. There is always in every company of Spaniards, whether
soldiers, civilians, muleteers, or ministers, some one who can play the
guitar more or less, like Louis XIV., who, according to Voltaire, was
taught nothing but that and dancing. Godoy, the Prince of the Peace, one
of the most worthless of the multitude of worthless ministers by whom
Spain has been misgoverned, first captivated the royal Messalina by his
talent of strumming on the guitar; so Gonzales Bravo, editor of the
Madrid _Satirist_, rose to be premier, and conciliated the virtuous
Christina, who, soothed by the sweet sounds of this pepper-and-salted
Amphion, forgot his libels on herself and Señor Muñoz. It may be
predicted of the Spains, that when this strumming is mute, the game will
be up, as the Hebrew expression for the ne plus ultra desolation of an
Oriental city is “the ceasing of the mirth of the guitar and

In Spain whenever and wherever the siren sounds are heard, a party is
forthwith got up of all ages and sexes, who are attracted by the
tinkling like swarming bees. The guitar is part and parcel of the
Spaniard and his ballads; he slings it across his shoulder with a
ribbon, as was depicted on the tombs of Egypt four thousand years ago.
The performers seldom are very scientific musicians; they content
themselves with striking the chords, sweeping the whole hand over the
strings, or flourishing, and tapping the board with the thumb, at which
they are very expert. Occasionally in the towns there is some one who
has attained more power over this ungrateful instrument; but the attempt
is a failure. The guitar responds coldly to Italian words and elaborate
melody, which never come home to Spanish ears or hearts; for, like the
lyre of Anacreon, however often he might change the strings, love, sweet
love, is its only theme. The multitude suit the tune to the song, both
of which are frequently extemporaneous. They lisp in numbers, not to say
verse; but their splendid idiom lends itself to a prodigality of words,
whether prose or poetry; nor are either very difficult, where common
sense is no necessary ingredient in the composition; accordingly the
language comes in aid to the fertile mother-wit of the natives; rhymes
are dispensed with at pleasure, or mixed according to caprice with
assonants which consist of the mere recurrence of the same vowels,
without reference to that of consonants, and even these, which poorly
fill a foreign ear, are not always observed; a change in intonation, or
a few thumps more or less on the board, do the work, supersede all
difficulties, and constitute a rude prosody, and lead to music just as
gestures do to dancing and to ballads,--“_que se canta ballando_;” and
which, when heard, reciprocally inspire a Saint Vitus’s desire to snap
fingers and kick heels, as all will admit in whose ears the _habas
verdes_ of Leon, or the _cachuca_ of Cadiz, yet ring.


The words destined to set all this capering in motion are not written
for cold British critics. Like sermons, they are delivered orally, and
are never subjected to the disenchanting ordeal of type: and even such
as may be professedly serious and not saltatory are listened to by those
who come attuned to the hearing vein--who anticipate and re-echo the
subject--who are operated on by the contagious bias. Thus a fascinated
audience of otherwise sensible Britons tolerates the positive presence
of nonsense at an opera--

    “Where rhyme with reason does dispense,
     And sound has right to govern sense.”

In order to feel the full power of the guitar and Spanish song, the
performer should be a sprightly Andaluza, taught or untaught; she wields
the instrument as her fan or _mantilla_; it seems to become portion of
herself, and alive; indeed the whole thing requires an _abandon_, a
fire, a _gracia_, which could not be risked by ladies of more northern
climates and more tightly-laced zones. No wonder one of the old fathers
of the church said that he would sooner face a singing basilisk than one
of these performers: she is good for nothing when pinned down to a
piano, on which few Spanish women play even tolerably, and so with her
singing, when she attempts ‘Adelaide,’ or anything in the sublime,
beautiful, and serious, her failure is dead certain, while, taken in her
own line, she is triumphant; the words of her song are often struck off,
like Theodore Hook’s, at the moment, and allude to incidents and persons
present; sometimes they are full of epigram and _double entendre_; they
often sing what may not be spoken, and steal hearts through ears, like
the Sirens, or as Cervantes has it, _cuando cantan encantan_. At other
times their song is little better than meaningless jingle, with which
the listeners are just as well satisfied. For, as Figaro says--“ce qui
ne vaut pas la peine d’être dit, on le chante.” A good voice, which
Italians call _novanta-nove_, ninety-nine parts out of the hundred, is
very rare; nothing strikes a traveller more unfavourably than the harsh
voice of the women in general; never mind, these ballad songs from the
most remote antiquity have formed the delight of the people, have
tempered the despotism of their church and state, have sustained a
nation’s resistance against foreign aggression.


There is very little music ever printed in Spain; the songs and airs are
generally sold in MS. Sometimes, for the very illiterate, the notes are
expressed in numeral figures, which correspond with the number of the

The best guitars in the world were made appropriately in Cadiz by the
Pajez family, father and son; of course an instrument in so much vogue
was always an object of most careful thought in fair Bætica; thus in the
seventh century the Sevillian guitar was shaped like the human breast,
because, as archbishops said, the _chords_ signified the pulsations of
the heart, _à corde_. The instruments of the Andalucian Moors were
strung after these significant heartstrings; Zaryàb remodelled the
guitar by adding a fifth string of bright red, to represent blood, the
treble or first being yellow to indicate bile; and to this hour, on the
banks of the Guadalquivir, when dusky eve calls forth the cloaked
serenader, the ruby drops of the heart female, are more surely liquefied
by a judicious manipulation of cat-gut, than ever were those of San
Januario by book or candle; nor, so it is said, when the tinkling is
continuous are all marital livers unwrung.

However that may be, the sad tunes of these Oriental ditties are still
effective in spite of their antiquity; indeed certain sounds have a
mysterious aptitude to express certain moods of the mind, in connexion
with some unexplained sympathy between the sentient and intellectual
organs, and the simplest are by far the most ancient. Ornate melody is a
modern invention from Italy; and although, in lands of greater
intercourse and fastidiousness, the conventional has ejected the
national, fashion has not shamed or silenced the old airs of
Spain--those “howlings of Tarshish.” Indeed, national tunes, like the
songs of birds, are not taught in orchestras, but by mothers to their
infant progeny in the cradling nest. As the Spaniard is warlike without
being military, saltatory without being graceful, so he is musical
without being harmonious; he is just the raw man material made by
nature, and treats himself as he does the raw products of his soil, by
leaving art and final development to the foreigner.


The day that he becomes a scientific fiddler, or a capital cotton
spinner, his charm will be at an end; long therefore may he turn a deaf
ear to moralists and political economists, who cannot abide the guitar,
who say that it has done more harm to Spain than hailstorms or drought,
by fostering a prodigious idleness and love-making, whereby the land is
cursed with a greater surplus of foundlings, than men of fortune; how
indeed can these calamities be avoided, when the tempter hangs up this
fatal instrument on a peg in every house? Our immelodious labourers and
unsaltatory operatives are put forth by Manchester missionaries as an
example of industry to the _Majos_ and _Manolas_ of Spain: “behold how
they toil, twelve and fourteen hours every day;” yet these
philanthropists should remember that from their having no other
recreation beyond the public or dissenting-house, they pine when
unemployed, because not knowing what to do with themselves when _idle_;
this to most Spaniards is a foretaste of the bliss of heaven, while
occupation, thought in England to be happiness, is the treadmill doom of
the lost for ever. Nor can it be denied that the facility of junketing
in the Peninsula, the grapes, guitars, songs, skippings and other
incidents to fine climate, militate against that dogged, desperate,
determined hard-working, by which our labourers beat the world hollow,
fiddling and pirouetting being excepted.



     Manufacture of Cigars--Tobacco--Smuggling _viâ_ Gibraltar--Cigars
     of Ferdinand VII.--Making a Cigarrito--Zumalacarreguy and the
     Schoolmaster--Time and Money Wasted in Smoking--Postscript on

But whether at bull-fight or theatre, be he lay or clerical, every
Spaniard who can afford it, consoles himself continually with a cigar,
sleep--not bed--time only excepted. This is his _nepenthe_, his pleasure
opiate, which, like Souchong, soothes but does not inebriate; it is to
him his “Te veniente die et te decedente.”


The manufacture of the cigar is the most active one carried on in the
Peninsula. The buildings are palaces; witness those at Seville, Malaga,
and Valencia. Since a cigar is a _sine quâ non_ in every Spaniard’s
mouth, for otherwise he would resemble a house without a chimney, a
steamer without a funnel, it must have its page in every Spanish book;
indeed, as one of the most learned native authors remarked, “You will
think me tiresome with my tobacconistical details, but the vast bulk of
readers will be more pleased with it, than with an account of all the
pictures in the world.” They all opine, that a good cigar--an article
scarce in this land of smoking and contradiction--keeps a Christian
hidalgo cooler in summer and warmer in winter than his wife and cloak;
while at all times and seasons it diminishes sorrow and doubles joy, as
a man’s better half does in Great Britain. “The fact is, Squire,” says
Sam Slick, “the moment a man takes to a pipe he becomes a philosopher;
it is the poor man’s friend; it calms the mind, soothes the temper, and
makes a man patient under trouble.” Can it be wondered at, that the
Oriental and Spanish population should cling to this relief from whips
and scorns, and the oppressor’s wrong, or steep in sweet oblivious
stupefaction the misery of being fretted and excited by empty larders,
vicious political institutions, and a very hot climate? They believe
that it deadens their over-excitable imagination, and appeases their too
exquisite nervous sensibility; they agree with Molière, although they
never read him, “Quoique l’on puisse dire, Aristote et toute la
philosophie, il n’y a rien d’égal au tabac.” The divine Isaac Barrow
resorted to this _panpharmacon_ whenever he wished to collect his
thoughts; Sir Walter Raleigh, the patron of Virginia, smoked a pipe just
before he lost his head, “at which some formal people were scandalized;
but,” adds Aubrey, “I think it was properly done to settle his spirits.”
The pedant James, who condemned both Raleigh and tobacco, said the bill
of fare of the dinner which he should give his Satanic majesty, would be
“a pig, a poll of ling, and mustard, with a pipe of tobacco for
digestion.” So true it is that “what’s one man’s meat is another man’s
poison;” but at all events, in hungry Spain it is both meat and drink,
and the chief smoke connected with proceedings of the mouth issues from
labial, not house chimneys.

Tobacco, this anodyne for the irritability of human reason, is, like
spirituous liquors which make it drunk, a highly-taxed article in all
civilized societies. In Spain, the Bourbon dynasty (as elsewhere) is the
hereditary tobacconist-general, and the privilege of sale is generally
farmed out to some contractor: accordingly, such a trump as a really
good home-made cigar is hardly to be had for love or money in the
Peninsula. Diogenes would sooner expect to find an honest man in any of
the government offices. As there is no royal road to the science of
cigar-making, the article is badly concocted, of bad materials, and, to
add insult to injury, is charged at a most exorbitant price. In order to
benefit the Havañah, tobacco is not allowed to be grown in Spain, which
it would do in perfection in the neighbourhood of Malaga; for the
experiment was made, and having turned out quite successfully, the
cultivation was immediately prohibited. The iniquity and dearness of the
royal tobacco makes the fortune of the well-meaning smuggler, who being
here, as everywhere, the great corrector of blundering chancellors of
exchequers, provides a better and cheaper thing from Gibraltar.


The proof of the extent to which his dealings are carried was
exemplified in 1828, when many thousand additional hands were obliged to
be put on to the manufactories at Seville and Granada, to meet the
increased demand occasioned by the impossibility of obtaining supplies
from Gibraltar, in consequence of the yellow fever which was then raging
there. No offence is more dreadfully punished in Spain than that of
tobacco-smuggling, which robs the queen’s pocket--all other robbery is
treated as nothing, for her lieges only suffer.

The encouragement afforded to the manufacture and smuggling of cigars at
Gibraltar is a never-failing source of ill blood and ill will between
the Spanish and English governments. This most serious evil is contrary
to all treaties, injurious to Spain and England alike, and is beneficial
only to aliens of the worst character, who form the real plague and sore
of Gibraltar. The American and every other nation import their own
tobacco, good, bad, and indifferent, into the fortress free of duty, and
without repurchasing British produce. It is made into cigars by Genoese,
is smuggled into Spain by aliens, in boats under the British flag, which
is disgraced by the traffic and exposed to insult from the revenue
cutters of Spain, which it cannot in justice expect to have redressed.
The Spaniards would have winked at the introduction of English hardware
and cottons--objects of necessity, which do not interfere with this,
their chief manufacture, and one of the most productive of royal
monopolies. There is a wide difference between encouraging real British
commerce and this smuggling of foreign cigars, nor can Spain be expected
to observe treaties towards us while we infringe them so scandalously
and unprofitably on our parts.


Many tobacchose epicures, who smoke their regular dozen or two, place
the evil sufficient for the day between fresh lettuce-leaves; this damps
the outer leaf of the article, and improves the narcotic effect; _mem._,
the inside, the trail, _las tripas_, as the Spaniards call it, should be
kept quite dry. The disordered interior of the royal cigars is masked by
a good outside wrapper leaf, just as Spanish rags are cloaked by a
decent _capa_, but l’habit ne fait pas le cigarre. Few except the rich
can afford to smoke good cigars. Ferdinand VII., unlike his ancestor
Louis XIV., “qui,” says La Beaumelle, “haïssoit le tabac singulièrement,
quoiqu’un de ses meilleurs revenus,” was not only a grand compounder but
consumer thereof. He indulged in the royal extravagance of a very large
thick cigar made in the Havañah expressly for his gracious use, as he
was too good a judge to smoke his own manufacture. Even of these he
seldom smoked more than the half; the remainder was a grand perquisite,
like our palace lights. The cigar was one of his pledges of love and
hatred: he would give one to his favourites when in sweet temper; and
often, when meditating a treacherous _coup_, would dismiss the
unconscious victim with a royal _puro_: and when the happy individual
got home to smoke it, he was saluted by an Alguacil with an order to
quit Madrid in twenty-four hours. The “innocent” Isabel, who does not
smoke, substitutes sugar-plums; she regaled Olozaga with a sweet
present, when she was “doing him” at the bidding of the Christinist
camarilla. It would seem that the Spanish Bourbons, when not
“cretinised” into idiots, are creatures composed of cunning and
cowardice. But “those who cannot dissimulate are unfit to reign” was the
axiom of their illustrious ancestor Louis XI.


In Spain the bulk of their happy subjects cannot afford, either the
expense of tobacco, which is dear to them, or the _gain_ of time, which
is very cheap, by smoking a whole cigar right away. They make one afford
occupation and recreation for half an hour. Though few Spaniards ruin
themselves in libraries, none are without a little blank book of a
particular paper, which is made at Alcoy, in Valencia. At any pause all
say at once--“_pues, señores! echaremos un cigarrito_--well then, my
Lords, let us make a little cigar,” and all set seriously to work; every
man, besides this book, is armed with a small case of flint, steel, and
a combustible tinder. To make a paper cigar, like putting on a cloak, is
an operation of much more difficulty than it seems, although all
Spaniards, who have done nothing so much, from their childhood upwards,
perform both with extreme facility and neatness. This is the mode:--the
_petaca_, Arabicè Buták, or little case worked by a fair hand, in the
coloured thread of the aloe, in which the store of cigars is kept, is
taken out--a leaf is torn from the book, which is held between the lips,
or downwards from the back of the hand, between the fore and middle
finger of the left hand--a portion of the cigar, about a third, is cut
off and rubbed slowly in the palms till reduced to a powder--it is then
jerked into the paper-leaf, which is rolled up into a little squib, and
the ends doubled down, one of which is bitten off and the other end is
lighted. The cigarillo is smoked slowly, the last whiff being the bonne
bouche, the _breast_, _la pechuga_. The little ends are thrown away:
they are indeed little, for a Spanish fore-finger and thumb are quite
fire-browned and fire-proof, although some polished exquisites use
silver holders; these remnants are picked up by the beggar-boys, who
make up into fresh cigars the leavings of a thousand mouths. There is no
want of fire in Spain; everywhere, what we should call link-boys run
about with a slowly-burning rope for the benefit of the public. At many
of the sheds where water and lemonade are sold, one of the ropes,
twirled like a snake round a post, and ignited, is kept ready as the
match of a besieged artilleryman; while in the houses of the affluent, a
small silver chafing-dish, with lighted charcoal, is usually on a table.
Mr. Henningsen relates that Zumalacarreguy, when about to execute some
Christinos at Villa Franca, observed one (a schoolmaster) looking about,
like Raleigh, for a light for his last dying puff in this life, upon
which the General took his own cigar from his mouth, and handed it to
him. The schoolmaster lighted his own, returned the other with a
respectful bow, and went away smoking and reconciled to be shot. This
urgent necessity levels all ranks, and it is allowable to stop any
person for fire; this proves the practical equality of all classes, and
that democracy under a despotism, which exists in smoking Spain, as in
the torrid East. The cigar forms a bond of union, an isthmus of
communication between most heterogeneous oppositions. It is the _habeas
corpus_ of Spanish liberties. The soldier takes fire from the canon’s
lip, and the dark face of the humble labourer is whitened by the
reflection of the cigar of the grandee and lounger. The lowest orders
have a coarse roll or rope of tobacco, wherewith to solace their
sorrows, and it is their calumet of peace. Some of the Spanish fair sex
are said to indulge in a quiet hidden _cigarilla_, _una pajita_, _una
reyna_, but it is not thought either a sign of a lady, or of one of
rigid virtue, to have recourse to these forbidden pleasures; for, says
their proverb, whoever makes one basket will make a hundred.


Nothing exposes a traveller to more difficulty than carrying much
tobacco in his luggage; yet all will remember never to be without some
cigars, and the better the better. It is a trifling outlay, for although
any cigar is acceptable, yet a real good one is a gift from a king. The
greater the enjoyment of the smoker, the greater his respect for the
donor; a cigar may be given to everybody, whether high or low: thus the
_petaca_ is offered, as a polite Frenchman of La Vieille Cour (a race,
alas! all but extinct) offered his snuff-box, by way of a prelude to
conversation and intimacy. It is an act of civility, and implies no
superiority, nor is there any humiliation in the acceptance; it is twice
blessed, “It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” It is the
spell wherewith to charm the natives, who are its ready and obedient
slaves, and, like a small kind word spoken in time, it works miracles.
There is no country in the world where the stranger and traveller can
purchase for half-a-crown, half the love and good-will which its
investment in tobacco will ensure, therefore the man who grudges or
neglects it is neither a philanthropist nor a philosopher.

A calculation might be made by those fond of arithmetic--which we
abhor--of the waste of time and money which is caused to the poor
Spaniards by all this prodigious cigarising. This said tobacco
importation of Raleigh is even a more doubtful good to the Peninsula
than that of potatoes to cognate Ireland, where it fosters poverty and
population. Let it be assumed that a respectable Spaniard only smokes
for fifty years, allow him the moderate allowance of six cigars a
day--the Regent, it is said, consumed forty every twenty-four
hours--calculate the cost of each cigar at two-pence, which is cheap
enough anywhere for a decent one; suppose that half of these are made
into paper cigars, which require double time--how much Spanish time and
private income is wasted in smoke? That is the question which we are
unable to answer.

[Sidenote: SPANISH STOCK.]

Here, alas! the pen must be laid down; an express from Albemarle-street
informs us, that this page must go to press next week, seeing that the
printer’s devils celebrate Christmas time with a most religious
abstinence from work. Many things of Spain must therefore be left in our
inkstand, filled to the brim with good intentions. We had hoped, at our
onset, to have sketched portraits of the Provincial and General
Character of Spanish Men--to have touched upon Spanish Soldiers and
Statesmen--Journalism and Place Hunting--Mendicants, Ministers and
Mosquitoes--Charters, Cheatings, and Constitutions--Fine Arts--French
and English Politics--Legends, Relics, and Religion--Monks and Manners;
and last, not least--reserved indeed as a bonne bouche--the Eyes, Loves,
Dress, and Details of the Spanish Ladies. It cannot be--nay, even as it
is, “for stories somehow lengthen when begun,” and especially if woven
with Spanish yarn, even now the indulgence of our fair readers may be
already exhausted by this sample of the _Cosas de España_. Be that as it
may, assuredly the smallest hint of a desire to the flattering contrary,
which they may condescend to express, will be obeyed as a command by
their grateful and humble servant the author, who, as every true Spanish
Hidalgo very properly concludes on similar, and on every occasion,
“kisses their feet.”

_Postscript._--In the first number of these Gatherings, at page 38, some
particulars were given of Spanish Stock, derived, as was believed, from
the most official and authentic sources. On the very evening that the
volume was published, and too late therefore for any corrections, the
following obliging letter was received from an anonymous correspondent,
which is now printed verbatim:--

_London, 30th November, 1846._


     I HAVE just perused your valuable and amusing work, ‘Gatherings
     from Spain;’ but must own I felt somewhat annoyed at seeing so
     gross a misrepresentation in the account you give of the national
     debt of that country; the amount you give is perfectly absurd. You
     say it has been increased to 279,033,089_l._--this is too bad. Now
     I can give you the exact amount. The 5 per cents. consists of
     40,000,000_l._ only; the coupons upon that sum to 12,000,000_l._;
     and the present 3 per cents. to 6,000,000_l._; in all,
     58,000,000_l._, and their own domestic debt, which is very
     trifling. Now this is rather different to your statement; besides,
     you are doing your book great injury by writing the Spanish Stock
     down so; more particularly so, as there is no doubt some final
     settlement will be come to before your second Number appears [?].
     The country is far from being as you misrepresent it to
     be--bankrupt. She is very rich, and quite capable of meeting her
     engagements which are so trifling--if you were to write down our
     Railroads I should think you a sensible man, for they are the
     greatest bubbles, since the great South Sea bubble. But Spanish is
     a fortune to whoever is so fortunate as to possess it now. I am,
     and have been for some years, a large holder, and am now looking
     forward to the realization of all my plans, in the present Minister
     of Finance, Señor Mon, and the rising of that stock to its proper
     price--about 60 or 70.

     I should, as a friend, advise you to correct your book before you
     strike any more copies, if you wish to sell it, as a true
     representation of the present existing state of the country. Your
     book might have done ten years ago, but people will not be gulled
     now; we are too well aware that almost all our own papers are
     bribed (and, perhaps, books), to write down Spanish, and Spanish
     finance, by raising all manner of reports--of Carlist bands
     appearing in all directions, &c. &c. &c. &c., which is most
     absurd--the Carlists’ cause is dead.


     I hope, Sir, you will not be offended with these lines, but rather
     take them as a friendly hint, as I admire your book much; and I
     hope you will yourself see the falsity of what has been inserted in
     a work of amusement, and correct it at once.

I remain, Sir,
Your obedient and humble Servant,

     _To ---- Ford, Esq._

It is a trifle “too bad” to be thus set down by our complimentary
correspondent as the inventor of these startling facts, figures, and
“fallacies,” since the full, true, and exact particulars are to be found
at pages 85 and 89 of Mr. Macgregor’s Commercial Tariffs of Spain,
presented to both Houses of Parliament in 1844 by the command of Her
Majesty. And as there was some variance in amount, the author all
through quoted from other men’s sums, and spoke doubtingly and
approximatively, being little desirous of having anything connected with
Spanish debts laid at his door, or charged to his account. He has no
interest whatever in these matters, having never been the fortunate
holder of one farthing either in Spanish funds or even English
railroads. Equally a friend of truth as his kind monitor, he simply
wished to caution fair readers, who might otherwise mis-invest, as he
erroneously it appears conceived, the savings in their pin-money. If he
has unwittingly stated that which is not, he can but give up his
authority, be very much ashamed, and insert the antidote to his errors.
He sincerely hopes that all and every one of the bright visions of his
anonymous friend may be realized. Had he himself, which Heaven forfend!
been sent on the errand of discovery whether the Madrid ministers be
made, or not, of squeezable materials, considering that Astræa has not
yet returned to Spain, with good governments, the golden age, or even a
tariff, his first step would have been to grease the wheels with
_sovereign_ ointment; and with a view of not being told by ministers and
cashiers to call again to-morrow, he would have opened the _negocio_ by
offering somebody 20 per cent. on all the hard dollars paid down; thus
possibly some breath and time might be economised, and trifling
disappointments prevented.

London: Printed by WILLIAM CLOWES and SONS, Stamford Street

       *       *       *       *       *


[1] The word _Gabacho_, which is the most offensive vituperative of the
Spaniard against the Frenchman, and has by some been thought to mean
“those who dwell on Gaves,” is the Arabic _Cabach_, detestable, filthy,
or “qui prava indole est, moribusque.” In fact the real meaning cannot
be further alluded to beyond referring to the clever tale of _El Frances
y Español_ by Quevedo. The antipathy to the Gaul is natural and
national, and dates far beyond history. This nickname was first given in
the eighth century, when Charlemagne, the Buonaparte of his day, invaded
Spain, on the abdication and cession of the crown by the chaste Alonso,
the prototype of the wittol Charles IV.; then the Spanish Moors and
Christians, foes and friends, forgot their hatreds of creeds in the
greater loathing for the abhorred intruder, whose “peerage fell” in the
memorable passes of Roncesvalles. The true derivation of the word
_Gabacho_, which now resounds from these Pyrenees to the Straits, is
blinked in the royal academical dictionary, such was the servile
adulation of the members to their French patron Philip V. _Mueran los
Gabachos_, “Death to the miscreants,” was the rally cry of Spain after
the inhuman butcheries of the terrorist Murat; nor have the echoes died
away; a spark may kindle the prepared mine: of what an unspeakable value
is a national war-cry which at once gives to a whole people a
shibboleth, a rallying watch-word to a common cause! _Vox populi vox

[2] _Razzia_ is derived from the Arabic _Al ghazia_, a word which
expresses these raids of a ferocious, barbarous age. It has been
introduced to European dictionaries by the Pelissiers, who thus
_civilize_ Algeria. They make a solitude, and call it peace.

[3] Faja; the Hhezum of Cairo. Atrides tightens his sash when preparing
for action--Iliad xi. 15. The Roman soldiers kept their money in it.
Ibit qui _zonam_ perdidit.--Hor. ii. Ep. 2. 40. The Jews used it for the
same purpose--Matthew x. 9; Mark vi. 8. It is loosened at night. “None
shall slumber or sleep, neither shall the girdle of their loins be
loosed.”--Isaiah v. 27.

[4] The dread of the fascination of the evil eye, from which Solomon was
not exempt (Proverbs xxiii. 6), prevails all over the East; it has not
been extirpated from Spain or from Naples, which so long belonged to
Spain. The lower classes in the Peninsula hang round the necks of their
children and cattle a horn tipped with silver; this is sold as an amulet
in the silver-smiths’ shops; the cord by which it is attached _ought_ to
be braided from a black mare’s tail. The Spanish gipsies, of whom Borrow
has given us so complete an account, thrive by disarming the _mal de
ojo_, “_querelar nasula_,” as they term it. The dread of the “_Ain ara_”
exists among all classes of the Moors. The better classes of Spaniards
make a joke of it; and often, when you remark that a person has put on
or wears something strange about him, the answer is, “_Es para que no me
hagan mal de ojo_.” Naples is the head-quarters for charms and coral
amulets: all the learning has been collected by the Canon Jorio and the
Marques Arditi.

[5] The _garañon_ is also called “_burro padre_” ass father, not “_padre
burro_.” “_Padre_,” the prefix of paternity, is the common title given
in Spain to the clergy and the monks. “Father jackass” might in many
instances, when applied to the latter, be too morally and physically
appropriate, to be consistent with the respect due to the celibate cowl
and cassock.

[6] When George IV. once complained that he had _lost_ his royal
appetite, “What a scrape, sir, a _poor_ man would be in if he _found_
it!” said his Rochester companion.

[7] The very word _Novelty_ has become in common parlance synonymous
with danger, change, by the fear of which all Spaniards are perplexed;
as in religion it is a heresy. Bitter experience has taught all classes
that every change, every promise of a new era of blessing and prosperity
has ended in a failure, and that matters have got worse: hence they not
only bear the evils to which they are accustomed, rather than try a
speculative amelioration, but actually prefer a bad state of things, of
which they know the worst, to the possibility of an untried good. _Mas
vale el mal conocido, que el bien por conocer._ “How is my lady the wife
of your grace?” says a Spanish gentleman to his friend. “_Como está mi
Señora la Esposa de Usted?_” “She goes on without Novelty”--“_Sigue sin
Novedad_,” is the reply, if the fair one be much the same. “_Vaya Usted
con Dios, y que no haya Novedad!_” “Go with God, your grace! and may
nothing new happen,” says another, on starting his friend off on a

[8] Forks are an Italian invention: old Coryate, who introduced this
“neatnesse” into Somersetshire, about 1600, was called _furcifer_ by his
friends. Alexander Barclay thus describes the previous English mode of
eating, which sounds very _ventaish_, although worse mannered:--

    “If the dishe be pleasaunt, eyther flesche or fische,
     Ten hands at once swarm in the dishe.”

[9] The kings of Spain seldom use any other royal signature, except the
ancient Gothic _rubrica_, or mark. This monogram is something like a
Runic knot. Spaniards exercise much ingenuity in these intricate
flourishes, which they tack on to their names, as a collateral security
of authenticity. It is said that a _rubrica_ without a name is of more
value than a name without a rubrica. Sancho Panza tells Don Quixote that
his rubrica alone is worth, not one, but three hundred jackasses. Those
who cannot write rubricate; “_No saber firmar_,”--not to know how to
sign one’s name,--is jokingly held in Spain to be one of the attributes
of grandeeship.

[10] “Chacun fuit à le voir naître, chacun court à le voir

[11] Hallarse en _Cinta_ is the Spanish equivalent for our “being in the
family way."

[12] Recopilacion. Lib. iii. Tit. xvi. Ley 3.

[13] The love for killing oxen still prevails at Rome, where the
ambition of the lower orders to be a butcher, is, like their white
costume, a remnant of the honourable office of killing at the Pagan
sacrifices. In Spain butchers are of the lowest caste, and cannot prove
“purity of blood.” Francis I. never forgave the “Becajo de Parigi”
applied by Dante to _his_ ancestor.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical error corrected by the etext transcriber:

which recal the memory of those=> which recall the memory of those {pg

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