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´╗┐Title: Castilian Days
Author: Hay, John, 1838-1905
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Castilian Days" ***

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CASTILIAN DAYS

By John Hay


Published November 1903



PUBLISHERS' NOTE


In this Holiday Edition of _Castilian Days_ it has been thought
advisable to omit a few chapters that appeared in the original edition.
These chapters were less descriptive than the rest of the book, and not
so rich in the picturesque material which the art of the illustrator
demands. Otherwise, the text is reprinted without change. The
illustrations are the fruit of a special visit which Mr. Pennell has
recently made to Castile for this purpose.

BOSTON, AUTUMN, 1903



LIST OF CONTENTS


MADRID AL FRESCO

SPANISH LIVING AND DYING

INFLUENCE OF TRADITION IN SPANISH LIFE

TAUROMACHY

RED-LETTER DAYS

AN HOUR WITH THE PAINTERS

A CASTLE IN THE AIR

THE CITY OF THE VISIGOTHS

THE ESCORIAL

A MIRACLE PLAY

THE CRADLE AND THE GRAVE OF CERVANTES



MADRID AL FRESCO


Madrid is a capital with malice aforethought. Usually the seat of
government is established in some important town from the force of
circumstances. Some cities have an attraction too powerful for the court
to resist. There is no capital of England possible but London. Paris is
the heart of France. Rome is the predestined capital of Italy in spite
of the wandering flirtations its varying governments in different
centuries have carried on with Ravenna, or Naples, or Florence. You can
imagine no Residenz for Austria but the Kaiserstadt,--the gemuthlich
Wien. But there are other capitals where men have arranged things and
consequently bungled them. The great Czar Peter slapped his imperial
court down on the marshy shore of the Neva, where he could look westward
into civilization and watch with the jealous eye of an intelligent
barbarian the doings of his betters. Washington is another specimen of
the cold-blooded handiwork of the capital builders. We shall think
nothing less of the _clarum et venerabile nomen_ of its founder if we
admit he was human, and his wishing the seat of government nearer to
Mount Vernon than Mount Washington sufficiently proves this. But Madrid
more plainly than any other capital shows the traces of having been set
down and properly brought up by the strong hand of a paternal
government; and like children with whom the same regimen has been
followed, it presents in its maturity a curious mixture of lawlessness
and insipidity.

Its greatness was thrust upon it by Philip II. Some premonitory symptoms
of the dangerous honor that awaited it had been seen in preceding
reigns. Ferdinand and Isabella occasionally set up their pilgrim
tabernacle on the declivity that overhangs the Manzanares. Charles V.
found the thin, fine air comforting to his gouty articulations. But
Philip II. made it his court. It seems hard to conceive how a king who
had his choice of Lisbon, with its glorious harbor and unequalled
communications; Seville, with its delicious climate and natural beauty;
and Salamanca and Toledo, with their wealth of tradition, splendor of
architecture, and renown of learning, should have chosen this barren
mountain for his home, and the seat of his empire. But when we know this
monkish king we wonder no longer. He chose Madrid simply because it was
cheerless and bare and of ophthalmic ugliness. The royal kill-joy
delighted in having the dreariest capital on earth. After a while there
seemed to him too much life and humanity about Madrid, and he built the
Escorial, the grandest ideal of majesty and ennui that the world has
ever seen. This vast mass of granite has somehow acted as an anchor that
has held the capital fast moored at Madrid through all succeeding years.

It was a dreary and somewhat shabby court for many reigns. The great
kings who started the Austrian dynasty were too busy in their world
conquest to pay much attention to beautifying Madrid, and their weak
successors, sunk in ignoble pleasures, had not energy enough to indulge
the royal folly of building. When the Bourbons came down from France
there was a little flurry of construction under Philip V., but he never
finished his palace in the Plaza del Oriente, and was soon absorbed in
constructing his castle in cloud-land on the heights of La Granja. The
only real ruler the Bourbons ever gave to Spain was Charles III., and to
him Madrid owes all that it has of architecture and civic improvement.
Seconded by his able and liberal minister, Count Aranda, who was
educated abroad, and so free from the trammels of Spanish ignorance and
superstition, he rapidly changed the ignoble town into something like a
city. The greater portion of the public buildings date from this active
and beneficent reign. It was he who laid out the walks and promenades
which give to Madrid almost its only outward attraction. The Picture
Gallery, which is the shrine of all pilgrims of taste, was built by him
for a Museum of Natural Science. In nearly all that a stranger cares to
see, Madrid is not an older city than Boston.

There is consequently no glory of tradition here. There are no
cathedrals. There are no ruins. There is none of that mysterious and
haunting memory that peoples the air with spectres in quiet towns like
Ravenna and Nuremberg. And there is little of that vast movement of
humanity that possesses and bewilders you in San Francisco and New York.
Madrid is larger than Chicago; but Chicago is a great city and Madrid a
great village. The pulsations of life in the two places resemble each
other no more than the beating of Dexter's heart on the home-stretch is
like the rising and falling of an oozy tide in a marshy inlet.

There is nothing indigenous in Madrid. There is no marked local color.
It is a city of Castile, but not a Castilian city, like Toledo, which
girds its graceful waist with the golden Tagus, or like Segovia,
fastened to its rock in hopeless shipwreck.

But it is not for this reason destitute of an interest of its own. By
reason of its exceptional history and character it is the best point in
Spain to study Spanish life. It has no distinctive traits itself, but it
is a patchwork of all Spain. Every province of the Peninsula sends a
contingent to its population. The Gallicians hew its wood and draw its
water; the Asturian women nurse its babies at their deep bosoms, and
fill the promenades with their brilliant costumes; the Valentians carpet
its halls and quench its thirst with orgeat of chufas; in every street
you shall see the red bonnet and sandalled feet of the Catalan; in every
cafe, the shaven face and rat-tail chignon of the Majo of Andalusia. If
it have no character of its own, it is a mirror where all the faces of
the Peninsula may sometimes be seen. It is like the mockingbird of the
West, that has no song of its own, and yet makes the woods ring with
every note it has ever heard.

Though Madrid gives a picture in little of all Spain, it is not all
Spanish. It has a large foreign population. Not only its immediate
neighbors, the French, are here in great numbers,--conquering so far
their repugnance to emigration, and living as gayly as possible in the
midst of traditional hatred,--but there are also many Germans and
English in business here, and a few stray Yankees have pitched their
tents, to reinforce the teeth of the Dons, and to sell them ploughs and
sewing-machines. Its railroads have waked it up to a new life, and the
Revolution has set free the thought of its people to an extent which
would have been hardly credible a few years ago. Its streets swarm with
newsboys and strangers,--the agencies that are to bring its people into
the movement of the age.

It has a superb opera-house, which might as well be in Naples, for all
the national character it has; the court theatre, where not a word of
Cas-tilian is ever heard, nor a strain of Spanish music. Even
cosmopolite Paris has her grand opera sung in French, and easy-going
Vienna insists that Don Juan shall make love in German. The champagny
strains of Offenbach are heard in every town of Spain oftener than the
ballads of the country. In Madrid there are more _pilluelos_ who whistle
_Bu qui s'avance_ than the Hymn of Riego. The Cancan has taken its place
on the boards of every stage in the city, apparently to stay; and the
exquisite jota and cachucha are giving way to the bestialities of the
casino cadet. It is useless perhaps to fight against that hideous orgie
of vulgar Menads which in these late years has swept over all nations,
and stung the loose world into a tarantula dance from the Golden Horn to
the Golden Gate. It must have its day and go out; and when it has
passed, perhaps we may see that it was not so utterly causeless and
irrational as it seemed; but that, as a young American poet has
impressively said, "Paris was proclaiming to the world in it somewhat of
the pent-up fire and fury of her nature, the bitterness of her heart,
the fierceness of her protest against spiritual and political
repression. It is an execration in rhythm,--a dance of fiends, which
Paris has invented to express in license what she lacks in liberty."

This diluted European, rather than Spanish, spirit may be seen in most
of the amusements of the politer world of Madrid. They have classical
concerts in the circuses and popular music in the open air. The theatres
play translations of French plays, which are pretty good when they are
in prose, and pretty dismal when they are turned into verse, as is more
frequent, for the Spanish mind delights in the jingle of rhyme. The fine
old Spanish drama is vanishing day by day. The masterpieces of Lope and
Calderon, which inspired all subsequent playwriting in Europe, have sunk
almost utterly into oblivion. The stage is flooded with the washings of
the Boulevards. Bad as the translations are, the imitations are worse.
The original plays produced by the geniuses of the Spanish Academy, for
which they are crowned and sonneted and pensioned, are of the kind upon
which we are told that gods and men and columns look austerely.

This infection of foreign manners has completely gained and now controls
what is called the best society of Madrid. A soiree in this circle is
like an evening in the corresponding grade of position in Paris or
Petersburg or New York in all external characteristics. The toilets are
by Worth; the beauties are coiffed by the deft fingers of Parisian
tiring-women; the men wear the penitential garb of Poole; the music is
by Gounod and Verdi; Strauss inspires the rushing waltzes, and the
married people walk through the quadrilles to the measures of Blue Beard
and Fair Helen, so suggestive of conjugal rights and duties. As for the
suppers, the trail of the Neapolitan serpent is over them all. Honest
eating is a lost art among the effete denizens of the Old World.
Tantalizing ices, crisped shapes of baked nothing, arid sandwiches, and
the feeblest of sugary punch, are the only supports exhausted nature
receives for the shock of the cotillon. I remember the stern reply of a
friend of mine when I asked him to go with me to a brilliant
reception,--"No! Man liveth not by biscuit-glace alone!" His heart was
heavy for the steamed cherry-stones of Harvey and the stewed terrapin of
Augustin.

The speech of the gay world has almost ceased to be national. Every one
speaks French sufficiently for all social requirements. It is sometimes
to be doubted whether this constant use of a foreign language in
official and diplomatic circles is a cause or effect of paucity of
ideas. It is impossible for any one to use another tongue with the ease
and grace with which he could use his own. You know how tiresome the
most charming foreigners are when they speak English. A fetter-dance is
always more curious than graceful. Yet one who has nothing to say can
say it better in a foreign language. If you must speak nothing but
phrases, Ollendorff's are as good as any one's. Where there are a dozen
people all speaking French equally badly, each one imagines there is a
certain elegance in the hackneyed forms. I know of no other way of
accounting for the fact that clever people seem stupid and stupid people
clever when they speak French. This facile language thus becomes the
missionary of mental equality,--the principles of '89 applied to
conversation. All men are equal before the phrase-book.

But this is hypercritical and ungrateful. We do not go to balls to hear
sermons nor discuss the origin of matter. If the young grandees of Spain
are rather weaker in the parapet than is allowed in the nineteenth
century, if the old boys are more frivolous than is becoming to age, and
both more ignorant of the day's doings than is consistent with even
their social responsibilities, in compensation the women of this circle
are as pretty and amiable as it is possible to be in a fallen world. The
foreigner never forgets those piquant, _mutines_ faces of Andalusia and
those dreamy eyes of Malaga,--the black masses of Moorish hair and the
blond glory of those graceful heads that trace their descent from Gothic
demigods. They were not very learned nor very witty, but they were
knowing enough to trouble the soundest sleep. Their voices could
interpret the sublimest ideas of Mendelssohn. They knew sufficiently of
lines and colors to dress themselves charmingly at small cost, and their
little feet were well enough educated to bear them over the polished
floor of a ball-room as lightly as swallows' wings. The flirting of
their intelligent fans, the flashing of those quick smiles where eyes,
teeth, and lips all did their dazzling duty, and the satin twinkling of
those neat boots in the waltz, are harder to forget than things better
worth remembering.

Since the beginning of the Revolutionary regime there have been serious
schisms and heart-burnings in the gay world. The people of the old
situation assumed that the people of the new were rebels and traitors,
and stopped breaking bread with them. But in spite of this the palace
and the ministry of war were gay enough,--for Madrid is a city of
office-holders, and the White House is always easy to fill, even if two
thirds of the Senate is uncongenial. The principal fortress of the post
was the palace of the spirituelle and hospitable lady whose society name
is Duchess of Penaranda, but who is better known as the mother of the
Empress of the French. Her salon was the weekly rendezvous of the
irreconcilable adherents of the House of Bourbon, and the aristocratic
beauty that gathered there was too powerful a seduction even for the
young and hopeful partisans of the powers that be. There was nothing
exclusive about this elegant hospitality. Beauty and good manners have
always been a passport there. I have seen a proconsul of Prim talking
with a Carlist leader, and a fiery young democrat dancing with a
countess of Castile.

But there is another phase of society in Madrid which is altogether
pleasing,--far from the domain of politics or public affairs, where
there is no pretension or luxury or conspiracy,--the old-fashioned
Tertulias of Spain. There is nowhere a kindlier and more unaffected
sociableness. The leading families of each little circle have one
evening a week on which they remain at home. Nearly all their friends
come in on that evening. There is conversation and music and dancing.
The young girls gather together in little groups,--not confined under
the jealous guard of their mothers or chaperons,--and chatter of the
momentous events of the week--their dresses, their beaux, and their
books. Around these compact formations of loveliness skirmish light
bodies of the male enemy, but rarely effect a lodgment. A word or a
smile is momently thrown out to meet the advance; but the long,
desperate battle of flirtation, which so often takes place in America in
discreet corners and outlying boudoirs, is never seen in this
well-organized society. The mothers in Israel are ranged for the evening
around the walls in comfortable chairs, which they never leave; and the
colonels and generals and chiefs of administration, who form the bulk of
all Madrid gatherings, are gravely smoking in the library or playing
interminable games of tresillon, seasoned with temperate denunciations
of the follies of the time.

Nothing can be more engaging than the tone of perfect ease and cordial
courtesy which pervades these family festivals. It is here that the
Spanish character is seen in its most attractive light. Nearly everybody
knows French, but it is never spoken. The exquisite Castilian, softened
by its graceful diminutives into a rival of the Italian in tender
melody, is the only medium of conversation; it is rare that a stranger'
is seen, but if he is, he must learn Spanish or be a wet blanket
forever.

You will often meet, in persons of wealth and distinction, an easy
degenerate accent in Spanish, strangely at variance with their elegance
and culture. These are Creoles of the Antilles, and they form one of the
most valued and popular elements of society in the capital. There is a
gallantry and dash about the men, and an intelligence and independence
about the women, that distinguish them from their cousins of the
Peninsula. The American element has recently grown very prominent in the
political and social world. Admiral Topete is a Mexican. His wife is one
of the distinguished Cuban family of Arrieta. General Prim married a
Mexican heiress. The magnificent Duchess de la Torre, wife of the Regent
Serrano, is a Cuban born and bred.

In one particular Madrid is unique among capitals,--it has no suburbs.
It lies in a desolate table-land in the windy waste of New Castile; on
the north the snowy Guadarrama chills its breezes, and on every other
side the tawny landscape stretches away in dwarfish hills and shallow
ravines barren of shrub or tree, until distance fuses the vast steppes
into one drab plain, which melts in the hazy verge of the warm horizon.
There are no villages sprinkled in the environs to lure the Madrilenos
out of their walls for a holiday. Those delicious picnics that break
with such enchanting freshness and variety the steady course of life in
other capitals cannot here exist. No Parisian loves _la bonne ville_ so
much that he does not call those the happiest of days on which he
deserts her for a row at Asnieres, a donkey-ride at Enghien, or a
bird-like dinner in the vast chestnuts of Sceaux. "There is only one
Kaiserstadt," sings the loyal Kerl of Vienna, but he shakes the dust of
the Graben from his feet on holiday mornings, and makes his merry
pilgrimage to the lordly Schoen-brunn or the heartsome Dornbach, or the
wooded eyry of the Kahlenberg. What would white-bait be if not eaten at
Greenwich? What would life be in the great cities without the knowledge
that just outside, an hour away from the toil and dust and struggle of
this money-getting world, there are green fields, and whispering
forests, and verdurous nooks of breezy shadow by the side of brooks
where the white pebbles shine through the mottled stream,--where you
find great pied pan-sies under your hands, and catch the black beady
eyes of orioles watching you from the thickets, and through the lush
leafage over you see patches of sky flecked with thin clouds that sail
so lazily you cannot be sure if the blue or the white is moving?
Existence without these luxuries would be very much like life in Madrid.

Yet it is not so dismal as it might seem. The Grande Duchesse of
Gerolstein, the cheeriest moralist who ever occupied a throne, announces
just before the curtain falls, "Quand on n'a pas ce qu'on aime, il faut
aimer ce qu'on a." But how much easier it is to love what you have when
you never imagined anything better! The bulk of the good people of
Madrid have never left their natal city. If they have been, for their
sins, some day to Val-lecas or Carabanchel or any other of the dusty
villages that bake and shiver on the arid plains around them, they give
fervid thanks on returning alive, and never wish to go again. They
shudder when they hear of the summer excursions of other populations,
and commiserate them profoundly for living in a place they are so
anxious to leave. A lovely girl of Madrid once said to me she never
wished to travel,--some people who had been to France preferred Paris to
Madrid; as if that were an inexplicable insanity by which their
wanderings had been punished. The indolent incuriousness of the Spaniard
accepts the utter isolation of his city as rather an advantage. It saves
him the trouble of making up his mind where to go. _Vamonos al Prado!_
or, as Browning says,--

  "Let's to the Prado and make the most of time."

The people of Madrid take more solid comfort in their promenade than any
I know. This is one of the inestimable benefits conferred upon them by
those wise and liberal free-thinkers Charles III. and Aranda. They knew
how important to the moral and physical health of the people a place of
recreation was. They reduced the hideous waste land on the east side of
the city to a breathing-space for future generations, turning the meadow
into a promenade and the hill into the Buen Retiro. The people growled
terribly at the time, as they did at nearly everything this prematurely
liberal government did for them. The wise king once wittily said: "My
people are like bad children that kick the shins of their nurse whenever
their faces are washed."

But they soon became reconciled to their Prado,--a name, by the way,
which runs through several idioms,--in Paris they had a Pre-aux-clercs,
the Clerks' Meadow, and the great park of Vienna is called the Prater.
It was originally the favorite scene of duels, and the cherished
trysting-place of lovers. But in modern times it is too popular for any
such selfish use.

The polite world takes its stately promenade in the winter afternoons in
the northern prolongation of the real Prado, called in the official
courtier style _Las delicias de Isabel Segunda,_ but in common speech
the Castilian Fountain, or _Castellana,_ to save time. So perfect is the
social discipline in these old countries that people who are not in
society never walk in this long promenade, which is open to all the
world. You shall see there, any pleasant day before the Carnival, the
aristocracy of the kingdom, the fast young hopes of the nobility, the
diplomatic body resident, and the flexible figures and graceful bearing
of the high-born ladies of Castile. Here they take the air as free from
snobbish competition as the good society of Olympus, while a hundred
paces farther south, just beyond the Mint, the world at large takes its
plebeian constitutional. How long, with a democratic system of
government, this purely conventional respect will be paid to blue-ness
of blood cannot be conjectured. Its existence a year after the
Revolution was to me one of the most singular of phenomena.

After Easter Monday the Castellana is left to its own devices for the
summer. With the warm long days of May and June, the evening walk in the
Salon begins. Europe affords no scene more original and characteristic.
The whole city meets in this starlit drawing-room. It is a vast evening
party al fresco, stretching from the Alcala to the Course of San
Geronimo. In the wide street beside it every one in town who owns a
carriage may be seen moving lazily up and down, and apparently envying
the gossiping strollers on foot. On three nights in the week there is
music in the Retiro Garden,--not as in our feverish way beginning so
early that you must sacrifice your dinner to get there, and then turning
you out disconsolate in that seductive hour which John Phoenix used to
call the "shank of the evening," but opening sensibly at half past nine
and going leisurely forward until after midnight. The music is very
good. Sometimes Arban comes down from Paris to recover from his winter
fatigues and bewitch the Spains with his wizard _baton._

In all this vast crowd nobody is in a hurry. They have all night before
them. They stayed quietly at home in the stress of the noontide when the
sunbeams were falling in the glowing streets like javelins,--they
utilized some of the waste hours of the broiling afternoon in sleep, and
are fresh as daisies now. The women are not haunted by the thought of
lords and babies growling and wailing at home. Their lords are beside
them, the babies are sprawling in the clean gravel by their chairs. Late
in the small hours I have seen these family parties in the promenade,
the husband tranquilly smoking his hundredth cigarette, his _placens
uxor_ dozing in her chair, one baby asleep on the ground, and another
slumbering in her lap.

This Madrid climate is a gallant one, and kindlier to the women than the
men. The ladies are built on the old-fashioned generous plan. Like a
Southern table in the old times, the only fault is too abundant plenty.
They move along with a superb dignity of carriage that Banting would
like to banish from the world, their round white shoulders shining in
the starlight, their fine heads elegantly draped in the coquettish and
always graceful mantilla. But you would look in vain among the men of
Madrid for such fulness and liberality of structure. They are thin,
eager, sinewy in appearance,--though it is the spareness of the Turk,
not of the American. It comes from tobacco and the Guadarrama winds.
This still, fine, subtle air that blows from the craggy peaks over the
treeless plateau seems to take all superfluous moisture out of the men
of Madrid. But it is, like Benedick's wit, "a most manly air, it will
not hurt a woman." This tropic summer-time brings the halcyon days of
the vagabonds of Madrid. They are a temperate, reasonable people, after
all, when they are let alone. They do not require the savage stimulants
of our colder-blooded race. The fresh air is a feast. As Walt Whitman
says, they loaf and invite their souls. They provide for the banquet
only the most spiritual provender. Their dissipation is confined
principally to starlight and zephyrs; the coarser and wealthier spirits
indulge in ice, agraz, and meringues dissolved in water. The climax of
their luxury is a cool bed. Walking about the city at midnight, I have
seen the fountains all surrounded by luxurious vagabonds asleep or in
revery, dozens of them stretched along the rim of the basins, in the
spray of the splashing water, where the least start would plunge them
in. But the dreams of these Latin beggars are too peaceful to trouble
their slumber. They lie motionless, amid the roar of wheels and the
tramp of a thousand feet, their bed the sculptured marble, their
covering the deep, amethystine vault, warm and cherishing with its
breath of summer winds, bright with its trooping stars. The Providence
of the worthless watches and guards them!

The chief commerce of the streets of Madrid seems to be fire and water,
bane and antidote. It would be impossible for so many match-venders to
live anywhere else, in a city ten times the size of Madrid. On every
block you will find a wandering merchant dolefully announcing paper and
phosphorus,--the one to construct cigarettes and the other to light
them. The matches are little waxen tapers very neatly made and enclosed
in pasteboard boxes, which are sold for a cent and contain about a
hundred _fosforos._ These boxes are ornamented with portraits of the
popular favorites of the day, and afford a very fair test of the
progress and decline of parties. The queen has disappeared from them
except in caricature, and the chivalrous face of Castelar and the heavy
Bourbon mouth of Don Carlos are oftener seen than any others. A Madrid
smoker of average industry will use a box a day. They smoke more
cigarettes than cigars, and in the ardor of conversation allow their
fire to go out every minute. A young Austrian, who was watching a
_senorito_ light his wisp of paper for the fifth time, and mentally
comparing it with the volcano volume and _kern-deutsch_ integrity of
purpose of the meerschaums of his native land, said to me: "What can you
expect of a people who trifle in that way with the only work of their
lives?"

It is this habit of constant smoking that makes the Madrilenos the
thirstiest people in the world; so that, alternating with the cry of
"Fire, lord-lings! Matches, chevaliers!" you hear continually the drone
so tempting to parched throats, "Water! who wants water? freezing water!
colder than snow!" This is the daily song of the Gallician who marches
along in his irrigating mission, with his brown blouse, his short
breeches, and pointed hat, like that Aladdin wears in the cheap
editions; a little varied by the Valentian in his party-colored mantle
and his tow trousers, showing the bronzed leg from the knee to the
blue-bordered sandals. Numerous as they are, they all seem to have
enough to do. They carry their scriptural-looking water-jars on their
backs, and a smart tray of tin and burnished brass, with meringues and
glasses, in front. The glasses are of enormous but not extravagant
proportions. These dropsical Iberians will drink water as if it were no
stronger than beer. In the winter-time, while the cheerful invitation
rings out to the same effect,--that the beverage is cold as the
snow,--the merchant prudently carries a little pot of hot water over a
spirit-lamp to take the chill off for shivery customers.

Madrid is one of those cities where strangers fear the climate less than
residents. Nothing is too bad for the Castilian to say of his native
air. Before you have been a day in the city some kind soul will warn you
against everything you have been in the habit of doing as leading to
sudden and severe death in this subtle air. You will hear in a dozen
different tones the favorite proverb, which may be translated,--

  The air of Madrid is as sharp as a knife,--
  It will spare a candle and blow out your life:--

and another where the truth, as in many Spanish proverbs, is sacrificed
to the rhyme, saying that the climate is _tres meses invierno y nueve
infierno,--_three months winter and nine months Tophet. At the first
coming of the winter frosts the genuine son of Madrid gets out his capa,
the national full round cloak, and never leaves it off till late in the
hot spring days. They have a way of throwing one corner over the left
shoulder, so that a bright strip of gay lining falls outward and
pleasantly relieves the sombre monotony of the streets. In this way the
face is completely covered by the heavy woollen folds, only the eyes
being visible under the sombrero. The true Spaniard breathes no
out-of-doors air all winter except through his cloak, and they stare at
strangers who go about with uncovered faces enjoying the brisk air as if
they were lunatics. But what makes the custom absurdly incongruous is
that the women have no such terror of fresh air. While the hidalgo goes
smothered in his wrappings his wife and daughter wear nothing on their
necks and faces but their pretty complexions, and the gallant breeze,
grateful for this generous confidence, repays them in roses. I have
sometimes fancied that in this land of traditions this difference might
have arisen in those days of adventure when the cavaliers had good
reasons for keeping their faces concealed, while the senoras, we are
bound to believe, have never done anything for which their own beauty
was not the best excuse.

Nearly all there is of interest in Madrid consists in the faces and the
life of its people. There is but one portion of the city which appeals
to the tourist's ordinary set of emotions. This is the old Moors'
quarter,--the intricate jumble of streets and places on the western edge
of the town, overlooking the bankrupt river. Here is St. Andrew's, the
parish church where Isabella the Catholic and her pious husband used to
offer their stiff and dutiful prayers. Behind it a market-place of the
most primitive kind runs precipitately down to the Street of. Segovia,
at such an angle that you wonder the turnips and carrots can ever be
brought to keep their places on the rocky slope. If you will wander
through the dark alleys and hilly streets of this quarter when twilight
is softening the tall tenement-houses to a softer purpose, and the
doorways are all full of gossiping groups, and here and there in the
little courts you can hear the tinkling of a guitar and the drone of
ballads, and see the idlers lounging by the fountains, and everywhere
against the purple sky the crosses of old convents, while the evening
air is musical with slow chimes from the full-arched belfries, it will
not be hard to imagine you are in the Spain you have read and dreamed
of. And, climbing out of this labyrinth of slums, you pass under the
gloomy gates that lead to the Plaza Mayor. This once magnificent square
is now as squalid and forsaken as the Place Royale of Paris, though it
dates from a period comparatively recent. The mind so instinctively
revolts at the contemplation of those orgies of priestly brutality which
have made the very name of this place redolent with a fragrance of
scorched Christians, that we naturally assign it an immemorial
antiquity. But a glance at the booby face of Philip III. on his
round-bellied charger in the centre of the square will remind us that
this place was built at the same time the Mayflower's passengers were
laying the massive foundations of the great Republic. The Autos-da-Fe,
the plays of Lope de Vega, and the bull-fights went on for many years
with impartial frequency under the approving eyes of royalty, which
occupied a convenient balcony in the Panaderia, that overdressed
building with the two extinguisher towers. Down to a period
disgracefully near us, those balconies were occupied by the dull-eyed,
pendulous-lipped tyrants who have sat on the throne of St. Ferdinand,
while there in the spacious court below the varied sports went
on,--to-day a comedy of Master Lope, to-morrow the gentle and joyous
slaying of bulls, and the next day, with greater pomp and ceremony, with
banners hung from the windows, and my lord the king surrounded by his
women and his courtiers in their bravest gear, and the august presence
of the chief priests and their idol in the form of wine and wafers,--the
judgment and fiery sentence of the thinking men of Spain.

Let us remember as we leave this accursed spot that the old palace of
the Inquisition is now the Ministry of Justice, where a liberal
statesman has just drawn up the bill of civil marriage; and that in the
convent of the Trinitarians a Spanish Rationalist, the Minister of
Fomento, is laboring to secularize education in the Peninsula. There is
much coiling and hissing, but the fangs of the ser-pent are much less
prompt and effective than of old.

The wide Calle Mayor brings you in a moment out of these mouldy shadows
and into the broad light of nowadays which shines in the Puerta del Sol.
Here, under the walls of the Ministry of the Interior, the quick,
restless heart of Madrid beats with the new life it has lately earned.
The flags of the pavement have been often stained with blood, but of
blood shed in combat, in the assertion of individual freedom. Although
the government holds that fortress-palace with a grasp of iron, it can
exercise no control over the free speech that asserts itself on the very
sidewalk of the Principal. At every step you see news-stands filled with
the sharp critical journalism of Spain,--often ignorant and unjust, but
generally courteous in expression and independent in thought. Every day
at noon the northern mails bring hither the word of all Europe to the
awaking Spanish mind, and within that massive building the converging
lines of the telegraph are whispering every hour their persuasive
lessons of the world's essential unity.

The movement of life and growth is bearing the population gradually away
from that dark mediaeval Madrid of the Catholic kings through the Puerta
del Sol to the airy heights beyond, and the new, fresh quarter built by
the philosopher Bourbon Charles III. is becoming the most important part
of the city. I think we may be permitted to hope that the long reign of
savage faith and repression is broken at last, and that this abused and
suffering people is about to enter into its rightful inheritance of
modern freedom and progress.



SPANISH LIVING AND DYING


Nowhere is the sentiment of home stronger than in Spain. Strangers,
whose ideas of the Spanish character have been gained from romance and
comedy, are apt to note with some surprise the strength and prevalence
of the domestic affections. But a moment's reflection shows us that
nothing is more natural. It is the result of all their history. The old
Celtic population had scarcely any religion but that of the family. The
Goths brought in the pure Teutonic regard for woman and marriage. The
Moors were distinguished by the patriarchal structure of their society.
The Spaniards have thus learned the lesson of home in the school of
history and tradition. The intense feeling of individuality, which so
strongly marks the Spanish character, and which in the political world
is so fatal an element of strife and obstruction, favors this peculiar
domesticity. The Castilian is submissive to his king and his priest,
haughty and inflexible with his equals. But his own house is a refuge
from the contests of out of doors. The reflex of absolute authority is
here observed, it is true. The Spanish father is absolute king and lord
by his own hearthstone, but his sway is so mild and so readily
acquiesced in that it is hardly felt. The evils of tyranny are rarely
seen but by him who resists it, and the Spanish family seldom calls for
the harsh exercise of parental authority.

This is the rule. I do not mean to say there are no exceptions. The
pride and jealousy inherent in the race make family quarrels, when they
do arise, the bitterest and the fiercest in the world. In every grade of
life these vindictive feuds among kindred are seen from time to time.
Twice at least the steps of the throne have been splashed with royal
blood shed by a princely hand. Duels between noble cousins and stabbing
affrays between peasant brothers alike attest the unbending sense of
personal dignity that still infects this people.

A light word between husbands and wives sometimes goes unexplained, and
the rift between them widens through life. I know some houses where the
wife enters at one door and the husband at another; where if they meet
on the stairs, they do not salute each other. Under the same roof they
have lived for years and have not spoken. One word would heal all
discord, and that word will never be spoken by either. They cannot be
divorced,--the Church is inexorable. They will not incur the scandal of
a public separation. So they pass lives of lonely isolation in adjoining
apartments, both thinking rather better of each other and of themselves
for this devilish persistence.

An infraction of parental discipline is never forgiven. I knew a general
whose daughter fell in love with his adjutant, a clever and amiable
young officer. He had positively no objection to the suitor, but was
surprised that there should be any love-making in his house without his
previous suggestion. He refused his consent, and the young people were
married without it. The father and son-in-law went off on a campaign,
fought, and were wounded in the same battle. The general was asked to
recommend his son-in-law for promotion. "I have no son-in-law!" "I mean
your daughter's husband." "I have no daughter." "I refer to Lieutenant
Don Fulano de Tal. He is a good officer. He distinguished himself
greatly in the recent affair." "Ah! otra cosa!" said the grim
father-in-law. His hate could not overcome his sense of justice. The
youth got his promotion, but his general will not recognize him at the
club. It is in the middle and lower classes that the most perfect
pictures of the true Spanish family are to be found. The aristocracy is
more or less infected with the contagion of Continental manners and
morals. You will find there the usual proportion of wives who despise
their husbands, and men who neglect their wives, and children who do not
honor their parents. The smartness of American "pickles" has even made
its appearance among the little countesses of Madrid. A lady was eating
an ice one day, hungrily watched by the wide eyes of the infant heiress
of the house. As the latter saw the last hope vanishing before the
destroying spoon, she cried out, "Thou eatest all and givest me
none,--maldita sea tu alma!" (accursed be thy soul). This dreadful
imprecation was greeted with roars of laughter from admiring friends,
and the profane little innocent was smothered in kisses and cream.

Passing at noon by any of the squares or shady places of Madrid, you
will see dozens of laboring-people at their meals. They sit on the
ground, around the steaming and savory _cocido_ that forms the peasant
Spaniard's unvaried dinner. The foundation is of _garbanzos,_ the large
chick-pea of the country, brought originally to Europe by the
Carthaginians,--the Roman _cicer,_ which gave its name to the greatest
of the Latin orators. All other available vegetables are thrown in; on
days of high gala a piece of meat is added, and some forehanded
housewives attain the climax of luxury by flavoring the compound with a
link of sausage. The mother brings the dinner and her tawny brood of
nestlings. A shady spot is selected for the feast. The father dips his
wooden spoon first into the vapory bowl, and mother and babes follow
with grave decorum. Idle loungers passing these patriarchal groups, on
their way to a vapid French breakfast at a restaurant, catch the
fragrance of the _olla_ and the chatter of the family, and envy the
dinner of herbs with love.

There is no people so frugal. We often wonder how a Washington clerk can
live on twelve hundred dollars, but this would be luxury in expensive
Madrid. It is one of the dearest capitals in Europe. Foreigners are
never weary decrying its high prices for poor fare; but Castilians live
in good houses, dress well, receive their intimate friends, and hold
their own with the best in the promenade, upon incomes that would seem
penury to any country parson in America. There are few of the nobility
who retain the great fortunes of former days. You can almost tell on
your fingers the tale of the grandees in Madrid who can live without
counting the cost. The army and navy are crowded with general officers
whose political services have obliged their promotion. The state is too
much impoverished to pay liberal salaries, and yet the rank of these
officers requires the maintenance of a certain social position. Few of
them are men of fortune. The result is that necessity has taught them to
live well upon little, I knew widows who went everywhere in society,
whose daughters were always charmingly dressed, who lived in a decent
quarter of the town, and who had no resources whatever but a husband's
pension.

The best proof of the capacity of Spaniards to spread a little gold over
as much space as a goldbeater could is the enormous competition for
public employment. Half the young men in Spain are candidates for
places under government ranging from $250 to $1000. Places of $1500 to
$2000 are considered objects of legitimate ambition even to deputies and
leading politicians. Expressed in reals these sums have a large and
satisfying sound. Fifty dollars seems little enough for a month's work,
but a thousand reals has the look of a most respectable salary. In
Portugal, however, you can have all the delightful sensations of
prodigality at a contemptible cost. You can pay, without serious damage
to your purse, five thousand reis for your breakfast.

It is the smallness of incomes and the necessity of looking sharply to
the means of life that makes the young people of Madrid so prudent in
their love affairs. I know of no place where ugly heir-esses are such
belles, and where young men with handsome incomes are so universally
esteemed by all who know them. The stars on the sleeves of young
officers are more regarded than their dancing, and the red belt of a
field officer is as winning in the eyes of beauty as a cestus of Venus.
A. subaltern offered his hand and heart to a black-eyed girl of Castile.
She said kindly but firmly that the night was too cloudy. "What," said
the stupefied lover, "the sky is full of stars." "I see but one," said
the prudent beauty, her fine eyes resting pensively upon his cuff, where
one lone luminary indicated his rank.

This spirit is really one of forethought, and not avarice. People who
have enough for two almost always marry from inclination, and frequently
take partners for life without a penny.

If men were never henpecked except by learned wives, Spain would be the
place of all others for timid men to marry in. The girls are bright,
vivacious, and naturally very clever, but they have scarcely any
education whatever. They never know the difference between _b_ and _v._
They throw themselves in orthography entirely upon your benevolence.
They know a little music and a little French, but they have never
crossed, even in a school-day excursion, the border line of the ologies.
They do not even read novels. They are regarded as injurious, and
cannot be trusted to the daughters until mamma has read them. Mamma
never has time to read them, and so they are condemned by default.
Fernan Caballero, in one of her sleepy little romances, refers to this
illiterate character of the Spanish ladies, and says it is their chief
charm,--that a Christian woman, in good society, ought not to know
anything beyond her cookery-book and her missal. There is-an old proverb
which coarsely conveys this idea: A mule that whinnies and a woman that
talks Latin never come to any good.

There is a contented acquiescence in this moral servitude among the fair
Spaniards which would madden our agitatresses. (See what will become of
the language when male words are crowded out of the dictionary!)

It must be the innocence which springs from ignorance that induces an
occasional coarseness of expression which surprises you in the
conversation of those lovely young girls. They will speak with perfect
freedom of the _etat-civil_ of a young unmarried mother. A maiden of
fifteen said to me: "I must go to a party this evening _decolletee,_ and
I hate it. Benigno is getting old enough to marry, and he wants to see
all the girls in low neck before he makes up his mind." They all swear
like troopers, without a thought of profanity. Their mildest expression
of surprise is Jesus Maria! They change their oaths with the season. At
the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the favorite oath is Maria
Purissima. This is a time of especial interest to young girls. It is a
period of compulsory confession,--conscience-cleaning, as they call it.
They are all very pious in their way. They attend to their religious
duties with the same interest which they displayed a few years before in
dressing and undressing their dolls, and will display a few years later
in putting the lessons they learned with their dolls to a more practical
use.

The visible concrete symbols and observances of religion have great
influence with them. They are fond of making vows in tight places and
faithfully observing them afterwards. In an hour's walk in the streets
of Madrid you will see a dozen ladies with a leather strap buckled about
their slender waists and hanging nearly to the ground. Others wear a
knotted cord and tassels. These are worn as the fulfilment of vows, or
penances.

I am afraid they give rise to much worldly conjecture on the part of
idle youth as to what amiable sins these pretty penitents can have been
guilty of. It is not prudent to ask an explanation of the peculiar
mercy, or remorse, which this purgatorial strap commemorates. You will
probably not enlarge your stock of knowledge further than to learn that
the lady in question considers you a great nuisance.

The graceful lady who, in ascending the throne of France, has not ceased
to be a thorough Spaniard, still preserves these pretty weaknesses of
her youth. She vowed a chapel to her patron saint if her firstborn was a
man-child, and paid it. She has hung a vestal lamp in the Church of
Notre Dame des Victoires, in pursuance of a vow she keeps rigidly
secret. She is a firm believer in relics also, and keeps a choice
assortment on hand in the Tuileries for sudden emergencies. When old
Baciocchi lay near his death, worn out by a horrible nervous disorder
which would not let him sleep, the empress told the doctors, with great
mystery, that she would cure him. After a few preliminary masses, she
came into his room and hung on his bedpost a little gold-embroidered
sachet containing (if the evidence of holy men is to be believed) a few
threads of the swaddling-clothes of John the Baptist. Her simple
childlike faith wrung the last grim smile from the tortured lips of the
dying courtier.

The very names of the Spanish women are a constant reminder of their
worship. They are all named out of the calendar of saints and virgin
martyrs. A large majority are christened Mary; but as this sacred name
by much use has lost all distinctive meaning, some attribute, some
especial invocation of the Virgin, is always coupled with it. The names
of Dolores, Mercedes, Milagros, recall Our Lady of the Sorrows, of the
Gifts, of the Miracles. I knew a hoydenish little gypsy who bore the
tearful name of Lagrimas. The most appropriate name I heard for these
large-eyed, soft-voiced beauties was Peligros, Our Lady of Dangers. Who
could resist the comforting assurance of "Consuelo"? "Blessed," says my
Lord Lytton, "is woman who consoles." What an image of maiden purity
goes with the name of Nieves, the Virgin of the Snows! From a single
cotillon of Castilian girls you can construct the whole history of Our
Lady; Conception, Annunciation, Sorrows, Solitude, Assumption. As young
ladies are never called by their family names, but always by their
baptismal appellations, you cannot pass an evening in a Spanish
_tertulia_ without being reminded of every stage in the life of the
Immaculate Mother, from Bethlehem to Calvary and beyond.

The common use of sacred words is universal in Catholic countries, but
nowhere so striking as in Spain. There is a little solemnity in the
French adieu. But the Spaniard says adios instead of "good-morning." No
letter closes without the prayer, "God guard your Grace many years!"
They say a judge announces to a murderer his sentence of death with the
sacramental wish of length of days. There is something a little shocking
to a Yankee mind in the label of Lachryma Christi; but in La Mancha they
call fritters the Grace of God.

The piety of the Spanish women does not prevent them from seeing some
things clearly enough with their bright eyes. One of the most bigoted
women in Spain recently said: "I hesitate to let my child go to
confession. The priests ask young girls such infamous questions, that my
cheeks burn when I think of them, after all these years." I stood one
Christmas Eve in the cold midnight wind, waiting for the church doors to
open for the night mass, the famous _misa del gallo._ On the steps
beside me sat a decent old woman with her two daughters. At last she
rose and said, "Girls, it is no use waiting any longer. The priests
won't leave their housekeepers this cold night to save anybody's soul."
In these two cases, taken from the two extremes of the Catholic society,
there was no disrespect for the Church or for religion. Both these women
believed with a blind faith. But they could not help seeing how unclean
were the hands that dispensed the bread of life.

The respect shown to the priesthood as a body is marvellous, in view of
the profligate lives of many. The general progress of the age has forced
most of the dissolute priests into hypocrisy. But their cynical
immorality is still the bane of many families. And it needs but a glance
at the vile manual of confession, called the Golden Key, the author of
which is the too well known Padre Claret, confessor to the queen, to see
the systematic moral poisoning the minds of Spanish women must undergo
who pay due attention to what is called their religious duties. If a
confessor obeys the injunctions of this high ecclesiastical authority,
his fair penitents will have nothing to learn from a diligent perusal of
Faublas or Casanova. It would, however, be unjust to the priesthood to
consider them all as corrupt as royal chaplains. It requires a
combination of convent and palace life to produce these finished
specimens of mitred infamy.

It is to be regretted that the Spanish women are kept in such systematic
ignorance. They have a quicker and more active intelligence than the
men. With a fair degree of education, much might be hoped from them in
the intellectual development of the country. In society, you will at
once be struck with the superiority of the women to their husbands and
brothers in cleverness and appreciation. Among small tradesmen, the wife
always comes to the rescue of her slow spouse when she sees him befogged
in a bargain. In the fields, you ask a peasant some question about your
journey. He will hesitate, and stammer, and end with, "_Quien sabe?"_
but his wife will answer with glib completeness all you want to know. I
can imagine no cause for this, unless it be that the men cloud their
brains all day with the fumes of tobacco, and the women do not.

The personality of the woman is not so entirely merged in that of the
husband as among us. She retains her own baptismal and family name
through life. If Miss Matilda Smith marries Mr. Jonathan Jones, all
vestige of the former gentle being vanishes at once from the earth, and
Mrs. Jonathan Jones alone remains. But in Spain she would become Mrs.
Matilda Smith de Jones, and her eldest-born would be called Don Juan
Jones y Smith. You ask the name of a married lady in society, and you
hear as often her own name as that of her husband.

Even among titled people, the family name seems more highly valued than
the titular designation. Everybody knows Narvaez, but how few have heard
of the Duke of Valencia! The Regent Serrano has a name known and honored
over the world, but most people must think twice before they remember
the Duke de la Torre. Juan Prim is better known than the Marques de los
Castillejos ever will be. It is perhaps due to the prodigality with
which titles have been scattered in late years that the older titles are
more regarded than the new, although of inferior grade. Thus Prim calls
himself almost invariably the Conde de Reus, though his grandeeship came
with his investiture as marquis.

There is something quite noticeable about this easy way of treating
one's name. We are accustomed to think a man can have but one name, and
can sign it but in one way. Lord Derby can no more call himself Mr.
Stanley than President Grant can sign a bill as U. Simpson. Yet both
these signatures would be perfectly valid according to Spanish analogy.
The Marquis of Santa Marta signs himself Guzman; the Marquis of Albaida
uses no signature but Orense; both of these gentlemen being Republican
deputies. I have seen General Prim's name signed officially, Conde de
Reus, Marques de los Castillejos, Prim, J. Prim, Juan Prim, and Jean
Prim, changing the style as often as the humor strikes him.

Their forms of courtesy are, however, invariable. You can never visit a
Spaniard without his informing you that you are in your own house. If,
walking with him, you pass his residence, he asks you to enter your
house and unfatigue yourself a moment. If you happen upon any Spaniard,
of whatever class, at the hour of repast, he always offers you his
dinner; if you decline, it must be with polite wishes for his digestion.
With the Spaniards, no news is good news; it is therefore civil to ask a
Spaniard if his lady-wife goes on without novelty, and to express your
profound gratification on being assured that she does. Their forms of
hospitality are evidently Moorish, derived from the genuine open hand
and open tent of the children of the desert; now nothing is left of them
but grave and decorous words. In the old times, one who would have
refused such offers would have been held a churl; now one who would
accept them would be regarded as a boor.

There is still something primitive about the Spanish servants. A flavor
of the old romances and the old comedy still hangs about them. They are
chatty and confidential to a degree that appalls a stiff and formal
Englishman of the upper middle class. The British servant is a chilly
and statuesque image of propriety. The French is an intelligent and
sympathizing friend. You can make of him what you like. But the Italian,
and still more the Spaniard, is as gay as a child, and as incapable of
intentional disrespect. The Castilian grandee does not regard his
dignity as in danger from a moment's chat with a waiter. He has no
conception of that ferocious decorum we Anglo-Saxons require from our
manservants and our maidservants. The Spanish servant seems to regard it
as part of his duty to keep your spirits gently excited while you dine
by the gossip of the day. He joins also in your discussions, whether
they touch lightly on the politics of the hour or plunge profoundly into
the depths of philosophic research. He laughs at your wit, and swings
his napkin with convulsions of mirth at your good stories. He tells you
the history of his life while you are breaking your egg, and lays the
story of his loves before you with your coffee. Yet he is not intrusive.
He will chatter on without waiting for a reply, and when you are tired
of him you can shut him off with a word. There are few Spanish servants
so uninteresting but that you can find in them from time to time some
sparks of that ineffable light which shines forever in Sancho and
Figaro.

The traditions of subordination, which are the result of long centuries
of tyranny, have prevented the development of that feeling of
independence among the lower orders, which in a freer race finds its
expression in ill manners and discourtesy to superiors. I knew a
gentleman in the West whose circumstances had forced him to become a
waiter in a backwoods restaurant. He bore a deadly grudge at the
profession that kept him from starving, and asserted his unconquered
nobility of soul by scowling at his customers and swearing at the viands
he dispensed. I remember the deep sense of wrong with which he would
growl, "Two buckwheats, begawd!" You see nothing of this defiant spirit
in Spanish servants. They are heartily glad to find employment, and ask
no higher good-fortune than to serve acceptably. As to drawing
comparisons between themselves and their masters, they never seem to
think they belong to the same race. I saw a pretty grisette once stop to
look at a show-window where there was a lay-figure completely covered
with all manner of trusses. She gazed at it long and earnestly,
evidently thinking it was some new fashion just introduced into the gay
world. At last she tripped away with all the grace of her unfettered
limbs, saying, "If the fine ladies have to wear all those machines, I am
glad I am not made like them."

Whether it be from their more regular and active lives, or from their
being unable to pay for medical attendance, the poorer classes suffer
less from sickness than their betters. An ordinary Spaniard is sick but
once in his life, and that once is enough,--'twill serve. The traditions
of the old satires which represented the doctor and death as always
hunting in couples still survive in Spain. It is taken as so entirely a
matter of course that a patient must die that the law of the land
imposed a heavy fine upon physicians who did not bring a priest on their
second visit. His labor of exhortation and confession was rarely wasted.
There were few sufferers who recovered from the shock of that solemn
ceremony in their chambers. Medical science still labors in Spain under
the ban of ostracism, imposed in the days when all research was impiety.
The Inquisition clamored for the blood of Vesalius, who had committed
the crime of a demonstration in anatomy. He was forced into a pilgrimage
of expiation, and died on the way to Palestine. The Church has always
looked with a jealous eye upon the inquirers, the innovators. Why these
probes, these lancets, these multifarious drugs, when the object in view
could be so much more easily obtained by the judicious application of
masses and prayers?

So it has come about that the doctor is a Pariah, and miracles flourish
in the Peninsula. At every considerable shrine you will see the walls
covered with waxen models of feet, legs, hands, and arms secured by the
miraculous interposition of the _genius loci,_ and scores of little
crutches attesting the marvellous hour when they became useless. Each
shrine, like a mineral spring, has its own especial virtue. A Santiago
medal was better than quinine for ague. St. Veronica's handkerchief is
sovereign for sore eyes. A bone of St. Magin supersedes the use of
mercury. A finger-nail of San Frutos cured at Segovia a case of
congenital idiocy. The Virgin of Ona acted as a vermifuge on royal
infantas, and her girdle at Tortosa smooths their passage into this
world. In this age of unfaith relics have lost much of their power. They
turn out their score or so of miracles every feast-day, it is true, but
are no longer capable of the _tours de force_ of earlier days. Cardinal
de Retz saw with his eyes a man whose wooden legs were turned to
capering flesh and blood by the image of the Pillar of Saragossa. But
this was in the good old times before newspapers and telegraphs had come
to dispel the twilight of belief.

Now, it is excessively probable that neither doctor nor priest can do
much if the patient is hit in earnest. He soon succumbs, and is laid out
in his best clothes in an improvised chapel and duly sped on his way.
The custom of burying the dead in the gown and cowl of monks has greatly
passed into disuse. The mortal relics are treated with growing contempt,
as the superstitions of the people gradually lose their concrete
character. The soul is the important matter which the Church now looks
to. So the cold clay is carted off to the cemetery with small ceremony.
Even the coffins of the rich are jammed away into receptacles too small
for them, and hastily plastered out of sight. The poor are carried off
on trestles and huddled into their nameless graves, without following or
blessing. Children are buried with some regard to the old Oriental
customs. The coffin is of some gay and cheerful color, pink or blue, and
is carried open to the grave by four of the dead child's young
companions, a fifth walking behind with the ribboned coffin-lid. I have
often seen these touching little parties moving through the bustling
streets, the peaceful small face asleep under the open sky, decked with
the fading roses and withering lilies. In all well-to-do families the
house of death is deserted immediately after the funeral. The stricken
ones retire to some other habitation, and there pass eight days in
strict and inviolable seclusion. On the ninth day the great masses for
the repose of the soul of the departed are said in the parish church,
and all the friends of the family are expected to be present. These
masses are the most important and expensive incident of the funeral.
They cost from two hundred to one thousand dollars, according to the
strength and fervor of the orisons employed. They are repeated several
years on the anniversary of the decease, and afford a most sure and
nourishing revenue to the Church. They are founded upon those feelings
inseparable from every human heart, vanity and affection. Our dead
friends must be as well prayed for as those of others, and who knows but
that they may be in deadly need of prayers! To shorten their fiery
penance by one hour, who would not fast for a week? On these
anniversaries a black-bordered advertisement appears in the newspapers,
headed by the sign of the cross and the Requiescat in Pace, announcing
that on this day twelve months Don Fulano de Tal passed from earth
garnished with the holy sacraments, that all the masses this day
celebrated in such and such churches will be applied to the benefit of
his spirit's repose, and that all Christian friends are hereby requested
to commend his soul this day unto God. These efforts, if they do the
dead no good, at least do the living no harm.

A luxury of grief, in those who can afford it, consists in shutting up
the house where a death has taken place and never suffering it to be
opened again. I once saw a beautiful house and wide garden thus
abandoned in one of the most fashionable streets of Madrid. I inquired
about it, and found it was formerly the residence of the Duke of------.
His wife had died there many years before, and since that day not a door
nor a window had been opened. The garden gates were red and rough with
rust. Grass grew tall and rank in the gravelled walks. A thick lush
undergrowth had overrun the flower-beds and the lawns. The blinds were
rotting over the darkened windows. Luxuriant vines clambered over all
the mossy doors. The stucco was peeling from the walls in unwholesome
blotches. Wild birds sang all day in the safe solitude. There was
something impressive in this spot of mould and silence, lying there so
green and implacable in the very heart of a great and noisy city. The
duke lived in Paris, leading the rattling life of a man of the world. He
never would sell or let that Madrid house. Perhaps in his heart also,
that battered thoroughfare worn by the pattering boots of Ma-bine and
the Bois, and the Quartier Breda, there was a green spot sacred to
memory and silence, where no footfall should ever light, where no living
voice should ever be heard, shut out from the world and its cares and
its pleasures, where through the gloom of dead days he could catch a
glimpse of a white hand, a flash of a dark eye, the rustle of a trailing
robe, and feel sweeping over him the old magic of love's young dream,
softening his fancy to tender regret and his eyes to a happy mist--

  "Like that which kept the heart of Eden green
  Before the useful trouble of the rain."



INFLUENCE OF TRADITION IN SPANISH LIFE


Intelligent Spaniards with whom I have conversed on political matters
have often exclaimed, "Ah, you Americans are happy! you have no
traditions." The phrase was at first a puzzling one. We Americans are
apt to think we have traditions,--a rather clearly marked line of
precedents. And it is hard to see how a people should be happier without
them. It is not anywhere considered a misfortune to have had a
grandfather, I believe, and some very good folks take an innocent pride
in that very natural fact. It was not easy to conceive why the
possession of a glorious history of many centuries should be regarded as
a drawback. But a closer observation of Spanish life and thought reveals
the curious and hurtful effect of tradition upon every phase of
existence.

In the commonest events of every day you will find the flavor of past
ages lingering in petty annoyances. The insecurity of the middle ages
has left as a legacy to our times a complicated system of obstacles to a
man getting into his own house at night. I lived in a pleasant house on
the Prado, with a minute garden in front, and an iron gate and railing.
This gate was shut and locked by the night watchman of the quarter at
midnight,--so conscientiously that he usually had everything snug by
half past eleven. As the same man had charge of a dozen or more houses,
it was scarcely reasonable to expect him to be always at your own gate
when you arrived. But by a singular fatality I think no man ever found
him in sight at any hour. He is always opening some other gate or
shutting some other door, or settling the affairs of the nation with a
friend in the next block, or carrying on a chronic courtship at the
lattice of some olive-cheeked soubrette around the corner. Be that as it
may, no one ever found him on hand; and there is nothing to do but to
sit down on the curbstone and lift up your voice and shriek for him
until he comes. At two o'clock of a morning in January the exercise is
not improving to the larynx or the temper. There is a tradition in the
very name of this worthy. He is called the Sereno, because a century or
so ago he used to call the hour and the state of the weather, and as the
sky is almost always cloudless here, he got the name of the Sereno, as
the quail is called Bob White, from much iteration. The Sereno opens
your gate and the door of your house. When you come to your own floor
you must ring, and your servant takes a careful survey of you through a
latticed peep-hole before he will let you in. You may positively forbid
this every day in the year, but the force of habit is too strong in the
Spanish mind to suffer amendment.

This absurd custom comes evidently down from a time of great lawlessness
and license, when no houses were secure without these precautions, when
people rarely stirred from their doors after nightfall, and when a door
was never opened to a stranger. Now, when no such dangers exist, the
annoying and senseless habit still remains, because no one dreams of
changing anything which their fathers thought proper. Three hundred
thousand people in Madrid submit year after year to this nightly cross,
and I have never heard a voice raised in protest, nor even in defence of
the custom.

There is often a bitterness of opposition to evident improvement which
is hard to explain. In the last century, when the eminent naturalist
Bowles went down to the Almaden silver-mines, by appointment of the
government, to see what was the cause of their exhaustion, he found that
they had been worked entirely in perpendicular shafts instead of
following the direction of the veins. He perfected a plan for working
them in this simple and reasonable way, and no earthly power could make
the Spanish miners obey his orders. There was no precedent for this new
process, and they would not touch it. They preferred starvation rather
than offend the memory of their fathers by a change. At last they had to
be dismissed and a full force imported from Germany, under whose hands
the mines became instantly enormously productive.

I once asked a very intelligent English contractor why he used no
wheelbarrows in his work. He had some hundreds of stalwart navvies
employed carrying dirt in small wicker baskets to an embankment. He said
the men would not use them. Some said it broke their backs. Others
discovered a capital way of amusing themselves by putting the barrow on
their heads and whirling the wheel as rapidly as possible with their
hands. This was a game which never grew stale. The contractor gave up in
despair, and went back to the baskets. But it is in the official regions
that tradition is most powerful. In the budget of 1870 there was a
curious chapter called "Charges of Justice." This consisted of a
collection of articles appropriating large sums of money for the payment
of feudal taxes to the great aristocracy of the kingdom as a
compensation for long extinct seigniories. The Duke of Rivas got
thirteen hundred dollars for carrying the mail to Victoria. The Duke of
San Carlos draws ten thousand dollars for carrying the royal
correspondence to the Indies. Of course this service ceased to belong to
these families some centuries ago, but the salary is still paid. The
Duke of Almodovar is well paid for supplying the _baton_ of office to
the Alguazil of Cordova. The Duke of Osuna--one of the greatest grandees
of the kingdom, a gentleman who has the right to wear seventeen hats in
the presence of the Queen--receives fifty thousand dollars a year for
imaginary feudal services. The Count of Altamira, who, as his name
indicates, is a gentleman of high views, receives as a salve for the
suppression of his fief thirty thousand dollars a year. In consideration
of this sum he surrenders, while it is punctually paid, the privilege of
hanging his neighbors.

When the budget was discussed, a Republican member gently criticised
this chapter; but his amendment for an investigation of these charges
was indignantly rejected. He was accused of a shocking want of
Espanolismo. He was thought to have no feeling in his heart for the
glories of Spain. The respectability of the Chamber could find but one
word injurious enough to express their contempt for so shameless a
proposition; they said it was little better than socialism. The
"charges" were all voted. Spain, tottering on the perilous verge of
bankruptcy, her schoolmasters not paid for months, her sinking fund
plundered, her credit gone out of sight, borrowing every cent she spends
at thirty per cent., is proud of the privilege of paying into the hands
of her richest and most useless class this gratuity of twelve million
reals simply because they are descended from the robber chiefs of the
darker ages. There is a curious little comedy played by the family of
Medina Celi at every new coronation of a king of Spain. The duke claims
to be the rightful heir to the throne. He is descended from Prince
Ferdinand, who, dying before his father, Don Alonso X., left his babies
exposed to the cruel kindness of their uncle Sancho, who, to save them
the troubles of the throne, assumed it himself and transmitted it to his
children,--all this some half dozen centuries ago. At every coronation
the duke formally protests; an athletic and sinister-looking court
headsman comes down to his palace in the Carrera San Geronimo, and by
threats of immediate decapitation induces the duke to sign a paper
abdicating his rights to the throne of all the Spains. The duke eats the
Bourbon leek with inward profanity, and feels that he has done a most
clever and proper thing. This performance is apparently his only object
and mission in life. This one sacrifice to tradition is what he is born
for.

The most important part of a Spaniard's signature is the _rubrica_ or
flourish with which it closes. The monarch's hand is set to public acts
exclusively by this _parafe._ This evidently dates from the time when
none but priests could write. In Madrid the mule-teams are driven tandem
through the wide streets, because this was necessary in the ages when
the streets were narrow.

There is even a show of argument sometimes to justify an adherence to
things as they are. About a century ago there was an effort made by
people who had lived abroad, and so become conscious of the possession
of noses, to have the streets of Madrid cleaned. The proposition was at
first received with apathetic contempt, but when the innovators
persevered they met the earnest and successful opposition of all
classes. The Cas-tilian _savans_ gravely reported that the air of
Madrid, which blew down from the snowy Guadarra-mas, was so thin and
piercing that it absolutely needed the gentle corrective of the
ordure-heaps to make it fit for human lungs.

There is no nation in Europe in which so little washing is done. I do
not think it is because the Spaniards do not want to be neat. They are,
on the whole, the best-dressed people on the Continent. The hate of
ablutions descends from those centuries of warfare with the Moors. The
heathens washed themselves daily; therefore a Christian should not. The
monks, who were too lazy to bathe, taught their followers to be filthy
by precept and example. Water was never to be applied externally except
in baptism. It was a treacherous element, and dallying with it had
gotten Bathsheba and Susanna into no end of trouble. So when the cleanly
infidels were driven out of Granada, the pious and hydrophobic Cardinal
Ximenez persuaded the Catholic sovereigns to destroy the abomination of
baths they left behind. Until very recently the Spanish mind has been
unable to separate a certain idea of immorality from bathing. When
Madame Daunoy, one of the sprightliest of observers, visited the court
of Philip IV., she found it was considered shocking among the ladies of
the best society to wash the face and hands. Once or twice a week they
would glaze their pretty visages with the white of an egg. Of late years
this prejudice has given way somewhat; but it has lasted longer than any
monument in Spain.

These, however, are but trivial manifestations of that power of
tradition which holds the Spanish intellect imprisoned as in a vice of
iron. The whole life of the nation is fatally influenced by this blind
reverence for things that have been. It may be said that by force of
tradition Christian morality has been driven from individual life by
religion, and honesty has been supplanted as a rule of public conduct by
honor,--a wretched substitute in either case, and irreconcilably at war
with the spirit of the age.

The growth of this double fanaticism is easily explained; it is the
result of centuries of religious wars. From the hour when Pelayo, the
first of the Asturian kings, successfully met and repulsed the hitherto
victorious Moors in his rocky fortress of Covadonga, to the day when
Boabdil the Unlucky saw for the last time through streaming tears the
vermilion towers of Alhambra crowned with the banner of the cross, there
was not a year of peace in Spain. No other nation has had such an
experience. Seven centuries of constant warfare, with three thousand
battles; this is the startling epitome of Spanish history from the
Mahometan conquest to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. In this vast
war there was laid the foundation of the national character of to-day.

Even before the conquering Moslem crossed from Africa, Spain was the
most deeply religious country in Europe; and by this I mean the country
in which the Church was most powerful in its relations with the State.
When the Council of Toledo, in 633, received the king of Castile, he
fell on his face at the feet of the bishops before venturing to address
them. When the hosts of Islam had overspread the Peninsula, and the last
remnant of Christianity had taken refuge in the inaccessible hills of
the northwest, the richest possession they carried into these inviolate
fastnesses was a chest of relics,--knuckle-bones of apostles and
splinters of true crosses, in which they trusted more than in mortal
arms. The Church had thus a favorable material to work upon in the years
of struggle that followed. The circumstances all lent themselves to the
scheme of spiritual domination. The fight was for the cross against the
crescent; the symbol of the quarrel was visible and tangible. The
Spaniards were poor and ignorant and credulous. The priests were enough
superior to lead and guide them, and not so far above them as to be out
of the reach of their sympathies and their love. They marched with them.
They shared their toils and dangers. They stimulated their hate of the
enemy. They taught them that their cruel anger was the holy wrath of
God. They held the keys of eternal weal or woe, and rewarded
subservience to the priestly power with promises of everlasting
felicity; while the least symptom of rebellion in thought or action was
punished with swift death and the doom of endless flames. There was
nothing in the Church which the fighting Spaniard could recognize as a
reproach to himself. It was as bitter, as brave, as fierce, and
revengeful as he. His credulity regarded it as divine, and worthy of
blind adoration, and his heart went out to it with the sympathy of
perfect love.

In these centuries of war there was no commerce, no manufactures, no
settled industry of importance among the Spaniards. There was
consequently no wealth, none of that comfort and ease which is the
natural element of doubt and discussion. Science did not exist. The
little learning of the time was exclusively in the hands of the
priesthood. If from time to time an intelligent spirit struggled against
the chain of unquestioning bigotry that bound him, he was rigorously
silenced by prompt and bloody punishment. There seemed to be no need of
discussion, no need of inculcation of doctrine. The serious work of the
time was the war with the infidel. The clergy managed everything. The
question, "What shall I do to be saved?" never entered into those simple
and ignorant minds. The Church would take care of those who did her
bidding.

Thus it was that in the hammering of those struggling ages the nation
became welded together in one compact mass of unquestioning, unreasoning
faith, which the Church could manage at its own good pleasure.

It was also in these times that Spanish honor took its rise. This
sentiment is so nearly connected with that of personal loyalty that they
may be regarded as phases of the same monarchical spirit. The rule of
honor as distinguished from honesty and virtue is the most prominent
characteristic of monarchy, and for that reason the political theorists
from the time of Montesquieu have pronounced in favor of the monarchy as
a more practicable form of government than the republic, as requiring a
less perfect and delicate machinery, men of honor being far more common
than men of virtue. As in Spain, owing to special conditions, monarchy
attained the most perfect growth and development which the world has
seen, the sentiment of honor, as a rule of personal and political
action, has there reached its most exaggerated form. I use this word, of
course, in its restricted meaning of an intense sense of personal
dignity, and readiness to sacrifice for this all considerations of
interest and morality.

This phase of the Spanish character is probably derived in its germ from
the Gothic blood of their ancestors. Their intense self-assertion has
been, in the Northern races, modified by the progress of intelligence
and the restraints of municipal law into a spirit of sturdy self-respect
and a disinclination to submit to wrong. The Goths of Spain have
unfortunately never gone through this civilizing process. Their endless
wars never gave an opportunity for the development of the purely civic
virtues of respect and obedience to law. The people at large were too
wretched, too harried by constant coming and going of the waves of war,
to do more than live, in a shiftless, hand-to-mouth way, from the
proceeds of their flocks and herds. There were no cities of importance
within the Spanish lines. There was no opportunity for the growth of the
true burgher spirit.

There was no law to speak of in all these years except the twin
despotism of the Church and the king. If there had been dissidence
between them it might have been better for the people. But up to late
years there has never been a quarrel between the clergy and the crown.
Their interests were so identified that the dual tyranny was stronger
than even a single one could have been. The crown always lending to the
Church when necessary the arm of flesh, and the Church giving to the
despotism of the sceptre the sanction of spiritual authority, an
absolute power was established over body and soul.

The spirit of individual independence inseparable from Gothic blood
being thus forced out of its natural channels of freedom of thought and
municipal liberty, it remained in the cavaliers of the army of Spain in
the same barbarous form which it had held in the Northern forests,--a
physical self-esteem and a readiness to fight on the slightest
provocation. This did not interfere with the designs of the Church and
was rather a useful engine against its enemies. The absolute power of
the crown kept the spirit of feudal arrogance in check while the
pressure of a common danger existed. The close cohesion which was so
necessary in camp and Church prevented the tendency to disintegration,
while the right of life and death was freely exercised by the great
lords on their distant estates without interference. The predominating
power of the crown was too great and too absolute to result in the
establishment of any fixed principle of obedience to law. The union of
crozier and sceptre had been, if anything, too successful. The king was
so far above the nobility that there was no virtue in obeying him. His
commission was divine, and he was no more confined by human laws than
the stars and the comets. The obedience they owed and paid him was not
respect to law. It partook of the character of religious worship, and
left untouched and untamed in their savage hearts the instinct of
resistance to all earthly claims of authority.

Such was the condition of the public spirit of Spain at the beginning of
that wonderful series of reigns from Ferdinand and Isabella to their
great-grandson Philip II., which in less than a century raised Spain to
the summit of greatness and built up a realm on which the sun never set.
All the events of these prodigious reigns contributed to increase and
intensify the national traits to which we have referred. The discovery
of America flooded Europe with gold, and making the better class of
Spaniards the richest people in the world naturally heightened their
pride and arrogance. The long and eventful religious wars of Charles V.
and Philip II. gave employment and distinction to thousands of families
whose vanity was nursed by the royal favor, and whose ferocious
self-will was fed and pampered by the blood of heretics and the spoil of
rebels.

The national qualities of superstition and pride made the whole cavalier
class a wieldy and effective weapon in the hands of the monarch, and the
use he made of them reacted upon these very traits, intensifying and
affirming them.

So terrible was this absolute command of the spiritual and physical
forces of the kingdom possessed by the monarchs of that day, that when
the Reformation flashed out, a beacon in the northern sky of political
and religious freedom to the world, its light could not penetrate into
Spain. There was a momentary struggle there, it is true. But so
apathetic was the popular mind that the effort to bring it into sympathy
with the vast movement of the age was hopeless from the beginning. The
axe and the fagot made rapid work of the heresy. After only ten years of
burnings and beheadings Philip II. could boast that not a heretic lived
in his borders.

Crazed by his success and his unquestioned omnipotence at home, and
drunken with the delirious dream that God's wrath was breathing through
him upon a revolted world, he essayed to crush heresy throughout Europe;
and in this mad and awful crime his people undoubtingly seconded him. In
this he failed, the stars in their courses fighting against him, the God
that his worship slandered taking sides against him. But history records
what rivers of blood he shed in the long and desperate fight, and how
lovingly and adoringly his people sustained him. He killed, in cold
blood, some forty thousand harmless people for their faith, besides the
vastly greater number whose lives he took in battle.

Yet this horrible monster, who is blackened with every crime at which
humanity shudders, who had no grace of manhood, no touch of humanity, no
gleam of sympathy which could redeem the gloomy picture of his ravening
life, was beloved and worshipped as few men have been since the world
has stood. The common people mourned him at his death with genuine
unpaid sobs and tears. They will weep even yet at the story of his
edifying death,--this monkish vampire breathing his last with his eyes
fixed on the cross of the mild Nazarene, and tormented with impish
doubts as to whether he had drunk blood enough to fit him for the
company of the just!

His successors rapidly fooled away the stupendous empire that had filled
the sixteenth century with its glory. Spain sank from the position of
ruler of the world and queen of the seas to the place of a second-rate
power, by reason of the weakening power of superstition and bad
government, and because the people and the chieftains had never learned
the lesson of law.

The clergy lost no tittle of their power. They went on, gayly roasting
their heretics and devouring the substance of the people, more
prosperous than ever in those days of national decadence. Philip III.
gave up the government entirely to the Duke of Lerma, who formed an
alliance with the Church, and they led together a joyous life. In the
succeeding reign the Church had become such a gnawing cancer upon the
state that the servile Cortes had the pluck to protest against its
inroads. There were in 1626 nine thousand monasteries for men, besides
nunneries. There were thirty-two thousand Dominican and Franciscan
friars. In the diocese of Seville alone there were fourteen thousand
chaplains. There was a panic in the land. Every one was rushing to get
into holy orders. The Church had all the bread. Men must be monks or
starve. _Zelus domus tuae come-dit me,_ writes the British ambassador,
detailing these facts.

We must remember that this was the age when the vast modern movement of
inquiry and investigation was beginning. Bacon was laying in England the
foundations of philosophy, casting with his prophetic intelligence the
horoscope of unborn sciences. Descartes was opening new vistas of
thought to the world. But in Spain, while the greatest names of her
literature occur at this time, they aimed at no higher object than to
amuse their betters. Cervantes wrote Quixote, but he died in a monk's
hood; and Lope de Vega was a familiar of the Inquisition. The sad story
of the mind of Spain in this momentous period may be written in one
word,--everybody believed and nobody inquired.

The country sank fast into famine and anarchy. The madness of the monks
and the folly of the king expelled the Moors in 1609, and the loss of a
million of the best mechanics and farmers of Spain struck the nation
with a torpor like that of death. In 1650 Sir Edward Hyde wrote that
"affairs were in huge disorder." People murdered each other for a loaf
of bread. The marine perished for want of sailors. In the stricken land
nothing flourished but the rabble of monks and the royal authority.

This is the curious fact. The Church and the Crown had brought them to
this misery, yet better than their lives the Spaniards loved the Church
and the Crown. A word against either would have cost any man his life in
those days. The old alliance still hung together firmly. The Church
bullied and dragooned the king in private, but it valued his despotic
power too highly ever to slight it in public. There was something
superhuman about the faith and veneration with which the people, and the
aristocracy as well, regarded the person of the king. There was somewhat
of gloomy and ferocious dignity about Philip II. which might easily
bring a courtier to his knees; but how can we account for the equal
reverence that was paid to the ninny Philip III., the debauched trifler
Philip IV., and the drivelling idiot Charles II.?

Yet all of these were invested with the same attributes of the divine.
Their hands, like those of Midas, had the gift of making anything they
touched too precious for mortal use. A horse they had mounted could
never be ridden again. A woman they had loved must enter a nunnery when
they were tired of her.

When Buckingham came down to Spain with Charles of England, the
Conde-Duque of Olivares was shocked and scandalized at the relation of
confidential friendship that existed between the prince and the duke.
The world never saw a prouder man than Olivares. His picture by
Velazquez hangs side by side with that of his royal master in Madrid.
You see at a glance that the count-duke is the better man physically,
mentally, morally. But he never dreamed it. He thought in his inmost
heart that the best thing about him was the favor of the worthless
fribble whom he governed.

Through all the vicissitudes of Spanish history the force of these
married superstitions--reverence for the Church as distinguished from
the fear of God, and reverence for the king as distinguished from
respect for law--have been the ruling characteristics of the Spanish
mind. Among the fatal effects of this has been the extinction of
rational piety and rational patriotism. If a man was not a good Catholic
he was pretty sure to be an atheist. If he did not honor the king he was
an outlaw. The wretched story of Spanish dissensions beyond seas, and
the loss of the vast American empire, is distinctly traceable to the
exaggerated sentiment of personal honor, unrestrained by the absolute
authority of the crown. It seems impossible for the Spaniard of history
and tradition to obey anything out of his sight. The American provinces
have been lost one by one through petty quarrels and colonial rivalries.
At the first word of dispute their notion of honor obliges them to fly
to arms, and when blood has been shed reconciliation is impossible. So
weak is the principle of territorial loyalty, that whenever the
Peninsula government finds it necessary to overrule some violence of its
own soldiers, these find no difficulty in marching over to the
insurrection, or raising a fresh rebellion of their own. So little
progress has there been in Spain from the middle ages to to-day in true
political science, that we see such butchers as Caballero and Valmaseda
repeating to-day the crimes and follies of Cortes and Pamfilo Narvaez,
of Pizarro and Almagro, and the revolt of the bloodthirsty volunteers of
the Havana is only a question of time.

It is true that in later years there has been the beginning of a better
system of thought and discussion in Spain. But the old tradition still
holds its own gallantly in Church and state. Nowhere in the world are
the forms of religion so rigidly observed, and the precepts of Christian
morality less regarded. The most facile beauties in Madrid are severe as
Minervas on Holy Thursday. I have seen a dozen fast men at the door of a
gambling-house fall on their knees in the dust as the Host passed by in
the street. Yet the fair were no less frail and the senoritos were no
less profligate for this unfeigned reverence for the outside of the cup
and platter.

In the domain of politics there is still the lamentable disproportion
between honor and honesty. A high functionary cares nothing if the whole
Salon del Prado talks of his pilferings, but he will risk his life in an
instant if you call him no gentleman. The word "honor" is still used in
all legislative assemblies, even in England and America. But the idea
has gone by the board in all democracies, and the word means no more
than the chamberlain's sword or the speaker's mace. The only criterion
which the statesman of the nineteenth century applies to public acts is
that of expediency and legality. The first question is, "Is it lawful?"
the second, "Does it pay?" Both of these are questions of fact, and as
such susceptible of discussion and proof. The question of honor and
religion carries us at once into the realm of sentiment where no
demonstration is possible. But this is where every question is planted
from the beginning in Spanish politics. Every public matter presents
itself under this form: "Is it consistent with Spanish honor?" and "Will
it be to the advantage of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church?" Now,
nothing is consistent with Spanish honor which does not recognize the
Spain of to-day as identical with the Spain of the sixteenth century,
and the bankrupt government of Madrid as equal in authority to the
world-wide autocracy of Charles V. And nothing is thought to be to the
advantage of the Church which does not tend to the concubinage of the
spiritual and temporal power, and to the muzzling of speech and the
drugging of the mind to sleep.

Let any proposition be made which touches this traditional
susceptibility of race, no matter how sensible or profitable it may be,
and you hear in the Cortes and the press, and, louder than all, among
the idle cavaliers of the _cafes,_ the wildest denunciations of the
treason that would consent to look at things as they are. The men who
have ventured to support the common-sense view are speedily stormed into
silence or timid self-defence. The sword of Guzman is brandished in the
Chambers, the name of Pelayo is invoked, the memory of the Cid is
awakened, and the proposition goes out in a blaze of patriotic
pyrotechnics, to the intense satisfaction of the unthinking and the
grief of the judicious. The senoritos go back to the serious business of
their lives--coffee and cigarettes--with a genuine glow of pride in a
country which is capable of the noble self-sacrifice of cutting off its
nose to spite somebody else's face.

But I repeat, the most favorable sign of the times is that this tyranny
of tradition is losing its power. A great deal was done by the single
act of driving out the queen. This was a blow at superstition which gave
to the whole body politic a most salutary shock. Never before in Spain
had a revolution been directed at the throne. Before it was always an
obnoxious ministry that was to be driven out. The monarch remained; and
the exiled outlaw of to-day might be premier to-morrow. But the fall of
Novaliches at the Bridge of Alcolea decided the fate not only of the
ministry but of the dynasty; and while General Concha was waiting for
the train to leave Madrid, Isabel of Bourbon and Divine Right were
passing the Pyrenees.

Although the moral power of the Church is still so great, the
incorporation of freedom of worship in the constitution of 1869 has been
followed by a really remarkable development of freedom of thought. The
proposition was regarded by some with horror and by others with
contempt. One of the most enlightened statesmen in Spain once said to
me, "The provision for freedom of worship in the constitution is a mere
abstract proposition,--it can never have any practical value except for
foreigners. I cannot conceive of a Spaniard being anything but a
Catholic." And so powerful was this impression in the minds of the
deputies that the article only accords freedom of worship to foreigners
in Spain, and adds, hypothetically, that if any Spaniards should profess
any other religion than the Catholic, they are entitled to the same
liberty as foreigners. The Inquisition has been dead half a century,
but you can see how its ghost still haunts the official mind of Spain.
It is touching to see how the broken links of the chain of superstition
still hang about even those who imagine they are defying it. As in their
Christian burials, following unwittingly the example of the hated Moors,
they bear the corpse with uncovered face to the grave, and follow it
with the funeral torch of the Romans, so the formula of the Church
clings even to the mummery of the atheists. Not long ago in Madrid a man
and woman who belonged to some fantastic order which rejected religion
and law had a child born to them in the course of things, and determined
that it should begin life free from the taint of superstition. It should
not be christened, it should be named, in the Name of Reason. But they
could not break loose from the idea of baptism. They poured a bottle of
water on the shivering nape of the poor little neophyte, and its frail
life went out in its first wheezing week.

But in spite of all this a spirit of religious inquiry is growing up in
Spain, and the Church sees it and cannot prevent it. It watches the
liberal newspapers and the Protestant prayer-meetings much as the old
giant in Bunyan's dream glared at the passing pilgrims, mumbling and
muttering toothless curses. It looks as if the dead sleep of uniformity
of thought were to be broken at last, and Spain were to enter the
healthful and vivifying atmosphere of controversy.

Symptoms of a similar change may be seen in the world of politics. The
Republican party is only a year or two old, but what a vigorous and
noisy infant it is! With all its faults and errors, it seems to have the
promise of a sturdy and wholesome future. It refuses to be bound by the
memories of the past, but keeps its eyes fixed on the brighter
possibilities to come. Its journals, undeterred by the sword of Guzman
or the honor of all the Caballeros,--the men on horseback,--are
advocating such sensible measures as justice to the Antilles, and the
sale of outlying property, which costs more than it produces. Emilio
Castelar, casting behind him all the restraints of tradition, announces
as his idea of liberty "the right of all citizens to obey nothing but
the law." There is no sounder doctrine than this preached in Manchester
or Boston. If the Spanish people can be brought to see that God is
greater than the Church, and that the law is above the king, the day of
final deliverance is at hand.



TAUROMACHY


The bull-fight is the national festival of Spain. The rigid Britons have
had their fling at it for many years. The effeminate _badaud_ of Paris
has declaimed against its barbarity. Even the aristocracy of Spain has
begun to suspect it of vulgarity and to withdraw from the arena the
light of its noble countenance. But the Spanish people still hold it to
their hearts and refuse to be weaned from it.

"As Panem et Circenses was the cry Among the Roman populace of old, So
Pan y Toros is the cry in Spain."

It is a tradition which has passed into their national existence. They
received it from nowhere. They have transmitted it nowhither except to
their own colonies. In late years an effort has been made to transplant
it, but with small success. There were a few bull-fights four years ago
at Havre. There was a sensation of curiosity which soon died away. This
year in London the experiment was tried, but was hooted out of
existence, to the great displeasure of the Spanish journals, who said
the ferocious Islanders would doubtless greatly prefer baiting to death
a half dozen Irish serfs from the estate of Lord Fritters,--a gentle
diversion in which we are led to believe the British peers pass their
leisure hours.

It is this monopoly of the bull-fight which so endears it to the Spanish
heart. It is to them conclusive proof of the vast superiority of both
the human and taurine species in Spain. The eminent torero, Pepe Illo,
said: "The love of bulls is inherent in man, especially in the Spaniard,
among which glorious people there have been bull-fights ever since bulls
were, because," adds Pepe, with that modesty which forms so charming a
trait of the Iberian character, "the Spanish men are as much more brave
than all other men, as the Spanish bull is more savage and valiant than
all other bulls."

The sport permeates the national life. I have seen it woven into the
tapestry of palaces, and rudely stamped on the handkerchief of the
peasant. It is the favorite game of children in the street. Loyal Spain
was thrilled with joy recently on reading in its Paris correspondence
that when the exiled Prince of Asturias went for a half-holiday to visit
his imperial comrade at the Tuileries, the urchins had a game of "toro"
on the terrace, admirably conducted by the little Bourbon and followed
up with great spirit by the little Montijo-Bonaparte.

The bull-fight has not always enjoyed the royal favor. Isabel the
Catholic would fain have abolished bathing and bull-fighting together.
The Spaniards, who willingly gave up their ablutions, stood stoutly by
their bulls, and the energetic queen was baffled. Again when the
Bourbons came in with Philip V., the courtiers turned up their thin
noses at the coarse diversion, and induced the king to abolish it. It
would not stay abolished, however, and Philip's successor built the
present coliseum in expiation. The spectacle has, nevertheless, lost
much of its early splendor by the hammering of time. Formerly the gayest
and bravest gentlemen of the court, mounted on the best horses in the
kingdom, went into the arena and defied the bull in the names of their
lady-loves. Now the bull is baited and slain by hired artists, and the
horses they mount are the sorriest hacks that ever went to the knacker.

One of the most brilliant shows of the kind that was ever put upon the
scene was the Festival of Bulls given by Philip IV. in honor of Charles
I.,

  "When the Stuart came from far,
  Led by his love's sweet pain,
  To Mary, the guiding star
  That shone in the heaven of Spain."

And the memory of that dazzling occasion was renewed by Ferdinand VII.
in the year of his death, when he called upon his subjects to swear
allegiance to his baby Isabel. This festival took place in the Plaza
Mayor. The king and court occupied the same balconies which Charles and
his royal friend and model had filled two centuries before. The
champions were poor nobles, of good blood but scanty substance, who
fought for glory and pensions, and had quadrilles of well-trained
bull-fighters at their stirrups to prevent the farce from becoming
tragedy. The royal life of Isabel of Bourbon was inaugurated by the
spilled blood of one hundred bulls save one. The gory prophecy of that
day has been well sustained. Not one year has passed since then free
from blood shed in her cause.

But these extraordinary attractions are not necessary to make a festival
of bulls the most seductive of all pleasures to a Spaniard. On any
pleasant Sunday afternoon, from Easter to All Souls, you have only to go
into the street to see that there is some great excitement fusing the
populace into one living mass of sympathy. All faces are turned one way,
all minds are filled with one purpose. From the Puerta del Sol down the
wide Alcala a vast crowd winds, solid as a glacier and bright as a
kaleidoscope. From the grandee in his blazoned carriage to the manola in
her calico gown, there is no class unrepresented. Many a red hand grasps
the magic ticket which is to open the realm of enchantment to-day, and
which represents short commons for a week before. The pawnbrokers' shops
have been very animated for the few preceding days. There is nothing too
precious to be parted with for the sake of the bulls. Many of these
smart girls have made the ultimate sacrifice for that coveted scrap of
paper. They would leave one their mother's cross with the children of
Israel rather than not go. It is no cheap entertainment. The worst
places in the broiling sun cost twenty cents, four reals; and the boxes
are sold usually at fifteen dollars. These prices are necessary to cover
the heavy expenses of bulls, horses, and gladiators.

The way to the bull-ring is one of indescribable animation. The cabmen
drive furiously this day their broken-kneed nags, who will soon be found
on the horns of the bulls, for this is the natural death of the Madrid
cab-horse; the omnibus teams dash gayly along with their shrill chime of
bells; there are the rude jests of clowns and the high voices of excited
girls; the water-venders droning their tempting cry, "Cool as the snow!"
the sellers of fans and the merchants of gingerbread picking up their
harvests in the hot and hungry crowd.

The Plaza de Toros stands just outside the monumental gate of the
Alcala. It is a low, squat, prison-like circus of stone, stuccoed and
whitewashed, with no pretence of ornament or architectural effect. There
is no nonsense whatever about it. It is built for the killing of bulls
and for no other purpose. Around it, on a day of battle, you will find
encamped great armies of the lower class of Madrilenos, who, being at
financial ebb-tide, cannot pay to go in. But they come all the same, to
be in the enchanted neighborhood, to hear the shouts and roars of the
favored ones within, and to seize any possible occasion for getting in.
Who knows? A caballero may come out and give them his check. An English
lady may become disgusted and go home, taking away numerous lords whose
places will be vacant. The sky may fall, and they may catch four reals'
worth of larks. It is worth taking the chances.

One does not soon forget the first sight of the full coliseum. In the
centre is the sanded arena, surrounded by a high barrier. Around this
rises the graded succession of stone benches for the people; then
numbered seats for the connoisseurs; and above a row of boxes extending
around the circle. The building holds, when full, some fourteen thousand
persons; and there is rarely any vacant space. For myself I can say that
what I vainly strove to imagine in the coliseum at Rome, and in the more
solemn solitude of the amphitheatres of Capua and Pompeii, came up
before me with the vividness of life on entering the bull-ring of
Madrid. This, and none other, was the classic arena. This was the crowd
that sat expectant, under the blue sky, in the hot glare of the South,
while the doomed captives of Dacia or the sectaries of Judea commended
their souls to the gods of the Danube, or the Crucified of Galilee. Half
the sand lay in the blinding sun. Half the seats were illuminated by the
fierce light. The other half was in shadow, and the dark crescent crept
slowly all the afternoon across the arena as the sun declined in the
west.

It is hard to conceive a more brilliant scene. The women put on their
gayest finery for this occasion. In the warm light, every bit of color
flashes out, every combination falls naturally into its place. I am
afraid the luxuriance of hues in the dress of the fair Iberians would be
considered shocking in Broadway, but in the vast frame and broad light
of the Plaza the effect was very brilliant. Thousands of party-colored
paper fans are sold at the ring. The favorite colors are the national
red and yellow, and the fluttering of these broad, bright disks of color
is dazzlingly attractive. There is a gayety of conversation, a quick
fire of repartee, shouts of recognition and salutation, which altogether
make up a bewildering confusion.

The weary young water-men scream their snow-cold refreshment. The
orange-men walk with their gold-freighted baskets along the barrier, and
throw their oranges with the most marvellous skill and certainty to
people in distant boxes or benches. They never miss their mark. They
will throw over the heads of a thousand people a dozen oranges into the
outstretched hands of customers, so swiftly that it seems like one line
of gold from the dealer to the buyer.

At length the blast of a trumpet announces the clearing of the ring. The
idlers who have been lounging in the arena are swept out by the
alguaciles, and the hum of conversation gives way to an expectant
silence. When the last loafer has reluctantly retired, the great gate is
thrown open, and the procession of the toreros enters. They advance in a
glittering line: first the marshals of the day, then the picadors on
horseback, then the matadors on foot surrounded each by his quadrille of
chulos. They walk towards the box which holds the city fathers, under
whose patronage the show is given, and formally salute the authority.
This is all very classic, also, recalling the _Ave Caesar, morituri,_
etc., of the gladiators. It lacks, however, the solemnity of the Roman
salute, from those splendid fellows who would never all leave the arena
alive. A bullfighter is sometimes killed, it is true, but the percentage
of deadly danger is scarcely enough to make a spectator's heart beat as
the bedizened procession comes flashing by in the sun.

The municipal authority throws the bowing alguacil a key, which he
catches in his hat, or is hissed if he misses it. With this he unlocks
the door through which the bull is to enter, and then scampers off with
undignified haste through the opposite entrance. There is a bugle
flourish, the door flies open, and the bull rushes out, blind with the
staring light, furious with rage, trembling in every limb. This is the
most intense moment of the day. The glorious brute is the target of
twelve thousand pairs of eyes. There is a silence as of death, while
every one waits to see his first movement. He is doomed from the
beginning; the curtain has risen on a three-act tragedy, which will
surely end with his death, but the incidents which are to fill the
interval are all unknown. The minds and eyes of all that vast assembly
know nothing for the time but the movements of that brute. He stands for
an instant recovering his senses. He has been shot suddenly out of the
darkness into that dazzling light. He sees around him a sight such as he
never confronted before,--a wall of living faces lit up by thousands of
staring eyes. He does not dwell long upon this, however; in his pride
and anger he sees a nearer enemy. The horsemen have taken position near
the gate, where they sit motionless as burlesque statues, their long
ashen spears, iron-tipped, in rest, their wretched nags standing
blindfolded, with trembling knees, and necks like dromedaries, not
dreaming of their near fate. The bull rushes, with a snort, at the
nearest one. The picador holds firmly, planting his spear-point in the
shoulder of the brute. Sometimes the bull flinches at this sharp and
sudden punishment, and the picador, by a sudden turn to the left, gets
away unhurt. Then there is applause for the torero and hisses for the
bull. Some indignant amateurs go so far as to call him cow, and to
inform him that he is the son of his mother. But oftener he rushes in,
not caring for the spear, and with one toss of his sharp horns tumbles
horse and rider in one heap against the barrier and upon the sand. The
capeadores, the cloak-bearers, come fluttering around and divert the
bull from his prostrate victims. The picador is lifted to his feet,--his
iron armor not permitting him to rise without help,--and the horse is
rapidly scanned to see if his wounds are immediately mortal. If not, the
picador mounts again, and provokes the bull to another rush. A horse
will usually endure two or three attacks before dying. Sometimes a
single blow from in front pierces the heart, and the blood spouts forth
in a cataract. In this case the picador hastily dismounts, and the
bridle and saddle are stripped in an instant from the dying brute. If a
bull is energetic and rapid in execution, he will clear the arena in a
few moments. He rushes at one horse after another, tears them open with
his terrible "spears" ("horns" is a word never used in the ring), and
sends them madly galloping over the arena, trampling out their gushing
bowels as they fly. The assistants watch their opportunity, from time to
time, to take the wounded horses out of the ring, plug up their gaping
rents with tow, and sew them roughly up for another sally. It is
incredible to see what these poor creatures will endure,--carrying their
riders at a lumbering gallop over the ring, when their thin sides seem
empty of entrails.

Sometimes the bull comes upon the dead body of a horse he has killed.
The smell of blood and the unmoving helplessness of the victim excite
him to the highest pitch. He gores and tramples the carcass, and tosses
it in the air with evident enjoyment, until diverted by some living
tormentor. You will occasionally see a picador nervous and anxious about
his personal safety. They are ignorant and superstitious, and subject to
presentiments; they often go into the ring with the impression that
their last hour has come. If one takes counsel of his fears and avoids
the shock of combat, the hard-hearted crowd immediately discover it and
rain maledictions on his head. I saw a picador once enter the ring as
pale as death. He kept carefully out of the way of the bull for a few
minutes. The sharp-eyed Spaniards noticed it, and commenced shouting,
"Craven! He wants to live forever!" They threw orange-skins at him, and
at last, their rage vanquishing their economy, they pelted him with
oranges. His pallor gave way to a flush of shame and anger. He attacked
the bull so awkwardly that the animal, killing his horse, threw him also
with great violence. His hat flew off, his bald head struck the hard
soil. He lay there as one dead, and was borne away lifeless. This
mollified the indignant people, and they desisted from their abuse.

A cowardly bull is much more dangerous than a courageous one, who lowers
his head, shuts his eyes, and goes blindly at everything he sees. The
last refuge of a bull in trouble is to leap the barrier, where he
produces a lively moment among the water-carriers and orange-boys and
stage-carpenters. I once saw a bull, who had done very little execution
in the arena, leap the barrier suddenly and toss an unfortunate
carpenter from the gangway sheer into the ring. He picked himself up,
laughed, saluted his friends, ran a little distance and fell, and was
carried out dying. Fatal accidents are rarely mentioned in the
newspapers, and it is considered not quite good form to talk about them.

When the bull has killed enough horses, the first act of the play
terminates. But this is an exceedingly delicate matter for the
authorities to decide. The audience will not endure any economy in this
respect. If the bull is enterprising and "voluntary," he must have as
many horses as he can dispose of. One day in Madrid the bulls operated
with such activity that the supply of horses was exhausted before the
close of the show, and the contractors rushed out in a panic and bought
a half dozen screws from the nearest cab-stand. If the president orders
out the horses before their time, he will hear remarks by no means
complimentary from the austere groundlings.

The second act is the play of the banderilleros, the flag-men. They are
beautifully dressed and superbly built fellows, principally from
Andalusia, got up precisely like Figaro in the opera. Theirs is the most
delicate and graceful operation of the bull-fight. They take a pair of
barbed darts, with little banners fluttering at their ends, and provoke
the bull to rush at them. At the instant he reaches them, when it seems
nothing can save them, they step aside and plant the banderillas in the
neck of the bull. If the bull has been cowardly and sluggish, and the
spectators have called for "fire," darts are used filled with detonating
powder at the base, which explode in the flesh of the bull. He dances
and skips like a kid or a colt in his agony, which is very diverting to
the Spanish mind. A prettier conceit is that of confining small birds in
paper cages, which come apart when the banderilla is planted, and set
the little fluttering captives free.

Decking the bull with these torturing ornaments is the last stage in the
apprenticeship of the chulo, before he rises to the dignity of matador,
or killer. The matadors themselves on special occasions think it no
derogation from their dignity to act as banderilleros. But they usually
accompany the act with some exaggeration of difficulty that reaps for
them a harvest of applause. Frascuelo sits in a chair and plants the
irritating bannerets. Lagartijo lays his handkerchief on the ground and
stands upon it while he coifs the bull. A performance which never fails
to bring down the house is for the torero to await the rush of the bull,
and when the bellowing monster comes at him with winking eyes and
lowered head, to put his slippered foot between the horns, and vault
lightly over his back.

These chulos exhibit the most wonderful skill and address in evading the
assault of the bull. They can almost always trick him by waving their
cloaks a little out of the line of their flight. Sometimes, however, the
bull runs straight at the man, disregarding the flag, and if the
distance is great to the barrier the danger is imminent; for swift as
these men are, the bulls are swifter. Once I saw the bull strike the
torero at the instant he vaulted over the barrier. He fell sprawling
some distance the other side, safe, but terribly bruised and stunned. As
soon as he could collect himself he sprang into the arena again, looking
very seedy; and the crowd roared, "Saved by miracle." I could but think
of Basilio, who, when the many cried, "A miracle," answered, "Industria!
Industria!" But these bullfighters are all very pious, and glad to curry
favor with the saints by attributing every success to their
intervention. The famous matador, Paco Montes, fervently believed in an
amulet he carried, and in the invocation of Our Lord of the True Cross.
He called upon this special name in every tight place, and while other
people talked of his luck he stoutly affirmed it was his faith that
saved him; often he said he saw the veritable picture of the Passion
coming down between him and the bull, in answer to his prayers. At every
bull-ring there is a little chapel in the refreshment-room where these
devout ruffians can toss off a prayer or two in the intervals of work. A
priest is always at hand with a consecrated wafer, to visa the torero's
passport who has to start suddenly for Paradise. It is not exactly
regular, but the ring has built many churches and endowed many chapels,
and must not be too rigidly regarded. In many places the chief boxes are
reserved for the clergy, and prayers are hurried through an hour earlier
on the day of combat.

The final act is the death of the bull. It must come at last. His
exploits in the early part of his career afford to the amateur some
indication of the manner in which he will meet his end. If he is a
generous, courageous brute, with more heart than brains, he will die
gallantly and be easily killed. But if he has shown reflection,
forethought, and that saving quality of the oppressed, suspicion, the
matador has a serious work before him. The bull is always regarded from
this objective standpoint. The more power of reason the brute has, the
worse opinion the Spaniard has of him. A stupid creature who rushes
blindly on the sword of the matador is an animal after his own heart.
But if there be one into whose brute brain some glimmer of the awful
truth has come,--and this sometimes happens,--if he feels the solemn
question at issue between him and his enemy, if he eyes the man and not
the flag, if he refuses to be fooled by the waving lure, but keeps all
his strength and all his faculties for his own defence, the soul of the
Spaniard rises up in hate and loathing. He calls on the matador to kill
him any way. If he will not rush at the flag, the crowd shouts for the
demi-lune; and the noble brute is houghed from behind, and your soul
grows sick with shame of human nature, at the hellish glee with which
they watch him hobbling on his severed legs.

This seldom happens. The final act is usually an admirable study of
coolness and skill against brute force. When the banderillas are all
planted, and the bugles sound for the third time, the matador, the
espada, the sword, steps forward with a modest consciousness of
distinguished merit, and makes a brief speech to the corregidor,
offering in honor of the good city of Madrid to kill the bull. He turns
on his heel, throws his hat by a dexterous back-handed movement over the
barrier, and advances, sword and cape in hand, to where his noble enemy
awaits him. The bull appears to recognize a more serious foe than any he
has encountered. He stops short and eyes the newcomer curiously. It is
always an impressive picture: the tortured, maddened animal, whose thin
flanks are palpitating with his hot breath, his coat one shining mass of
blood from the darts and the spear-thrusts, his massive neck still
decked as in mockery with the fluttering flags, his fine head and muzzle
seeming sharpened by the hour's terrible experience, his formidable
horns crimsoned with onset; in front of this fiery bulk of force and
courage, the slight, sinewy frame of the killer, whose only reliance is
on his coolness and his intellect. I never saw a matador come carelessly
to his work. He is usually pale and alert. He studies the bull for a
moment with all his eyes. He waves the blood-red engano, or lure, before
his face. If the bull rushes at it with his eyes shut, the work is easy.
He has only to select his own stroke and make it. But if the bull is
jealous and sly, it requires the most careful management to kill him.
The disposition of the bull is developed by a few rapid passes of the
red flag. This must not be continued too long: the tension of the nerves
of the auditory will not bear trifling. I remember one day the crowd was
aroused to fury by a bugler from the adjoining barracks playing retreat
at the moment of decision. All at once the matador seizes the favorable
instant. He poises his sword as the bull rushes upon him. The point
enters just between the left shoulder and the spine; the long blade
glides in up to the hilt. The bull reels and staggers and dies.
Sometimes the matador severs the vertebrae. The effect is like magic. He
lays the point of his sword between the bull's horns, as lightly as a
lady who touches her cavalier with her fan, and he falls dead as a
stone.

If the blow is a clean, well-delivered one, the enthusiasm of the people
is unbounded. Their approval comes up in a thunderous shout of "Well
done! Valiente! Viva!" A brown shower of cigars rains on the sand. The
victor gathers them up: they fill his hands, his pockets, his hat. He
gives them to his friends, and the aromatic shower continues. Hundreds
of hats are flung into the ring. He picks them up and shies them back to
their shouting owners. Sometimes a dollar is mingled with the flying
compliments; but the enthusiasm of the Spaniard rarely carries him so
far as that. For ten minutes after a good estocada, the matador is the
most popular man in Spain.

But the trumpets sound again, the door of the Toril flies open, another
bull comes rushing out, and the present interest quenches the past. The
play begins again, with its sameness of purpose and its infinite variety
of incident.

It is not quite accurate to say, as is often said, that the bull-fighter
runs no risk. El Tato, the first sword of Spain, lost his leg in 1869,
and his life was saved by the coolness and courage of Lagartijo, who
succeeded him in the championship, and who was terribly wounded in the
foot the next summer. Arjona killed a bull in the same year, which
tossed and ruptured him after receiving his death-blow. Pepe Illo died
in harness, on the sand. Every year picadors, chulos, and such small
deer are killed, without gossip. I must copy the inscription on the
sword which Tato presented to Lagartijo, as a specimen of tauromachian
literature:--

"If, as philosophers say, gratitude is the tribute of noble souls,
accept, dear Lagartijo, this present; preserve it as a sacred relic, for
it symbolizes the memory of my glories, and is at the same time the mute
witness of my misfortune. With it I killed my last bull named
_Peregrino,_ bred by D. Vicente Martinez, fourth of the fight of the 7th
June, 1869, in which act I received the wound which has caused the
amputation of my right leg. The will of man can do nothing against the
designs of Providence. Nothing but resignation is left to thy
affectionate friend, Antonio Sanchez [Tato]."

It is in consideration of the mingled skill and danger of the trade,
that such enormous fees are paid the principal performers. The leading
swordsmen receive about three hundred dollars for each performance, and
they are eagerly disputed by the direction of all the arenas of Spain.
In spite of these large wages, they are rarely rich. They are as
wasteful and improvident as gamblers. Tato, when he lost his leg, lost
his means of subsistence, and his comrades organized one or two benefits
to keep him from want. Cuchares died in the Havana, and left no
provision for his family.

There is a curious naivete in the play-bill of a bull-fight, the only
conscientious public document I have seen in Spain. You know how we of
Northern blood exaggerate the attractions of all sorts of shows,
trusting to the magnanimity of the audience. "He warn't nothing like so
little as that," confesses Mr. Magsman, "but where's your dwarf what
is?" There are few who have the moral courage to demand their money back
because they counted but thirty-nine thieves when the bills promised
forty. But the management of the Madrid bull-ring knows its public too
well to promise more than it is sure of performing. It announces six
bulls, and positively no more. It says there will be no use of
bloodhounds. It promises two picadors, with three others in reserve, and
warns the public that if all five become inutilized in the combat, no
more will be issued. With so fair a preliminary statement, what crowd,
however inflammable, could mob the management?

Some industrious and ascetic statistician has visited Spain and
interested himself in the bullring. Here are some of the results of his
researches. In 1864 the number of places in all the taurine
establishments of Spain was 509,283, of which 246,813 belonged to the
cities, and 262,470 to the country.

In the year 1864, there were 427 bull-fights, of which 294 took place in
the cities, and 13 3 in the country towns. The receipts of ninety-eight
bullrings in 1864 reached the enormous sum of two hundred and seventeen
and a half millions of reals (nearly $11,000,000). The 427 bull-fights
which took place in Spain during the year 1864 caused the death of 2989
of these fine animals, and about 7473 horses,--something more than half
the number of the cavalry of Spain. These wasted victims could have
ploughed three hundred thousand hectares of land, which would have
produced a million and a half hectolitres of grain, worth eighty
millions of reals; all this without counting the cost of the slaughtered
cattle, worth say seven or eight millions, at a moderate calculation.

Thus far the Arithmetic Man; to whom responds the tauromachian
aficionado: That the bulk of this income goes to purposes of charity;
that were there no bull-fights, bulls of good race would cease to be
bred; that nobody ever saw a horse in a bull-ring that could plough a
furrow of a hundred yards without giving up the ghost; that the nerve,
dexterity, and knowledge of brute nature gained in the arena is a good
thing to have in the country; that, in short, it is our way of amusing
ourselves, and if you don't like it you can go home and cultivate
prize-fighters, or kill two-year-old colts on the racecourse, or murder
jockeys in hurdle-races, or break your own necks in steeple-chases, or
in search of wilder excitement thicken your blood with beer or burn your
souls out with whiskey.

And this is all we get by our well-meant effort to convince Spaniards of
the brutality of bullfights. Must Chicago be virtuous before I can
object to Madrid ale, and say that its cakes are unduly gingered?

Yet even those who most stoutly defend the bull-fight feel that its
glory has departed and that it has entered into the era of full
decadence. I was talking one evening with a Castilian gentleman, one of
those who cling with most persistence to the national traditions, and he
confessed that the noble art was wounded to death. "I do not refer, as
many do, to the change from the old times, when gentlemen fought on
their own horses in the ring. That was nonsense, and could not survive
the time of Cervantes. Life is too short to learn bull-fighting. A
grandee of Spain, if he knows anything else, would make a sorry torero.
The good times of the art are more modern. I saw the short day of the
glory of the ring when I was a boy. There was a race of gladiators then,
such as the world will never see again,--mighty fighters before the
king. Pepe Illo and Costillares, Romero and Paco Montes,--the world does
not contain the stuff to make their counterparts. They were serious,
earnest men. They would have let their right arms wither before they
would have courted the applause of the mob by killing a bull outside of
the severe traditions. Compare them with the men of to-day, with your
Rafael Molina, who allows himself to be gored, playing with a heifer;
with your frivolous boys like Frascuelo. I have seen the ring convulsed
with laughter as that buffoon strutted across the arena, flirting his
muleta as a manola does her skirts, the bewildered bull not knowing what
to make of it. It was enough to make Illo turn in his bloody grave.

"Why, my young friend, I remember when bulls were a dignified and
serious matter; when we kept account of their progress from their
pasture to the capital. We had accounts of their condition by couriers
and carrier-pigeons. On the day when they appeared it was a high
festival in the court. All the sombreros in Spain were there, the ladies
in national dress with white mantillas. The young queen always in her
palco (may God guard her). The fighters of that day were high priests of
art; there was something of veneration in the regard that was paid them.
Duchesses threw them bouquets with billets-doux. Gossip and newspapers
have destroyed the romance of common life.

"The only pleasure I take in the Plaza de Toros now is at night. The
custodians know me and let me moon about in the dark. When all that is
ignoble and mean has faded away with the daylight, it seems to me the
ghosts of the old time come back upon the sands. I can fancy the patter
of light hoofs, the glancing of spectral horns. I can imagine the agile
tread of Romero, the deadly thrust of Montes, the whisper of
long-vanished applause, and the clapping of ghostly hands. I am growing
too old for such skylarking, and I sometimes come away with a cold in my
head. But you will never see a bull-fight you can enjoy as I do these
visionary festivals, where memory is the corregidor, and where the only
spectators are the stars and I."



RED-LETTER DAYS


No people embrace more readily than the Spaniards the opportunity of
spending a day without work. Their frequent holidays are a relic of the
days when the Church stood between the people and their taskmasters, and
fastened more firmly its hold upon the hearts of the ignorant and
overworked masses, by becoming at once the fountain of salvation in the
next world, and of rest in this. The government rather encouraged this
growth of play-days, as the Italian Bourbons used to foster mendicancy,
by way of keeping the people as unthrifty as possible. Lazzaroni are so
much more easily managed than burghers!

It is only the holy days that are successfully celebrated in Spain. The
state has tried of late years to consecrate to idle parade a few
revolutionary dates, but they have no vigorous national life. They grow
feebler and more colorless year by year, because they have no depth of
earth.

The most considerable of these national festivals is the 2d of May,
which commemorates the slaughter of patriots in the streets of Madrid by
Murat. This is a political holiday which appeals more strongly to the
national character of the Spaniards than any other. The mingled pride of
race and ignorant hate of everything foreign which constitutes that
singular passion called Spanish patriotism, or Espanolismo, is fully
called into play by the recollections of the terrible scenes of their
war of independence, which drove out a foreign king, and brought back
into Spain a native despot infinitely meaner and more injurious. It is
an impressive study in national character and thought, this
self-satisfaction of even liberal Spaniards at the reflection that, by a
vast and supreme effort of the nation, after countless sacrifices and
with the aid of coalesced Europe, they exchanged Joseph Bonaparte for
Ferdinand VII. and the Inquisition. But the victims of the Dos de Mayo
fell fighting. Daoiz, Velarde, and Ruiz were bayoneted at their guns,
scorning surrender. The alcalde of Mostoles, a petty village of Castile,
called on Spain to rise against the tyrant. And Spain obeyed the summons
of this cross-roads justice. The contempt of probabilities, the
Quixotism of these successive demonstrations, endear them to the Spanish
heart.

Every 2d of May the city of Madrid gives up the day to funeral honors to
the dead of 1808. The city government, attended by its Maceros, in their
gorgeous robes of gold and scarlet, with silver maces and long white
plumes; the public institutions of all grades, with invalids and
veterans and charity children; a large detachment of the army and
navy,--form a vast procession at the Town Hall, and, headed by the
Supreme Government, march to slow music through the Puerta del Sol and
the spacious Alcala street to the granite obelisk in the Prado which
marks the resting-place of the patriot dead. I saw the regent of the
kingdom, surrounded by his cabinet, sauntering all a summer's afternoon
under a blazing sun over the dusty mile that separates the monument from
the Ayuntamiento. The Spaniards are hopelessly inefficient in these
matters. The people always fill the line of march, and a rivulet of
procession meanders feebly through a wilderness of mob. It is fortunate
that the crowd is more entertaining than the show.

The Church has a very indifferent part in this ceremonial. It does
nothing more than celebrate a mass in the shade of the dark cypresses in
the Place of Loyalty, and then leaves the field clear to the secular
power. But this is the only purely civic ceremony I ever saw in Spain.
The Church is lord of the holidays for the rest of the year.

In the middle of May comes the feast of the ploughboy patron of
Madrid,--San Isidro. He was a true Madrileno in tastes, and spent his
time lying in the summer shade or basking in the winter sunshine, seeing
visions, while angels came down from heaven and did his farm chores for
him. The angels are less amiable nowadays, but every true child of
Madrid reveres the example and envies the success of the San Isidro
method of doing business. In the process of years this lazy lout has
become a great saint, and his bones have done more extensive and
remarkable miracle-work than any equal amount of phosphate in existence.
In desperate cases of sufficient rank the doctors throw up the sponge
and send for Isidro's urn, and the drugging having ceased, the noble
patient frequently recovers, and much honor and profit comes thereby to
the shrine of the saint. There is something of the toady in Isidro's
composition. You never hear of his curing any one of less than princely
rank. I read in an old chronicle of Madrid, that once when Queen Isabel
the Catholic was hunting in the hills that overlook the Manzanares, near
what is now the oldest and quaintest quarter of the capital, she killed
a bear of great size and ferocity; and doubtless thinking it might not
be considered lady-like to have done it unassisted, she gave San Isidro
the credit of the lucky blow and built him a nice new chapel for it near
the Church of San Andres. If there are any doubters, let them go and see
the chapel, as I did. When the allied armies of the Christian kings of
Spain were seeking for a passage through the hills to the Plains of
Tolosa, a shepherd appeared and led them straight to victory and endless
fame. After the battle, which broke the Moorish power forever in Central
Spain, instead of looking for the shepherd and paying him handsomely for
his timely scout-service, they found it more pious and economical to say
it was San Isidro in person who had kindly made himself flesh for this
occasion. By the great altar in the Cathedral of Toledo stand side by
side the statues of Alonso VIII., the Christian commander, and San Isidro
brazenly swelling in the shepherd garb of that unknown guide who led
Alonso and his chivalry through the tangled defiles of the Sierra
Morena.

His fete is the Derby Day of Madrid. The whole town goes out to his
Hermitage on the further banks of the Manzanares, and spends a day or
two of the soft spring weather in noisy frolic. The little church stands
on a bare brown hill, and all about it is an improvised village
consisting half of restaurants and the other half of toyshops. The
principal traffic is in a pretty sort of glass whistle which forms the
stem of an artificial rose, worn in the button-hole in the intervals of
tooting, and little earthen pig-bells, whose ringing scares away the
lightning. There is but one duty of the day to flavor all its pleasures.
The faithful must go into the oratory, pay a penny, and kiss a
glass-covered relic of the saint which the attendant ecclesiastic holds
in his hand. The bells are rung violently until the church is full; then
the doors are shut and the kissing begins. They are very expeditious
about it. The worshippers drop on their knees by platoons before the
railing. The long-robed relic-keeper puts the precious trinket rapidly
to their lips; an acolyte follows with a saucer for the cash. The glass
grows humid with many breaths. The priest wipes it with a dirty napkin
from time to time. The multitude advances, kisses, pays, and retires,
till all have their blessing; then the doors are opened and they all
pass out,--the bells ringing furiously for another detachment. The
pleasures of the day are like those of all fairs and public merrymaking.
Working-people come to be idle, and idle people come to have something
to do. There is much eating and little drinking. The milk-stalls are
busier than the wine-shops. The people are gay and jolly, but very
decent and clean and orderly. To the east of the Hermitage, over and
beyond the green cool valley, the city rises on its rocky hills, its
spires shining in the cloudless blue. Below on the emerald meadows there
are the tents and wagons of those who have come from a distance to the
Romeria. The sound of guitars and the drone of peasant songs come up the
hill, and groups of men are leaping in the wild barbaric dances of
Iberia. The scene is of another day and time. The Celt is here, lord of
the land. You can see these same faces at Donnybrook Fair. These
large-mouthed, short-nosed, rosy-cheeked peasant-girls are called
Dolores and Catalina, but they might be called Bridget and Kathleen.
These strapping fellows, with long simian upper lips, with brown
leggings and patched, mud-colored overcoats, who are leaping and
swinging their cudgels in that Pyrrhic round are as good Tipperary boys
as ever mobbed an agent or pounded, twenty to one, a landlord to death.
The same unquestioning, fervent faith, the same superficial good-nature,
the same facility to be amused, and at bottom the same cowardly and
cruel blood-thirst. What is this mysterious law of race which is
stronger than time, or varying climates, or changing institutions? Which
is cause, and which is effect, race or religion?

The great Church holiday of the year is Corpus Christi. On this day the
Host is carried in solemn procession through the principal streets,
attended by the high officers of state, several battalions of each arm
of the service in fresh bright uniforms, and a vast array of
ecclesiastics in the most gorgeous stoles and chasubles their vestiary
contains. The windows along the line of march are gayly decked with
flags and tapestry. Work is absolutely suspended, and the entire
population dons its holiday garb. The Puerta del Sol--at this season
blazing with relentless light--is crowded with patient Madrilenos in
their best clothes, the brown-cheeked maidens with flowing silks as in a
ball-room, and with no protection against the ardent sky but the
fluttering fan they hold in their ungloved hands. As everything is
behind time in this easy-going land, there are two or three hours of
broiling gossip on the glowing pavement before the Sacred Presence is
announced by the ringing of silver bells. As the superb structure of
filigree gold goes by, a movement of reverent worship vibrates through
the crowd. Forgetful of silks and broadcloth and gossip, they fall on
their knees in one party-colored mass, and, bowing their heads and
beating their breasts, they mutter their mechanical prayers. There are
thinking men who say these shows are necessary; that the Latin mind must
see with bodily eyes the thing it worships, or the worship will fade
away from its heart. If there were no cathedrals and masses, they say,
there would be no religion; if there were no king, there would be no
law. But we should not accept too hurriedly this ethnological theory of
necessity, which would reject all principles of progress and positive
good, and condemn half the human race to perpetual childhood. There was
a time when we Anglo-Saxons built cathedrals and worshipped the king.
Look at Salisbury and Lincoln and Ely; read the history of the growth of
parliaments. There is nothing more beautifully sensuous than the
religious spirit that presided over those master works of English
Gothic; there is nothing in life more abject than the relics of the
English love and fear of princes. But the steady growth of centuries has
left nothing but the outworn shell of the old religion and the old
loyalty. The churches and the castles still exist. The name of the king
still is extant in the constitution. They remain as objects of taste and
tradition, hallowed by a thousand memories of earlier days, but, thanks
be to God who has given us the victory, the English race is now
incapable of making a new cathedral or a new king.

Let us not in our safe egotism deny to others the possibility of a like
improvement.

This summery month of June is rich in saints. The great apostles, John,
Peter, and Paul, have their anniversaries on its closing days, and the
shortest nights of the year are given up to the riotous eating of
fritters in their honor. I am afraid that the progress of luxury and
love of ease has wrought a change in the observance of these festivals.
The feast of midsummer night is called the Verbena of St. John, which
indicates that it was formerly a morning solemnity, as the vervain could
not be hunted by the youths and maidens of Spain with any success or
decorum at midnight. But of late years it may be that this useful and
fragrant herb has disappeared from the tawny hills of Castile. It is
sure that midsummer has grown too warm for any field work. So that the
Madrilenos may be pardoned for spending the day napping, and swarming
into the breezy Prado in the light of moon and stars and gas. The Prado
is ordinarily the promenade of the better classes, but every Spanish
family has its John, Paul, and Peter, and the crowded barrios of Toledo
and the Penue-las pour out their ragged hordes to the popular festival.
The scene has a strange gypsy wildness. From the round point of Atocha
to where Cybele, throned among spouting waters, drives southward her
spanking team of marble lions, the park is filled with the merry
roysterers. At short intervals are the busy groups of fritter merchants;
over the crackling fire a great caldron of boiling oil; beside it a
mighty bowl of dough. The bunolero, with the swift precision of
machinery, dips his hand into the bowl and makes a delicate ring of the
tough dough, which he throws into the bubbling caldron. It remains but a
few seconds, and his grimy acolyte picks it out with a long wire and
throws it on the tray for sale. They are eaten warm, the droning cry
continually sounding, "Bunuelos! Calientitos!" There must be millions of
these oily dainties consumed on every night of the Verbena. For the more
genteel revellers, the Don Juans, Pedros, and Pablos of the better sort,
there are improvised restaurants built of pine planks after sunset and
gone before sunrise. But the greater number are bought and eaten by the
loitering crowd from the tray of the fritterman. It is like a vast
gitano-camp. The hurrying crowd which is going nowhere, the blazing
fires, the cries of the venders, the songs of the majos under the great
trees of the Paseo, the purposeless hurly-burly, and above, the steam of
the boiling oil and the dust raised by the myriad feet, form together a
striking and vivid picture. The city is more than usually quiet. The
stir of life is localized in the Prado. The only busy men in town are
those who stand by the seething oil-pots and manufacture the brittle
forage of the browsing herds. It is a jealous business, and requires the
undivided attention of its professors. The _ne sutor ultra crepidam_ of
Spanish proverb is "Bunolero haz tus bunuelos,"--Fritterman, mind thy
fritters. With the long days and cooler airs of the autumn begin the
different fairs. These are relics of the times of tyranny and exclusive
privilege, when for a few days each year, by the intervention of the
Church, or as a reward for civic service, full liberty of barter and
sale was allowed to all citizens. This custom, more or less modified,
may be found in most cities of Europe. The boulevards of Paris swarm
with little booths at Christmas-time, which begin and end their lawless
commercial life within the week. In Vienna, in Leipsic, and other
cities, the same waste-weir of irregular trade is periodically opened.
These fairs begin in Madrid with the autumnal equinox, and continue for
some weeks in October. They disappear from the Alcala to break out with
renewed virulence in the avenue of Atocha, and girdle the city at last
with a belt of booths. While they last they give great animation and
spirit to the street life of the town. You can scarcely make your way
among the heaps of gaudy shawls and handkerchiefs, cheap laces and
illegitimate jewels, that cumber the pavement. When the Jews were driven
out of Spain, they left behind the true genius of bargaining.

A nut-brown maid is attracted by a brilliant red and yellow scarf. She
asks the sleepy merchant nodding before his wares, "What is this rag
worth?"

He answers with profound indifference, "Ten reals."

"Hombre! Are you dreaming or crazy?" She drops the coveted neck-gear,
and moves on, apparently horror-stricken.

The chapman calls her back peremptorily. "Don't be rash! The scarf is
worth twenty reals, but for the sake of Santisima Maria I offered it to
you for half price. Very well! You are not suited. What will you give?"

"Caramba! Am I buyer and seller as well? The thing is worth three reals;
more is a robbery."

"Jesus! Maria! Jose! and all the family! Go thou with God! We cannot
trade. Sooner than sell for less than eight reals I will raise the cover
of my brains! Go thou! It is eight of the morning, and still thou
dreamest."

She lays down the scarf reluctantly, saying, "Five?"

But the outraged mercer snorts scornfully, "Eight is my last word! Go
to!"

She moves away, thinking how well that scarf would look in the Apollo
Gardens, and casts over her shoulder a Parthian glance and bid, "Six!"

"Take it! It is madness, but I cannot waste my time in bargaining."

Both congratulate themselves on the operation. He would have taken five,
and she would have given seven. How trade would suffer if we had windows
in our breasts!

The first days of November are consecrated to all the saints, and to the
souls of all the blessed dead. They are observed in Spain with great
solemnity; but as the cemeteries are generally of the dreariest
character, bare, bleak, and most forbidding under the ashy sky of the
late autumn, the days are deprived of that exquisite sentiment that
pervades them in countries where the graves of the dead are beautiful.
There is nothing more touching than these offerings of memory you see
every year in Mont Parnasse and Pere-la-Chaise. Apart from all beliefs,
there is a mysterious influence for good exerted upon the living by the
memory of the beloved dead. On all hearts not utterly corrupt, the
thoughts that come by the graves of the departed fall like dew from
heaven, and quicken into life purer and higher resolves.

In Spain, where there is nothing but desolation in graveyards, the
churches are crowded instead, and the bereaved survivors commend to God
their departed friends and their own stricken hearts in the dim and
perfumed aisles of temples made with hands. A taint of gloom thus rests
upon the recollection and the prayer, far different from the consolation
that comes with the free air and the sunshine, and the infinite blue
vault, where Nature conspires with revelation to comfort and cherish and
console.

Christmas apparently comes in Spain on no other mission than that
referred to in the old English couplet, "bringing good cheer." The
Spaniards are the most frugal of people, but during the days that
precede their Noche Buena, their Good Night, they seem to be given up as
completely to cares of the commissariat as the most eupeptic of Germans.
Swarms of turkeys are driven in from the surrounding country, and taken
about the streets by their rustic herdsmen, making the roads gay with
their scarlet wattles, and waking rural memories by their vociferous
gobbling. The great market-place of the season is the Plaza Mayor. The
ever-fruitful provinces of the South are laid under contribution, and
the result is a wasteful show of tropical luxuriance that seems most
incongruous under the wintry sky. There are mountains of oranges and
dates, brown hillocks of nuts of every kind, store of every product of
this versatile soil. The air is filled with nutty and fruity fragrance.
Under the ancient arcades are the stalls of the butchers, rich with the
mutton of Castile, the hams of Estremadura, and the hero-nourishing
bull-beef of Andalusian pastures.

At night the town is given up to harmless racket. Nowhere has the
tradition of the Latin Saturnalia been fitted with less change into the
Christian calendar. Men, women, and children of the proletariat--the
unemancipated slaves of necessity--go out this night to cheat their
misery with noisy frolic. The owner of a tambourine is the equal of a
peer; the proprietor of a guitar is the captain of his hundred. They
troop through the dim city with discordant revel and song. They have
little idea of music. Every one sings and sings ill. Every one dances,
without grace or measure. Their music is a modulated howl of the East.
Their dancing is the savage leaping of barbarians. There is no lack of
couplets, religious, political, or amatory. I heard one ragged woman
with a brown baby at her breast go shrieking through the Street of the
Magdalen,--

  "This is the eve of Christmas,
  No sleep from now till morn,
  The Virgin is in travail,
  At twelve will the child be born!"

Behind her stumped a crippled beggar, who croaked in a voice rough with
frost and aguardiente his deep disillusion and distrust of the great:--

  "This is the eve of Christmas,
  But what is that to me?
  We are ruled by thieves and robbers,
  As it was and will always be."

Next comes a shouting band of the youth of Spain, strapping boys with
bushy locks, crisp and black almost to blueness, and gay young girls
with flexible forms and dark Arab eyes that shine with a phosphorescent
light in the shadows. They troop on with clacking castinets. The
challenge of the mozos rings out on the frosty air,--

  "This is the eve of Christmas,
  Let us drink and love our fill!"

And the saucy antiphon of girlish voices responds,--

  "A man may be bearded and gray,
  But a woman can fool him still!"

The Christmas and New-Year's holidays continue for a fortnight, ending
with the Epiphany. On the eve of the Day of the Kings a curious farce is
performed by bands of the lowest orders of the people, which
demonstrates the apparently endless naivete of their class. In every
coterie of water-carriers, or mozos de cordel, there will be one found
innocent enough to believe that the Magi are coming to Madrid that
night, and that a proper respect to their rank requires that they must
be met at the city gate. To perceive the coming of their feet, beautiful
upon the mountains, a ladder is necessary, and the poor victim of the
comedy is loaded with this indispensable "property." He is dragged by
his gay companions, who never tire of the exquisite wit of their jest,
from one gate to another, until suspicion supplants faith in the mind of
the neophyte, and the farce is over.

In the burgher society of Castile this night is devoted to a very
different ceremony. Each little social circle comes together in a house
agreed upon. They take mottoes of gilded paper and write on each the
name of some one of the company. The names of the ladies are thrown into
one urn, and those of the cavaliers into another, and they are drawn out
by pairs. These couples are thus condemned by fortune to intimacy during
the year. The gentleman is always to be at the orders of the dame and to
serve her faithfully in every knightly fashion. He has all the duties
and none of the privileges of a lover, unless it be the joy of those
"who stand and wait." The relation is very like that which so astonished
M. de Gramont in his visit to Piedmont, where the cavalier of service
never left his mistress in public and never approached her in private.

The true Carnival survives in its naive purity only in Spain. It has
faded in Rome into a romping day of clown's play. In Paris it is little
more than a busier season for dreary and professional vice. Elsewhere
all over the world the Carnival gayeties are confined to the salon. But
in Madrid the whole city, from grandee to cordwainer, goes with
childlike earnestness into the enjoyment of the hour. The Corso begins
in the Prado on the last Sunday before Lent, and lasts four days. From
noon to night the great drive is filled with a double line of carriages
two miles long, and between them are the landaus of the favored hundreds
who have the privilege of driving up and down free from the law of the
road. This right is acquired by the payment of ten dollars a day to city
charities, and produces some fifteen thousand dollars every Carnival. In
these carriages all the society of Madrid may be seen; and on foot,
darting in and out among the hoofs of the horses, are the young men of
Castile in every conceivable variety of absurd and fantastic disguise.
There are of course pirates and Indians and Turks, monks, prophets, and
kings, but the favorite costumes seem to be the Devil and the
Englishman. Sometimes the Yankee is attempted, with indifferent success.
He wears a ribbon-wreathed Italian bandit's hat, an embroidered jacket,
slashed buckskin trousers, and a wide crimson belt,--a dress you would
at once recognize as universal in Boston.

Most of the maskers know by name at least the occupants of the
carriages. There is always room for a mask in a coach. They leap in,
swarming over the back or the sides, and in their shrill monotonous
scream they make the most startling revelations of the inmost secrets of
your soul. There is always something impressive in the talk of an
unknown voice, but especially is this so in Madrid, where every one
scorns his own business, and devotes himself rigorously to his
neighbor's. These shrieking young monks and devilkins often surprise a
half-formed thought in the heart of a fair Castilian and drag it out
into day and derision. No one has the right to be offended. Duchesses
are called Tu! Isabel! by chin-dimpled school-boys, and the proudest
beauties in Spain accept bonbons from plebeian hands. It is true, most
of the maskers are of the better class. Some of the costumes are very
rich and expensive, of satin and velvet heavy with gold. I have seen a
distinguished diplomatist in the guise of a gigantic canary-bird,
hopping briskly about in the mud with bedraggled tail-feathers,
shrieking well-bred sarcasms with his yellow beak.

The charm of the Madrid Carnival is this, that it is respected and
believed in. The best and fairest pass the day in the Corso, and gallant
young gentlemen think it worth while to dress elaborately for a few
hours of harmless and spirituelle intrigue. A society that enjoys a
holiday so thoroughly has something in it better than the blase cynicism
of more civilized capitals. These young fellows talk like the lovers of
the old romances. I have never heard prettier periods of devotion than
from some gentle savage, stretched out on the front seat of a landau
under the peering eyes of his lady, safe in his disguise, if not
self-betrayed, pouring out his young soul in passionate praise and
prayer; around them the laughter and the cries, the cracking of whips,
the roll of wheels, the presence of countless thousands, and yet these
two young hearts alone under the pale winter sky. The rest of the
Continent has outgrown the true Carnival. It is pleasant to see this gay
relic of simpler times, when youth was young. No one here is too "swell"
for it. You may find a duke in the disguise of a chimney-sweep, or a
butcher-boy in the dress of a Crusader. There are none so great that
their dignity would suffer by a day's reckless foolery, and there are
none so poor that they cannot take the price of a dinner to buy a mask
and cheat their misery by mingling for a time with their betters in the
wild license of the Carnival.

The winter's gayety dies hard. Ash Wednesday is a day of loud merriment
and is devoted to a popular ceremony called the Burial of the Sardine. A
vast throng of workingmen carry with great pomp a link of sausage to the
bank of the Manzanares and inter it there with great solemnity. On the
following Saturday, after three days of death, the Carnival has a
resurrection, and the maddest, wildest ball of the year takes place at
the opera. Then the sackcloth and ashes of Lent come down in good
earnest and the town mourns over its scarlet sins. It used to be very
fashionable for the genteel Christians to repair during this season of
mortification to the Church of San Gines, and scourge themselves lustily
in its subterranean chambers. A still more striking demonstration was
for gentlemen in love to lash themselves on the sidewalks where passed
the ladies of their thoughts. If the blood from the scourges sprinkled
them as they sailed by, it was thought an attention no female heart
could withstand. But these wholesome customs have decayed of late
unbelieving years.

The Lenten piety increases with the lengthening days. It reaches its
climax on Holy Thursday. On this day all Spain goes to church: it is one
of the obligatory days. The more you go, the better for you; so the good
people spend the whole day from dawn to dusk roaming from one church to
another, and investing an Ave and a Pater-Noster in each. This fills
every street of the city with the pious crowd. No carriages are
permitted. A silence like that of Venice falls on the rattling capital.
With three hundred thousand people in the street, the town seems still.
In 1870, a free-thinking cabman dared to drive up the Calle Alcala. He
was dragged from his box and beaten half to death by the chastened
mourners, who yelled as they kicked and cuffed him, "Que bruto! He will
wake our Jesus."

On Good Friday the gloom deepens. No colors are worn that day by the
orthodox. The senoras appear on the street in funeral garb. I saw a
group of fast youths come out of the jockey club, black from hat to
boots, with jet studs and sleeve-buttons. The gayest and prettiest
ladies sit within the church doors and beg in the holy name of charity,
and earn large sums for the poor. There are hourly services in the
churches, passionate sermons from all the pulpits. The streets are free
from the painted haunters of the pavement. The whole people taste the
luxury of a sentimental sorrow.

Yet in these heavy days it is not the Redeemer whose sufferings and
death most nearly touch the hearts of the faithful. It is Santisima
Maria who is worshipped most. It is the Dolorous Mother who moves them
to tears of tenderness. The presiding deity of these final days of
meditation is Our Lady of Solitude.

But at last the days of mourning are accomplished. The expiation for sin
is finished. The grave is vanquished, death is swallowed up in victory.
Man can turn from the grief that is natural to the joy that is eternal.
From every steeple the bells fling out their happy clangor in glad
tidings of great joy. The streets are flooded once more with eager
multitudes, gay as in wedding garments. Christ has arisen! The heathen
myth of the awakening of nature blends the old tradition with the new
gospel. The vernal breezes sweep the skies clean and blue. Birds are
pairing in the budding trees. The streams leap down from the melting
snow of the hills. The brown turf takes a tint of verdure. Through the
vast frame of things runs a quick shudder of teeming power. In the heart
of man love and will mingle into hope. Hail to the new life and the
ever-new religion! Hail to the resurrection morning!



AN HOUR WITH THE PAINTERS


As a general thing it is well to distrust a Spaniard's superlatives. He
will tell you that his people are the most amiable in the world, but you
will do well to carry your revolver into the interior. He will say there
are no wines worth drinking but the Spanish, but you will scarcely
forswear Clicquot and Yquem on the mere faith of his assertion. A
distinguished general once gravely assured me that there was no
literature in the world at all to be compared with the productions of
the Castilian mind. All others, he said, were but pale imitations of
Spanish master-work.

Now, though you may be shocked at learning such unfavorable facts of
'Shakespeare and Goethe and Hugo, you will hardly condemn them to an
Auto da fe, on the testimony even of a grandee of Spain.

But when a Spaniard assures you that the picture-gallery of Madrid is
the finest in the world, you may believe him without reserve. He
probably does not know what he is talking about. He may never have
crossed the Pyrenees. He has no dream of the glories of Dresden, or
Florence, or the Louvre. It is even possible that he has not seen the
matchless collection he is boasting of. He crowns it with a sweeping
superlative simply because it is Spanish. But the statement is
nevertheless true.

The reason of this is found in that gigantic and overshadowing fact
which seems to be an explanation of everything in Spain,--the power and
the tyranny of the House of Austria. The period of the vast increase of
Spanish dominion coincided with that of the meridian glory of Italian
art. The conquest of Granada was finished as the divine child Raphael
began to meddle with his father's brushes and pallets, and before his
short life ended Charles, Burgess of Ghent, was emperor and king.

The dominions he governed and transmitted to his son embraced Spain, the
Netherlands, Franche-Comte, the Milanese, Naples, and Sicily; that is to
say, those regions where art in that age and the next attained its
supreme development. He was also lord of the New World, whose
inexhaustible mines poured into the lap of Europe a constant stream of
gold. Hence came the riches and the leisure necessary to art.

Charles V., as well as his great contemporary and rival, Francis I., was
a munificent protector of art. He brought from Italy and Antwerp some of
the most perfect products of their immortal masters. He was the friend
and patron of Titian, and when, weary of the world and its vanities, he
retired to the lonely monastery of Yuste to spend in devout
contemplation the evening of his days, the most precious solace of his
solitude was that noble canvas of the great Venetian, where Charles and
Philip are borne, in penitential guise and garb, on luminous clouds into
the visible glory of the Most High.

These two great kings made a good use of their unbounded opportunities.
Spain became illuminated with the glowing canvases of the incomparable
Italians. The opening up of the New World beyond seas, the meteoric
career of European and African conquest in which the emperor had won so
much land and glory, had given an awakening shock to the intelligent
youth of Spain, and sent them forth in every avenue of enterprise. This
jealously patriotic race, which had remained locked up by the mountains
and the seas for centuries, started suddenly out, seeking adventures
over the earth. The mind of Spain seemed suddenly to have brightened and
developed like that of her great king, who, in his first tourney at
Valladolid, wrote with proud sluggishness _Nondum_--not yet--on his
maiden shield, and a few years later in his young maturity adopted the
legend of arrogant hope and promise,--_Plus Ultra._ There were seen two
emigrations of the young men of Spain, eastward and westward. The latter
went for gold and material conquest into the American wilds; and the
former, led by the sacred love of art, to that land of beauty and
wonder, then, now, and always the spiritual shrine of all
peoples,--Italy.

A brilliant young army went out from Spain on this new crusade of the
beautiful. From the plains of Castile and the hills of Navarre went,
among others, Berruguete, Becerra, and the marvellous deaf-mute
Navarrete. The luxurious city of Valentia sent Juan de Juanes and
Ribalta. Luis de Vargas went out from Seville, and from Cordova the
scholar, artist, and thinker, Paul of Cespedes. The schools of Rome and
Venice and Florence were thronged with eager pilgrims, speaking an alien
Latin and filled with a childlike wonder and appreciation.

In that stirring age the emigration was not all in one direction. Many
distinguished foreigners came down to Spain, to profit by the new love
of art in the Peninsula. It was Philip of Burgundy who carved, with
Berruguete, those miracles of skill and patience we admire to-day in the
choir of Toledo. Peter of Champagne painted at Seville the grand
altar-piece that so comforted the eyes and the soul of Murillo. The wild
Greek bedouin, George Theotocopouli, built the Mozarabic chapel and
filled the walls of convents with his weird ghost-faces. Moor, or Moro,
came from the Low Countries, and the Carducci brothers from Italy, to
seek their fortunes in Madrid. Torrigiani, after breaking Michael
Angelo's nose in Florence, fled to Granada, and died in a prison of the
Inquisition for smashing the face of a Virgin which a grandee of Spain
wanted to steal from him.

These immigrations, and the refluent tide of Spanish students from
Italy, founded the various schools of Valentia, Toledo, Seville, and
Madrid. Madrid soon absorbed the school of Toledo, and the attraction of
Seville was too powerful for Valentia. The Andalusian school counts
among its early illustrations Vargas, Roelas, the Castillos, Herrera,
Pacheco, and Moya, and among its later glories Velazquez, Alonzo Cano,
Zurbaran, and Murillo, last and greatest of the mighty line. The school
of Madrid begins with Berruguete and Na-varrete, the Italians Caxes,
Rizi, and others, who are followed by Sanchez Coello, Pantoja,
Collantes. Then comes the great invader Velazquez, followed by his
retainers Pareja and Carreno, and absorbs the whole life of the school.
Claudio Coello makes a good fight against the rapid decadence. Luca
Giordano comes rattling in from Naples with his whitewash-brush,
painting a mile a minute, and classic art is ended in Spain with the
brief and conscientious work of Raphael Mengs.

There is therefore little distinction of schools in Spain. Murillo, the
glory of Seville, studied in Madrid, and the mighty Andalusian,
Velazquez, performed his enormous life's work in the capital of Castile.

It now needs but one word to show how the Museum of Madrid became so
rich in masterpieces. During the long and brilliant reigns of Charles V.
and Philip II., when art had arrived at its apogee in Italy, and was
just beginning its splendid career in Spain, these powerful monarchs had
the lion's share of all the best work that was done in the world. There
was no artist so great but he was honored by the commands of these lords
of the two worlds. They thus formed in their various palaces,
pleasure-houses, and cloisters a priceless collection of pictures
produced in the dawn of the Spanish and the triumphant hey-day of
Italian genius. Their frivolous successors lost provinces and kingdoms,
honor and prestige, but they never lost their royal prerogative nor
their taste for the arts. They consoled themselves for the slings and
arrows of outrageous fortune by the delights of sensual life, and
imagined they preserved some distant likeness to their great forerunners
by encouraging and protecting Velazquez and Lope de Vega and other
intellectual giants of that decaying age. So while, as the result of a
vicious system of kingly and spiritual thraldom, the intellect of Spain
was forced away from its legitimate channels of thought and action,
under the shadow of the royal prerogative, which survived the genuine
power of the older kings, art flourished and bloomed, unsuspected and
unpersecuted by the coward jealousy of courtier and monk.

The palace and the convent divided the product of those marvellous days.
Amid all the poverty of the failing state, it was still the king and
clergy who were best able to appropriate the works of genius. This may
have contributed to the decay of art. The immortal canvases passed into
oblivion in the salons of palaces and the cells of monasteries. Had they
been scattered over the land and seen by the people, they might have
kept alive the spark that kindled their creators. But exclusiveness is
inevitably followed by barrenness. When the great race of Spanish
artists ended, these matchless works were kept in the safe obscurity of
palaces and religious establishments. History was working in the
interests of this Museum. The pictures were held by the clenched dead
hand of the Church and the throne. They could not be sold or
distributed. They made the dark places luminous, patiently biding their
time.

It was long enough coming, and it was a despicable hand that brought
them into the light. Ferdinand VII. thought his palace would look
fresher if the walls were covered with French paper, and so packed all
the pictures off to the empty building on the Prado, which his
grandfather had built for a museum. As soon as the glorious collection
was exposed to the gaze of the world, its incontestable merit was at
once recognized. Especially were the works of Velazquez, hitherto almost
an unknown name in Europe, admired and appreciated. Ferdinand, finding
he had done a clever thing unawares, began to put on airs and poser for
a patron of art. The gallery was still further immensely enriched on the
exclaustration of the monasteries, by the hidden treasures of the
Escorial, and other spoils of mortmain. And now, as a collection of
masterpieces, it has no equal in the world.

A few figures will prove this. It contains more than two thousand
pictures already catalogued,--all of them worth a place on the walls.
Among these there are ten by Raphael, forty-three by Titian, thirty-four
by Tintoret, twenty-five by Paul Veronese. Rubens has the enormous
contingent of sixty-four. Of Teniers, whose works are sold for fabulous
sums for the square inch, this extraordinary museum possesses no less
than sixty finished pictures,--the Louvre considers itself rich with
fourteen. So much for a few of the foreigners. Among the Spaniards the
three greatest names could alone fill a gallery. There are sixty-five
Velazquez, forty-six Murillos, and fifty-eight Riberas. Compare these
figures with those of any other gallery in existence, and you will at
once recognize the hopeless superiority of this collection. It is not
only the greatest collection in the world, but the greatest that can
ever be made until this is broken up.

But with all this mass of wealth it is not a complete, nor, properly
speaking, a representative museum. You cannot trace upon its walls the
slow, groping progress of art towards perfection. It contains few of
what the book-lovers call _incunabula._ Spanish art sprang out
full-armed from the mature brain of Rome. Juan de Juanes came back from
Italy a great artist. The schools of Spain were budded on a full-bearing
tree. Charles and Philip bought masterpieces, and cared little for the
crude efforts of the awkward pencils of the necessary men who came
before Raphael. There is not a Perugino in Madrid. There is nothing
Byzantine, no trace of Renaissance; nothing of the patient work of the
early Flemings,--the art of Flanders comes blazing in with the full
splendor of Rubens and Van Dyck. And even among the masters, the
representation is most unequal. Among the wilderness of Titians and
Tintorets you find but two Domenichinos and two Correggios. Even in
Spanish art the gallery is far from complete. There is almost nothing
of such genuine painters as Zurbaran and Herrera.

But recognizing all this, there is, in this glorious temple, enough to
fill the least enthusiastic lover of art with delight and adoration for
weeks and months together. If one knew he was to be blind in a year,
like the young musician in Auerbach's exquisite romance, I know of no
place in the world where he could garner up so precious a store of
memories for the days of darkness, memories that would haunt the soul
with so divine a light of consolation, as in that graceful Palace of the
Prado.

It would be a hopeless task to attempt to review with any detail the
gems of this collection. My memory is filled with the countless canvases
that adorn the ten great halls. If I refer to my notebook I am equally
discouraged by the number I have marked for special notice. The
masterpieces are simply innumerable. I will say a word of each room, and
so give up the unequal contest.

As you enter the Museum from the north, you are in a wide
sturdy-columned vestibule, hung with splashy pictures of Luca Giordano.
To your right is the room devoted to the Spanish school; to the left,
the Italian. In front is the grand gallery where the greatest works of
both schools are collected. In the Spanish saloon there is an
indefinable air of severity and gloom. It is less perfectly lighted than
some others, and there is something forbidding in the general tone of
the room. There are prim portraits of queens and princes, monks in
contemplation, and holy people in antres vast and deserts idle. Most
visitors come in from a sense of duty, look hurriedly about, and go out
with a conscience at ease; in fact, there is a dim suggestion of the
fagot and the rack about many of the Spanish masters. At one end of this
gallery the Prometheus of Ribera agonizes chained to his rock. His
gigantic limbs are flung about in the fury of immortal pain. A vulture,
almost lost in the blackness of the shadows, is tugging at his vitals.
His brow is convulsed with the pride and anguish of a demigod. It is a
picture of horrible power. Opposite hangs one of the few Zurbarans of
the gallery,--also a gloomy and terrible work. A monk kneels in shadows
which, by the masterly chiaroscuro of this ascetic artist, are made to
look darker than blackness. Before him in a luminous nimbus that burns
its way through the dark, is the image of the crucified Saviour, head
downwards. So remarkable is the vigor of the drawing and the power of
light in this picture that you can imagine you see the resplendent
crucifix suddenly thrust into the shadow by the strong hands of
invisible spirits, and swayed for a moment only before the dazzled eyes
of the ecstatic solitary.

But after you have made friends with this room it will put off its
forbidding aspect, and you will find it hath a stern look but a gentle
heart. It has two lovely little landscapes by Murillo, showing how
universal was that wholesome genius. Also one of the largest landscapes
of Velazquez, which, when you stand near it, seems a confused mass of
brown daubs, but stepping back a few yards becomes a most perfect view
of the entrance to a royal park. The wide gate swings on its pivot
before your eyes. A court cortege moves in,--the long, dark alley
stretches off for miles directly in front, without any trick of lines or
curves; the artist has painted the shaded air. To the left a patch of
still water reflects the dark wood, and above there is a distant and
tranquil sky. Had Velazquez not done such vastly greater things, his few
landscapes would alone have won him fame enough. He has in this room a
large number of royal portraits,--one especially worth attention, of
Philip III. The scene is by the shore,--a cool foreground of sandy
beach,--a blue-gray stretch of rippled water, and beyond, a low
promontory between the curling waves and the cirrus clouds. The king
mounts a magnificent gray horse, with a mane and tail like the broken
rush of a cascade. The keeping is wonderful; a fresh sea breeze blows
out of the canvas. A brilliant bit of color is thrown into the red,
gold-fringed scarf of the horseman, fluttering backward over his
shoulder. Yet the face of the king is, as it should be, the principal
point of the picture,--the small-eyed, heavy-mouthed, red-lipped, fair,
self-satisfied face of these Austrian despots. It is a handsomer face
than most of Velazquez, as it was probably painted from memory and
lenient tradition. For Philip III. was gathered to his fathers in the
Escorial before Velazquez came up from Andalusia to seek his fortune at
the court. The first work he did in Madrid was to paint the portrait of
the king, which so pleased his majesty that he had it repeated _ad
nauseam._ You see him served up in every form in this gallery,--on foot,
on horseback, in full armor, in a shooting-jacket, at picnics, and
actually on his knees at his prayers! We wonder if Velazquez ever grew
tired of that vacant face with its contented smirk, or if in that loyal
age the smile of royalty was not always the sunshine of the court?

There is a most instructive study of faces in the portraits of the
Austrian line. First comes Charles V., the First of Spain, painted by
Titian at Augsburg, on horseback, in the armor he wore at Muhl-berg, his
long lance in rest, his visor up over the eager, powerful face,--the eye
and beak of an eagle, the jaw of a bull-dog, the face of a born ruler, a
man of prey. And yet in the converging lines about the eyes, in the
premature gray hair, in the nervous, irritable lips, you can see the
promise of early decay, of an age that will be the spoil of superstition
and bigotry. It is the face of a man who could make himself emperor and
hermit. In his son, Philip II., the soldier dies out and the bigot is
intensified. In the fine portrait by Pantoja, of Philip in his age,
there is scarcely any trace of the fresh, fair youth that Titian painted
as Adonis. It is the face of a living corpse; of a ghastly pallor,
heightened by the dull black of his mourning suit, where all passion and
feeling have died out of the livid lips and the icy eyes. Beside him
hangs the portrait of his rickety, feebly passionate son, the
unfortunate Don Carlos. The forehead of the young prince is narrow and
ill-formed; the Austrian chin is exaggerated one degree more; he looks a
picture of fitful impulse. His brother, Philip III., we have just seen,
fair and inane,--a monster of cruelty, who burned Jews and banished
Moors, not from malice, but purely from vacuity of spirit; his head
broadens like a pine-apple from the blond crest to the plump jowls.
Every one knows the head of Philip IV.,--he was fortunate in being the
friend of Velazquez,--the high, narrow brow, the long, weak face, the
yellow, curled mustache, the thick, red lips, and the ever lengthening
Hapsburg chin. But the line of Austria ends with the utmost limit of
caricature in the face of Charles the Bewitched! Carreno has given us an
admirable portrait of this unfortunate,--the forehead caved in like the
hat of a drunkard, the red-lidded eyes staring vacantly, a long, thin
nose absurd as a Carnival disguise, an enormous mouth which he could not
shut, the under-jaw projected so prodigiously,--a face incapable of any
emotion but fear. And yet in gazing at this idiotic mask you are
reminded of another face you have somewhere seen, and are startled to
remember it is the resolute face of the warrior and statesman, the king
of men, the Kaiser Karl. Yes, this pitiable being was the descendant of
the great emperor, and for that sufficient reason, although he was an
impotent and shivering idiot, although he could not sleep without a
friar in his bed to keep the devils away, for thirty-five years this
scarecrow ruled over Spain, and dying made a will whose accomplishment
bathed the Peninsula in blood. It must be confessed this institution of
monarchy is a luxury that must be paid for.

We did not intend to talk of politics in this room, but that line of
royal effigies was too tempting. Before we go, let us look at a
beautiful Magdalen in penitence, by an unknown artist of the school of
Murillo. She stands near the entrance of her cave, in a listening
attitude. The bright out-of-door light falls on her bare shoulder and
gives the faintest touch of gold to her dishevelled brown hair. She
casts her eyes upward, the large melting eyes of Andalusia; a chastened
sorrow, through which a trembling hope is shining, softens the somewhat
worldly beauty of her exquisite and sensitive face. Through the mouth of
the cave we catch a glimpse of sunny mountain solitude, and in the rosy
air that always travels with Spanish angels a band of celestial
serenaders is playing. It is a charming composition, without any depth
of sentiment or especial mastery of treatment, but evidently painted by
a clever artist in his youth, and this Magdalen is the portrait of the
lady of his dreams. None of Murillo's pupils but Tobar could have
painted it, and the manner is precisely the same as that of his Divina
Pastora.

Across the hall is the gallery consecrated to Italian artists. There are
not many pictures of the first rank here. They have been reserved for
the great central gallery, where we are going. But while here, we must
notice especially two glorious works of Tintoret,--the same subject
differently treated,--the Death of Holofernes. Both are placed higher
than they should be, considering their incontestable merit. A full light
is needed to do justice to that magnificence of color which is the pride
of Venice. There are two remarkable pictures of Giordano,--one in the
Roman style, which would not be unworthy of the great Sanzio himself, a
Holy Family, drawn and colored with that scrupulous correctness which
seems so impossible in the ordinary products of this Protean genius; and
just opposite, an apotheosis of Rubens, surrounded by his usual
"properties" of fat angels and genii, which could be readily sold
anywhere as a specimen of the estimate which the unabashed Fleming
placed upon himself. It is marvellous that any man should so master the
habit and the thought of two artists so widely apart as Raphael and
Rubens, as to produce just such pictures as they would have painted upon
the same themes. The halls and dark corridors of the Museum are filled
with Giordano's canvases. In less than ten years' residence in Spain he
covered the walls of dozens of churches and palaces with his fatally
facile work. There are more than three hundred pictures recorded as
executed by him in that time. They are far from being without merit.
There is a singular slap-dash vigor about his drawing. His coloring,
except when he is imitating some earlier master, is usually thin and
poor. It is difficult to repress an emotion of regret in looking at his
laborious yet useless life. With great talents, with indefatigable
industry, he deluged Europe with paintings that no one cares for, and
passed into history simply as Luca Fa Presto,--Luke Work-Fast.

It is not by mere activity that great things are done in art. In the
great gallery we now enter we see the deathless work of the men who
wrought in faith. This is the grandest room in Christendom. It is about
three hundred and fifty feet long and thirty-five broad and high. It is
beautifully lighted from above. Its great length is broken here and
there by vases and statues, so placed between doors as nowhere to
embarrass the view. The northern half of the gallery is Spanish, and the
southern half Italian. Halfway down, a door to the left opens into an
oval chamber, devoted to an eclectic set of masterpieces of every school
and age. The gallery ends in a circular room of French and German
pictures, on either side of which there are two great halls of Dutch and
Flemish. On the ground floor there are some hundreds more Flemish and a
hall of sculpture.

The first pictures you see to your left are by the early masters of
Spain,--Morales, called in Spain the Divine, whose works are now
extremely rare, the Museum possessing only three or four, long,
fleshless faces and stiff figures of Christs and Marys,--and Juan de
Juanes, the founder of the Valentian school, who brought back from Italy
the lessons of Raphael's studio, that firmness of design and brilliancy
of color, and whose genuine merit has survived all vicissitudes of
changing taste. He has here a superb Last Supper and a spirited series
of pictures illustrating the martyrdom of Stephen. There is perhaps a
little too much elaboration of detail, even for the Romans. Stephen's
robes are unnecessarily new, and the ground where he is stoned is
profusely covered with convenient round missiles the size of Vienna
rolls, so exactly suited to the purpose that it looks as if Providence
sided with the persecutors. But what a wonderful variety and truth in
the faces and the attitudes of the groups! What mastery of drawing, and
what honest integrity of color after all these ages! It is reported of
Juanes that he always confessed and prayed before venturing to take up
his pencils to touch the features of the saints and Saviours that shine
on his canvas. His conscientious fervor has its reward.

Across the room are the Murillos. Hung together are two pictures, not of
large dimensions, but of exquisite perfection, which will serve as fair
illustrations of the work of his youth and his age; the frio and the
vaporoso manner. In the former manner is this charming picture of
Rebecca at the Well; a graceful composition, correct and somewhat severe
drawing, the greatest sharpness and clearness of outline. In the
Martyrdom of St. Andrew the drawing and the composition are no less
absolutely perfect, but there hangs over the whole picture a luminous
haze of strangeness and mystery. A light that never was on sea or land
bathes the distant hills and battlements, touches the spears of the
legionaries, and shines in full glory on the ecstatic face of the aged
saint. It does not seem a part of the scene. You see the picture through
it. A step further on there is a Holy Family, which seems to me the
ultimate effort of the early manner. A Jewish carpenter holds his
fair-haired child between his knees. The urchin holds up a bird to
attract the attention of a little white dog on the floor. The mother, a
dark-haired peasant woman, looks on the scene with quiet amusement. The
picture is absolutely perfect in detail. It seems to be the _consigne_
among critics to say it lacks "style." They say it is a family scene in
Judaea, _voila tout._ Of course, and it is that very truth and nature
that makes this picture so fascinating. The Word was made flesh, and not
a phosphorescent apparition; and Murillo knew what he was about when he
painted this view of the interior of St. Joseph's shop. What absurd
presumption to accuse this great thinker of a deficiency of ideality, in
face of these two glorious Marys of the Conception that fill the room
with light and majesty! They hang side by side, so alike and yet so
distinct in character. One is a woman in knowledge and a goddess of
purity; the other, absolute innocence, startled by the stupendous
revelation and exalted by the vaguely comprehended glory of the future.
It is before this picture that the visitor always lingers longest. The
face is the purest expression of girlish loveliness possible to art. The
Virgin floats upborne by rosy clouds, flocks of pink cherubs flutter at
her feet waving palm-branches. The golden air is thick with suggestions
of dim celestial faces, but nothing mars the imposing solitude of the
Queen of Heaven, shrined alone, throned in the luminous azure. Surely no
man ever understood or interpreted like this grand Andalusian the power
that the worship of woman exerts on the religions of the world. All the
passionate love that has been poured out in all the ages at the feet of
Ashtaroth and Artemis and Aphrodite and Freya found visible form and
color at last on that immortal canvas where, with his fervor of religion
and the full strength of his virile devotion to beauty, he created, for
the adoration of those who should follow him, this type of the perfect
Feminine,--

"Thee! standing loveliest in the open heaven! Ave Maria! only Heaven and
Thee!"

There are some dozens more of Murillo here almost equally remarkable,
but I cannot stop to make an unmeaning catalogue of them. There is a
charming Gypsy Fortune-teller, whose wheedling voice and smile were
caught and fixed in some happy moment in Seville; an Adoration of the
Shepherds, wonderful in its happy combination of rigid truth with the
warmest glow of poetry; two Annunciations, rich with the radiance that
streams through the rent veil of the innermost heaven,--lights painted
boldly upon lights, the White Dove sailing out of the dazzling
background of celestial effulgence,--a miracle and mystery of theology
repeated by a miracle and mystery of art.

Even when you have exhausted the Murillos of the Museum you have not
reached his highest achievements in color and design. You will find
these in the Academy of San Fernando,--the Dream of the Roman Gentleman,
and the Founding of the Church of St. Mary the Greater; and the powerful
composition of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, in her hospital work. In the
first, a noble Roman and his wife have suddenly fallen asleep in their
chairs in an elegant apartment. Their slumber is painted with curious
felicity,--you lower your voice for fear of waking them. On the left of
the picture is their dream: the Virgin comes in a halo of golden clouds
and designates the spot where her church is to be built. In the next
picture the happy couple kneel before the pope and expose their high
commission, and outside a brilliant procession moves to the ceremony of
the laying of the corner-stone. The St. Elizabeth is a triumph of genius
over a most terribly repulsive subject. The wounds and sores of the
beggars are painted with unshrinking fidelity, but every vulgar detail
is redeemed by the beauty and majesty of the whole. I think in these
pictures of Murillo the last word of Spanish art was reached. There was
no further progress possible in life, even for him. "Other heights in
other lives, God willing."

Returning to the Museum and to Velazquez, we find ourselves in front of
his greatest historical work, the Surrender of Breda. This is probably
the most utterly unaffected historical painting in existence. There is
positively no stage business about it. On the right is the Spanish
staff, on the left the deputation of the vanquished Flemings. In the
centre the great Spinola accepts the keys of the city from the governor;
his attitude and face are full of dignity softened by generous and
affable grace. He lays his hand upon the shoulder of the Flemish
general, and you can see he is paying him some chivalrous compliment on
the gallant fight he has lost. If your eyes wander through the open
space between the two escorts, you see a wonderful widespread landscape
in the Netherlands, which would form a fine picture if the figures all
were gone. Opposite this great work is another which artists consider
greater,--Las Meninas. When Luca Giordano came from Italy he inquired
for this picture, and said on seeing it, "This is the theology of
painting." If our theology were what it should be, and cannot be,
absolute and unquestionable truth, Luca the Quick-worker would have been
right. Velazquez was painting the portrait of a stupid little infanta
when the idea came to him of perpetuating the scene just as it was. We
know how we have wished to be sure of the exact accessories of past
events. The modern rage for theatrical local color is an illustration of
this desire. The great artist, who must have honored his art, determined
to give to future ages an exact picture of one instant of his glorious
life. It is not too much to say he has done this. He stands before his
easel, his pencils in his hand. The little princess is stiffly posing in
the centre. Her little maids are grouped about her. Two hideous dwarfs
on the right are teasing a noble dog who is too drowsy and magnanimous
to growl. In the background at the end of a long gallery a gentleman is
opening a door to the garden. The presence of royalty is indicated by
the reflection of the faces of the king and queen in a small mirror,
where you would expect to see your own. The longer you look upon this
marvellous painting, the less possible does it seem that it is merely
the placing of color on canvas which causes this perfect illusion. It
does not seem possible that you are looking at a plane surface. There is
a stratum of air before, behind, and beside these figures. You could
walk on that floor and see how the artist is getting on with the
portrait. There is space and light in this picture, as in any room.
Every object is detached, as in the common miracle of the stereoscope.
If art consist in making a fleeting moment immortal, if the True is a
higher ideal than the Beautiful, then it will be hard to find a greater
painting than this. It is utterly without beauty; its tone is a cold
olive green-gray; there is not one redeeming grace or charm about it
except the noble figure of Velazquez himself,--yet in its austere
fidelity to truth it stands incomparable in the world. It gained
Velazquez his greatest triumph. You see on his breast a sprawling red
cross, painted evidently by an unskilful hand. This was the gracious
answer made by Philip IV. when the artist asked him if anything was
wanting to the picture. This decoration, daubed by the royal hand, was
the accolade of the knighthood of Santiago,--an honor beyond the dreams
of an artist of that day. It may be considered the highest compliment
ever paid to a painter, except the one paid by Courbet to himself, when
he refused to be decorated by the Man of December.

Among Velazquez's most admirable studies of life is his picture of the
Borrachos. A group of rustic roysterers are admitting a neophyte into
the drunken _confrerie._ He kneels to receive a crown of ivy from the
hands of the king of the revel. A group of older tipplers are filling
their cups, or eyeing their brimming glasses, with tipsy, mock-serious
glances. There has never been a chapter written which so clearly shows
the drunkard's nature as this vulgar anacreontic. A thousand men have
painted drunken frolics, but never one with such distinct spiritual
insight as this. To me the finest product of Jordaens' genius is his
Bohnen Koenig in the Belvedere, but there you see only the incidents of
the mad revel; every one is shouting or singing or weeping with maudlin
glee or tears. But in this scene of the Borrachos there is nothing
scenic or forced. These topers have come together to drink, for the love
of the wine,--the fun is secondary. This wonderful reserve of Velazquez
is clearly seen in his conception of the king of the rouse. He is a
young man, with a heavy, dull, somewhat serious face, fat rather than
bloated, rather pale than flushed. He is naked to the waist to show the
plump white arms and shoulders and the satiny skin of the voluptuary;
one of those men whose heads and whose stomachs are too loyal ever to
give them _Katzenjammer_ or remorse. The others are of the commoner type
of haunters of wine-shops,--with red eyes and coarse hides and grizzled
matted hair,--but every man of them inexorably true, and a predestined
sot.

We must break away from Velazquez, passing by his marvellous portraits
of kings and dwarfs, saints and poodles,--among whom there is a dwarf of
two centuries ago, who is too like Tom Thumb to serve for his twin
brother,--and a portrait of Aesop, which is a flash of intuition, an
epitome of all the fables. Before leaving the Spaniards we must look at
the most pleasing of all Ribera's works,--the Ladder-Dream of Jacob.
The patriarch lies stretched on the open plain in the deep sleep of the
weary. To the right in a broad shaft of cloudy gold the angels are
ascending and descending. The picture is remarkable for its mingling the
merits of Ribera's first and second manner. It is a Caravaggio in its
strength and breadth of light and shade, and a Correggio in its delicacy
of sentiment and refined beauty of coloring. He was not often so
fortunate in his Parmese efforts. They are usually marked by a timidity
and an attempt at prettiness inconceivable in the haughty and impulsive
master of the Neapolitan school.

Of the three great Spaniards, Ribera is the least sympathetic. He often
displays a tumultuous power and energy to which his calmer rivals are
strangers. But you miss in him that steady devotion to truth which
distinguishes Velazquez, and that spiritual lift which ennobles Murillo.
The difference, I conceive, lies in the moral character of the three.
Ribera was a great artist, and the others were noble men. Ribera passed
a youth of struggle and hunger and toil among the artists of Rome,--a
stranger and penniless in the magnificent city,--picking up crusts in
the street and sketching on quiet curbstones, with no friend, and no
name but that of Spagnoletto,--the little Spaniard. Suddenly rising to
fame, he broke loose from his Roman associations and fled to Naples,
where he soon became the wealthiest and the most arrogant artist of his
time. He held continually at his orders a faction of _bravi_ who drove
from Naples, with threats and insults and violence, every artist of
eminence who dared visit the city. Car-racci and Guido only saved their
lives by flight, and the blameless and gifted Domenichino, it is said,
was foully murdered by his order. It is not to such a heart as this that
is given the ineffable raptures of Murillo or the positive revelations
of Velazquez. These great souls were above cruelty or jealousy.
Velazquez never knew the storms of adversity. Safely anchored in the
royal favor, he passed his uneventful life in the calm of his beloved
work. But his hand and home were always open to the struggling artists
of Spain. He was the benefactor of Alonzo Cano; and when Murillo came up
to Madrid, weary and footsore with his long tramp from Andalusia,
sustained by an innate consciousness of power, all on fire with a
picture of Van Dyck he had seen in Seville, the rich and honored painter
of the court received with generous kindness the shabby young wanderer,
clothed him, and taught him, and watched with noble delight the first
flights of the young eagle whose strong wing was so soon to cleave the
empyrean. And when Murillo went back to Seville he paid his debt by
doing as much for others. These magnanimous hearts were fit company for
the saints they drew.

We have lingered so long with the native artists we shall have little to
say of the rest. There are ten fine Raphaels, but it is needless to
speak of them. They have been endlessly reproduced. Raphael is known and
judged by the world. After some centuries of discussion the scorners and
the critics are dumb. All men have learned the habit of Albani, who, in
a frivolous and unappreciative age, always uncovered his head at the
name of Raphael Sanzio. We look at his precious work with a mingled
feeling of gratitude for what we have, and of rebellious wonder that
lives like his and Shelley's should be extinguished in their glorious
dawn, while kings and country gentlemen live a hundred years. What
boundless possibilities of bright achievement these two divine youths
owed us in the forty years more they should have lived! Raphael's
greatest pictures in Madrid are the Spasimo di Sicilia, and the Holy
Family, called La Perla. The former has a singular history. It was
painted for a convent in Palermo, shipwrecked on the way, and thrown
ashore on the gulf of Genoa. It was again sent to Sicily, brought to
Spain by the Viceroy of Naples, stolen by Napoleon, and in Paris was
subjected to a brilliantly successful operation for transferring the
layer of paint from the worm-eaten wood to canvas. It came back to Spain
with other stolen goods from the Louvre. La Perla was bought by Philip
IV. at the sale of Charles I.'s effects after his decapitation. Philip
was fond of Charles, but could not resist the temptation to profit by
his death. This picture was the richest of the booty. It is, of all the
faces of the Virgin extant, the most perfectly beautiful and one of the
least spiritual.

There is another fine Madonna, commonly called La Virgen del Pez, from a
fish which young Tobit holds in his hand. It is rather tawny in color,
as if it had been painted on a pine board and the wood had asserted
itself from below. It is a charming picture, with all the great Roman's
inevitable perfection of design; but it is incomprehensible that
critics, M. Viardot among them, should call it the first in rank of
Raphael's Virgins in Glory. There are none which can dispute that title
with Our Lady of San Sisto, unearthly and supernatural in beauty and
majesty.

The school of Florence is represented by a charming Mona Lisa of
Leonardo da Vinci, almost identical with that of the Louvre; and six
admirable pictures of Andrea del Sarto. But the one which most attracts
and holds all those who regard the Faultless Painter with sympathy, and
who admiring his genius regret his errors, is a portrait of his wife
Lucrezia Fede, whose name, a French writer has said, is a double
epigram. It was this capricious and wilful beauty who made poor Andrea
break his word and embezzle the money King Francis had given him to
spend for works of art. Yet this dangerous face is his best excuse,--the
face of a man-snarer, subtle and passionate and cruel in its blind
selfishness, and yet so beautiful that any man might yield to it against
the cry of his own warning conscience. Browning must have seen it before
he wrote, in his pathetic poem,--

  "Let my hands frame your face in your hair's gold,
  You beautiful Lucrezia, that are mine!"

Nowhere, away from the Adriatic, is the Venetian school so richly
represented as in Madrid. Charles and Philip were the most munificent
friends and patrons of Titian, and the Royal Museum counts among its
treasures in consequence the enormous number of forty-three pictures by
the wonderful centenarian. Among these are two upon which he set great
value,--a Last Supper, which has unfortunately mouldered to ruin in the
humid refectory of the Escorial, equal in merit and destiny with that of
Leonardo; and the Gloria, or apotheosis of the imperial family, which,
after the death of Charles, was brought from Yuste to the Escorial, and
thence came to swell the treasures of the Museum. It is a grand and
masterly work. The vigorous genius of Titian has grappled with the
essential difficulties of a subject that trembles on the balance of
ridiculous and sublime, and has come out triumphant. The Father and the
Son sit on high. The Operating Spirit hovers above them. The Virgin in
robes of azure stands in the blaze of the Presence. The celestial army
is ranged around. Below, a little lower than the angels, are Charles and
Philip with their wives, on their knees, with white cowls and clasped
hands,--Charles in his premature age, with worn face and grizzled beard;
and Philip in his youth of unwholesome fairness, with red lips and pink
eyelids, such as Titian painted him in the Adonis. The foreground is
filled with prophets and saints of the first dignity, and a kneeling
woman, whose face is not visible, but whose attitude and drapery are
drawn with the sinuous and undulating grace of that hand which could not
fail. Every figure is turned to the enthroned Deity, touched with
ineffable light. The artist has painted heaven, and is not absurd. In
that age of substantial faith such achievements were possible.

There are two Venuses by Titian very like that of Dresden, but the heads
have not the same dignity; and a Danae which is a replica of the Vienna
one. His Salome bearing the Head of John the Baptist is one of the
finest impersonations of the pride of life conceivable. So
unapproachable are the soft lights and tones on the perfect arms and
shoulders of the full-bodied maiden, that Tintoret one day exclaimed in
despair before it, "That fellow paints with ground flesh."

This gallery possesses one of the last works of Titian,--the Battle of
Lepanto, which was fought when the artist was ninety-four years of age.
It is a courtly allegory,--King Philip holds his little son in his arms,
a courier angel brings the news of victory, and to the infant a
palm-branch and the scroll _Majora tibi._ Outside you see the smoke and
flash of a naval battle, and a malignant and tur-baned Turk lies bound
on the floor. It would seem incredible that this enormous canvas should
have been executed at such an age, did we not know that when the pest
cut the mighty master off in his hundredth year he was busily at work
upon a Descent from the Cross, which Palma the Elder finished on his
knees and dedicated to God: Quod Titianus inchoatum reliquit Palma
reverenter absolvit Deoque dicavit opus.

The vast representation of Titian rather injures Veronese and Tintoret.
Opposite the Gloria of Yuste hangs the sketch of that stupendous
Paradise of Tintoret, which we see in the Palace of the Doges,--the
biggest picture ever painted by mortal, thirty feet high and
seventy-four long.

The sketch was secured by Velazquez in his tour through Italy. The most
charming picture of Veronese is a Venus and Adonis, which is finer than
that of Titian,--a classic and most exquisite idyl of love and sleep,
cool shadow and golden-sifted sunshine. His most considerable work in
the gallery is a Christ teaching the Doctors, magnificent in
arrangement, severely correct in drawing, and of a most vivid and
dramatic interest.

We pass through a circular vaulted chamber to reach the Flemish rooms.
There is a choice though scanty collection of the German and French
schools. Albert Durer has an Adam and Eve, and a priceless portrait of
himself as perfectly preserved as if it were painted yesterday. He wears
a curious and picturesque costume,--striped black-and-white,--a graceful
tasselled cap of the same. The picture is sufficiently like the statue
at Nuremberg; a long South-German face, blue-eyed and thin,
fair-whiskered, with that expression of quiet confidence you would
expect in the man who said one day, with admirable candor, when people
were praising a picture of his, "It could not be better done." In this
circular room are four great Claudes, two of which, Sunrise and Sunset,
otherwise called the Embarcation of Sta. Paula, and Tobit and the Angel,
are in his best and richest manner. It is inconceivable to us, who
graduate men by a high-school standard, that these refined and most
elegant works could have been produced by a man so imperfectly educated
as Claude Lorrain.

There remain the pictures of the Dutch and the Flemings. It is due to
the causes we have mentioned in the beginning that neither in Antwerp
nor Dresden nor Paris is there such wealth and profusion of the
Netherlands art as in this mountain-guarded corner of Western Europe. I
shall have but a word to say of these three vast rooms, for Rubens and
Van Dyck and Teniers are known to every one. The first has here a
representation so complete that if Europe were sunk by a cataclysm from
the Baltic to the Pyrenees every essential characteristic of the great
Fleming could still be studied in this gallery. With the exception of
his Descent from the Cross in the Cathedral at Antwerp, painted in a
moment of full inspiration that never comes twice in a life, everything
he has done elsewhere may be matched in Madrid. His largest picture here
is an Adoration of the Kings, an overpowering exhibition of wasteful
luxuriance of color and _fougue_ of composition. To the left the Virgin
stands leaning with queenly majesty over the effulgent Child. From this
point the light flashes out over the kneeling magi, the gorgeously
robed attendants, the prodigality of velvet and jewels and gold, to fade
into the lovely clear-obscure of a starry night peopled with dim camels
and cattle. On the extreme right is a most graceful and gallant portrait
of the artist on horseback. We have another fine self-portraiture in the
Garden of Love,--a group of lords and ladies in a delicious pleasance
where the greatest seigneur is Peter Paul Rubens and the finest lady is
Helen Forman. These true artists had to paint for money so many ignoble
faces that they could not be blamed for taking their revenge in painting
sometimes their own noble heads. Van Dyck never drew a profile so
faultless in manly beauty as his own which we see on the same canvas
with that of his friend the Earl of Bristol. Look at the two faces side
by side, and say whether God or the king can make the better nobleman.

Among those mythological subjects in which Rubens delighted, the best
here are his Perseus and Andromeda, where the young hero comes
gloriously in a brand-new suit of Milanese armor, while the lovely
princess, in a costume that never grows old-fashioned, consisting of
sunshine and golden hair, awaits him and deliverance in beautiful
resignation; a Judgment of Paris, the Three Graces,--both prodigies of
his strawberries-and-cream color; and a curious suckling of Hercules,
which is the prototype or adumbration of the ecstatic vision of St.
Bernard. He has also a copy of Titian's Adam and Eve, in an
out-of-the-way place downstairs, which should be hung beside the
original, to show the difference of handling of the two master
colorists.

Especially happy is this Museum in its Van Dycks. Besides those
incomparable portraits of Lady Oxford, of Liberti the Organist of
Antwerp, and others better than the best of any other man, there are a
few large and elaborate compositions such as I have never seen
elsewhere. The principal one is the Capture of Christ by Night in the
Garden of Gethsemane, which has all the strength of Rubens, with a more
refined study of attitudes and a greater delicacy of tone and touch.
Another is the Crowning with Thorns,--although of less dimensions, of
profound significance in expression, and a flowing and marrowy softness
of execution. You cannot survey the work of Van Dyck in this collection,
so full of deep suggestion, showing an intellect so vivid and so
refined, a mastery of processes so thorough and so intelligent, without
the old wonder of what he would have done in that ripe age when Titian
and Murillo and Shakespeare wrought their best and fullest, and the old
regret for the dead,--as Edgar Poe sings, the doubly dead in that they
died so young. We are tempted to lift the veil that hides the unknown,
at least with the furtive hand of conjecture; to imagine a field of
unquenched activity where the early dead, free from the clogs and
trammels of the lower world, may follow out the impulses of their
diviner nature,--where Andrea has no wife, and Raphael and Van Dyck no
disease,--where Keats and Shelley have all eternity for their lofty
rhyme,--where Ellsworth and Koerner and the Lowell boys can turn their
alert and athletic intelligence to something better than war.



A CASTLE IN THE AIR


I have sometimes thought that a symptom of the decay of true kinghood in
modern times is the love of monarchs for solitude. In the early days
when monarchy was a real power to answer a real want, the king had no
need to hide himself. He was the strongest, the most knowing, the most
cunning. He moved among men their acknowledged chief. He guided and
controlled them. He never lost his dignity by daily use. He could steal
a horse like Diomede, he could mend his own breeches like Dagobert, and
never tarnish the lustre of the crown by it. But in later times the
throne has become an anachronism. The wearer of a crown has done nothing
to gain it but give himself the trouble to be born. He has no claim to
the reverence or respect of men. Yet he insists upon it, and receives
some show of it. His life is mainly passed in keeping up this battle for
a lost dignity and worship. He is given up to shams and ceremonies.

To a life like this there is something embarrassing in the movement and
activity of a great city. The king cannot join in it without a loss of
prestige. Being outside of it, he is vexed and humiliated by it. The
empty forms become nauseous in the midst of this honest and wholesome
reality of out-of-doors.

Hence the necessity of these quiet retreats in the forests, in the
water-guarded islands, in the cloud-girdled mountains. Here the world is
not seen or heard. Here the king may live with such approach to nature
as his false and deformed education will allow. He is surrounded by
nothing but the world of servants and courtiers, and it requires little
effort of the imagination to consider himself chief and lord.

It was this spirit which in the decaying ripeness of the Bourbon dynasty
drove the Louis from Paris to Versailles and from Versailles to Marly.
Millions were wasted to build the vast monument of royal fatuity, and
when it was done the Grand Monarque found it necessary to fly from time
to time to the sham solitude and mock retirement he had built an hour
away.

When Philip V. came down from France to his splendid exile on the throne
of Spain, he soon wearied of the interminable ceremonies of the
Cas-tilian court, and finding one day, while hunting, a pleasant farm on
the territory of the Segovian monks, flourishing in a wrinkle of the
Guadarrama Mountains, he bought it, and reared the Palace of La Granja.
It is only kings who can build their castles in the air of palpable
stones and mortar. This lordly pleasure-house stands four thousand feet
above the sea level. On this commanding height, in this savage Alpine
loneliness, in the midst of a scenery once wildly beautiful, but now
shorn and shaven into a smug likeness of a French garden, Philip passed
all the later years of his gloomy and inglorious life.

It has been ever since a most tempting summer-house to all the Bourbons.
When the sun is calcining the plains of Castile, and the streets of
Madrid are white with the hot light of midsummer, this palace in the
clouds is as cool and shadowy as spring twilights. And besides, as all
public business is transacted in Madrid, and La Granja is a day's
journey away, it is too much trouble to send a courier every day for the
royal signature,--or, rather, rubric, for royalty in Spain is above
handwriting, and gives its majestic approval with a flourish of the
pen,--so that everything waits a week or so, and much business goes
finally undone; and this is the highest triumph of Spanish industry and
skill.

We had some formal business with the court of the regent, and were not
sorry to learn that his highness would not return to the capital for
some weeks, and that consequently, following the precedent of a certain
prophet, we must go to the mountain.

We found at the Estacion del Norte the state railway carriage of her
late majesty,--a brilliant creation of yellow satin and profuse gilding,
a bovidoir on wheels,--not too full of a distinguished company. Some of
the leading men of New Spain, one or two ministers, were there, and we
passed a pleasant two hours on the road in that most seductive of all
human occupations,--talking politics.

It is remarkable that whenever a nation is remodelling its internal
structure, the subject most generally discussed is the constitutional
system of the United States. The republicans usually adopt it solid. The
monarchists study it with a jealous interest. I fell into conversation
with Senor------, one of the best minds in Spain, an enlightened though
conservative statesman. He said: "It is hard for Europe to adopt a
settled belief about you. America is a land of wonders, of
contradictions. One party calls your system freedom, another anarchy. In
all legislative assemblies of Europe, republicans and absolutists alike
draw arguments from America. But what cannot be denied are the effects,
the results. These are evident, something vast and grandiose, a life and
movement to which the Old World is stranger." He afterwards referred
with great interest to the imaginary imperialist movement in America,
and raised his eyebrows in polite incredulity when I assured him there
was as much danger of Spain becoming Mohammedan as of America becoming
imperialist.

We stopped at the little station of Villalba, in the midst of the wide
brown table-land that stretches from Madrid to the Escorial. At Villalba
we found the inevitable swarm of beggars, who always know by the sure
instinct of wretchedness where a harvest of cuartos is to be achieved. I
have often passed Villalba and have seen nothing but the station-master
and the water-vender. But to-day, because there were a half dozen
excellencies on the train, the entire mendicant force of the district
was on parade. They could not have known these gentlemen were coming;
they must have scented pennies in the air.

Awaiting us at the rear of the station were three enormous lumbering
diligences, each furnished with nine superb mules,--four pairs and a
leader. They were loaded with gaudy trappings, and their shiny coats,
and backs shorn into graceful arabesques, showed that they did not
belong to the working-classes, but enjoyed the gentlemanly leisure of
official station. The drivers wore a smart postilion uniform and the
royal crown on their caps.

We threw some handfuls of copper and bronze among the picturesque
mendicants. They gathered them up with grave Castilian decorum, and
said, "God will repay your graces." The postilions cracked their whips,
the mules shook their bells gayly, the heavy wagons started off at a
full gallop, and the beggars said, "May your graces go with God!"

It was the end of July, and the sky was blue and cloudless. The fine,
soft light of the afternoon was falling on the tawny slopes and the
close-reaped fields. The harvest was over. In the fields on either side
they were threshing their grain, not as in the outside world, with the
whirring of loud and swift machinery, nor even with the active and
lively swinging of flails; but in the open air, under the warm sky, the
cattle were lazily treading out the corn on the bare ground, to be
winnowed by the wandering wind. No change from the time of Solomon.
Through an infinity of ages, ever since corn and cattle were, the
Iberian farmer in this very spot had driven his beasts over his crop,
and never dreamed of a better way of doing the work.

Not only does the Spaniard not seek for improvements, he utterly
despises and rejects them. The poorer classes especially, who would
find an enormous advantage in increased production, lightening their
hard lot by a greater plenty of the means of life, regard every
introduction of improved machinery as a blow at the rights of labor.
When many years ago a Dutch vintner went to Valdepenas and so greatly
improved the manufacture of that excellent but ill-made wine that its
price immediately rose in the Madrid market, he was mobbed and plundered
by his ignorant neighbors, because, as they said, he was laboring to
make wine dearer. In every attempt which has been made to manufacture
improved machinery in Spain, the greatest care has to be taken to
prevent the workmen from maliciously damaging the works, which they
imagine are to take the bread from the mouths of their children.

So strong is this feeling in every department of national life, that the
mayoral who drove our spanking nine-in-hand received with very ill humor
our suggestion that the time could be greatly shortened by a Fell
railroad over the hills to La Granja. "What would become of nosotros?"
he asked. And it really would seem a pity to annihilate so much
picturesqueness and color at the bidding of mere utility. A gayly
embroidered Andalusian jacket, bright scarlet silk waistcoat,--a rich
wide belt, into which his long knife, the navaja, was jauntily
thrust,--buckskin breeches, with Valentian stockings, which, as they are
open at the bottom, have been aptly likened to a Spaniard's purse,--and
shoes made of Murcian matting, composed his natty outfit. By his side on
the box sat the zagal, his assistant, whose especial function seemed to
be to swear at the cattle. I have heard some eloquent imprecation in my
day. "Our army swore terribly" at Hilton Head. The objuration of the
boatmen of the Mississippi is very vigorous and racy. But I have never
assisted at a session of profanity so loud, so energetic, so original as
that with which this Castilian postilion regaled us. The wonderful
consistency and perseverance with which the role was sustained was
worthy of a much better cause.

He began by yelling in a coarse, strident voice, "Arre! arre!" (Get up!)
with a vicious emphasis on the final syllable. This is one of the
Moorish words that have remained fixed like fossils in the language of
the conquerors. Its constant use in the mouths of muleteers has given
them the name of arrieros. This general admonition being addressed to
the team at large, the zagal descended to details, and proceeded to
vilipend the galloping beasts separately, beginning with the leader. He
informed him, still in this wild, jerking scream, that he was a dog,
that his mother's character was far from that of Caesar's wife, and that
if more speed was not exhibited on this down grade, he would be forced
to resort to extreme measures. At the mention of a whip, the tall male
mule who led the team dashed gallantly off, and the diligence was soon
enveloped in a cloud of dust. This seemed to excite our gay charioteer
to the highest degree. He screamed lustily at his mules, addressing each
personally by its name. "Andaluza, arre! Thou of Arragon, go! Beware the
scourge, Manchega!" and every animal acknowledged the special attention
by shaking its ears and bells and whisking its shaven tail, as the
diligence rolled furiously over the dull drab plain.

For three hours the iron lungs of the muleteer knew no rest or pause.
Several times in the journey we stopped at a post-station to change our
cattle, but the same brazen throat sufficed for all the threatening and
encouragement that kept them at the top of their speed. Before we
arrived at our journey's end, however, he was hoarse as a raven, and
kept one hand pressed to his jaw to reinforce the exhausted muscles of
speech.

When the wide and dusty plain was passed, we began by a slow and winding
ascent the passage of the Guadarrama. The road is an excellent one, and
although so seldom used,--a few months only in the year,--it is kept in
the most perfect repair. It is exclusively a summer road, being in the
winter impassable with snow. It affords at every turn the most charming
compositions of mountain and wooded valley. At intervals we passed a
mounted guardia civil, who sat as motionless in his saddle as an
equestrian statue, and saluted as the coaches rattled by. And once or
twice in a quiet nook by the roadside we came upon the lonely cross that
marked the spot where a man had been murdered.

It was nearly sunset when we arrived at the summit of the pass. We
halted to ask for a glass of water at the hut of a gray-haired woman on
the mountain-top. It was given and received as always in this pious
country, in the name of God. As we descended, the mules seemed to have
gained new vigor from the prospect of an easy stretch of _facilis
descensus,_ and the zagal employed what was left of his voice in
provoking them to speed by insulting remarks upon their lineage. The
quick twilight fell as we entered a vast forest of pines that clothed
the mountain-side. The enormous trees looked in the dim evening light
like the forms of the Anakim, maimed with lightning but still defying
heaven. Years of battle with the mountain winds had twisted them into
every conceivable shape of writhing and distorted deformity. I never saw
trees that so nearly conveyed the idea of being the visible prison of
tortured dryads. Their trunks, white and glistening with oozing resin,
added to the ghostly impression they created in the uncertain and
failing light.

We reached the valley and rattled by a sleepy village, where we were
greeted by a chorus of outraged curs whose beauty-sleep we had
disturbed, and then began the slow ascent of the hill where St.
Ildefonso stands. We had not gone far when we heard a pattering of hoofs
and a ringing of sabres coming down the road to meet us. The diligence
stopped, and the Introducer of Ambassadors jumped to the ground and
announced, "El Regente del Reino!" It was the regent, the courteous and
amiable Marshal Serrano, who had ridden out from the palace to welcome
his guests, and who, after hasty salutations, galloped back to La
Granja, where we soon arrived.

We were assigned the apartments usually given to the papal nuncio, and
slept with an episcopal peace of mind. In the morning, as we were
walking about the gardens, we saw looking from the palace window one of
the most accomplished gentlemen and diplomatists of the new regime. He
descended and did the honors of the place. The system of gardens and
fountains is enormous. It is evidently modelled upon Versailles, but the
copy is in many respects finer than the original. The peculiarity of the
site, while offering great difficulties, at the same time enhances the
triumph of success. This is a garden taught to bloom upon a barren
mountain-side. The earth in which these trees are planted was brought
from those dim plains in the distance on the backs of men and mules. The
pipes that supply these innumerable fountains were laid on the bare
rocks and the soil was thrown over them. Every tree was guarded and
watched like a baby. There was probably never a garden that grew under
such circumstances,--but the result is superb. The fountains are fed by
a vast reservoir in the mountain, and the water they throw into the
bright air is as clear as morning dew. Every alley and avenue is a vista
that ends in a vast picture of shaggy hills or far-off plains,--while
behind the royal gardens towers the lordly peak of the Penalara, thrust
eight thousand feet into the thin blue ether.

The palace has its share of history. It witnessed the abdication of the
uxorious bigot Philip V. in 1724, and his resumption of the crown the
next year at the instance of his proud and turbulent Parmesan wife. His
bones rest in the church here, as he hated the Austrian line too
intensely to share with them the gorgeous crypt of the Escorial. His
wife, Elizabeth Farnese, lies under the same gravestone with him, as if
unwilling to forego even in death that tremendous influence which her
vigorous vitality had always exercised over his wavering and sensual
nature. "Das Ewig-Weibliche" masters and guides him still.

This retreat in the autumn of 1832 was the scene of a prodigious
exhibition of courage and energy on the part of another Italian woman,
Dona Louisa Carlota de Borbon. Ferdinand VIL, his mind weakened by
illness, and influenced by his ministers, had proclaimed his brother Don
Carlos heir to the throne, to the exclusion of his own infant daughter.
His wife, Queen Christine, broken down by the long conflict, had given
way in despair. But her sister, Dona Louisa Carlota, heard of the news
in the south of Spain, and, leaving her babies at _Cadiz_ (two little
urchins, one of whom was to be king consort, and the other was to fall
by his cousin Montpensier's hand in the field of Carabanchel), she
posted without a moment's pause for rest or sleep over mountains and
plains from the sea to La Granja. She fought with the lackeys and the
ministers twenty-four hours before she could see her sister the queen.
Having breathed into Christine her own invincible spirit, they
succeeded, after endless pains, in reaching the king. Obstinate as the
weak often are, he refused at first to listen to them; but by their
womanly wiles, their Italian policy, their magnetic force, they at last
brought him to revoke his decree in favor of Don Carlos and to recognize
the right of his daughter to the crown. Then, terrible in her triumph,
Dona Louisa Carlota sent for the Minister Calomarde, overwhelmed him
with the coarsest and most furious abuse, and, unable to confine her
victorious rage and hate to words alone, she slapped the astounded
minister in the face. Calomarde, trembling with rage, bowed and said, "A
white hand cannot offend."

There is nothing stronger than a woman's weakness, or weaker than a
woman's strength.

A few years later, when Ferdinand was in his grave, and the baby Isabel
reigned under the regency of Christine, a movement in favor of the
constitution of 1812 burst out, where revolutions generally do, in the
south, and spread rapidly over the contiguous provinces. The infection
gained the troops of the royal guard at La Granja, and they surrounded
the palace bawling for the constitution. The regentess, with a proud
reliance upon her own power, ordered them to send a deputation to her
apartment. A dozen of the mutineers came in, and demanded the
constitution.

"What is that?" asked the queen.

They looked at each other and cudgelled their brains. They had never
thought of that before.

"Caramba!" said they. "We don't know. They say it is a good thing, and
will raise our pay and make salt cheaper."

Their political economy was somewhat flimsy, but they had the bayonets,
and the queen was compelled to give way and proclaim the constitution.

I must add one trifling reminiscence more of La Granja, which has also
its little moral. A friend of mine, a colonel of engineers, in the
summer before the revolution, was standing before the palace with some
officers, when a mean-looking cur ran past.

"What an ugly dog!" said the colonel.

"Hush!" replied another, with an awe-struck face. "That is the dog of
his royal highness the Prince of Asturias."

The colonel unfortunately had a logical mind, and failed to see that
ownership had any bearing on a purely aesthetic question. He defined his
position. "I do not think the dog is ugly because he belongs to the
prince. I only mean the prince has an ugly dog."

The window just above them slammed, and another officer came up and said
that the Adversary was to pay. "THE QUEEN was at the window and heard
every word you said."

An hour after the colonel received an order from the commandant of the
place, revoking his leave of absence and ordering him to duty in Madrid.
It is not very surprising that this officer was at the Bridge of
Alcolea.

At noon the day grew dark with clouds, and the black storm-wreath came
down over the mountains. A terrific fire of artillery resounded for a
half-hour in the craggy peaks about us, and a driving shower passed over
palace and gardens. Then the sun came out again, the pleasure-grounds
were fresher and greener than ever, and the visitors thronged in the
court of the palace to see the fountains in play. The regent led the way
on foot. The general followed in a pony phaeton, and ministers,
adjutants, and the population of the district trooped along in a
party-colored mass.

It was a good afternoon's work to visit all the fountains. They are
twenty-six in number, strewn over the undulating grounds. People who
visit Paris usually consider a day of Grandes Eaux at Versailles the
last word of this species of costly trifling. But the waters at
Versailles bear no comparison with those of La Granja. The sense is
fatigued and bewildered here with their magnificence and infinite
variety. The vast reservoir in the bosom of the mountain, filled with
the purest water, gives a possibility of more superb effects than have
been attained anywhere else in the world. The Fountain of the Winds is
one, where a vast mass of water springs into the air from the foot of a
great cavernous rock; there is a succession of exquisite cascades called
the Race-Course, filled with graceful statuary; a colossal group of
Apollo slaying the Python, who in his death agony bleeds a torrent of
water; the Basket of Flowers, which throws up a system of forty jets;
the great single jet called Fame, which leaps one hundred and thirty
feet into the air, a Niagara reversed; and the crowning glory of the
garden, the Baths of Diana, an immense stage scene in marble and bronze,
crowded with nymphs and hunting-parties, wild beasts and birds, and
everywhere the wildest luxuriance of spouting waters. We were told that
it was one of the royal caprices of a recent tenant of the palace to
emulate her chaste prototype of the silver bow by choosing this artistic
basin for her ablutions, a sufficient number of civil guards being
posted to prevent the approach of Castilian Actaeons. Ford aptly remarks
of these extravagant follies: "The yoke of building kings is grievous,
and especially when, as St. Simon said of Louis XIV. and his Versailles,
'II se plut a tyranniser la nature.'"

As the bilious Philip paused before this mass of sculptured
extravagance, he looked at it a moment with evident pleasure. Then he
thought of the bill, and whined, "Thou hast amused me three minutes and
hast cost me three millions."

To do Philip justice, he did not allow the bills to trouble him much. He
died owing forty-five million piastres, which his dutiful son refused to
pay. When you deal with Bourbons, it is well to remember the Spanish
proverb, "A sparrow in the hand is better than a bustard on the wing."

We wasted an hour in walking through the palace. It is, like all
palaces, too fine and dreary to describe. Miles of drawing-rooms and
boudoirs, with an infinity of tapestry and gilt chairs, all the
apartments haunted by the demon of ennui. All idea of comfort is
sacrificed to costly glitter and flimsy magnificence. Some fine
paintings were pining in exile on the desolate walls. They looked
homesick for the Museum, where they could be seen of men.

The next morning we drove down the mountain and over the rolling plain
to the fine old city of Segovia. In point of antiquity and historic
interest it is inferior to no town in Spain. It has lost its ancient
importance as a seat of government and a mart of commerce. Its
population is now not more than eleven thousand. Its manufactures have
gone to decay. Its woollen works, which once employed fourteen thousand
persons and produced annually twenty-five thousand pieces of cloth, now
sustain a sickly existence and turn out not more than two hundred pieces
yearly. Its mint, which once spread over Spain a Danaean shower of
ounces and dollars, is now reduced to the humble office of striking
copper cuartos. More than two centuries ago this decline began. Boisel,
who was there in 1669, speaks of the city as "presque desert et fort
pauvre." He mentions as a mark of the general unthrift that the day he
arrived there was no bread in town until two o'clock in the afternoon,
"and no one was astonished at it."

Yet even in its poverty and rags it has the air of a town that has seen
better days. Tradition says it was founded by Hercules. It was an
important city of the Roman Empire, and a great capital in the days of
the Arab monarchy. It was the court of the star-gazing King Alonso the
Wise. Through a dozen centuries it was the flower of the mountains of
Castile. Each succeeding age and race beautified and embellished it, and
each, departing, left the trace of its passage in the abiding granite of
its monuments. The Romans left the glorious aqueduct, that work of
demigods who scorned to mention it in their histories; its mediaeval
bishops bequeathed to later times their ideas of ecclesiastical
architecture; and the Arabs the science of fortification and the
industrial arts.

Its very ruin and decay makes it only more precious to the traveller.
There are here none of the modern and commonplace evidences of life and
activity that shock the artistic sense in other towns. All is old,
moribund, and picturesque. It lies here in the heart of the Guadarramas,
lost and forgotten by the civilization of the age, muttering in its
senile dream of the glories of an older world. It has not vitality
enough to attract a railroad, and so is only reached by a long and
tiresome journey by diligence. Its solitude is rarely intruded upon by
the impertinent curious, and the red back of Murray is a rare apparition
in its winding streets.

Yet those who come are richly repaid. One does not quickly forget the
impression produced by the first view of the vast aqueduct, as you drive
into the town from La Granja. It comes upon you in an instant,--the two
great ranges of superimposed arches, over one hundred feet high,
spanning the ravine-like suburb from the outer hills to the Alcazar. You
raise your eyes from the market-place, with its dickering crowd, from
the old and squalid houses clustered like shot rubbish at the foot of
the chasm, to this grand and soaring wonder of utilitarian architecture,
with something of a fancy that it was never made, that it has stood
there since the morning of the world. It has the lightness and the
strength, the absence of ornament and the essential beauty, the vastness
and the perfection, of a work of nature.

It is one of those gigantic works of Trajan, so common in that
magnificent age that Roman authors do not allude to it. It was built to
bring the cool mountain water of the Sierra Fonfria a distance of nine
miles through the hills, the gulches, and the pine forests of Valsain,
and over the open plain to the thirsty city of Segovia. The aqueduct
proper runs from the old tower of Caseron three thousand feet to the
reservoir where the water deposits its sand and sediment, and thence
begins the series of one hundred and nineteen arches, which traverse
three thousand feet more and pass the valley, the arrabal, and reach the
citadel. It is composed of great blocks of granite, so perfectly framed
and fitted that not a particle of mortar or cement is employed in the
construction.

The wonder of the work is not so much in its vastness or its beauty as
in its tremendous solidity and duration. A portion of it had been cut
away by barbarous armies during the fifteenth century, and in the reign
of Isabella the Catholic the monk-architect of the Parral, Juan
Escovedo, the greatest builder of his day in Spain, repaired it. These
repairs have themselves twice needed repairing since then. Marshal Ney,
when he came to this portion of the monument, exclaimed, "Here begins
the work of men's hands."

The true Segovian would hoot at you if you assigned any mortal paternity
to the aqueduct. He calls it the Devil's Bridge, and tells you this
story. The Evil One was in love with a pretty girl of the upper town,
and full of protestations of devotion. The fair Segovian listened to him
one evening, when her plump arms ached with the work of bringing water
from the ravine, and promised eyes of favor if his Infernal Majesty
would build an aqueduct to her door before morning. He worked all night,
like the Devil, and the maiden, opening her black eyes at sunrise, saw
him putting the last stone in the last arch, as the first ray of the sun
lighted on his shining tail. The Church, we think very unfairly, decided
that he had failed, and released the coquettish contractor from her
promise; and it is said the Devil has never trusted a Sego-vian out of
his sight again.

The bartizaned keep of the Moorish Alcazar is perched on the western
promontory of the city that guards the meeting of the streams Eresma and
Clamores. It has been in the changes of the warring times a palace, a
fortress, a prison (where our friend--everybody's friend--Gil Blas was
once confined), and of late years a college of artillery. In one of its
rooms Alonso the Wise studied the heavens more than was good for his
orthodoxy, and from one of its windows a lady of the court once dropped
a royal baby, of the bad blood of Trasta-mara. Henry of Trastamara will
seem more real if we connect him with fiction. He was the son of "La
Favorita," who will outlast all legitimate princesses, in the deathless
music of Donizetti.

Driving through a throng of beggars that encumbered the carriage wheels
as grasshoppers sometimes do the locomotives on a Western railway, we
came to the fine Gothic Cathedral, built by Gil de Ontanon, father and
son, in the early part of the sixteenth century. It is a delight to the
eyes; the rich harmonious color of the stone, the symmetry of
proportion, the profuse opulence and grave finish of the details. It was
built in that happy era of architecture when a builder of taste and
culture had all the past of Gothic art at his disposition, and before
the degrading influence of the Jesuits appeared in the churches of
Europe. Within the Cathedral is remarkably airy and graceful in effect.
A most judicious use has been made of the exquisite salmon-colored
marbles of the country in the great altar and the pavement.

We were met by civil ecclesiastics of the foundation and shown the
beauties and the wonders of the place. Among much that is worthless,
there is one very impressive Descent from the Cross by Juan de Juni, of
which that excellent Mr. Madoz says "it is worthy to rank with the best
masterpieces of Raphael or--Mengs;" as if one should say of a poet that
he was equal to Shakespeare or Southey.

We walked through the cloisters and looked at the tombs. A flood of warm
light poured through the graceful arches and lit up the trees in the
garden and set the birds to singing, and made these cloisters pleasanter
to remember than they usually are. Our attendant priest told us, with an
earnest credulity that was very touching, the story of Maria del Salto,
Mary of the Leap, whose history was staring at us from the wall. She was
a Jewish lady, whose husband had doubts of her discretion, and so threw
her from a local Tarpeian rock. As she fell she invoked the Virgin, and
came down easily, sustained, as you see in the picture, by her faith and
her petticoats.

As we parted from the good fathers and entered our carriages at the door
of the church, the swarm of mendicants had become an army. The word had
doubtless gone through the city of the outlandish men who had gone into
the Cathedral with whole coats, and the result was a _levee en masse_ of
the needy. Every coin that was thrown to them but increased the clamor,
as it confirmed them in their idea of the boundless wealth and
munificence of the givers. We recalled the profound thought of Emerson,
"If the rich were only as rich as the poor think them!"

At last we drove desperately away through the ragged and screaming
throng. We passed by the former home of the Jeronomite monks of the
Parral, which was once called an earthly paradise, and in later years
has been a pen for swine; past crumbling convents and ruined churches;
past the charming Romanesque San Millan, girdled with its round-arched
cloisters; the granite palace of his Reverence the Bishop of Segovia,
and the elegant tower of St. Esteban, where the Roman is dying and the
Gothic is dawning; and every step of the route is a study and a joy to
the antiquarian.

But though enriched by all these legacies of an immemorial past, there
seems no hope, no future for Segovia. It is as dead as the cities of the
Plain. Its spindles have rusted into silence. Its gay company is gone.
Its streets are too large for the population, and yet they swarm with
beggars. I had often heard it compared in outline to a ship,--the
sunrise astern and the prow pointing westward,--and as we drove away
that day and I looked back to the receding town, it seemed to me like a
grand hulk of some richly laden galleon, aground on the rock that holds
it, alone, abandoned to its fate among the barren billows of the
tumbling ridges, its crew tired out with struggling and apathetic in
despair, mocked by the finest air and the clearest sunshine that ever
shone, and gazing always forward to the new world and the new times
hidden in the rosy sunset, which they shall never see.



THE CITY OF THE VISIGOTHS


Emilio Castelar said to me one day, "Toledo is the most remarkable city
in Spain. You will find there three strata of glories,--Gothic, Arab,
and Castilian,--and an upper crust of beggars and silence."

I went there in the pleasantest time of the year, the first days of
June. The early harvest was in progress, and the sunny road ran through
golden fields which were enlivened by the reapers gathering in their
grain with shining sickles. The borders of the Tagus were so cool and
fresh that it was hard to believe one was in the arid land of Castile.
From Madrid to Aranjuez you meet the usual landscapes of dun hillocks
and pale-blue vegetation, such as are only seen in nature in Central
Spain, and only seen in art on the matchless canvas of Velazquez. But
from the time you cross the tawny flood of the Tagus just north of
Aranjuez, the valley is gladdened by its waters all the way to the
Primate City.

I am glad I am not writing a guide-book, and do not feel any
responsibility resting upon me of advising the gentle reader to stop at
Aranjuez or to go by on the other side. There is a most amiable and
praiseworthy class of travellers who feel a certain moral necessity
impelling them to visit every royal abode within their reach. They
always see precisely the same things,--some thousand of gilt chairs,
some faded tapestry and marvellous satin upholstery, a room in
porcelain, and a room in imitation of some other room somewhere else,
and a picture or two by that worthy and tedious young man, Raphael
Mengs. I knew I would see all these things at Aranjuez, and so contented
myself with admiring its pretty site, its stone-cornered brick facade,
its high-shouldered French roof, and its general air of the Place
Royale, from the outside. The gardens are very pleasant, and lonely
enough for the most philosophic stroller. A clever Spanish writer says
of them, "They are sombre as the thoughts of Philip II., mysterious and
gallant as the pleasures of Philip IV." To a revolutionary mind, it is a
certain pleasure to remember that this was the scene of the _emeute_
that drove Charles IV. from his throne, and the Prince of Peace from his
queen's boudoir. Ferdinand VII., the turbulent and restless Prince of
Asturias, reaped the immediate profit of his father's abdication; but
the two worthless creatures soon called in Napoleon to decide the
squabble, which he did in his leonine way by taking the crown away from
both of them and handing it over for safe-keeping to his lieutenant
brother Joseph. Honor among thieves!--a silly proverb, as one readily
sees if he falls into their hands, or reads the history of kings.

If Toledo had been built, by some caprice of enlightened power,
especially for a show city, it could not be finer in effect. In detail,
it is one vast museum. In ensemble, it stands majestic on its hills,
with its long lines of palaces and convents terraced around the rocky
slope, and on the height the soaring steeples of a swarm of churches
piercing the blue, and the huge cube of the Alcazar crowning the topmost
crest, and domineering the scene. The magnificent zigzag road which
leads up the steep hillside from the bridge of Alcantara gives an
indefinable impression, as of the lordly ramp of some fortress of
impossible extent.

This road is new, and in perfect condition. But do not imagine you can
judge the city by the approaches. When your carriage has mounted the
hill and passed the evening promenade of the To-ledans, the quaint
triangular Place,--I had nearly called it Square,--"waking laughter in
indolent reviewers," the Zocodover, you are lost in the dae-dalian
windings of the true streets of Toledo, where you can touch the walls on
either side, and where two carriages could no more pass each other than
two locomotives could salute and go by on the same track. This
interesting experiment, which is so common in our favored land, could
never be tried in Toledo, as I believe there is only one turnout in the
city, a minute omnibus with striped linen hangings at the sides, driven
by a young Castilian whose love of money is the root of much discussion
when you pay his bill. It is a most remarkable establishment. The horses
can cheerfully do their mile in fifteen or twenty minutes, but they make
more row about it than a high-pressure Mississippi steamer; and the
crazy little trap is noisier in proportion to its size than anything I
have ever seen, except perhaps an Indiana tree-toad. If you make an
excursion outside the walls, the omnibus, noise and all, is inevitable;
let it come. But inside the city you must walk; the slower the better,
for every door is a study.

It is hard to conceive that this was once a great capital with a
population of two hundred thousand souls. You can easily walk from one
end of the city to the other in less than half an hour, and the houses
that remain seem comfortably filled by eighteen thousand inhabitants.
But in this narrow space once swarmed that enormous and busy multitude.
The city was walled about by powerful stone ramparts, which yet stand in
all their massy perfection. So there could have been no suburbs. This
great aggregation of humanity lived and toiled on the crests and in the
wrinkles of the seven hills we see to-day. How important were the
industries of the earlier days we can guess from the single fact that
John of Padilla, when he rose in defence of municipal liberty in the
time of Charles V., drew in one day from the teeming workshops twenty
thousand fighting men. He met the usual fate of all Spanish patriots,
shameful and cruel death. His palace was razed to the ground. Successive
governments, in shifting fever-fits of liberalism and absolutism, have
set up and pulled down his statue. But his memory is loved and honored,
and the example of this noblest of the comuneros impresses powerfully
to-day the ardent young minds of the new Spain.

Your first walk is of course to the Cathedral, the Primate Church of the
kingdom. Besides its ecclesiastical importance, it is well worthy of
notice in itself. It is one of the purest specimens of Gothic
architecture in existence, and is kept in an admirable state of
preservation. Its situation is not the most favorable. It is approached
by a network of descending streets, all narrow and winding, as streets
were always built under the intelligent rule of the Moors. They
preferred to be cool in summer and sheltered in winter, rather than to
lay out great deserts of boulevards, the haunts of sunstroke and
pneumonia. The site of the Cathedral was chosen from strategic reasons
by St. Eugene, who built there his first Episcopal Church. The Moors
made a mosque of it when they conquered Castile, and the fastidious
piety of St. Ferdinand would not permit him to worship in a shrine thus
profaned. He tore down the old church and laid, in 1227, the
foundations of this magnificent structure, which was two centuries after
his death in building. There is, however, great unity of purpose and
execution in this Cathedral, due doubtless to the fact that the
architect Perez gave fifty years of his long life to the superintendence
of the early work. Inside and outside it is marked by a grave and
harmonious majesty. The great western facade is enriched with three
splendid portals,--the side ones called the doors of Hell and Judgment;
and the central a beautiful ogival arch divided into two smaller ones,
and adorned with a lavish profusion of delicately sculptured figures of
saints and prophets; on the chaste and severe cornice above, a group of
spirited busts represents the Last Supper. There are five other doors to
the temple, of which the door of the Lions is the finest, and just
beside it a heavy Ionic portico in the most detestable taste indicates
the feeling and culture that survived in the reign of Charles IV.

To the north of the west facade rises the massive tower. It is not among
the tallest in the world, being three hundred and twenty-four feet high,
but is very symmetrical and impressive. In the preservation of its
pyramidal purpose it is scarcely inferior to that most consummate work,
the tower of St. Stephen's in Vienna. It is composed of three
superimposed structures, gradually diminishing in solidity and
massiveness from the square base to the high-springing octagonal spire,
garlanded with thorny crowns. It is balanced at the south end of the
facade by the pretty cupola and lantern of the Mozarabic Chapel, the
work of the Greek Theotocopouli.

But we soon grow tired of the hot glare of June, and pass in a moment
into the cool twilight vastness of the interior, refreshing to body and
soul. Five fine naves, with eighty-four pillars formed each of sixteen
graceful columns,--the entire edifice measuring four hundred feet in
length and two hundred feet in breadth,--a grand and shadowy temple
grove of marble and granite. At all times the light is of an unearthly
softness and purity, toned by the exquisite windows and rosaces. But as
evening draws on, you should linger till the sacristan grows peremptory,
to watch the gorgeous glow of the western sunlight on the blazing roses
of the portals, and the marvellous play of rich shadows and faint gray
lights in the eastern chapels, where the grand aisles sweep in their
perfect curves around the high altar. A singular effect is here created
by the gilded organ pipes thrust out horizontally from the choir. When
the powerful choral anthems of the church peal out over the kneeling
multitude, it requires little fancy to imagine them the golden trumpets
of concealed archangels, who would be quite at home in that incomparable
choir.

If one should speak of all the noteworthy things you meet in this
Cathedral, he would find himself in danger of following in the footsteps
of Mr. Parro, who wrote a handbook of Toledo, in which seven hundred and
forty-five pages are devoted to a hasty sketch of the basilica. For five
hundred years enormous wealth and fanatical piety have worked together
and in rivalry to beautify this spot. The boundless riches of the Church
and the boundless superstition of the laity have left their traces here
in every generation in forms of magnificence and beauty. Each of the
chapels--and there are twenty-one of them--is a separate masterpiece in
its way. The finest are those of Santiago and St. Ildefonso,--the former
built by the famous Constable Alvaro de Luna as a burial-place for
himself and family, and where he and his wife lie in storied marble; and
the other commemorating that celebrated visit of the Virgin to the
bishop, which is the favorite theme of the artists and ecclesiastical
gossips of Spain.

There was probably never a morning call which gave rise to so much talk.
It was not the first time the Virgin had come to Toledo. This was always
a favorite excursion of hers. She had come from time to time, escorted
by St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. James. But on the morning in question,
which was not long after Bishop Ildefonso had written his clever
treatise, "De Virginitate Stae Mariae," the Queen of Heaven came down to
matin prayers, and, taking the bishop's seat, listened to the sermon
with great edification. After service she presented him with a nice new
chasuble, as his own was getting rather shabby, made of "cloth of
heaven," in token of her appreciation of his spirited pamphlet in her
defence. This chasuble still exists in a chest in Asturias. If you open
the chest, you will not see it; but this only proves the truth of the
miracle, for the chroniclers say the sacred vestment is invisible to
mortal eyes.

But we have another and more palpable proof of the truth of the history.
The slab of marble on which the feet of the celestial visitor alighted
is still preserved in the Cathedral in a tidy chapel built on the very
spot where the avatar took place. The slab is enclosed in red jasper and
guarded by an iron grating, and above it these words of the Psalmist are
engraved in the stone, _Adorabimus in loco ubi steterunt pedes ejus._

This story is cut in marble and carved in wood and drawn upon brass and
painted upon canvas, in a thousand shapes and forms all over Spain. You
see in the Museum at Madrid a picture by Murillo devoted to this idle
fancy of a cunning or dreaming priest. The subject was unworthy of the
painter, and the result is what might have been expected,--a picture of
trivial and mundane beauty, without the least suggestion of
spirituality.

But there can be no doubt of the serious, solemn earnestness with which
the worthy Castilians from that day to this believe the romance. They
came up in groups and families, touching their fingers to the sacred
slab and kissing them reverentially with muttered prayers. A father
would take the first kiss himself, and pass his consecrated finger
around among his awe-struck babes, who were too brief to reach to the
grating. Even the aged verger who showed us the shrine, who was so frail
and so old that we thought he might be a ghost escaped from some of the
mediaeval tombs in the neighborhood, never passed that pretty
white-and-gold chapel without sticking in his thumb and pulling out a
blessing.

A few feet from this worship-worn stone, a circle drawn on one of the
marble flags marks the spot where Santa Leocadia also appeared to this
same favored Ildefonso and made her compliments on his pamphlet. Was
ever author so happy in his subject and his gentle readers? The good
bishop evidently thought the story of this second apparition might be
considered rather a heavy draught on the credulity of his flock, so he
whipped out a convenient knife and cut off a piece of her saint-ship's
veil, which clinched the narrative and struck doubters dumb. That great
king and crazy relic-hunter, Philip II., saw this rag in his time with
profound emotion,--this tiger heart, who could order the murder of a
thousand innocent beings without a pang.

There is another chapel in this Cathedral which preaches forever its
silent condemnation of Spanish bigotry to deaf ears. This is the
Mozarabic Chapel, sacred to the celebration of the early Christian rite
of Spain. During the three centuries of Moorish domination the
enlightened and magnanimous conquerors guaranteed to those Christians
who remained within their lines the free exercise of all their rights,
including perfect freedom of worship. So that side by side the mosque
and the church worshipped God each in its own way without fear or wrong.
But when Alonso VI. recaptured the city in the eleventh century, he
wished to establish uniformity of worship, and forbade the use of the
ancient liturgy in Toledo. That which the heathen had respected the
Catholic outraged. The great Cardinal Ximenez restored the primitive
rite and devoted this charming chapel to its service. How ill a return
was made for Moorish tolerance we see in the infernal treatment they
afterwards received from king and Church. They made them choose between
conversion and death. They embraced Christianity to save their lives.
Then the priests said, "Perhaps this conversion is not genuine! Let us
send the heathen away out of our sight." One million of the best
citizens of Spain were thus torn from their homes and landed starving on
the wild African coast. And Te Deums were sung in the churches for this
triumph of Catholic unity. From that hour Spain has never prospered. It
seems as if she were lying ever since under the curse of these breaking
hearts.

Passing by a world of artistic beauties which never tire the eyes, but
soon would tire the chronicler and reader, stepping over the broad
bronze slab in the floor which covers the dust of the haughty primate
Porto Carrero, but which bears neither name nor date, only this
inscription of arrogant humility, HIC JACET PULVIS CINIS ET NIHIL, we
walk into the verdurous and cheerful Gothic cloisters. They occupy the
site of the ancient Jewish markets, and the zealous prelate Tenorio,
cousin to the great lady's man Don Juan, could think of no better way of
acquiring the ground than that of stirring up the mob to burn the houses
of the heretics. A fresco that adorns the gate explains the means
employed, adding insult to the old injury. It is a picture of a
beautiful child hanging upon a cross; a fiendish-looking Jew, on a
ladder beside him, holds in his hand the child's heart, which he has
just taken from his bleeding breast; he holds the dripping knife in his
teeth. This brutal myth was used for centuries with great effect by the
priesthood upon the mob whenever they wanted a Jew's money or his blood.
Even to-day the old poison has not lost its power. This very morning I
heard under my window loud and shrill voices. I looked out and saw a
group of brown and ragged women, with babies in their arms, discussing
the news from Madrid. The Protestants, they said, had begun to steal
Catholic children. They talked themselves into a fury. Their elf-locks
hung about their fierce black eyes. The sinews of their lean necks
worked tensely in their voluble rage. Had they seen our mild missionary
at that moment, whom all men respect and all children instinctively
love, they would have torn him in pieces in their Maenad fury, and would
have thought they were doing their duty as mothers and Catholics.

This absurd and devilish charge was seriously made in a Madrid journal,
the organ of the Moderates, and caused great fermentation for several
days, street rows, and debates in the Cortes, before the excitement died
away. Last summer, in the old Murcian town of Lorca, an English
gentleman, who had been several weeks in the place, was attacked and
nearly killed by a mob, who insisted that he was engaged in the business
of stealing children, and using their spinal marrow for lubricating
telegraph wires! What a picture of blind and savage ignorance is here
presented! It reminds us of that sad and pitiful "blood-bath revolt" of
Paris, where the wretched mob rose against the wretched tyrant Louis
XV., accusing him of bathing in the blood of children to restore his own
wasted and corrupted energies.

Toledo is a city where you should eschew guides and trust implicitly to
chance in your wanderings. You can never be lost; the town is so small
that a short walk always brings you to the river or the wall, and there
you can take a new departure. If you do not know where you are going,
you have every moment the delight of some unforeseen pleasure. There is
not a street in Toledo that is not rich in treasures of
architecture,--hovels that once were marvels of building, balconies of
curiously wrought iron, great doors with sculptured posts and lintels,
with gracefully finished hinges, and studded with huge nails whose
fanciful heads are as large as billiard balls. Some of these are still
handsome residences, but most have fallen into neglect and abandonment.
You may find a beggar installed in the ruined palace of a Moorish
prince, a cobbler at work in the pleasure-house of a Castilian
conqueror. The graceful carvings are mutilated and destroyed, the
delicate arabesques are smothered and hidden under a triple coat of
whitewash. The most beautiful Moorish house in the city, the so-called
Taller del Moro, where the grim governor of Huesca invited four hundred
influential gentlemen of the province to a political dinner, and cut off
all their heads as they entered (if we may believe the chronicle, which
we do not), is now empty and rapidly going to ruin. The exquisite
panelling of the walls, the endlessly varied stucco work that seems to
have been wrought by the deft fingers of ingenious fairies, is
shockingly broken and marred. Gigantic cacti look into the windows from
the outer court. A gay pomegranate-tree flings its scarlet blossoms in
on the ruined floor. Rude little birds have built their nests in the
beautiful fretted rafters, and flutter in and out as busy as brokers.
But of all the feasting and loving and plotting these lovely walls
beheld in that strange age that seems like fable now,--the vivid,
intelligent, scientific, tolerant age of the Moors,--even the memory has
perished utterly and forever.

We strolled away aimlessly from this beautiful desolation, and soon came
out upon the bright and airy Paseo del Transito. The afternoon sunshine
lay warm on the dull brown suburb, but a breeze blew freshly through the
dark river-gorge, and we sat upon the stone benches bordering the bluff
and gave ourselves up to the scene. To the right were the ruins of the
Roman bridge and the Moorish mills; to the left the airy arch of San
Martin's bridge spanned the bounding torrent, and far beyond stretched
the vast expanse of the green valley refreshed by the river, and rolling
in rank waves of verdure to the blue hills of Guadalupe. Below us on the
slippery rocks that lay at the foot of the sheer cliffs, some luxurious
fishermen reclined, idly watching their idle lines. The hills stretched
away, ragged and rocky, dotted with solitary towers and villas.

A squad of beggars rapidly gathered, attracted by the gracious faces of
Las Senoras. Begging seems almost the only regular industry of Toledo.
Besides the serious professionals, who are real artists in studied
misery and ingenious deformity, all the children in town occasionally
leave their marbles and their leap-frog to turn an honest penny by
amateur mendicancy.

A chorus of piteous whines went up. But La Senora was firm. She checked
the ready hands of the juveniles. "Children should not be encouraged to
pursue this wretched life. We should give only to blind men, because
here is a great and evident affliction; and to old women, because they
look so lonely about the boots." The exposition was so subtle and
logical that it admitted no reply. The old women and the blind men
shuffled away with their pennies, and we began to chaff the sturdy and
rosy children.

A Spanish beggar can bear anything but banter. He is a keen
physiognomist, and selects his victims with unerring acumen. If you
storm or scowl at him, he knows he is making you uncomfortable, and
hangs on like a burr. But if you laugh at him, with good humor, he is
disarmed. A friend of mine reduced to confusion one of the most
unabashed mendicants in Castile by replying to his whining petition,
politely and with a beaming smile, "No, thank you. I never eat them."
The beggar is far from considering his employment a degrading one. It is
recognized by the Church, and the obligation of this form of charity
especially inculcated. The average Spaniard regards it as a sort of tax
to be as readily satisfied as a toll-fee. He will often stop and give a
beggar a cent, and wait for the change in maravedises. One day, at the
railway station, a muscular rogue approached me and begged for alms. I
offered him my _sac-de-nuit_ to carry a block or two. He drew himself up
proudly and said, "I beg your pardon, sir; I am no Gallician." An old
woman came up with a basket on her arm. "Can it be possible in this far
country," said La Senora, "or are these--yes, they are, deliberate
peanuts." With a penny we bought unlimited quantities of this levelling
edible, and with them the devoted adherence of the aged merchant. She
immediately took charge of our education. We must see Santa Maria la
Blanca,--it was a beautiful thing; so was the Transito. Did we see those
men and women grubbing in the hillside? They were digging bones to sell
at the station. Where did the bones come from? Quien sabe? Those
dust-heaps have been there since King Wamba. Come, we must go and see
the Churches of Mary before it grew dark. And the zealous old creature
marched away with us to the synagogue built by Samuel Ben Levi,
treasurer to that crowned panther, Peter the Cruel. This able financier
built this fine temple to the God of his fathers out of his own purse.
He was murdered for his money by his ungrateful lord, and his synagogue
stolen by the Church. It now belongs to the order of Cala-trava.

But the other and older synagogue, now called Santa Maria la Blanca, is
much more interesting. It stands in the same quarter, the suburb
formerly occupied by the industrious and thriving Hebrews of the Middle
Ages until the stupid zeal of the Catholic kings drove them out of
Spain. The synagogue was built in the ninth century under the
enlightened domination of the Moors. At the slaughter of the Jews in
1405 it became a church. It has passed through varying fortunes since
then, having been hospital, hermitage, stable, and warehouse; but it is
now under the care of the provincial committee of art, and is somewhat
decently restored. Its architecture is altogether Moorish. It has three
aisles with thick octagonal columns supporting heavy horseshoe arches.
The spandrels are curiously adorned with rich circular stucco figures.
The soil you tread is sacred, for it was brought from Zion long before
the Crusades; the cedar rafters above you preserve the memory and the
odors of Lebanon.

A little farther west, on a fine hill overlooking the river, in the
midst of the ruined palaces of the early kings, stands the beautiful
votive church of San Juan de los Reyes. It was built by Ferdinand and
Isabella, before the Columbus days, to commemorate a victory over their
neighbors the Portuguese. During a prolonged absence of the king, the
pious queen, wishing to prepare him a pleasant surprise, instead of
embroidering a pair of impracticable slippers as a faithful young wife
would do nowadays, finished this exquisite church by setting at work
upon it some regiments of stone-cutters and builders. It is not
difficult to imagine the beauty of the structure that greeted the king
on his welcome home. For even now, after the storms of four centuries
have beaten upon it, and the malignant hands of invading armies have
used their utmost malice against it, it is still a won-drously perfect
work of the Gothic inspiration.

We sat on the terrace benches to enjoy the light and graceful lines of
the building, the delicately ornate door, the unique drapery of iron
chains which the freed Christians hung here when delivered from the
hands of the Moors. A lovely child, with pensive blue eyes fringed with
long lashes, and the slow sweet smile of a Madonna, sat near us and sang
to a soft, monotonous air a war-song of the Carlists. Her beauty soon
attracted the artistic eyes of La Senora, and we learned she was named
Francisca, and her baby brother, whose flaxen head lay heavily on her
shoulder, was called Jesus Mary. She asked, Would we like to go into the
church? She knew the sacristan and would go for him. She ran away like a
fawn, the tow head of little Jesus tumbling dangerously about. She
reappeared in a moment; she had disposed of mi nino, as she called it,
and had found the sacristan. This personage was rather disappointing. A
sacristan should be aged and mouldy, clothed in black of a decent
shabbiness. This was a Toledan swell in a velvet shooting-jacket, and
yellow peg-top trousers. However, he had the wit to confine himself to
turning keys, and so we gradually recovered from the shock of the
shooting-jacket.

The church forms one great nave, divided into four vaults enriched with
wonderful stone lace-work. A superb frieze surrounds the entire nave,
bearing in great Gothic letters an inscription narrating the foundation
of the church. Everywhere the arms of Castile and Arragon, and the
wedded ciphers of the Catholic kings. Statues of heralds start
unexpectedly out from the face of the pillars. Fine as the church is, we
cannot linger here long. The glory of San Juan is its cloisters. It may
challenge the world to show anything so fine in the latest bloom and
last development of Gothic art. One of the galleries is in ruins,--a sad
witness of the brutality of armies. But the three others are enough to
show how much of beauty was possible in that final age of pure Gothic
building. The arches bear a double garland of leaves, of flowers, and of
fruits, and among them are ramping and writhing and playing every figure
of bird or beast or monster that man has seen or poet imagined. There
are no two arches alike, and yet a most beautiful harmony pervades them
all. In some the leaves are in profile, in others delicately spread upon
the graceful columns and every vein displayed. I saw one window where a
stone monkey sat reading his prayers, gowned and cowled,--an odd caprice
of the tired sculptor. There is in this infinite variety of detail a
delight that ends in something like fatigue. You cannot help feeling
that this was naturally and logically the end of Gothic art. It had run
its course. There was nothing left but this feverish quest of variety.
It was in danger, after having gained such divine heights of invention,
of degenerating into prettinesses and affectation.

But how marvellously fine it was at last! One must see it, as in these
unequalled cloisters, half ruined, silent, and deserted, bearing with
something of conscious dignity the blows of time and the ruder wrongs of
men, to appreciate fully its proud superiority to all the accidents of
changing taste and modified culture. It is only the truest art that can
bear that test. The fanes of Paestum will always be more beautiful even
than the magical shore on which they stand. The Parthenon, fixed like a
battered coronet on the brow of the Acropolis, will always be the
loveliest sight that Greece can offer to those who come sailing in from
the blue Aegean. It is scarcely possible to imagine a condition of
thought or feeling in which these master-works shall seem quaint or
old-fashioned. They appeal, now and always, with that calm power of
perfection, to the heart and eyes of every man born of woman.

The cloisters enclose a little garden just enough neglected to allow the
lush dark ivy, the passionflowers, and the spreading oleanders to do
their best in beautifying the place, as men have done their worst in
marring it. The clambering vines seem trying to hide the scars of their
hardly less perfect copies. Every arch is adorned with a soft and
delicious drapery of leaves and tendrils; the fair and outraged child of
art is cherished and caressed by the gracious and bountiful hands of
Mother Nature.

As we came away, little Francisca plucked one of the five-pointed leaves
of the passion-flowers and gave it to La Senora, saying reverentially,
"This is the Hand of Our Blessed Lord!"

The sun was throned, red as a bacchanal king, upon the purple hills, as
we descended the rocky declivity and crossed the bridge of St. Martin.

Our little Toledan maid came with us, talking and singing incessantly,
like a sweet-voiced starling. We rested on the farther side and looked
back at the towering city, glorious in the sunset, its spires aflame,
its long lines of palace and convent clear in the level rays, its ruins
softened in the gathering shadows, the lofty bridge hanging transfigured
over the glowing river. Before us the crumbling walls and turrets of the
Gothic kings ran down from the bluff to the water-side, its terrace
overlooking the baths where, for his woe, Don Roderick saw Count
Julian's daughter under the same inflammatory circumstances as those in
which, from a Judaean housetop, Don David beheld Captain Uriah's wife.
There is a great deal of human nature abroad in the world in all ages.

Little Francisca kept on chattering. "That is St. Martin's bridge. A
girl jumped into the water last year. She was not a lady. She was in
service. She was tired of living because she was in love. They found her
three weeks afterwards; but, Santisima Maria! she was good for nothing
then."

Our little maid was too young to have sympathy for kings or servant
girls who die for love. She was a pretty picture as she sat there, her
blue eyes and Madonna face turned to the rosy west, singing in her sweet
child's voice her fierce little song of sedition and war:--

  "Arriba los valientes!
  Abajo tirania!
  Pronto llegara el dia
    De la Restauracion.

  Carlistas a caballo!
  Soldados en Campana!
  Viva el Rey de Espana,
    Don Carlos de Borbon!"

I cannot enumerate the churches of Toledo,--you find them in every
street and by-way. In the palmy days of the absolute theocracy this
narrow space contained more than a hundred churches and chapels. The
province was gnawed by the cancer of sixteen monasteries of monks and
twice as many convents of nuns, all crowded within these city walls.
Fully one half the ground of the city was covered by religious buildings
and mortmain property. In that age, when money meant ten times what it
signifies now, the rent-roll of the Church in Toledo was forty millions
of reals. There are even yet portions of the town where you find nothing
but churches and convents. The grass grows green in the silent streets.
You hear nothing but the chime of bells and the faint echoes of masses.
You see on every side bolted doors and barred windows, and, gliding over
the mossy pavements, the stealthy-stepping, long-robed priests.

I will only mention two more churches, and both of these converts from
heathendom; both of them dedicated to San Cristo, for in the democracy
of the calendar the Saviour is merely a saint, and reduced to the level
of the rest. One is the old pretorian temple of the Romans, which was
converted by King Sizebuto into a Christian church in the seventh
century. It is a curious structure in brick and mortar, with an apsis
and an odd arrangement of round arches sunken in the outer wall and
still deeper pointed ones. It is famed as the resting-place of Saints
Ildefonso and Leocadia, whom we have met before. The statue of the
latter stands over the door graceful and pensive enough for a heathen
muse. The little cloisters leading to the church are burial vaults. On
one side lie the canonical dead and on the other the laity, with bright
marble tablets and gilt inscriptions. In the court outside I noticed a
flat stone marked _Ossuarium._ The sacristan told me this covered the
pit where the nameless dead reposed, and when the genteel people in the
gilt marble vaults neglected to pay their annual rent, they were taken
out and tumbled in to moulder with the common clay.

This San Cristo de la Vega, St. Christ of the Plain, stands on the wide
flat below the town, where you find the greater portion of the Roman
remains. Heaps of crumbling composite stretched in an oval form over the
meadow mark the site of the great circus. Green turf and fields of
waving grain occupy the ground where once a Latin city stood. The Romans
built on the plain. The Goths, following their instinct of isolation,
fixed their dwelling on the steep and rugged rock. The rapid Tagus
girdling the city like a horseshoe left only the declivity to the west
to be defended, and the ruins of King Wamba's wall show with what
jealous care that work was done. But the Moors, after they captured the
city, apparently did little for its defence. A great suburb grew up in
the course of ages outside the wall, and when the Christians recaptured
Toledo in 1085, the first care of Alonso VI. was to build another wall,
this time nearer the foot of the hill, taking inside all the accretion
of these years. From that day to this that wall has held Toledo. The
city has never reached, perhaps will never reach, the base of the steep
rock on which it stands.

When King Alonso stormed the city, his first thought, in the busy half
hour that follows victory, was to find some convenient place to say his
prayers. Chance led him to a beautiful little Moorish mosque or oratory
near the superb Puerta del Sol. He entered, gave thanks, and hung up his
shield as a votive offering. This is the Church of San Cristo de la Luz.
The shield of Alonso hangs there defying time for eight centuries,--a
golden cross on a red field,--and the exquisite oratory, not much larger
than a child's toy-house, is to-day one of the most charming specimens
of Moorish art in Spain. Four square pillars support the roof, which is
divided into five equal "half-orange" domes, each different from the
others and each equally fascinating in its unexpected simplicity and
grace. You cannot avoid a feeling of personal kindliness and respect for
the refined and genial spirit who left this elegant legacy to an alien
race and a hostile creed.

The Military College of Santa Cruz is one of the most precious specimens
extant of those somewhat confused but beautiful results of the
transition from florid Gothic to the Renaissance. The plateresque is
young and modest, and seeks to please in this splendid monument by
allying the innovating forms with the traditions of a school outgrown.
There is an exquisite and touching reminiscence of the Gothic in the
superb portal and the matchless group of the Invention of the Cross. All
this fine facade is by that true and genuine artist, Enrique de Egas,
the same who carved the grand Gate of the Lions, for which may the gate
of paradise be open to him.

The inner court is surrounded by two stories of airy arcades, supported
by slim Corinthian columns. In one corner is the most elaborate
staircase in Spain. All the elegance and fancy of Arab and Renaissance
art have been lavished upon this masterly work.

Santa Cruz was built for a hospital by that haughty Cardinal Mendoza,
the Tertius Rex of Ferdinand and Isabella. It is now occupied by the
military school, which receives six hundred cadets. They are under the
charge of an inspector-general and a numerous staff of professors. They
pay forty cents a day for their board. The instruction is gratuitous and
comprehends a curriculum almost identical with that of West Point. It
occupies, however, only three years.

The most considerable Renaissance structure in Toledo is the Royal
Alcazar. It covers with its vast bulk the highest hilltop in the city.
From the earliest antiquity this spot has been occupied by a royal
palace or fortress. But the present structure was built by Charles V.
and completed by Herrera for Philip II. Its north and south facades are
very fine. The Alcazar seems to have been marked by fate. The Portuguese
burned it in the last century, and Charles III. restored it just in time
for the French to destroy it anew. Its indestructible walls alone
remain. Now, after many years of ruinous neglect, the government has
begun the work of restoration. The vast quadrangle is one mass of
scaffolding and plaster dust. The grand staircase is almost finished
again. In the course of a few years we may expect to see the Alcazar in
a state worthy of its name and history. We would hope it might never
again shelter a king. They have had their day there. Their line goes
back so far into the mists of time that its beginning eludes our utmost
search. The Roman drove out the unnamed chiefs of Iberia. The
fair-haired Goth dispossessed the Italian. The Berber destroyed the
Gothic monarchy. Castile and Leon fought their way down inch by inch
through three centuries from Covadonga to Toledo, halfway in time and
territory to Granada and the Midland Sea. And since then how many royal
feet have trodden this breezy crest,--Sanchos and Henrys and
Ferdinands,--the line broken now and then by a usurping uncle or a
fratricide brother,--a red-handed bastard of Trastamara, a star-gazing
Alonso, a plotting and praying Charles, and, after Philip, the dwindling
scions of Austria and the nullities of Bourbon. This height has known as
well the rustle of the trailing robes of queens,--Berenguela, Isabel the
Catholic, and Juana,--Crazy Jane. It was the prison of the widow of
Philip IV. and mother of Charles II. What wonder if her life left much
to be desired? With such a husband and such a son, she had no memories
nor hopes.

The kings have had a long day here. They did some good in their time.
But the world has outgrown them, and the people, here as elsewhere, is
coming of age. This Alcazar is built more strongly than any dynasty. It
will make a glorious school-house when the repairs are finished and the
Republic is established, and then may both last forever!

One morning at sunrise, I crossed the ancient bridge of Alcantara, and
climbed the steep hill east of the river to the ruined castle of San
Cervantes, perched on a high, bold rock, which guards the river and
overlooks the valley. Near as it is to the city, it stands entirely
alone. The instinct of aggregation is so powerful in this people that
the old towns have no environs, no houses sprinkled in the outlying
country, like modern cities. Every one must be huddled inside the walls.
If a solitary house, like this castle, is built without, it must be in
itself an impregnable fortress. This fine old ruin, in obedience to this
instinct of jealous distrust, has but one entrance, and that so narrow
that Sir John Falstaff would have been embarrassed to accept its
hospitalities. In the shade of the broken walls, grass-grown and gay
with scattered poppies, I looked at Toledo, fresh and clear in the early
day. On the extreme right lay the new spick-and-span bull-ring, then the
great hospice and Chapel of St. John the Baptist, the Convent of the
Immaculate Conception, and next, the Latin cross of the Chapel of Santa
Cruz, whose beautiful fagade lay soft in shadow; the huge arrogant bulk
of the Alcazar loomed squarely before me, hiding half the view; to the
left glittered the slender spire of the Cathedral, holding up in the
pure air that emblem of august resignation, the triple crown of thorns;
then a crowd of cupolas, ending at last near the river-banks with the
sharp angular mass of San Cristobal. The field of vision was filled with
churches and chapels, with the palaces of the king and the monk. Behind
me the waste lands went rolling away untilled to the brown Toledo
mountains. Below, the vigorous current of the Tagus brawled over its
rocky bed, and the distant valley showed in its deep rich green what
vitality there was in those waters if they were only used.

A quiet, as of a plague-stricken city, lay on Toledo. A few mules wound
up the splendid roads with baskets of vegetables. A few listless
fishermen were preparing their lines. The chimes of sleepy bells floated
softly out on the morning air. They seemed like the requiem of municipal
life and activity slain centuries ago by the crozier and the crown.

Thank Heaven, that double despotism is wounded to death. As Chesterfield
predicted, before the first muttering of the thunders of '89, "the
trades of king and priest have lost half their value." With the decay of
this unrighteous power, the false, unwholesome activity it fostered has
also disappeared. There must be years of toil and leanness, years
perhaps of struggle and misery, before the new genuine life of the
people springs up from beneath the dead and withered rubbish of temporal
and spiritual tyranny. Freedom is an angel whose blessing is gained by
wrestling.



THE ESCORIAL


The only battle in which Philip II. was ever engaged was that of St.
Quentin, and the only part he took in that memorable fight was to listen
to the thunder of the captains and the shouting afar off, and pray with
great unction and fervor to various saints of his acquaintance and
particularly to St. Lawrence of the Gridiron, who, being the celestial
officer of the day, was supposed to have unlimited authority, and to
whom he was therefore profuse in vows. While Egmont and his stout
Flemings were capturing the Constable Montmorency and cutting his army
in pieces, this young and chivalrous monarch was beating his breast and
pattering his panic-stricken prayers. As soon as the victory was won,
however, he lost his nervousness, and divided the entire credit of it
between himself and his saints. He had his picture painted in full
armor, as he appeared that day, and sent it to his doting spouse, Bloody
Mary of England. He even thought he had gained glory enough, and while
his father, the emperor-monk, was fiercely asking the messenger who
brought the news of victory to Yuste, "Is my son at Paris?" the prudent
Philip was making a treaty of peace, by which his son Don Carlos was to
marry the Princess Elizabeth of France. But Mary obligingly died at this
moment, and the stricken widower thought he needed consolation more than
his boy, and so married the pretty princess himself.

He always prided himself greatly on the battle of St. Quentin, and
probably soon came to believe he had done yeoman service there. The
childlike credulity of the people is a great temptation to kings. It is
very likely that after the coup-d'etat of December, the trembling puppet
who had sat shivering over his fire in the palace of the Elysee while
Morny and Fleury and St. Arnaud and the rest of the cool gamblers were
playing their last desperate stake on that fatal night, really persuaded
himself that the work was his, and that _he_ had saved society. That the
fly should imagine he is moving the coach is natural enough; but that
the horses, and the wooden lumbering machine, and the passengers should
take it for granted that the light gilded insect is carrying them
all,--there is the true miracle.

We must confess to a special fancy for Philip II. He was so true a king,
so vain, so superstitious, so mean and cruel, it is probable so great a
king never lived. Nothing could be more royal than the way he
distributed his gratitude for the victory on St. Lawrence's day. To
Count Egmont, whose splendid courage and loyalty gained him the battle,
he gave ignominy and death on the scaffold; and to exhibit a gratitude
to a myth which he was too mean to feel to a man, he built to San
Lorenzo that stupendous mass of granite which is to-day the visible
demonstration of the might and the weakness of Philip and his age.

He called it the Monastery of San Lorenzo el Real, but the nomenclature
of the great has no authority with the people. It was built on a site
once covered with cinder-heaps from a long abandoned iron-mine, and so
it was called in common speech the Escorial. The royal seat of San
Ildefonso can gain from the general public no higher name than La
Granja, the Farm. The great palace of Catharine de Medici, the home of
three dynasties, is simply the Tuileries, the Tile-fields. You cannot
make people call the White House the Executive Mansion. A merchant named
Pitti built a palace in Florence, and though kings and grand dukes have
inhabited it since, it is still the Pitti. There is nothing so
democratic as language. You may alter a name by trick when force is
unavailing. A noble lord in Segovia, following the custom of the good
old times, once murdered a Jew, and stole his house. It was a pretty
residence, but the skeleton in his closet was that the stupid commons
would not call it anything but "the Jew's house." He killed a few of
them for it, but that did not serve. At last, by advice of his
confessor, he had the facade ornamented with projecting knobs of stucco,
and the work was done. It is called to this day "the knobby house."

The conscience of Philip did not permit a long delay in the
accomplishment of his vow. Charles V. had charged him in his will to
build a mausoleum for the kings of the Austrian race. He bound the two
obligations in one, and added a third destination to the enormous pile
he contemplated. It should be a palace as well as a monastery and a
royal charnel-house. He chose the most appropriate spot in Spain for the
erection of the most cheerless monument in existence. He had fixed his
capital at Madrid because it was the dreariest town in Spain, and to
envelop himself in a still profounder desolation, he built the Escorial
out of sight of the city, on a bleak, bare hillside, swept by the
glacial gales of the Guadarrama, parched by the vertical suns of summer,
and cursed at all seasons with the curse of barrenness. Before it towers
the great chain of mountains separating Old and New Castile. Behind it
the chilled winds sweep down to the Madrid plateau, over rocky hillocks
and involved ravines,--a scene in which probably no man ever took
pleasure except the royal recluse who chose it for his home.

John Baptist of Toledo laid the corner-stone on an April day of 1563,
and in the autumn of 1584 John of Herrera looked upon the finished work,
so vast and so gloomy that it lay like an incubus upon the breast of
earth. It is a parallelogram measuring from north to south seven hundred
and forty-four feet, and five hundred and eighty feet from east to west.
It is built, by order of the fantastic bigot, in the form of St.
Lawrence's gridiron, the courts representing the interstices of the
bars, and the towers at the corners sticking helpless in the air like
the legs of the supine implement. It is composed of a clean gray
granite, chiefly in the Doric order, with a severity of facade that
degenerates into poverty, and defrauds the building of the effect its
great bulk merits. The sheer monotonous walls are pierced with eleven
thousand windows, which, though really large enough for the rooms, seem
on that stupendous surface to shrink into musketry loopholes. In the
centre of the parallelogram stands the great church, surmounted by its
soaring dome. All around the principal building is stretched a
circumscribing line of convents, in the same style of doleful
yellowish-gray uniformity, so endless in extent that the inmates might
easily despair of any world beyond them.

There are few scenes in the world so depressing as that which greets you
as you enter into the wide court before the church, called El Templo.
You are shut finally in by these iron-gray walls. The outside day has
given you up. Your feet slip on the damp flags. An unhealthy fungus
tinges the humid corners with a pallid green. You look in vain for any
trace of human sympathy in those blank walls and that severe facade.
There is a dismal attempt in that direction in the gilded garments and
the painted faces of the colossal prophets and kings that are perched
above the lofty doors. But they do not comfort you; they are tinselled
stones, not statues.

Entering the vestibule of the church, and looking up, you observe with a
sort of horror that the ceiling is of massive granite and flat. The
sacristan has a story that when Philip saw this ceiling, which forms the
floor of the high choir, he remonstrated against it as too audacious,
and insisted on a strong pillar being built to support it. The architect
complied, but when Philip came to see the improvement he burst into
lamentation, as the enormous column destroyed the effect of the great
altar. The canny architect, who had built the pillar of pasteboard,
removed it with a touch, and his majesty was comforted. Walking forward
to the edge of this shadowy vestibule, you recognize the skill and taste
which presided at this unique and intelligent arrangement of the choir.
If left, as usual, in the body of the church, it would have seriously
impaired that solemn and simple grandeur which distinguishes this above
all other temples. There is nothing to break the effect of the three
great naves, divided by immense square-clustered columns, and surmounted
by the vast dome that rises with all the easy majesty of a mountain more
than three hundred feet from the decent black and white pavement. I know
of nothing so simple and so imposing as this royal chapel, built purely
for the glory of God and with no thought of mercy or consolation for
human infirmity. The frescos of Luca Giordano show the attempt of a
later and degenerate age to enliven with form and color the sombre
dignity of this faultless pile. But there is something in the blue and
vapory pictures which shows that even the unabashed Luca was not free
from the impressive influence of the Escorial.

A flight of veined marble steps leads to the beautiful retable of the
high altar. The screen, over ninety feet high, cost the Milanese Trezzo
seven years of labor. The pictures illustrative of the life of our Lord
are by Tibaldi and Zuccaro. The gilt bronze tabernacle of Trezzo and
Herrera, which has been likened with the doors of the Baptistery of
Florence as worthy to figure in the architecture of heaven, no longer
exists. It furnished a half hour's amusement to the soldiers of France.
On either side of the high altar are the oratories of the royal family,
and above them are the kneeling effigies of Charles, with his wife,
daughter, and sisters, and Philip with his successive harem of wives.
One of the few luxuries this fierce bigot allowed himself was that of a
new widowhood every few years. There are forty other altars with
pictures good and bad. The best are by the wonderful deaf-mute,
Navarrete, of Logrono, and by Sanchez Coello, the favorite of Philip.

To the right of the high altar in the transept you will find, if your
tastes, unlike Miss Riderhood's, run in a bony direction, the most
remarkable Reliquary in the world. With the exception perhaps of Cuvier,
Philip could see more in a bone than any man who ever lived. In his long
life of osseous enthusiasm he collected seven thousand four hundred and
twenty-one genuine relics,--whole skeletons, odd shins, teeth,
toe-nails, and skulls of martyrs,--sometimes by a miracle of special
grace getting duplicate skeletons of the same saint. The prime jewels of
this royal collection are the grilled bones of San Lorenzo himself,
bearing dim traces of his sacred gridiron.

The sacristan will show you also the retable of the miraculous wafer,
which bled when trampled on by Protestant heels at Gorcum in 1525. This
has always been one of the chief treasures of the Spanish crown. The
devil-haunted idiot Charles II. made a sort of idol of it, building it
this superb altar, consecrated "in this miracle of earth to the miracle
of heaven." When the atheist Frenchmen sacked the Escorial and stripped
it of silver and gold, the pious monks thought most of hiding this
wonderful wafer, and when the storm passed by, the booby Ferdinand VII.
restored it with much burning of candles, swinging of censers, and
chiming of bells. Worthless as it is, it has done one good work in the
world. It inspired the altar-picture of Claudio Coello, the last best
work of the last of the great school of Spanish painters. He finished it
just before he died of shame and grief at seeing Giordano, the nimble
Neapolitan, emptying his buckets of paint on the ceiling of the grand
staircase, where St. Lawrence and an army of martyrs go sailing with a
fair wind into glory.

The great days of art in the Escorial are gone. Once in every nook and
corner it concealed treasures of beauty that the world had nearly
forgotten. The Perla of Raphael hung in the dark sacristy. The Cena of
Titian dropped to pieces in the refectory. The Gloria, which had sunk
into eclipse on the death of Charles V., was hidden here among
unappreciative monks. But on the secularization of the monasteries,
these superb canvases went to swell the riches of the Royal Museum.
There are still enough left here, however, to vindicate the ancient fame
of the collection. They are perhaps more impressive in their beauty and
loneliness than if they were pranking among their kin in the glorious
galleries and perfect light of that enchanted palace of Charles III. The
inexhaustible old man of Cadora has the Prayer on Mount Olivet, an Ecce
Homo, an Adoration of the Magi. Velazquez one of his rare scriptural
pieces, Jacob and his Children. Tintoretto is rather injured at the
Museo by the number and importance of his pictures left in this monkish
twilight; among them is a lovely Esther, and a masterly Presentation of
Christ to the People. Plenty of Giordanos and Bassanos and one or two
by El Greco, with his weird plague-stricken faces, all chalk and
charcoal. A sense of duty will take you into the crypt where the dead
kings are sleeping in brass. This mausoleum, ordered by the great
Charles, was slow in finishing. All of his line had a hand in it down to
Philip IV., who completed it and gathered in the poor relics of royal
mortality from many graves. The key of the vault is the stone where the
priest stands when he elevates the Host in the temple above. The vault
is a graceful octagon about forty feet high, with nearly the same
diameter; the flickering light of your torches shows twenty-six
sarcophagi, some occupied and some empty, filling the niches of the
polished marble. On the right sleep the sovereigns, on the left their
consorts. There is a coffin for Dona Isabel de Bourbon among the kings,
and one for her amiable and lady-like husband among the queens. They
were not lovely in their lives, and in their deaths they shall be
divided. The quaint old church-mouse who showed me the crypt called my
attention to the coffin where Maria Louisa, wife of Charles IV.,--the
lady who so gallantly bestrides her war-horse, in the uniform of a
colonel, in Goya's picture,--coming down those slippery steps with the
sure footing of feverish insanity, during a severe illness, scratched
_Luisa_ with the point of her scissors and marked the sarcophagus for
her own. All there was good of her is interred with her bones. Her
frailties live on in scandalized history.

Twice, it is said, the coffin of the emperor has been opened by curious
hands,--by Philip IV., who found the corpse of his great ancestor
intact, and observed to the courtier at his elbow, "An honest body, Don
Luis!" and again by the Ministers of State and Fomento in the spring of
1870, who started back aghast when the coffin-lid was lifted and
disclosed the grim face of the Burgess of Ghent, just as Titian painted
him,--the keen, bold face of a world-stealer.

I do not know if Philip's funeral urn was ever opened. He stayed above
ground too long as it was, and it is probable that people have never
cared to look upon his face again. All that was human had died out of
him years before his actual demise, and death seemed not to consider it
worth while to carry off a vampire. Go into the little apartment where
his last days were passed; a wooden table and book-shelf, one arm-chair
and two stools--the one upholstered with cloth for winter, the other
with tin for summer--on which he rested his gouty leg, and a low chair
for a secretary,--this was all the furniture he used. The rooms are not
larger than cupboards, low and dark. The little oratory where he died
looks out upon the high altar of the Temple. In a living death, as if by
an awful anticipation of the common lot it was ordained that in the
flesh he should know corruption, he lay waiting his summons hourly for
fifty-three days. What tremendous doubts and fears must have assailed
him in that endless agony! He had done more for the Church than any
living man. He was the author of that sublime utterance of uncalculating
bigotry, "Better not reign than reign over heretics." He had pursued
error with fire and sword. He had peopled limbo with myriads of rash
thinkers. He had impoverished his kingdom in Catholic wars. Yet all this
had not sufficed. He lay there like a leper smitten by the hand of the
God he had so zealously served. Even in his mind there was no peace. He
held in his clenched hand his father's crucifix, which Charles had held
in his exultant death at Yuste. Yet in his waking hours he was never
free from the horrible suggestion that he had not done enough for
salvation. He would start in horror from a sleep that was peopled with
shapes from torment. Humanity was avenged at last.

So powerful is the influence of a great personality that in the Escorial
you can think of no one but Philip II. He lived here only fourteen
years, but every corridor and cloister seems to preserve the souvenir of
his sombre and imperious genius. For two and a half centuries his feeble
successors have trod these granite halls; but they flit through your
mind pale and unsubstantial as dreams. The only tradition they preserved
of their great descent was their magnificence and their bigotry. There
has never been one utterance of liberty or free thought inspired by this
haunted ground. The king has always been absolute here, and the monk has
been the conscience-keeper of the king. The whole life of the Escorial
has been unwholesomely pervaded by a flavor of holy water and burial
vaults. There was enough of the repressive influence of that savage
Spanish piety to spoil the freshness and vigor of a natural life, but
not enough to lead the court and the courtiers to a moral walk and
conversation. It was as profligate a court in reality, with all its
masses and monks, as the gay and atheist circle of the Regent of
Orleans. Even Philip, the Inquisitor King, did not confine his royal
favor to his series of wives. A more reckless and profligate young
prodigal than Don Carlos, the hope of Spain and Rome, it would be hard
to find to-day at Mabille or Cremorne. But he was a deeply religious
lad for all that, and asked absolution from his confessors before
attempting to put in practice his intention of killing his father.
Philip, forewarned, shut him up until he died, in an edifying frame of
mind, and then calmly superintended the funeral arrangements from a
window of the palace. The same mingling of vice and superstition is seen
in the lessening line down to our day. The last true king of the old
school was Philip IV. Amid the ruins of his tumbling kingdom he lived
royally here among his priests and his painters and his ladies. There
was one jealous exigency of Spanish etiquette that made his favor fatal.
The object of his adoration, when his errant fancy strayed to another,
must go into a convent and nevermore be seen of lesser men. Madame
Daunoy, who lodged at court, heard one night an august footstep in the
hall and a kingly rap on the bolted door of a lady of honor. But we are
happy to say she heard also the spirited reply from within, "May your
grace go with God! I do not wish to be a nun!"

There is little in these frivolous lives that is worth knowing,--the
long inglorious reigns of the dwindling Austrians and the parody of
greater days played by the scions of Bourbon, relieved for a few
creditable years by the heroic struggle of Charles III. against the
hopeless decadence. You may walk for an hour through the dismal line of
drawing-rooms in the cheerless palace that forms the gridiron's handle,
and not a spirit is evoked from memory among all the tapestry and
panelling and gilding.

The only cheerful room in this granite wilderness is the library, still
in good and careful keeping. A long, beautiful room, two hundred feet of
bookcases, and tasteful frescos by Tibaldi and Carducho, representing
the march of the liberal sciences. Most of the older folios are bound in
vellum, with their gilded edges, on which the title is stamped, turned
to the front. A precious collection of old books and older manuscripts,
useless to the world as the hoard of a miser. Along the wall are hung
the portraits of the Escorial kings and builders. The hall is furnished
with marble and porphyry tables, and elaborate glass cases display some
of the curiosities of the library,--a copy of the Gospels that belonged
to the Emperor Conrad, the Suabian Kurz; a richly illuminated
Apocalypse; a gorgeous missal of Charles V.; a Greek Bible, which once
belonged to Mrs. Phoebus's ancestor Cantacuzene; Persian and Chinese
sacred books; and a Koran, which is said to be the one captured by Don
Juan at Lepanto. Mr. Ford says it is spurious; Mr. Madoz says it is
genuine. The ladies with whom I had the happiness to visit the library
inclined to the latter opinion for two very good reasons,--the book is a
very pretty one, and Mr. Madoz's head is much balder than Mr. Ford's.
Wandering aimlessly through the frescoed cloisters and looking in at all
the open doors, over each of which a cunning little gridiron is inlaid
in the woodwork, we heard the startling and unexpected sound of boyish
voices and laughter. We approached the scene of such agreeable tumult,
and found the theatre of the monastery full of young students rehearsing
a play for the coming holidays. A clever-looking priest was directing
the drama, and one juvenile Thespis was denouncing tyrants and dying for
his country in hexameters of a shrill treble. His friends were
applauding more than was necessary or kind, and flourishing their wooden
swords with much ferocity of action. All that is left of the once
extensive establishment of the monastery is a boys' school, where some
two hundred youths are trained in the humanities, and a college where an
almost equal number are educated for the priesthood.

So depressing is the effect of the Escorial's gloom and its memories,
that when you issue at last from its massive doors, the trim and
terraced gardens seem gay and heartsome, and the bleak wild scene is
full of comfort. For here at least there is light and air and boundless
space. You have emerged from the twilight of the past into the present
day. The sky above you bends over Paris and Cheyenne. By this light
Darwin is writing, and the merchants are meeting in the Chicago Board of
Trade. Just below you winds the railway which will take you in two hours
to Madrid,--to the city of Philip II., where the nineteenth century has
arrived; where there are five Protestant churches and fifteen hundred
evangelical communicants. Our young crusader, Professor Knapp, holds
night schools and day schools and prayer meetings, with an active
devotion, a practical and American fervor, that is leavening a great
lump of apathy and death. These Anglo-Saxon missionaries have a larger
and more tolerant spirit of propaganda than has been hitherto seen. They
can differ about the best shape for the cup and the platter, but they
use what they find to their hand. They are giving a tangible direction
and purpose to the vague impulse of reform that was stirring, before
they came, in many devout hearts. A little while longer of this state of
freedom and inquiry, and the shock of controversy will come, and Spain
will be brought to life.

Already the signs are full of promise. The ancient barriers of
superstition have already given way in many places. A Protestant can not
only live in Spain, but, what was once a more important matter, he can
die and be buried there. This is one of the conquests of the revolution.
So delicate has been the susceptibility of the Spanish mind in regard to
the pollution of its soil by heretic corpses that even Charles I. of
England, when he came a-wooing to Spain, could hardly gain permission to
bury his page by night in the garden of the embassy; and in later days
the Prussian Minister was compelled to smuggle his dead child out of the
kingdom among his luggage to give it Christian burial. Even since the
days of September the clergy has fought manfully against giving
sepulture to Protestants; but Rivero, alcalde of Madrid and president of
the Cortes, was not inclined to waste time in dialectics, and sent a
police force to protect the heretic funerals and to arrest any priest
who disturbed them. There is freedom of speech and printing. The
humorous journals are full of blasphemous caricatures that would be
impossible out of a Catholic country, for superstition and blasphemy
always run in couples. It was the Duke de Guise, commanding the pope's
army at Civitella, who cried in his rage at a rain which favored Alva,
"God has turned Spaniard;" like Quashee, who burns his fetish when the
weather is foul. The liberal Spanish papers overflowed with wit at the
proclamation of infallibility. They announced that his holiness was now
going into the lottery business with brilliant prospects of success;
that he could now tell what Father Manterola had done with the thirty
thousand dollars' worth of bulls he sold last year and punctually
neglects to account for, and other levities of the sort, which seemed
greatly relished, and which would have burned the facetious author two
centuries before, and fined and imprisoned him before the fight at
Alcolea. The minister having charge of the public instruction has
promised to present a law for the prohibition of dogmatic doctrine in
the national schools. The law of civil registry and civil marriage,
after a desperate struggle in the Cortes, has gone into operation with
general assent. There is a large party which actively favors the entire
separation of the spiritual from the temporal power, making religion
voluntary, and free, and breaking its long concubinage with the crown.
The old superstition, it is true, still hangs like a malarial fog over
Spain. But it is invaded by flashes and rays of progress. It cannot
resist much longer the sunshine of this tolerant age.

Far up the mountain-side, in the shade of a cluster of chestnuts, is a
rude block of stone, called the "King's Chair," where Philip used to sit
in silent revery, watching as from an eyry the progress of the enormous
work below. If you go there, you will see the same scene upon which his
basilisk glance reposed,--in a changed world, the same unchanging
scene,--the stricken waste, the shaggy horror of the mountains, the
fixed plain wrinkled like a frozen sea, and in the centre of the perfect
picture the vast chill bulk of that granite pile, rising cold,
colorless, and stupendous, as if carved from an iceberg by the hand of
Northern gnomes. It is the palace of vanished royalty, the temple of a
religion which is dead. There are kings and priests still, and will be
for many coming years. But never again can a power exist which shall
rear to the glory of the sceptre and the cowl a monument like this. It
is a page of history deserving to be well pondered, for it never will be
repeated. The world which Philip ruled from the foot of the Guadarrama
has passed away. A new heaven and a new earth came in with the thunders
of 1776 and 1789. There will be no more Pyramids, no more Versailles, no
more Escoriais. The unpublished fiat has gone forth that man is worth
more than the glory of princes. The better religion of the future has
no need of these massive dungeon-temples of superstition and fear. Yet
there is a store of precious teachings in this mass of stone. It is one
of the results of that mysterious law to which the genius of history has
subjected the caprices of kings, to the end that we might not be left
without a witness of the past for our warning and example,--the law
which induces a judged and sentenced dynasty to build for posterity some
monument of its power, which hastens and commemorates its ruin. By
virtue of this law we read on the plains of Egypt the pride and the fall
of the Pharaohs. Before the fagade of Versailles we see at a glance the
grandeur of the Capetian kings and the necessity of the Revolution. And
the most vivid picture of that fierce and gloomy religion of the
sixteenth century, compounded of a base alloy of worship for an absolute
king and a vengeful God, is to be found in this colossal hermitage in
the flinty heart of the mountains of Castile.



A MIRACLE PLAY


In the windy month of March a sudden gloom falls upon Madrid,--the
reaction after the _folie gaiete_ of the Carnival. The theatres are at
their gayest in February until Prince Carnival and his jolly train
assault the town, and convert the temples of the drama into ball-rooms.
They have not yet arrived at the wonderful expedition and despatch
observed in Paris, where a half hour is enough to convert the grand
opera into the masked ball. The invention of this process of flooring
the orchestra flush with the stage and making a vast dancing-hall out of
both is due to an ingenious courtier of the regency, bearing the great
name of De Bouillon, who got much credit and a pension by it. In Madrid
they take the afternoon leisurely to the transformation, and the
evening's performance is of course sacrificed. So the sock and buskin,
not being adapted to the cancan, yielded with February, and the theatres
were closed finally on Ash Wednesday.

Going by the pleasant little theatre of Lope de Rueda, in the Calle
Barquillo, I saw the office-doors open, the posters up, and an
unmistakable air of animation among the loungers who mark with a seal so
peculiar the entrance of places of amusement. Struck by this apparent
levity in the midst of the general mortification, I went over to look at
the bills and found the subject announced serious enough for the most
Lenten entertainment,--Los Siete Dolores de Maria,--The Seven Sorrows of
Mary,--the old mediaeval Miracle of the Life of the Saviour.

This was bringing suddenly home to me the fact that I was really in a
Catholic country. I had never thought of going to Ammergau, and so, when
reading of these shows, I had entertained no more hope of seeing one
than of assisting at an auto-da-fe or a witch-burning. I went to the
box-office to buy seats. But they were all sold. The forestallers had
swept the board. I was never able to determine whether I most pitied or
despised these pests of the theatre. Whenever a popular play is
presented, a dozen ragged and garlic-odorous vagabonds go early in the
day and buy as many of the best places as they can pay for. They hang
about the door of the theatre all day, and generally manage to dispose
of their purchases at an advance. But it happens very often that they
are disappointed; that the play does not draw, or that the evening
threatens rain, and the Spaniard is devoted to his hat. He would keep
out of a revolution if it rained. So that, at the pleasant hour when the
orchestra are giving the last tweak to the key of their fiddles, you may
see these woebegone wretches rushing distractedly from the Piamonte to
the Alcala, offering their tickets at a price which falls rapidly from
double to even, and tumbles headlong to half-price at the first note of
the opening overture. When I see the forestaller luxuriously basking at
the office-door in the warm sunshine, and scornfully refusing to treat
for less than twice the treasurer's figures, I feel a divided
indignation against the nuisance and the management that permits it. But
when in the evening I meet him haggard and feverish, hawking his unsold
places in desperate panic on the sidewalk, I cannot but remember that
probably a half dozen dirty and tawny descendants of Pelayo will eat no
beans to-morrow for those unfortunate tickets, and my wrath melts, and I
buy his crumpled papers, moist with the sweat of anxiety, and add a
slight propina, which I fear will be spent in aguardiente to calm his
shattered nerves.

This day the sky looked threatening, and my shabby hidalgo listened to
reason, and sold me my places at their price and a _petit verre._

As we entered in the evening the play had just begun. The scene was the
interior of the Temple at Jerusalem, rather well done,--two ranges of
superimposed porphyry columns with a good effect of oblique perspective,
which is very common in the Spanish theatres. St. Simeon, in a dress
suspiciously resembling that of the modern bishop, was talking with a
fiery young Hebrew who turns out to be Demas, the Penitent Thief, and
who is destined to play a very noticeable part in the evening's
entertainment. He has received some slight from the government
authorities and does not propose to submit to it. The aged and
cooler-blooded Simeon advises him to do nothing rash. Here at the very
outset is a most characteristic Spanish touch. You are expected to be
interested in Demas, and the only crime which could appeal to the
sympathies of a Castilian crowd would be one committed at the promptings
of injured dignity.

There is a soft, gentle strain of music played pianissimo by the
orchestra, and, surrounded by a chorus of mothers and maidens, the
Virgin Mother enters with the Divine Child in her arms. The Madonna is a
strapping young girl named Gutierrez, a very clever actress; and the
Child has been bought in the neighboring toy-shop, a most palpable and
cynical wax-doll. The doll is handed to Simeon, and the solemn ceremony
of the Presentation is performed to fine and thoughtful music. St.
Joseph has come in sheepishly by the flies with his inseparable staff
crowned with a garland of lilies, which remain miraculously fresh during
thirty years or so, and kneels at the altar, on the side opposite to
Miss Gutierrez.

As the music ceases, Simeon starts as from a trance and predicts in a
few rapid couplets the sufferings and the crucifixion of the child. Mary
falls overwhelmed into the arms of her attendants, and Simeon exclaims,
"Most blessed and most unfortunate among women! thy heart is to be
pierced with Seven Sorrows, and this is the first." Demas rushes in and
announces the massacre of the innocents, concluding with the appropriate
reflection, "Perish the kings! always the murderers of the people." This
sentiment is so much to the taste of the gamins of the paraiso that they
vociferously demand an encore; but the Roman soldiers come in and
commence the pleasing task of prodding the dolls in the arms of the
chorus.

The next act is the Flight into Egypt. The curtain rises on a rocky
ravine with a tinsel torrent in the background and a group of robbers on
the stage. Gestas, the impenitent thief, stands sulky and glum in a
corner, fingering his dagger as you might be sure he would, and
informing himself in a growling soliloquy that his heart is consumed
with envy and hate because he is not captain. The captain, one Issachar,
comes in, a superbly handsome young fellow, named Mario, to my thinking
the first comedian in Spain, dressed in a flashy suit of leopard hides,
and announces the arrival of a stranger. Enters Demas, who says he hates
the world and would fain drink its foul blood. He is made politely
welcome. No! he will be captain or nothing. Issachar laughs scornfully
and says _he_ is in the way of that modest aspiration. But Demas
speedily puts him out of the way with an Albacete knife, and becomes
captain, to the profound disgust of the impenitent Gestas, who exclaims,
just as the profane villains do nowadays on every well-conducted stage,
"Damnation! foiled again!"

The robbers pick up their idolized leader and pitch him into the tinsel
torrent. This is also extremely satisfactory to the wide-awake young
Arabs of the cock-loft. The bandits disperse, and Demas indulges in some
fifty lines of rhymed reflections, which are interrupted by the approach
of the Holy Family, hotly pursued by the soldiery of Herod. They stop
under a sycamore tree, which instantly, by very clever machinery, bends
down its spreading branches and miraculously hides them from the
bloodthirsty legionaries. These pass on, and Demas leads the saintly
trio by a secret pass over the torrent,--the Mother and Child mounted
upon an ass and St. Joseph trudging on behind with his lily-decked
staff, looking all as if they were on a short leave of absence from
Correggio's picture-frame.

Demas comes back, calls up his merrymen, and has a battle-royal with the
enraged legionaries, which puts the critics of the gallery into a frenzy
of delight and assures the success of the spectacle. The curtain falls
in a gust of applause, is stormed up again, Demas comes forward and
makes a neat speech, announcing the author. Que salga! roar the
gods,--"Trot him out!" A shabby young cripple hobbles to the front,
leaning upon a crutch, his sallow face flushed with a hectic glow of
pride and pleasure. He also makes a glib speech,--I have never seen a
Spaniard who could not,--disclaiming all credit for himself, but lauding
the sublimity of the acting and the perfection of the scene-painting,
and saying that the memory of this unmerited applause will be forever
engraved upon his humble heart.

Act third, the Lost Child, or Christ in the Temple. The scene is before
the Temple on a festival day, plenty of chorus-girls, music, and
flowers. Demas and the impenitent Gestas and Barabbas, who, I was
pleased to see, was after all a very good sort of fellow, with no more
malice than you or I, were down in the city on a sort of lark, their
leopard skins left in the mountains and their daggers hid under the
natty costume of the Judaean dandy of the period. Demas and Gestas have
a quarrel, in which Gestas is rather roughly handled, and goes off
growling like every villain, _qui se respecte,--_"I will have
r-revenge." Barabbas proposes to go around to the cider-cellars, but
Demas confides to him that he is enslaved by a dream of a child, who
said to him, "Follow me--to Paradise;" that he had come down to
Jerusalem to seek and find the mysterious infant of his vision. The
jovial Barabbas seems imperfectly impressed by these transcendental
fancies, and at this moment Mary comes in dressed like a Madonna of
Guido Reni, and soon after St. Joseph and his staff. They ask each other
where is the Child,--a scene of alarm and bustle, which ends by the door
of the Temple flying open and discovering, shrined in ineffable light,
Jesus teaching the doctors.

In the fourth act, Demas meets a beautiful woman by the city gate, in
the loose, graceful dress of the Hetairai, and the most wonderful
luxuriance of black curls I have ever seen falling in dense masses to
her knees. After a conversation of amorous banter, he gives her a
golden chain, which she assumes, well pleased, and gives him her name,
La Magdalena. A motley crowd of street loafers here rushed upon the
scene, and I am sure there was no one of Northern blood in the theatre
that did not shudder for an instant at the startling apparition that
formed the central figure of the group. The world has long ago agreed
upon a typical face and figure for the Saviour of men; it has been
repeated on myriads of canvases and reproduced in thousands of statues,
till there is scarcely a man living that does not have the same image of
the Redeemer in his mind. Well, that image walked quietly upon the
stage, so perfect in make-up that you longed for some error to break the
terrible vraisemblance. I was really relieved when the august appearance
spoke, and I recognized the voice of a young actor named Morales, a
clever light comedian of the Bressant type.

The Magdalene is soon converted by the preaching of the Nazarene
Prophet, and the scene closes by the triumphant entry into Jerusalem
amid the waving of palm-branches, the strewing of flowers, and "sonorous
metal blowing martial sounds." The pathetic and sublime lament,
"Jerusalem! Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets!" was delivered
with great 'feeling and power.

The next act brings us before the judgment-seat of Pontius Pilate. This
act is almost solely horrible. The Magdalene in her garb of penitence
comes in to beg the release of Jesus of Nazareth. Pontius, who is
represented as a gallant old gentleman, says he can refuse nothing to a
lady. The prisoner is dragged in by two ferocious ruffians, who beat and
buffet him with absurd and exaggerated violence. There is nothing more
hideous than the awful concreteness of this show,--the naked
helplessness of the prisoner, his horrible, cringing, overdone humility,
the coarse kicking and cuffing of the deputy sheriffs. The Prophet is
stripped and scourged at the pillar until he drops from exhaustion. He
is dragged anew before Pilate and examined, but his only word is, "Thou
hast said." The scene lasts nearly an hour. The theatre was full of
sobbing women and children. At every fresh brutality I could hear the
weeping spectators say, "Pobre Jesus!" "How wicked they are!" The bulk
of the audience was of people who do not often go to theatres. They
looked upon the revolting scene as a real and living fact. One
hard-featured man near me clenched his fists and cursed the cruel
guards. A pale, delicate-featured girl who was leaning out of her box,
with her brown eyes, dilated with horror, fixed upon the scene, suddenly
shrieked as a Roman soldier struck the unresisting Saviour, and fell
back fainting in the arms of her friends.

The Nazarene Prophet was condemned at last. Gestas gives evidence
against him, and also delivers Demas to the law, but is himself
denounced, and shares their sentence. The crowd howled with exultation,
and Pilate washed his hands in impotent rage and remorse. The curtain
came down leaving the uncultivated portion of the audience in the frame
of mind in which their ancestors a few centuries earlier would have gone
from the theatre determined to serve God and relieve their feelings by
killing the first Jew they could find. The diversion was all the better,
because safer, if they happened to the good luck of meeting a Hebrew
woman or child.

The Calle de Amargura--the Street of Bitterness--was the next scene.
First came a long procession of official Romans,--lictors and swordsmen,
and the heralds announcing the day's business. Demas appears, dragged
along with vicious jerks to execution. The Saviour follows, and falls
under the weight of the cross before the footlights. Another long and
dreary scene takes place, of brutalities from the Roman soldiers, the
ringleader of whom is a sanguinary Andalusian ingeniously encased in a
tin barrel, a hundred lines of rhymed sorrow from the Madonna, and a
most curious scene of the Wandering Jew. This worthy, who in defiance of
tradition is called Samuel, is sitting in his doorway watching the show,
when the suffering Christ begs permission to rest a moment on his
threshold. He says churlishly, Anda!--"Begone!" "I will go, but thou
shalt go forever until I come." The Jew's feet begin to twitch
convulsively, as if pulled from under him. He struggles for a moment,
and at last is carried off by his legs, which are moved like those of
the walking dolls with the Greek names. This odd tradition, so utterly
in contradiction with the picture the Scriptures give us of the meek
dignity with which the Redeemer forgave all personal injuries, has taken
a singular hold upon the imaginations of all peoples. Under varying
names,---Ahasuerus, Salathiel, le Juif Errant, der ewige Jude,--his
story is the delight and edification of many lands; and I have met some
worthy people who stoutly insisted that they had read it in the Bible.

The sinister procession moves on. The audience, which had been somewhat
cheered by the prompt and picturesque punishment inflicted upon the
inhospitable Samuel, was still further exhilarated by the spectacle of
the impenitent traitor Gestas, staggering under an enormous cross, his
eyes and teeth glaring with abject fear, with an athletic Roman haling
him up to Calvary with a new hempen halter.

A long intermission followed, devoted to putting babies to sleep,--for
there were hundreds of them, wide-eyed and strong-lunged,--to smoking
the hasty cigarette, to discussing the next combination of Prim or the
last scandal in the gay world. The carpenters were busy behind the
scenes building the mountain. When the curtain rose, it was worth
waiting for. It was an admirable scene. A genuine Spanish mountain,
great humpy undulations of rock and sand, gigantic cacti for all
vegetation, a lurid sky behind, but not over-colored. A group of Roman
soldiers in the foreground, in the rear the hill, and the executioners
busily employed in nailing the three victims to their crosses. Demas was
fastened first; then Gestas, who, when undressed for execution, was a
superb model of a youthful Hercules. But the third cross still lay on
the ground; the hammering and disputing and coming and going were
horribly lifelike and real.

At last the victim is securely nailed to the wood, and the cross is
slowly and clumsily lifted and falls with a shock into its socket. The
soldiers _huzza.,_ the fiend in the tin barrel and another in a tin hat
come down to the footlights and throw dice for the raiment. "Caramba!
curse my luck!" says our friend in the tin case, and the other walks off
with the vestment.

The Passion begins, and lasts an interminable time. The grouping is
admirable, every shifting of the crowd in the foreground produces a new
and finished picture, with always the same background of the three high
crosses and their agonizing burdens against that lurid sky. The
impenitent Gestas curses and dies; the penitent Demas believes and
receives eternal rest. The Holy Women come in and group themselves in
picturesque despair at the foot of the cross. The awful drama goes on
with no detail omitted,--the thirst the sponge dipped in vinegar, the
cry of desolation, the spear-thrust, the giving up of the ghost. The
stage-lights are lowered. A thick darkness--of crape--comes down over
the sky. Horror falls on the impious multitude, and the scene is
deserted save by the faithful.

The closing act opens with a fine effect of moon and stars. "Que linda
luna!" sighed a young woman beside me, drying her tears, comforted by
the beauty of the scene. The central cross is bathed in the full
splendor that is denied the others. Joseph of Abarimathea (as he is here
called) comes in with ladders and winding-sheets, and the dead Christ is
taken from the cross. The Descent is managed with singular skill and
genuine artistic feeling. The principal actor, who has been suspended
for an hour in a most painful and constrained posture, has a corpse-like
rigidity and numbness. There is one moment when you can almost imagine
yourself in Antwerp, looking at that sublimest work of Rubens. The
Entombment ends, and the last tableau is of the Mater Dolorosa in the
Solitude. I have rarely seen an effect so simple, and yet so
striking,--the darkened stage, the softened moonlight, the now Holy Rood
spectral and tall against the starry sky, and the Dolorous Mother, alone
in her sublime sorrow, as she will be worshipped and revered for coming
aeons.

A curious observation is made by all foreigners, of the absence of the
apostles from the drama. They appear from time to time, but merely as
supernumeraries. One would think that the character of Judas was
especially fitted for dramatic use. I spoke of this to a friend, and he
said that formerly the false apostle was introduced in the play, but
that the sight of him so fired the Spanish heart that not only his life,
but the success of the piece was endangered. This reminds one of Mr. A.
Ward's account of a high-handed outrage at "Utiky," where a young
gentleman of good family stove in the wax head of "Jewdas Iscarrit,"
characterizing him at the same time as a "pew-serlanimous cuss."

"To see these Mysteries in their glory," continued my friend, "you
should go into the small towns in the provinces, uncontaminated with
railroads or unbelief. There they last several days The stage is the
town, the Temple scene takes place in the church, the Judgment at the
city hall, and the procession of the Via Crucis moves through all the
principal streets. The leading roles are no joke,--carrying fifty kilos
of wood over the mud and cobble-stones for half a day. The Judas or
Gestas must be paid double for the kicks and cuffs he gets from
tender-hearted spectators,--the curses he accepts willingly as a tribute
to his dramatic ability. His proudest boast in the evening is Querian
matarme,--'They wanted to kill me!' I once saw the hero of the drama
stop before a wine-shop, sweating like rain, and positively swear by the
life of the Devil, he would not carry his gallows a step farther unless
he had a drink. They brought him a bottle of Valdepenas, and he drained
it before resuming his way to Golgotha. Some of us laughed
thoughtlessly, and narrowly escaped the knives of the orthodox ruffians
who followed the procession."

The most striking fact in this species of exhibition is the evident and
unquestioning faith of the audience. To all foreigners the show is at
first shocking and then tedious; to the good people of Madrid it is a
sermon, full of absolute truth and vivid reality. The class of persons
who attend these spectacles is very different from that which you find
at the Royal Theatre or the Comic Opera. They are sober, serious
bourgeois, who mind their shops and go to mass regularly, and who come
to the theatre only in Lent, when the gay world stays away. They would
not dream of such an indiscretion as reading the Bible. Their doctrinal
education consists of their catechism, the sermons of the curas, and the
traditions of the Church. The miracle of St. Veronica, who, wiping the
brow of the Saviour in the Street of Bitterness, finds his portrait on
her handkerchief, is to them as real and reverend as if it were related
by the evangelist. The spirit of inquiry which has broken so many idols,
and opened such new vistas of thought for the minds of all the world, is
as yet a stranger to Spain. It is the blind and fatal boast of even the
best of Spaniards that their country is a unit in religious faith. Nunca
se disputo en Espana,--"There has never been any discussion in
Spain,"--exclaims proudly an eminent Spanish writer. Spectacles like
that which we have just seen were one of the elements which in a
barbarous and unenlightened age contributed strongly to the
consolidation of that unthinking and ardent faith which has fused the
nation into one torpid and homogeneous mass of superstition. No better
means could have been devised for the purpose. Leaving out of view the
sublime teachings of the large and tolerant morality of Jesus, the
clergy made his personality the sole object of worship and reverence. By
dwelling almost exclusively upon the story of his sufferings, they
excited the emotional nature of the ignorant, and left their intellects
untouched and dormant. They aimed to arouse their sympathies, and when
that was done, to turn their natural resentment against those whom the
Church considered dangerous. To the inflamed and excited worshippers, a
heretic was the enemy of the crucified Saviour, a Jew was his murderer,
a Moor was his reviler. A Protestant wore to their bloodshot eyes the
semblance of the torturer who had mocked and scourged the meek Redeemer,
who had crowned his guileless head with thorns, who had pierced and
slain him. The rack, the gibbet, and the stake were not enough to glut
the pious hate this priestly trickery inspired. It was not enough that
the doubter's life should go out in the blaze of the crackling fagots,
but it must be loaded in eternity with the curses of the faithful.

Is there not food for earnest thought in the fact that faith in Christ,
which led the Puritans across the sea to found the purest social and
political system which the wit of man has yet evolved from the tangled
problems of time, has dragged this great Spanish people down to a depth
of hopeless apathy, from which it may take long years of civil tumult to
raise them? May we not find the explanation of this strange phenomenon
in the contrast of Catholic unity with Protestant diversity? "Thou that
killest the prophets!"--the system to which this apostrophe can be
applied is doomed. And it matters little who the prophets may be.



THE CRADLE AND THE GRAVE OF CERVANTES


In Rembrandt Peale's picture of the Court of Death a cadaverous shape
lies for judgment at the foot of the throne, touching at either
extremity the waters of Lethe. There is something similar in the history
of the greatest of Spanish writers. No man knew, for more than a century
after the death of Cervantes, the place of his birth and burial. About a
hundred years ago the investigations of Rios and Pellicer established
the claim of Alcala de Henares to be his native city; and last year the
researches of the Spanish Academy have proved conclusively that he is
buried in the Convent of the Trinitarians in Madrid. But the precise
spot where he was born is only indicated by vague tradition; and the
shadowy conjecture that has so long hallowed the chapel and cloisters of
the Calle Cantarranas has never settled upon any one slab of their
pavement.

It is, however, only the beginning and the end of this most chivalrous
and genial apparition of the sixteenth century that is concealed from
our view. We know where he was christened and where he died. So that
there are sufficiently authentic shrines in Alcala and Madrid to satisfy
the most sceptical pilgrims.

I went to Alcala one summer day, when the bare fields were brown and dry
in their after-harvest nudity, and the hills that bordered the winding
Henares were drab in the light and purple in the shadow. From a distance
the town is one of the most imposing in Castile. It lies in the midst of
a vast plain by the green water-side, and the land approach is fortified
by a most impressive wall emphasized by sturdy square towers and
flanking bastions. But as you come nearer you see this wall is a
tradition. It is almost in ruins.

The crenellated towers are good for nothing but to sketch. A short walk
from the station brings you to the gate, which is well defended by a
gang of picturesque beggars, who are old enough to have sat for Murillo,
and revoltingly pitiable enough to be millionaires by this time, if
Castilians had the cowardly habit of sponging out disagreeable
impressions with pennies. At the first charge we rushed in panic into a
tobacco-shop and filled our pockets with maravedis, and thereafter faced
the ragged battalion with calm.

It is a fine, handsome, and terribly lonesome town. Its streets are
wide, well built, and silent v as avenues in a graveyard. On every hand
there are tall and stately churches, a few palaces, and some two dozen
great monasteries turning their long walls, pierced with jealous grated
windows, to the grass-grown streets. In many quarters there is no sign
of life, no human habitations among these morose and now empty barracks
of a monkish army. Some of them have been turned into military casernes,
and the bright red and blue uniforms of the Spanish officers and
troopers now brighten the cloisters that used to see nothing gayer than
the gowns of cord-girdled friars. A large garrison is always kept here.
The convents are convenient for lodging men and horses. The fields in
the vicinity produce great store of grain and alfalfa,--food for beast
and rider. It is near enough to the capital to use the garrison on any
sudden emergency, such as frequently happens in Peninsular politics.

The railroad that runs by Alcala has not brought with it any taint of
the nineteenth century. The army is a corrupting influence, but not
modern. The vice that follows the trail of armies, or sprouts,
fungus-like, about the walls of barracks, is as old as war, and links
the present, with its struggle for a better life, to the old mediaeval
world of wrong. These trim fellows in loose trousers and embroidered
jackets are the same race that fought and drank and made prompt love in
Italy and Flanders and butchered the Aztecs in the name of religion
three hundred years ago. They have laid off their helmets and hauberks,
and use the Berdan rifle instead of the Roman spear. But they are the
same careless, idle, dissolute bread-wasters now as then.

The town has not changed in the least. It has only shrunk a little. You
think sometimes it must be a vacation, and that you will come again when
people return. The little you see of the people is very attractive.
Passing along the desolate streets, you glance in at an open door and
see a most delightful cabinet picture of domestic life. All the doors in
the house are open. You can see through the entry, the front room, into
the cool court beyond, gay with oleanders and vines, where a group of
women half dressed are sewing and spinning and cheering their souls with
gossip. If you enter under pretence of asking a question, you will be
received with grave courtesy, your doubts solved, and they will bid you
go with God, with the quaint frankness of patriarchal times.

They do not seem to have been spoiled by overmuch travel. Such
impressive and Oriental courtesy could not have survived the trampling
feet of the great army of tourists. On our pilgrim-way to the cradle of
Cervantes we came suddenly upon the superb facade of the university.
This is one of the most exquisite compositions of plateresque in
existence. The entire front of the central body of the building is
covered with rich and tasteful ornamentation. Over the great door is an
enormous escutcheon of the arms of Austria, supported by two finely
carved statues,--on the one side a nearly nude warrior, on the other the
New World as a feather-clad Indian woman. Still above this a fine, bold
group of statuary, representing, with that reverent naivete of early
art, God the Father in the work of creation. Surrounding the whole front
as with a frame, and reaching to the ground on either side, is carved
the knotted cord of the Franciscan monks. No description can convey the
charming impression given by the harmony of proportion and the loving
finish of detail everywhere seen in this beautifully preserved fagade.
While we were admiring it an officer came out of the adjoining cuartel
and walked by us with jingling spurs. I asked him if one could go
inside. He shrugged his shoulders with a Quien sabe? indicating a doubt
as profound as if I had asked him whether chignons were worn in the
moon. He had never thought of anything inside. There was no wine nor
pretty girls there. Why should one want to go in? We entered the cool
vestibule, and were ascending the stairs to the first court, when a
porter came out of his lodge and inquired our errand. We were wandering
barbarians with an eye to the picturesque, and would fain see the
university, if it were not unlawful. He replied, in a hushed and
scholastic tone of voice, and with a succession of confidential winks
that would have inspired confidence in the heart of a Talleyrand, that
if our lordships would give him our cards he had no doubt he could
obtain the required permission from the rector. He showed us into a dim,
claustral-looking anteroom, in which, as I was told by my friend, who
trifles in lost moments with the integral calculus, there were
seventy-two chairs and one microscopic table. The wall was decked with
portraits of the youth of the college, all from the same artist, who
probably went mad from the attempt to make fifty beardless faces look
unlike each other. We sat for some time mourning over his failure, until
the door opened, and not the porter, but the rector himself, a most
courteous and polished gentleman in the black robe and three-cornered
hat of his order, came in and graciously placed himself and the
university at our disposition. We had reason to congratulate ourselves
upon this good fortune. He showed us every nook and corner of the vast
edifice, where the present and the past elbowed each other at every
turn: here the boys' gymnasium, there the tomb of Valles; here the new
patent cocks of the water-pipes, and there the tri-lingual patio where
Alonso Sanchez lectured in Arabic, Greek, and Chaldean, doubtless making
a choice hash of the three; the airy and graceful paraninfo, or hall of
degrees, a masterpiece of Moresque architecture, with a gorgeous
panelled roof, a rich profusion of plaster arabesques, and, _horresco
referens,_ the walls covered with a bright French paper. Our good rector
groaned at this abomination, but said the Gauls had torn away the
glorious carved panelling for firewood in the war of 1808, and the
college was too poor to restore it. His righteous indignation waxed hot
again when we came to the beautiful sculptured pulpit of the chapel,
where all the delicate details are degraded by a thick coating of
whitewash, which in some places has fallen away and shows the gilding of
the time of the Catholic kings.

There is in this chapel a picture of the Virgin appearing to the great
cardinal whom we call Ximenez and the Spaniards Cisneros, which is
precious for two reasons. The portrait of Ximenez was painted from life
by the nameless artist, who, it is said, came from France for the
purpose, and the face of the Virgin is a portrait of Isabella the
Catholic. It is a good wholesome face, such as you would expect. But the
thin, powerful profile of Ximenez is very striking, with his red hair
and florid tint, his curved beak, and long, nervous lips. He looks not
unlike that superb portrait Raphael has left of Cardinal Medici.

This university is fragrant with the good fame of Ximenez. In the
principal court there is a fine medallion of the illustrious founder and
protector, as he delighted to be drawn, with a sword in one hand and a
crucifix in the other,--twin brother in genius and fortune of the
soldier-priest of France, the Cardinal-Duke Richelieu. On his gorgeous
sarcophagus you read the arrogant epitaph with which he revenged himself
for the littleness of kings and courtiers:--

"Praetextam junxi sacco, galeamque galero, Frater, dux, praesul,
cardineusque pater. Quin, virtute mea junctum est diadema cucullo, Dum
mihi regnanti patuit Gesperia."

By a happy chance our visit was made in a holiday time, and the students
were all away. It was better that there should be perfect solitude and
silence as we walked through the noble system of buildings and strove to
re-create the student world of Cervantes's time. The chronicle which
mentions the visit of Francis I. to Alcala, when a prisoner in Spain,
says he was received by eleven thousand students. This was only twenty
years before the birth of Cervantes. The world will never see again so
brilliant a throng of ingenuous youth as gathered together in the great
university towns in those years of vivid and impassioned greed for
letters that followed the revival of learning. The romance of Oxford or
Heidelberg or Harvard is tame compared with that electric life of a
new-born world that wrought and flourished in Padua, Paris, and Alcala.
Walking with my long-robed scholarly guide through the still, shadowy
courts, under Renaissance arches and Moorish roofs, hearing him talking
with enthusiasm of the glories of the past and never a word of the
events of the present, in his pure, strong, guttural Castilian, no
living thing in view but an occasional Franciscan gliding under the
graceful arcades, it was not difficult to imagine the scenes of the
intense young life which filled these noble halls in that fresh day of
aspiration and hope, when this Spanish sunlight fell on the marble and
the granite bright and sharp from the chisel of the builder, and the
great Ximenez looked proudly on his perfect work and saw that it was
good.

The twilight of superstition still hung heavily over Europe. But this
was nevertheless the breaking of dawn, the herald of the fuller day of
investigation and inquiry.

It was into this rosy morning of the modern world that Cervantes was
ushered in the season of the falling leaves of 1547. He was born to a
life of poverty and struggle and an immortality of fame. His own city
did not know him while he lived, and now is only known through him.
Pilgrims often come from over distant seas to breathe for one day the
air that filled his baby lungs, and to muse among the scenes that shaped
his earliest thoughts.

We strolled away from the university through the still lanes and squares
to the Calle Mayor, the only thoroughfare of the town that yet retains
some vestige of traffic. It is a fine, long street bordered by stone
arcades, within which are the shops, and without which in the pleasant
afternoon are the rosy and contemplative shopkeepers. It would seem a
pity to disturb their dreamy repose by offering to trade; and in justice
to Castilian taste and feeling I must say that nobody does it. Halfway
down the street a side alley runs to the right, called Calle de
Cervantes, and into this we turned to find the birthplace of the
romancer. On one side was a line of squalid, quaint, gabled houses, on
the other a long garden wall. We walked under the shadow of the latter
and stared at the house-fronts, looking for an inscription we had heard
of. We saw in sunny doorways mothers oiling into obedience the stiff
horse-tail hair of their daughters. By the grated windows we caught
glimpses of the black eyes and nut-brown cheeks of maidens at their
needles. But we saw nothing to show which of these mansions had been
honored by tradition as the residence of Roderick Cervantes.

A brisk and practical-looking man went past us.

I asked him where was the house of the poet. He smiled in a superior
sort of way, and pointed to the wall above my head: "There is no such
house. Some people think it once stood here, and they have placed that
stone in the garden-wall to mark the spot. I believe what I see. It is
all child's play anyhow, whether true or false. There is better work to
be done now than to honor Cervantes. He fought for a bigot king, and
died in a monk's hood."

"You think lightly of a glory of Castile."

"If we could forget all the glories of Castile it would be better for
us."

"Puede ser," I assented. "Many thanks. May your grace go with God!"

"Health and fraternity!" he answered, and moved away with a step full of
energy and dissent. He entered a door under an inscription, "Federal
Republican Club."

Go your ways, I thought, radical brother. You are not so courteous nor
so learned as the rector. But this Peninsula has need of men like you.
The ages of belief have done their work for good and ill. Let us have
some years of the spirit that denies, and asks for proofs. The power of
the monk is broken, but the work is not yet done. The convents have been
turned into barracks, which is no improvement. The ringing of spurs in
the streets of Alcala is no better than the rustling of the sandalled
friars. If this Republican party of yours cannot do something to free
Spain from the triple curse of crown, crozier, and sabre, then Spain is
in doleful case. They are at last divided, and the first two have been
sorely weakened in detail. The last should be the easiest work.

The scorn of my radical friend did not prevent my copying the modest
tablet on the wall:--

"Here was born Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Don Quixote. By
his fame and his genius he belongs to the civilized world; by his cradle
to Alcala de Henares."

There is no doubt of the truth of the latter part of this inscription.
Eight Spanish towns have claimed to have given birth to Cervantes, thus
beating the blind Scian by one town; every one that can show on its
church records the baptism of a child so called has made its claim. Yet
Alcala, who spells his name wrong, calling him Carvantes, is certainly
in the right, as the names of his father, mother, brothers, and sisters
are also given in its records, and all doubt is now removed from the
matter by the discovery of Cervantes's manuscript statement of his
captivity in Algiers and his petition for employment in America, in both
of which he styles himself "Natural de Alcala de Henares."

Having examined the evidence, we considered ourselves justly entitled to
all the usual emotions in visiting the church of the parish, Santa Maria
la Mayor. It was evening, and from a dozen belfries in the neighborhood
came the soft dreamy chime of silver-throated bells. In the little
square in front of the church a few families sat in silence on the
massive stone benches. A few beggars hurried by, too intent upon getting
home to supper to beg. A rural and a twilight repose lay on everything.
Only in the air, rosy with the level light, flew out and greeted each
other those musical voices of the bells rich with the memories of all
the days of Alcala. The church was not open, but we followed a sacristan
in, and he seemed too feeble-minded to forbid. It is a pretty church,
not large nor imposing, with a look of cosy comfort about it. Through
the darkness the high altar loomed before us, dimly lighted by a few
candles where the sacristans were setting up the properties for the
grand mass of the morrow,--Our Lady of the Snows. There was much talk
and hot discussion as to the placing of the boards and the draperies,
and the image of Our Lady seemed unmoved by words unsuited to her
presence. We know that every vibration of air makes its own impression
on the world of matter. So that the curses of the sacristans at their
work, the prayers of penitents at the altar, the wailing of breaking
hearts bowed on the pavement through many years, are all recorded
mysteriously, in these rocky walls. This church is the illegible history
of the parish. But of all its ringing of bells, and swinging of censers,
and droning of psalms, and putting on and off of goodly raiment, the
only show that consecrates it for the world's pilgrimage is that humble
procession that came on the 9th day of October, in the year of Grace
1547, to baptize Roderick Cervantes's youngest child. There could not be
an humbler christening. Juan Pardo--John Gray--was the sponsor, and the
witnesses were "Baltazar Vazquez, the sacristan, and I who baptized him
and signed with my name," says Mr. Bachelor Serrano, who never dreamed
he was stumbling into fame when he touched that pink face with the holy
water and called the child Miguel. It is my profound conviction that
Juan Pardo brought the baby himself to the church and took it home
again, screaming wrathfully; Neighbor' Pardo feeling a little sheepish
and mentally resolving never to do another good-natured action as long
as he lived.

As for the neophyte, he could not be blamed for screaming and kicking
against the new existence he was entering, if the instinct of genius
gave him any hint of it. Between the font of St. Mary's and the bier at
St. Ildefonso's there was scarcely an hour of joy waiting him in his
long life, except that which comes from noble and earnest work.

His youth was passed in the shabby privation of a poor gentleman's
house; his early talents attracted the attention of my Lord Aquaviva,
the papal legate, who took him back to Rome in his service; but the
high-spirited youth soon left the inglorious ease of the cardinal's
house to enlist as a private soldier in the sea-war against the Turk. He
fought bravely at Lepanto, where he was three times wounded and his left
hand crippled. Going home for promotion, loaded with praise and kind
letters from the generous bastard, Don Juan of Austria, the true son of
the Emperor Charles and pretty Barbara Blumberg, he was captured with
his brother by the Moors, and passed five miserable years in slavery,
never for one instant submitting to his lot, but wearying his hostile
fate with constant struggles. He headed a dozen attempts at flight or
insurrection, and yet his thrifty owners would not kill him. They
thought a man who bore letters from a prince, and who continued cock of
his walk through years of servitude, would one day bring a round ransom.
At last the tardy day of his redemption came, but not from the
cold-hearted tyrant he had so nobly served. The matter was presented to
him by Cervantes's comrades, but he would do nothing. So that Don
Roderick sold his estate and his sisters sacrificed their dowry to buy
the freedom of the captive brothers.

They came back to Spain still young enough to be fond of glory, and
simple-hearted enough to believe in the justice of the great. They
immediately joined the army and served in the war with Portugal. The
elder brother made his way and got some little promotion, but Miguel got
married and discharged, and wrote verses and plays, and took a small
office in Seville, and moved with the Court to Valladolid; and kept his
accounts badly, and was too honest to steal, and so got into jail, and
grew every year poorer and wittier and better; he was a public
amanuensis, a business agent, a sub-tax-gatherer,--anything to keep his
lean larder garnished with scant ammunition against the wolf hunger. In
these few lines you have the pitiful story of the life of the greatest
of Spaniards, up to his return to Madrid in 1606, when he was nearly
sixty years old.

From this point his history becomes clearer and more connected up to the
time of his death. He lived in the new-built suburb, erected on the site
of the gardens of the Duke of Lerma, first minister and favorite of
Philip III. It was a quarter much affected by artists and men of
letters, and equally so by ecclesiastics. The names of the streets
indicate the traditions of piety and art that still hallow the
neighborhood. Jesus Street leads you into the street of Lope de Vega.
Quevedo and Saint Augustine run side by side. In the same neighborhood
are the streets called Cervantes, Saint Mary, and Saint Joseph, and just
round the corner are the Magdalen and the Love-of-God. The actors and
artists of that day were pious and devout madcaps. They did not abound
in morality, but they had of religion enough and to spare. Many of them
were members of religious orders, and it is this fact which has procured
us such accurate records of their history. All the events in the daily
life of the religious establishments were carefully recorded, and the
manuscript archives of the convents and brotherhoods of that period are
rich in materials for the biographer.

There was a special reason for the sudden rise of religious brotherhoods
among the laity. The great schism of England had been fully completed
under Elizabeth. The devout heart of Spain was bursting under this
wrong, and they could think of no way to avenge it. They would fain have
roasted the whole heretical island, but the memory of the Armada was
fresh in men's minds, and the great Philip was dead. There were not
enough heretics in Spain to make it worth while to waste time in hunting
them. Philip could say as Narvaez, on his death-bed, said to his
confessor who urged him to forgive his enemies, "Bless your heart, I
have none. I have killed them all." To ease their pious hearts, they
formed confraternities all over Spain, for the worship of the Host. They
called themselves "Unworthy Slaves of the Most Holy Sacrament." These
grew at once very popular in all classes. Artisans rushed in, and wasted
half their working days in processions and meetings. The severe Suarez
de Figueroa speaks savagely of the crowd of Narcissuses and petits
maitres (a word which is delicious in its Spanish dress of petimetres)
who entered the congregations simply to flutter about the processions in
brave raiment, to be admired of the multitude. But there were other more
serious members,--the politicians who joined to stand well with the
bigot court, and the devout believers who found comfort and edification
in worship. Of this latter class was Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, who
joined the brotherhood in the street of the Olivar in 1609. He was now
sixty-two years old, and somewhat infirm,--a time, as he said, when a
man's salvation is no joke. From this period to the day of his death he
seemed to be laboring, after the fashion of the age, to fortify his
standing in the other world. He adopted the habit of the Franciscans in
Alcala in 1613, and formally professed in the Third Order in 1616, three
weeks before his death.

There are those who find the mirth and fun of his later works so
inconsistent with these ascetic professions, that they have been led to
believe Cervantes a bit of a hypocrite. But we cannot agree with such.
Literature was at that time a diversion of the great, and the chief aim
of the writer was to amuse. The best opinion of scholars now is that
Rabelais, whose genius illustrated the preceding century, was a man of
serious and severe life, whose gaulish crudeness of style and brilliant
wit have been the cause of all the fables that distort his personal
history.

No one can read attentively even the Quixote without seeing how powerful
an influence was exerted by his religion even upon the noble and kindly
soul of Cervantes. He was a blind bigot and a devoted royalist, like all
the rest. The mean neglect of the Court never caused his stanch loyalty
to swerve. The expulsion of the Moors, the crowning crime and madness of
the reign of Philip III., found in him a hearty advocate and defender.
_Non facit monachum cucullus,--_it was not his hood and girdle that made
him a monk; he was thoroughly saturated with their spirit before he put
them on. But he was the noblest courtier and the kindliest bigot that
ever flattered or persecuted.

In 1610, the Count of Lemos, who had in his grand and distant way
patronized the poet, was appointed Viceroy of Naples, and took with him
to his kingdom a brilliant following of Spanish wits and scholars. He
refused the petition of the greatest of them all, however, and to soften
the blow gave him a small pension, which he continued during the rest of
Cervantes's life. It was a mere pittance, a bone thrown to an old hound,
but he took it and gnawed it with a gratitude more generous than the
gift. From this time forth all his works were dedicated to the Lord of
Lemos, and they form a garland more brilliant and enduring than the
crown of the Spains. Only kind words to disguised fairies have ever been
so munificently repaid, as this young noble's pension to the old genius.

It certainly eased somewhat his declining years. Relieving him from the
necessity of earning his daily crust, it gave him leisure to complete
and bring out in rapid succession the works which have made him
immortal. He had published the first part of Don Quixote in the midst of
his hungry poverty at Valladolid in 1605. He was then fifty-eight, and
all his works that survive are posterior to that date. He built his
monument from the ground up, in his old age. The Persiles and
Sigis-munda, the Exemplary Novels, and that most masterly and perfect
work, the Second Part of Quixote, were written by the flickering glimmer
of a life burnt out.

It would be incorrect to infer that the scanty dole of his patron
sustained him in comfort. Nothing more clearly proves his straitened
circumstances than his frequent change of lodgings. Old men do not move
for the love of variety. We have traced him through six streets in the
last four years of his life. But a touching fact is that they are all in
the same quarter. It is understood that his natural daughter and only
child, Isabel de Saavedra, entered the Convent of the Trinitarian nuns
in the street of Cantarranas--Singing Frogs--at some date unknown. All
the shifting and changing which Cervantes made in these embarrassed
years are within a small half-circle, whose centre is his grave and the
cell of his child. He fluttered about that little convent like a gaunt
old eagle about the cage that guards his callow young.

Like Albert Duerer, like Raphael and Van Dyck, he painted his own
portrait at this time with a force and vigor of touch which leaves
little to the imagination. As few people ever read the Exemplary
Novels,--more is the pity,--I will translate this passage from the
Prologue:--

"He whom you see there with the aquiline face, chestnut hair, a smooth
and open brow, merry eyes, a nose curved but well proportioned, a beard
of silver which twenty years ago was of gold, long mustaches, a small
mouth, not too full of teeth, seeing he has but six, and these in bad
condition, a form of middle height, a lively color, rather fair than
brown, somewhat round-shouldered and not too light on his feet; this is
the face of the author of Galatea and of Don Quixote de la Mancha, of
him who made the Voyage to Parnassus, and other works which are straying
about without the name of the owner: he is commonly called Miguel de
Cervantes Saavedra."

There were, after all, compensations in this evening of life. As long as
his dropsy would let him, he climbed the hilly street of the Olivar to
say his prayers in the little oratory. He passed many a cheerful hour of
gossip with Mother Francisca Romero, the independent superior of the
Trinitarian Convent, until the time when the Supreme Council, jealous of
the freedom of the good lady's life, walled up the door which led from
her house to her convent and cut her off from her nuns. He sometimes
dropped into the studios of Carducho and Caxes, and one of them made a
sketch of him one fortunate day. He was friends with many of the
easy-going Bohemians who swarmed in the quarter,--Cristobal de Mesa,
Quevedo, and Mendoza, whose writings, Don Miguel says, are distinguished
by the absence of all that would bring a "blush to the cheek of a young
person,"--

"Por graves, puros, castos y excelentes."

In the same street where Cervantes lived and died, the great Lope de
Vega passed his edifying old age. This phenomenon of incredible
fecundity is one of the mysteries of that time. Few men of letters have
ever won so marvellous a success in their own lives, few have been so
little read after death. The inscription on Lope's house records that he
is the author of two thousand comedies and twenty-one million of verses.
Making all possible deductions for Spanish exaggeration, it must still
be admitted that his activity and fertility of genius were prodigious.
In those days a play was rarely acted more than two or three times, and
he wrote nearly all that were produced in Spain. He had driven all
competitors from the scene. Cervantes, when he published his collection
of plays, admitted the impossibility of getting a hearing in the theatre
while this "monster of nature" existed. There was a courteous
acquaintance between the two great poets. They sometimes wrote sonnets
to each other, and often met in the same oratories. But a grand seigneur
like Frey Lope could not afford to be intimate with a shabby genius like
brother Miguel. In his inmost heart he thought Don Quixote rather low,
and wondered what people could see in it. Cervantes, recognizing the
great gifts of De Vega, and, generously giving him his full meed of
praise, saw with clearer insight than any man of his time that this
deluge of prodigal and facile genius would desolate rather than fructify
the drama of Spain. What a contrast in character and destiny between our
dilapidated poet and his brilliant neighbor across the way! The one
rich, magnificent, the poet of princes and a prince among poets, the
"Phoenix of Spanish Genius," in whose ashes there is no flame of
resurrection; the other, hounded through life by unmerciful disaster,
and using the brief respite of age to achieve an enduring renown; the
one, with his twenty millions of verses, has a great name in the history
of literature; but the other, with his volume you can carry in your
pocket, has caused the world to call the Castilian tongue the language
of Cervantes. We will not decide which lot is the more enviable. But it
seems a poet must choose. We have the high authority of Sancho for
saying,--

  "Para dar y tener
  Seso ha menester."

  He is a bright boy who can eat his cake and have it.

In some incidents of the closing scenes of these memorable lives there
is a curious parallelism. Lope de Vega and Cervantes lived and died in
the same street, now called the Calle de Cervantes, and were buried in
the same convent of the street now called Calle de Lope de Vega. In this
convent each had placed a beloved daughter, the fruit of an early and
unlawful passion. Isabel de Saavedra, the child of sin and poverty, was
so ignorant she could not sign her name; while Lope's daughter, the
lovely and gifted Marcela de Carpio, was rich in the genius of her
father and the beauty of her mother, the high-born Maria de Lujan.
Cervantes's child glided from obscurity to oblivion no one knew when,
and the name she assumed with her spiritual vows is lost to tradition.
But the mystic espousals of the sister Marcela de San Felix to the
eldest son of God--the audacious phrase is of the father and priest Frey
Lope--were celebrated with princely pomp and luxury; grandees of Spain
were her sponsors; the streets were invaded with carriages from the
palace, the verses of the dramatist were sung in the service by the
Court tenor Florian, called the "Canary of Heaven;" and the event
celebrated in endless rhymes by the genteel poets of the period.

Rarely has a lovelier sacrifice been offered on the altar of
superstition. The father, who had been married twice before he entered
the priesthood, and who had seen the folly of errant loves without
number, twitters in the most innocent way about the beauty and the charm
of his child, without one thought of the crime of quenching in the gloom
of the cloister the light of that rich young life. After the lapse of
more than two centuries we know better than he what the world lost by
that lifelong imprisonment. The Marquis of Mo-lins, director of the
Spanish Academy, was shown by the ladies of the convent in this year of
1870 a volume of manuscript poems from the hand of Sor Marcela, which
prove her to have been one of the most vigorous and original poets of
the time. They are chiefly mystical and ecstatic, and full of the
refined and spiritual voluptuousness of a devout young heart whose
pulsations had never learned to beat for earthly objects. M. de Molins
is preparing a volume of these manuscripts; but I am glad to present one
of the seguidillas here, as an illustration of the tender and ardent
fantasies of virginal passion this Christian Sappho embroidered upon the
theme of her wasted prayers:--

  Let them say to my Lover
  That here I lie!
  The thing of his pleasure,
  His slave am I.

  Say that I seek him
  Only for love,
  And welcome are tortures
  My passion to prove.

  Love giving gifts
  Is suspicious and cold;
  I have _all,_ my Beloved,
  When thee I hold.

  Hope and devotion
  The good may gain,
  I am but worthy
  Of passion and pain.

  So noble a Lord
  None serves in vain,--
  For the pay of my love
  Is my love's sweet pain.

  I love thee, to love thee,
  No more I desire,
  By faith is nourished
  My love's strong fire.

  I kiss thy hands
  When I feel their blows,
  In the place of caresses
  Thou givest me woes.

  But in thy chastising
  Is joy and peace,
  O Master and Love,
  Let thy blows not cease!

  Thy beauty, Beloved,
  With scorn is rife!
  But I know that thou lovest me,
  Better than life.

  And because thou lovest me,
  Lover of mine,
  Death can but make me
  Utterly thine!

  I die with longing
  Thy face to see;
  Ah! sweet is the anguish
  Of death to me!

This is a long digression, but it will be forgiven by those who feel how
much of beautiful and pathetic there is in the memory of this mute
nightingale dying with her passionate music all unheard in the silence
and shadows. It is to me the most purely poetic association that clings
about the grave of Cervantes.

This vein of mysticism in religion has been made popular by the recent
canonization of Saint Theresa, the ecstatic nun of Avila. In the
ceremonies that celebrated this event there were three prizes awarded
for odes to the new saint. Lope de Vega was chairman of the committee of
award, and Cervantes was one of the competitors. The prizes it must be
admitted were very tempting: first, a silver pitcher; second, eight
yards of camlet; and third, a pair of silk stockings. We hope
Cervantes's poem was not the best. We would rather see him carry home
the stuff for a new cloak and pourpoint, or even those very attractive
silk stockings for his shrunk shank, than that silver pitcher which he
was too Castilian ever to turn to any sensible use. The poems are
published in a compendium of the time, without indicating the successful
ones; and that of Cervantes contained these lines, which would seem
hazardous in this colder age, but which then were greatly admired:--

  "Breaking all bolts and bars,
  Comes the Divine One, sailing from the stars,
  Full in thy sight to dwell:
  And those who seek him, shortening the road,
  Come to thy blest abode,
  And find him in thy heart or in thy cell."

The anti-climax is the poet's, and not mine.

He knew he was nearing his end, but worked desperately to retrieve the
lost years of his youth, and leave the world some testimony of his
powers. He was able to finish and publish the Second Part of Quixote,
and to give the last touches of the file to his favorite work, the long
pondered and cherished Persiles. This, he assures Count Lemos, will be
either the best or the worst work ever produced by mortal man, and he
quickly adds that it will not be the worst. The terrible disease gains
upon him, laying its cold hand on his heart. He feels the pulsations
growing slower, but bates no jot of his cheerful philosophy. "With one
foot in the stirrup," he writes a last farewell of noble gratitude to
the viceroy of Naples. He makes his will, commanding that his body be
laid in the Convent of the Trinitarians. He had fixed his departure for
Sunday, the 17th of April, but waited six days for Shakespeare, and the
two greatest souls of that age went into the unknown together, on the
23d of April, 1616.

The burial of Cervantes was as humble as his christening. His bier was
borne on the shoulders of four brethren of his order. The upper half of
the coffin-lid was open and displayed the sharpened features to the few
who cared to see them: his right hand grasped a crucifix with the grip
of a soldier. Behind the grating was a sobbing nun whose name in the
world was Isabel de Saavedra. But there was no scenic effort or display,
such as a few years later in that same spot witnessed the laying away of
the mortal part of Vega-Carpio. This is the last of Cervantes upon
earth. He had fought a good fight. A long life had been devoted to his
country's service. In his youth he had poured out his blood, and dragged
the chains of captivity. In his age he had accomplished a work which
folds in with Spanish fame the orb of the world. But he was laid in his
grave like a pauper, and the spot where he lay was quickly forgotten. At
that very hour a vast multitude was assisting at what the polished
academician calls a "more solemn ceremony," the bearing of the Virgin of
the Atocha to the Convent of San Domingo el Real, to see if peradventure
pleased by the airing, she would send rain to the parching fields.

The world speedily did justice to his name. Even before his death it had
begun. The gentlemen of the French embassy who came to Madrid in 1615 to
arrange the royal marriages asked the chaplain of the Archbishop of
Toledo in his first visit many questions of Miguel Cervantes. The
chaplain happened to be a friend of the poet, and so replied, "I know
him. He is old, a soldier, a gentleman, and poor." At which they
wondered greatly. But after a while, when the whole civilized world had
trans-lated and knew the Quixote by heart, the Spaniards began to be
proud of the genius they had neglected and despised. They quote with a
certain fatuity the eulogy of Montesquieu, who says it is the only book
they have; "a proposition" which Navarrete considers "inexact," and we
agree with Navarrete. He has written a good book himself. The Spaniards
have very frankly accepted the judgment of the world, and although they
do not read Cervantes much, they admire him greatly, and talk about him
more than is amusing. The Spanish Academy has set up a pretty mural
tablet on the facade of the convent which shelters the tired bones of
the unlucky immortal, enjoying now their first and only repose. In the
Plaza of the Cortes a fine bronze statue stands facing the Prado,
catching on his chiselled curls and forehead the first rays of morning
that leap over the hill of the Retiro. It is a well-poised, energetic,
chivalrous figure, and Mr. Ger-mond de Lavigne has criticised it as
having more of the sabreur than the savant. The objection does not seem
well founded. It is not pleasant for the world to be continually
reminded of its meannesses. We do not want to see Cervantes's days of
poverty and struggle eternized in statues. We know that he always looked
back with fondness on his campaigning days, and even in his decrepit age
he called himself a soldier. If there were any period in that troubled
history that could be called happy, surely it was the time when he had
youth and valor and hope as the companions of his toil. It would have
been a precious consolation to his cheerless age to dream that he could
stand in bronze, as we hope he may stand for centuries, in the
unchanging bloom of manhood, with the cloak and sword of a gentleman and
soldier, bathing his Olympian brow forever in the light of all the
mornings, and gazing, at evening, at the rosy reflex flushing the
east,--the memory of the day and the promise of the dawn.





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